Posts Tagged ‘Bearbones Mountain’

Beginning of the Blooming Season at Bearbones

We had beautiful weather and terrific views. Looking west from the old lookout site on the summit, we could see plenty of snow still on Bohemia Mountain and Fairview Peak, both around 6000′, over 1000′ above our elevation on Bearbones. The little open area in the distance in the middle of the photo is Heavenly Bluff.

On Friday, May 19, Kris Ellsbree and I attempted to get to what I call “Heavenly Bluff” to see the early flowering Siskiyou fritillary (Fritillaria glauca). We drove up Road 2127, south of Hills Creek Reservoir. Like a number of other roads in the area, this seems to have deteriorated quite a bit in the last couple of years. We also had to cross two patches of snow. I had my doubts we could make it all the way to Heavenly Bluff this early, especially this year, so I wasn’t surprised to get stopped by a very large tree fallen across the road (which had already been removed by the time I called the Middle Fork Ranger District office on Tuesday, but they said there was snow blocking the road a mile farther up the road, so we wouldn’t have made it anyway). Luckily, we were only a half mile from the Bearbones Mountain trailhead, which was my backup plan and a lovely spot in its own right. It was very early in the season on Bearbones, with a relatively small number of species in bloom, but we had a successful and enjoyable day. Here are some photographic highlights. Read the rest of this entry »

Expect the Unexpected

A very happy Siskiyou fritillary on Heavenly Bluff.

Siskiyou fritillaries sure grow well on Heavenly Bluff.

With a week of dry weather and the snow quickly retreating to higher elevations, I wanted to head back to Heavenly Bluff to get another look at the beautiful Siskiyou fritillary (Fritillaria glauca) there. Last year when John Koenig and I went up there (see Siskiyou Fritillary in Lane County ), we were having an extremely dry May, and despite some snow on the road, the frits were past peak. I thought we might have better luck this year since, although things are still early, we’ve had regular rain all spring. So Sabine Dutoit, Nancy Bray, and I headed up toward Heavenly Bluff on May 12, just 2 days later than my trip with John last year. After all the obstacles on the road on that trip, I figured we’d better have a backup plan, so since we were going right by the Bearbones Mountain trailhead, we could go there if we couldn’t make it to Heavenly Bluff.

I was surprised at how good the road condition was for the first half of May—no snow, no logs, and not even a rock out of place. Then we discovered why when we passed a brushcutter along the road. I talked to someone at the ranger station later who said they had no one working up there, but there is a lot of private timber company land in the area, and there was some sign of thinning, so it could be they are getting ready for more logging. In any case, we were able to make it all the way to Heavenly Bluff. Why someone would clear that final deadend spur road, I don’t know. But I was very pleased to be able to drive right to where we could walk easily up through the woods to the opening. Pleased that is until we got out of the car and discovered the tire was flat. Perhaps it was the very short section of the spur road where there were a lot of small, sharp rocks, or perhaps the tire was already leaking as I’d had to inflate it last week when it looked a little low. Whatever the reason, changing a tire had not been on my agenda. I couldn’t face dealing with it immediately, and I was not about to miss out on my botanizing, having come all this way, so we headed up to the bluff. Read the rest of this entry »

Butterflies at Bearbones

A large fritillary (Hydaspe I think) was one of four enjoying the flowers of mockorange (Philadelphus lewisii) once they emerged from the shade.

I don’t have time today to write a real report, and there weren’t any really exciting moments on my hike to Bearbones Mountain yesterday (July 27). I did add 5 species to my plant list and collected seed from a number of plants. As I scan them, I’ll add them to my seed gallery. It was a good day for butterfly photography, even though there weren’t many species, so I thought I would at least share some photos. I spent a good 45 minutes sitting (actually I was mostly teetering on a small ledge on a large rock) beside a perfectly blooming mockorange that was the focal point for all the butterflies in the area. Between the happy butterflies, the pleasant breeze, and the heavenly fragrance of the lovely flowers, I can’t imagine a better way to pass an afternoon. Read the rest of this entry »

A Heavenly New Site in Lane County

The site as seen from Bearbones Mountain a few miles to the southeast. It is unnamed on the map, but I could hear Horse Heaven Creek running below to the north, so I’m calling it “Heavenly Bluff.”

