Archive for the ‘Wetlands’ Category

Highs and Lows at Quaking Aspen Swamp

Lovely Columbia windflower in the forest on the trail down to Quaking Aspen Swamp.

Lovely Columbia windflower in the forest on the trail down to Quaking Aspen Swamp.

Ruby "dogging" her mom's heels. In front are alpine aster, notable for their solitary flower heads.

Ruby “dogging” her mom’s heels. I wouldn’t recommend taking a dog into a bog like this, but Ruby is an incredibly well behaved canine and a pleasure to botanize with. In front of her are alpine asters, notable for their solitary flower heads.

Yesterday, June 30, Nancy Bray and I accompanied Molly Juillerat and her sweet dog, Ruby, on a trip to Quaking Aspen Swamp. Like last week’s trip to Horsepasture Mountain, this will be one of the sites Native Plant Society of Oregon annual meeting participants will visit, and Molly will be leading that hike. She is the Middle Fork district botanist, so this is out of her area, and we came to help familiarize her with the ins and outs (and, as it turns out, the ups and downs!) of this neat wetland. Since there isn’t a trail in the wetland itself, it takes some planning to figure out how to navigate it and where the best flowers are.

There were a number of highlights. Many of the predominantly white woodland flowers were at their peak. These included floriferous patches of bunchberry (Cornus unalaschkensis), Columbia windflower (Anemone deltoidea), and queen’s cup (Clintonia uniflora). Out along the edges of the wetland, there were pretty displays of alpine aster (Oreostemma alpigenum), blue-eyed grass (Sisyrinchium idahoense), and bog microseris (Microseris borealis). While the amazing colorful sheets of marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala) and mountain shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi) were over, there were a few pockets of still fresh flowers to be seen. The abundant sundews (Drosera rotundifolia, D. anglica, and hybrid D. x obovata) were just starting to bloom. 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 »

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.

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From the Minute to the Majestic

In late August last year, I discovered a new rocky meadow just southwest of Patterson Mountain (see Exploring near Patterson Mountain). I wrote that I expected it to be blooming in May. Well, May is here, so it was time to see what it looked like in bloom. On Monday, May 9, John Koenig and I went up Road 1714 off of Patterson Mountain Road 5840. We parked at the quarry on the bend in the road and walked down the road for about a tenth of a mile. A very short walk through the woods brought us to the top of the east end of the steep meadow in a couple of minutes.

It can be hard to come up with a good name for a place so one doesn't have to refer to it as "that rocky meadow off Road 1714". The masses of Indian dream fern gave us the idea to name the meadow after it. The spring phacelia was perched on the rocky shelves above the ferns.

It can be hard to come up with a good name for a place, but we didn’t want to have to refer to this area as “that rocky meadow off Road 1714”. The masses of Indian dream fern gave us the idea to name the meadow after it.

Naked broomrape growing out of spring gold. Without digging the plants up to look for the attached haustorium, it is only a guess that they are parasitizing the spring gold.

Naked broomrape growing out of spring gold. Without digging the plants up to look for the attached haustorium, it is only a guess that they are parasitizing the spring gold.

I was thrilled to see so many brightly colored flowers after last year’s trip when most everything was dried out and brown. There were lots of purple larkspur (Delphinium menziesii) in full bloom as well as two slightly different shades of yellow lomatiums—both spring gold (Lomatium utriculatum) and the deeper yellow Hall’s lomatium (L. hallii) were abundant. Bright red paintbrushes were coming into bloom. They were quite variable. Some plants had the lobed leaves and wide, fluffy flower heads of harsh paintbrush (Castilleja hispida), while others had the unlobed leaves and narrow flower heads characteristic of frosted paintbrush (C. pruinosa). With the handlens I was able to find a few forked hairs on some of the plants, indicating at least some frosted paintbrush in their lineage. I’ve seen these mixed populations in many places in the area, so I wasn’t surprised. I assume the two species are hybridizing, but it would take DNA work to confirm my lay theory.

We poked around the east end of the meadow and finally discovered a small patch of Thompson’s mistmaiden, something I thought I’d seen dried plants of last year. It is so small, however, that I didn’t trust identifying it from seed, so I was pleased to find it in flower. We were very happy to find quite a few very bright purple flowers of naked broomrape (Orobanche uniflora). Their flowers were larger than usual, and from a distance we had trouble picking them out among the larkspur. I was surprised that they weren’t parasitizing the nearby wholeleaf saxifrage (Micranthes integrifolia) where I frequently find them, but rather they were growing most often among the spring gold. Rosy plectritis (Plectritis congesta) was everywhere but just budding up, so there will be plenty of color later in the month. 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.

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Fabulous Day at Grasshopper Mountain

Highrock Mountain and Grasshopper Meadow

Near the summit of Grasshopper Mountain, there is a fabulous view of nearby Highrock Mountain. I had been very disapointed the day before that I couldn’t see Highrock even though I was walking right below it. Grasshopper Meadow can be seen below.

The awesome cliffs of Grasshopper Mountain in the Rogue-Umpqua Divide looked even better up close from Cliff and Buckeye Lakes (see Exploring the West Side of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide) than they had from a distance the year before from near Hemlock Lake. On Wednesday, July 15, I finally went to walk to the top of them. It was forecast to be the clearest day of my three-day trip, and the weatherpersons were correct. After the clouds of the previous two days, it was a relief and a joy to have totally clear blue skies all day. Instead of doing the long loop from the lakes, I found a shorter route to the summit of Grasshopper Mountain from the Acker Divide trail, just a little northwest of where I had been the day before. I left the campground and headed east on Jackson Creek Road 29, which soon becomes gravel. After about 10 miles of well-maintained gravel, a sign points to the trailhead a mile down deadend Road 550. It’s all pretty easy, and since Road 29 loops around and goes back to the South Umpqua Road, you can get to the trailhead just as easily from the north end of the South Umpqua Road, depending on where you’re camping. 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 »

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 2: Loletta Lakes

Juan found a nice shady spot under some willows next to an amazing display of monkey flower (I'm not sure if this is now Erythranthe guttate or not) in the wetland near Loletta Lakes.

In the wetland near Loletta Lakes, Juan found a nice shady spot under some willows next to an amazing display of monkey flower (I’m not sure if this is now Erythranthe guttata or not) where he could stay cool and perhaps enjoy the display.

For the second day of our NARGS annual campout (June 20), we headed up Coal Creek Road 2133 to do some roadside botanizing. We pretty much retraced the two earlier trips John Koenig and I did several weeks earlier (see Another Exciting Day in the Calapooyas and Another Exciting Day in the Calapooyas: The Sequel). One of our usual participants, Kathy Pyle, had arrived the night before accompanied as always by her cute little dogs, Juan and Paco. We were also joined for the day by Sheila Klest, the proprietor of Trillium Gardens, a local native plant nursery. Read the rest of this entry »

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