Posts Tagged ‘Youngs Rock’

Youngs Rock to Moon Point

While the lower elevation meadows were drying out, this gorgeous area, off-trail just east of Youngs Rock itself, was being fueled by meltwater from the high ridge of Warner Mountain above. Both the monkeyflower (Mimulus guttatus) and rosy plectritis (Plectritis congesta) were outstanding.

The Tolmie’s cats ears (Calochortus tolmiei) were outstanding at Youngs Rock. There was also quite a bit of showy tarweed (Madia elegans), but it was closing up in the afternoon.

On Saturday, June 24, Molly Juillerat and I co-led a wildflower field trip for the South Willamette Forest Collaborative, a group of people interested in restoration of the Rigdon area, southeast of Oakridge. Their previous field trip had been to see the Jim’s Creek area, which has been undergoing major restoration work for a number of years. The Youngs Rock trail starts in the Jim’s Creek area along Rigdon Road 21. We had planned to show people the wonderful trail going up to Youngs Rock starting just above the Jim’s Creek restoration area. We had pre-hiked it with some friends the previous Saturday, June 17, but when the weather forecast showed temperatures soaring above 100°F, we felt that it would be entirely too hot for an uphill climb through dry meadows and rocky habitat. Instead, we moved the trip farther uphill to Moon Point, which connects with the upper part of the Youngs Rock trail. At about 5100′, The snow there had only melted within the last few weeks, and the more or less level trail through damp meadows would be much more pleasant on such a hot day. Indeed it was a lovely day, and other than lots of mosquitoes (not aggressive, however), we had a great time. Here are a few highlights from both trips. Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring Meadows Below Youngs Rock

Looking south from the lower meadow, there's a good view of Dome Rock and other areas of the Calapooyas, still with some snow.

Looking south across the lower meadow, there’s a good view of the Calapooyas, still with some snow. The bright green shrubs on the rocks are mock-orange (Philadelphus lewisii).

The Youngs Rock Trail in southeastern Lane County follows a south-facing ridge up through a string small meadows and openings. It’s a favorite of mine for both flowers and scenery, and I’d already been on various parts of the trail 23 times. I’d done some exploring off trail, but there were more meadows I hadn’t been to yet. Since it’s still early in the season for most of the flowers in the lower mountains, I thought it would be a good time to do some exploring to see if these meadows would be worth a trip during peak season. No one could accompany me on Saturday, April 30, but that was just as well as I hate to drag my friends out bushwhacking until I know how hard it will be and if it will even be worth the extra effort.

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Photographing Special Plants in Southeastern Lane County

This pretty hedgerow hairstreak was nectaring on cow parsnip (Heracleum lanatum), not usually a big favorite with butterflies around here.

Many of you know Gerry Carr’s fabulous plant photos that he donates to the Oregon Flora Project Gallery, the WTU Image Collection (the Burke Herbarium’s gallery of Washington plants), and posts on his own site, Oregon Flora Image Project. If you don’t, be sure to click on the links! Trying to photograph almost every species in Oregon is a huge undertaking, and I’ve enjoyed helping Gerry find plants in the Western Cascades that he hasn’t photographed yet. Several species still on his to do list grow in the wonderful area of southeastern Lane County that I spend so much time in. It seemed like it might be the right time to find some of those late blooming plants, so on Friday, August 10, I picked Gerry up in Lowell and headed down along Hills Creek Reservoir yet again.

Mountain campion (Silene bernardina) is covered with sticky, glandular hairs. You’ll have to wait for Gerry’s exceptional closeups.

Our first stop was Moon Point. Last year we spent the whole day at Moon Point (see Moon Point Melting Out), so this trip, we were only heading to the upper part of the Youngs Rock trail, which is easier to access from the top. With thousands of plants to photograph, one must be as efficient as possible! On the way to the trail intersection, I went poking around looking for the rare green-flowered ginger (Asarum wagneri), one of Gerry’s targets last year. I was surprised to find several still in bloom and was thrilled to find a couple of ripe seeds. The common long-tailed ginger (A. caudatum) was also still displaying flowers, and I found plenty of ripe seed. I’ve posted scans of the latter in the Seed Gallery or you can click here to see the neat fleshy appendages on the seeds. While I was searching for ginger seeds, Gerry discovered his first target plant of the day, mountain campion (Silene bernardina var. rigidula). This is a rare species I’ve only seen here, at nearby Groundhog Mountain, and at Abbott Butte. Silene species are often called catchfly and, indeed, these are sticky enough to catch insects. We photographed some really nice specimens in the shade just after the split in the trails. It was a good thing we did it then because on our way back they were in the sun and had shriveled up. I’ve noticed this with the fairly common Douglas’ campion (S. douglasii). They seem to look their best on cloudy days or first thing in the morning. Not sure why this is true, but I’m sure there’s a good explanation. Read the rest of this entry »

Beautiful Seeps at Youngs Rock

Yesterday (June 10), my husband, Jim, and I took some friends to Youngs Rock. It’s the kind of trail where you can botanize, hike for exercise, or enjoy the scenery of the awesome rocks. Our friends, David, Bob, Carolyn, and Hank (one of the sweetest dogs you’ll ever meet), had never been there, so it seemed the perfect place for everyone—there were even lots of great ponderosa pine branches for Hank to carry around! It’s a rare treat to have my husband hike with me because he prefers a real hike to my flower-by-flower explorations. We were also very lucky that we had plenty of sun while it was apparently cool and overcast all day at home. The southeastern corner of the county is usually warmer and less foggy than the Valley.

