Archive for the ‘Linn County’ Category

A Return Look at Deer Creek Meadows

The upper meadow in its full glory of monkeyflower and rosy plectritis during a break in the clouds. Looking east where there was still lots of blue sky, we didn’t realize that rain was coming in.

The floriferous roadcuts start just after you pass picturesque Fritz Creek, which was still gushing with water most likely from higher elevation melting snow.

After my earlier trip to Deer Creek Road this season (see Golden-lined Banks of Deer Creek Road), I was anxious to return and see the next stage of bloom as well as to explore the upper meadows we hadn’t had energy to do on the first trip on a hot day. On May 25, 2017, just about 3 weeks after the first trip, John Koenig and I drove out to Deer Creek Road, on what turned out to be a cooler day than we expected but a good one for climbing up the steep meadows.

We started out enjoying the lovely sunny day by walking down the road to see what was in bloom. Thompson’s mistmaiden (Romanzoffia thompsonii) and naked broomrape (Orobanche uniflora) were finishing up; silverleaf phacelia (Phacelia hastata), Menzies’ larkspur (Delphinium menziesii), and prairie star (Lithophragma parviflorum) were at peak bloom; and the big show of large-flowered blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia grandiflora) was just beginning. We also needed to figure out the best way to access the upper meadows. I hadn’t tackled the eastern meadow since 2010 (see Superb Floral Display Above Deer Creek), so I had forgotten where along the steep roadcut Sabine Dutoit and I had managed to climb up. It turns out we did find the same gap in the rocks, although I didn’t recognize it until I got home and looked at my old photos (for those interesting in checking it out, it’s about 1/4 mile past Fritz Creek but bring an aerial photo as you can’t see the meadow from below). Hopefully I’ll remember the spot the next time I go up there. Read the rest of this entry »

Golden-lined Banks of Deer Creek Road

Monkeyflowers painting the moist banks of Deer Creek Road

On Wednesday, May 3, Sabine Dutoit, Nancy Bray, and I enjoyed the unusually hot (88° according to the thermometer at the McKenzie Ranger Station!) but gorgeous day roadside botanizing in the McKenzie area. Nancy had never been to the beautiful seepy roadbanks along Deer Creek Road 2654, and Sabine and I hadn’t been for 3 years (see Triple Treat up the McKenzie). With all the rain we’ve had, I figured the area would be at its best this year.  Read the rest of this entry »

Late Summer Colors at Echo Basin

Alaska cedar (Callitropsis nootkatensis)

Giant Alaska cedars (Callitropsis nootkatensis) are one of the highlights of this trail. This ancient tree is at least 5′ in diameter!

On August 17, Sabine Dutoit and John Koenig joined me for a trip to Echo Basin. I hadn’t been there in 6 years (see Late Bloomers at Echo Basin & Ikenick Creek), and it was another site that John had never been to. It’s a great late summer destination as there are lots of late-blooming flowers, and it stays cool and damp later than many other areas, especially those to the south in Lane County where I spend the majority of my time. It was also nice to take a break from all the bushwhacking and walk on a trail for once, although, on the way back, Sabine commented that all the downed trees across the trail in one area made it only slightly easier than a bushwhack. Since it is a relatively short hike, we took our time getting there, stopping to look at rock ferns (Asplenium trichomanes, Woodsia scopulina, Cheilanthes gracillima, and Cryptogramma acrostichoides) growing in the lava areas along Hwy 126, and to Fish Lake to eat lunch and check out some sedges and asters that John and I had seen as the sun was setting on our way home from Pigeon Prairie the previous week.

Fish Lake

On our way to Echo Basin, we stopped at Fish Lake to admire a show of western asters in the now dried out lake bed. While I didn’t recognize it at the time, the view in the distance is of Echo Peak and the ridge just above Echo Basin.

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Field Trip Highlights from NPSO Annual Meeting

Thousands of mountain cat's ears blooming among the bunch grasses on Lowder Mountain

Thousands of mountain cat’s ears were blooming among the bunch grasses on the flat summit of Lowder Mountain.

