Cascade Scouting

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The spring melt is well underway in the Cascade Mountains near Leafhopper Farm. My partner Bernard and I went out to scout some beautiful places and found some great waterfalls and perhaps, a fossil or two. In our enthusiasm to get into the alpine elevations, we assumed the warm weather had taken care of the last snows along mountain roads leading up to the peaks. Well, not yet!

After forwarding a few very hair raising spots where avalanches had come down earlier in the winter, we decided not to forward on into the ice and snow, for fear of getting stuck or slipping off the ledges. Though we were unable to summit, we found a few great water features in their peak spring flow along the gullies in our beloved mountains.

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It was impressive to see many fresh fallen logs and other woody debris at the base of some falls. The winter activity in these mountains can be rather dramatic, from ice snapping trunks, to high wind blow over. Remanence of this forceful weather lay across the road and in ditches along our drive. Rock slides were also evident, and we even spend some time clearing small boulders from our path.

The spring buds had not yet bloomed at higher elevations, and the trip backwards in time was a little confusing. At the start of our drive up, red alders were fully leafed out, and salmon berries were rip for eating. At a few thousand feet up, trees were just starting to leaf out, and some salmon berry had not even gotten that far yet. In some areas, more south facing, fire weed was popping up, but on the north face of the slopes, only a few ferns had leafed out at all.

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At one waterfall, we stopped to have a closer look at the rock formations, seeing a sprinkling of granite and some more familiar metamorphic fluvial deposits, which are known to have good fossils within. We looked hard, and even thought we’d identified some shapes, but no official confirmations were made. I took the picture below to show a form which looks a lot like a palm frond, something common in our finds further north in The Cascades.

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It is always so special to visit our nearby peaks, enjoying some good mountain time, while exploring the endless back roads and forest service trails all over Washington. We were able to see so much, make notes on future foraging sites, mark spots to go back to for more exploring, and enjoy the general splendor that is The Central Cascade Range.

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