Archive for the ‘Lane County’ Category

Warner Mountain Botanizing

A western white (?) met its demise in this patch of round-leaved sundew (Drosera rotundifolia).

An outstanding show of scarlet paintbrush below the lookout. I was surprised there weren’t more hummingbirds fighting over it.

My most exciting day of last year was finding explorer’s (or bog) gentians (Gentiana calycosa) at Warner Mountain (see Hidden Bog on Warner Mountain). I wanted to spend some more time looking at the population there this year, and I also wanted to share the hidden site with some friends, so on July 22nd, John Koenig, Sheila Klest, and Betsy Parry joined me for a trip to Warner Mountain. It was three days earlier than last year’s trip, but with this year’s extreme drought and heat, I was sure the blooming would be quite a bit earlier. I had also decided boots would be unnecessary as it would most likely be drying out. Boy, was I wrong! I was quite astounded, in fact, to find the bog not only still quite wet, and all the little creeks still running well, but the gentians had barely started. It was pretty much exactly the way I had found it on July 25, 2020. Considering it was a month after the awful record-breaking heatwave and no rain for longer than that, I couldn’t believe how fresh and moist everything was. Where was all this water that appears at the top of the bog coming from? The bog is only about 150′ lower than the top of the ridge above it, so it is not like it is getting water trickling down from much higher up. Read the rest of this entry »

Great Day for Butterflies at Bristow Prairie

With the number of times I’ve been to Bristow Prairie (this was my 26th time), I don’t remember ever seeing the prairie so pink with fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium). Molly said the Forest Service had done a controlled burn on the prairie not so long ago, so that would explain it.

An Edith’s copper nectaring on mountain boykinia (Boykinia major) in the small wetland

On July 18, Molly Juillerat (and Loki) and Nancy Bray joined me for a day at Bristow Prairie. We decided to skip the trail to make sure we had time for the lake, so we parked by the edge of the main prairie. Our first destination was the rock garden since we knew it would be hotter on the rocks later in the day. June and early July’s heat and drought had dried it out earlier than usual, but I was able to collect some seed. From there, we headed over to the lake and surrounding wetland. Going through what is by late July really tall foliage is tricky because you can’t see the ground and any possible mountain beaver holes. But we took our time and enjoyed looking for butterflies and other insects on the way down. Naturally, the area was much moister than and still had many flowers in bloom, but it was dry enough to walk around the wetland without rubber boots. I don’t get down to the lake often enough, so I’m glad we were able to spend some time there. Read the rest of this entry »

NPSO Field Trip to Moon Point

Relaxing by the lookout. The foliage of beargrass (Xerophyllum tenax) is really soft comfortable to sit and lie on.

Heading down the overgrown trail. The tall foliage on the left is alpine knotweed (Aconogonon phytolaccifolium).

On July 10, eleven (vaccinated) nature lovers gathered at the Middle Fork Ranger Station in Westfir for a field trip to Moon Point sponsored by the Native Plant Society. Jenny Moore, district botanist, was the official leader of the trip, but since she hadn’t been to Moon Point before our pre-hike a month earlier (see Early Bloomers at Moon Point), she asked me to co-lead. What with the pandemic, it was the first field trip I’d led in quite a while.

We had a lovely day up at Moon Point. The plants had grown like crazy since our earlier trip, so the trail looked very different. While a number of flowers were past peak with this summer’s heat and drought, there were still some showy species like skyrocket (Ipomopsis aggregata) and mountain owl’s clover (Orthocarpus imbricatus) in good bloom as well as inconspicuous ones like blunt-sepaled starwort (Stellaria obtusa). There were plenty enough flowers to attract quite an array of insects. Everyone was really inquisitive and as interested in all the butterflies and other insects as they were in flowers. We went all the way out to the point at the end of the trail, and on the way back most people bushwhacked with us over to the lake. Read the rest of this entry »

Groundhog Mountain Reconnoiter

The roadbanks along Road 451 were painted blue with large-flowered blue-eyed Mary (Collinsia grandiflora) and Menzies’ larkspur (Delphinium menziesii). There were also large clumps of early blue violet (Viola adunca) to complete the color scheme.

After crossing the rough road, we parked to admire the view near Logger Butte and decide where we wanted to go first. I was thrilled to find some butterfly eggs on the rockcress (Boechera sp., maybe acutina) along with an adult Julia orangetip (sorry, ours aren’t Sara orangetips anymore!), possibly the mom of the eggs.

