Archive for the ‘Rock and Cliffs’ Category

Another Look at Aspen Meadow and Bradley Lake

Sliver Rock and Crater Lake forest fire

After we crossed over the crest of the Calapooyas, we had a great view to the south of Sliver Rock in the foreground just in front of Balm Mountain and Mount Bailey in the distance. We could also see the smoke spewing from the forest fire at Crater Lake. Most of the foreground is in the Boulder Creek Wilderness, parts of which burned in fires in 1996 and 2008.

After our terrific trip to Balm Mountain (see Another Beautiful Day on Balm Mountain), I really wanted to do some more exploring in the area, so I suggested to John Koenig that we check out the lower part of the south end of Balm. My idea was to go down Road 3810 to where it deadends at the Skipper Lakes trailhead, head up the trail to the small lakes, which I’d only been to once, and climb uphill to look at the rocks below where we’d ended up on our previous trip along the ridge. The roads have been quite iffy in the Calapooyas this year, but our friend Rob Castleberry had been at Balm right after us and had done part of Road 3810, so I had high hopes we might be successful. We headed up there August 4. Alas, we only made it a short ways farther than where Rob had been when we came upon several trees blocking the road. Not again! This has been a frustrating year for road conditions. Read the rest of this entry »

Seed Collecting at Tire Mountain

Gorgeous farewell-to-spring really glows when backlit.

Gorgeous farewell-to-spring really glows when backlit.

On July 31st, I decided to make one last trip to Tire Mountain to look at the final wave of flowers and collect some seeds. I was especially hoping to get seeds of the late-blooming farewell-to-spring (Clarkia amoena) while still seeing some fresh flowers, but I was surprised that hardly any seeds were ripe, and there were many buds still in evidence—on the last day of July! I’ve gotten a few started at home, but since they are annuals, I need a large enough population to be able to keep themselves going. Most other plants were in seed, and I was able to collect a number of species, including several biscuitroot (Lomatium dissectum, L. utriculatum, and L. nudicaule), my favorite bluefield gilia (Gilia capitata), rosy plectritis (Plectritis congesta), and Oregon fawn lily (Erythronium oregonum). Read the rest of this entry »

Another Beautiful Day on Balm Mountain

The rocks at the southern end of the ridge are quite extraordinary, made even more beautiful by a fabulous display of colorful wildflowers, including sulphur buckwheat and skyrocket.

Clustered broomrape (Orobanche fasciculata) was popping up frequently. This particular plant had a reddish blush over the usual pale yellow flowers.

Clustered broomrape (Orobanche fasciculata) was popping up frequently. This particular plant had a reddish blush over the usual pale yellow flowers.

On July 26, John Koenig and I went for a long awaited trip to Balm Mountain. Back in 2011—a big snow year—we had made the trip up there (see Not Balmy Yet at Balm Mountain!), but since snow blocked the road and forced us to walk almost two miles to the parking spot, we didn’t have time to get to the south end of the mountain. We were relieved that nothing blocked the road on this trip or kept us from making it all the way to the south end of the ridge.

Although getting late in the bloom season, there were still plenty of flowers to satisfy us, including buckwheats (Eriogonum umbellatum and E. compositum), coyote mint (Monardella odoratissima), frosted paintbrush (Castilleja pruinosa), tongue-leaf luina (Rainiera stricta), and Oregon sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum). We saw a gorgeous stand of western blue flax (Linum lewisii) along the road, but by the time we were hiking, all we saw of the many plants on the ridge were blue petals lying on the ground. Their ephemeral petals only last a day. Read the rest of this entry »

Butterflies are Happy “Indian Dream Meadow” is Still Blooming

courting pair of western tiger swallowtails on mock-orange

I watched this courting pair of western tiger swallowtails on mock-orange for quite some time, wishing I hadn’t damaged my new camera with its much better video to fully capture their lovely pas de deux.

