Saturday, March 6, 2010

Washington state flora and fauna #1: Olympics

The Olympic Marmot! (Marmota olympus) When we decided to move to Washington I bought a field guide so I could learn about plants and animals on the West Coast. Having grown up on the East Coast, I knew that this was a brave new world of species. That was when I first learned that marmots could be found here. During our second summer in Washington we traveled from Seattle to the Olympic National Park and visited Hurricane Ridge. It was a short hike from the parking area to the scenic mount. As we made our way up, we discovered that we were surrounded! Marmots everywhere. They were perched on rock, collecting flowers in their mouths, and laying on their bellies on ice sheets. We stopped at the top for a snack and that is when I snapped this photo. This marmot was actually very close, a lot closer than I thought they would ever get. As we snacked, he made himself comfortable on this perch about 50 feet away.

This beautiful white flower with a yellow center is an avalanche lily (Erythronium montanum). It also grows in the sub-alpine and alpine range of the Olympic mountains. I snapped this photo on the way up the path to Hurricane Ridge, but the avalanche lily covered the area. The avalanche lily begins to sprout and grow just after the snow melts and can be seen all along the path during the summer. To see the mountainside covered with avalanche lilies is one of nature's most breathtaking scenes!


  1. I heard some rumors of a tall, skinny, grumpy Sasquatch in them hills.

  2. The wild flowers of Eastern Washington are beautiful in spring. I suggest we go and see them!