Archive for the ‘Creek’ Category

Last Day of Summer at Lopez Lake

Lopez Lake has a lot of interesting and uncommon aquatic plants. Near the inlet of the lake, you can see the large, spreading leaves of alpine pondweed (Potamogeton alpinus), the narrow, upright leaves of small bur-reed (Sparganium natans), and the delicate, feathery, trailing stems of lesser bladderwort (Utricularia minor). Earlier in the season, the surface of the wider part of the lake is decorated with the showy white flowers of arumleaf arrowhead (Sagittaria cuneata).

The pretty pool of pond lilies (Nuphar polysepala) at Zen Meadow was almost completely dried out. The large fruits were ripening. I’d never looked closely at the capsules or seeds before.

On September 22, I accompanied Alan Butler and Dave Predeek for a trip to the Lopez Lake area, southeast of Oakridge. Neither of them had been there before, so I wanted to show them the lake and some of the other interesting sites along Road 5884. It was officially the last day of summer, but it seemed like a beautiful fall day to me. It was only my fifth trip to Lopez Lake over the course of 11 years, and it was the latest in the year I’d been there. Things were much drier than on my past trips—not surprising considering how long it had been since we’d had real rain, and there were very few flowers left, but it was an interesting trip nonetheless. We headed all the way up the road to the talus slope first, and then stopped at the small hidden wetland John Koenig and I named “Zen Meadow” before walking down to Lopez Lake. On our way back, we checked out another hidden wetland and—new for me—a hidden lake. Here are some photographic highlights of our terrific trip. Read the rest of this entry »

Exploring Parish Lake and Nearby Wetlands

The sundews are so thick in the bog at the west end of Parish Lake that you can see the red—in the upper right here—in an aerial image.

Rannock-rush has distinctive olive-colored infructescences. I’ve always planned to get out early enough to see its meager flowers, but I still haven’t managed it. I was at Gold Lake Bog just after the snow melted this year, but in that case, I was too early. Here this unusual species is growing with the red-leaved great sundew and the glaucous-leaved marsh cinquefoil.

With the smoke from the Bedrock Fire inundating eastern Lane County, on July 28, I headed north to Parish Lake in Linn County. I hadn’t been there since 2016 (see Wildlife and Wildflowers at Parish Lake) when I went several times, including leading a trip for the Native Plant Society Annual Meeting. Parish Lake is at only 3300′ of elevation, so I knew it would be late in the season for the area, but there is always plenty to see.

I poked around the amazing floating bog at Parish Lake for a couple of hours. There weren’t too many butterflies, but there were many bees enjoying the maroon swamp cinquefoil (Comarum palustre) flowers and the pink inflorescences of Douglas’ spiraea (Spiraea douglasii). There were also a number of dragonflies and damselflies, and a family of wood ducks swam around the lake trying to stay on the far side from me. It was very peaceful. The water looked beautiful and deep enough in places to tempt me to go for a swim, but it doesn’t seem like a great idea to go swimming alone, so I’ll save that for another trip. Read the rest of this entry »

Staying Cool at Quaking Aspen Swamp

We hit peak bloom for the sundews. These are great sundew (Drosera anglica or perhaps hybrids of anglica and the nearby D. rotundifolia).

It wasn’t a big day for butterflies, and in fact a good percentage of the ones we saw had fallen prey to the sticky sundews. This looks like another thicket hairstreak (see previous report for a photo of a live one) or Johnson’s hairstreak.

Molly Juillerat e-mailed me to see if I wanted to go out on Sunday, July 16. It was supposed to be hot, around 90° in the Valley, not my first choice of a day for an outing. But I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to go out with Molly, especially as we both knew that since she’s the district ranger, if (most likely, when) a fire started in the Middle Fork District, she wouldn’t be able to go hiking and would have to focus on fire management. Whether from active fires or smoke drifting from farther away, these days one can’t count on hiking in the Cascades in August.

