Archive for the ‘Seep’ Category

Further Exploration of the BVD Trail

On the second day (June 3) of my brief overnight trip to the North Umpqua area, I headed up to the Twin Lakes trailhead, but my destination for this trip was the former BVD trail, accessed from the same area. While I did spend a couple of hours over at Twin Lakes at the end of the day, I was really more interested in looking at rock plants, especially after my fabulous trip to Pyramid Rock the day before (see Peak Bloom at Pyramid Rock). I was not disappointed. There were a great many beautiful plants in bloom. And because I had been camping just a few miles from the bottom of the road, I was already out walking at 8:30am and had lots more time than usual to poke around. My goal was to explore beyond the main meadow I’d been to several times before. Looking at the Google Earth image, it is clear that there are a lot of openings, both large and small, along this steep, south-facing slope.

Perhaps the most outstanding display of the day was from the numerous silver lupines (Lupinus albifrons), which were all over the meadow and rocky areas.

Perhaps the most outstanding display of the day was from the numerous silver lupines (Lupinus albifrons), which were all over the meadow and rocky areas. I do love purple!

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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 »

Spring Comes Exceptionally Early to Grizzly Peak

A few spring whitlow grass (Draba verna) are hardly noticeable, but en masse they are quite pretty.

A few spring whitlow grass (Draba verna) are hardly noticeable, but en masse they are quite pretty.

Last Tuesday (April 15), I went down to southern Oregon for a quick but rewarding trip. Almost every year, I’ve gone down in mid-April to shop at a fantastic rock garden plant sale put on by one of the NARGS members in the area. Sadly, this is going to be her last sale, so I didn’t want to miss the chance to buy some more gems for my rock garden (many to replace those that didn’t make it through the tough winter). I was also in luck that a quilting store in Ashland was just starting their going-out-of-business sale, so I was able to stock up on batik fabric for my new-found creative passion, quilting. I always get in as much botanizing as I can squeeze into two days while I’m in the area, but I never expected I would have the opportunity to get up to Grizzly Peak so early in the year. With the trailhead  at 5200′ and the peak—such as it is—at 5900′, it is usually covered with snow in April, but from what I hear, there has been almost snow in the area, and they’ve missed much of the rain we’ve had farther north in February and March.

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New Trail to the Base of Buffalo Peak

How many snakes do you think are here?

How many snakes do you think are here?

Back in January, I heard Bill Sullivan give a talk on new hikes he’s added to the latest version of his Central Oregon Cascades book. My ears perked when he mentioned the Forest Service had added a section to the North Fork trail, off the Aufderheide (Road 19), that passed along the base of the Buffalo Peak. I once climbed up from Road 1939 to the base of this grand rock feature on the north side and found one of my personal favorite plants, Heuchera merriamii, growing on the cliffs. I had wanted to explore the much larger south side that reaches almost to the river, so this new trail was a dream come true.

On Monday (April 7), Sabine and I decided to check  out the new trail section. We stopped at the ranger station in Westfir to double check the directions to the trailhead and were given a copy of an area map, showing the trailhead at the end of a spur road off of Road 1939, on the north side of the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. Read the rest of this entry »

More Discoveries Just South of Bristow Prairie

I had to wade into this little pond to photograph this amazing display of white water buttercup (Ranunculus aquatilis).

I had to wade into this little pond to photograph the amazing display of white water buttercup (Ranunculus aquatilis).

After our great day on Friday (see A Grand Day Exploring Bristow Prairie’s Varied Habitats), John and I were both anxious to do more exploring near Bristow Prairie. We had originally thought we might be able to head down along the trail to the south, but we ran out of time on Friday, so we thought it would be well worth a return trip. I wanted to get back before the heatwave dried up all the little annuals, so we headed back up again on Monday, July 1 (July already!).

We wanted to hike in from the southern trailhead, which is a little ways past Bradley Lake, so we headed up Coal Creek Road 2133. We stopped briefly at a seep along the roadcut where we found a new population of Thompson’s mistmaiden (Romanzoffia thompsonii). Unfortunately, a whole family of ticks also discovered me. I had to flick at least 10 off my pants before entering the car. I really hate ticks, but the feeling doesn’t seem to be mutual. At least we got the low point of the day out of the way quickly. Although I wanted to get the hike done first and make our stops on the way back, especially because the heat of the day, we couldn’t help ourselves and had to check out at least a few of our favorite places along this long but floriferous route. A shallow pond was filled with water buttercup. Many butterflies were enjoying the spot, too. One of them, a hoary comma, became enamored of John and spent quite some time checking out his hat, shirt, and binoculars. We finally had to send him on his way, so we could get back into the car and on our way. Just a little ways before the trailhead, I finally got to experience the fabulous bloom of a large area of spreading phlox, growing in what look like they might be gravel piles created when the road was built. I’d collected seeds there before but had never been early enough for the flowers. Read the rest of this entry »

Early Flowers Along Cougar Reservoir

Gold stars likes the moss along the road. Unfortunately the highway department does not.

