Archive for June, 2011

Cougar Mountain – Heart in Nature

It’s a tiny bit of a stretch, but while hiking Washington state’s Cougar Mountain, I did spy a Heart in Nature, courtesy of a tree hole and some of the Licorice Fern Trail’s prevalent moss.

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Moss Heart in Nature

More pictures of Cougar Mountain can be found on my Flickr site. For more detailed trail descriptions of Cougar Mountain hikes, I highly recommend the Weekend Hike blog.

June 3, 2011 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

Cougar Mountain – A Lesson in Action

When Ryan and I were at The New York Botantical Gardens I ran across a sign about the fern lifecycle.  It taught me how first fern spores make a Heart in Nature gametophyte that has both egg and sperm.  Only when an egg and sperm combine, do you get a new fern.


Fern Lifecycle (Source East Stroudsburg University)

Exactly two weeks and roughly 3000 miles later, Ryan and I saw part of fern reproduction in action while hiking Washington state’s Cougar Mountain:

Cougar Mountain - De Leo Wall Trail - Fern Spores (Close)
Fern Spores on the De Leo Wall Trail

We learned a lesson on one coast and saw it in action on the other!

More pictures of Cougar Mountain can be found on my Flickr site. For more detailed trail descriptions of Cougar Mountain hikes, I highly recommend the Weekend Hike blog.

June 2, 2011 at 1:00 am 2 comments

Cougar Mountain – Overview

In mid-May, Ryan and I attended a wedding in beautiful Washington state. We took a few extra days and had a mini vacation in the Bellevue area before the baby arrives.

Our first full day in Washington state was a lovely sunny day that definitely warranted a hike. Since we weren’t too familiar with the area, I did some web searches and uncovered an excellent blog to help our cause. Weekend Hike covers “Great hikes around the Pacific Northwest and the San Francisco Bay Area.” The blog highlighted a number hikes in the nearby 3000 acre Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park. With 36 miles of hiking trails, Cougar Mountain had a lot of choose from. I perused a number of Weekend Hike’s posts and Ryan and I decided to try the Licorice Fern Trail -> Indian Trail to see the Far Country Falls. We figured we would also do a diversion up the Far Country Trail to see a view. Once we finished those two destinations, however, we were up for more hiking!

Spying the word “Wall” in the “De Leo Wall Trail” and knowing how beautiful Southwest Virginia’s Barney’s Wall is, we continued down the Indian Trail and took the De Leo Wall Trail. It did not disappoint and offered some of the best views of the day! After De Leo Wall, we headed down the Cross Town Trail to the Terrace Trail. We saw a neighborhood terrace and then quaint little Boulder Grove before turning around and heading back home.

Views
Although it had the word “Lookout” in its name, the Far Country Lookout was far from my favorite. I did, however, absolutely adore the moss and fern embellished Far Country Falls. The view from a New Castle neighborhood off the Terrace Trail was a change of pace. It was the views of the De Leo Wall Trail that were the real gem of the day. From there, you could even see larger, snow-capped mountains in the distance.

Cougar Mountain - Far Country Trail - View (Portrait)
Far Country Lookout

Cougar Mountain - Indian Trail - Far Country Falls View
Far Country Falls off the Indian Trail

Cougar Mountain - De Leo Wall Trail - Panaroma View 1
Lake View from the De Leo Wall Trail

Cougar Mountain - De Leo Wall Trail - View of Mountains
View From the De Leo Wall Trail (The light blue band on the horizon are LARGER mountains)

Cougar Mountain - Cross Town Trail - Terrace View (Far)
And For Something Completed Different – View from Terrace Trail

Flora – General
In September 2007, I had the privilege of another hike in Washington State – Twin Falls. Just like the hike four years ago, I was smitten with the prevalence of my favorite color. The trees, dead or alive, sported ferns and moss along their bark. We were in an Emerald Wonderland! So much did I enjoy being enveloped in green, I decided the Licorice Fern Trail was my favorite portion of the day even though it lacks flashy views or waterfalls. It was just plain beautiful.

