Posts Tagged ‘Bristow Prairie’

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 »

NARGS Campout Day 1: Bristow Prairie

While John looks at plants, Jim and Peter are admiring the view from atop one of the smaller side rocks below the large pillar rock near the beginning of the trail.

While John looks at plants, Jim and Peter are admiring the view from atop one of the smaller side rocks below the large pillar rock near the beginning of the trail.

It was again my turn to organize the annual camping trip for a group of Oregon members of the North American Rock Garden Society, and while it would be an obvious choice for me to pick somewhere near me in the Western Cascades, it was actually the rest of last year’s group (see NARGS Annual Campout Hike to Grizzly Peak) that came up with the idea that we should go to the Calapooya Mountains. Apparently, I’d mentioned the area often enough to pique their interest (imagine that!). Scouting for this trip and the abnormally low snow pack were the two main reasons I’ve pretty much spent the entire last two months exploring the Calapooyas. In fact, the first time I made it as far north as Linn County was just a few days ago on a trip to Tidbits.

With the blooming season as far along as it has been, I planned the trip for June 18–21, and I’m so glad I did. If we had done it this weekend, we would have roasted in this heatwave. Instead, we had beautiful weather with very pleasant temperatures. For our first day, we went up to Bristow Prairie to do the north end of the High Divide trail as far as the beautiful rock garden—the highlight of the day, not surprisingly among a group of rock plant lovers. Since some of our normal attendees weren’t able to come this year, I invited some local NPSO friends to join us for day trips. On Friday, June 19th, in addition to Robin and her dog Austin, Kelley, Peter, Christine and her husband Yaghoub, and me, we were joined by my husband, Jim, and Dave Predeek and John Koenig. It was a really good group and far more men than usual! Here are some brief highlights. Read the rest of this entry »

Two Foggy Outings

I’m a fairweather hiker and usually avoid going out on days without a good amount of sun. But sometimes it happens. On both of my last two outings, I ended up spending most of the day literally in the clouds. I don’t take anywhere near the number of photos I usually do, but I thought I’d share a few.

Bristow Prairie, 5/15/15

Molly Juillerat, Middle Fork NF district botanist, and her dog Ruby and I made the same trip John Koenig and I had done a couple of weeks before (see Bristow Prairie: 2015 Trip 2), but the low clouds gave the area a distinctly different mood. From a scientific standpoint (not from one of comfort!), it was interesting to see how much moisture the plants received without any actual rain.

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Low clouds dancing around below the road at Bristow Prairie

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Bristow Prairie: 2015 Trip 2

Looking west along the front of the cliff. Compare this with the photo from last year.

Looking to the northwest along the front of the cliff. Compare this with the photo from last year. The seep is now damp and mossy. In the distance, 6000′ Bohemia Mountain and Fairview Peak can be seen with no snow on their south-facing sides. They usually don’t melt out for another 6–8 weeks.

One of my goals for the year is to track the botanical progression at Bristow Prairie by getting up there at least once a month, hopefully more. There’s such a broad variety of habitats, from cliffs to meadows to wetlands, that it should be an excellent site for observing the effects of the largely snowless winter on the different plants. So on April 27, John Koenig headed up to Bristow Prairie for my second trip of the year. While there had finally been some snow a week or so before, it was all melted again, and we only saw a few patches along the upper road and on nearby ridges. Our main destination was the lower, west-facing cliffs we first visited last fall (see First Trip to Cliffs Northwest of Bristow Prairie), so we started again at the north trailhead. Read the rest of this entry »

Super Early Look at Snowless Bristow Prairie

My first post of the year, and it’s already April. What with the heat and forest fires, my summer hiking season petered out much earlier than usual last year. Then my work with the Oregon Flora Project ramped up, and I’ve been super busy all winter. I’ve been editing, designing, and doing layout for the new Flora of Oregon (more about that another time). I’m usually happy to be parked in front of my computer most days in the winter, but with all the glorious weather during this winter-that-wasn’t, it’s been really tough not having time to go out, especially after getting reports from my friends of getting up into the Western Cascades in February(!). We’re almost done with the Flora, and we just had a brief, much-needed respite while the publisher read through the manuscript. At last, I was able to take a day off and get up into the Cascades to see what it looked like after this unusual, largely snowless winter.