This year was Emerald Chapter’s turn to host the Native Plant Society of Oregon‘s annual meeting, held this year in Rainbow in the McKenzie area. This is my chapter, based in Eugene, so I agreed to lead three field trips. We had perfect weather and great plants for all three days, and a great group of enthusiastic participants who were happy with whatever we came across. It was great having people with different interests and knowledge bases, and they spotted a number of additions to my list—something that always makes me happy. Below are a few highlights. Read the rest of this entry »

Wildlife and Wildflowers at Parish Lake

The vast amounts of great sundew (Drosera anglica and hybrid D. x obovata) turn the bog west of the lake bright red.

The vast amounts of great sundew (Drosera anglica and hybrid D. x obovata) turn the bog west of the lake bright red. There is plenty of round-leaved sundew (D. rotundifolia) as well, but it is much shorter and less conspicuous.

On Saturday, July 2, I made the long drive up to Parish Lake to prehike it for a short trip I’m leading for the NPSO Annual Meeting. It was a really beautiful day, and it wasn’t spoiled by any mosquitoes. At around 3400′, it is actually somewhat late in the season here, and a lot of the flowers were finished. But there were still some things in bloom—notably the sundews, which are always the highlight of a trip to this cool bog. The wildlife and signs of their presence also made the trip worthwhile. Read the rest of this entry »

Gorgeous Day on Middle Pyramid

The view from the summit was spectacular on this clear day. Looking north we had a clear view of Mt. Hood and even Mt. Saint Helens framed by Coffin Mountain (left) and Bachelor Mountain.

The view from the summit was spectacular on this clear day. Looking north we had a great view of Mt. Hood and even Mt. Saint Helens framed by Coffin Mountain (left) and Bachelor Mountain (right). Trappers Butte is in front on the left.

Cliff penstemon can live in the harshest spots and still look beautiful—much nicer than the ones in my garden, which wouldn't even bloom this year. Three-fingerd Jack is in the background.

Cliff penstemon can survive in the harshest spots and still look beautiful—much nicer than the ones in my garden, which wouldn’t even bloom this year. Three-fingered Jack is in the background, looking east.

After all the super hot weather we’ve been having, it was a glorious weekend, and I was thrilled to get back into the Western Cascades on June 12 with four friends: Nancy Bray, Ginny McVickar, Sheila Klest, and her friend Sherry. I’m going to be leading a short trip to Park Creek during the upcoming NPSO Annual Meeting, which our Emerald Chapter is hosting next month, so I had wanted to take a look at how things were shaping up in the area. I realized I hadn’t been to the Pyramids since 2010 (see Yellow Cliff Paintbrush Still at Middle Pyramid), so, since Park Creek is on the way to the Pyramids trailhead, I figured I could do both. None of my companions had been to the Pyramids Trail before, making it a special trip for them as well.

We really couldn’t have picked a better day. There were few clouds in the sky until late afternoon, and the temperature wasn’t too hot or too cool. As Goldilocks would have said, it was “just right.” The air was much clearer than it had been during the high humidity of the recent heat wave, giving us awesome views at the summit. The foliage was quite lush, and the flowers were also fabulous, with a great many things in their prime.

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2014 Wrap-up

It’s been ages since I’ve posted anything. A combination of too much else to do and a reduced hiking schedule in August and September has kept me away from my blog. The unusually hot summer dried even my favorite wetlands out much sooner than usual. Then there was the smoke—mainly from the Deception Creek fire—which was close enough from where I live to even make going outdoors unpleasant much of the time. Add to that a sore foot that I’m not even sure how I got.

From a nearby viewpoint, we could see the rocks along the east end of Twin Buttes. Behind them are Iron Mountain and Mount Jefferson.

From a nearby viewpoint, we could see the open ridge with rock formations along the east end of Twin Buttes. Behind them are Iron Mountain and Cone Peak and Mount Jefferson beyond. Looking north from Tidbits, I’d seen the rocks in this view in the distance many times but was never sure where it was—only that I had to get there eventually—and now I have!

As for my other excuse—too much to do—I’ve been working with the Oregon Flora Project (be aware the info on this link is rather out of date) doing editing, layout, and design for the upcoming Flora of Oregon Volume 1: Pteridophytes, Gymnosperms, and Monocots. It’s a dream job for me, getting to do graphic design AND read about Oregon native plants. We should (fingers crossed!) be ready to send the manuscript to the publishers in the next couple of months, then I’ll have more time for everything else that’s been on hold. Hopefully it will be in print in time for summer botanizing! Read the rest of this entry »

The Search for Sisyrinchium sarmentosum

A fairly light-colored blue-eyed grass, but is it Sisyrinchium sarmentosum

A fairly light-colored blue-eyed grass, with rounded tepals, but is it Sisyrinchium sarmentosum? Note the winged stems and fairly narrow tepals.

