Posts Tagged ‘Penstemon’

Butterflies are Happy “Indian Dream Meadow” is Still Blooming

courting pair of western tiger swallowtails on mock-orange

I watched this courting pair of western tiger swallowtails on mock-orange for quite some time, wishing I hadn’t damaged my new camera with its much better video to fully capture their lovely pas de deux.

Back in May (see From the Minute to the Majestic), John Koenig and I went to explore a rocky meadow I’d discovered last fall off of Road 1714, a little southwest of Patterson Mountain. We decided to call it “Indian Dream Meadow” because of the abundance of Indian dream fern (Aspidotis densa). On Saturday, July 23, I went back to this neat spot to see what else was in bloom. Read the rest of this entry »

Gorgeous Day on Middle Pyramid

The view from the summit was spectacular on this clear day. Looking north we had a clear view of Mt. Hood and even Mt. Saint Helens framed by Coffin Mountain (left) and Bachelor Mountain.

The view from the summit was spectacular on this clear day. Looking north we had a great view of Mt. Hood and even Mt. Saint Helens framed by Coffin Mountain (left) and Bachelor Mountain (right). Trappers Butte is in front on the left.

Cliff penstemon can live in the harshest spots and still look beautiful—much nicer than the ones in my garden, which wouldn't even bloom this year. Three-fingerd Jack is in the background.

Cliff penstemon can survive in the harshest spots and still look beautiful—much nicer than the ones in my garden, which wouldn’t even bloom this year. Three-fingered Jack is in the background, looking east.

After all the super hot weather we’ve been having, it was a glorious weekend, and I was thrilled to get back into the Western Cascades on June 12 with four friends: Nancy Bray, Ginny McVickar, Sheila Klest, and her friend Sherry. I’m going to be leading a short trip to Park Creek during the upcoming NPSO Annual Meeting, which our Emerald Chapter is hosting next month, so I had wanted to take a look at how things were shaping up in the area. I realized I hadn’t been to the Pyramids since 2010 (see Yellow Cliff Paintbrush Still at Middle Pyramid), so, since Park Creek is on the way to the Pyramids trailhead, I figured I could do both. None of my companions had been to the Pyramids Trail before, making it a special trip for them as well.

We really couldn’t have picked a better day. There were few clouds in the sky until late afternoon, and the temperature wasn’t too hot or too cool. As Goldilocks would have said, it was “just right.” The air was much clearer than it had been during the high humidity of the recent heat wave, giving us awesome views at the summit. The foliage was quite lush, and the flowers were also fabulous, with a great many things in their prime.

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NARGS Campout Day 3: Potter Mountain

Along the rocky spine of Potter Mountain. Left to right: Rob, Kathy, Peter, Kelley, and Keiko.

Along the rocky spine of Potter Mountain. Left to right: Rob, Kathy, Peter, Kelley, and Keiko.

For our final day of the NARGS camping trip, June 21, Kelley, Peter, Kathy and I went for a half day trip up to Potter Mountain. Robin had to head back home, and her older dog, Austin, probably couldn’t have handled the rocks. We were joined by NPSO members Rob Castleberry and Keiko Bryan. Ever since I discovered Potter Mountain last year, I’ve been looking forward to taking my rock garden friends up to this beautiful natural rock garden, so I was very pleased that some of our campers were up to another bushwhack. Read the rest of this entry »

NARGS Annual Campout Hike to Grizzly Peak

For this year’s annual camping trip, my friend Kelley Leonard, of the Siskiyou Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society, planned a great trip in their neck of the woods, near Ashland. We had perfect weather, no mosquitos, and, in spite of the severe drought they are having down south, there were lots of beautiful wildflowers. Since I was up in Portland earlier in the week (speaking to the Columbia-Willamette chapter of NARGS and hiking at Table Rock Wilderness—a trip unfortunately severely curtailed by another flat tire), I wasn’t able to join everyone until Friday afternoon. They got back from Hobart Bluff just as I was arriving, but I was steered toward some meadows just down the road from our campground at Hyatt Lake and had a lovely few hours (being antisocial!) chasing butterflies with my camera and admiring unfamiliar plants, including California stickseed (Hackelia californica), toothed owl-clover (Orthocarpus cuspidatus ssp. cuspidatus), and gorgeous Roezli’s penstemon (Penstemon roezlii), along with lots of buckwheats (Eriogonum spp.).

Toothed owl-clover, Roezl's penstemon, and sulphur buckwheat on near the east side of Hyatt Lake.

