Hidden Lakes at Bristow Prairie

Another report from the Calapooyas. Yesterday, Sabine and I went back to Bristow Prairie. Things looked about the same as they did when we went last year in September, but we wanted to explore the Lane County side this time and to check out the smaller lakes in the woods. Mostly what was in bloom was goldenrod and Klamath weed, so the whole place had a pretty yellow tinge. The Veratrum has had a great bloom year everywhere and there were loads of V. insolitum hanging on as well as the more common viride and a little californicum. Last year on many of my trips it didn’t appear they had bloomed at all.

We headed straight for the main lake. The Sagittaria was in fading bloom as were the pond lilies. There was also still some Potamogeton epihydrus (I’m pretty sure of the species) with some flowers. I thought I’d seen that last year, but it was disappearing then so I wasn’t sure. We didn’t spend much time looking around the surrounding wetland, but I did see a few Spiranthes stellata and a large area of Stellaria obtusa. We saw lots more of that in damp shady areas as we continued. I had S. crispa on my list, so that was a misidentification. Unfortunately, not only did I drag Sabine on a day of nothing but bushwhacking, but I had her bring her rubber boots for the lower lakes and she lost one, and then we didn’t even need them as things were drying out. We tried but could not find it. I hope to get back earlier next year to see peak bloom. Maybe the boot will reappear when the foliage isn’t so tall!

Southwestern hidden lake at Bristow Prairie

Southwestern hidden lake at Bristow Prairie with oodles of Sagittaria cuneata, willows, Cicuta douglasii, and Spiraea douglasii

We found the lower two lakes without too much trouble although we went back a much easier way than we went down. They are only about 500′ from the bottom of the meadow. The animals obviously know the best way between the lakes and the meadow, so we followed their trail back up. The lower lakes are quite pretty. They are maybe 100′ apart and yet they didn’t have the same plants in them. The south one has tons of Sagittaria cuneata and pond lilies. The north has loads of Menyanthes trifoliata and some pond lilies but no Sagittaria. The bad news is that the southern pond is in Douglas County and the northern one in Lane. I found a swampy area just south of the south pond with a colony of Listera convallarioides. There were also a couple of plants with large, somewhat hairy, palmate leaves that I wouldn’t have guessed were Geranium richardsonii if I hadn’t just seen them blooming a few days before at Skipper Lakes. I double-checked my photos of the Geranium as well as similar plants like Trautvetteria that might be in that habitat, and it is definitely the Geranium. That of course is also on the Douglas County side. The interesting plants seem determined to stay out of Lane County!

After returning to the meadow, we headed up the trail to the northern ridge. We went up to the very large rocky slope. It looks like it would be beautiful early in the season. Lots of nice rock plants, mostly baked dry at this point. We added some more plants to the list like Penstemon rupicola and Lomatium nudicaule. I imagine the old NPSO list is mostly from the meadows. Our biggest mystery of the day was a ton of dried up annuals that after some examination we determined must be a Navarretia but definitely not the common divaricata, which we’d seen earlier. However, on more careful study at home, I realize it must be Leptosiphon (Linanthus) bicolor. Guess I’ve never seen it dried up before.

Ageratina occidentalis

Ageratina occidentalis

We couldn’t really find the trail anymore but found our way to the ridge on top easily enough. There is a major rockpile there, and we could hear some pikas. The good news is there was lots of blooming Ageratina occidentalis. Finally something special on the Lane County side! I’m really falling in love with this plant. The pretty seed-grown plant in my rock garden has been blooming for ages. The little woodland skippers just love it. At this point, we’d had enough and headed back. While little was in bloom, we had a pretty successful day and added almost 18 new plants to the Bristow Prairie list. Hopefully there will be more to find earlier in the season when things are actually blooming. No luck however finding Horkelia fusca on the Lane County side even though I’ve seen it at 4 sites just to the south. Oh well. On the drive back we located the north end of the trail which we’d missed before. We also looked at all the interesting rock features next the road: Ranger Stone, Steeple Rock, and some unnamed one. All I could see this late with binoculars was Penstemon rupicola and Saxifraga bronchialis. We’ll have to plan a day to explore those next year.

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