Posts Tagged ‘Park Creek’

Field Trip Highlights from NPSO Annual Meeting

Thousands of mountain cat's ears blooming among the bunch grasses on Lowder Mountain

Thousands of mountain cat’s ears were blooming among the bunch grasses on the flat summit of Lowder Mountain.

This year was Emerald Chapter’s turn to host the Native Plant Society of Oregon‘s annual meeting, held this year in Rainbow in the McKenzie area. This is my chapter, based in Eugene, so I agreed to lead three field trips. We had perfect weather and great plants for all three days, and a great group of enthusiastic participants who were happy with whatever we came across. It was great having people with different interests and knowledge bases, and they spotted a number of additions to my list—something that always makes me happy. Below are a few highlights. Read the rest of this entry »

Park Creek Coming Into Bloom

Last year, when Mark Turner was looking for places to photograph shrubs for his upcoming Shrubs of the Pacific Northwest book, I suggested he visit the Park Creek Basin near Three Pyramids. There are lots of interesting shrubs growing within a short distance of the roadside. Not only was he successful photographing the shrubs he was looking for, he also discovered a very rare one: Ribes triste, known as swamp red currant or wild red currant. I located the plants later in the summer (see Rare Currrant at Park Creek), but was anxious to see them in bloom. I also wanted to see the flowers of some odd little willows I’d found on that trip.

Snow remains on Three Pyramids beyond Park Creek.

I decided to head up there on Wednesday (June 6). Sabine accompanied me. I was concerned about the timing, as I hadn’t been that far north yet this year, and there’s no telling where the snow level is in a cool spring like this. Last year, Mark saw them in perfect bloom on June 23, but in 2011 we were about a month behind “normal”. It’s been cool and damp this spring but not as extreme as last year, so I figured I might hit it right. I used to be quite good at figuring out when a particular plant might be in bloom, based on spring weather, winter snowpack, and past experience at a variety of locations. But the last few years, the nasty springs had really thrown off my phenology radar. It seems I might be back in business—my timing was perfect! Read the rest of this entry »

Rare Currant at Park Creek

Lots of wildflowers bloom along beautiful Park Creek, including Castilleja miniata, Lupinus polyphyllus, and Platanthera dilatata.

A few lingering berries on the rare swamp red currant (Ribes triste)

Many of you have Wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest by Mark Turner and Phyllis Gustafson. Mark is currently working on a follow-up book on shrubs. He contacted me earlier in the year to find some locations in Oregon for Lonicera caerulea and some uncommon willows. I suggested Park Creek as a place to find some of these. Not only is it a lovely area with lots of interesting plants, but the many great spots are easily and quickly accessible from the road. This is a big plus if you are a photographer, especially one with a long list of plants to photograph in a limited amount of time. I was glad to hear he found his target species in bloom there on his visit. But even more exciting for me, he discovered and photographed a rare currant, Ribes triste, known as swamp red currant (click here for Mark’s Park Creek photos including some of the pretty flowers). I found this last year at Warfield Bog (see Unexpected Find at Warfield Creek Bog), otherwise, I probably would never have even heard of it. There are very few recorded locations on the OFP Atlas (click here for map). I just couldn’t make it up to Park Creek earlier in the season, but I still wanted to see where it was, and Mark sent me a GPS location. Read the rest of this entry »

Yellow Cliff Paintbrush Still at Middle Pyramid

On my very first trip to Three Pyramids, back on June 23, 2003, I discovered an unusual yellow-flowered Castilleja rupicola (cliff paintbrush). I mentioned this to Mark Egger, the author of the upcoming Flora of North America treatment of Castilleja, and he said he’d never seen one (click here to see Mark’s beautiful Castilleja photos). I’d been hoping to see it again some day. I also wanted to continue my quest to check out all the Dodecatheon pulchellum sites I know, so I decided a trip to the Pyramids trail was in order, and yesterday (July 9), Sabine and I headed up there.

Thunderstorms brewing over the High Cascades thankfully kept their distance.

Interestingly, the bloom season was almost the same as it was on that first trip. On almost every trail I’ve been on this year, flowering has been about two weeks later than “usual”— whatever that is these days. The weather was quite different, however. On my first trip, I remember the clouds were so low that for a few minutes, all I could see from my perch on the tiny summit was mist below me. It was quite unnerving, and I was so relieved when they lifted some before I went down—especially because it turned out I was totally disoriented and facing the opposite direction I thought I was. Yesterday, on the other hand, was quite hot, and while it was clear all around us, thunder clouds built up over the Three Sisters and Mount Washington as the day wore on, and we could hear rumbling all the way back down. Read the rest of this entry »

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