Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Wildflower Bounty on Saddle Mtn

I'd heard the reports.  Seen the photos online.  Rumor had it this was the best wildflower show ever on the slopes of Saddle Mountain.  No way was I missing out!

Little did I know it would be my last hike for nearly a month.

Lovely, green woods

As some of you may remember, in mid-June I had a little trouble with a pin in my right foot (full story here).  Temporarily placed from an October bunion surgery, it had begun to migrate out of position. 

Wild iris

Suffering with a sore foot all week, I waited until my Friday off to see the doc.  After confirming that indeed the pin was moving, my doctor suggested I try a bunion pad to take pressure off the affected area.  Hoping this pad would keep things in place, I decided to try it out on a hike.  It was my day off after all - I didn't want to waste it sitting around home!

Larkspur alley

So after leaving the doctor's office, I grabbed my backpack and headed straight to Saddle Mountain.

Switchback with a view

Saddle Mountain is located 65 miles west of Portland, in Oregon's coast range.  A mere 10 miles from the ocean, summit views stretch for miles in all directions.  Each summer this treeless peak produces an incredible display of wildflowers.  A well-used State Park and campground are located at it's base.

Wildflower field

Leaving the sunny skies of Portland, I was disappointed at first when I saw the Coast Range cloaked in clouds.  But - on the bright side - it would make temperatures much more bearable for hiking, and provide some great light for photographs.

Colorful flower garden

The flower show began soon after the half mile mark, when I spotted my first wild iris.  While bent over trying to get a photo, a group of descending hikers informed me the best was yet to come.

Looking towards Saddle Mtn summit

And they were right!  After the iris zone, I passed through an area thick with tall stalks of larkspur flowers.  Purple blooms lined the trail - it was like walking through a floral tunnel.  I'd never seen such a high concentration.

Tiger lilies a-plenty

I passed by so many different patches of color.  There was brilliant orange columbine, pink wild onion, Indian paintbrush, tiny cheery yellow flowers.  Every time I turned the corner, there was something else bright and wonderful.

Incredible flower fields

The trail to the top is steep.  Gaining 1600 feet in a mere 2.5 miles, some sections are a sweaty slog.  Due to overuse, path erosion has necessitated extensive repairs.  Many portions of the trail are now rebuilt with rock wrapped in chicken wire.  Not very fun to travel over, but it does keep the dirt in place.

Windy path up the mountain

The first mile and  a half wound through lovely green forest.  Gaps in the trees gave occasional views of the hills and valleys far below.  After much climbing, the forest suddenly parted, providing a dramatic view of the summit ahead.

There were fields of these lovely pink blooms!

It was at these final summit meadows where the flower show really got going.  The ground was covered with blooms of all different varieties.

Rounding the bend

Orange tiger lilies dotted the landscape.  Pale pink frilly flowers bloomed in thick patches.  An occasional wild iris rose above the grass.  I'd never seen such a concentration of wildflowers!  I tried hard to capture this incredible kaleidoscope of color, but my photos didn't do it justice.

Summit selfie

It took quite awhile for me to travel the final half mile to the mountain's very top.  Too many colorful distractions!  But I finally reached Saddle Mountain's summit, and was surprised to have it all to myself.

Saddle Mtn summit view

All the way up, I'd been passed by a steady stream of hikers, both ascending and descending.  Arriving at an empty summit was nothing short of astonishing.  Enjoying the solitude, I soaked in the magnificent views while enjoying a snack.

You could see for miles

Parting clouds allowed glimpses of nearby ocean beaches.  The adjacent mountains and forests spread out in all directions, clear cuts making ugly interruptions in the green landscape.

Wild rose

I spent a wonderful half hour by myself on the summit before another hiking party arrived.  Taking this as my cue to leave, I swapped camera lenses and began the long trek down. 

Tiger lily

My trip up had been all about capturing landscapes.  For my return trip, I'd attached my macro lens, intent on getting more detailed images.  I hoped these flowers were ready for their close ups!

