Posts Tagged ‘Balm Mountain’

Fabulous Loop Trip Around Balm Mountain

Classic frosted paintbrush (Castilleja pruinosa) has narrow leaves that are often quite purple-tinged. Mount Bailey is the snowy mountain to the left. To its right, the rim of Crater Lake can be seen even farther southeast.

On my very last hike in the mountains last year, John Koenig and I found a great way to bushwhack up the south side of Balm Mountain, the highest point in the Calapooyas and one of the coolest places in the Western Cascades (see Another Way Up To Balm Mountain’s South End). We talked about coming back this year and doing a loop by climbing up that way, walking the entire ridge to the north, and returning via a road that leads to the north side. It was high up on both of our priority lists, so for our first trip together to the Calapooyas this year, on July 3rd, we decided to give it a try.

After a number of trips up here, this was the first time I was able to see the deltoid balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidea) in good bloom at the far south end of the mountain. Some monkeyflower and large-flowered blue-eyed Mary indicates this area is somewhat seepy.

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Meandering About Moon Point

From the rocky viewpoint at the end of the trail, we had a great view to the south of the east-west-oriented Calapooya Mountains, including Bristow Prairie where we were the day before and Balm Mountain where I went 10 days later. The coppery-colored shrub to the right is actually a very dwarf Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia), while some snowbrush (Ceanothus velutinus) is blooming to the left.

I believe this is the caterpillar of the police car moth. Its host food plants are in Boraginaceae like this blue stickseed (Hackelia micrantha). He’s clearly been eating both the leaves and the inflorescence.

After our Bristow Prairie trip (see previous post), Betsy Becker decided to stay in the area another day, so on Sunday, June 23, I brought her up to the Moon Point trail. We had a mostly relaxing day (Betsy was not so relaxed when I persuaded her to sit on top of the cliff at the end of the otherwise easy walk!). It was a beautiful day, and the flowers were still fresh. We saw some more plants she wasn’t familiar with, including the rare green-flowered wild ginger (Asarum wagneri). We also made a loop through the lower meadows to pretty Moon Lake. Here are some photos. Read the rest of this entry »

Another Way Up To Balm Mountain’s South End

On the way up, we stopped for lunch at the top of the quarry. John’s proximity to the edge of the cliff gave me the willies, so I sat farther back.

On October 16, it was a beautiful clear day, and John Koenig and I headed up into the Calapooyas for one last chance to visit this wonderful area before winter set in. We headed down Road 3810 that runs along the west side of Balm Mountain. In the past, John and I had planned a trip to find a way to hike up to the south end of Balm Mountain (which is really a long ridge) through some meadows we could see on the aerial images. All my previous trips were approached from the north end of the mountain. We tried several times to get down to the end of the road in the past, but trees blocked it well ahead of where we needed to start (see Another Look at Aspen Meadow and Bradley Lake). On a previous visit to what we call Aspen Meadow, a wetland along Road 3810, we had driven down the road and discovered the trees were finally cleared, but there was a huge washout—one that I can’t see ever being fixed—about a half mile from where it used to dead end.

The fabulous rock formations near the top of the south end of Balm Mountain

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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 an 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 »

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