Posts Tagged ‘Cone Peak’

A Rainbow of Colors at Cone Peak and Iron Mountain

The Cone Peak meadows at peak bloom. What else can you say but “Wow!”?

The ivesia (Ivesia gordonii) was in perfect bloom on the side ridge of Cone Peak. It’s also on the top of the peak, but there are no records of it anywhere else on the west side of the Cascades.

Sabine Dutoit had a hankering to go to Cone Peak and Iron Mountain, so last Thursday, June 13, Sheila Klest and I joined her for an excellent day out in the Cascades. It was a gorgeous day, and the flowers were outstanding. We walked the 6.6-mile loop trail up through the Cone Peak meadows, over to Iron Mountain (passing just a few last patches of snow on the north side), and up to the Iron Mountain summit before returning to the road. It was great to be out with good friends, enjoying the flowers and views, and not working too hard. And there weren’t the usual crowds at Iron Mountain—undoubtedly the most popular wildflower site in the Western Cascades. Although that’s much longer than I usually hike, it seemed so relaxing not studying, surveying, or collecting seeds, and not bushwhacking. I’ll have to try that more often! It was hard to choose just a few photos to post. You’ll just have to imagine the rest—or go yourself! Read the rest of this entry »

Autumn Comes to Iron Mountain

Vines maples turning red between Iron Mountain and Cone Peak

It was a gorgeous day on Monday (September 27), and a great day to be in the mountains even if most of the flowering is over. In all the times I’d been to Iron Mountain and Cone Peak, I realized I’d never been there in late summer or early fall, so that was our destination. Like most people in western Oregon, Iron Mountain was the first place I’d heard of when asking where to go see flowers. So I went a number of times after I moved here in the early ’90s. But eventually I discovered how many other terrific botanical areas there are in the Cascades—and how much more peaceful they are without the summer crowds that seem to make the pilgrimage to Iron Mountain as though it is the only beautiful spot in the mountains. I still love to go up to Cone Peak as the snow is melting, but I’ve kind of ignored Iron Mountain for quite some time. There were many late-blooming plants listed for the area that I’d never seen there, so I was long overdue for a visit. Read the rest of this entry »

Top of Cone Peak Starting to Bloom

Dodecatheon pulchellum

Dodecatheon pulchellum

I thought you might be interested in what Sabine Dutoit and I found at Cone Peak yesterday. Not surprisingly, things are way behind. There’s quite a bit more snow than when I was there on either 6/3/06 and 5/24/04. I’d say it’s 4 weeks or more behind the last few years. Almost everywhere I’ve been able to get to so far is 3-4 weeks behind. There was a lot of snow right at the beginning of the trail but we could see the top was open so we figured we’d give it a try. The trail cleared off shortly but then, before the series of switchbacks, we ran into lots of snow again and lost the trail. We just headed for the top across the snow and eventually got right up to the main meadow and the trail which were half open and covered with Claytonia lanceolata. Then we crossed a bit more snow right at the base of the trail and were all clear from then on.

green hairstreak

green hairstreak on top of Cone Peak

From the many Erythronium grandiflorum and Orogenia fusiformis blooming near the snow, it got better and better. The seep area is outstanding right now. Solid Romanzoffia thompsonii, Saxifraga rufidula, and Dodecatheon pulchellum. By the time we got to the top there were lots of Lomatium martindalei, Cerastium arvense, Delphinium menziesii, Phlox diffusa, and Ivesia gordonii in perfect bloom. The Castilleja rupicola was starting, but the Douglasia laevigata was actually fading. Boy, do you have to get out early to catch that one! One addition to my list was Valeriana scouleri coming into bloom. It was growing in the west-facing rocks right next to Castilleja rupicola. I’ve seen that combination many times. Also there was quite a bit of the Arabis I sent Sweet Home District botanist Alice Smith pictures of several years ago from the top of Iron Mountain. I was also really excited to see 2 green hairstreaks right on top and a cute ground squirrel. The air was pretty clear and the view was outstanding. Even Mt. Hood looked really close. It was really interesting to see blooming Senecio integerrimus when they were all still in bud at Tire Mountain (<4000′) on Friday. Cone Peak really blooms from the top down!

Ivesia gordonii

Ivesia gordonii and nice view of Iron Mountain from top of Cone Peak

On the way back down, we were able to follow the trail down most of the switchbacks with minimal snow crossing. There were loads of fresh trilliums and the Viola sheltonii had already finished. We felt rather foolish having done so much bushwhacking on the way up… until we lost the trail again in the snow. We simply couldn’t find the blue markers, so we just headed down and picked up the trail, lost it again, headed down and found it again near the beginning. Luckily, you can’t really get lost there. And on a weekend, the traffic is steady enough that you can hear the road all the time. For someone unfamiliar with the trail, however, I’d suggest waiting a week for it to melt out more near the bottom.

As you can see from the photo of the Ivesia, there’s lots of snow on Iron Mountain. We walked over plenty of 5 foot drifts, so it is probably even worse over there. Tombstone Prairie is mostly snowed in, but the open areas have blooming skunk cabbage. Also, the road to Echo Basin was clear (we moved some small trees) until just before the trailhead where you hit lots of snow.

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