With the Burke Herbarium Collecting Foray only a week away, but with a lot of work to do and taking time off for the foray, we decided it was our last chance to scope out potential sites, so we should split up. So on June 17, Jenny Moore, Middle Fork District botanist, and John Koenig headed up Coal Creek Road, while Jenny Lippert, Willamette National Forest botanist, and I went up to the Groundhog Mountain area. With many of our previous routes to Groundhog becoming less drivable, we decided to try the relatively short (~10 miles of gravel) and direct route from Road 21 up Road 2135. I’d never done this, but I knew members of the North American Butterfly Association were going up that way. Since we were in the big Forest Service vehicle, this was a good opportunity for me to check out the road without testing myself or my smaller vehicle. I used to drive up any road to check it out, but after all the flats I got, and with the loss of money for upkeep and the subsequent degradation of Forest Service roads, those days seem to be long gone.

Going through the private timber land, the road was actually fine and the forest quite pretty. I was surprised because I had seen very large clearcuts in the Seneca land from last year’s trip to Groundhog; they must have been off of some side roads. When we hit the National Forest land, the road condition worsened, but it was still okay. Then we reached the part I’d seen on Google Earth where there is no protective forest, just rocks on one side and a big dropoff on the other. Since I wasn’t driving (thank you Jenny!), I didn’t get too anxious, but we decided we shouldn’t send the herbarium folks that way, and after visiting several spots at Groundhog, we headed back the long way (~15 miles of gravel) past the Warner Lookout. Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring Meadows Below Sawtooth Rock

From the south ridge on Mount June last year, we had a good view of Sawtooth Rock at the right end of its large meadow as well as the three smaller openings below that I went to on this trip. The Three Sisters and Mount Bachelor had way more snow than this year almost exactly a year ago on June 22, 2020.

For years I’d wanted to explore all the meadows and rocky openings in the area of Mount June and Sawtooth Rock. I’m pretty sure I’ve checked out all the open areas on Mount June and regularly make a loop down the south ridge and west side when I go up there now (for a look at last year’s trip, see A Rainbow of Flowers at Mount June). I had also once explored several of the small openings just east of Sawtooth Rock Meadow (see More Meadows Near Sawtooth Rock). But I’d never made it down to a string of three rocky openings downhill to the southwest of the main meadow. On June 19, I decided to make that my goal.

At the first rocky opening, the paintbrush was attracting a rufous hummingbird. I tried to be ready to photograph it as it zipped around, but this was the only decent photo I was able to get. Perched as I was on the steep rock, I couldn’t move much, nor could I even see it most of the time, but its hum let me know it was still around. The blue flowers are bluefield gilia (Gilia capitata).

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Early Bloomers at Moon Point

After walking on a relatively level, viewless trail through forest and meadows, it is a surprise for those who haven’t been on the trail before—like Jenny (here) and Sheila—to come to the end of the trail atop a steep rock with a fantastic view. The coppery shrub on the left is actually a Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia), and the tree on Jenny’s right is a krummholz ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa). The highest points on the horizon are Bohemia Mountain and Fairview Peak.

On July 10, Jenny Moore and I will be leading a hike to Moon Point for the Emerald Chapter of the Native Plant Society of Oregon (see details on the chapter website). Jenny had never been there before, so I thought we should do our pre-hike early to show her all the cool early blooming flowers there. So on June 10, we headed up there with John Koenig and Sheila Klest. Read the rest of this entry »

First Trip of the Season to Bristow Prairie

While the rock garden area wasn’t quite as floriferous as usual, the east end had a lovely display of Menzies’ larkspur (Delphinium menziesii), and there were barestem lomatium in bloom everywhere.

The naked stem hawkweed (Crepis pleurocarpa) grows right in the middle of the trail.

On June 4, John Koenig and I went to Bristow Prairie in the Calapooyas. It was our first trip of the year here, but we’re planning to show this area to some folks from the Burke Herbarium in Washington in a few weeks, so we’ll be back soon.

We started our day by hiking the trail from the north trailhead (once we found it—the trail sign is now smashed under a fallen tree!). We were hoping to catch the early flowers, and there were still a few patches of snow in the road ditch, but the warm dry spring had already moved the rock garden area along. There were no exciting discoveries this trip, and there were surprisingly few butterflies or other insects for such a sunny day, but I thought I’d share some photos. Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring New Milkweed Meadows in Rigdon

Jenny studying the plants in the still-green seep along the edge of the west meadow. The lush shrub at the top of the photo was a very healthy poison oak!

