Archive for June, 2010
Needing to get back home earlier than usual, yesterday (June 23), I decided to head up to Mount June. It is one of the closest good flower hikes to my house and still one of my favorites. I had two goals in mind: to get better photos of spring phacelia (Phacelia verna) and to figure out how to get to the large west-facing meadow that is not along the trail. From many places in the Eugene-Springfield area, Mount June is easily visible to the southeast. In winter especially, a large open area facing the valley is clearly visible. The trail to the summit passes through a small meadow/outcrop area before reaching the relatively small opening where the old lookout once stood on the top. This is only a small part of the wonderful rocky habitat of this mountain. There is also a long ridge heading south below the summit that I’ve been exploring the last few years. But the west-facing meadow was still a mystery to me. Read the rest of this entry »
Several years ago, Sabine and I discovered a great roadside area for botanizing along Deer Creek Road in Linn County. Head out the McKenzie Highway past the ranger station. Deer Creek Road heads off to the left (west) after about 7.5 miles (3 miles south of Trail Bridge Reservoir). While you’ll start to see nice patches of Cryptantha intermedia pretty soon along the road banks, the real show doesn’t start until you drive past Fritz Creek. Here, between about 2.5 and 4 miles from the start of the road, there are about 13 creeks and seeps spilling down onto the road bank and fueling an amazing show of annuals this year.
We hadn’t explored the area since 2005, so after a quick trip up Castle Rock a couple of weeks ago, we decided it would be worth checking out. The blue sheets of Collinsia grandiflora were outstanding. Mimulus guttatus was also quite lovely, and many other plants were still going strong—even some Romanzoffia thompsonii I remembered seeing on our original trips. At one particular small creek, I had discovered some Dodecatheon pulchellum back in 2005. At only about 2500′ elevation, it is the lowest site for this variety I know, and I figured it would be finished, but I still wanted to relocate it, and was pleased to find 3 small plants in the creek bed. I remembered finding much more in a somewhat hidden seepy meadow farther up hill. There are several other meadows above these roadcuts I hadn’t investigated yet. Clearly this area was worth a whole day of exploring. Read the rest of this entry »
There’s something so exciting about being in the mountains when the first plants are emerging. Grasshopper Meadows is just bursting out with the first flowers after the snow has disappeared. Yesterday (June 14), Sabine and I had the privilege of witnessing its yearly rebirth. Just over a week ago, I caught a glimpse of Grasshopper Meadows as I crossed the bridge in Oakridge, and the upper half of the giant meadow was still white with snow. Now the snow is completely gone and has been replaced by thousands of western springbeauty (Claytonia lanceolata) and glacier lily (Erythronium grandiflorum). They are especially abundant along the upper edge of the meadow where the snow lingers the longest, but they can be seen within minutes of the trailhead. Other snowmelt species can be seen as well. In the lower meadows, turkey peas (Orogenia fusiformis) is blooming, and while the leaves of steer’s head (Dicentra uniflora) are present in many places throughout the meadow, the only fresh blossoms remaining are along the ridge. Read the rest of this entry »
After the bad weather and resulting delayed blooming season, it was a joy to be out yesterday (June 12) at Heckletooth Mountain. The flowering season is finally coming on strong there, and Rob Castleberry and I enjoyed seeing the meadows starting to come alive with flowers. The gorgeous spring-blooming type of tarweed (Madia elegans) were starting their show of bright yellow in the large sloping meadow. On the summit slope, they were still only in bud. They seem to be taller than I’ve seen them before, no doubt because of the copious rain they’ve received. As we returned through the lower meadow at 4pm, many of the flowers were starting to close up for the day. I was actually surprised to see so many still wide open. I remember them closing earlier in the past. Perhaps they couldn’t get enough sun either! Read the rest of this entry »
Every year, when the first plants emerge in the mountains, I have to take my rusty brain and tune it back up. The first outings are always filled with “that sure looks familiar, but I just can’t remember what it is.” Learning leaves without the benefit of flowers or a whole plant can be challenging. It is especially difficult when you only see the leaf of one type of plant. Sometimes, however, they are all growing near each other, and it is easier to remember which is which.
There are a number of dissected leaves that appear early in rock outcrops that always used to confuse me, and I know have confused others. All of these photos were taken at Bearbones Mountain last weekend (6/5/10), and many were growing in the same area. See if you can sort these out. Answers are on page 2.
Perhaps I should have expected a bear-ful day yesterday (June 5), since I was going to spend the day on Bearbones Mountain. As I drove up Bearbones Mountain Road 2127 past Hills Creek Reservoir, a bear dashed across the clearcut into the woods. Seeing a bear once in a year is always exciting—last year I didn’t see any—but this makes 3 bear sightings this year, and it isn’t even summer (officially or weather-wise). A couple of more bends, another clearcut, and this time it was a lone elk. I’m glad they find something good about these hideous clearcuts. Unfortunately, there are a number of private parcels within the Willamette National Forest in this area, and they’ve been pounding them hard over the last few years, not leaving so much as a single tree standing. In fact, there’s a new one at the base of Bearbones just since my last trip there in 2008.
When I reached the old lookout site on top of Bearbones, I noticed some bear damage along one side. As usual, they were after Lomatium hallii, evidently one of their favorite plants. The damage grew steadily worse as I headed down the wonderful side ridge. As I followed this bear hurricane along the ridge, I witnessed an increasing number of areas where the rocks were strewn about, and rootless tops of the Lomatium were lying about as evidence of their feeding frenzy. Read the rest of this entry »
As I drove south on I-5 on Sunday (May 30), I was thrilled to see the clouds breaking up and an actual sunny day appearing in Douglas County. I was heading to Lookout Mountain near the North Umpqua and didn’t want to miss the almost 360° view—nor did I want to spend one more day dealing with clouds and sprinkles. Enough already!
Last year I had tried to get up to Lookout Mountain for the very first wave of plants but had been thwarted by snow on the road several miles from the trailhead. By the time I was able to get back there again, I had missed the early bloomers. The road to the trailhead wraps around the north side of the mountain. This creates a problem, as the south-facing side of the open, rocky summit melts out and starts blooming before the road clears out. But with less of a winter snowpack to deal with and trying a week later, I was game to give it another shot. Read the rest of this entry »