Walter and Sara On the road to who knows where
Sunday June 26th we had enough clouds to have another lovely sunset.

Sunset Lake Cascade

Temperatures were warming up and by Monday it was in the high 80’s. It’s amazing how quickly it can move from cool and windy so that no one wants to go in the water, to being HOT and you can’t keep anyone out of the water. While we were doing our rounds Walter noticed that there was a huge single False Hellebore (Veratrum californicum) in bloom along the fence line at the edge of the campground.

False Hellebore (Veratrum californicum)

These plants tend to like wet spots (it is wet over along this edge near the road) so I usually have trouble getting close enough to photograph the individual flowers. They’re really pretty with unusual dark green centers.

False Hellebore (Veratrum californicum)

Tuesday June 28th it was due to be in the 90’s along the lake so we decided to go UP to the top of our highest local mountain and do a hike up above 8,000 feet figuring it just might be cooler up there.

We headed down West Mountain Road where the fields were carpeted with White Mariposa Lilies (Calochortus eurycarpus) that instead of being just white with dark pink spots where light pink with pink spots.
White Mariposa Lilies (Calochortus eurycarpus)

There was also a lot of Oregon Checkermallow (Sidalca oregona) in bloom along the road too.

Oregon Checkermallow (Sidalca oregona)

We turned west on Cabarton Road and then headed up Snowbank Mountain Road. As we gained elevation we encountered Scarlet Gila (Ipomopsis aggregata) in exactly the same spot we saw it last year.

Scarlet Gila (Ipomopsis aggregata)

This is a flower we saw down in Arizona and Utah back in April. And here it is in bloom at about 5,000 feet in June in Idaho.

Scarlet Gila (Ipomopsis aggregata)

There were lots of the same flowers we saw last year as we climbed the mountain. But as we entered the first of the mountain meadows there were tons more lupine in bloom this year than last.

Silky Lupine (Lupinus sericeus)
I believe that this is Silky Lupine (Lupinus sericeus).

It was a wonderful deep blue and every individual flower has a bit of white on it’s upper flag.

Silky Lupine (Lupinus sericeus)

Farther along there were lovely arrangements of Woolly Goldenweed (Stenotus lanuginosus) and Scarlet Paintbrush with Spreading Phlox in the background.

Woolly Goldenweed (Stenotus lanuginosus) Scarlet Paintbrush

The Woolly Goldenweed is a sweet little splash of yellow.

Woolly Goldenweed (Stenotus lanuginosus)

There was still lupine and this time it was mixed with buckwheat.

Lupine and buckwheat

Last year we did this drive in early June and while there weren’t as many flowers, the same ones were in bloom and the amount of snow was the same. They didn’t have much of winter last year but they had a slightly above normal snowfall this year and lots of late snow so things were about the same in late June this year as they were last year in the first week of June.

We stopped so I could take a photo of Blue Lake set down in a large cirque.  

Blue Lake Cascade ID

You can see that there was still lots of snow on the ridge above the lake and down along the shoreline.

Blue Lake Cascade ID

There were a few cars leaving the trailhead parking lot at Blue Lake so the trail was open but we were headed further up the mountain all the way to the top where there’s a radar station that they use year round. As a result, they keep this road open 12 months a year but they only let the public drive on it in the summer.

Radar Station Snowbank Mt ID

We were supposed to take the left hand branch of the road just past the radar dome and when we started down that road this is what we found.

Snowbank on Snowbank Mt Rd

The tire tracks were really deep and we were both concerned about getting high centered in the middle of a snow bank out in the middle of nowhere. So we turned around knowing that even if we’d gotten through this snow there was more off in the distance and all along the north face of the mountain so the hike we’d planned probably wasn’t real doable. The elevation here is 8300 feet and the temperature was a heavenly 73 degrees.

Northward from Snowbank Mt

We headed back the way we came and I stopped in a slightly snowy section full of Glacier Lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum).     

Glacier Lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum)

I shot this photo of the view westward. Those bluish mountains in the distance are the Blue Mountains over in Oregon.

Westward from Snowbank Mt ID

Back down in the meadows near the trailhead to Blue Lake there were Penstemon and Mountain Meadow Cinquefoil (Potentilla diversifolia) in nice arrangements here and there.  

Penstemon and Mountain Meadow Cinquefoil (Potentilla diversifolia)

I stopped to take photos of shooting stars (which didn’t come out real well) and spied some Elephant Head (Pedicularis groenlandica) just starting to bloom. Here I’ve gone years and years wanting to see this stuff and only managing to see it once and now I’ve seen it two weeks running.

Elephant Head (Pedicularis groenlandica)

We stopped for lunch near Potter’s Pond and climbed the small ridge to look east out over the Long Valley.

Long Valley from Snowbank Mt ID

There was Spreading Phlox (Phlox diffusa) growing in clumps among the rocks.  

Spreading Phlox (Phlox diffusa)

And up on the rock ledge there was a huge rock garden filled with Penstemon and Buckwheat.

Penstemon and buckwheat

The flowers went all the way up the ledge.  

Penstemon and buckwheat

Most the flowers were Shrubby Penstemon (Penstemon fruticosus).