This turned out to be a good decision as the Bedrock Fire started the following weekend, on July 22. Molly had been out of state the previous week, and her dogs, Loki and Pico, had a lot of pent-up energy from being left at home and were also in need of a day in the mountains. We decided to head up to Quaking Aspen Swamp—an easy half-mile hike and a wetland with lots of moisture and no hot rocks to burn the dogs’ feet. Read the rest of this entry »

Shooting Stars are Stars of a Great Day

The population of the seep-loving beautiful shooting star was more gorgeous than I had imagined in “Mistmaiden Meadow.”

Did it just snow? Nuttall’s saxifrage coats the rocks at “Mistmaiden Meadow.”

I was really anxious to get back to the steep meadow on the east side of Sourgrass Mountain after my first trip of the season (see Early Look at Meadow on Sourgrass Mountain). Exactly two weeks after the first trip, on June 13, Sheila Klest and I went to see what was in bloom. We weren’t disappointed. It was even prettier than we expected. As soon as we stepped out into the upper part of the slope, we were greeted with a sweep of pink rosy plectritis (Plectritis congesta). There was much more moisture than there had been at nearby Tire Mountain the week before (see NPSO Annual Meeting Trip to Tire Mountain). Tire Mountain is known for similar drifts of color in wetter springs, but this year was rather disappointing. Here, however, the moisture from the above-normal snowpack on Sourgrass was trickling down to the meadow and keeping it fresh in spite of a month with little or no rain. Read the rest of this entry »

NPSO Trip to Grassy Glade

The group checking out the monkeyflower and annual clovers in the areas of Grassy Glade that were still moist.

Someone spotted several morels along the edge of Staley Creek.

On Saturday, June 3rd, I took a group of folks attending the Native Plant Society of Oregon‘s Annual Meeting (first one since the pandemic!) to Grassy Glade and Staley Creek Bridge. We didn’t have as much time as I would like for a field trip as we had to get back to Eugene in time for the banquet and other evening festivities. But it was a perfect day for a field trip, and we had a chance to look at some of the diversity of the Rigdon area, exploring both the meadows and dry forest at Grassy Glade and the wet creekside habitat and lusher forest along Staley Creek. Unfortunately, the purple milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) that I had hoped to show everyone still wasn’t in bloom, and in fact didn’t look much farther along than it had been the week before on my prehike (see Planning Trip to Grassy Glade). It was new plant for many people, however, and they enjoyed the handsome foliage. Hopefully, everyone found something new and interesting. Here are some highlights of our trip.

White-tip clover (Trifolium variegatum) is a common annual clover of seepy meadows, but it is often quite tiny and easily overlooked.

This interesting looking underwater growth in Staley Creek is Nostoc parmelloides, a cyanobacteria that forms colonies in cold creeks. I hadn’t noticed it on my previous trips but had seen it up in the Calapooyas a few years back (see More Discoveries along the Calapooya Crest). Tiny midge larvae develop in the flattened colonies.

Some of us were lucky enough to spot the dipper in the usual spot right where the water plunges down at the narrowest part of the creek. Unfortunately, it flew off before everyone got to see it. I could not relocate the nest that I had seen on previous years (see More Exploration Near Grassy Glade).

I was happy to see the tiny candelabrum monkeyflower (Erythranthe pulsiferae) was still blooming well. It’s an uncommon plant that most people hadn’t seen before.

Although we were trying to get back to Eugene by 4:30, I couldn’t help making a quick stop to show people all the paintbrush (Castilleja spp.) on the reservoir cliffs. We also saw the lovely pale yellow Oregon sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum) that has been growing right by the road for many years.

Very Early Look at Patterson Mountain

A very early look at the wet meadow near the Lone Wolf Shelter. Snow lingered on the far side of the meadow and behind the thicket of Douglas’ hawthorns (Crataegus gaylussacia). John and I only walked over as far as where the meltwater was flowing across the meadow. No drying out here yet!

