Posts Tagged ‘Arabis’

Top of Cone Peak Starting to Bloom

Western springbeauty (Claytonia lanceolata) blooms as the snow melts.

Dodecatheon pulchellum

Dodecatheon pulchellum

I thought you might be interested in what Sabine Dutoit and I found at Cone Peak yesterday. Not surprisingly, things are way behind. There’s quite a bit more snow than when I was there on either 6/3/06 and 5/24/04. I’d say it’s 4 weeks or more behind the last few years. Almost everywhere I’ve been able to get to so far is 3-4 weeks behind. There was a lot of snow right at the beginning of the trail but we could see the top was open so we figured we’d give it a try. The trail cleared off shortly but then, before the series of switchbacks, we ran into lots of snow again and lost the trail. We just headed for the top across the snow and eventually got right up to the main meadow and the trail which were half open and covered with Claytonia lanceolata. Then we crossed a bit more snow right at the base of the trail and were all clear from then on.

The reward for climbing to the top of Cone Peak very early in the season: smooth douglasia (Douglasia laevigata).

green hairstreak

green hairstreak on top of Cone Peak

From the many Erythronium grandiflorum and Orogenia fusiformis blooming near the snow, it got better and better. The seep area is outstanding right now. Solid Romanzoffia thompsonii, Saxifraga rufidula, and Dodecatheon pulchellum. By the time we got to the top there were lots of Lomatium martindalei, Cerastium arvense, Delphinium menziesii, Phlox diffusa, and Ivesia gordonii in perfect bloom. The Castilleja rupicola was starting, but the Douglasia laevigata was actually fading. Boy, do you have to get out early to catch that one! One addition to my list was Valeriana scouleri coming into bloom. It was growing in the west-facing rocks right next to Castilleja rupicola. I’ve seen that combination many times. Also there was quite a bit of the Arabis I sent Sweet Home District botanist Alice Smith pictures of several years ago from the top of Iron Mountain. I was also really excited to see 2 green hairstreaks right on top and a cute ground squirrel. The air was pretty clear and the view was outstanding. Even Mt. Hood looked really close. It was really interesting to see blooming Senecio integerrimus when they were all still in bud at Tire Mountain (<4000′) on Friday. Cone Peak really blooms from the top down!

Ivesia gordonii

Ivesia gordonii and nice view of Iron Mountain from top of Cone Peak

On the way back down, we were able to follow the trail down most of the switchbacks with minimal snow crossing. There were loads of fresh trilliums and the Viola sheltonii had already finished. We felt rather foolish having done so much bushwhacking on the way up… until we lost the trail again in the snow. We simply couldn’t find the blue markers, so we just headed down and picked up the trail, lost it again, headed down and found it again near the beginning. Luckily, you can’t really get lost there. And on a weekend, the traffic is steady enough that you can hear the road all the time. For someone unfamiliar with the trail, however, I’d suggest waiting a week for it to melt out more near the bottom.

As you can see from the photo of the Ivesia, there’s lots of snow on Iron Mountain. We walked over plenty of 5 foot drifts, so it is probably even worse over there. Tombstone Prairie is mostly snowed in, but the open areas have blooming skunk cabbage. Also, the road to Echo Basin was clear (we moved some small trees) until just before the trailhead where you hit lots of snow.

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