Archive for the ‘Douglas County’ Category
I haven’t been posting much lately. Partly, that is due to my winding down my botanizing as the flowers are also finishing their season. The other reason is that I’ve been exploring some High Cascade wetlands. In the last few weeks I’ve visited Gold Lake Bog, Blue Lake, Hand and Scott lakes, and some interesting unnamed bogs near Little Cultus Lake, an area I’d never investigated before. On Friday (September 14), however, I went back to one of my favorite haunts, and the last one I posted about: Hills Peak. I’ve been wanting to show Molly Juillerat (Middle Fork District botanist) the wonderful lake on the east side of the peak because it is home to lesser bladderwort, one of the rare species the Forest Service monitors (see the previous post). Molly was finally free after fires near Oakridge pulled her away from her other duties, and Nancy was also able to join us.
On Thursday (August 23), John Koenig and I spent a lovely day in the area by Hills Peak. I had been looking forward to showing John one of my favorite areas in the Calapooyas, a part of the Western Cascades that is special to him as well. He “adopted” the Dome Rock wilderness area for Oregon Wild (then ONRC) back in the late ’90s when they were trying to assess all the small unprotected wilderness areas in the state. The day was absolutely gorgeous with none of the heat of the previous week or so and no sign of smoke from any of the small fires in the area.
We started out the day by walking down the old road to the shallow lake to the east of Hills Peak. I didn’t have time to check it out on my earlier trip this year (see Hills Creek to Hills Peak). Although the majority of flowers were finished, there was still plenty to see. Poking around a small wet meadow beside this old road, we found dozens of one-flowered gentians (Gentianopsis simplex), including a few plants whose petals were twice the normal length. There were also a great many starry ladies’ tresses (Spiranthes stellata). I’ve seen these both here before, but one of these days I’ll come back earlier enough to see what must be a lovely display of mountain shooting stars (Dodecatheon jeffreyi). Read the rest of this entry »
On Sunday (July 29), I drove down along Road 21 past Hills Creek Reservoir, yet again. I believe that’s the 13th time this season—and it won’t be the last. It is such a fascinating area botanically with a few good trails and a great deal of roadside interest. I was still tired from bushwhacking around Bearbones Mountain, so I wanted to avoid any real hiking and to instead check up on some good roadside spots and see as much of Hills Peak, way out past the end of 21, as I had time and energy for. My first stop was to Youngs Flat Picnic Area to see if the piperias were in bloom. What great luck, the white-flowered royal rein orchid (Piperia transversa) was in perfect bloom. Chaparral rein orchid (P. elongata) blooms a little later and was just starting, although I found several in good bloom. As far as I know, it is impossible to tell the various species apart from the leaves. So this was the time to check out some of the areas along the road where I’d seen the leaves but never the flowers. So my next stop was Mutton Meadow. In the woods across the road from the meadow were some scattered Piperia transversa, no elongata. The meadow itself was filled with elegant cluster-lily (Brodiaea elegans), some kind of birdbeak (Cordylanthus sp.)—a rare plant around here, and yampah (Perideridia spp.). I believe I saw both P. gairdneri and P. oregana, but until the seeds appear, I can’t be sure. That’s a tough genus to get a handle on.