Toothed owl-clover, Roezl’s penstemon, and sulphur buckwheat near the east side of Hyatt Lake.

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The Bristow Prairie Area Continues to Yield More Discoveries

CASPRUPENDEU@BP061114210

Frosted paintbrush (Castilleja pruinosa) and hotrock penstemon (Penstemon deustus) up on the rocky bald.

After finally spotting the hidden north trailhead last summer (see A Grand Day Exploring Bristow Prairie’s Varied Habitats), John Koenig and I returned last fall to do the northern end of the High Divide trail that crosses Bristow Prairie. We discovered an awesome pillar rock, moist forest, and more meadows, so it was definitely worth a return trip. On Wednesday (June 11), Sabine Dutoit and I decided to head up there and see what the area looks like in flower. We still had trouble finding the trailhead, as although John and I had found the trail sign in the ditch and put it back up on the road, it was moved yet again. Luckily, I had made a GPS waypoint last year. Once we found the trailhead, just a tad up the road from a quarry and pillar rock I had checked out a few years ago, we could see the sign had been placed on the ground next to the trail, just up into the woods—not much good for spotting the trail from the road, but at least we knew we were in the right place! 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 »

NARGS Campout Day 2: Coffin Mountain

There have been a number of good beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) years lately, but this one is turning out to be outstanding by any measure.

There have been a number of good beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) years lately, but this one is turning out to be outstanding by any measure. Scarlet paintbrush (Castilleja miniata), as bright as it is, can’t compete with the beargrass in this scene. Bachelor Mountain, where we hiked the day before, can be seen in front of Mt. Jefferson.

On the second day of our NARGS camping trip, July 6, 11 of us headed up to Coffin Mountain. This is much more popular than Bachelor Mountain, and there were another dozen or more other hikers on the trail. The woman who mans (womans?) the lookout said there are more people are coming to Coffin Mountain than there used to be. I have to wonder if that’s in part because I keep telling everyone I know to go there! But it’s still a relatively quiet place with every bit as good a display of flowers as the much more well known Iron Mountain and Cone Peak, which can be seen to the south. In a great beargrass year, as this one is turning out to be, there aren’t too many places that can rival it for a outstanding show of flowers. Read the rest of this entry »

Searching for Willows and More

Dodecatheon jeffreyi

A moment of sun at Blair Lake lights up a display of mountain shooting star but is not enough to dry them (or me!) off.

After seeing the lovely blooming willows at Elk Camp Shelter (see previous post), I got “willow fever”, and decided I had to go back to some of the places I’d seen large populations of the lower-growing species of Salix to see if I could finally learn to identify some of the more difficult ones. On Thursday (June 22), I headed up to Blair Lake. There was only supposed to be a 3-day break in the otherwise damp week, and I wanted to go out twice before being stuck inside again from the rain, so I took a gamble that Thursday’s forecast for a 30% chance of rain wouldn’t amount to much. On Monday, I had been up to Parish Lake Bog following a similar forecast, and the weather was gorgeous. Not so at Blair. It was tempting to turn around and leave after it started to rain within minutes of my arrival, but after 9 miles of gravel, I couldn’t be such a wimp. Thankfully, I came prepared with rain coat and rain pants, but bushwhacking through sopping wet foliage proved worse than the actual rain and eventually proved too much for my raingear. Hey, at least the sun came out for a few minutes! And I got to look at the willows that have long confused me there. I’m still not 100% sure, but I believe they are actually the same two species I saw at Elk Camp Shelter: Salix eastwoodiae and S. boothii. The former is somewhat hairy and has a slightly bluish cast from a distance, while the latter has very shiny leaves and looks much greener overall. I was surprised that at the higher elevation of Blair, the flowers were so far along, but I could still see the fuzzy capsules of Eastwood’s willow and the glabrous ones of Booth’s. Read the rest of this entry »

Off the Beaten Track at Tidbits

A stunning show of mountain cat’s ear (Calochortus subalpinus) on the south-facing slope of “the Wall”.

Most people who go to Tidbits Mountain head up the trail to the old lookout site, enjoy the view, and return the same way they came. It’s a wonderful hike with many wildflowers and a fabulous view. But there is more to be seen at Tidbits. My goal for my trip yesterday (July 9) was to spend some time on what I call “the Wall”—the part of the ridge to the west of the “Tidbits” that can be seen from the summit. It puts on a great show in July. The last few years I’ve only come to Tidbits late during gentian season. I also wanted to relocate an uncommon plant I’d found back in the fall of 2009 off the side trail that heads north from the intersection where a cabin once sat. Read the rest of this entry »

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