Ghost Pipes on CREA Trail

Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

(Map link.)

Back at the north end of the Rhododendron Trail, I was prepared to see what had become of the ghost pipes (Monotropa uniflora). They look pretty cool in pictures when in seed, not that I had any idea how long it takes them to get that way or how long they hang around once they do. By this point, I had realized that in forgetting my GPS, I lost the points stored in the GPS for the other monotropes (subfamily Monotropoideae) along the trail. I had no worries about finding some evidence of the ghost pipes. I set my Hiking Project app to recording the track, but still hadn't proven it was actually saving anything. I started up Peakbagger as a backup since I have been able to save tracks stored in it. Peakbagger is a delight for just being useful while having no ulterior motive. It also needed an extra permission to keep it working in the background, but managed to ask for it with a simple dialog.

sign at the Rhododendron Trail
Sign at the north end of the Rhododendron Trail.

Then I just had to get to the top of the hill. I found a scant few tiny rhododendron flowers dropped on the trail from the last blooming trees, but berries provided some color and even some grand patterns along the way.

tall trees
Redwoods (with the huge leaves of a rhododendron near the bottom) along the small creek.

molted red and white berries with plenty of ripe red berries
Molted red berries become bright red hanging from the Soloman's plume.

green berries
The small green berries on the cascara are almost as hard to find as the smaller flowers were, so they don't add much decoration.

blue beads on stalks
The clintonia offers up lots of blue berries.

paper nest in the ground full of black and yellow bugs
I found the ground nest of some yellowjackets, probably due to a skunk found it before me.

redwood trees
Redwood trees high above the creeks, little and big.

Just before the top of the hill, I found what I was looking for. The first ghost pipes, right in the middle of the trail, didn't look so great.

mix of ages of ghost pipes
Ghost pipes in the trail in seed, including some from the previous year.

clumps beside the trail
Three more smaller clumps line the trail.

I stopped seeing more than a scattered few under bushes off the trail as I went over the top of the hill. They'd been in different stages when I was there prior. (That was way back at the start of July, though. They were just coming up.) Over the hill, where there are signs for memorial grove trails, but no trails remaining, there is another big group of large clumps.

curved over white stalks
Some stalks in this group still curve over, but they all look in seed.

bright yellow giant slug
Only a few banana slugs at the moment, but some of them quite bright.

trail among the green
The light square against the redwood up ahead is a sign certain that a trail travels a half mile to a memorial grove somewhere around here.

ghost pipes and really big redwood sorrel
The ghost pipes are 6 or 8 inches tall, but the redwood sorrel can get quite big.

bulging flowers
Flowers developing into seed heads.

redwoods through the rhododendrons
Looking up at the redwoods through the rhododendrons. Maybe about time to turn around.

There were actually a few ghost pipes that were just getting around to popping out of the ground. I made a go at following the second sign for the groves, which is the most explicit, but found that I had to imagine the trail and I quickly got to an end of anything that looked likely. I did find another clump of ghost pipes, then returned to the trail for a snack and got to noticing the cones.

selection of cones arranged on a log
The small ones down the middle are the redwoods the area is known for. The large ones are Douglas fir, which can get as big around as average redwoods. The ones not much bigger than the redwood are western hemlock that tends not to be noticed at all, but is quite common in the area.

sunlight on white flowers
The sun hit the nearby clump of ghost pipes.

I headed back, finally finding the clump of ghost pipes that were the furthest along two month prior. They aren't the only clump in the area. There were four in a few feet that were all distinctly different ages. All of these from the current year are still quite moist and pliable, but some have less black edge.

seed pods of different ages
Some flowers fresh enough to still have light colored anthers and the seed pods that grew up the year before.

clumps of ghost pipes
Three clumps of different ages. The middle is the youngest and the last the oldest. There was another clump of pods probably from two years prior just out of frame.

trunks reaching way up
The trees of the forest that go with those cones. The trees in back are generally redwoods. The tree front and center is a Douglas fir. The smaller tree on the left with smaller texturing is a western hemlock.

pipes breaking out of the groundcover
Some just now breaking out of the ground, but these also have black fringing.

pink tops
There's a little color variation in the ghost pipes.

I failed to refind the gnome plant (Hemitomes congestum) again. The GPS was supposed to help me out there. Down the hill without it.

dark berries
Salal berries provide a very dark purple.

Then up again continuing further along the Rhododendron Trail. There was plenty of time to fail to refind the fringed pinesap (Pleuicospora fimbriolata, but I do find myself questioning this identification) again.

straddled tree
The tree above has roots straddling the log below it, but the closer tree has none because it is actually a branch of the living log.

orange chunks hanging from green
The fairybells add orange.

blackened leaves in threes
Trillium have silently remained to take up sunlight, but are now darkening as they die back to leave room for the next flowers.

deep reds
The baneberries provide a more consistent deep red.

small, round bird
Many birds are heard, but few are actually seen, like this little wren.

I decided to turn around when I hit the high point of the trail. It turns out, this was still about a tenth of a mile short of the plant I was hoping to spot again. It was just past a cluster of one of the few flowers that are blooming at the moment: rattlesnake plantain. I had seen a few flower stalks springing up with a buds starting and spotted one with flowers a little bit past their prime, but this big patch was at its zenith.

tiny white flowers on many stalks
A few of the tiny flowers of the rattlesnake plantain at the side of the trail.

white flowes on a stalk
Getting closer to those tiny flowers.

I thought the briefest moment about continuing around the circle after all, but kept it shorter and turned back.

pods developing among long dead petals
There's a little color in the developing pods of the rhododendrons.

red and dark berries, but mostly green
As they ripen, the huckleberries are red, then dark blue/purple.

lilies in seed
The leopard lilies are now big, green pods.

one bright red leaf among greens
One leaf on an Oregon grape is changing in this evergreen forest.

I finished up and checked on my tracks. Both programs had done their job, but only Peakbagger let me save it, although in a non-obvious way via "sharing" it to the drive. Hiking Project makes me go find the track online, which only works when there is an online to go.

*photo album*

©2021 Valerie Norton
Written 24 Sep 2021

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