Posts Tagged ‘Cloverpatch Trail’

Long Overdue Return to Cloverpatch

The narrowleaf mule’s ears (Wyethia angustifolia) were at peak bloom in the main meadow. With almost the same shade of yellow orange, at first I didn’t notice the wallflowers (Erysimum capitatum) hiding among them in plain sight. The purple flowers are ookow (Dichelostemma congestum). Definitely a spot to return later to collect seed!

Ichneumon wasps apparently don’t feed much as adults, but since they are parasitoids, perhaps the ones I saw floating about above the herbaceous layer of the forest were looking for caterpillars to lay their eggs on.

The Cloverpatch trail west of Westfir is one of the closest trails to my house, yet I hadn’t been there in five years. And with the many off-trail meadows to explore, I hadn’t been up to the uppermost meadow in nine years (see Cloverpatch is in the Pink), so on June 1, I headed to the trailhead. While the day started out overcast, by the time I got to the first meadows, the clouds were dissipating. The flowers were terrific, and I’m so glad I decided to return. I headed straight up to the uppermost meadow to the east. While there used to be a path leading off the trail near the top, I almost walked right by it. The foliage was so lush, I just barely noticed someone had pushed it down as they walked up there (apparently I’m not the only one who enjoys heading off-trail to that meadow!). So I did manage to get back up to the lovely seepy meadow area. While I missed the blooming of the beautiful shooting star seen in the report from 2011, the drifts of great camas (Camassia leichtlinii) and Tolmie’s cat’s ears (Calochortus tolmiei) certainly made up for it. Here are some of the highlights of my trip. Read the rest of this entry »

Return to Cloverpatch’s Lower Meadows

One of the many seeps covered with lovely Cascadia nuttalli

Finally we have a good stretch of dry weather! I’ve been trying to bring some friends to Cloverpatch to see the lower meadows, but the weather hadn’t been cooperating. But yesterday (May 7), it was gorgeous—low 70s and sunny—perfect hiking weather. John Koenig, Sabine Dutoit and I headed over to Cloverpatch to see the area I visited for the first time back in February (see Further Exploration of Cloverpatch). Read the rest of this entry »

Further Exploration of Cloverpatch

The lower meadows and cliffs at the east end of Cloverpatch Butte can be seen from across the Middle Fork of the Willamette River.

The lovely sunny weather of the last week made me anxious to go for a real hike, so yesterday (February 4), I decided to continue my attempt to survey all the meadows of Cloverpatch Butte. This time my goal was to explore the large area directly below the largest meadow the trail cuts through. I wasn’t entirely sure it would be possible—there are cliffs at the base of every section of meadow—but it was worth trying. Then, if I could find a good route, it would save me time when I return after the flowers are actually out.

The unusual cotyledon leaves of Clarkia species look a bit like bowling pins.

After a quick stop at the Black Canyon Campground to get a look at the meadows from across the river, I drove up to the trailhead on Tire Creek Road 5826. Thankfully the road is in fine condition. This early in the year, you can’t count on that. I was a little surprised to see quite a few snow queen (Synthyris reniformis) starting to bloom along the trail. There were far more than at my house, a thousand feet lower in elevation. There were lots of fairy slipper (Calypso bulbosa) leaves evident, some quite a deep purple. This is a great trail for viewing these gorgeous flowers. I was able to collect five more types of seeds to scan for my new gallery, but most plants had already dispersed all their seeds. Many seedlings are already up, among them Nemophila parvifolia and a Clarkia, most likely amoena from the tall dead stalks above them. I’ve seen three species here, so I can’t be sure. Read the rest of this entry »

Cloverpatch is in the Pink

Could anything be prettier than hundreds of shooting stars (Dodecatheon pulchellum) perched on a rocky seep?

