Jonathan and I decided to hike up from Herring Cove to see what changes might have occured since late March when we were last there. There was not really any significant rain falling when we arrived, but the previous few days had seen a fair amount of rain. The creek running down into Herring Cove was higher than it had been during any of our previous hikes to this location, although it was not flooding.
The water was too high for us to make it up along the series of cascades and falls that are downstream from the slot. When we reached the slot, I took some pictures and we continued on to the mossy channels. The water was high enough that these channels had water running in them. After wandering around in this area for a while taking pictures and looking at plants, we headed up towards the waterfall.
We debated whether or not to brave the brush between the trail and the base of the falls. We ended up deciding to give it a try, and it turned out to not be too bad. It was somewhat easier for me since I was hiking in shorts and sandals, so I could wade in the creek without worrying about getting my feet wet if the water was too deep. Jonathan was wearing boots, so he had to pick his steps a little more carefully.
There had definitely been significant changes in the area at around the base of the falls since the last time we had made the hike. The salmonberries, currants, and elderberries were all leafed out with blooms. Many smaller herbaceous plants were growing and blooming in the open areas along the creekbed. We saw two or three types of mustard blooming (or nearly so), as well as mountain sorrel.
After visiting the waterfall, we continued up the valley to the clearings before the last stretch to Beaver Lake. There were quite a few flowers blooming in these clearings. The three-leaf goldthread flowers were quite numerous, and there was also white and red alaska mountain heathers, bog laurel, shooting stars, avens, northern star flowers, ground dogwood, and rusty menziesia. Rather than continue up towards the lake, we opted to head back down the west draw to try visiting a small pond we had seen previously from one of the hills. We hoped that it would be possible to make it all the way down the valley to the road.
The draw narrowed quickly, but were able to make relatively easy progress following the small stream that flowed down the center of it. Not too far after starting down, we came to a large overhanging cliff. At the base of the cliff was a small pool of water, but just above that were little alcoves that seemed to be fairly dry. The rain had started up while we were at the waterfall, so it was nice to spend a couple of minutes somewhat sheltered.
Although the total elevation change in the draw we were headed down was the same what we had come up, the manner of the change was much different. In this draw there were a couple of fairly flat sections with steep slopes between them. We managed to make our way down these steep areas without significant trouble, though it did require the use of hands to grab on.
The pond was a actually quite pleasant. I waded in a short distance, but it appeared to drop off quickly, and I was unsure what the bottom was like, so I choose not to get very deep. The water in the pond seemed much warmer than that in the stream (you do not notice these things so much when you hike in boots rather than sandals). Jonathan and I agreed that this seemed like a likely location for toads, but we did not see any (nor did we look too hard). In a small stand of trees there seemed to be a couple of busy juncos. They made some strange noises that I had not heard previously. I wondered if maybe there was a nest. After some investigation, it seemed more likely that they were building a nest. Each was carrying stuff in its beak that did not look like food. It would deposit what it was carrying somewhere (I was never quite able to tell exactly where) then fly off. A couple minutes later it would return.
The shores of the pond seemed to be dominated by sedges. I have recently learned that one of the ways to tell the difference between a bog and a rich fen is whether the peat is predominantly sphagnum moss or sedge. This area seemed more towards the fen end of the bog-fen spectrum, although there was some sphagnum in amongst the sedges. We also found some orchids and blue violets blooming.
The hike from the pond back to the road was largely uneventful. We started to see more frequent flagging. This area is probably well utilized during the hunting season. One other thing of note was a rock that we picked up from an outcrop. It was white and at the time did not seem very chalky, but since it has dried out, it seems far more chalky. I will have to show it to a geologist, to see what kind it is.