Trip Report Washington State July 2010 LepSoc Meeting and afterwards
Participants: Kristine Wallstrom, Shirley Sekarajasingham, Richard Lindstrom and Kim Garwood
Dates: July 6 to July 16
Tues July 6 – fly to Seattle
Wed July 7 – drive to Leavenworth for LepSoc, 4 nights at Enzian Inn
Thur/Fri July 8/9 – meetings
Sat July 10 – field trip up Chumstick Mountain
Sun July 11 – Reecer Creek, night in Soap Lake
Mon July 12 – Moses Meadow, night in Tonasket, Red Apple Motel
Tues July 13 – drive through the burn to Mazama, 2 nights North Cascades Lodge
Wed July 14 – Harts Pass
Thur July 15 – drive back to Seattle
Fri July 16 – fly to Dallas
Tues July 6 - Kristine and I fly into Seattle from different cities and Richard picks us up at the airport. Richard and Shirley live on Bainbridge Island, a beautiful peaceful place in the Puget Sound. We get to take a ferry for about 35 minutes across to their island for the night.
Wed July 7 - The next morning Shirley, Kristine and I take off and drive, back across the ferry and east across Washington to Leavenworth, the site of the Lepidopterists’ Society meeting for the next 5 days. We take Highway 2 over Stevens Pass about 4,000’, and stop and explore a couple of different trails. We hike a bit at Wallace Falls State Park and also along the Pacific Crest Trail, which crosses the highway at the top of the pass.  It’s a beautiful clear blue sky day in the low 80’s, but not many butterflies. The weather here in Washington has been quite cool, everyone is saying summer has just arrived. The trails are nice, through dark woods and lots of shade, with bits of open meadow and lovely views. Up on top, on the PCT, we see lots of Parnassus clodius, but they rarely stop for photos. I do get a few shots of a Comma, we think it’s Oreas Comma, but we need to get someone who knows to verify that. The next 4 nights are in Leavenworth at the Enzian Inn for the LepSoc meeting. Leavenworth is a funny place, sort of a Disneyland in a Bavarian theme. Even the banks look Bavarian. There are dozens of restaurants, many of course with a German theme. Our favorite is South, with food from South American, worth going back to. The Enzian Inn is not cheap at $140/night, but a great breakfast and snazzy rooms. There are many places to stay in town, and several people are at cheaper motels closer to $50-75/room.
Thur/Fri July 8/9 – I’m in meetings all day, but Shirley and Kristine go out and have a great time.
Sat July 10 – I finally get to go on a field trip, and we go w/Bob Hardwick who leads our group up Chumstick Mountain, up Derby Canyon road to about 5,000’. It’s hot, bright and sunny, and the sky is so blue it hurts your eyes. We don’t see much at first, but as it gets warmer we gradually see more butterflies. We look for seeps, where water is on the road, and we get to see some different blues and a couple of the difficult fritillaries. The checkerspots and crescents are also a tough group here. One of the more exciting moments is when Shirley and Kristine find a rare endemic plant they have been looking for. Lewisia tweedyi is a low ground hugging plant with large beautiful peachy salmon colored blooms, and when we accidentally find them on the drive up there is much gnashing of teeth because we can’t stop, being in a caravan of cars. But later they find the plants right at the summit, so many photos are taken.  We end up almost on top of the mountain, but there is a forest fire on the other side of the ridge, so we decide not to go that close. We go to Eagle Creek road, up about 2 miles past where the pavement ends, and there is a nice seep with the best selection of butterflies we’ve seen all day. That’s a nice way to end a lovely day, except coming back down we get a flat tire in Shirley’s car, so we have to unload everything, change the tire, put on the donut and make it back to town. But it’s Saturday after 5pm, and they can’t get it changed until tomorrow.  
Sun July 11 – R&S get the tire fixed, then we leave Leavenworth and head south on Highway 97 and took Old Bluett Road, stopping several places. Then we went to Reecer Creek, near Ellensberg.  We see several new trip species, starting with Greenish Blues on clover, both males and a wonderful female who I first think is a copper, and a nice mudpuddling group of swallowtails, mostly Pale and Western Tiger. Reecer Creek proves to be good, with lots of confusing checkerspots and some blues. Shirley and Kristine had come here on one of their days, and liked it. On the way up to Reecer Creek there is a big patch of white daisies which had been great for hairstreaks and fritillaries, but today it’s very windy so there are fewer butterflies around. We still manage to photograph a couple of skippers, probably Common Branded Skippers but maybe a 2nd species as well, but you have to carefully hold the flower stem to even have a chance of taking the photo.  Up Reecer Creek there is a big left hand turn where many people have camped and left charcoal rings, and the butterflies are coming to the charcoal. Mostly dozens of checkerspots, and we try to sort them out. I think they are mostly variable checkerspots, but there may well be edith’s also. We see more Parnassius butterflies, and this time we get some shots.  After leaving Reecer Creek we drive for an hour or two east and north past Soap Lake and up to Dry Falls State Park, where we look for Yuma Skipper but fail to find any. Spectacular scenery heading up Lower Coulee where we find out about the great floods back in the ice ages, where the ice would block the river then eventually break loose in massive floods. We end up at back south about 20 miles at Soap Lake for the night at the surprisingly nice little motel on the lake called Masters Inn & Healing Resort, . It costs about $75 for a double, and our room is much more than a room, but an apartment, with a full kitchen, wifi, table for 4, a nice living room and separate bedroom w/2 queen beds, very comfortable. There’s only 1 restaurant in town, so we eat at Don’s, where Richard has eaten many times before over the years. R&S split a salmon dinner that they are very happy with. We enjoy ourselves too long, and just miss getting to the grocery store before it closes at 8pm, so we don’t have breakfast makings and it doesn’t look like there are many restaurants open for breakfast. Don’s doesn’t open until 11am. Asking the hotel manager, she says there is a place that opens at 7am, so we’ll try and find it. Shouldn’t be too hard, as town is small, along the lake.
