East of here lies a sea of peaks that reach 10,000 feet at times. All this mass and height gathers weather and extracts most of the moisture out of systems that fly in on the jet stream. The dotted line on maps running mostly North and South along the Cascade Range is referred to as The Crest (as in The Pacific Crest Trail). It is here where ecosystems seem to change instantly from rainforest to desert.
And it is here where we aim when the west side is socked-in, wet and gray. It is also where we find a shallower snowpack, warmer temps and views. And wildflowers months ahead of the schedule of western slopes.
So, we left behind the snowshoes and found a medium elevation hike nearly snow-free. The area is called “driveway butte” for the cattle drivers that used to lead cows into the meadows to munch on the fresh greenery.
A favorite tree of mine that grows East of the Crest is the Ponderosa Pine, a towering orange-barked beauty.
Unfortunately, the arid climate makes the Eastern slopes especially susceptible to wildfire and this barren section was not inspiring at all.
This plant I’ve yet to identify looks like cilantro and tastes like it as well. The flower, however, tasted like anise. Yum!