The Labyrinth in bloom with a side of Poison Oak (18-15)

Labyrinth Trail, WA      4/15/2018      (#15)

So many hikers in the eastern gorge today – predicted to be the best weather day of the weekend. We opted for the Labyrinth trail, teased by the blooming balsamroot near the waterfall off Hwy 14.  We were not disappointed.

From the trailhead, we could see our destination – a tall fir tree on the cliff above.

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We began by hiking along the old highway, then up the trail through the basalt labyrinth:

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Waterfall on the old highway

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Balsamroot near the trailhead

We hiked up past the upper waterfall,

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Through the oak woodlands,

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Over the desert parsley rocky balds,

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Desert parsley cliffs

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Bitter root foliage – to bloom next month

From here we could see west to the Coyote Wall meadows:

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Our trail continued east, toward the prominent oak tree on the cliff edge:

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Above here the views to the east,

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and toward our destination (that tall fir tree) opened up:

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When we reached the viewpoint near the fir tree, we could see our car parked below, near Rowland Lake:

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Swaths of small flowers tinted many of the grassy areas:

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Popcorn flower and filaree

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Two-colored lupine

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Miner’s lettuce and buttercups

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Tomcat clover

Many other spring flowers were blooming along the trail:

On the way down, we looked back in the lovely afternoon light at the glowing landscape.

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And just to add an element of risk to the venture, in addition to the (mostly polite) mountain bikers bombing down the trail, every nearly bare stick and twig, from the vines on the rock walls,

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climbing poison oak

to the trail side shrubs,

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glowing red poison oak leaf buds

to the grassy swathes,

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chocolate lilies, buttercups, larkspur and poison oak

even the bare rocky talus piles,

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poison oak shoots

were sporting the shiny deep red oily gloss of newly budding poison oak leaves. We tiptoed around them, knowing this place is my nemesis for the rash. Despite a lifetime of hiking and many years of of bushwhacking with geologists through the scrublands of the western US, and being exposed but never reacting, I finally got the rash after a hike here a few years ago, and have gotten it twice since, each time a little worse. This is my favorite trail in the eastern gorge, so I proceed with caution! Hopefully no rash this week.

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One-eyed ghost tree along the trail – ogling the waterfall, or fleeing the poison oak?

New sock yarn for travel knitting –

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