Posts Tagged ‘forest fire’

Smoky Day on Tire Mountain

At the beginning of the hike, I had to deal with smoke obscuring my view, but it wasn’t nearly as bad then as it became later in August.

On August 18, I decided to risk the smoke of what had now become a terrible fire season and head over to Tire Mountain for some more seed collecting. On most of the days up until that point, the smoke from the nearby Jones Fire drifted onto my property overnight but was blown off after the winds picked up in the afternoon. I was hoping for something similar, even though I was heading farther east. As I drove to Oakridge, I was wondering if I made the right decision. The smoke seemed to get thicker with every mile. But on the way up to the trailhead, it magically disappeared! Or so I thought. There was more smoke when I hit the trail. Oh well, I’d come this far, I had to at least get some seeds—my main motivation for going out. Read the rest of this entry »

Butterflies and More at Potter Mountain and Road 2154

Three checkerspot butterflies delight in the abundance of coyote mint (Monardella odoratissima) on the rocky ridge just above Road 2154.

Three checkerspot butterflies delight in the abundance of coyote mint (Monardella odoratissima) on the rocky ridge just above Road 2154, although one had a quick taste of northern buckwheat (Eriogonum compositum) before returning to the coyote mint.

Although it had only been 9 days since I’d been to Potter Mountain with my rock garden friends (see NARGS Campout Day 3: Potter Mountain), when John Koenig expressed interest in going to Potter Mountain, I was anxious to go back. This was a new spot for John, and I wanted to look for more plants of the California stickseed (Hackelia californica) and do some more exploring along Road 2154 between Potter and Staley Creek Road 2134 that we travel to get up there. We had a beautiful clear day on June 30. Although it was still hot (what a wretchedly long heat wave!), it wasn’t as bad as it had been, and most of what we did wasn’t too taxing for a warm day.

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Life Among the Ruins

The devastation left by the Rainbow Creek fire of September, 2009. Black Rock in the distance is right across from the trailhead.

On Tuesday (August 30), I left the Hemlock Lake campground and drove the 18 miles or so east along the ridge to the Whitehorse Meadows trailhead at the northern end of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide. I wondered what might still be in bloom at the relatively high trail at about 5700′. Just a mile or so before the trailhead, I stopped at a favorite spot, a lovely roadside wet slope. It was filled with Parnassia cirrata, Kyhosia bolanderi, Erigeron aliceae, and there were also some lovely leopard lilies (Lilium pardalinum). It looked like things would be great along the trail. Then I noticed some burned trees above the wetland. Hmm. It wasn’t until I came around the corner and saw Black Rock, the prominent feature in this area, completely surrounded by dead trees, that I realized what had happened. What a shock! One of my favorite trails utterly devastated. The trail meanders slowly downhill over 3 miles to the large Whitehorse Meadows. Until just before the Whitehorse Meadows, almost no trees had survived this fire except a few in the many small patches of meadows, outcrops, and wetlands along the way. How did I not know this area had burned? It wasn’t until I got home and called the Diamond Lake Ranger District office of the Umpqua National Forest that I found out it burned in the fall of 2009, just a couple of months after my last visit here. The fire was named after Rainbow Creek, a tributary of Black Creek that starts nearby. It burned over 6,000 acres. It occurred around the same time as the Tumblebug Fire, which was much closer to me and kept me away from southern Oregon entirely. For a dramatic aerial photo of the fires, see Earth Snapshot. Read the rest of this entry »

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