Archive for the ‘Creek’ Category

First Taste of Spring

A beautiful mourning cloak basks in the warming sun at Campers Flat

A beautiful mourning cloak basks in the warming sun at Campers Flat

On Wednesday, February 24, Sabine Dutoit, Nancy Bray, Ginny McVickar, and I took advantage of the dry weather to head out to Hills Creek Reservoir south of Oakridge to look for the first wildflowers of the season. This has become an annual ritual, as it is usually warmer and drier down there, and the flower season gets an earlier start than on my property. While most of the early plants are small-flowered and not particularly showy (though still exciting in February!), the highlight of the trip is always the sheets of yellow gold stars (Crocidium multicaule). I was pretty sure we’d see some in bloom but not so sure the sheets of yellow on the cliffs along the reservoir would have kicked in yet. While the other two have seen this a number of times, this was the first time Ginny had been with us, so we were really pleased that the grand display was starting in one spot. If the rains keep coming, it should be stunning in March and may last for another month or two if it doesn’t dry out. The first Sierra gooseberry (Ribes roezlii) and Halls lomatium (Lomatium hallii) were just beginning. They ought to be quite beautiful in a few weeks, especially if we get more warm weather. Read the rest of this entry »

More Discoveries along the Calapooya Crest

Cascade gras-of-Parnassus (Parnassia cirrata var. intermedia) is one of my favorite wildflowers and a wonderful bonus this late in the season.

Cascade grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia cirrata var. intermedia) is one of my favorite wildflowers and a wonderful bonus this late in the season.

Ever since our early June trip to the meadow along Road 3810 on the south side of Loletta Peak (see Another Exciting Day in the Calapooyas: The Sequel), John Koenig and I had been planning to return to see the later blooming plants, especially the Cascade fringed grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia cirrata) that we found there. Just before we had planned to go, Ed Alverson e-mailed me about the quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) we had discovered there. He’s been studying the scattered populations on the west side of the Cascades in Oregon and Washington. The timing was perfect, as we were able to take Ed along on August 12 to see the population in what we were now calling “Aspen Meadow.” We had been somewhat concerned with all the fires down in Douglas County, especially the Potter Mountain complex burning just east of Balm Mountain (thankfully not actually on Potter Mountain). But other than some drifting smoke above, we had no problems reaching our destination and enjoying what was an otherwise lovely day. Read the rest of this entry »

More Wonderful Wildlife Sightings at Hills Peak

As I had done on my most recent late season trip to Hills Peak (see Another Great Wildlife Day) in 2012, I stopped at a bridge over the Middle Fork of the Willamette where it is still a small stream to see the salmon. There must have been 50 of them swimming in place together, packed like sardines, you might say.

As I had done on my most recent late season trip to Hills Peak (see Another Great Wildlife Day) in 2012, I stopped at a bridge over the Middle Fork of the Willamette where it is still a small stream to see the salmon. There must have been 50 of them swimming in place together, packed like sardines, you might say.

Having finally seen my first pika of the year on my trip to the Rogue-Umpqua Divide, I was reminded that I had never gotten to Hills Peak last year—my favorite pika-viewing site. With the flowers fading, I decided that would be a good destination on July 23, 2015. I’d also been wanting to try climbing up to the base of the cliffs on the left side of the talus slope for several years, but I’d had friends with me on my previous trips and didn’t want to drag anyone else up such a steep slope or make them wait for me, although hanging out on the lower rocks, watching for pikas is an enjoyable way to pass the day. And in fact that’s what I did for most of the day after I finished checking out the cliffs, where most things were finished except the Scotch harebell (Campanula rotundifolia). I also checked out the small bog and lake to the west, but there were only a few things left in bloom, so I went back to visit some more with the pikas. Since I’m so far behind on my reports, I’ll just share some photos of the wonderful wildlife I saw.

A pika rearranging some thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) leaves in its cache.

A pika rearranging some thimbleberry (Rubus parviflorus) leaves in its cache.

Read the rest of this entry »

Cripple Camp Shelter and Beyond

An incredibly beautiful form of marbled ginger (Asarum marmoratum) at the Camp Comfort campground along the  South Umpqua.

An incredibly beautiful form of marbled ginger (Asarum marmoratum) at the Camp Comfort campground along the South Umpqua. These are as beautiful as any cyclamen one can buy for the garden.

