Mt. Washington Alpine Garden Hike, July 3rd 2005

Mike organised a trip to get a group of people out to see the alpine garden on Mt. Washington. Mike, Brie and I were to hike up from the Pinkham Notch visitor's center, and meet the group at the auto road. We hit the trail at around 11am, with the rest of the group giving us a two hour head start.

There were lots of butterflies near the Pinkham Notch visitor's center. We stopped to take pictures of the ones landed on the railing of the waterfall lookout. This is a White Admiral (Limentis arthemis arthemis).

This is the same individual viewed from the side.

We'd talked about taking Lion's Head trail, but discovered in the car that we were all intrigued by a rock scrambling challenge, so we took Tuckerman Ravine trail to Huntington Ravine trail.

The climb was tough, but fun. In some of the lower gullies, there was still some snow, and we felt blasts of cold air coming out as we climbed over them. We started seeing several new plants once we got close to the little stream; I recognised bluets and a small violet, and some form of twisted-stem (not in flower). When we stopped to rest I was (uncharacteristically) reluctant to look over the edge and linger, so I didn't get the camera out. It became clear as we neared the top that we were running late for our rendezvous window, so Mike fiddled with cell phones, eventually finding enough reception to place a call (they were running late, too).

Brie's photos of the trip show much more of the ascent.

Once the climb had flattened out a bit, Mike went ahead to the road to fetch down the rest of the party, while Brie and I waited by the junction of the Huntington Ravine trail and the Alpine Garden trail.

We had already seen a number of these big wolf spiders, but while we were waiting, I had time to photograph this one. They are fast moving, but not really shy, and they seemed to be really very common.

Lunch was a fine spread; piles of fruit, bagels, and a full array of condiments arrived by car, leaving my warm and greasy lump of cheese a bit neglected.

After lunch, I wandered around to get photos of as many plant species as were represented in the immediate area. I gave up chasing butterflies; they flushed too quickly, and there weren't many places I could safely walk.

This is three-toothed cinquefoil (Potentilla tridentata). I had briefly confused it with goldthread which I'd seen below treeline on the Mt. Lafayette hike a few weeks ago, but the two are quite distinct.

While I didn't catch any leaves in this shot, there's a few visible at the bottom of the Labrador tea picture, below.

This, which is easily the most abundant flowering plant near the trail, I had also had mixed up from the previous trip. It's not diapensia which is no longer in flower (but I could still see the five-sided calyxes), but rather mountain sandwort (Arenaria groenlandica).

Mountain cranberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea).

This is a willow of some sort; perhaps Salix arctica, though I'm not sure. Note that there's cinquefoil leaves mixed in in this photo; the very round ones are the willow's leaves.

Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandica).

Monty decided to hike down the mountain with us, while Garry hatched a plan to go play mini-golf in town, so we left the car people where the Alpine Garden trail forked off.

The mountain avens (Geum pickii) became abundant as we went on.

We were to take Lion Head trail down; looking back into Tuckerman Ravine, there was still snow to be seen.