Archive for September, 2010
It was a gorgeous day on Monday (September 27), and a great day to be in the mountains even if most of the flowering is over. In all the times I’d been to Iron Mountain and Cone Peak, I realized I’d never been there in late summer or early fall, so that was our destination. Like most people in western Oregon, Iron Mountain was the first place I’d heard of when asking where to go see flowers. So I went a number of times after I moved here in the early ’90s. But eventually I discovered how many other terrific botanical areas there are in the Cascades—and how much more peaceful they are without the summer crowds that seem to make the pilgrimage to Iron Mountain as though it is the only beautiful spot in the mountains. I still love to go up to Cone Peak as the snow is melting, but I’ve kind of ignored Iron Mountain for quite some time. There were many late-blooming plants listed for the area that I’d never seen there, so I was long overdue for a visit. Read the rest of this entry »
Fall is officially here. Soon the snow will start to blanket the Cascades, and I’ll hang up my hiking vest for the winter. The last place I just had to get back to once more this season was Balm Mountain in the Calapooyas. On my previous trip (see First Exploration of Balm Mountain), I hadn’t made it all the way to the south end of the ridge. I really wanted to check it out to see where the most interesting parts of the ridge are for when I return next year to see it during peak flowering season, so yesterday (September 22), I headed back up there. This time I took Staley Ridge Road 2134, so I could drive all the way to the access point for Balm Mountain. Read the rest of this entry »
With the summer almost over, earlier this week (September 16), I finally made it down to southern Oregon. After a day of plant shopping and visiting with friends from NARGS, I spent another day up on Grizzly Peak. Most of the flowers are gone, but there are plenty of seeds and other interesting things to see, and I really enjoy any chance I get to see the unusual plants that show up at the southern end of the Western Cascades.
Last year, Kelley Leonard and I were excited to see some double-flowered Delphinium glaucum in one of the large patches near the beginning of the trail (see Double Delphiniums). It appeared they were actually creating seed, and instead of the usual three follicles per flower, there were many more. Double flowers tend to be sterile, so it would be very lucky to find fertile seeds. This time, it didn’t take me long to spot several double-flowered plants, even though there were only a few flowers left at the tops of some of the tall inflorescences. Unfortunately, the doubles are in fact sterile. They had formed clusters of follicles, but they were all shriveled up. In contrast, the normal flowers were setting copious amounts of seeds in their fully formed follicles. Even these, I’ve had trouble growing. Someone, maybe slugs, always eats the tiny seedlings of these and every other Delphinium I’ve tried to grow. But there’s always hope. A plant this beautiful is worth numerous tries to get it established in the garden. Read the rest of this entry »
Hunting season is one of my least favorite times of year. I really resent being told it is unsafe for me to be up in the mountains. So I ignore that and go about my business, my only accommodation being that I wear brightly colored clothes. In many years of botanizing in last summer and fall, I’ve never run into a hunter actually hunting. Usually I see them driving around, and I’ve had conversations with some who are camping or heading back to their cars. Well, there’s a first for everything.
I headed back up to Hills Peak yesterday (September 11), to check out the spots I’d missed on my two previous trips (click here to see previous posts) and to visit with the pikas one last time. Seeing a truck parked by the entrance to the pika slope, I started the day by parking just a bit farther up the road. From here, I walked through the woods to the wetland just south of Road 2153. I checked many of the numerous patches of the larger form of Mimulus primuloides to see if there were any stolons like there were on the small ones at the nearby wetlands and earlier in the week at Echo Basin (see Late Bloomers at Echo Basin & Ikenick Creek). I couldn’t find a single one. There were obvious runners in several patches of the small, hairy form on the south edge of the wetland. I don’t know what it means, but it is interesting, and I’ll keep paying attention to that feature in the future. Read the rest of this entry »
Labor Day Monday (September 6) was a working day for me—if spending the day botanizing in a pretty wetland can ever be called “work.” After studying the Mimulus primuloides at Hills Peak (see Pikas, and a Coyote, and Monkeyflowers, Oh My!), I wanted to see some more populations in a different area of the Western Cascades. So I headed north to Echo Basin. I knew there’d be other late-blooming wetland plants as well. The air was very crisp when I arrived at the trailhead—a bittersweet reminder that autumn is just around the corner, and pretty soon I’ll be saying goodbye to the mountains until next spring. One of the first plants I noticed along the trail was blunt-sepaled starwort (Stellaria obtusa), one the inconspicuous plants whose distribution I’ve been trying to fill out. There were large, prostrate mats of it along much of the trail. I tediously checked many of them with my hand lens to make sure they really were S. obtusa, looking for four blunt sepals, round capsules, and hairs along the edges of the leaves. Only one fooled me by being the more well known look-alike, Stellaria crispa, with 5 sharp sepals and long capsules. Most of the ones I’ve seen haven’t formed quite such flat mats. I wish the plants would stop trying to trick me! Read the rest of this entry »
I just can’t stay away from the Calapooya Mountains. There are so many interesting rocky areas and wetlands, and I want to see them all. So yesterday (September 4), I headed back along my usual route up Coal Creek Road 2133, but this time I went all the way past Bradley Lake to the end of Road 5451 where it deadends at the south trailhead for Bristow Prairie. When John Koenig and I went to Loletta Peak and Bradley Lake back in July (see Mystery Bedstraw Blooming in Calapooyas), we took a quick spin down the road at the very end of the day. Seeing another cliff and talus slope and several meadow and wetland areas, we decided it was definitely worth a return trip. Exploring this area was my main goal yesterday.
The road to Bradley Lake is in fine shape except for one spot that is very wavy from being washed out. It is no problem as long as you drive really slowly. There is a nice rocky spot here with loads of Erigeron cascadensis (in seed right now). Going so slow, I noticed a patch of rayless yellow composites and pulled over. It was Arnica discoidea still in good bloom. Neither rayless arnica is common in the Western Cascades, but this one I’ve only seen a few times, so I was very pleased. After photographing it for a while, I poked around the roadside outcrop and small talus slope. I heard but did not see a pika, but I was able to watch several golden-mantled ground squirrels. It must be the time of year when the babies get curious because it seemed that several of them were pretty young and running around quite a bit. An adult was busy trying to get some of the red elderberries on a large shrub growing out of the rock. At one point, when I wasn’t looking, I heard a crash of sorts. It appeared as though he or she had slipped off the branch. It was quite amusing watching all this activity. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday (September 2), Sabine and I spent a relaxing and low-key day at Grasshopper Meadows. No exciting finds or multitudes of flowers, just a day out enjoying the wide open meadows and blue sky above. After a week off for inclement weather and other chores, it was just nice to get out again. It was very different than our other trip in June (see First Wave of Flowers at Grasshopper Meadows). Then everything was fresh and barely up out of the ground. Now most things are fading, the grasses are taking on a warmer tone, and many things, especially the early annuals, are completely dried out. It’s a fun challenge trying to recognize plants at this stage.
The foliage was still quite wet from rain the day before but was much drier out in the open meadow where surprisingly strong winds were blowing. It’s aster time in the meadow and little else was blooming. Most of the asters appeared to be western aster (Symphyotrichum spathulatum, formerly Aster occidentalis) with small, even-sized phyllaries, but this often mixes with leafy aster (S. foliaceum) with its much larger outer phyllaries, and there was certainly some variety in the larger sweeps of lavender. I would have expected a lot more butterflies, but the wind was too much for them except near the eastern edge where it was blocked by the trees. Read the rest of this entry »