Sourgrass Mountain

July 12, 1981

Sourgrass “81” was one of my better Obsidian hikes. The weather was just right. Balmy breezes and a beautiful blue sky punctuated with a few non-threatening puffy white clouds. The group was small — 8 people, and the trail is much more pleasant now that Helen Smith and her crew have cleaned it up. I have been hiking this area for more than 15 years now and it is interesting to me to see the spread of different species of wildflowers from one area to another. On Sourgrass “79” I found for the first time the Parrots Beak at about mid-point of the trail. This year I found it growing in profusion at the trailhead. Last year my favorite flower in this area was the Columbia Tiger Lily. This year I decided I like the strange little Inside-out flower the best. Lunch was consumed at the usual viewpoint overlooking Hills Creek Reservoir and on the way to my exit thru the thicket I led my group on the usual route past the Owls Clover, Delphiniums, Wallflower, Columbine, Phacelia, Ginger and finally thru the coolness of the Alder thicket and the caress of the Devils Club. The Alder thicket is always the high point of this hike. Everyone remembers it, and for those that have never identified Devils Club before, they can now. My annual visit to Elk Camp found it in its usual good condition. The unique facilities there which in the past I have referred to as the “Throne in the Forest” has, acquired a new privacy shield. When did that happen?

Sourgrass mountain will always be one of my favorite places and as long as people want to follow me I will lead a hike there every year. This year’s followers were Barry Beck, Bob Foster, Betty Legris, Kathy Ryan, Frank & Ruth Sumich, and Bev Thomas. You’re right, Betty, I do have all of those little families that I go to visit each year and every year the family gets bigger.

P.S. On July 25 I guided Andy Meldenke, a naturalist for the U.S. Forest Service, into this area and now Sourgrass Mountain is recorded as supporting a stand of the Swertia umquaensis, a rare member of the Gentian family. Thanks to Margaret Markley for first identifying it for me last year.

—Bob Holmquist


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