Looking north from Bristow Prairie, there is no snow in sight—very scary for late March! In the center of the photo is the imposing south face of "Mosaic Rock". Youngs Rock and Moon Point can also be seen, just to the left of the dark tree on the left.

Looking north from Bristow Prairie, there is no snow in sight—very scary for late March! In the center of the photo is the imposing south face of “Mosaic Rock”. Youngs Rock and Moon Point can also be seen, just to the left of the dark tree on the left.

 

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First Trip to Cliffs Northwest of Bristow Prairie

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Looking north at the cliff face and the rocky meadow above. The longer dead grass and foliage in the front marks where there is a seep that must drip down over the cliff. Some large green and brownish clumps of Merriam’s alumroot can also be seen on the vertical rock just to the right of the large, shaded crack in the center.

Back in early June, I went to Pyramid Rock in southern Lane County (see Peak Bloom at Pyramid Rock) and got a good view of some cliffs on the west side of the ridge near Bristow Prairie. I’ve been hankering to explore them ever since. I checked them out on Google Earth and discovered they were only a few hundred feet below the High Divide trail. On my last trip to Bristow Prairie, there wasn’t time to squeeze a bushwhack in, and the weather wasn’t very good, so I had to put it off again. So on Friday, August 15, John Koenig and I decided getting to the cliffs would be our main goal, even though the plants would no doubt be finished blooming. After staying at home for over a week, waiting for the heat and thunderstorms to abate, I was raring to go. Read the rest of this entry »

The Bristow Prairie Area Continues to Yield More Discoveries

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Frosted paintbrush (Castilleja pruinosa) and hotrock penstemon (Penstemon deustus) up on the rocky bald.

After finally spotting the hidden north trailhead last summer (see A Grand Day Exploring Bristow Prairie’s Varied Habitats), John Koenig and I returned last fall to do the northern end of the High Divide trail that crosses Bristow Prairie. We discovered an awesome pillar rock, moist forest, and more meadows, so it was definitely worth a return trip. On Wednesday (June 11), Sabine Dutoit and I decided to head up there and see what the area looks like in flower. We still had trouble finding the trailhead, as although John and I had found the trail sign in the ditch and put it back up on the road, it was moved yet again. Luckily, I had made a GPS waypoint last year. Once we found the trailhead, just a tad up the road from a quarry and pillar rock I had checked out a few years ago, we could see the sign had been placed on the ground next to the trail, just up into the woods—not much good for spotting the trail from the road, but at least we knew we were in the right place! 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 »

Unusual Variability of Cat’s Ears at Bristow Prairie

Here is a sampling of the amazing variety of cat’s ears (Calochortus spp.) at Bristow Prairie. I believe they are a mix of elegant cat’s ears (C. elegans) and mountain cat’s ear (C. subalpinus) and possibly Tolmie’s cat’s ear (C. tolmiei) as well. The ranges of the first two species barely cross, and this is right about where the edges of their ranges meet—C. subalpinus to the north and C. elegans to the south. Interestingly, it is the also the border between Lane and Douglas counties. Whatever they are, they sure are gorgeous!

Calochortus tolmiei is the only one of the three that has purple-black seeds; the seeds of the others are very light (see some in the seed gallery). It will be interesting to try to find seeds later in the season and see if any are dark. It is not an easy task, though, as the capsules hang down and drop their seeds quickly.

Calochortus5@BristowPrairie Read the rest of this entry »

A Grand Day Exploring Bristow Prairie’s Varied Habitats

On Friday, June 28, John Koenig, Gail Baker, Clay Gautier, and I went up to into the Calapooya Mountains to explore Bristow Prairie. It was a great day with all kinds of interesting discoveries. We had to stop a number of times on the road on the way up. Our first was at a large sweep of beautiful Geranium oreganum alive with butterflies—to be honest, the butterflies were more interested in the weedy daisies, but at least the numerous bees appreciated the natives. We also checked out Jim’s Oak Patch, but the uncommon species that came in after the prescribed burn seem to have disappeared, at least until the next fire. I also had to share with my friends the awesome Mosaic Rock. We decided not to climb up to the base since we would need the time at our main destination, but with binoculars I could see some of the Heuchera merriamii was in full bloom. Oh well, you can’t do everything.

The late afternoon signs illuminates the cliffs of Staley Ridge to the east and Diamond Peak beyond.

The late afternoon sun illuminates the cliffs of Staley Ridge to the east and Diamond Peak beyond.

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