Posts Tagged ‘Eremogone’

Back to Back Trips to Horsepasture and Lowder Mountains

The view of the Three Sisters is outstanding from the summit of Horsepasture.

The view of the Three Sisters is outstanding from the summit of Horsepasture.

It’s been a busy week, so I’m just going to post some photos from my last two trips. On Wednesday, June 22, I went up to Horsepasture Mountain with Jenny Lippert, Willamette National Forest botanist, to scout for an upcoming trip that she’ll be leading during the Native Plant Society of Oregon annual meeting in a few weeks. Then on Sunday, June 26, I led a trip to Lowder Mountain for Oregon Wild with Chandra LeGue, their Western Oregon Field Coordinator, and six other hikers interested in learning some Cascade wildflowers. Both trails are in the Willamette National Forest McKenzie District. The flowers on both mountains are still great, but we are definitely a few weeks earlier than “normal”, and things are moving along fast. Read the rest of this entry »

Gorgeous Day at Coffin and Bachelor

The show of beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) is once again outstanding on the open slope of Coffin Mountain. The Penstemon procerus and mountain sandwort (Eremogone capillaris) were also quite showy.

I’ve been trying to get back to Coffin and Bachelor mountains for several years, and, coincidentally, I finally made it back this past Wednesday, August 3, exactly three years to the day of my last trip. These two mountains have fairly short trails and are side by side, but it is still hard for me to do both in one day (without rushing too much) unless I camp nearby to give myself more time. Otherwise, I’d head up there at least once a year. They really are jewels for flowers and butterflies. I don’t know why more people don’t know about them. They deserve the popularity of Iron Mountain and Cone Peak, but I can’t complain too much about how much quieter they are.

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Browder Ridge Summit Worth the Climb

Both the view and the flowers at the summit were outstanding. Mt. Hood can be seen in the distance on the right.

I had planned to go on an overnight camping trip, so I could do two hikes up north, but between an iffy weather forecast and lack of energy, I decided to wimp out—sort of. Instead, I did one long day hike to Browder Ridge on July 26. At over 8 miles and 2000′ of elevation gain, it is one of the longest hikes I’m willing to do. I just don’t have enough time to stop and take photos and study plants at the kind of pace I have to do to get home at a reasonable hour. My husband, Jim, decided to join me, and we made a long day of it. We were warned by another hiker that the bugs were bad, but we never got bitten, and the weather was pleasantly cool. Read the rest of this entry »

Looking for Pollinators at Carpenter Mountain

The parking area is worth spending some time enjoying the flowers and the great view of the Three Sisters.

A checkerspot nectaring on bastard toadflax (Comandra umbellata)

Friday (July 22), I went to Carpenter Mountain for the first time in 5 years. It’s a long drive on gravel roads, but the trail is short, and I was really in the mood to just relax and take photos. I arrived to find the road near the parking area lined with flowers. I probably spent an hour just wandering about chasing butterflies, photographing flowers, and enjoying the terrific view. That’s really my kind of a day. There were lots of Castilleja hispida, Calochortus subalpinus, Penstemon cardwellii, Fragaria virginiana, and tons of perfectly blooming sticky cinquefoil (now Drymocallis glandulosa). I noticed some little green flags that appeared to marking some plots. Carpenter is part of the HJ Andrews Experimental Forest, so there is a lot of research going on in the area. I wondered how I would find out what the study subject was here, when, lo and behold, a young woman drove up and started checking her plots. How convenient! It turns out she’s an OSU student studying pollinators—one of my favorite subjects—and one I was sort of studying myself when she drove up. I was trying unsuccessfully to photograph a two-banded checkered skipper frequenting the strawberries—also their caterpillar host species. I find it really interesting how many host species are good nectar species as well. I later got some so-so photos of one drinking from fading Arctostaphylos nevadensis but not from the Fragaria. She was having the same trouble I have been, trying to get some work done with all this unseasonably cold and damp weather. Read the rest of this entry »

More Interesting Finds in the Calapooyas

Ceanothus velutinous covers the lower slope of the ridge before giving way to slippery gravel. The ridge ends on the left in a protected, north-facing cliff.