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Trees and Greenery From Below
Licorice Fern Trail – Greenery From Below

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Little Ryan on Trail
For Perspective – Look how little Ryan is in the left hand corner!

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Ferns on Tree
Ferns Growing on a Tree Off the Licorice Fern Trail

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Moss Branches and Trail
Moss Covered Trees Off the Licorice Fern Trail

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Worm Like Fern Fronds
New Ferns in the Making

Flora – Wildflowers
We were hiking at an excellent time and got to see a number of blooming wildflowers. Most of them I didn’t recognize. But we saw a couple we were familiar with from the east coast, namely trillium…. and dandelion. : )

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Pink Flower
Pink Flower Off the Licorice Fern Trail

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Arched Flower, Arched Fern
Light Purple Flower Off the Licorice Fern Trail

Cougar Mountain - Far Country Trail - Yellow Holly Flowers
Yellow Holly Flowers Off the Far Country Trail

Cougar Mountain - Cross Town Trail - White Flower
White Flower on the Cross Town Trail

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Trillium
Trillium Off the Licorice Fern Trail

Cougar Mountain - Indian Trail - Dandelions
Good Ole Dandelions Off the Indian Trail

Fauna
When Ryan and I started our hike, the day was still young and misty. We didn’t see any birds or mammals, but we did see plenty of mollusks! We spied a snail, black slugs (Arion ater) and what I believe to be an impressive variety of Pacific banana slugs (Ariolimax columbianus).

Cougar Mountain - Indian Trail - Black, Two Textured Slug
Black Slug Off the Indian Trail

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Spotted Slug
A Spotted Banana Slug Off the Licorice Fern Trail

Cougar Mountain - Licorice Fern Trail - Tan Slug
A Tan Banana Slug Off the Licorice Fern Trail

Cougar Mountain - Indian Trail - Snail
A Snail on the Indian Trail. (I wonder if it thinks it’s better than the slugs because it has a shell)

As the day warmed up, the moisture in the forest disappeared and so did all the slugs and snails. It was then we started to notice the mammals and the birds. We ran across a squirrel, birds and a number of deer who seemed as fond of the trails as we were.

The fauna highlight of the day was seeing not one but TWO green hummingbirds out in the wild (One off the Cross Town Trail and one off the Licorice Fern Trail). Alas, those little buggers were so fleeting and fast, we had no hope of pictures. Nonetheless, those surprise sightings will stick with us. Both of the hummingbirds we saw were green… so perhaps they were female Anna’s Hummingbirds (Calypte anna)?

Cougar Mountain - Indian Trail - Deer on Path 1
One of Many Deer on the Indian Trail

All in all, we were hiking for five gorgeous, invigorating hours. It looks tedious to add up the mileage from the Trail Map. I typically hike 2 miles an hour, so I suspect our total outing was between 8-10 miles. Not too bad for 27 weeks. : )

Cougar Mountain - Terrace Trail - Vicky's Belly at Boulder Grove (By Ryan Somma)
My Belly at Boulder Grove (Photo by Ryan Somma)

More pictures of Cougar Mountain can be found on my Flickr site. For more detailed trail descriptions of Cougar Mountain hikes, I highly recommend the Weekend Hike blog.

Cougar Mountain Via the Licorice Fern TrailheadTrail Map

Length: Varied – 36 miles of trail to choose from!

Elevation Gain: Varied

Directions from Bellevue, Washington

From I-405 S, Take Exit 10 on Coal Creek Parkway toward Factoria

Turn left on SE May Valley Road

Turn left to stay on SE May Valley Road

Take the first left onto SE 112th Street

Licorice Fern Trailhead will be on the right after a sharp bend left.

Parking is along the street.

June 1, 2011 at 1:00 am 5 comments

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