Last Wednesday (June 20), I was invited to join a group of BLM botanists and natural resources specialists on a trip to Upper Elk Meadows, a BLM Research Natural Area (RNA). I’d only been there once before, last year (see Finally a Visit to Upper Elk Meadows) and had only spent a couple of hours, so I was excited to explore it with people who had been going there for many years. This area interests me because it is farther west than I usually go, in large part because much of the western edge of the Western Cascades is in private hands—the result of the checkerboard land allocation that resulted from the O&C Lands Act of 1937—and even the public land can be hard to access. The reason they were going up there was to get some data on whether the native Douglas’ hawthorn (Crataegus suksdorfii) was in danger of swallowing up what was left of the open wetland. Alan Curtis is a retired BLM botanist and fellow NPSO member. He’s been coming to this site for many decades. It was his idea and energy that got this designated as an RNA, an area of quality habitat protected for biological research. In his many years of visiting Upper Elk Meadows, Alan has seen an advancement of shrubs across this wetland. Large parts of it are almost impenetrable thickets of shrubs. Only a few areas are open herbaceous wet meadow. Read the rest of this entry »
On Tuesday (August 30), I left the Hemlock Lake campground and drove the 18 miles or so east along the ridge to the Whitehorse Meadows trailhead at the northern end of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide. I wondered what might still be in bloom at the relatively high trail at about 5700′. Just a mile or so before the trailhead, I stopped at a favorite spot, a lovely roadside wet slope. It was filled with Parnassia cirrata, Kyhosia bolanderi, Erigeron aliceae, and there were also some lovely leopard lilies (Lilium pardalinum). It looked like things would be great along the trail. Then I noticed some burned trees above the wetland. Hmm. It wasn’t until I came around the corner and saw Black Rock, the prominent feature in this area, completely surrounded by dead trees, that I realized what had happened. What a shock! One of my favorite trails utterly devastated. The trail meanders slowly downhill over 3 miles to the large Whitehorse Meadows. Until just before the Whitehorse Meadows, almost no trees had survived this fire except a few in the many small patches of meadows, outcrops, and wetlands along the way. How did I not know this area had burned? It wasn’t until I got home and called the Diamond Lake Ranger District office of the Umpqua National Forest that I found out it burned in the fall of 2009, just a couple of months after my last visit here. The fire was named after Rainbow Creek, a tributary of Black Creek that starts nearby. It burned over 6,000 acres. It occurred around the same time as the Tumblebug Fire, which was much closer to me and kept me away from southern Oregon entirely. For a dramatic aerial photo of the fires, see Earth Snapshot. Read the rest of this entry »
It had been four years since I’d been to Hemlock Lake. With time running out on this summer, especially with colder, longer nights making camping at high elevation less pleasant, I figured I’d better make one last trip down to the North Umpqua area. So on Monday, August 29, I headed to Hemlock Lake and spent the night at the campground there. There was plenty still blooming in the many meadows and wet areas the Yellowjacket trail passes through as it loops around south from the campground. Goldenrod (Solidago sp.) season has begun. New classification has left me bewildered as to what to call these. The bees love their flowers, but I was surprised at how few butterflies I saw. The tall yellow wands of tongue-leaf luina (Rainiera stricta) were also attracting bees and many skippers. Large stretches of horse mint (Agastache urticifolia) and arrowleaf groundsel (Senecio triangularis) were fading but not done. Scarlet paintbrush (Castilleja miniata) added some bright color to the mix. In the wetlands, there were large areas of western oxypolis (Oxypolis occidentalis), a relatively rare member of the carrot family. The tall yellow flowers of Bolander’s tarweed (Kyhosia bolanderi) were also still blooming. In these wet spots were also a few of the gorgeous orangey-red leopard lilies (Lilium pardalinum), always a treat to see on my trips south of Lane County. Read the rest of this entry »
Another great day for wildlife began before we even got to Hills Peak on Tuesday (August 23). As we drove out Road 21 around Hills Creek Reservoir, both Sabine and I took a double-take at an object on the edge of the road. I backed up when I realized it was a western pond turtle… intent on crossing the road! Picking him up wasn’t as easy as I expected. He squirmed and scratched much the way my cat does when I want to move her somewhere she doesn’t want to go. We were right near where Stony Creek meets the lake, so we brought him down to the water’s edge where he headed straight into the water. Hopefully if he gets the urge to go to the lake again, he can find a way under the road. I’ve never seen a pond turtle out that way, so it was great to see him, especially still alive and not squished on the road. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has posted a Western Pond Turtle fact sheet if you’re interested in learning more about these uncommon turtles in Oregon. 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 »