Posts Tagged ‘ground squirrel’

Another Look at Aspen Meadow and Bradley Lake

Sliver Rock and Crater Lake forest fire

After we crossed over the crest of the Calapooyas, we had a great view to the south of Sliver Rock in the foreground just in front of Balm Mountain and Mount Bailey in the distance. We could also see the smoke spewing from the forest fire at Crater Lake. Most of the foreground is in the Boulder Creek Wilderness, parts of which burned in fires in 1996 and 2008.

After our terrific trip to Balm Mountain (see Another Beautiful Day on Balm Mountain), I really wanted to do some more exploring in the area, so I suggested to John Koenig that we check out the lower part of the south end of Balm. My idea was to go down Road 3810 to where it deadends at the Skipper Lakes trailhead, head up the trail to the small lakes, which I’d only been to once, and climb uphill to look at the rocks below where we’d ended up on our previous trip along the ridge. The roads have been quite iffy in the Calapooyas this year, but our friend Rob Castleberry had been at Balm right after us and had done part of Road 3810, so I had high hopes we might be successful. We headed up there August 4. Alas, we only made it a short ways farther than where Rob had been when we came upon several trees blocking the road. Not again! This has been a frustrating year for road conditions. Read the rest of this entry »

More Discoveries along the Calapooya Crest

Cascade gras-of-Parnassus (Parnassia cirrata var. intermedia) is one of my favorite wildflowers and a wonderful bonus this late in the season.

Cascade grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia cirrata var. intermedia) is one of my favorite wildflowers and a wonderful bonus this late in the season.

Ever since our early June trip to the meadow along Road 3810 on the south side of Loletta Peak (see Another Exciting Day in the Calapooyas: The Sequel), John Koenig and I had been planning to return to see the later blooming plants, especially the Cascade fringed grass-of-Parnassus (Parnassia cirrata) that we found there. Just before we had planned to go, Ed Alverson e-mailed me about the quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) we had discovered there. He’s been studying the scattered populations on the west side of the Cascades in Oregon and Washington. The timing was perfect, as we were able to take Ed along on August 12 to see the population in what we were now calling “Aspen Meadow.” We had been somewhat concerned with all the fires down in Douglas County, especially the Potter Mountain complex burning just east of Balm Mountain (thankfully not actually on Potter Mountain). But other than some drifting smoke above, we had no problems reaching our destination and enjoying what was an otherwise lovely day. Read the rest of this entry »

A Minor Thrill at Hills Peak

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.

The shallow lake has many pond lilies (Nuphar polysepala) and is surrounded by bog-loving sedges.

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 »

Further Exploration in the Calapooyas

Brickellia blooming along Road 5851

I just can’t stay away from the Calapooya Mountains. There are so many interesting rocky areas and wetlands, and I want to see them all. So yesterday (September 4), I headed back along my usual route up Coal Creek Road 2133, but this time I went all the way past Bradley Lake to the end of Road 5451 where it deadends at the south trailhead for Bristow Prairie. When John Koenig and I went to Loletta Peak and Bradley Lake back in July (see Mystery Bedstraw Blooming in Calapooyas), we took a quick spin down the road at the very end of the day. Seeing another cliff and talus slope and several meadow and wetland areas, we decided it was definitely worth a return trip. Exploring this area was my main goal yesterday.

It's tricky getting berries off the end of the branch!

The road to Bradley Lake is in fine shape except for one spot that is very wavy from being washed out. It is no problem as long as you drive really slowly. There is a nice rocky spot here with loads of Erigeron cascadensis (in seed right now). Going so slow, I noticed a patch of rayless yellow composites and pulled over. It was Arnica discoidea still in good bloom. Neither rayless arnica is common in the Western Cascades, but this one I’ve only seen a few times, so I was very pleased. After photographing it for a while, I poked around the roadside outcrop and small talus slope. I heard but did not see a pika, but I was able to watch several golden-mantled ground squirrels. It must be the time of year when the babies get curious because it seemed that several of them were pretty young and running around quite a bit. An adult was busy trying to get some of the red elderberries on a large shrub growing out of the rock. At one point, when I wasn’t looking, I heard a crash of sorts. It appeared as though he or she had slipped off the branch. It was quite amusing watching all this activity. Read the rest of this entry »

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