Unknown pink flower

So many wonderful wildflowers!  I had trouble narrowing down my images, so here's a sampling for you to enjoy.  The above pink flowers were everywhere.  I'd never seen flowers like these before, and sadly had no idea of their name.

Wild onion

Lovely pink wild onion.

Loved these white flowers

These dainty white flowers grew in great abundance in one section of the meadow.

Two-tone purple beauty

Upon entering the forest once again, I spied these miniature two-tone purple penstemon blossoms.

Almost done!

Halfway down the mountain, my foot began to throb.  This half mile marker was a most welcome sight!  Arriving at my car, I was more than ready to remove my boots.

Hiking on a lame foot was probably not one of the smartest things I've ever done.  Less than a week later, I'd be in my doctor's office having those pins removed.  A rude interruption in my summer hiking plans, it would be several weeks before I'd be healed enough to hit the trails again.

But I don't regret my hike up Saddle Mountain.  Seeing those amazing flower fields was totally worth it.

Sharing with:  Scenic Weekends and Through My Lens


  1. Astnding view adndiversity of wild flowers. A fantastic hike, too bad about your foot but as you say, it was worth it so thanks for making the trip to the top.

  2. I'm with you. Sights like that are worth the pain but I hope the op has been a success and you'll be back on your feet again before too long.

  3. A superb selection. Stunning and well worth a painful walk.

  4. The views are breathtaking, the flowers gorgeous. Wonderful timing.
    And I love your selfie!
    Fun post, Linda!
    (Hope your foot is all healed)

  5. Hello Linda, what an awesome post and photos. The wildlfowers are all gorgeous.There are so many beautiful flowers it is hard to pick a favorite. I love them all, the unknown pinks are lovely. The views from the summit are stunning. Thanks for taking me along on your hike. Have a happy day!

  6. What a stunning area! Your photos are amazing.

  7. Both the views and the flowers are incredible! I just don't understand how you get such beautiful mountain meadows out there filled with flowers. Wonderful. Sorry about the foot!

  8. Absolutely gorgeous pictures. I love the pretty purple penstemon, and you're right: the overcast made the pictures really beautiful. That, and your talented eye. :-)

  9. Oh yeah, this flower bonanza was worth it! What a cornucopia! The variety is amazing.

  10. Linda, this series is absolutely stunning and captivating! Thank you so much for sharing.

  11. Who could regret this - though I don't envy you the pain! Those pink flowers might be Alpine Wallflowers (looks like they might have basal leaves). I think the little white are Mouse Ears. I've never seen a two-toned Penstemon. My photos never do the wildflowers justice, but yours are spectacular. I loved visiting the PNW in the spring several years ago. I think I was early for the wildflower show though.

  12. wow - what beauty! Those flowers really are gorgeous. Hope your foot is now healing.

  13. As always, so gorgeous. Love those open trail views. Hope your foot has healed and you'll be back out soon.

  14. Wow! What an awesome day for you. So much wondrous beauty. Do hope the foot is healing well and you can be out and about again.

  15. wow I need to go hiking with you.. great shots ... My favorite is #10 and all the flowers come in 2nd...Great great shots...I want to go check this area out for sure..Thanks for sharing!

  16. Your flower shots are absolutely amazing and what a joy to hike and see these. Texas is 106 right now and anything even resembling a flower is brown. Sorry to hear about that pin and hope your recovery from the pin removal goes smoothly. I am just about to have a big shoulder surgery so am trying to get in all of the fun that I can before the surgery as it is going to be a long recovery period.

  17. You didn't ask the doctor if you should go hiking, did you? Well, the photos are gorgeous.

    1. Actually I did. My doc was the one that suggested I try the bunion pads to ease the pressure. Sadly, by that point I think the pin had moved far enough that nothing was going to help.

  18. Such a great diversity of wildflowers! I've been away from the blog for a while, so I didn't realize you've had foot trouble. Sorry to hear it, and hope all will be well soon!

  19. That is such a pretty trail! I love all the rolling hills. Glad you got out to enjoy the wildflowers no matter what.

  20. What a gorgeous wildflower garden! Tom The Backroads Traveller

  21. stunning photos Linda - How's the foot doing now?

