Posts Tagged ‘Heckletooth’
Spring is a busy season, and I’m already running behind. So I’m just going to post some pretty photos of a lovely trip to Heckletooth Mountain that Sabine and I took a week ago on May 28th. After going there at least once almost every year since 2006, I hadn’t been since 2013, so it was good to get back to this steep but lovely trail. There were still plenty of things just starting, including the grand show of showy tarweed (Madia elegans) and white-flowered threadleaf phacelia (Phacelia linearis). The weather was gorgeous. Everything was really quite perfect except for one major problem. The gravel road to get there is only 1.8 miles, but since my last trip, it had really gone downhill (pun intended—it’s pretty steep!). Some major downpours must have caused the many gullies in the road. Usually those kinds of gullies only last for short distances, but these must have gone on for a mile. And once I started up, I couldn’t turn around or back up over them. No fun! I hadn’t felt like dealing with gravel roads—one of the reasons I decided to go to Heckletooth—so it was quite an unfortunate surprise, and one that will keep me from returning to see the next wave of flowers. Read the rest of this entry »
Fawn lilies, fairy slippers, fritillaries, and phlox were the floral highlights of my trip to Heckletooth Mountain on Saturday (May 4). I’m sure there’s something clever to be written with that wonderful alliteration, but my brain isn’t at its best lately, and I’m a bit out of practice writing, so this entry may be rather dry. That sounds like a not so clever segue to the weather we’re having. It’s been like summer, and it’s only the first week of May. It even hit 90° at my house yesterday! After the last few years of cold, wet, springs (see Heckletooth Times Two for how miserable it was in 2010), I think we’ve forgotten how warm and dry it can be in May. For a comparison, I went to Heckletooth on May 11, 2007, and my photos from that trip look very similar to this one, with just a few of the perennials not as far along. So it may not be that abnormal. But while this weather has been great for hiking and other outdoor activities, it is really taking its toll on the mossy outcrops I love so much, and I’m about ready to do a rain dance. I fear it is going to be a long, hot, dry summer, with a very real threat of forest fires. Read the rest of this entry »
After the bad weather and resulting delayed blooming season, it was a joy to be out yesterday (June 12) at Heckletooth Mountain. The flowering season is finally coming on strong there, and Rob Castleberry and I enjoyed seeing the meadows starting to come alive with flowers. The gorgeous spring-blooming type of tarweed (Madia elegans) were starting their show of bright yellow in the large sloping meadow. On the summit slope, they were still only in bud. They seem to be taller than I’ve seen them before, no doubt because of the copious rain they’ve received. As we returned through the lower meadow at 4pm, many of the flowers were starting to close up for the day. I was actually surprised to see so many still wide open. I remember them closing earlier in the past. Perhaps they couldn’t get enough sun either! Read the rest of this entry »
Sunday (May 23rd), Sabine and I led a hike to Heckletooth Mountain, right outside of Oakridge, for a group of folks mainly from the Native Plant Society (NPSO) and the Rock Garden Society (NARGS). We had been thinking about doing this for several years as this is a relatively close-in, easy access hike with a number of wonderful wildflowers. We planned the hike much earlier this year when it looked like it was going to be an exceptionally early spring. As we all know, hindsight is 20/20 vision. The cold spring practically stopped everything dead in its tracks. I did at least have the foresight to schedule a rain date, so people were prepared when we decided to move the hike from Saturday to Sunday. Not only did it rain for much of Saturday, but the snow level came down well below 3000′.
We were quite surprised to have 19 participants (one of the canine variety) on what was still an iffy weather day. We had spent much of the week worrying about the trip in light of the dreadful combination of downpours, hail, high winds, and thunderstorms, as well as the low snow level, and had been thinking about our backup plan should snow prevent us from getting to the top of the mountain. What we hadn’t considered was what to do if we couldn’t even reach the trailhead. As we made our way up the short gravel road to the trailhead, we were surprised and dismayed to see two good-sized trees across the road. Another fitting saying is “many hands make light work.” It turned out having 18 people was perfect for this situation—that and a bow saw that I keep in the back of my vehicle for emergencies. Had I been alone, I would have just turned around, but with this gungho crowd, we dispatched the road block in no time. Read the rest of this entry »
As of yesterday, the Dodecatheon pulchellum, Castilleja hispida, and Erythronium oregonum are coming into bloom at Horse Rock Ridge (maybe 2 weeks later than the last few years). The Delphinium menziesii and Fritillaria affinis are still in bud but will open soon. The onions and balsamroot have a ways to go before blooming. The special giant form of Erigeron compositus is near its peak and there are still lots of Calypso bulbosa in the woods. The Mimulus guttatus is really beautiful right now coloring the slopes with yellow, but this hot stretch may dry out those and other seep plants pretty quickly.
I’ve been studying a strange Mimulus there for several years and took a lot of pictures yesterday (see left growing with Saxifraga rufidula and S. nuttallii). It has small flowers, just a bit larger than Mimulus alsinoides. Its leaves are often quite large. It is only found in the seepy rocks, often under an overhang. Surprisingly, I saw a couple of plants of the same thing under an overhang in Jasper on my way home yesterday. I’ve also seen it in the same habitat in Douglas County near Twin Lakes. Its upper calyx tooth is the largest, as in M. guttatus, and maybe it is yet another strange form of M. guttatus, but the flower shape is different and there are enough other differences that I have doubts. The calyx of the nearby Mimulus guttatus is angled and basically glabrous while those of this one are deeply pleated, longer and definitely pubescent (photo 2). Of course I find it hard to believe the 3 foot tall ones in wet meadows like Patterson are the same as the tiny-leaved short seep loving ones like those at Horse Rock Ridge and Tire Mountain, and it doesn’t fit anything else too well either. It would be an interesting experiment to grow it and see if looks the same in different conditions. If anyone has seen plants like this or can shed any light on this, please let me know.
Sabine and I also went to Heckletooth Mountain in Oakridge on Monday. It is still very early and the thousands of Erythronium oregonum have barely started. There are lots of beautiful Lomatium hallii in bloom everywhere, lots of Calypso bulbosa, Viola sheltonii, Crocidium multicaule on some of the rocks and fragrant Phlox diffusa at the top. The Romanzoffia californica should be coming out soon. No sign yet of the stunning Madia elegans. Lots of other good stuff to come as well.