A cloudy, rainy day in mid-July might not be the ideal day to hike into Tuckerman Ravine, but it’s certainly a great time to check out blooming wildflowers. This glacial cirque on the eastern side of Mount Washington is home to lots of unique and beautiful vegetation.
Midway up the headwall, the violets and bluets mix together beautifully, shining with accumulated moisture. The rain spectacularly highlighted the bright yellow sun-shaped centers of the bluets.
Heading higher up on the headwall brings you over small snowmelt waterfalls that feed down into the Cutler River and out of the ravine. In these damp areas, the rare mountain avens flourish. These bright, showy flowers exist only in the White Mountains and on a small island off of the coast of Nova Scotia. Although extrordinarily well-adapted to the harsh conditions of our high summits, mountain avens are classified as threatened in New Hampshire. It’s definitely a treat to see them blooming all over Tuckerman right now.
Another interesting find was the tall white bog orchid, which also thrives in wet environments. Found across the northern United States and Canada, this plant sends up a dense spike of spreading, white flowers. This orchid possesses its own stately beauty that contrasts with the flashy nature of the other flowers in the ravine.
This quick trip into the Tuckerman Ravine revealed just a part of the fabulous show of wildflowers that continues all summer long up on the higher summits of the White Mountains. Adventures into these hills are a constant source of new knowledge, surprises, and awe.