Friday, May 6, 2011

Day Hike - Cataract Falls -5-6-11

Cataract Falls (One of Several along Cataract Creek)

          It had been a while since I’d hiked on the Cataract Falls trail so I figured I’d head there after work for an evening exploration. The trailhead is normally jam packed on weekends but I was surprised to see quite a few cars there when I pulled up on a weekday evening.
I set off along the trail and kept my eyes open for Red Clintonia which I’ve seen growing here before. The stretch of trail that skirts the shore of Alpine Lake happened to be rife with blooms.

Red Clintonia (Clintonia andrewsiana)

Red Clintonia

          These plants eventually produce very brightly colored blue berries/seeds that are a sight in itself. I have a previous post with an in depth trail description and an image of the “blue berries”. (Click here to check out my previous post)
          I continued onward to the inlet of Cataract Creek where the trail starts its steep ascent. I was delighted to see several patches of Crimson Columbine, some of my favorite wildflowers.

Crimson Columbine

          The climb continued up the lush canyon and I explored several small spur trails leading to majestic pools and waterfalls.

Falls on Cataract Creek

Cataract Creek

Cataract Creek

Cataract Creek

Cataract Creek @ Junction w/ Helen Markt

          I noticed several banana slugs during the hike. I find it interesting that banana slugs are asymmetrical in that their pneumostome (The hole with which they breathe) lies on the right side of their body. As I was inspecting one more closely I noticed a tick on the slug. I could not fully tell if it was embedded or just hitching a ride?

Banana Slug

          I continued climbing and soon left the Cataract onto the Helen Markt Trail where I came across several dense groupings of Coral Root Orchids.

Spotted Coral Root Orchids

Spotted Coral Root Orchids

          With the sun setting and hunger growing in my belly, I slowly meandered back down the trail to the car enjoying every step of the way.

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