    1. Hey, Kim, my foot is nearly healed now. I've been taking moderate hikes, and am hoping to get the "all clear" from my doc next week to start running again.

  22. Linda I often flick back to your posts to further enjoy them. This morning I remembered to click on them to enlarge. OMG! The flowers and views are sooo….. beautiful. I could also see just how steep the climb was.

  23. Pictures NEVER really do a scene justice, sadly, but I love your photos just the same. What a wondrous place that would capture my attention for hours! I do hope your foot heals well and fast!

  24. What a beautiful hike, what fun for you minus the foot pain. I hope you are recovering for the Fall hikes:)

  25. Oh Linda, how I've missed your amazing photos and your amazing Oregon! And your awesome selfies!
    These wildflowers are spectacular. I would be like a kid in a candy store surrounded by them all!
    This summer, early days of July, I ran into one of the most spectacular wildflower experiences of my life here not far from home.. Hundreds and hundreds of Showy Pink Lady Slippers. Huge, beautiful, amazing. (rare here, even though they're our state flower.) Most people don't even see one in their lifetime and I hit the jackpot.. I've never dreamed of such a sight. It was a joyous day, and still thrills me a month later to think back on it. I hope that is the case for you while your foot is in recovery once again. What an awesome hike! Wishing you a really healthy foot asap.

  26. Hope the foot recovers from all its stress! Pain, is after all temporary in this situation!

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  27. The June wildflowers are gorgeous so I'm glad you don't regret having taken that hike!

  28. That's a spectacular hike, both for the views and the wildflowers. Hopefully you're foot has healed well!

  29. I am just amazed at the many varieties of wildflowers you encounter on just one hike! And you capture them all so beautifully. This looks like a perfect day, if it hadn't been for your foot. Hope it's better and you are looking forward to your next adventure.

  30. Hi! Nice collection of wild flowers. The scenery also very beautiful. I hope you will recover your foot pain day by day. Thanks for sharing.

  31. What an amazing hike to see all those wildflowers. Fantastic photos going up and coming down. I'm a camera freak, and always have one with me as you never know when there is something to capture through the lens. Hope the recovery goes smoothly. I'm visiting from Through my Lens.

  32. Your discoveries in the wildlife are always amazing to me. Such gorgeous scenery. Thanks so much for linking up with "Through My Lens" photo meme.

    Mersad Donko Photography

  33. Did you admit to your Dr. that you went on a HUGE hike after you left his office???:-) Well, all's well that ends well, and now you are fine and WOW! Incredible, stunning shots! Glad you went! :-) I'm with you....I would have had to have gone and not miss out on all that beauty.

  34. WOW! What a fabulous assortment of wildflowers! The Tiger Lilies really caught my eye as I never saw them curled up the way they are there. I'm sure the climate must help those flowers thrive.

    I'm amazed you were able to hike with a lose pin in your foot! I hope you are healing well and will be back on the trails again soon!

  35. Linda, I am so sorry about your foot!! We are headed your way tomorrow, but looks like no hiking for you. Don't know how much we will be able to do, hubbies foot has been killing him as well. He is going to get an appt. with a Podiatrist when we get home. Your pics are gorgeous! I would love to see this if it's not too far from where we are staying. Do you think the flowers will still be putting on a show? I am going to e-mail you my cell no. If you feel up to it and want to meet for lunch one day (or dinner) that would be awesome!

  36. Looks a nice mountain hike in itself apart from the range of flowers on offer. Hope your foot gets better soon.

  37. Oh my gosh what beautiful flowers and views you captured. I'm sorry to hear you had problems with your foot (I had a pin once that had to be removed so I know what that's like) you are so brave to have hiked with your foot like that. Thanks because these were just wonderful. The pink flower looks a lot like Rose of Sharon.

  38. I love those little white ones too, great shot of the group of them.

  39. I love all the gorgeous colourful flowers and the views are spectacular as well!


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