Archive for July, 2011
Yesterday (July 29), my husband Jim and I were invited to join Ed Alverson of the Nature Conservancy on a trip north to Table Rock Wilderness to meet up with Daniel Mosquin of the UBC Botanical Garden. I’ve been wanting to get Jim up to see Table Rock’s huge cliff for years, and I couldn’t pass up the chance to head up there with trained botanists, especially if I didn’t have to do the driving. Neither Ed nor Daniel had ever been to Table Rock either. Daniel, whom some of you may recognize from Botany Photo of the Day, was on a mission to photograph the rare Enemion hallii that grows there. He was down in Oregon on other business just for the weekend, so we were crossing our fingers that we could find it in bloom.
Last year (see Rock-hopping at Table Rock Wilderness), it was blooming beautifully on July 22. We were a week later on an even later-blooming year, and I’d seen it blooming well earlier in July on a drier year, so I had high hopes. I started to get a little nervous as we walked along the old road that now serves as the beginning of the trail. The Penstemon serrulatus that was blooming so profusely last year was just beginning. Are we still several weeks later than last year, already a late year? One bonus was that we found the last blooms of another, even rarer plant, Clackamas iris (Iris tenuis), which was completely finished on last year’s trip. This Oregon endemic is found almost entirely in Clackamas County. It reminded me a lot of some Iris japonica I have in my garden, with its wide leaves and spreading habit. It turns out it is the only western American species in the crested iris group (section Lophiris), which includes most of the prettiest irises in my garden including I. gracilipes, I. lacustris, I. cristata, as well as I. japonica. The rest are Asian or eastern North American, so Clackamas iris is a real anomaly.
I had planned to go on an overnight camping trip, so I could do two hikes up north, but between an iffy weather forecast and lack of energy, I decided to wimp out—sort of. Instead, I did one long day hike to Browder Ridge on July 26. At over 8 miles and 2000′ of elevation gain, it is one of the longest hikes I’m willing to do. I just don’t have enough time to stop and take photos and study plants at the kind of pace I have to do to get home at a reasonable hour. My husband, Jim, decided to join me, and we made a long day of it. We were warned by another hiker that the bugs were bad, but we never got bitten, and the weather was pleasantly cool. Read the rest of this entry »
Friday (July 22), I went to Carpenter Mountain for the first time in 5 years. It’s a long drive on gravel roads, but the trail is short, and I was really in the mood to just relax and take photos. I arrived to find the road near the parking area lined with flowers. I probably spent an hour just wandering about chasing butterflies, photographing flowers, and enjoying the terrific view. That’s really my kind of a day. There were lots of Castilleja hispida, Calochortus subalpinus, Penstemon cardwellii, Fragaria virginiana, and tons of perfectly blooming sticky cinquefoil (now Drymocallis glandulosa). I noticed some little green flags that appeared to marking some plots. Carpenter is part of the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest, so there is a lot of research going on in the area. I wondered how I would find out what the study subject was here, when, lo and behold, a young woman drove up and started checking her plots. How convenient! It turns out she’s an OSU student studying pollinators—one of my favorite subjects—and one I was sort of studying myself when she drove up. I was trying unsuccessfully to photograph a two-banded checkered skipper frequenting the strawberries—also their caterpillar host species. I find it really interesting how many host species are good nectar species as well. I later got some so-so photos of one drinking from fading Arctostaphylos nevadensis but not from the Fragaria. She was having the same trouble I have been, trying to get some work done with all this unseasonably cold and damp weather. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday (July 20), John Koenig and I went to Balm Mountain to pre-hike it for an NPSO trip I had scheduled for the end of the month. I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to get there or not, but looking at photos of it I’d taken from various spots in the last week or two, I had some hope it had melted out enough for us to get there. It was clear sailing all the way up Staley Ridge Road 2134. We turned onto Timpanogas Road 2154 and hit snow at about 0.8 mile. It covered half the road but with some shoveling was safely passable. A tree had also fallen across the road but was held up by the steep bank. John had brought some equipment, although unfortunately he forgot his chainsaw, and we spent more effort tackling these obstacles than we should have—in hindsight . While the road seemed clear after that, we were stopped by an insurmountable snow bank covering the road a mere 1/4 mile farther up the road, just before the intersection of Road 236. Time to walk. Read the rest of this entry »
