Besides ski season, June is one of my favorite times to visit the Mt Hood area. Why, you ask? Because June is when lovely pink rhodies bloom in the forests. Although the proper name for this flower is "rhododendron" we locals refer to them as "rhodies."
Last year I missed the entire rhodie season after spending June and July in South Dakota recovering from brain surgery. In 2022, I vowed to make up for those lost flower-viewing opportunities.
|The rhodies are blooming!|
In mid-June I made an exploratory trip to the lower elevations of the Mt. Hood National Forest. I found a few pink blooms, but overall things were just getting started. Two weeks later I returned and although the flowers were beginning to fade down low, in areas above 4000 feet elevation the rhodie bloom was going strong.
|Mt Hood view from Trillium Lake|
My first stop was Trillium Lake. This small water body has a killer view of Mt. Hood from it's shores, which is often reflected in the lake during calm weather. Luck was with me that morning, because I was greeted with glassy waters that mirrored Mt. Hood perfectly on the lake's surface. A mid-level cloud bank just added to the photo drama. (I love clouds - I think they make images more interesting.)
|Trillium Lake fishing dock|
With my early morning arrival I was able to beat the hiking and sightseeing crowd, but not the fishermen. (Being married to a fisher-guy, I know that they love nothing more than to get up obscenely early to purse their sport.) But the fishermen weren't any trouble - they were all busy trying to lure the resident trout. I kind of liked having them in my frames.
|My attempt to get lake, mountain and rhodies in one frame|
I'd hoped to get a shot of a blooming rhodie bush with the lake and mountain in the background. But after walking most of the south shore, all I found was one sad bloom. The one bush actually located along the lakeshore wasn't quite ready to flower. So the above photo was as close as I got.
|I found a big patch near Timothy Lake|
Naturally there were tons of rhodie bushes along the road into Trillium Lake. But these weren't anywhere close to the lake. Even so, I got lots of good images of the roadside pink blooms. Too bad one or two couldn't move closer to the lake. (I considered trying to patch one rhodie bush into a lake image, but I'm not that good at Photoshop!)
Remembering that nearby Timothy Lake had an abundance of rhodie bushes I decided to head over there. My family used to camp at Timothy Lake frequently in the 90's. I have fond memories of fun times with my hubby and kids at this beautiful lake. Back in those days we could arrive on a Friday in the summer and still get a camping spot for the weekend. Sadly population growth in the Portland area, coupled with more people discovering outdoor recreation, has made this lake a wildly popular spot. Nowadays if you don't reserve a site 6 months in advance, forget about camping here. Spontaneity is a thing of the past.
|Even the butterflies like rhodies|
At least the rhodies were still around. I found lots of the gorgeous pink bushes lining the entrance road and at many of the campgrounds. However, at three of the developed Forest Service campgrounds, I discovered day users weren't allowed to drive in and park anymore. Naturally there weren't any rhodie bushes at the designated day use area. Ironically the best displays were along the entrance road, which happened to be under construction.
|Bright spots in the forest|
Was I about to be skunked again in my rhodie quest? Luckily I found a pull-out along a stretch of road that wasn't being worked on that happened to have a high concentration of pink blossoms. Finally - I was able to get my rhodie shots.
The Timothy Lake area has lots of great scenery. I drove past an old guard station, now renovated for overnight use. In a large swampy clearing, I spotted the ancient cabin my kids and I used to visit while camping nearby.
|Old cabin near Timothy Lake|
Since it was in the neighborhood, I then decided to drive over the nearby Little Crater Lake. Situated near another Forest Service campground, this tiny body of water displays a unique blue color, similar to it's larger cousin to the south.
|Lupine blooms near Little Crater Lake|
From the parking area, visitors hike a short trail to see the lake. Although there wasn't any rhodies here, the path cut through a large grassy field full of lovely purple lupine flowers.
|Little Crater Lake|
Here's my favorite photo of Little Crater Lake. The lake is fed by an underground spring that gives the lake it's unusual blue hue.
|Anemone and ladybug|
Although not an area known for rhododendrons, for my last stop of the day I decided to swing by Mt. Hood Meadows Ski Resort and visit Umbrella Falls. A quarter mile trail from the resort's access road takes hikers to this stunning waterfall. Along the way, I spotted several different wildflowers blooming (although not rhodies!). I loved this shot of a deep purple anemone flower with a ladybug hanging out on one of its leaves.
And the waterfall was pretty spectacular too. Although there were no rhodies in the area, I always enjoy visiting this lovely cascade.
It was a successful rhodie-hunting trip around the mountain. I love having these beautiful places just a short drive from my home.
Now to get caught up on the other wildflowers I missed last summer!