Yesterday, June 30, Nancy Bray and I accompanied Molly Juillerat and her sweet dog, Ruby, on a trip to Quaking Aspen Swamp. Like last week’s trip to Horsepasture Mountain, this will be one of the sites Native Plant Society of Oregon annual meeting participants will visit, and Molly will be leading that hike. She is the Middle Fork district botanist, so this is out of her area, and we came to help familiarize her with the ins and outs (and, as it turns out, the ups and downs!) of this neat wetland. Since there isn’t a trail in the wetland itself, it takes some planning to figure out how to navigate it and where the best flowers are.
There were a number of highlights. Many of the predominantly white woodland flowers were at their peak. These included floriferous patches of bunchberry (Cornus unalaschkensis), Columbia windflower (Anemone deltoidea), and queen’s cup (Clintonia uniflora). Out along the edges of the wetland, there were pretty displays of alpine aster (Oreostemma alpigenum), blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium idahoense), and bog microseris (Microseris borealis). While the amazing colorful sheets of marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala) and mountain shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi) were over, there were a few pockets of still fresh flowers to be seen. The abundant sundews (Drosera rotundifolia, D. anglica, and hybrid D. x obovata) were just starting to bloom.
The weather was lovely, and everything seemed to be going well until we were finishing up our circumnavigation. First I noticed my sunglasses were missing. Oh well, I’ve lost plenty before. Hopefully someone else will find them (unlikely in the tall wetland foliage). Then I told Molly that there were some pools of water in this one area just before you head up onto higher and drier ground. I started to look for them when suddenly I was waist deep in cold water. Just as quickly I somehow bounced back out. It all happened so quickly I don’t even remember if I hit bottom. I just remember my hands pushing on ground that seemed to be floating. I keep my camera in a fanny pack and that and my back pocket with my GPS had gone under. The GPS barely got wet in the second or two it was dunked. I imagine my pocket soaked up the water got through to the GPS. Unfortunately, the camera bag had filled with several inches of water, and that was the first thing I grabbed when I was again on solid ground. I dried it off as best as possible with the few parts of my clothes that weren’t completely soaked. I wish I had a photo of the place I fell in. Even after I’d broken through, there was almost no trace of open water, just benign looking plants covering the treacherous well.
The camera viewfinder started to fog up a bit on the way back to the car. We put it on a towel and let it sit in the sun on the dashboard on the drive home. Thankfully, it seems to be working fine this morning, with no sign of water inside. I’m glad I didn’t twist my ankle or otherwise injure myself, and I’m even more thankful that it wasn’t Ruby who fell in or either of my other companions. But it was definitely still the low point, literally and figuratively, of our outing. And you can be sure Molly will not be bringing anyone to that corner of the wetland!