|The Daily Bucket is a regular feature of the Backyard Science group. It is a place to note of any observations you have made of the world around you. Insects, weather, meteorites, climate, birds and/or flowers. All are worthy additions to the bucket. Please let us know what is going on around you in a comment. Include, as close as is comfortable for you, where you are located. Each note is a record that we can refer to in the future as we try to understand the patterns that are quietly unwinding around us.
I took a late August trip to the Mt. Baker National Forest that features both Mt. Baker and Mt. Shucksan to see the sights with grandkids again. Accompanying me were cousins, Ryan (13) and Ava (7). As before, we stopped at Picture Lake for some shots of Mt. Shucksan. Last year it was too misty to see much of the mountain but the misty lake was cool.
We got the both the lake and the mountain this time.
Picture Lake and Mt. Shucksan
Continue below the tangled Mountain Spikemoss to see more mountains and their flora.
The edges of the lake were full of lake grasses, Narrow Leaved Bur-reed (Sparganium angustifolium)
The lake shore was crowded with an all-time Fall favorite, thickets of Huckleberry shrubs with its delicious fruit.
Oval–leaved Blueberry shrubs (Vaccinium ovalifolium ?) with a couple of tasty morsels
From Picture Lake, we drove further up the mountain to the Artist Point parking lot at about 5,100 feet. After a picnic lunch and some snow time for the kids, we took the Artist Point Trail that follows generally a north – south direction along Kulshan ridge out to Huntoon Point between Mts. Baker and Shucksan (5251 ft /1600 m). Enroute we could look to our right across to Table Mountain with its huge scree field dropping into the valley below it and Ptarmigan ridge to the left that leads up to Mt. Baker.
The big cone is shy today and remains wrapped in its shroud of clouds but there was a small peek at the peak. Even though Mt. Baker hid, Mt. Shucksan showed herself and her glorious, but ebbing glaciers to the East.
Mt. Baker really is up there in the clouds
Upper and lower Curtis Claciers
A bit further along the ridge we are able to get a good view of what is left of the Upper and Lower Curtis Glaciers. I am drawn to Lower Curtis Glacier as it was one of my first encounters on Shucksan when I came to this areas in 1970. Taking the lake Ann trail led to a view directly across from the giant and we could watch and hear it calf. Thirty years later, I went back and it was clearly receding. Now, another 14 years later, although not from Lake Ann I could see its recession to but a shadow of what it once was. It is sad.
I have been stunned by photos and timelapse videos of glaciers in recession around the world. But the personal observation of a recession of this magnitude in my meager 44 years hiking these mountains is poignant. To me it is the equivalent of the South Pacific islanders watching the sea rise to take over their island homes.
I used to think of glaciers moving at “glacial paces.” I think we will have to find a new expression as glaciers no longer move at glacial speeds.
More flora along the trail:
My faithful hiking companions, waiting for Grandpa to get a move on
I had to tear my eyes and camera away from the glaciers and look at the interesting late summer alpine and sub-alpine flora that was plentiful along the trail. I have never been especially attentive to the plant life up here so as I now try to ID these interesting and hopefully highly adaptable plants, I often find it difficult to make some finer species differentiations. Having taken the photos and later poured over them with books and online guides, I have made some tentative identifications but hope to be corrected as needed and educated by those who know better than I. Milly helped me last year and she and others might need to do so again. Please do.
Along Artist Point Trail we found few wild flowers still blooming as it was the end of August. Subalpine Daisy (Erigeron peregrines) was one of only two flowering plants still showing their colors.
Post flowering Arctic Lupine (Lupinus arcticus) would have been difficult to ID without flowers but the distinctive leaf pattern was a dead giveaway.
Fragile fern (Cystopteris fragilis) was quite plentiful up here.
Rocky Mountain Butterweed (Packera streptanthifolia)
Piper’s Wood-Rush (Luzula piperi)
Partridgefoot (Luetkea pectata)
Alpine Willowherb (Epilobium anagallidifolium)
On the way back, the clouds over Shuksan cleared for a nice shot of the glaciers.
White Salmon Glacier occupies the top of Shuksan
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