Lewisia at Last

Lewisia at last. I had been waiting years to see it and listening to friends talk about it for a long time. I had been hiking for miles to find it. And finally, on a clear day in June, near Leavenworth, Washington, after eight miles of hiking, there it was. Shining on top of a rock. Glowing. Carelessly perched for all to see. I had been scanning the landscape all day, pausing to look on all the surfaces, thinking I might miss it for its small size. I was so surprised to see it featured so prominently on a boulder, clumps of it, at least 10 or 12 plants, some of the clumps bigger than I had ever imagined Lewisia to be, at least 14 inches across.

I was also surprised to see it because after looking for it all day (this was my second hike) my body was spent and I was on the verge of giving up. This being my first ‘real’ hike of the season, I was not in the best shape. I was getting wobbly. I knew that if I didn’t turn around soon I wouldn’t make it back. The only reason I had gone this far was my determination to find this plant. Elusive Lewisia. In the field guide it stated that tweedyi was on the Icicle Ridge Hike, but I found none of it. Fortunately I ran into two intrepid young women studying wildflowers and they directed me to the Snow Lakes Hike nearby. They had just hiked it recently and reported Lewisia all over. I was delighted to hear where to find it and couldn’t wait to get to the bottom of the Icicle Ridge trail so I could start up the next one. I found the lovely Cypripedium montanum, lady slipper orchid on this trail, but it wasn’t my goal, so on I went.

I was so excited to have it so close, that I barely paused between hikes. I had a single focus as I hiked, tweedyi, tweedyi where were you tweedyi? As the switchbacks never ceased and my body fatigue grew I told myself just five more minutes. Just one more bend. Just a bit more. I was about to turn around when I lifted my eyes to see a beautiful sunrise of color ahead of me. I knew immediately that the flower I had hunted for all day was suddenly in my presence. It was there! Suddenly the aches and pain faded away and I was filled with such happiness and delight to see this diminutive NW native wildflower blooming in its home. In the Wenatchee mountains, on a rock, under a forest canopy, with a rushing river nearby. I threw down my pack and joined Lewisia for a lovely peaceful time together. We celebrated meeting at last. We cheered, we sighed, we smiled, we climbed and photographed and snacked and observed and touched, petal to fingertip. Soft, smooth and vibrant. Lewisia at last.

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