Gold stars likes the moss along the road. Unfortunately the highway department does not.

Last Wednesday, April 3, Nancy Bray and I went to see what was blooming on the cliffs along Cougar Reservoir in northeastern Lane County. I frequently explore the similar habitat along Hills Creek Reservoir, about 30 miles to the south, but had never spent any time along Cougar Reservoir until last year (see Laid Back Botanizing Along Cougar Reservoir). This is probably in large part because the trails I frequent near Cougar Reservoir (Lowder Mountain, Quaking Aspen Swamp, and Olallie Mountain) are accessed by the road that crosses the dam, missing much of the good habitat along the west side of the reservoir, and by the time the higher elevation blooming season is in gear, the roadside plants are mostly finished. On the other hand, at Hills Creek Reservoir, most of my favorite hikes, including the Calapooya Mountains sites, require that I drive past the roadside cliffs on the west side, which I seem to do on a weekly basis. I’ll have to add Cougar Reservoir to my favorite early season botanizing sites because it is really floriferous and has more seepy cliff than I’ve seen anywhere else. Read the rest of this entry »

Something for Everyone at Warfield Bog and Hemlock Butte Wetlands

Nancy (in front), Sharon (behind her), John, and Barrett among the pretty Douglas’ spiraea (Spiraea douglasii) at Warfield Bog

On Friday, August 3, Molly Juillerat and I took a group up to see some wetlands in the Middle Fork District of the Willamette National Forest where she works as a botanist. All together, including Anna and Sharon who also work for the district and who kindly drove us, we had 13 participants. There was quite a variety of folks. Along with the Forest Service, we had people from the Native Plant Society, North American Butterfly Association, and the Middle Fork Watershed Council. Since there are no trails at either site, and we were staying fairly close to the roads, people were mostly able to focus on their own interests, looking at plants, butterflies, dragonflies, and a handsome Cascades frog. Read the rest of this entry »

The Lure of the Little

Miniature gilia and Kellogg’s knotweed at Groundhog

On both my last two outings, part of my agenda was to relocate tiny annuals I had seen in the past. More and more, I find myself fascinated with these smallest of plants that have such a brief time in the sun. They just don’t get much respect. Sometimes I find myself ignoring large, showy perennials shamelessly calling attention to themselves with their bright colors. Instead, I look for the empty spaces in between the tall plants. Here lie an amazing array of Lilliputian annuals that can hardly be seen without kneeling down (hence the name “belly plants”). But up close, they are as fascinating as the relative giants above them.

At Bristow Prairie on July 13, my first stop was just a short ways from the road up a small wash. A couple of years ago (see Bristow Prairie’s Open Gravelly Slope), I had seen some tiny popcorn flowers (Plagiobothrys spp.). Unfortunately, they are so similar that to differentiate many species you need to see the nutlets. The various patterns of bumps and ridges and the placement of the scar where the nutlets were attached to the style help distinguish one species from another. I found the little plants pretty easily, and, unlike the previous trip, they had started to form nutlets. Even unripe, it is possible to see some of the necessary characteristics. I’m pretty sure they are harsh popcorn flower (P. hispidulus), as I had suspected, but it was good to finally get a look at the nutlets. Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Beaten Track at Tidbits

A stunning show of mountain cat’s ear (Calochortus subalpinus) on the south-facing slope of “the Wall”.

Most people who go to Tidbits Mountain head up the trail to the old lookout site, enjoy the view, and return the same way they came. It’s a wonderful hike with many wildflowers and a fabulous view. But there is more to be seen at Tidbits. My goal for my trip yesterday (July 9) was to spend some time on what I call “the Wall”—the part of the ridge to the west of the “Tidbits” that can be seen from the summit. It puts on a great show in July. The last few years I’ve only come to Tidbits late during gentian season. I also wanted to relocate an uncommon plant I’d found back in the fall of 2009 off the side trail that heads north from the intersection where a cabin once sat. Read the rest of this entry »

Laid Back Botanizing Along Cougar Reservoir

The stream running down the concrete-lined ditch along the base of the cliff is filled with plants that have seeded or fallen down from above.

The weekend before last at the Mount Pisgah Arboretum Wildflower Festival, I was surprised to see someone had brought in blooming Penstemon rupicola. It was (and is still) blooming in my garden, but I didn’t know of any low elevations sites, south of the Columbia Gorge anyway, where it would be blooming this early. It turns out, Tobias Policha had been collecting along Cougar Reservoir in northeastern Lane County. He told me the penstemon was blooming along the roadcut. How had I never noticed that? He also saw a rare sedge there. I’d passed it many times and wondered about the fountain-like grassy clumps on the wet rocks. I’ve explored the wonderful roadcut cliffs along Hills Creek Reservoir countless times, but, although I’d thought about it, I’d never stopped to check the similar habitat along Cougar Reservoir. Read the rest of this entry »

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