Mission: To promote the appreciation of wildlife and increase harmony between humanity and nature.

On Instagram and Twitter: @unionbaywatch

Friday, July 21, 2017

Bittersweet

This week's post is dedicated to my younger brother, Brad Bowman (1967 - 2017).

Three years ago Brad, my son Nathan, and I hiked into Wolf Bar and spent a night beside the North Fork of the Quinault River in the Olympics. At the time, we were hoping my brother's health would recover enough to someday continue a week-long trek up the Quinault River over Low Divide and out along the Elwha RiverUnfortunately, Brad passed away this Spring before we got the chance.

Brad loved nature, family and photography. Those who knew Brad might think the previous sentence leaves out his love for animals and most specifically, his dogs. However, I am pretty sure Brad would have included his canine companions in the family category. You can see some of Brad's nature photos on Facebook.

Last week, accompanied by my friend Rob Thomas, we completed the Olympic hike my brother and I dreamed about. The air was crystal clear and the weather was perfect. Toward the end of the second full day of hiking we reached Low Divide. The elevation at the pass is around 3,600 feet - about 300 feet higher than Snoqualmie Pass. The surrounding peaks are above 6,000 feet. The cascading snowmelt creates this long, leaping waterfall - with a temperature only slightly above freezing.

The meadow at the pass was full of native flowers, like this red columbine.

The flowers of the glacier lilies were generally white with occasional pink blossoms.

The next morning I wandered the meadow at sunrise.

The white blossoms of the bear grass turned golden in the early morning light.

The indian paintbrush waited patiently for a native artist.

A thistle waited for warmth to inspire it to bloom.

This unknown flower, maybe a clematis, seemed to shiver in the shade hoping for early morning sunshine. Actually, I may have been the one doing the shivering.

Near camp, a young varied thrush waited for its parent to bring it food.

The adults were a bit more shy.

Nearby a hummingbird stretched in the morning sun.

As we left Low Divide, Rob and I passed the pristine waters of Lake Margaret. I suspect this was about the time we walked out of the Quinault watershed and into the north flowing watershed of the Elwha river. With three nights of camping both behind and in front of us, this mid-point in the hike is one of the more remote places in the Olympic National Park. It is interesting that the Olympic Mountains are one of the few 'radial' mountain ranges. The rivers running off of the Olympics radiate down and out in almost every possible direction. 

As we began our descent, the flowers kept appearing around us. The bunchberries made a mat of green with carefully spaced white blossoms.

This mother grouse watched me closely as I tried to catch a unobscured look at her lone offspring. The young bird scrambled off the trail and down the mountain side faster than I could focus my camera.

The tiger lily was less active, but still challenged me to find the optimal angle to display its beauty.

The next day when we attempted a side trip up to the Elwha Basin. This Douglas squirrel was not the least perturbed by our presence. It almost appeared to be standing guard. I wonder if it had a nest nearby.

Within a couple miles of the Elwha headwaters I spotted this tiny white, thumbnail-sized flower with a slightly pink cast. Nearby, the overgrown trail completely disappeared,

We heard the brilliant syncopated chattering songs of Pacific wrens at many points along the way.  

Nearby, we found this amazing yellow-orange growth. I cannot find a name for it in any of my books.

The hike required fording many streams. We found the crossings very refreshing for our hot and weary feet.

We were not the only ones walking beside the Elwha. A bear left its calling card next to the vanilla leaf and wild strawberries.

Our hiking slowed dramatically when we too stopped to taste the sweet little berries hidden below the foliage beside the trail.

At Mary's Falls I spotted a couple of interesting growths, but no waterfall. I believe this is called Indian pipe.

I am uncertain what type of mushroom this might be.

As the sun was falling in the west it highlighted this flycatcher. True to its name the flycatcher watched as the sunlight illuminated the wing membranes of passing insects. With their wings glowing a brilliant white, the unsuspecting flies were quickly consumed. The little bird returned to its perch and repeated the process with amazing speed and regularity.

As we neared the end of our journey, we passed this small stream - named Bowman Creek. It seemed a fitting way to finish the hike which I had originally hoped to complete with my brother, Brad.

Larry
























22 comments:

  1. Thank you, Larry, for a beautiful hike in the Olympics. Paulette

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are welcome. I am glad you enjoyed it.

      Delete
  2. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing that hike!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Larry, what a lovely tribute to your brother. I'm sure he is smiling somewhere. Your photography is fabulous and you managed to capture so many different animals. Thank you for a lovely tour of the Olympics. And, I stayed dry. Patty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Patty, Thank you! I remember that trip. Actually, this time I slipped a bit fording one of the creeks. I soaked both boots, my pants, the sleeves of my shirt and broke a walking stick. The good news is my camera stayed dry and I was able to complete the hike with one and a half walking sticks - which by the way were also my tent poles. I am glad you were able to enjoy the trip vicariously! All the best! Larry

      Delete
  4. Lovely tribute, and I do so love reading your blogs and seeing your wonderful photography! The fungus may be one that is called Fried Egg Fungus, and the plant is not an Indian Pipe
    (that is white or sometimes other colors), but this orange one is Pine Sap. I've seen it up at staircase and think it is
    one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen! Diane C.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! It certainly seems unusual when compared with the normal flowers I find in the mountains.

      Delete
  5. Thanks for sharing, Larry. The mountains bring solace, as you so well describe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right. Being in the mountains is the most peaceful place I know.

      Delete
  6. Great photos and narrative. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Truly a beautiful essay in every way. I enjoyed every word and image, and deeply admired this tribute you put together for your brother.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I truly appreciate your kind and thoughtful words.

      Delete
  8. Thank you, Larry, for this beautiful tribute to your brother. May he rest in peace, and may those who mourn him be comforted.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for your empathy and understanding!

      Delete
  9. What a blessed tribute to your brother. I am sorry for your loss. He travelled with you in spirit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you. I certainly hope you are right and I appreciate the thought.

      Delete
  10. I'm so sorry about your brother, Larry. Glad you got to do the trip with people you care about and hope it brought some comfort to you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathy,
      Thank you for your kind words and empathy. 🙂
      Larry

      Delete
  11. Beautiful and inspiring tribute. What a wonderful way to keep him in your heart. Thank you for creating it and sharing with us. Regarding the unknown organism, I think it is a slime mold of some sort. They can actually move, albeit slowly.
    Ian

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for the kind words and the slime mold update. There is always more to learn and I appreciate your help!

      Delete