Posts Tagged ‘Pellaea’

Ill-Fated Trip up Illahee Road: pt. 1, Illahee Meadow

From the road, it looks like the meadow ends beyond oaks at the top, but in fact there is much more open ground even farther uphill to the west.

The tiny flowers of common bluecup are bright purple, but they are surprisingly hard to spot. The long, distinctive sepals grow much larger as the ovary matures.

On the second day of my North Umpqua trip (June 2), I headed up Illahee Road 4760, just past the Dry Creek store on the north side of Highway 138. I hadn’t been to Illahee Rock for 8 years, and there are some meadows on the way up I wanted to explore. I hate to end a story on a sour note, so let’s get this out of the way first: on the way back down from Illahee Rock, I flatted a tire, most likely on a sharp rock, but I don’t know. I struggled to get the lug nuts off, causing some mild panic and a whole lot of swearing, but eventually got the spare on and drove straight home. That meant skipping the third day of my trip, but at that point, I just wanted to get back to “civilization” and the comfort of my own home, and I couldn’t go anywhere on my small spare anyway. I had been nervous about the idea of going all the way up to Illahee Rock because on my previous trips I had found the upper reaches of the road—along the steep, naked edge of the much-burned Boulder Creek Wilderness—quite scary. But I was determined not to let fear stop me from doing what I wanted to do, and I actually thought the surface of the road was in better shape than I expected. Needless to say, I had plenty of time to regret that decision on the long drive home. Read the rest of this entry »

Further Exploration of the BVD Trail

On the second day (June 3) of my brief overnight trip to the North Umpqua area, I headed up to the Twin Lakes trailhead, but my destination for this trip was the former BVD trail, accessed from the same area. While I did spend a couple of hours over at Twin Lakes at the end of the day, I was really more interested in looking at rock plants, especially after my fabulous trip to Pyramid Rock the day before (see Peak Bloom at Pyramid Rock). I was not disappointed. There were a great many beautiful plants in bloom. And because I had been camping just a few miles from the bottom of the road, I was already out walking at 8:30am and had lots more time than usual to poke around. My goal was to explore beyond the main meadow I’d been to several times before. Looking at the Google Earth image, it is clear that there are a lot of openings, both large and small, along this steep, south-facing slope.

Perhaps the most outstanding display of the day was from the numerous silver lupines (Lupinus albifrons), which were all over the meadow and rocky areas.

Perhaps the most outstanding display of the day was from the numerous silver lupines (Lupinus albifrons), which were all over the meadow and rocky areas. I do love purple!

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Peak Bloom at Pyramid Rock

Cliff paintbrush (Castilleja rupicola on the north side of the rock. To the east, Diamond Peak is about the only mountain with any snow left.

Cliff paintbrush (Castilleja rupicola) on the north side of the rock. To the east, Diamond Peak is about the only mountain with any snow left. The large burned area to its right is the aftermath of the Tumblebug Fire, which burned in September of 2009, just after my first trip to Pyramid Rock.

Pyramid Rock is one of a number of large rocks that pop out of the otherwise largely forested Western Cascades. I’d originally heard of it because it has one of the few populations of Columbia lewisia (Lewisia columbiana) south of the Columbia Gorge. My first trip there was back in the fall of 2009 (First Trips to Pyramid Rock and Loletta Gravel Pit Rocks), and even though the only thing left in bloom was a little of the tiny least knotweed (Polygonum minimum), I was excited to find several other unusual species along with the little fleshy rosettes of the Lewisia. What hadn’t been reported yet for the site were three of the species I’ve since been finding a lot in the area, cliff paintbrush (Castilleja rupicola), spring phacelia (Phacelia verna), and Sierra cliffbrake (Pellaea brachyptera). With all the interesting plants there, I’ve been wanting to get back ever since. The only trouble is, although it is in Lane County (a mere mile north of the Douglas County border), and it can be seen tantalizingly close from some of my favorite sites in the Calapooyas, including Bearbones Mountain, Heavenly Bluff, and the north end of the High Divide Trail near Bristow Prairie, it is on a long dead end road only accessible from Douglas County, so it’s not an easy place to get to for me. 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.

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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 »

First Trips to Pyramid Rock and Loletta Gravel Pit Rocks

Sierra cliffbrake (Pellaea brachyptera) at Pyramid Rock

Sierra cliffbrake (Pellaea brachyptera) at Pyramid Rock

I thought I might be done with reports for the season, but the weather is holding, so yesterday (September 11)  I went back through the Calapooyas on my way back from speaking to the Umpqua Valley chapter Thursday night. Someone once told me about the Lewisia columbiana on Pyramid Rock, so that’s been on my to do list for quite a while. I’ve been up to Reynolds Ridge many times, but I hadn’t been past Bullpup Lake on Road 300, so I was happy that the road was in such good shape. Hunters all over the place yesterday, and one guy right in front of me stopped to shoot out of the car @#&*^!! Luckily he turned around and left and I didn’t hear anyone else actively hunting in the middle of the day although I did chat with a few old timers. Read the rest of this entry »

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