Posts Tagged ‘Heavenly Bluff’

Beginning of the Blooming Season at Bearbones

We had beautiful weather and terrific views. Looking west from the old lookout site on the summit, we could see plenty of snow still on Bohemia Mountain and Fairview Peak, both around 6000′, over 1000′ above our elevation on Bearbones. The little open area in the distance in the middle of the photo is Heavenly Bluff.

On Friday, May 19, Kris Ellsbree and I attempted to get to what I call “Heavenly Bluff” to see the early flowering Siskiyou fritillary (Fritillaria glauca). We drove up Road 2127, south of Hills Creek Reservoir. Like a number of other roads in the area, this seems to have deteriorated quite a bit in the last couple of years. We also had to cross two patches of snow. I had my doubts we could make it all the way to Heavenly Bluff this early, especially this year, so I wasn’t surprised to get stopped by a very large tree fallen across the road (which had already been removed by the time I called the Middle Fork Ranger District office on Tuesday, but they said there was snow blocking the road a mile farther up the road, so we wouldn’t have made it anyway). Luckily, we were only a half mile from the Bearbones Mountain trailhead, which was my backup plan and a lovely spot in its own right. It was very early in the season on Bearbones, with a relatively small number of species in bloom, but we had a successful and enjoyable day. Here are some photographic highlights. Read the rest of this entry »

Expect the Unexpected

A very happy Siskiyou fritillary on Heavenly Bluff.

Siskiyou fritillaries sure grow well on Heavenly Bluff.

With a week of dry weather and the snow quickly retreating to higher elevations, I wanted to head back to Heavenly Bluff to get another look at the beautiful Siskiyou fritillary (Fritillaria glauca) there. Last year when John Koenig and I went up there (see Siskiyou Fritillary in Lane County ), we were having an extremely dry May, and despite some snow on the road, the frits were past peak. I thought we might have better luck this year since, although things are still early, we’ve had regular rain all spring. So Sabine Dutoit, Nancy Bray, and I headed up toward Heavenly Bluff on May 12, just 2 days later than my trip with John last year. After all the obstacles on the road on that trip, I figured we’d better have a backup plan, so since we were going right by the Bearbones Mountain trailhead, we could go there if we couldn’t make it to Heavenly Bluff.

I was surprised at how good the road condition was for the first half of May—no snow, no logs, and not even a rock out of place. Then we discovered why when we passed a brushcutter along the road. I talked to someone at the ranger station later who said they had no one working up there, but there is a lot of private timber company land in the area, and there was some sign of thinning, so it could be they are getting ready for more logging. In any case, we were able to make it all the way to Heavenly Bluff. Why someone would clear that final deadend spur road, I don’t know. But I was very pleased to be able to drive right to where we could walk easily up through the woods to the opening. Pleased that is until we got out of the car and discovered the tire was flat. Perhaps it was the very short section of the spur road where there were a lot of small, sharp rocks, or perhaps the tire was already leaking as I’d had to inflate it last week when it looked a little low. Whatever the reason, changing a tire had not been on my agenda. I couldn’t face dealing with it immediately, and I was not about to miss out on my botanizing, having come all this way, so we headed up to the bluff. Read the rest of this entry »

Siskiyou Fritillary in Lane County

Last year, I discovered what is currently the northernmost known site for the lovely Siskiyou fritillary (Fritillaria glauca). I purposely did not write about it in my report about Heavenly Bluff, A Heavenly New Site in Lane County, because it has been considered a rare plant, and the Oregon Flora Project and Oregon Biodiversity Information Center had been withholding location data for the reported sites. Evidently there are enough populations now that their locations are no longer withheld, so I guess I needn’t be so circumspect.

Fritillaria glauca happily grows en masse in the loose rock of a steep slope.

Fritillaria glauca happily grows en masse in the loose rock of a steep slope. The plants spread by little bulb offsets sliding downhill along with the gravel.

Read the rest of this entry »

Penstemons Aplenty at Scorpion Butte

Gravel road is ideal habitat for Cardwell’s penstemon (Penstemon cardwellii) and frosted paintbrush (Castilleja pruinosa).

Hopscotching over to “Heavenly Bluff”, the rocky opening I saw from Bearbones, worked so well on my last trip (see A Heavenly New Site in Lane County) that I decided to try it again. On Friday (July 6), I jumped a little farther west to Scorpion Butte, a place I’d never heard of but had seen from Heavenly Bluff a couple of days before. While it is less than 4 miles as the crow flies from Heavenly Bluff, I couldn’t get there from the east and had to drive to Cottage Grove and approach it from the west side. It is just a couple of miles south of Bohemia Saddle, but the shortest route was to follow Sharps Creek down to Martin Creek Road 23 (confusingly, not the same Road 23 that runs east from the Hills Creek Dam), up Puddin’ Rock Road 2328 to Shane Saddle, and east a little less than 2 miles down Road 3828 to a hard corner with a large gravel area. It was almost 12 miles of gravel road, but thankfully it was all in pretty decent shape and lined with colorful flowers in some of the higher elevation sections. And it was well worth the drive to see this beautiful spot. Read the rest of this entry »

A Heavenly New Site in Lane County

The site as seen from Bearbones Mountain a few miles to the southeast. It is unnamed on the map, but I could hear Horse Heaven Creek running below to the north, so I’m calling it “Heavenly Bluff.”

Discovery really is what gets my blood pumping. I had a spectacular day yesterday (July 4), and it had nothing to do with fireworks. Several weeks ago when I was on Bearbones Mountain (see Beautiful Bloom at Bearbones), I had noticed an open rocky area between there and Bohemia Mountain. I planned to head to Bearbones yesterday to see the next wave of flowers but wanted to see if I could even find this intriguing spot first. It’s at the end of a small spur road 920 off of 2213 just south of Johnson Meadows. I wasn’t even sure the road would be passable. I was quite pleased to find it was, although it clearly wasn’t used much and was lined with a dreadful amount of the bright yellow but nasty invasive Lotus corniculatus. It looked to be a very short bushwhack through some woods to reach the opening, but it was even easier than I expected. Someone had made a trail and lined it with pink ribbons. Who did that, and what could they be doing out here? The North Umpqua Ranger District of the Umpqua National Forest is in charge of this area, and they don’t have any records of projects there, so I may never know. The trail led right out to the opening and down into some woods below, so they probably were not there to look at the fabulous floral display. Read the rest of this entry »

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