Discovery really is what gets my blood pumping. I had a spectacular day yesterday (July 4), and it had nothing to do with fireworks. Several weeks ago when I was on Bearbones Mountain (see Beautiful Bloom at Bearbones), I had noticed an open rocky area between there and Bohemia Mountain. I planned to head to Bearbones yesterday to see the next wave of flowers but wanted to see if I could even find this intriguing spot first. It’s at the end of a small spur road 920 off of 2213 just south of Johnson Meadows. I wasn’t even sure the road would be passable. I was quite pleased to find it was, although it clearly wasn’t used much and was lined with a dreadful amount of the bright yellow but nasty invasive Lotus corniculatus. It looked to be a very short bushwhack through some woods to reach the opening, but it was even easier than I expected. Someone had made a trail and lined it with pink ribbons. Who did that, and what could they be doing out here? The North Umpqua Ranger District of the Umpqua National Forest is in charge of this area, and they don’t have any records of projects there, so I may never know. The trail led right out to the opening and down into some woods below, so they probably were not there to look at the fabulous floral display. Read the rest of this entry »

Beautiful Bloom at Bearbones

Rosy plectritis, death camas, and cliff penstemon blooming beautifully on the side ridge.

Yesterday (June 15), Dan Thomas, Nancy Bray, and I spent the day at Bearbones Mountain. I just love this little known jewel. So many interesting plants in such a small area. It’s a real melting pot, with plants more typical of the north, south, and east, all meeting together on a small, rocky knob. Few people travel this trail, so the plants are quickly filling in. We were surprised that most of the coralroots we saw seemed to be coming up right in the middle of the trail. We tried our best to avoid them, but as they were in bud and their reddish color blended in with the soil, it was difficult to spot them all, and on the return trip, we noticed several broken stalks we must have stepped on as we went up the trail.  Both my companions seemed happy at the diversity of plants we saw. There were many slender-tubed iris (Iris chrysophylla) and fairybells (Prosartes hookeri) in the woods. The fairybells are especially small along this trail, some only 4″ high. After spotting the white-flowered wands of Mitella trifida, we spent a while looking for the very similar M. diversifolia, so I could show them the difference in leaf and flower shape. They can be hard to spot among the showier plants, but there were quite a few. Read the rest of this entry »

Bears Gone Wild

Perhaps I should have expected a bear-ful day yesterday (June 5), since I was going to spend the day on Bearbones Mountain. As I drove up Bearbones Mountain Road 2127 past Hills Creek Reservoir, a bear dashed across the clearcut into the woods. Seeing a bear once in a year is always exciting—last year I didn’t see any—but this makes 3 bear sightings this year, and it isn’t even summer (officially or weather-wise). A couple of more bends, another clearcut, and this time it was a lone elk. I’m glad they find something good about these hideous clearcuts. Unfortunately, there are a number of private parcels within the Willamette National Forest in this area, and they’ve been pounding them hard over the last few years, not leaving so much as a single tree standing. In fact, there’s a new one at the base of Bearbones just since my last trip there in 2008.

bear damage

The aftermath of a bear's search for Lomatium roots

When I reached the old lookout site on top of Bearbones, I noticed some bear damage along one side. As usual, they were after Lomatium hallii, evidently one of their favorite plants. The damage grew steadily worse as I headed down the wonderful side ridge. As I followed this bear hurricane along the ridge, I witnessed an increasing number of areas where the rocks were strewn about, and rootless tops of the Lomatium were lying about as evidence of their feeding frenzy. Read the rest of this entry »

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