Having gotten such a late start the day before (see previous post, Exploring the West Side of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide), I’d also gotten into the Camp Comfort campground quite late and had only had enough time to see there was a lot of marbled ginger (Asarum marmoratum) under the big trees in this pretty spot. No one else was staying in the campground, so in the morning (July 14) I walked all around it. I couldn’t believe how many plants and how many gorgeous forms of marbled ginger there were. Alas, this uncommon woodland perennial doesn’t grow in Lane County or anywhere north of Douglas County, so it is always a treat to see. The white coloration varies quite a bit from plant to plant. Some are barely distinguishable from the common long-tailed ginger (Asarum caudatum), others have a pale triangle in the center, while the best forms have a white center and white veining. In this area, I even found some that were frosted white all around the edges, not just on the veins. Needless to say, I got a later start leaving for my hike than I had intended, but since I came to see plants, it really didn’t matter if they were on the trail or right by my campsite! Read the rest of this entry »

NARGS Campout Day 3: Potter Mountain

Along the rocky spine of Potter Mountain. Left to right: Rob, Kathy, Peter, Kelley, and Keiko.

Along the rocky spine of Potter Mountain. Left to right: Rob, Kathy, Peter, Kelley, and Keiko.

For our final day of the NARGS camping trip, June 21, Kelley, Peter, Kathy and I went for a half day trip up to Potter Mountain. Robin had to head back home, and her older dog, Austin, probably couldn’t have handled the rocks. We were joined by NPSO members Rob Castleberry and Keiko Bryan. Ever since I discovered Potter Mountain last year, I’ve been looking forward to taking my rock garden friends up to this beautiful natural rock garden, so I was very pleased that some of our campers were up to another bushwhack. Read the rest of this entry »

Another Exciting Day in the Calapooyas: The Sequel

Sliver Rock

Sliver Rock is awesome pillar rock that protrudes from the slope below Road 3810 in the Boulder Creek Wilderness. There seems to be a lot of confusion about the name. The USGS quad map shows it as “Sliver Rock,” but their website lists it as “Silver Rock”. The Forest Service District maps that cover the area are also divided about the name. I’m going to keep calling it Sliver Rock because it really is like a thin sliver, and there’s nothing silvery about it. John and I contemplated how and whether we might be able to reach the rock. It looks challenging but too enticing not to give it a try…some day.

John Koenig and I had such a great day last week (see Another Exciting Day in the Calapooyas) that we wanted to pick up where we left off, so, on Thursday, June 4, we headed back up Coal Creek Road 2133 to our usual parking spot east of Loletta Lakes. We hadn’t gotten this far last week until 6pm, so we wanted to spend more time here and see the area in the sun. When we arrived, the area was under a cloud that obscured the ridge just above us. John was confident it would burn off, and indeed, within just a few minutes, we were under blue skies. The rest of the day was gorgeous, sunny, and pleasantly cool. Read the rest of this entry »

First Trip to Cliffs Northwest of Bristow Prairie

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Looking north at the cliff face and the rocky meadow above. The longer dead grass and foliage in the front marks where there is a seep that must drip down over the cliff. Some large green and brownish clumps of Merriam’s alumroot can also be seen on the vertical rock just to the right of the large, shaded crack in the center.

Back in early June, I went to Pyramid Rock in southern Lane County (see Peak Bloom at Pyramid Rock) and got a good view of some cliffs on the west side of the ridge near Bristow Prairie. I’ve been hankering to explore them ever since. I checked them out on Google Earth and discovered they were only a few hundred feet below the High Divide trail. On my last trip to Bristow Prairie, there wasn’t time to squeeze a bushwhack in, and the weather wasn’t very good, so I had to put it off again. So on Friday, August 15, John Koenig and I decided getting to the cliffs would be our main goal, even though the plants would no doubt be finished blooming. After staying at home for over a week, waiting for the heat and thunderstorms to abate, I was raring to go. Read the rest of this entry »

Gentian Season at Pigeon Prairies

Ever since Sabine and I accompanied Jenny Lippert to Little Pigeon Prairie in early July (see The Search for Sisyrinchium sarmentosum), I had been wanting to get back there to explore the main wetland at Pigeon Prairie, which we didn’t have time for that day. It had been five years since I’d been there and seen an amazing show of king’s gentian (Gentiana sceptrum). I also wanted to check on the seeds of the blue-eyed grass we had seen, in case that would help with deciding if it was the rare Sisyrinchium sarmentosum or the common S. idahoense. It’s a long drive for me to get there—just south of Detroit—but since the heat has been sapping my energy, I didn’t want to do anything that required any climbing, so a flat wetland seemed like a good idea, and I headed up there last week on July 30.

