Today we strolled through the Johnston Wilderness Campus, a piece of wooded land owned by Whitman College. The handful of cabins, and the astonishing number of bunk beds they house, are open for use by Whitman students, faculty and staff.
|Amelia tests the cold water of Mill Creek.|
|Steep rocky cliffs rose on both sides.|
I felt like I was home in a western Washington coastal forest as I wandered among evergreens and squishy moss through a persistent grey drizzle. The Doug firs were particularly familiar.
The grand firs, with their flat needles, reminded me of the absent western hemlocks. The turquoise Engelmann spruce, small and lonely in its deer cage, substituted for the Sitka spruces I was expecting, and the majestic western red cedars seemed prehistoric as usual.
|Our professor, Bob, points out a stand of aspen.|
|Bob's 11-year-old dog Kili is still as spunky as a puppy.|
One color stood out as discordant: the lime-green needle tufts of the western larches. Those trees are utterly foreign to me: a conifer that loses its needles?!
The five larches we could see from our resting spot on a steep mountainside meadow reminded me I wasn't in a coastal lowland forest at all; I was in the strange misty peaks of the Blue Mountains in eastern Oregon.
|Hiking across an ecotone into a south-facing subalpine meadow.|
Notice the lime-green larches in the background.
|Our resting place had a very steep grade.|
|I tried to capture the steepness with a photo facing up the hillside.|
I love exploring this new habitat, and I hope I'll find a way to get back out here over the next two and a half years after my environmental studies course ends -- maybe as part of Semester in the West!
... Stay tuned for that dream.
|Even in hot pink pants, Yidi blended right in with the fall foliage.|
|The identity of this cone had us stumped.|
|My botanical samples: ponderosa pine, cottonwood, grand fir, western red cedar, maple, Douglas fir, yew, alder, and a non-native Port Orford cedar.|