Posts Tagged ‘Calapooya Mountains’
Last year, I discovered what is currently the northernmost known site for the lovely Siskiyou fritillary (Fritillaria glauca). I purposely did not write about it in my report about Heavenly Bluff, A Heavenly New Site in Lane County, because it has been considered a rare plant, and the Oregon Flora Project and Oregon Biodiversity Information Center had been withholding location data for the reported sites. Evidently there are enough populations now that their locations are no longer withheld, so I guess I needn’t be so circumspect.
I haven’t been posting much lately. Partly, that is due to my winding down my botanizing as the flowers are also finishing their season. The other reason is that I’ve been exploring some High Cascade wetlands. In the last few weeks I’ve visited Gold Lake Bog, Blue Lake, Hand and Scott lakes, and some interesting unnamed bogs near Little Cultus Lake, an area I’d never investigated before. On Friday (September 14), however, I went back to one of my favorite haunts, and the last one I posted about: Hills Peak. I’ve been wanting to show Molly Juillerat (Middle Fork District botanist) the wonderful lake on the east side of the peak because it is home to lesser bladderwort, one of the rare species the Forest Service monitors (see the previous post). Molly was finally free after fires near Oakridge pulled her away from her other duties, and Nancy was also able to join us.
On Thursday (August 23), John Koenig and I spent a lovely day in the area by Hills Peak. I had been looking forward to showing John one of my favorite areas in the Calapooyas, a part of the Western Cascades that is special to him as well. He “adopted” the Dome Rock wilderness area for Oregon Wild (then ONRC) back in the late ’90s when they were trying to assess all the small unprotected wilderness areas in the state. The day was absolutely gorgeous with none of the heat of the previous week or so and no sign of smoke from any of the small fires in the area.
We started out the day by walking down the old road to the shallow lake to the east of Hills Peak. I didn’t have time to check it out on my earlier trip this year (see Hills Creek to Hills Peak). Although the majority of flowers were finished, there was still plenty to see. Poking around a small wet meadow beside this old road, we found dozens of one-flowered gentians (Gentianopsis simplex), including a few plants whose petals were twice the normal length. There were also a great many starry ladies’ tresses (Spiranthes stellata). I’ve seen these both here before, but one of these days I’ll come back earlier enough to see what must be a lovely display of mountain shooting stars (Dodecatheon jeffreyi). Read the rest of this entry »
On Sunday (July 29), I drove down along Road 21 past Hills Creek Reservoir, yet again. I believe that’s the 13th time this season—and it won’t be the last. It is such a fascinating area botanically with a few good trails and a great deal of roadside interest. I was still tired from bushwhacking around Bearbones Mountain, so I wanted to avoid any real hiking and to instead check up on some good roadside spots and see as much of Hills Peak, way out past the end of 21, as I had time and energy for. My first stop was to Youngs Flat Picnic Area to see if the piperias were in bloom. What great luck, the white-flowered royal rein orchid (Piperia transversa) was in perfect bloom. Chaparral rein orchid (P. elongata) blooms a little later and was just starting, although I found several in good bloom. As far as I know, it is impossible to tell the various species apart from the leaves. So this was the time to check out some of the areas along the road where I’d seen the leaves but never the flowers. So my next stop was Mutton Meadow. In the woods across the road from the meadow were some scattered Piperia transversa, no elongata. The meadow itself was filled with elegant cluster-lily (Brodiaea elegans), some kind of birdbeak (Cordylanthus sp.)—a rare plant around here, and yampah (Perideridia spp.). I believe I saw both P. gairdneri and P. oregana, but until the seeds appear, I can’t be sure. That’s a tough genus to get a handle on.
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 »
Monday (June 11) was another day of leisurely roadside botanizing southeast of Oakridge for me, along with Sabine Dutoit, Nancy Bray, and Dan Thomas. We stopped at many of our usual sites, including the cliffs by the reservoir, Youngs Flat Picnic Area, Mutton Meadow, Jim’s Oak Patch, Skunk Creek by Road 400, several unnamed meadows, and even briefly up to the amazing “Mosaic Rock” Sabine and I discovered last year (see Amazing Rock Feature Worthy of a Name). One of the most prominent plants of the day is one I rarely see, Oregon geranium (Geranium oreganum). There used to be a plant on my property, but I haven’t seen it for years. I probably drive down Road 21 at least a dozen times every year, year after year, yet I was totally surprised when we came upon a grassy spot along the road just past Secret Campground that was filled with blooming geraniums. The only thing that might explain how I’ve missed these is that perhaps they have a short season of bloom. We stopped to take a look and saw several butterflies among the pretty flowers, including a great arctic. I got what I thought was a nice photo of a female silvery blue that Nancy had spotted. Sadly, when I saw it blown up on my computer, it turns out she was in the death grip of a crab spider. Read the rest of this entry »
Another great day for wildlife began before we even got to Hills Peak on Tuesday (August 23). As we drove out Road 21 around Hills Creek Reservoir, both Sabine and I took a double-take at an object on the edge of the road. I backed up when I realized it was a western pond turtle… intent on crossing the road! Picking him up wasn’t as easy as I expected. He squirmed and scratched much the way my cat does when I want to move her somewhere she doesn’t want to go. We were right near where Stony Creek meets the lake, so we brought him down to the water’s edge where he headed straight into the water. Hopefully if he gets the urge to go to the lake again, he can find a way under the road. I’ve never seen a pond turtle out that way, so it was great to see him, especially still alive and not squished on the road. The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has posted a Western Pond Turtle fact sheet if you’re interested in learning more about these uncommon turtles in Oregon. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
Back in March, while doing our usual early-season poking around southeastern Lane County (see Spring is Here!), Sabine and I came across a huge rock feature we hadn’t noticed before. At the time, access to it was blocked by snow, even though it tops out at 4000′, so on Monday (June 20), we finally headed back up there to get a close up look. We took the first right off of Coal Creek Road 2133. The sign says the road is called 2133-200, but the maps disagree as to what it is called farther up.
On the way up, we spent some time at Jim’s Oak Patch, an area the Willamette National Forest has been doing restoration work on. Several years ago it was burned, and we found several interesting plants that are adapted to burned habitat. These are always interesting because they tend to come in en masse in the scorched ground, but they eventually disappear as other plants reestablish. They must leave vast amounts of seed in the ground, which can sit and wait for many years until the area reburns. Some of these plants have been considered rare, but it is hard to make a judgement about a plant that is so temporary. One of these plants is Montia diffusa. I don’t remember seeing it before, although I was aware of it, so it was great to see it in bloom and get a chance to photograph it. Another was Geranium bicknellii. According to Bruce Newhouse, this pops up a lot more than the Atlas would indicate. It also likes to establish in ground cleared by fire. There was a lovely sweep of Camassia leichtlinii with Plectritis congesta in wet spots and our perennial native Geranium oreganum in bloom as well. Several patches of Heuchera chlorantha foliage lead me to believe there is more in this part of the county than I previously realized. Read the rest of this entry »
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 »