King's gentians cover the drier edges of the wetland at Pigeon Prairie, not too far west of Mount Jefferson.

King’s gentians cover the drier edges of the wetland at Pigeon Prairie, not too far west of Mount Jefferson.

As it turned out, I had to do quite a bit of bushwhacking—there are no trails in this area—and walking around a wetland of tall sedges and standing water can be tricky, so it wasn’t as relaxing as I’d hoped. But I’m so glad I made the trip. When I arrived at Little Pigeon Prairie, which is only a thin strip of trees away from Road 620 (off of McCoy Road 2233), I was almost immediately greeted by the tall purply-blue wands of Gentiana sceptrum in perfect bloom. Sometimes I feel as though I spend so much time exploring new spots or looking for rarities or particular plants I’m studying or need to photograph that I miss out on the big shows of wildflowers that most people are seeking out. I could have gone to some alpine meadow at peak bloom, but here I was going to a fairly low elevation (3600′), sedge-covered, boggy area well past “peak” season. But even if the gentians were the only flowers left in bloom, it still would have been worth it, as there are few plants as glorious as a large-flowered gentian, and meadows full of this regal species are as spectacular as anything else I could have imagined seeing that day in the Cascades. Read the rest of this entry »

A Glorious Day Near Lopez Lake

Subalpine spiraea was at peak bloom in here at "Zen Meadow".

Subalpine spiraea (Spiraea splendens) was at peak bloom here at “Zen Meadow” and also at Lopez Lake.

Two years ago, Sabine Dutoit and I first discovered the beauty of Lopez Lake and the surrounding area near the end of Road 5884 (see Aquatics and More Near Lopez Lake), southeast of Oakridge. I was really looking forward to doing some more exploring up there, so on Thursday, July 17, I headed up there accompanied by Sabine and John Koenig. The three of us had gone to Bristow Prairie the week before and spent the day under cloudy skies and sprinkles, so we were all thrilled that it was an absolutely gorgeous clear day and also not as hot as it had been lately. Before heading to the end of the road, we made a quick stop to check out three small lakes that showed up on the map. Only one had any water left, and there weren’t many flowers or plants of interest other than some quillwort (Isoëtes sp.), an odd grass-like plant that grows in the bottoms of shallow lakes. This lake looked like a perfect mosquito breeding area, and indeed they were out in numbers here, so we didn’t linger here very long. Read the rest of this entry »

NPSO Trip to Nevergo Meadow and Elk Camp

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A male Sara orangetip, unusually still because of the cool, cloudy conditions early in the day.

PLEREF @ ES062914000

A tiny spider makes its home between the lovely spikelets of nodding semaphore grass (Pleuropogon retrofractus).

Yesterday, June 29, 13 NPSO members and friends headed up to Nevergo Meadow to look at wetland plants and whatever else we could find. I had been wanting to bring people to see this little known area since I first visited it. I thought it would make a really great place to botanize without having to do too much hiking or worrying about anyone getting lost. After a short stop along the road near the Saddleblanket wetlands, we parked our cars along the road by Nevergo Meadow. The rarest plant here is Umpqua frasera (Frasera umpquaensis), and the population at Nevergo Meadow is the northernmost one in its limited range, which reaches only as far as southwestern Oregon. Our first destination was to see this population, hopefully in bloom. We headed down through the meadow, which was now filled with much taller vegetation than it was for my trip in May (see Early Blooming at Elk Camp and Nevergo Meadow). On the way down, we were all quite taken with a large area of nodding semaphore grass (Pleuropogon retrofractus). This is a tall, attractive grass with graceful, dangling spikelets. I’d admired it here in the past. Never had I seen it looking so beautiful, however. We had arrived just as it was in perfect bloom, with both the fuzzy, white stigmas and large, red-violet stamens in evidence. It was suggested they would make lovely earrings. As a designer and occasional jewelry maker, they certainly were inspiring. Several us were determined to get photos, but even the slightest breeze kept them moving. Since grasses are wind-pollinated, this makes sense, but it was still frustrating trying to capture the details of their delicate beauty.

Read the rest of this entry »

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