Archive for the ‘Lake’ Category

Searching for Butterflies at Bristow Prairie

A gorgeous clodius parnassian. Note the transparent wing tips.

An elegant clodius parnassian. Note the transparent wing tips.

On Monday, June 20, I was invited by wildlife biologist Joe Doerr to join a group of wildlife biologists and botanists from the Willamette National Forest on a trip to Bristow Prairie. The goals were generally to familiarize everyone with butterfly species in our area and specifically to search for the Sierra Nevada blue, also called gray blue or arrowhead arctic blue (Agriades or Plebejus podarce—so many names!). Last year I discovered it at Reynolds Ridge (see A Day Full of Surprises) a year after it was first discovered there by Forest Service biologists surveying for it in southern Oregon. I mentioned it to Lori Humphreys who promptly went out and discovered it for the first time in Lane County in the little wetland off of the High Divide trail just north of Bristow Prairie. I saw it the same spot a few days later (see NARGS Campout Day 1: Bristow Prairie). This being the northernmost site so far, it seemed like the nearest place to take everyone to see it. Along with the forest service employees, our group included Lori, Dana Ross, Gary Pearson, and Rick Ahrens, expert naturalists and also non-agency “volunteers”. Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring the West Side of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide

Last summer, while I was hiking around the Yellow Jacket Loop at Hemlock Lake (Searching for Erythronium at Hemlock Lake), I saw something in the distance that always gets my heart racing—a big cliff. It was a ways off to the southeast, presumably in the Rogue-Umpqua Divide. Checking it out later on Google Earth, it turned out the cliff was on the north side of Grasshopper Mountain in Douglas County (not to be confused with the one I usually go to in Lane County). I was thrilled to discover there is a trail right to the summit where an old lookout once stood, as well as a number of other trails in the area. While I had been to the east side of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide a number of times—and it is one of my favorite areas in the Western Cascades—I’d never done much exploring on the west side. Twice I’d driven through Tiller to go up to Abbott Butte and Donegan Prairie, but my only real stop had been to the World’s Tallest Sugar Pine, just off of Jackson Creek Road 29. I was determined to do a trip there as soon as possible, but somehow I never made it. Every time I had a block of time when I could spend a few days camping, there was a heat wave, expectations of thunderstorms, smoke, or some other deterrent. Since it is more than a 3-hour drive to get there, I didn’t want to spend that much time or energy if the conditions weren’t optimal.

From Buckeye Lake, there is a great view of the imposing 800' cliffs of Grasshopper Mountain.

From Buckeye Lake, there is a great view of the imposing cliffs of Grasshopper Mountain.

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NARGS Campout Day 1: Bristow Prairie

While John looks at plants, Jim and Peter are admiring the view from atop one of the smaller side rocks below the large pillar rock near the beginning of the trail.

While John looks at plants, Jim and Peter are admiring the view from atop one of the smaller side rocks below the large pillar rock near the beginning of the trail.

It was again my turn to organize the annual camping trip for a group of Oregon members of the North American Rock Garden Society, and while it would be an obvious choice for me to pick somewhere near me in the Western Cascades, it was actually the rest of last year’s group (see NARGS Annual Campout Hike to Grizzly Peak) that came up with the idea that we should go to the Calapooya Mountains. Apparently, I’d mentioned the area often enough to pique their interest (imagine that!). Scouting for this trip and the abnormally low snow pack were the two main reasons I’ve pretty much spent the entire last two months exploring the Calapooyas. In fact, the first time I made it as far north as Linn County was just a few days ago on a trip to Tidbits.

With the blooming season as far along as it has been, I planned the trip for June 18–21, and I’m so glad I did. If we had done it this weekend, we would have roasted in this heatwave. Instead, we had beautiful weather with very pleasant temperatures. For our first day, we went up to Bristow Prairie to do the north end of the High Divide trail as far as the beautiful rock garden—the highlight of the day, not surprisingly among a group of rock plant lovers. Since some of our normal attendees weren’t able to come this year, I invited some local NPSO friends to join us for day trips. On Friday, June 19th, in addition to Robin and her dog Austin, Kelley, Peter, Christine and her husband Yaghoub, and me, we were joined by my husband, Jim, and Dave Predeek and John Koenig. It was a really good group and far more men than usual! Here are some brief highlights. Read the rest of this entry »

Another Currant at Moon Point

A painted lady drinks from an upturned glacier lily (Erythronium grandiflorum). Painted ladies are very common this spring.

A painted lady drinks from an upturned glacier lily (Erythronium grandiflorum). Painted ladies are very common this spring, much more so than the last few years.