Mon July 12 – Couldn’t find an open place for breakfast, so we bought over priced snacks at the gas station. Next time, be sure to bring your own breakfast stuff. Amazing, the town has 3 motels but no breakfast places, or bakeries. Or coffee drive throughs, it doesn’t even look like Washington. So we finally get on our way up to Moses Meadow, after driving by Grand Coulee Dam and up Hwy 155. Moses Meadow is great. It’s about 10 miles in on a dirt road signed towards Lyman Lake/Moses Meadow, then you drive a large loop around the huge meadow, stopping frequently to walk the roads and the beautiful flowering meadows. The flowers are fabulous, and we find a goodly number of butterflies. I take more photos than the previous couple of days. One of the most common is the Chryxus Arctic, which are all over the road. We get to compare them to the Great Arctics which we photographed the day of the field trip. Lots more checkerspots, both field and northern crescents, some new blues, and good looks at arctic skippers, which is new for us. Wonderful flowers across the meadow, we’re doing some botanizing as well so there’s lots to see.
Tues July 13 – the drive through the massive burn. We go up to Oroville then west to Palmer Lake, south to Long Swamp and over the hills to Winthrop. This is mostly dirt roads at about 2000 meters. We were hoping to find some higher elevation butterflies, but we didn’t know there had been a couple of monster fires through the whole area, and we spend most of the day driving through burnt, dead trees as far as we can see. It was an amazing sight, endless grey and black spires over the mountains to the horizon, and very few butterflies. Plus it was overcast and cold, in the 40’s, so we didn’t do a lot of walking around. But it was a very interesting drive, far and away the largest burn I’ve ever seen. It would have been faster to drive back to Omak and to Winthrop on paved roads, but we wanted to explore.  We did have some interesting birds, at Long Swamp we find breeding spotted sandpipers w/newly hatched young, which I had never seen before. And Townsend’s Solitaires also w/young. We made it to Winthrop and went to our lodge, North Cascades Base Camp Lodge about 2 miles west of Mazama, which is about 14 miles west of Winthrop. We’re staying here for 2 nights so we can spend the next day at Hart’s Pass. It’s about $90/room. It’s like staying in someone’s house, there are 3 bedrooms on the 2nd floor that share 1 bathroom. The rooms include 1 queen bed and a set of bunk beds, so it’s more for families rather than 2 adults, as 1 of us in each room has to sleep in the bunk bed. We have the full run of the house, which includes a complete kitchen which we can use to cook our meals. But you have to bring all your own food, which requires more planning. The nice young couple, Steve and Kim, have just bought it 5 weeks ago, so they’re not doing meals yet, but they plan to in the future. It would be nice w/a large group of family and friends, but if you were just a couple it might be a bit more intimate than you would like w/strangers.
Wed July 14 – Drive up Hart’s Pass, about 20 miles to 2100 meters. Fortunately the weather goes back to bright sunny skies today, after the overcast and cold of yesterday. The road is closed by a snow bank, so we can’t go all the way to the top. We could have walked, it was another couple of miles, but we just wandered around some at that elevation and slowly worked our way back down hill. Richard conveniently moved the car down as the rest of us walked most of the way, finding a good variety of butterflies, many of them new for our trip. The scenery was breathtaking, surrounded by peaks still with lots of snow, and magnificent fields of wildflowers. We got pacific fritillary, sheridan’s green hairstreak, two-banded checkered-skipper, and many crescents and checkerspots, plus lots of new flowers. At the snow melt we had fields of yellow glacier lilies. This spring has been very late due to cold weather, so many things are blooming about 3-4 weeks behind ‘normal’. This has also impacted the butterflies, and we see some spring species flying late, mixed in with summer flyers. We have orangetips everywhere.  We get some nice birds, a female spruce grouse and young slowing walking across the road in front of the car, very slowly so we won’t see her right in front of us. I see evening grosbeaks, unfortunately the others miss them as we’re spread out along the road. This is a beautiful drive, well worth spending the day here. I’m glad we planned 2 nights at the base. There is a nice country store in Mazama, very upscale and full of yuppie goodies, plus a café that looks quite good. We get the best ginger snaps I’ve ever had, wish we had bought more. They’re $1 each but they’re huge and full of pieces of ginger, so very strong.
Thur July 15 – Unfortunately we have to head back to Seattle. We go over the North Cascades on Highway 20, a spectacular drive with vistas everywhere. We stop at Rainy Pass and hike the mile trail to the lake, which is also spectacular, well worth the walk. Wonderful waterfalls coming down from the cirque above which surrounds the lake, very isolated. It’s much cooler and wetter here, so few butterflies, even though we’re only about 1500 meters. Totally different from yesterday at Hart’s Pass, which was more open meadows and flowers. We do see a new species, Common Alpine, but it doesn’t stop for photos. We also find a great flock of evening grosbeaks at one of our stops, eating seeds from the grass by the outhouse, and we all get killer looks. Such a beautiful bird, I haven’t seen them in years. We stop at Cascadia Farms, a little store that sells U-pick raspberries and blueberries, and of course ice cream. Home made blueberry ice cream, plus all the great coffee drinks. A good place to stop. We get back to Seattle, take the ferry across to Bainbridge island for the night, and Richard takes me to the airport the next morning.