Yesterday (July 19), I returned to the Calapooyas to explore an interesting spot I discovered last fall. It’s an unnamed high point along the ridge just south of Loletta Lakes, so I’m going to dub it Loletta Peak. Much of it is steep, open gravel, and I had wondered for years what might be up there. Only last October, after the first dusting of snow had landed, did I finally manage to climb up there. I was thrilled to discover Castilleja rupicola on the north-facing cliffs (see More Castilleja rupicola in Douglas County). This is the most southern point I’d ever seen it. I was anxious to see it there in bloom as well as to see what other treasures the area might hold. Read the rest of this entry »

Visiting with Whetstone Mountain’s Pikas

An adorable young pika (Ochotona princeps) poses for the camera.

Pikas have to be the cutest animals in the Western Cascades, if not anywhere. It always makes me smile to hear their nasal “eemp” sound emanating from under the rocks of a talus slope, and it is a really special treat to actually see them. I hadn’t been to Whetstone Mountain in the Bull of the Woods Wilderness in several years, and I was looking forward to spending some time looking for pikas, as I’d seen them there in the past. Along the drive up, there were great masses of pink rhododendrons and purple Penstemon cardwellii, and this continued at the parking area and much of the trail. The moist woods were also beautiful with a great show of bunchberry (Cornus unalaschkensis), queen’s cup (Clintonia uniflora), and Sitka valerian (Valeriana sitchensis). The foliage covering the forest floor was quite lush with a great variety of interesting leaf shapes, but I didn’t linger too much until I got to my favorite spot—a great talus slope next to a shallow pond. This is prime pika habitat as the rocks are large and stable, and there is plenty of foliage nearby for hay-making. Read the rest of this entry »

New Plant for Lowder Mountain

Sabine and I went to Lowder Mountain yesterday and had a very productive and enjoyable day (other than all the overgrown foliage being wet and soaking me for much of the day and lots of trees down on the trail). My main goal was to find a way to get a better look at the plants growing on the massive cliffs at the top—without killing myself. I was successful and found several open areas on the ridge farther west (thanks to GoogleEarth) and some places in the woods where I could go down a bit and get a better viewing angle at the nearby rocks. I was able to confirm 2 plants I had guessed by general gestalt from 100′ away with binoculars in the past. Both Dodecatheon pulchellum and Heuchera merriamii do indeed grow on those cliffs. The DODPUL was in seed but I was able to touch it. The Heuchera merriamii was in full bloom. Though still just seen from binoculars, I was a lot closer, and I’m now positive of the ID. In addition, I found Erigeron cascadensis, Trifolium productum, Epilobium glaberrimum fastigiatum, and an Arnica (not latifolia) on the rocks. And lots more Campanula rotundifolia, just coming into bloom. No more gentians however, although they were just starting at the rock garden on the ridge which is otherwise dried out.

Gilia capillaris

Close up of Gilia capillaris

We made several other additions to the list elsewhere on the trail, but the big one was that Sabine’s sharp eyes spotted Gilia capillaris in the meadow where the trail has an intersection and you turn to go up to the top of Lowder. I was quite surprised to see it there among the more common belly plants like Galium bifolium, Navarretia divaricata, Phlox gracilis, Polygonums (cascadense and kelloggioides) and Gayophytums. It is quite common in the Rogue-Umpqua Divide. I saw it at all 3 sites I visited last week there. But I’ve never seen it in Lane County before, and it isn’t on the Lane County Checklist. I seem to remember being told that someone had seen it at Moon Point. I would have been much less surprised to see it there in southern Lane County than up at Lowder. It has such delicate linear leaves, I can’t imagine noticing it out of bloom. Now that it is blooming, we should keep our eyes open for it in open ground habitat in Western Cascade meadows. It’s a cutie! It’s usually white to ice blue, but there are some pinky purple ones at Abbott Butte.

Also, the bloom is especially great up at the top of Lowder. There are small snowbanks left in the woods on the outer edges of the giant meadow and moonscape area (still some Mertensia bella and Mitella breweri blooming in a recently melted area). The giant population of Polygonum newberryi (Aconogonum davisae) is starting to bloom (it smells wonderful!), the gazillion Eremogone (Arenaria) pumicola are going full steam, and there is a ton of Calyptridium and Nothocalais alpestris. The other meadows along the trail are largely filled with blooming thimbleberry and Ligusticum, but the Lilium columbianum, Aquilegia formosa, and Ipomopsis aggregata are very nice as well. The first Kyhosia bolanderi are opening in the tiny wetland so I suspect they are blooming now at Quaking Aspen as well. After all the bushwhacking, there was no time to go down there for a peek.

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