Back in February, I was invited to a Zoom meeting set up by Walama Restoration and the Middle Fork Ranger District to discuss ongoing restoration projects in the area and further work on purple (or heartleaf) milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) and monarchs (if their population bounces back) in the Rigdon area. At that meeting, I learned that last summer the district hired some surveyors to check out special habitats (I think that includes anything that isn’t forest!) on the west side of Hills Creek Reservoir and the Middle Fork of the Willamette. They surveyed a number of south-facing openings that I’d seen on Google Earth but never explored. I was very excited to hear that they found two new populations of milkweed! And these were farther north than any of our other sites, making them the new northern boundary of its range. Jenny Moore, the current district botanist, didn’t know much more about the sites or the milkweed itself there, so we discussed going up there together to see them for ourselves once the milkweed started blooming.

After seeing the milkweed starting to flower at Big Pine Opening a few weeks earlier (see Relaxing Day in Rigdon), I figured it was time. The weather was supposed to get hot again, so I was happy that Jenny was able to go out with me on Friday, May 28 before it got too hot for a steep bushwhack up low-elevation, south-facing, rocky meadows around 600′ above the road.

Beautiful spreads of woodland phlox (Phlox adsurgens) bloomed along the edge of the both the paved road and the gravel one we walked on.

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A Soggy Day on Tire Mountain

Great camas (Camassia leichtlinii) and harsh paintbrush (Castilleja hispida) were a beautiful combination in the large dike meadow.

Chocolate lilies (Fritillaria affinis) were one of the highlights of the day. They were hard to spot at first, but once the sun came out, they weren’t so inconspicuous.

Last weekend, May 22, I was invited to join Molly Juillerat and her dog Loki again, this time with some of her vaccinated friends: Michelle, Annie, Judy, and Julie. Three of them had never been to Tire Mountain but had heard how great the flowers are. It was a damp and cloudy day—not the kind I normally venture out in—but it was great to meet some new plant-loving women, now that we can start to return to normal activities (at least outdoors). We were pretty chilled for most of the day, but it was hard to be too upset about how wet everything was after I’ve spent almost every day of the last couple of incredibly dry months wishing it would rain.

It was still early, so the sweeps of colorful annuals hadn’t started yet—although the rosy plectritis (Plectritis congesta) was in bud and was probably the most asked-about species all day. Brightly colored harsh paintbrush (Castilleja hispida) and barestem lomatium (Lomatium nudicaule) were like bright lights in the gloom. The other lomatiums (L. utriculatum, L. hallii, and L. dissectum) were also flowering. The fawn-lilies (Erythronium oregonum) were at peak bloom but rather droopy from the rain. And, probably the most iconic flower on the mountain, the deltoid balsamroot (Balsamorhiza deltoidea) was also coming into bloom. Definitely worth coming out, even on a damp and gray day! Read the rest of this entry »

Return to Bearbones Mountain

Looking to the northeast from the lowest tier we visited on the side ridge, you can see Groundhog Mountain (with all the logged areas) on the top ridge to Molly’s left and Moon Point and Youngs Rock to the right. Snow-covered Diamond Peak is in the distance. We wished we could see more snow on the lower elevations. I’ve still never been to the rocky opening in the near distance, but it is on my to-do list! 

Last year, a large downed tree kept me from getting to Bearbones Mountain. My previous trip had been back in May of 2017 (see Beginning of the Blooming Season at Bearbones). I’d heard the road was open this year, and I was anxious to get back to see the early flowers, so on May 16, Molly Juillerat picked me up, and along with her energetic dog, Loki, we headed to Bearbones. I was relieved to finally get back there without any road issues. Bearbones Road 2127 goes through some private timber company land, and logging has taken a toll on the road over the past few years. It had been many more years since Molly had been there (and the first time for Loki!), so she was happy as well.

I’d never before noticed the interesting skirt at the base of this Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia) just below the summit. That’s a common growth habit for subalpine fir (Abies lasiocarpa) growing on ridges, but it’s very odd for growth for a yew. The bronze coloration of the upper needles is typical of plants on sunny ridges. The lavender flowers on the bottom left are mahala mat.

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