My van was packed for an overnight camping trip, but I literally didn’t decide where I was going until breakfast. There are so many places I want to go, and so little time every summer, and it can be hard to hit the bloom just when I want it. This year’s deep snowpack has further complicated decision making, something I’m not good at anyway. But I’m so glad I opted to go to Abbott Butte, one of my favorite hikes in the Rogue-Umpqua Divide—or anywhere, for that matter. I got the confirmation from the Forest Service that I could get to the trailhead, but there might be patchy snow. That was just what I wanted because my goal was to see the snowmelt species up there. The late-melting heavy snow actually is a boon in some ways. While there were patches of snow scattered along the trail, parts of the area were quite far along. In a drier year, I might have had to go twice, several weeks apart, to see all the different plants I saw in bloom. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve heard about Upper Elk Meadows, south of Cottage Grove, for years, but I’ve never managed to go check it out. But last Friday (July 8) was the perfect opportunity as I was heading south to the North Umpqua for our annual NARGS campout, which I’ve been organizing the last few years. There are several nice cutoffs over the mountains via Cottage Grove that are actually paved all the way to Hwy 138. One of these, south of Cottage Grove Lake and London, via Big River Road, goes right by Upper Elk Meadows—or almost right by. I had a whole bunch of maps with me, but I’d forgotten to make sure I knew where it was on the map, and I hadn’t bothered to get directions from anyone, since I was far more concerned with planning the weekend camping trip, which had to be changed twice due to the low snowline. Neither of my BLM maps had it marked, nor did either of the nearby Forest Service district maps. After I arrived at the intersection of Rock Creek Road and had obviously missed Upper Elk Meadows, I checked the last possible map I had with me that might cover the area: the Umpqua National Forest map. Thankfully it was marked on there, even though it is not in their jurisdiction—it is actually a BLM RNA (Research Natural Area). Once I knew about where it was, it wasn’t too hard to find, off a gated-off side road, and small paths made it obvious where people had gone in there before. Read the rest of this entry »
This week, I went to both Youngs Rock and Moon Point (July 4 & 6). Despite the fact these two trails are so close they actually intersect, they couldn’t have been more different. Youngs Rock is on a south-facing rocky side ridge, and many of the meadows were already drying out. The cat’s ears (Calochortus tolmiei) were outstanding, but the masses of showy tarweed (Madia elegans) were mostly closed for the day, although some were starting to reopen as I headed back to the car. Moon Point, on the other hand, is more or less flat, lying on top of the ridge above Youngs Rock. There is plenty of moisture, still snow on the trail in places, and much of the area is just starting to bloom. I love this flowering time when everything is fresh and full of promise. Read the rest of this entry »
Yesterday (July 2), I went to Tire Mountain with fellow photographers, Greg Lief and Cheryl Hill, for what turned out to be my 30th trip. I just can’t help myself. It is so beautiful especially after a cool, damp spring like this. And indeed, I think it was as stunning as I’ve ever seen it. The continued cool weather has kept the extraordinary masses of rosy plectritis (Plectritis congesta) going at full steam even as the bluefield gilia (Gilia capitata) is coming into bloom. On drier years, the gilia usually takes over as the plectritis is disappearing. The seep monkeyflower, blue-eyed mary (Collinsia grandiflora), and rosy plectritis are washing the meadows in yellow, blue, and especially pink. Plenty of deep blue larkspur (Delphinium menziesii) and bright red paintbrush (Castilleja hispida) add to the colorful display.
I just came back from a lovely day doing both Sawtooth Rock Meadow and Mt. June with my husband Jim. While Mt. June’s peak bloom won’t be for another week or two this year, the meadow at Sawtooth Rock is as beautiful as I can imagine it being. It’s been a number of years since I’ve been here when it is this beautiful. Good timing and a cool, wet spring really helped. The rosy plectritis is amazing (the smell of so much started to get to me however). Also at the peak of their bloom were Mimulus guttatus, Calochortus tolmiei, Lupinus albifrons, Delphinium menziesii, and the bright red paintbrushes, which here and nearby are hard to pin down to either Castilleja hispida or pruinosa, but are beautiful none the less. There are also thousands of fading Lomatium utriculatum and some overshadowed but cute Phacelia verna. I don’t have time to write much, and frankly, I don’t think words are necessary. As they say, a picture tells a thousand words! Read the rest of this entry »