Posts Tagged ‘snowmelt species’

Spring Comes Exceptionally Early to Grizzly Peak

A few spring whitlow grass (Draba verna) are hardly noticeable, but en masse they are quite pretty.

A few spring whitlow grass (Draba verna) are hardly noticeable, but en masse they are quite pretty.

Last Tuesday (April 15), I went down to southern Oregon for a quick but rewarding trip. Almost every year, I’ve gone down in mid-April to shop at a fantastic rock garden plant sale put on by one of the NARGS members in the area. Sadly, this is going to be her last sale, so I didn’t want to miss the chance to buy some more gems for my rock garden (many to replace those that didn’t make it through the tough winter). I was also in luck that a quilting store in Ashland was just starting their going-out-of-business sale, so I was able to stock up on batik fabric for my new-found creative passion, quilting. I always get in as much botanizing as I can squeeze into two days while I’m in the area, but I never expected I would have the opportunity to get up to Grizzly Peak so early in the year. With the trailhead  at 5200′ and the peak—such as it is—at 5900′, it is usually covered with snow in April, but from what I hear, there has been almost snow in the area, and they’ve missed much of the rain we’ve had farther north in February and March.

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First Wave of Flowers at Grasshopper Meadows

Claytonia lanceolata and Erythronium grandiflorum bloom quickly after the snow melts before the taller plants can overtop them.

There’s something so exciting about being in the mountains when the first plants are emerging. Grasshopper Meadows is just bursting out with the first flowers after the snow has disappeared. Yesterday (June 14), Sabine and I had the privilege of witnessing its yearly rebirth. Just over a week ago, I caught a glimpse of Grasshopper Meadows as I crossed the bridge in Oakridge, and the upper half of the giant meadow was still white with snow. Now the snow is completely gone and has been replaced by thousands of western springbeauty (Claytonia lanceolata) and glacier lily (Erythronium grandiflorum). They are especially abundant along the upper edge of the meadow where the snow lingers the longest, but they can be seen within minutes of the trailhead. Other snowmelt species can be seen as well. In the lower meadows, turkey peas (Orogenia fusiformis) is blooming, and while the leaves of steer’s head (Dicentra uniflora) are present in many places throughout the meadow, the only fresh blossoms remaining are along the ridge.

Fresh steer's head (Dicentra uniflora) flowers

Fresh steer’s head (Dicentra uniflora) flowers

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A Sunny Day on Lookout Mountain

As I drove south on I-5 on Sunday (May 30), I was thrilled to see the clouds breaking up and an actual sunny day appearing in Douglas County. I was heading to Lookout Mountain near the North Umpqua and didn’t want to miss the almost 360° view—nor did I want to spend one more day dealing with clouds and sprinkles. Enough already!

View east from summit

From the summit you can see snow remaining on Mt. Thielsen and Mt. Bailey and the ridges of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide.

Last year I had tried to get up to Lookout Mountain for the very first wave of plants but had been thwarted by snow on the road several miles from the trailhead. By the time I was able to get back there again, I had missed the early bloomers. The road to the trailhead wraps around the north side of the mountain. This creates a problem, as the south-facing side of the open, rocky summit melts out and starts blooming before the road clears out. But with less of a winter snowpack to deal with and trying a week later, I was game to give it another shot. Read the rest of this entry »

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