2014 Wrap-up

It’s been ages since I’ve posted anything. A combination of too much else to do and a reduced hiking schedule in August and September has kept me away from my blog. The unusually hot summer dried even my favorite wetlands out much sooner than usual. Then there was the smoke—mainly from the Deception Creek fire—which was close enough from where I live to even make going outdoors unpleasant much of the time. Add to that a sore foot that I’m not even sure how I got.

From a nearby viewpoint, we could see the rocks along the east end of Twin Buttes. Behind them are Iron Mountain and Mount Jefferson.

From a nearby viewpoint, we could see the open ridge with rock formations along the east end of Twin Buttes. Behind them are Iron Mountain and Cone Peak and Mount Jefferson beyond. Looking north from Tidbits, I’d seen the rocks in this view in the distance many times but was never sure where it was—only that I had to get there eventually—and now I have!

As for my other excuse—too much to do—I’ve been working with the Oregon Flora Project (be aware the info on this link is rather out of date) doing editing, layout, and design for the upcoming Flora of Oregon Volume 1: Pteridophytes, Gymnosperms, and Monocots. It’s a dream job for me, getting to do graphic design AND read about Oregon native plants. We should (fingers crossed!) be ready to send the manuscript to the publishers in the next couple of months, then I’ll have more time for everything else that’s been on hold. Hopefully it will be in print in time for summer botanizing!

Despite all these distractions, I still managed to get some botanizing done in late summer, and I did some exploring of new places that might be of interest to other lovers of the Western Cascades. So here’s a “quick” summary of some of my activities since my last post in mid-August.

Tiny Potamogeton foliosus growing with the uncommon reddish-tinged P. alpinus at Warfield Bog

Tiny Potamogeton foliosus growing with the uncommon reddish-tinged P. alpinus at Warfield Bog

Warfield Bog, August 19: It was really dry, but my friend Kristy and I had a pleasant if unexciting day looking at aquatic plants and a few remaining Gentianopsis simplex and Parnassia cirrata still in flower. Not as many butterflies as usual either. There were also some hooded ladies’-tresses (Spiranthes romanzoffiana) in good bloom. The many small pools in the bog are home to a number of interesting  aquatic plants, and I found blooms on alpine pondweed (Potamogeton alpinus) and fruits on the much, much smaller leafy pondweed (P. foliosus). Oddly, there was no sign whatsoever of floating pondweed (P. natans) in the main pond where I’ve seen it a number of times before.

Bulldog Rock, September 9: After a stunning day hiking up to Broken Top with my husband the week before (High Cascades, so no write-up here, but perhaps I’ll post some photos on my Flickr page, one of these days), I thought I might be able to enjoy one last day in the Calapooya Mountains before the season was over. The smoke had seemed to be heading in the other direction in the morning, so I decided it was finally time to check out the trail to Bulldog Rock, one of the few actual trails in the Calapooyas. I’d passed by the trailhead a number of times doing the long drive from the North Umpqua over the mountains north into Lane County. It burned several years ago and was a little offputting starting the trail, but a lot of plants were growing back. There is a shelter and parking spot there called Bear Camp on the maps. It’s not far off the main road 3810, but it was too rough for my vehicle, so I parked along the road. Plus, if anything happened, I wanted my husband to be able to find the car!


The summit of Bulldog Rock on a very smoky day

The trail is pretty easy as most of the elevation gain is done on the drive. The trail starts around 5500′ and never went more than about 5900′. My main goal was to reach the actual Bulldog Rock to look for rock plants (what else!). It was a couple of miles along the ridge and then a dip down the northeast side. The far side drops precipitously—something I’d seen from Bristow Prairie and other viewpoints along the crest. I had hoped that there would be some signs of other people walking down to the rock, especially as some map I’d seen showed a side trail. Thankfully I hedged my bet by putting a waypoint on my GPS or I might have missed it. The rock can’t be seen from the trail, but it wasn’t too hard to get down to where I was maybe 300′ away from its summit. Unfortunately, by this time, the wind had shifted and the clear blue skies had become choked with smoke from the Deception Creek fire 30 miles to the north. I could hardly see anything below me, and my eyes were starting to burn, so after poking around enough to see that there are quite a few rock plants and enough interesting habitat to warrant a return visit, I reluctantly headed home. During one spot of poking around the rocks, I was surprised by some serious stinging on my leg. When I looked down, I had somehow gotten a sheep moth caterpillar on my pants. Turns out their nasty looking spines do indeed have a sting, much like an ant with formic acid. After 10 or 15 minutes, the pain finally subsided. Perhaps I should have just stayed home with all the bad luck I was having!

From our lunch stop, we could see the Three Sisters in the distance and Wolf Rock not so far away (slightly to the right in the photo).

From our lunch stop, we could see the Three Sisters in the distance and Wolf Rock not so far away (slightly to the right and in front of South Sister in the photo).

Twin Buttes, October 2: Sabine and Nancy joined me for a gorgeous autumn day exploring the area south of the South Santiam. Twin Buttes was another place that had been on my list for a long time, but I’d never managed to get to. We took the long scenic route from the McKenzie Highway. We drove past Wildcat Mountain on Road 2655 and continued on past nearby Latiwi Mountain. Now everything along the road was new territory for me, and my friends hadn’t been anywhere on this road. We drove quite a ways, but, remarkably, the road was in really great shape. We stopped for lunch in front of an open area with a small wetland and a large number of Ponderosa pine. It seemed really odd to find such a large stand, especially in Linn County where I rarely see them. According to the map, there are some private inholdings in the National Forest area, so perhaps these were planted. Very odd but quite pretty.

My destination wasn’t the trail up to Twin Buttes—it looked steep and long, and at this time of year, the days were getting too short to do it at our relaxed pace. We did drive up to the trailhead, just so we’d know where it was, however, before turning around. What I wanted to see was a very rocky area on the east end of the ridge that looked quite intriguing on Google Earth. Nancy didn’t feel like bushwhacking, but Sabine and I managed to find our way up to the rocky ridge by starting where the ridge came down to Road 2044. The rocks were really cool. We went along the ridge for a ways, running into several challenging spots before we decided we’d better rejoin Nancy on the road. This is another place I am definitely returning to. On our way home, we took a different route, heading south from Wildcat on Road 15 so Nancy could see the incredibly impressive Wolf Rock up close. By the time we returned to McKenzie Highway near Blue River, I’d probably driven 40 miles of gravel, but it was well worth it, even without much in the way of flowers.

Queen Sabine enjoying life on a rocky throne on the ridge at Twin Buttes

Queen Sabine enjoying life on a rocky throne on the ridge at Twin Buttes

Now I have to get through the winter months, waiting for the flowers to come out, and dreaming of all my favorite places and all the other spots I still haven’t gotten to, and of all the new discoveries to make. So much to look forward to in the coming year. May 2015 be a great year for flowers and for all of you flower lovers! Happy New Year!





One Response to “2014 Wrap-up”

  • Kareen Sturgeon:

    Good morning, Tanya — I just took down my Christmas tree, which was decorated with your bird ornaments, of course! I’d like to place an order for two more, which you can bring with you when you come to McMinnville to give your “Rock Stars” talk to our NPSO chapter: a black-headed grosbeak and an evening grosbeak.

    I look forward to seeing you in February! K.

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