Crab spiders regularly hide on flowers (can you spot it?) awaiting unsuspecting pollinators, but I’ve never seen one on skunk cabbage before!

John Koenig will be leading a trip to Patterson Mountain for the Native Plant Society of Oregon Annual Meeting the first weekend of June, so I joined him and his wife, Deborah, for a look at the trail on May 25. We were very relieved to find the road open, although there was a large snowbank just past the trailhead parking, so we probably couldn’t have even gotten to the trail much earlier. We had to cross a couple of large mounds of snow, and there were still some patches in the meadows, so the flowering season had only just begun. While the deep snow pack was melting fast from the hot, dry May we’ve been having, I’m guessing that—unlike Tire Mountain (see Early Season at Tire Mountain)—the plants here were all protected from the heat waves by the snow. Not only is Patterson Mountain several hundred feet higher in elevation than Tire Mountain, but its more level areas are able to collect far more snow than the steep slopes of Tire.

 

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Exploring Two New Meadows

Looking east across the Saddleblanket Bald meadow, you can see the alder thicket following the water as it drains from the wetland uphill.

While planning a trip to collect seeds at Elk Camp and Nevergo Meadow, I was showing my husband where I was going on Google Earth and happened to notice what looked like a small natural meadow less than a mile west of Elk Camp. It wasn’t far from a road that once led to an old trailhead for Saddleblanket Mountain. I remembered it being gated the last time I drove by, but it was only a half-mile or so to walk if it was still closed. Intrigued, I decided I should add it to my trip. The following day, August 15, I headed up to Nevergo Meadow by my usual route, south from Big Fall Creek Road 18. After a short stop at Nevergo Meadow, I drove south on Road 142 past the trailhead that hooks into the Alpine Trail near the Elk Camp Shelter. It’s only another 1/3 mile to Road 143, which deadends after 0.6 miles. The gate was actually open, and the road was clear and in good shape. I found out later it had been opened and brushed to use as a fire break. Thankfully last year’s Gales Fire never made it over to this area, though I passed burned trees on the drive up farther north. Read the rest of this entry »

Unusual Insect and Plant Sightings at Hemlock Lake

After a long, hot day, I couldn’t face driving all the way up to the campground at Hemlock Lake, so I stayed at Cool Water Campground on Little River Road. Although it was getting late, I went down to cool my feet in the river and came upon two crayfish. One stayed tucked away between some rocks, but the other seemed really annoyed that I was trying to photograph it. It even chased me at one point, putting its claws up as though to challenge me to a fight. They were still there in the morning. What a wonderful find at a pretty but fairly unexceptional spot.

The chatterbox orchid, also known as stream orchid, is found in wet places, often by creeks. It is mostly found at lower elevations, so I rarely see it. The plants strange and colorful “faces” are always a treat. 

I haven’t done much camping over the last few years. Partly that’s a result of a busier work schedule, but it’s also due to more wildfires and heat waves. My van becoming too old (25 years!) and untrustworthy for gravel roads also played a big part. I was determined to get in a camping trip this summer and finally decided on a quick overnight down to Hemlock Lake in Douglas County. I hadn’t been there in 5 years, and that trip was cut short due to inclement weather (see Weather Woes at Hemlock Lake). My first day (July 21st) started out a bit rough as I decided to go the back way from Cottage Grove—a route I hadn’t done in many years. It is backcountry but all paved, and I figured it would save a lot of miles and keep me within my electric car’s range. Big mistake. It may have been shorter, but it took a really long time, and I made a wrong turn at an unmarked intersection coming down to Highway 138 in Idylyld Park rather than farther east near Steamboat since I had planned to look for purple milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) seed at Medicine Creek Road east of there. It was also way hotter than the forecast for the area had led me to believe. The worst of it, however, was the last 10 miles down Rock Creek Road. The last few years have not been kind to the North Umpqua. So many wildfires have hit the area. I drove through mile after mile of dead forest and empty hills. By the time I got to Hwy 138, I was in tears. The loss of wildlife habitat was devastating. I had planned to head up to Hemlock Lake via Road 4714 south of Steamboat, but I had been warned by the Forest Service that part of it had burned, and there was a lot of logging and road work going on in the area. Not wanting to face any more depressing burned forest, after a somewhat disappointing trip to Medicine Creek (too early for milkweed seeds, too late for most everything else, but at least I saw some flat-spurred piperia (Platanthera [Piperiatransversa) in bloom), I drove all the way back to Glide and headed out Little River Road. Thank goodness, rainy season has finally begun as I write this in late October, and the North Umpqua survived this year without any wildfires! Read the rest of this entry »

