Posts Tagged ‘Balm Mountain’

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 »

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 »

Return to Potter Mountain

Last July, I discovered an awesome new spot in the Calapooyas, Potter Mountain (see Natural Rock Garden at Potter Mountain). Since I’d missed the early bloom, it was high on my list of sites to revisit this year. On Sunday, May 31, I returned to see what else might be up there. Staley Creek Road 2134 is usually in good shape, but it did require moving a few small rocks. Still I got up there no trouble (and left it a little clearer for my next trip up). The day was rather overcast but the clouds came in waves, so I did get some sun off and on.

Cutleaf daisy (Erigeron compositus) growing right on the rocky, spine of the ridge. Diamond Peak can be seen to the east.

Cutleaf daisy (Erigeron compositus) growing right on the rocky, spine of the ridge. Diamond Peak can be seen to the east.

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Natural Rock Garden at Potter Mountain

There's a fabulous 360° view from top. You can see Mount Bailey to the south.

There’s a fabulous 360° view from top of Potter Mountain. Here you can see Mount Bailey to the south. The air was cool and clear after the recent rains, and I could see Mt. McLoughlin and maybe even the top of Mt. Shasta.

Have you ever heard of Potter Mountain in Douglas County? I may have seen the name on a map, but I’d never heard anyone mention it. I had no idea what I was missing! I’m always excited to find new places, and several weeks ago when my husband and I were hiking along the ridge of Balm Mountain (see Butterflies, Blossoms, and Boulders on Balm Mountain), I couldn’t stop looking at a craggy summit a few miles due east. Later, looking at a map, I discovered it was Potter Mountain, and I was thrilled to find it was just off Road 2154, a major road (for a gravel road, that is) that traverses much of the Calapooya crest. This might actually be an easy place to access. With so many interesting plants in the Calapooyas, I couldn’t wait to check it out. Yesterday, July 25, I finally got to do it. Read the rest of this entry »

Butterflies, Blossoms, and Boulders on Balm Mountain

The wild rock formations at the southern end of the ridge look to me like they were underwater.

The wild rock formations at the southern end of the ridge look to me like they were underwater. Spreading phlox (Phlox diffusa) happily filled areas where their roots could find cracks.

I’ve been wanting to show my husband the unusual rock formations on Balm Mountain in the Calapooyas ever since I first discovered the area. Finally on Saturday, July 5, we were able to make that happen. There were no great botanical discoveries or unexpected wildlife interactions, and since it’s a very busy time of year, and I’m way behind, I thought I’d just share some photos of a beautiful day on a beautiful mountain. Read the rest of this entry »

Not Balmy Yet at Balm Mountain!

End of the line. The first (but not the last!) snow bank we had to walk across on our way to Balm Mountain.

Yesterday (July 20), John Koenig and I went to Balm Mountain to pre-hike it for an NPSO trip I had scheduled for the end of the month. I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to get there or not, but looking at photos of it I’d taken from various spots in the last week or two, I had some hope it had melted out enough for us to get there. It was clear sailing all the way up Staley Ridge Road 2134. We turned onto Timpanogas Road 2154 and hit snow at about 0.8 mile. It covered half the road but with some shoveling was safely passable. A tree had also fallen across the road but was held up by the steep bank. John had brought some equipment, although unfortunately he forgot his chainsaw, and we spent more effort tackling these obstacles than we should have—in hindsight . While the road seemed clear after that, we were stopped by an insurmountable snow bank covering the road a mere 1/4 mile farther up the road, just before the intersection of Road 236. Time to walk. Read the rest of this entry »

Balm Mountain Really Rocks!

Hall's goldenweed (Columbiadoria hallii) blooming near the south end of the ridge.

Fall is officially here. Soon the snow will start to blanket the Cascades, and I’ll hang up my hiking vest for the winter. The last place I just had to get back to once more this season was Balm Mountain in the Calapooyas. On my previous trip (see First Exploration of Balm Mountain), I hadn’t made it all the way to the south end of the ridge. I really wanted to check it out to see where the most interesting parts of the ridge are for when I return next year to see it during peak flowering season, so yesterday (September 22), I headed back up there. This time I took Staley Ridge Road 2134, so I could drive all the way to the access point for Balm Mountain. Read the rest of this entry »

First Exploration of Balm Mountain

While exploring the part of the Western Cascades called the Calapooya Mountains over the last few years, I have repeatedly been drawn by the seemingly bleached open slopes of Balm Mountain (see map). After finding so many unusual plants at the next peak to the NNW, what I’ve dubbed Loletta Peak (see previous posts on Loletta Peak), I’ve become even more obsessed with finding out what treasures await on Balm Mountain. Yesterday (August 23), I finally indulged my curiosity. I decided to approach this mountain from my usual route up Coal Creek Road 2133. I’d never driven to the end of Road 3810, which goes just below the south sides of Loletta Peak and Balm Mountain and can be accessed from the north only by Road 5851, which is most quickly reached via Coal Creek Road. When I investigated the Skipper Lakes trail last year (see Some Oddities at Skipper Lakes), just below the southeast side of Balm Mountain, I headed in from the north side, which was a shorter drive. Unfortunately the spur road was bad and the trailhead non-existent. I eventually found the trail and discovered a real trailhead at the south end, right where road 3810 deadends.

Amazing weathered rock formations along the ridge south of the lookout site (seen at the top)

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Some Oddities at Skipper Lakes

I’ve been exploring the Calapooyas of late, and a couple of days ago I went to Skipper Lakes on the south side of the Calapooya crest at the base of Balm Mountain, less than 3 air miles south of Loletta Lakes where I was a few days before. The lakes themselves weren’t nearly as productive, and the area around them not nearly as wet as I expected, but I did find some unusual things. Not so surprisingly, given the close proximity to Loletta Lakes where I just discovered it, I found 2 separate areas of Oxypolis occidentalis. Also Geranium richardsonii in fading bloom, Horkelia fusca, loads of Stellaria obtusa (also some S. crispa and S. borealis, they’re popping up everywhere now that I’m paying attention). There was also quite a bit of Ribes erythrocarpum in fruit. I noticed a specimen from there on the OFP Atlas but have not found any other list for Skipper Lakes. It’s hard to imagine that the Roseburg Herbarium ladies didn’t do a list for this pretty trail. I didn’t think they missed much.It must be beautiful earlier in the season near the south trailhead as it was filled with Balsamorhiza deltoidea, Linum lewisii, and Ipomopsis aggregata. The big trees in the woods are nice too. It looks like a lot of incense cedars are crowding the openings however. It’s a nice trail, too bad it requires so many miles of gravel.

Odd broad-lip twayblades (Listera convallarioides) with three leaves instead of two

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