Posts Tagged ‘Aquilegia’

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My first pika of the year! As soon as we reached the talus, I stopped to look for pikas. My husband spotted this one right away. It actually appeared to be running toward us, but I’m guessing it was just looking for its own safe spot. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get a clear view before it disappeared under the rocks.

On July 11, My husband, Jim, and I were joined by our friend Peter Gallagher on a trip to Tidbits Mountain. It had been 5 years since I’d been there, but Jim hadn’t been for 20 years, and it had been quite a while for Peter as well.

On our way back to the car, we passed this wasp with an impressive ovipositor (not a stinger!). Apparently, it is a Norton’s giant ichneumonid wasp (Megarhyssa nortoni). According to Wikipedia, they live in the forest, where their larvae are parasitoids of the larvae of horntail wasps.

It was interesting to see how the combination of above-normal winter snowpack and early summer drought manifested in the bloom period. The spring flowers were long gone in most places. As I expected, the gravelly areas west of the summit were completely toasted with only a few species still in bloom. 2012 was also a high snowpack year but followed by a “normal” spring. My trip that year on July 9 (see Off the Beaten Track at Tidbits) was completely different with gorgeous flowers covering the south-facing gravelly slope of what I call “the wall.”

I was surprised, however, that not only were there fresh spring flowers on the north-facing talus slope, there were several patches of snow remaining along the edges of the bottom slope. The trail was also in worse shape than I’ve ever seen it. We had to negotiate many fallen trees. The last section of road wasn’t in great shape either, and we wished we had parked at the bottom and walked after almost getting stuck going up. Still, we enjoyed our hike. No matter the season, the rock formations are always gorgeous. Here are some photographic highlights. Read the rest of this entry »

Rare Plant Discovery at Middle Pyramid

Although we were far from any of the major fires, it was still pretty hazy, making the impressive cliffs surrounding the wetland look farther away than usual.

My husband, Jim, and I celebrated our anniversary on August 12 by hiking up the Pyramids Trail. My last trip there had been in 2016 (see Gorgeous Day on Middle Pyramid), and my husband had only been once, way back in 2004. We couldn’t hike much of anywhere in eastern Lane County because of the smoke from the Cedar Creek fire near Oakridge, so we wanted to head north. I also really wanted to see some blooming explorer’s gentians (Gentiana calycosa), which I was hoping would have at least started blooming below the summit cliff, so it seemed like the perfect destination. Read the rest of this entry »

Wonderful Day at Groundhog Mountain and Logger Butte

The rock formations of Logger Butte are quite stunning, and the many colorful wildflowers growing in the rocks make it even more special.

Dave admiring the cliff on the south side of Logger Butte.

Groundhog Mountain in southeastern Lane County has been one of my favorite botanizing sites for almost 20 years (over 40 trips so far!). Unfortunately, despite many roads leading up to the numerous wetlands and rocky spots, it has been getting more difficult to get up there, so my visits have been getting less frequent. From any direction, it’s 10 miles or more of gravel roads that have been deteriorating over time, and with no trails and no real logging of late, there has been no upkeep on the roads. So I was thrilled to get invited by Dave Predeek to go up there with him and Alan Butler, who also loves the area. Both are fellow members of the Native Plant Society of Oregon. Alan has a hefty truck and doesn’t mind driving—my kind of a guy! On July 15, Alan drove us up the northern route to Groundhog via Road 2309, the road I took for many years until I finally gave up on it when a deep gully developed in the middle of the road. I was really happy to see the gully seemed to have filled in on its own, and the road wasn’t as bad as the last time I’d driven. Not to say I would take my smaller car up that way yet, but it was passable for a sturdy, high-clearance vehicle. Read the rest of this entry »

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 »

Quick Return to Bristow Prairie

A lilac-bordered copper, a snowberry checkerspot, and a pair of mating Hoffman’s checkerspots all sharing the same leafy fleabane (Erigeron foliosus)

I was so excited about finding Columbia lewisia (Lewisia columbiana) at Bristow Prairie (see previous post) that I contacted Molly Juillerat right away. Although she is now the deputy ranger for the Middle Fork Ranger District, her old post as district botanist hasn’t been filled yet, so she’s still the main botanist and the one other local person I know who has been to all the other lewisia sites in the district. I was thrilled that she was able to arrange her schedule to see the lewisia that same weekend, on June 30th. I wanted to get back quickly before the plants finished blooming and became hard to spot again. Read the rest of this entry »

A Glorious Day Near Lopez Lake

Subalpine spiraea was at peak bloom in here at "Zen Meadow".

