Buck Mountain, Loup Loup Pass June 14 and June 22, 2016

In late June I took two trips to the Loup Loup Summit area.  I had a mission- to re-take historic panoramic photos from 1934, at Buck Mountain Look-out, for Washington State Department of Natural Resources- the DNR.  On the first trip I took too many dead end roads, ran out of time and instead of getting up to Buck Mountain, stopped along the highway west of Loup Loup Summit, for the spectacular displays of lupine. The lupine had come up in the area burned two years earlier in Carlton Complex Fire.  On my second trip, I still had trouble navigating, and ended up at a lovely little lake in section 20. I finally got on the right road, but nearly did not make it up to the look-out due to the massive boulders and slabs of exposed rock.  I should have taken my gas-guzzling Tundra instead of my moderately gas-thirsty RAV-4.  

Buck Mountain Look-out nearly burned up in the Beaver Lake Fire in 2015.  The Beaver Lake fire was part of massive Okanogan-Complex Fire, the largest fire in Washington state history.  Fortunately firefighters were able to save the historic structure.  I would like to hear their stories.  Buck Mountain Look-out started as a crow's nest in 1919.  A pole tower was built in 1934, and the present structure was built in 1961.  It is occasionally manned.

Stand replacement fire- where all of the trees are killed, is the norm in the kind of high elevation forest that is around Buck Mountain.  Most of the trees are lodgepole pine, with some Engelmann spruce, and subalpine fir.  The big difference in modern fire compared with earlier times is the sheer extent of high intensity fires.  Visiting a year after the fire, green-up was starting on the south facing slopes (south aspects).  I saw numerous snowshoe hares and mountain bluebirds, and also one deer and one grouse.  I look forward to returning in a year or two to re-take some photos.   This area on the Loup Loup State Forest, east of Twisp, and west of Okanogan is well worth visiting. 

 Far from ruining this little lake, the fire added ecological diversity.  The burned patch will support shrubs and grasses.  I can visualize swallows nesting in the snags ten years from now and swooping over the lake to grab insects.  This is what is called "mixed severity" fire where there is a mix of live and dead trees.   Beaver Lake Fire 2015

Far from ruining this little lake, the fire added ecological diversity.  The burned patch will support shrubs and grasses.  I can visualize swallows nesting in the snags ten years from now and swooping over the lake to grab insects.  This is what is called "mixed severity" fire where there is a mix of live and dead trees.   Beaver Lake Fire 2015

 Fortunately fire-fighters were able to save this historic structure built in 1961.  The fire burned really hot here as evidenced by the complete consumption of needles on the trees.  Beaver Lake Fire 2015

Fortunately fire-fighters were able to save this historic structure built in 1961.  The fire burned really hot here as evidenced by the complete consumption of needles on the trees.  Beaver Lake Fire 2015

 The fire almost got it...............    Buck Mountain Lookout,  Beaver Lake Fire 2015

The fire almost got it...............    Buck Mountain Lookout,  Beaver Lake Fire 2015

 Here is the photo comparison.  Thanks to Washington Department of Natural Resources and Wenatchee Forestry Sciences Lab for supporting this project!

Here is the photo comparison.  Thanks to Washington Department of Natural Resources and Wenatchee Forestry Sciences Lab for supporting this project!

 It is pretty stark looking, but it won't stay that way.  Beaver Lake Fire 2015.  2016 photo

It is pretty stark looking, but it won't stay that way.  Beaver Lake Fire 2015.  2016 photo

 Fire has much to do with weathering, I think.  This granite boulder is exfoliating. The green-up of grass is inspirational.  Beaver Lake Fire 2015, 2016 photo

Fire has much to do with weathering, I think.  This granite boulder is exfoliating. The green-up of grass is inspirational.  Beaver Lake Fire 2015, 2016 photo

 Photograph from west of Loup Loup Summit.  This photograph was taken on June 14, at about 3,500 feet elevation.  This area burned as part of Carlton Complex Fire in 2014. The dead trees are a mix of Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine.  The flowers are a species of lupine. Carlton Complex Fire 2014, 2016 Photo

Photograph from west of Loup Loup Summit.  This photograph was taken on June 14, at about 3,500 feet elevation.  This area burned as part of Carlton Complex Fire in 2014. The dead trees are a mix of Douglas-fir and ponderosa pine.  The flowers are a species of lupine. Carlton Complex Fire 2014, 2016 Photo

 Fireweed blooms where floodwaters swept the summer before.  Frazer Creek, west of Loup Loup Summit.  Carlton Complex Fire 2014, 2016 Photo

Fireweed blooms where floodwaters swept the summer before.  Frazer Creek, west of Loup Loup Summit.  Carlton Complex Fire 2014, 2016 Photo

 Insects don't create art, or do they?  Egg galleries made by Douglas-fir beetles (Dendroctonus pseudotsugae).  I found these patterns on the underside of some bark from a large Douglas-fir tree.  The tree was injured by the fire, and finished off by the bark beetles.  

Insects don't create art, or do they?  Egg galleries made by Douglas-fir beetles (Dendroctonus pseudotsugae).  I found these patterns on the underside of some bark from a large Douglas-fir tree.  The tree was injured by the fire, and finished off by the bark beetles.