Back in May (see From the Minute to the Majestic), John Koenig and I went to explore a rocky meadow I’d discovered last fall off of Road 1714, a little southwest of Patterson Mountain. We decided to call it “Indian Dream Meadow” because of the abundance of Indian dream fern (Aspidotis densa). On Saturday, July 23, I went back to this neat spot to see what else was in bloom. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Back to Back Trips to Horsepasture and Lowder Mountains

The view of the Three Sisters is outstanding from the summit of Horsepasture.

The view of the Three Sisters is outstanding from the summit of Horsepasture.

It’s been a busy week, so I’m just going to post some photos from my last two trips. On Wednesday, June 22, I went up to Horsepasture Mountain with Jenny Lippert, Willamette National Forest botanist, to scout for an upcoming trip that she’ll be leading during the Native Plant Society of Oregon annual meeting in a few weeks. Then on Sunday, June 26, I led a trip to Lowder Mountain for Oregon Wild with Chandra LeGue, their Western Oregon Field Coordinator, and six other hikers interested in learning some Cascade wildflowers. Both trails are in the Willamette National Forest McKenzie District. The flowers on both mountains are still great, but we are definitely a few weeks earlier than “normal”, and things are moving along fast. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Finally a Look at a Hidden Meadow at Tire Mountain

There's a great view of the mountains beyond Oakridge, including Diamond Peak on the right and Fuji Mountain on the left, both still snowy. You can also make out the two west-facing meadows of Heckletooth Mountain.

From the hidden lower meadow, there’s a distant view of the mountains beyond Oakridge, including Diamond Peak on the right and Fuji Mountain in the center, both still snowy. You can also make out the two west-facing meadows of Heckletooth Mountain near Oakridge, to the left and below Diamond Peak.

Last month I went to Tire Mountain to check out a hidden meadow below the trail near the beginning of the Tire Mountain trail (see Off the Beaten Path at Tire Mountain). I wasn’t paying attention, however, and went up the wrong meadow. Having first explored it in the fall of 2012, I still needed to get back and check it out while it was still in bloom. I had also wanted to return to see the yampah (Perideridia sp.) in bloom and hopefully collect some seeds of early blooming flowers. My schedule has been pretty full, so I figured I’d better jump on the first decent day before it was too late. So on Sunday, June 19, I headed up to Tire Mountain hoping to accomplish at least some of my goals. 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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Spring at Heckletooth Mountain

Silver lupine (Lupinus albifrons) is outstanding on the steep, rocky, south-facing slope below the summit.

Silver lupine (Lupinus albifrons) is outstanding on the steep, rocky, south-facing slope below the summit.

The paintbrushes on the summit are hard to pin down as they are in many spots in southeastern Lane County. They may be a mix of Castilleja hispida and C. pruinosa. But whatever they are, they are gorgeous!

The paintbrushes on the summit are hard to pin down to species just like they are in many spots in southeastern Lane County. They may be a mix of Castilleja hispida and C. pruinosa. Whatever they are, they are gorgeous!

Spring is a busy season, and I’m already running behind. So I’m just going to post some pretty photos of a lovely trip to Heckletooth Mountain that Sabine and I took a week ago on May 28th. After going there at least once almost every year since 2006, I hadn’t been since 2013, so it was good to get back to this steep but lovely trail. There were still plenty of things just starting, including the grand show of showy tarweed (Madia elegans) and white-flowered threadleaf phacelia (Phacelia linearis). The weather was gorgeous. Everything was really quite perfect except for one major problem. The gravel road to get there is only 1.8 miles, but since my last trip, it had really gone downhill (pun intended—it’s pretty steep!). Some major downpours must have caused the many gullies in the road. Usually those kinds of gullies only last for short distances, but these must have gone on for a mile. And once I started up, I couldn’t turn around or back up over them. No fun! I hadn’t felt like dealing with gravel roads—one of the reasons I decided to go to Heckletooth—so it was quite an unfortunate surprise, and one that will keep me from returning to see the next wave of flowers.  Read the rest of this entry »

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