Sunday, May 17, 2015

6-Aug-2010 Suntop Mountain, Washington

Site location (click to enlarge)
To the northeast of Mt. Rainier lies Suntop Mountain, a 5300' peak offering spectacular views over the surrounding wilderness.  Commanding views have been a useful resource for the US Forest Service, which equipped the Suntop summit with a fire lookout station in about 1933 and maintains a road to it that is open to the public.

Friendly fire watcher
The view was a bit hazy on this day, but still spectacular.  The fire watcher was very accommodating and allowed me into the lookout house to look for spiders as well as observe the best view possible.  I found not a single spider in that very clean lookout, but there were plenty in the subalpine meadow and treeline forest surrounding it.

Under the western white pines
Fallen P. monticola cones
But the real fun started after we descended about 500' in elevation into a fir and hemlock forest that contained a stand of western white pine (Pinus monticola).  Tapping 167 cones I collected 20 spiders and 10 species.  Pretty rich for a cone sample, and in August, too!  I do get the impression that fallen cones in western Washington support a richer spider fauna than do their eastern Washington counterparts.  However, I've tapped cones at only a handful of western Washington sites, so the jury is still out.

Be sure to check out Rod's view of the day here!

Lycanid butterflies were mating on Suntop Mountain

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