Still wanting to check out more populations of glacier lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum) to see how they have been affected by the lack of snow, I decided to go to Moon Point on Friday, May 8. Happily, there were still plenty of snowmelt species in bloom in the meadows. This area is moister and less exposed than Grasshopper Meadows, and the small creeks that cross the trail were still running, although not as much as there would be in a normal year. It was certainly far drier than it was on my early trip in 2011 after a winter of heavy snow pack (see Moon Point Melting Out). There were many short, upturned glacier lilies, as I had seen recently at Grasshopper Meadows and Bristow Prairie. It seemed like there was a higher percentage of “normal” flowers with reflexed tepals, maybe half and half. Perhaps that was from the additional moisture. There were also quite a few western springbeauty (Claytonia lanceolata) and Lyall’s anemone (Anemone lyallii), although they still seemed to be less floriferous than I remember them. A number of steer’s head (Dicentra uniflora) were evident, but I only found a few remaining flowers. 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 »

Searching for Erythronium at Hemlock Lake

Ed Alverson recently contacted me about looking for Klamath fawn lily (Erythronium klamathense) as close to Eugene as possible. There’s an historic record from the Bohemia/Fairview area, but no one has relocated that population, nor are there any other Lane County locations for this southern montane species. Unbeknownst to either of us, we had both been contacted by the same researcher in Romania who is doing some DNA studies on the genus and had been asked to collected samples. Hopefully he’ll be happy that we got duplicates of some of the species. So although I had already collected some E. klamathense when I was down at Grizzly Peak (see Spring Comes Exceptionally Early to Grizzly Peak), Ed still wanted to see it as did John Koenig, so on Friday (May 30), we headed down to Hemlock Lake in Douglas County, the northernmost site I’ve seen it growing.

Great polemonium (Polemonium carneum) looking great! The way the pretty creamy flowers fade to peach and eventually pink adds to their beauty.

Great polemonium (Polemonium carneum) looking great! The way the pretty creamy flowers fade to peach and eventually pink adds to their beauty.

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Quaking Aspen Swamp is Decorated in Pink

Pretty patches of pink alpine laurel (Kalmia microphylla) could be seen all over Quaking Aspen Swamp.

Pretty patches of pink alpine laurel (Kalmia microphylla) could be seen all over Quaking Aspen Swamp.

Two long-necked pink birds nibbling on a delicacy? Actually mountain shooting stars and their best friends marsh marigolds.

Two long-necked pink birds nibbling on a delicacy? Actually mountain shooting stars and their best friends, marsh marigolds.

Mother Nature is an avid decorator, so much so that she changes her color scheme every few weeks. On Sunday (May 25) at Quaking Aspen Swamp, she was going for a pink and white theme with yellow accents. On the way down the trail were many western trilliums (Trillium ovatum), some fresh white, others aging to pink and even purple. Pink fairy slippers (Calypso bulbosa) were in their prime. White candyflower (Claytonia sibirica) was in bloom, and its larger cousin, heart-leaf miner’s lettuce (C. cordifolia), was just beginning along one of the side creeks. Last week at Elk Camp, its anthers were opening up to reveal black pollen, but here they kept with the theme and showed only pink anthers. The little red and white flowers of vine maple (Acer circinatum) fit in well. Scattered round-leaved violets (Viola orbiculata) and a lone glacier lily (Erythronium grandiflorum) added touches of yellow.

The open wetland was quite stunning. Grand sweeps of marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala) and mountain shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi) covered much of the area with their white and pink blossoms. Underneath, trying to get noticed, were large patches of Gorman’s buttercup (Ranunculus gormanii). Despite their bright yellow flowers, they are just too small and too close to the ground to get much attention under the far larger marsh marigolds and shooting stars. This is the common buttercup of wetlands in the southern half of the Western Cascades, but it was my first time seeing it this year, as the last few wetlands I’ve been to were all home to the larger and showier but less common mountain buttercup (R. populago). Interesting how almost every Cascade wetland seems to have one and only one species of buttercup. North of the mountain buttercup sites, water-plantain buttercup (R. alismifolius) seems to predominate. 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 »

Cache Meadows Loop Highlights

Tiger lilies (Lilium columbianum) and lupines bring color to one of the meadows along the  loop trail.

Lilies (Lilium columbianum), lupines, and lovage. Gotta love that alliteration!

While up in Clackamas County, I spent a great day on July 20 doing the loop trail at Cache Meadows. This easy trail passes by a number of meadows and wetlands and several small lakes. I’m way behind on writing reports, so I’ll just post some photos for this trip. Read the rest of this entry »

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