Posts Tagged ‘Skipper Lakes’

First Exploration of Balm Mountain

While exploring the part of the Western Cascades called the Calapooya Mountains over the last few years, I have repeatedly been drawn by the seemingly bleached open slopes of Balm Mountain (see map). After finding so many unusual plants at the next peak to the NNW, what I’ve dubbed Loletta Peak (see previous posts on Loletta Peak), I’ve become even more obsessed with finding out what treasures await on Balm Mountain. Yesterday (August 23), I finally indulged my curiosity. I decided to approach this mountain from my usual route up Coal Creek Road 2133. I’d never driven to the end of Road 3810, which goes just below the south sides of Loletta Peak and Balm Mountain and can be accessed from the north only by Road 5851, which is most quickly reached via Coal Creek Road. When I investigated the Skipper Lakes trail last year (see Some Oddities at Skipper Lakes), just below the southeast side of Balm Mountain, I headed in from the north side, which was a shorter drive. Unfortunately the spur road was bad and the trailhead non-existent. I eventually found the trail and discovered a real trailhead at the south end, right where road 3810 deadends.

Amazing weathered rock formations along the ridge south of the lookout site (seen at the top)

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Some Oddities at Skipper Lakes

I’ve been exploring the Calapooyas of late, and a couple of days ago I went to Skipper Lakes on the south side of the Calapooya crest at the base of Balm Mountain, less than 3 air miles south of Loletta Lakes where I was a few days before. The lakes themselves weren’t nearly as productive, and the area around them not nearly as wet as I expected, but I did find some unusual things. Not so surprisingly, given the close proximity to Loletta Lakes where I just discovered it, I found 2 separate areas of Oxypolis occidentalis. Also Geranium richardsonii in fading bloom, Horkelia fusca, loads of Stellaria obtusa (also some S. crispa and S. borealis, they’re popping up everywhere now that I’m paying attention). There was also quite a bit of Ribes erythrocarpum in fruit. I noticed a specimen from there on the OFP Atlas but have not found any other list for Skipper Lakes. It’s hard to imagine that the Roseburg Herbarium ladies didn’t do a list for this pretty trail. I didn’t think they missed much.It must be beautiful earlier in the season near the south trailhead as it was filled with Balsamorhiza deltoidea, Linum lewisii, and Ipomopsis aggregata. The big trees in the woods are nice too. It looks like a lot of incense cedars are crowding the openings however. It’s a nice trail, too bad it requires so many miles of gravel.

Odd broad-lip twayblades (Listera convallarioides) with three leaves instead of two

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