The view of the Three Sisters is outstanding from the summit of Horsepasture.
It’s been a busy week, so I’m just going to post some photos from my last two trips. On Wednesday, June 22, I went up to Horsepasture Mountain with Jenny Lippert, Willamette National Forest botanist, to scout for an upcoming trip that she’ll be leading during the Native Plant Society of Oregon annual meeting in a few weeks. Then on Sunday, June 26, I led a trip to Lowder Mountain for Oregon Wild with Chandra LeGue, their Western Oregon Field Coordinator, and six other hikers interested in learning some Cascade wildflowers. Both trails are in the Willamette National Forest McKenzie District. The flowers on both mountains are still great, but we are definitely a few weeks earlier than “normal”, and things are moving along fast.
A hoary comma (Polygonia gracilis) on bluefield gilia (Gilia capitata) at the summit of Horsepasture.
A pale swallowtail (Papilio eurymedon) on a wallflower (Erysimum capitatum) among lots of silvery western wormwood (Artemisia ludoviciana), also at the summit of Horsepasture.
The caterpillar of the police car moth (Gnophaela vermiculata) on Oregon bluebells (Mertensia bella). This moth feeds on a number of species in the Borage family (Boraginaceae).
Looking south from the floriferous summit of Horsepasture, you can see Lowder Mountain less than 4 miles away. The bright green areas are right below the cliffs we’re standing on in the next photo.
From the other direction, looking north from Lowder on Sunday, Gary and Meng-ting admire the view of Horsepasture in the foreground center (just beyond the nearest ridge) and Mount Jefferson, Three-Fingered Jack, and Mount Washington in the distance. It’s a great view but a little nerve-wracking because of the very large vertical dropoff right in front of them.
Chandra spotted this unusual sight: a honey bee with blue pollen sacs. Bluefield gilia, along with some of its other relatives, has blue pollen, but I’d never noticed bees with blue pollen sacs. For an article on other plants with blue pollen, check out Tangled up in blue on the HoneyBeeSuite blog. You can bet I’ll be on the lookout for bees carrying blue pollen sacs in the future. Photo courtesy of Chandra LeGue.
Pussypaws (Calyptridium umbellatum) was at peak bloom on the summit of Lowder. It’s not that common a plant in the Western Cascades, and I’d never seen so much of it in perfect flower.
There must be acres of pumice sandwort (Eremogone pumicola) on the more or less level summit of Lowder Mountain.
Suzanne gets the grand prize for spotting this most amazing and unexpected sight of the day (or week or month!). Out in the middle of the large open summit of Lowder Mountain, these two amphibians, a boreal toad and a Pacific chorus frog, were hanging out in the same hole, left most likely by some small mammal tunneling under the snow. Their humble abode was tastefully decorated with a small clump of mushrooms and surrounded by pumice sandwort. I could just imagine Alice in Wonderland sitting down to tea with these two friends! You never know what you’ll find while out exploring in the mountains!