Posts Tagged ‘Deer Creek’

A Return Look at Deer Creek Meadows

The upper meadow in its full glory of monkeyflower and rosy plectritis during a break in the clouds. Looking east where there was still lots of blue sky, we didn’t realize that rain was coming in.

The floriferous roadcuts start just after you pass picturesque Fritz Creek, which was still gushing with water most likely from higher elevation melting snow.

After my earlier trip to Deer Creek Road this season (see Golden-lined Banks of Deer Creek Road), I was anxious to return and see the next stage of bloom as well as to explore the upper meadows we hadn’t had energy to do on the first trip on a hot day. On May 25, 2017, just about 3 weeks after the first trip, John Koenig and I drove out to Deer Creek Road, on what turned out to be a cooler day than we expected but a good one for climbing up the steep meadows.

We started out enjoying the lovely sunny day by walking down the road to see what was in bloom. Thompson’s mistmaiden (Romanzoffia thompsonii) and naked broomrape (Orobanche uniflora) were finishing up; silverleaf phacelia (Phacelia hastata), Menzies’ larkspur (Delphinium menziesii), and prairie star (Lithophragma parviflorum) were at peak bloom; and the big show of large-flowered blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia grandiflora) was just beginning. We also needed to figure out the best way to access the upper meadows. I hadn’t tackled the eastern meadow since 2010 (see Superb Floral Display Above Deer Creek), so I had forgotten where along the steep roadcut Sabine Dutoit and I had managed to climb up. It turns out we did find the same gap in the rocks, although I didn’t recognize it until I got home and looked at my old photos (for those interesting in checking it out, it’s about 1/4 mile past Fritz Creek but bring an aerial photo as you can’t see the meadow from below). Hopefully I’ll remember the spot the next time I go up there. Read the rest of this entry »

Golden-lined Banks of Deer Creek Road

Monkeyflowers painting the moist banks of Deer Creek Road

On Wednesday, May 3, Sabine Dutoit, Nancy Bray, and I enjoyed the unusually hot (88° according to the thermometer at the McKenzie Ranger Station!) but gorgeous day roadside botanizing in the McKenzie area. Nancy had never been to the beautiful seepy roadbanks along Deer Creek Road 2654, and Sabine and I hadn’t been for 3 years (see Triple Treat up the McKenzie). With all the rain we’ve had, I figured the area would be at its best this year.  Read the rest of this entry »

Triple Treat up the McKenzie

Left) A very fresh brown elfin on a male Sitka willow flower. Right) A echo (spring) azure on a female Sitka willow flower.

Left) A very fresh brown elfin (the purple scales don’t last long) on a male Sitka willow flower. Right) An echo (spring) azure on a female Sitka willow flower.

With the warm spring weather beckoning, Sabine and I headed up the McKenzie Highway on Wednesday (April 30) to see how the bloom was coming along in several favorite sites. Our first stop was to the main wetland at Ikenick Creek. I’d never been there anywhere near this early, and although there were lots of spring flowers on last spring’s early June trip (see The Stars are Shining at Ikenick Creek), I was a bit late for the willows. This year, I wanted to try to catch this area at the very beginning of the season. A few remnants of snow along the north-facing side of the road indicated it was indeed early here. The air was fantastic—so fresh and not hot yet. As soon as we got out of the car, we saw some blooming sitka willow (Salix sitchensis) by the roadside that was serving breakfast to a number of insects, including several brown elfins and echo (formerly spring) azures—an auspicious start to the day! Read the rest of this entry »

Floriferous Roadcut Along McKenzie Highway

On Sunday (May 13), I headed out the McKenzie Highway to do some botanizing. My first stop was to the Castle Rock trail. It is still early there, but there were a number of fairy slippers in the woods and many Lomatium hallii and Sierra snakeroot (Sanicula graveolens) blooming in the open rocky areas of the summit. The pretty pink Phlox diffusa was also starting to bloom along with the lovely Viola sheltonii and Micranthes (Saxifraga) rufidula. It only took me around 3 hours to poke around my favorite spots to see how things were coming along, so I decided to continue on east past McKenzie Bridge.

The bright yellow blossoms of Hall’s lomatium (Lomatium hallii) are one of the first things to bloom up on Castle Rock.

Another good early spot for early flowers is along Deer Creek Road 2654, just over the border into Linn County, 7.5 miles past the ranger station. The wet springs of the last couple of years fueled some gorgeous displays of seep-loving annuals (see Superb Floral Display Above Deer Creek). While it has been wet this spring until recently and many things are just starting, the sudden change to warm, dry conditions may shorten the show of annuals this year. There were quite a few larkspurs in bloom along the road banks along with fading Lomatium hallii and saxifrages (Micranthes rufidula and M. integrifolia). Thompson’s mistmaiden (Romanzoffia thompsonii) was still blooming in a few of the many seeps. The big sweeps of rosy plectritis and blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia grandiflora) had not yet begun. Read the rest of this entry »

Superb Floral Display Above Deer Creek

Several years ago, Sabine and I discovered a great roadside area for botanizing along Deer Creek Road in Linn County. Head out the McKenzie Highway past the ranger station. Deer Creek Road heads off to the left (west) after about 7.5 miles (3 miles south of Trail Bridge Reservoir). While you’ll start to see nice patches of Cryptantha intermedia pretty soon along the road banks, the real show doesn’t start until you drive past Fritz Creek. Here, between about 2.5 and 4 miles from the start of the road, there are about 13 creeks and seeps spilling down onto the road bank and fueling an amazing show of annuals this year.

Easternmost meadow with sweeps of Collinsia grandiflora

We hadn’t explored the area since 2005, so after a quick trip up Castle Rock a couple of weeks ago, we decided it would be worth checking out. The blue sheets of Collinsia grandiflora were outstanding. Mimulus guttatus was also quite lovely, and many other plants were still going strong—even some Romanzoffia thompsonii I remembered seeing on our original trips. At one particular small creek, I had discovered some Dodecatheon pulchellum back in 2005. At only about 2500′ elevation, it is the lowest site for this variety I know, and I figured it would be finished, but I still wanted to relocate it, and was pleased to find 3 small plants in the creek bed. I remembered finding much more in a somewhat hidden seepy meadow farther up hill. There are several other meadows above these roadcuts I hadn’t investigated yet. Clearly this area was worth a whole day of exploring. Read the rest of this entry »

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