Subalpine spiraea (Spiraea splendens) was at peak bloom here at “Zen Meadow” and also at Lopez Lake.

Two years ago, Sabine Dutoit and I first discovered the beauty of Lopez Lake and the surrounding area near the end of Road 5884 (see Aquatics and More Near Lopez Lake), southeast of Oakridge. I was really looking forward to doing some more exploring up there, so on Thursday, July 17, I headed up there accompanied by Sabine and John Koenig. The three of us had gone to Bristow Prairie the week before and spent the day under cloudy skies and sprinkles, so we were all thrilled that it was an absolutely gorgeous clear day and also not as hot as it had been lately. Before heading to the end of the road, we made a quick stop to check out three small lakes that showed up on the map. Only one had any water left, and there weren’t many flowers or plants of interest other than some quillwort (Isoëtes sp.), an odd grass-like plant that grows in the bottoms of shallow lakes. This lake looked like a perfect mosquito breeding area, and indeed they were out in numbers here, so we didn’t linger here very long. Read the rest of this entry »

Wonderful Wildlife and More at Warfield Bog

Phantom crane fly (Bittacomorpha occidentalis). Crane flies have a “halter”—something that looks like a pin—where there would be a second set of wings. Although they resemble mosquitoes, they are harmless.

Slender cottongrass (Eriophorum gracile) growing next to a pool filled with Potamogeton alpinus.

After some time off for my first visit to the Olympic Peninsula, I was back up in the Western Cascades on Thursday (August 18). Sabine accompanied me for a trip to Warfield Bog, an interesting wetland east of Oakridge. Last year I discovered a population of the rare swamp red currant (Ribes triste) there (see Unexpected Find at Warfield Creek Bog), and I wanted to do a more careful survey to see how much of it grows there. We relocated last year’s site easily, under a clump of firs growing near the south edge of the bog. The plants had a few unripe berries on them. We crossed the bog and headed to the northeast corner to check on the woods at the edge there. It turns out a photo I had taken there the year before had the currant leaves in them but I hadn’t recognized them at the time. We found those plants creeping along a bleached out log growing with its prickly cousin swamp gooseberry (Ribes lacustre). We actually saw six species of Ribes in the area. When we returned to the small lake by the road, we found three more patches of swamp red currant, all under trees or shrubs fairly close to the water. This is quite similar to the habitat of the ones at Park Creek I’d seen earlier in the month (see Rare Currant at Park Creek). Next year I hope to come back to see them in bloom. Read the rest of this entry »

Rock-hopping at Table Rock Wilderness

Anyone who has read my blog reports probably can tell that cliffs are my favorite habitat. There’s just something awe-inspiring about seemingly delicate flowers clinging to life high up on sheer rock. How do they even get there? There must be a lot of luck involved getting a seed into a tiny crevice on the side of a cliff where the roots can take hold. The contrast between the ephemeral flowers and age-old rock also appeals to the artist in me.

Fool’s huckleberry (Menziesia ferruginea) growing on the giant talus slope

The cliffs at Table Rock have to be some of the most amazing in the Western Cascades. Over 300′ high in places, they stretch for almost 500 yards on the northeast-facing side, above the trail, and almost as much facing east—an area that looks too scary to explore. They have also created massive talus slopes. The trail crosses the talus, which in places continues over 200′ both above and below. This much rock creates what must be the equivalent to a major metropolitan area for pikas. Read the rest of this entry »

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