According to the literature, Sisyrinchium sarmentosum (pale blue-eyed grass) is a rare species found only in a small area of the Cascades in southern Washington and northwestern Oregon near the Columbia Gorge. The Forest Service has been looking for more potential sites and has found several apparent populations farther south than the Columbia Gorge. Jenny Lippert, Willamette National Forest botanist, asked me to come along with her to a couple of these sites to take photographs, so on Wednesday, July 2, Sabine and I accompanied her to several moist meadow areas in Linn and Marion counties. Our first stop was Little Pigeon Prairie. It took us a little while to spot the blue-eyed grass because it was cloudy and before noon, and they don’t like to open up until the afternoon (I’m not much of a morning person myself!). As we headed to another nearby meadow just outside the large wetland of nearby Pigeon Prairie, suddenly the sun came out and so did the little blue stars of Sisyrinchium. It also went from cool to warm and humid very quickly—a fact that almost resulted in a major calamity for Sabine. While taking off her outer fleece, she had to take off her binoculars, which were on a harness. Before leaving the meadow, she realized the binoculars were missing but couldn’t remember where she’d taken them off and couldn’t find them anywhere. It was only after more or less giving up and heading out that she stumbled upon them again. What a relief! It’s a lesson for all us to mark all our equipment with brightly colored tape or paint—I have now put bright red tape on both my GPS and my oft-dropped lens cap. Read the rest of this entry »

Willows and More Blooming at Ikenick Creek

Sitka sedge (Carex aquatilis) blooming along the edge of the south pond in the northwest wetland.

Sitka sedge (Carex aquatilis) blooming along the edge of the south pond in the northwest wetland.

Crab spiders know that willows are insect pollinated and has caught an unsuspecting bee on Geyer's willow (Salix geyeriana).

Crab spiders know that willows are insect pollinated and lay in wait for prey like this unsuspecting bee on Geyer’s willow (Salix geyeriana).

On Friday (May 16), Dave Predeek and I went to check out some of the wetlands along Ikenick Creek in the Smith Ridge area. Dave is one of the few people I’ve met who was already familiar with this fascinating area. The willows were mostly still in bud two weeks ago (see Triple Treat up the McKenzie), so I thought this would be the perfect time to see them in bloom. Indeed it was. We spent most of our time exploring the large wetland just south of Road 2672. The large thickets of Geyer’s willow (Salix geyeriana) were all blooming. They are pretty easy to recognize because they have very small and relatively short catkins. In small patches near the southern end of the wetland, we found Sierra willow (Salix eastwoodiae) and Booth’s willow (S. boothii) in bloom. They both have much larger and showier flowers; the former has hairy ovaries while the latter has glabrous ovaries and fewer hairs on the leaves. I don’t think I could separate the males this time of year. Later on, the leaves of Booth’s willow are shinier, but this early they both have some hairs. Read the rest of this entry »

Triple Treat up the McKenzie

Left) A very fresh brown elfin on a male Sitka willow flower. Right) A echo (spring) azure on a female Sitka willow flower.

Left) A very fresh brown elfin (the purple scales don’t last long) on a male Sitka willow flower. Right) An echo (spring) azure on a female Sitka willow flower.

With the warm spring weather beckoning, Sabine and I headed up the McKenzie Highway on Wednesday (April 30) to see how the bloom was coming along in several favorite sites. Our first stop was to the main wetland at Ikenick Creek. I’d never been there anywhere near this early, and although there were lots of spring flowers on last spring’s early June trip (see The Stars are Shining at Ikenick Creek), I was a bit late for the willows. This year, I wanted to try to catch this area at the very beginning of the season. A few remnants of snow along the north-facing side of the road indicated it was indeed early here. The air was fantastic—so fresh and not hot yet. As soon as we got out of the car, we saw some blooming sitka willow (Salix sitchensis) by the roadside that was serving breakfast to a number of insects, including several brown elfins and echo (formerly spring) azures—an auspicious start to the day! Read the rest of this entry »

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