Trip to the Calapooyas

Yesterday I had a terrific day exploring the Calapooya area and found lots of cool things. My destination was Bradley Lake (south of Bristow Prairie in Douglas County, just inside the Willamette NF) but I stopped many times on the way up and back. I had found a plant list for the lake on the OFP Atlas (Lois Kemp 1994) when I was searching for Spiranthes locations, hoping to find some Spiranthes stellata among the S. romanzoffiana sightings.

Bradley Lake is shallow, a great place for aquatics.

It was gorgeous up there. The lake is in such a pretty setting, in spite of the clearcut you have to walk through to get to it. It has wet meadows on 3 sides and lots of nice-sized Alaska yellowcedar. I was pleased to quickly find the Gentianopsis simplex and a little Spiranthes in bloom (definitely 3-ranked romanzoffiana though) that were on the list. Also a little fading Kyhosia bolanderi along with the usual Caltha, Dodecatheon, Pedicularis groenlandica, Viola macloskeyi (some still blooming!) and other wetland denizens. The best part of the lake was all the aquatics. There was beautiful Sagittaria cuneata in bloom. All the nice ones were out of reach of my camera and the muck was too deep when I tried to wade in to get closer. There were very convenient logs on one side that allowed me to get close to blooming pond lilies and Potamogeton though. I believe the last was P. epihydrus, but I’m still learning those.

Gentiana calycosa

Gentiana calycosa in the talus at Bradley Lake

The real excitement for me though was on some small north-facing cliffs just south of the lake, one set above Rd. 5851 and one just below the road on the way down to the lake. Accompanied by cheeping pikas, I sat to eat my lunch at the top of the talus slope below the lower cliff and was happy to see what I believe is Arnica diversifolia. I’d just seen that at Bohemia a few days ago coming into bloom. These were in seed. But that was easily trumped by gorgeous Gentiana calycosa, past peak but still stunning. There’s one site in Douglas County on the Atlas and a couple farther south, but I’ve only seen them to the north and these were much nicer populations, with much larger plants, than the ones at Horsepasture or Lowder mountains. I looked where I could at Fairview and Bohemia the other day but had no luck finding Baker’s gentians. So much of that area seems to be private. No doubt Baker had more access 60 years ago. After the lake, I went up to the upper cliff and, sure enough, there were even more gentians, along with more Arnica diversifolia, Ageratina occidentalis, and Erigeron cascadensis. Just up the road I had passed lots of E. cascadensis still blooming and a little patch of Horkelia fusca.

Also on the way up Rd 5851 and 2133, I stopped at the roadside creeks at the base of the giant cliffs, and the Epilobium luteum was blooming very well. All this north-facing stuff is so late. I took a sample of the Artemisia douglasiana that John and Sabine and I saw on our way up to Dome Rock. It does not look like Artemisia ludoviciana to me. The leaf blades are too wide. I also stopped at the Coal Creek waterfall we’d seen that same day, and the mystery plants in the falls turned out to be Arnica amplexicaulis, not more Epilobium luteum as I had suspected. I also stopped at the north-facing cliff where I had seen Castilleja rupicola and was able to find one plant with a faded flower only 5 feet above me so I have a better photo than my old ones.

Coal Creek Rd cliffs

Giant cliffs along Coal Creek Rd

My last stop of the day was only planned to be 2 minutes to pull out the binoculars and see if there was anything of interest on the massive cliffs (in the photo below) above the road just west of Dome Rock. Although the base of the cliff was quite a ways up a steep bank, I was pretty sure the little patches of plants I was seeing on the cliffs were Heuchera merriamii, Ageratina occidentalis, and Luina hypoleuca. Although it was already 6pm, I could not help myself and sent my poor body scrambling up the slope to the base of the cliff. I went through the woods to the left, but it was still no picnic. But I was successful at getting to the north edge of this humongous cliff and almost within touching distance of the Heuchera merriamii. I was pleased to be correct on all 3 IDs and also saw a little Stenanthium occidentale and a maidenhair fern on the north side of the cliff and one scraggly rabbitbrush. This cliff is just inside of Lane County, so the Ageratina should go on record for the Lane County Checklist. That whole area near Dome Rock has so many cliffs and pillars. I’m sure there is a lot of great stuff (just like at Youngs Rock). But until we get our hovercrafts, we’re just going to have to wonder about most of them.

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