Archive for the ‘Creek’ Category
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 »
Many of you know Gerry Carr’s fabulous plant photos that he donates to the Oregon Flora Project Gallery, the WTU Image Collection (the Burke Herbarium’s gallery of Washington plants), and posts on his own site, Oregon Flora Image Project. If you don’t, be sure to click on the links! Trying to photograph almost every species in Oregon is a huge undertaking, and I’ve enjoyed helping Gerry find plants in the Western Cascades that he hasn’t photographed yet. Several species still on his to do list grow in the wonderful area of southeastern Lane County that I spend so much time in. It seemed like it might be the right time to find some of those late blooming plants, so on Friday, August 10, I picked Gerry up in Lowell and headed down along Hills Creek Reservoir yet again.
Our first stop was Moon Point. Last year we spent the whole day at Moon Point (see Moon Point Melting Out), so this trip, we were only heading to the upper part of the Youngs Rock trail, which is easier to access from the top. With thousands of plants to photograph, one must be as efficient as possible! On the way to the trail intersection, I went poking around looking for the rare green-flowered ginger (Asarum wagneri), one of Gerry’s targets last year. I was surprised to find several still in bloom and was thrilled to find a couple of ripe seeds. The common long-tailed ginger (A. caudatum) was also still displaying flowers, and I found plenty of ripe seed. I’ve posted scans of the latter in the Seed Gallery or you can click here to see the neat fleshy appendages on the seeds. While I was searching for ginger seeds, Gerry discovered his first target plant of the day, mountain campion (Silene bernardina var. rigidula). This is a rare species I’ve only seen here, at nearby Groundhog Mountain, and at Abbott Butte. Silene species are often called catchfly and, indeed, these are sticky enough to catch insects. We photographed some really nice specimens in the shade just after the split in the trails. It was a good thing we did it then because on our way back they were in the sun and had shriveled up. I’ve noticed this with the fairly common Douglas’ campion (S. douglasii). They seem to look their best on cloudy days or first thing in the morning. Not sure why this is true, but I’m sure there’s a good explanation. Read the rest of this entry »
Back in 2007, I spotted an odd looking coralroot at Gordon Meadows. It wasn’t until I got home and compared my photos to references that I realized it was the rare northern coralroot (Corallorhiza trifida). I would have taken more time to study it had I realized it wasn’t just an odd-looking spotted coralroot (C. maculata), which does vary a bit. Sometimes it is yellow rather than red, and sometimes it doesn’t have any spots. Northern coralroot is droopier and a more greenish yellow. On a number of subsequent trips, I’ve tried to relocate it unsucccessfully. There have been coralroots blooming everywhere I’ve been lately, so I thought it might be a good time to try again.
On Friday, August 3, Molly Juillerat and I will be leading a field trip to Warfield Bog and Hemlock Butte wetlands east of Oakridge (for more info or to sign up, call the Middle Fork Ranger Station at 541-782-2283). To make sure the roads are okay and to see what might be blooming, I went for a scouting trip on Sunday (July 21). On the drive up, I was very pleased to score some ripe seeds of silver lupine (Lupinus albifrons), one of my favorite rock plants for its gorgeous silvery foliage. Lupines are very hard to collect seed from on the fly. Their seed pods explode almost as soon as they are ripe, vaulting the seeds away from the plant. The best way to collect is to put some sort of a bag over the ripening pods to catch the seeds. This is great for a monitored site, but for a random stop along the road, I just had to get lucky. Many of the pods had released their seeds and were all coiled up. Some pods were starting to turn brown but hadn’t opened up yet. I lazily threw them on the seat of the car, planning to put them in a seed envelope later. When I returned to the car to eat lunch after my first foray at Warfield Bog, they had exploded from the heat in the car, I suppose, and had scattered seeds all over the place. A bit of a mess, perhaps, but more seeds than I’ve ever managed to get before, so I was happy. My most recent plant in the garden died after the March snowstorm this spring, so I need to get some more started. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
Yesterday (June 17), my plan was to try to get up to Groundhog Mountain to look for the Douglasia I found a couple of years ago (see Exciting Cliff at Groundhog Mountain). I knew it would be a challenge, as by the time the snow melts off the roads, the Douglasia, free of snow on its vertical rocky habitat, will most likely be finished. Last year’s heavy snowpack kept me from even trying, but this year, I hoped I might make it. Alas, I got stopped by snow less than a quarter of a mile from the turnoff to Waterdog Lake. Past that, I could see the road was completely clear until it turned around to the west side of the mountain. Walking from here would add 4 miles round trip to the hike—not an option for me right now. And driving in from the north side would be even more futile. So, maybe in another week or so I’ll try again. Even if the flowers are fading, it should make estimating the population on the inaccessible cliff a lot easier than it was in the fall when I first saw it. 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 »
Last Friday (August 5), I helped lead a field trip to Blair Lake with Molly Juillerat, Middle Fork Ranger District botanist. It was a lovely day and very relaxing for me, especially not having to drive—Molly and two other Forest Service employees, Kate and Anna, took care of that. There were lots of flowers in bloom. The brightest and most noticeable plant was subalpine spiraea (Spiraea splendens). Its gorgeous bright pink flowers lined the road. A few hybrids (called S. xhitchcockii) between this species and the later blooming hardhack (Spiraea douglasii) were evident. These are somewhat cone-shaped—an intermediate form between the relatively flat tops of splendens and the narrow wands of douglasii. There were also multitudes of tiger lilies (Lilium columbianum), always a favorite. Since one of my fascinations is plants that close part of the day, I watched carefully as the pretty blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium idahoense) seemed much more abundant after a few hours. I’ve waited before for them to open so I could photograph them. It seems they are late risers, preferring to keep their petals closed up until around noon. Until then, they are much harder to spot. Read the rest of this entry »
Many of you have Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest by Mark Turner and Phyllis Gustafson. Mark is currently working on a follow-up book on shrubs. He contacted me earlier in the year to find some locations in Oregon for Lonicera caerulea and some uncommon willows. I suggested Park Creek as a place to find some of these. Not only is it a lovely area with lots of interesting plants, but the many great spots are easily and quickly accessible from the road. This is a big plus if you are a photographer, especially one with a long list of plants to photograph in a limited amount of time. I was glad to hear he found his target species in bloom there on his visit. But even more exciting for me, he discovered and photographed a rare currant, Ribes triste, known as swamp red currant (click here for Mark’s Park Creek photos including some of the pretty flowers). I found this last year at Warfield Bog (see Unexpected Find at Warfield Creek Bog), otherwise, I probably would never have even heard of it. There are very few recorded locations on the OFP Atlas (click here for map). I just couldn’t make it up to Park Creek earlier in the season, but I still wanted to see where it was, and Mark sent me a GPS location. 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 »