Shrubby Penstemon (Penstemon fruticosus)

I turned around after taking these photos and there was Walter at the lip of the ridge.

Walter Cooke Snowbank Mt ID

He wanted to show me this marvelous example of persistence—a tree growing around a huge boulder. If this was a contest, I think the tree won.

Tree wrapped around rock ledge

The meadow just down the hill from the radar station had been filled with yellow flowers which seem to have been Ballhead Ragwort (Senecio sphaerocephalus). There was more of it here, up close and personal along the ridge.   

Ballhead Ragwort (Senecio sphaerocephalus)

Tucked in among the rocks there was one example of Showy Polemonium (Polemonium pulcherrimum). This stuff was in bloom I our campground back in May.

Showy Polemonium (Polemonium pulcherrimum)

After lunch I took a short walk over to Potters Pond.

Potters Pond Snowbank Mt ID

The trailhead to Blue Lake is just across the road from here, so you can see there was still a lot of snow on the mountain to the west of it.

Potters Pond Snowbank Mt ID

The meadow next to Potters Pond was filled with Mountain Meadow Cinquefoil (Potentilla diversifolia)   

Mountain Meadow Cinquefoil (Potentilla diversifolia)

And tons of Jeffrey's Shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi).

Jeffrey's Shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi)

They are just a lovely fun flower.

Jeffrey's Shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi)

By the time we got back down to Lake Cascade the temperature had climbed to the high 90’s—otherwise known as just plain hot. It was however the hottest day of the week and so heading up into the mountains had been a good thing to do.

The next day we attempted to make our escape again. We drove north on West Mountain Road this time (which becomes a very nicely graded gravel road about a mile north of the campground) to take a different route up to McCall. We followed the Payette River a ways and then wandered through meadows and fields. In one of the meadows we spied 3 Sandhill Cranes stalking along.

Sandhill Cranes Lake Cascade ID

They are such amazing big birds.

Sandhill Cranes Lake Cascade ID

From McCall we drove north to the turn off to Brundage, the ski resort for the McCall area. We intended to head up the mountain and find a place for a picnic. But instead we ran into major road construction. It looked as if they were working on a major re-route of the road since they had cleared the trees for many feet on both sides and were doing grading in areas where there were lots of twists and turns. In any case when we hit the point where there was going to be a 20 minute wait for a pilot car we turned into a trailhead parking area that they had made into a construction staging area (and bulldozed along the trail for a ways) and turned around. We headed back into McCall and out along Payette Lake until we found a nice turn out with a view and a breeze.

Payette Lake McCall ID

Thursday the campground began to fill up for the holiday weekend. Even on Tuesday we began to have folks driving through hoping to find a first come first serve space (or a cancellation perhaps) which of course isn’t a strategy that works well anymore since most of our campgrounds here at Lake Cascade have no first come first serve spots. We had a few last minute cancellations, most of which were snatched up on-line within minutes but they did leave us with two openings for Friday night only. Both of those were snapped up by early afternoon and we were FULL. Curlew, the tent-only campground next door was full by 2 pm too (in fact beyond full).

We had way more cars than we had space for and they ended up parking over in Curlew so there were just tons and tons of cars over there. Many folks had brought boats up and so we had boats and boat trailers everywhere too. I walked around and around the campground trying to get everyone to relocate their cars and boats and by mid-evening I was pooped. We had a group of 5 teenaged girls camping opposite us and they had a 4-man tent and got a bad case of the giggles/hysterical laughter about 11:30 and I had to go out and get them to quiet down—I felt like mom telling the kids at a slumber party to settle down! And then just before midnight as we were settling down for the night, the folks next door in Curlew turned their music on and started to really whoop it up. And for the first time ever, I called the ranger to do something about the noise. He’d already made it back to Cascade so the ranger who lives on this side came by on his way home and got them to at least shut off the music at 12:30. I continued to hear laughter way late into the night as did the folks on their end of the campground.

Saturday we had someone drop their glasses down one of the vault toilets! What fun. We got one of our Easy Reacher trash pickers out and tried searching through the liquid muck for them and failed because we couldn’t reach the bottom—of course they’d sunk. But it turns out it’s really easy to pull the entire toilet assembly out and then they could stretch out on the floor and reach down the hole and fish. Ugh. But after a half hour or so they actually found them—amazing. Needless to say much washing and disinfecting went on before she put them back on but that was a great win for the day.

That evening Cascade put on their fireworks show so we didn’t bother with trying to have quiet hours since the fireworks up and down the lake started at about 10:30. But the campground was nice and quiet by 10 pm and all the noise was coming from the booms and bangs of fireworks and the music from boats cruising by. We had traffic running through the site later that night when folks came back from the fireworks but it wasn’t bad.

Sunday we were still full and life continued to be interesting with new folks arriving and folks still looking for places to camp. By then I was just plain tired and of course we had 2 more days to go before everyone went home. We just hung out on Sunday trying to conserve energy and things mostly stayed quiet—except for someone who turned their generator on (in the spot next to us) at 10:45 when generator hours end at 10 pm. They shut it off quickly after I talked to them but there were lots of booms and bangs again all along the lake late into the night as folks shot off their own fireworks.