Relaxing Day at Elk Camp Shelter

It was peak season for the common camas (Camassia quamash) at Elk Camp.

Gina especially loved the old-growth forest near the Elk Camp Shelter. As we walked along the trail past the shelter, we were surprised to see someone just waking up after having arrived there on his bike very late at night. I don’t think he was expecting to see us either. The trail past the shelter is part of the much longer Alpine Trail that passes through Tire Mountain and is very popular with mountain bikers.

I’d much rather see flowers than fireworks on the 4th of July, so my neighbor Gina and I went up to see wetlands up at Elk Camp Shelter, Nevergo Meadow, and Saddleblanket Mountain, all no more than 15 miles away as the crow flies from where we live in Fall Creek. It was a pleasantly cool day, but the clouds mostly disappeared as the day went on. Although we did see several hikers and bicyclists—a first for me in that area—it was quiet and peaceful. That’s just the way I like my holidays!

One of the plants I had hoped to see in the Elk Camp meadow was Nevada lewisia (Lewisia nevadensis). Sabine Dutoit had discovered it there a number of years ago when I led a trip for the Native Plant Society (see NPSO Trip to Nevergo Meadow and Elk Camp). Luckily, I timed it right, and some of them were in bloom. I saw several between the trail and large willow thicket, where Sabine originally spotted them, and several more as I wrapped around the edge of the wetland to the bit of meadow that is hidden from the trail. Though there aren’t very many (although there could be more than I think as they are very hard to spot out of bloom), that’s where I had seen the largest number of them in the past. That’s also where most of the population of the rare endemic Umpqua frasera (Frasera umpquaensis), but there were no signs of buds or flowers on them. I”m not sure if they will bloom at all this year as they bloom only periodically. The Nevada lewisia and its frequent companion threeleaf lewisia (L. triphylla) seem to prefer more or less bare ground in moist meadows. I headed farther south along the edge of the wetland to look for more bare ground. I was rewarded with another patch of Nevada lewisia. The odd thing was that these had much smaller flowers—about the size of the threeleaf lewisia near them. I had never noticed this before, but then I rarely see open flowers because they seem to close up on warm afternoons (as does the threeleaf lewisia). With the partly cloudy day, some were still open. Read the rest of this entry »

Spring Again at Coal Creek Bluff

Looking north across the slope to Moon Point and Youngs Rock. I hadn’t seen such a pretty show of monkeyflower on my past visits.

On Wednesday, May 25, Nancy Bray accompanied me on a trip to the place I named “Coal Creek Bluff.” I had heard that the Forest Service would be further decommissioning the old Road 210 that I use to access the site to protect Coal Creek from further erosion. I wasn’t sure what this entailed, so I was anxious to find out if I would still be able to access this lovely spot, one of our purple milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) sites in the Rigdon area. The last time I was there (in 2020, see Followup Milkweed Count at Coal Creek Bluff), I couldn’t make it to the last place you can park before a big washout on the old road. I managed to scratch my brand new car trying to turn around after coming upon a fallen tree. So this time, I just decided to park at the old gate where there is a large area to turn around and do the extra walking. I was surprised to find the road completely clear all the way to the final parking area. Darn! We could have shortened our walk. Next time I’ll know. Read the rest of this entry »

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