Looking east across the large, rocky and seepy slope just east of Youngs Rock

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Still More Discoveries at Youngs Rock

Sabine and I first discovered the Youngs Rock trail in December of 2004, while looking for a sunny place to hike in the winter. The following year, we returned 7 times, trying to go back every 3 weeks or so to track the changing waves of wildflowers. We found unusual plants almost every time. Each time we returned, we thought we’d seen it all, only to be surprised by another exciting find. I’d been there 17 times all together, but somehow I’d missed seeing most of the July blooming. So yesterday (July 12), we headed back there again. I was quite certain that, this time, we wouldn’t find anything special.

Pretty red gland-tipped hairs cover much of the inflorescence of this pretty rose growing a mere 5" off the ground.

Imagine my surprise when the second I stepped out of the car, there were some roses blooming—practically flat on the ground. I only know of one rose that grows like this, Rosa spithamea, the well named ground rose. I’d only seen it in the southern part of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide (at Abbott Butte and nearby), so I wasn’t ready to jump to that ID right away. There were some taller Rosa gymnocarpa growing nearby, so we had to consider these might just be odd plants of that. Perhaps they’d been mowed down by trail work or something. Nope. The undeveloped hips were completely different. Those of R. gymnocarpa are glabrous and somewhat narrow. Red glands covered the hips, sepals, leaf margins and more of the low-growing roses. We found several more areas of them still close to the trail just south of the Spur Road 435 parking area that comes in about a third of the way up the trail. Despite keeping an eye out for them all day as we headed north up the trail, we never found more, but it would be worth looking along the southern end of the trail. After looking through photos and the floras, I’m pretty convinced they are indeed Rosa spithamea (but if someone has a better idea, let me know!). Read the rest of this entry »

Another Youngs Rock Goodie

The flowers of Mimulus pulsiferae are almost radially symmetrical

More good R&E news from Youngs Rock. Today, Sabine, Molly, Jill, and I did the middle section of the Youngs Rock trail. In one of the meadows, we discovered lots of Mimulus pulsiferae in bloom. There was quite a bit of it at one end growing with Githopsis specularioides, Navarretia divaricata, and other belly plants. It seemed to be particular about open ground like we’ve seen it before. It was even coming up in several gopher mounds. My guess is it is not quite as rare as we thought (similar to Githopsis). It is just so tiny and ephemeral that one has to be very luck to catch it in bloom. That seems to be my 11th time through that meadow and I’ve never noticed it before. My last trip there was the first time we saw the Githopsis. There was lots of that in bloom today in the same meadow only (note the finished plant in the lower left of the photo).

Youngs Rock was our backup as we had hoped to get to Moon Point but did not make it. We hit snow at about 4600′, basically as soon as we were on the north-facing slope. We were maybe a mile from the trailhead when it was too deep to drive through. It probably looks that way on at least some of the trail. This upcoming hot weekend may dry out Youngs Rock more, but perhaps we’ll be able to get onto some of the middle trails. With only 2 1/2 weeks left until the NPSO Annual Meeting, it is pretty frustrating that we’ve only been able to get to 4 trails and that includes Tire Mountain which wasn’t even on the original list. I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll be able to get to Moon Point, Blair Lake, and Grasshopper in the next week. And hopefully Patterson has melted out by now. What a year!

Youngs Rock Report

We had a lovely day Wednesday (June 8) on the Youngs Rock trail, although Kim might be a little sore after we [I] dragged her around and up onto the backside of the Rock. A tough climb when you’re forced to stay behind a desk most of the time.

Western tiger swallowtail

Western tiger swallowtail on larkspur

Each meadow was a little different and most had some show of color. The first had a nice patch of Camas, one had a great patch of Delphinium menziesii serving as lunch for an Anise swallowtail, another had a gorgeous swath of blue—mostly Collinsia grandiflora, there was a big patch of Balsamroot at the bottom of a steep ridge meadow and gorgeous rosy plectritis on the ridge just south of the Rock. But the main show of color was a Madia with large (1”) showy flowers like M. elegans. There were patches of it blooming in almost every meadow and much more to come. The Checklist says M. elegans is not a Western Cascades species, but the other problem is almost all of the thousands of plants were below 8” tall (Hitchcock says it should be 2-8dm).

The Phacelia verna had started up on the ridge and we also found white Phacelia linearis on rocky areas at the lower ends of some of the meadows. The Castilleja rupicola was in bloom on the Rock, maybe 2 dozen plants, but it is hard to tell since there are probably many hiding behind rocks or not in bloom at all. The Saxifraga caespitosa was also blooming, though not putting on much of a show. It seems to like to interweave with Saxifraga bronchialis making it much easier to see the difference. As Kim mentioned, Sabine spotted the Lathyrus on the bank below the north side of the rock, which we quickly decided looked an awful lot like the Castle Rock one (and not like L. nevadensis or L. polyphyllus). While it wasn’t blooming, we’re planning to go back in a few weeks as lots more things hadn’t started and we have many more mysteries still to solve. Kim is still working on some things like several composites of the Agoseris type, one with lobes, one without. And I have to get to the bottom of the red-veined Coleus-like plant I’ve been seeing for years in these lower elevation rocky meadows.

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