Quite by accident, yesterday’s trip to Cloverpatch with Sabine Dutoit and Doramay Keasbey was on the exact same date as last year’s with John Koenig—May 24 (see Back to the Upper Meadows of Cloverpatch). Once again, it is clear the blooming season is even later than last year. There were many things in bloom, but some plants that were flowering this time last year, including death camas and several clovers, had not yet begun. The balsamroots were coming into bloom on this trip, while they were going over last year on this date (Doramay agrees with me that their unusual fragrance has an enticing hint of chocolate!). In fact, looking back at my photos from May 7 of last year (see The Rocky Meadows of Cloverpatch), it appears to be at almost exactly the same stage, making us 2 weeks later this year—and last year was a slow spring. Having such a good measure of the flowering season should help me figure out when to return to some of the other sites I went to last year to see plants I missed. Read the rest of this entry »

Romanzoffia thompsonii and Cascadia nuttallii—Look-Alike Seep Lovers

Romanzoffia thompsonii & Cascadia nuttallii

Drifts of Romanzoffia thompsonii (L) & Cascadia nuttallii (R)

When admiring a froth of tiny white flowers growing over seepy rocks in the Western Cascades, it’s usually necessary to take a closer look before putting a name on the plant. Despite being in entirely different families, Thompson’s mistmaiden (Romanzoffia thompsonii) and Nuttall’s saxifrage (Cascadia nuttallii, formerly Saxifraga nuttallii) are very similar in appearance and enjoy the same habitat. This is an interesting case of convergent evolution. While Romanzoffia thompsonii tends to be found at higher elevations, in some places, including at Cloverpatch, they grow side by side. Romanzoffia thompsonii is an annual, while Cascadia nuttallii is considered a by some perennial. To me at least, this isn’t apparent from sight. Read the rest of this entry »

Back to the Upper Meadows of Cloverpatch

The promised sunny day never materialized, but with all the rain we’ve had lately, John Koenig and I didn’t let the weather stop us from going up to Cloverpatch on Monday (May 24). John once had a survey plot in one of the oak patches near the trail, so he’d been there many times, but he’d never been to the upper meadows before. I was anxious to get to the upper west meadows I’d finally reached in February when little was in bloom. So we were excited to head out for a long day of exploring.

Rock feature in upper eastern meadow

Amazing rock feature in upper eastern meadow with joints that spread out like a fan

Much of what I’d seen earlier this month (read The Rocky Meadows of Cloverpatch) was still blooming including many fairy slippers. There was even a little Crocidium multicaule still blooming almost 3 months after I’d seen it there on my first trip this year. The balsamroot was much farther along though, and this was one of the highlights of the day. Their large, sunny yellow flowerheads brightened up the mostly cloudy day and more than made up for the fact that it sprinkled off and on for most of the afternoon. Luckily, these were very light showers that didn’t soak through clothes, and we were both prepared with rain pants for all the wet foliage we had to pass through. Read the rest of this entry »

The Rocky Meadows of Cloverpatch

Anyone who has driven down Highway 58 toward Oakridge in Lane County has probably noticed the distinctive terraced meadows of Cloverpatch Butte across the river. The Cloverpatch Trail cuts through just a few of these, giving a small glimpse of the meadow, rock, and seep habitats found all along the south slope. Most of the meadows are well below 3000′, making this more upland prairie than subalpine meadow, but elements of both are present.

Cloverpatch Butte from the ridge to the south. The meadow with the Dodecatheon can be seen in the upper right. Most of the large meadows well below appear to be inaccessible (not that that will stop me from trying!).

The trail starts at the east end maybe halfway up (reached from TIre Creek Road 5826, 3.8 miles up from North Shore Rd 5821), bypassing the easternmost meadow by only about 50′. It then switchbacks through the woods and into several meadows in the middle before heading uphill through the woods continuing north to road 124 and the top of Cloverpatch Butte itself. At the end of February, I went to Cloverpatch hoping to find a way to the uppermost meadows at the west end. With the help of my wonderful GPS (how did we survive without all these great electronic gizmos?), I had no problem finding it. There were some dazzling drifts of Crocidium multicaule and a great view west down Lookout Point Reservoir. I had thought maybe I could check that out again yesterday, but my main goal for the day was to explore the highest meadow up to the east. I had been there a number of times before but had never done a very thorough job. Two plants of great interest to me grow up there: Dodecatheon pulchellum and Woodsia scopulina. Both are uncommon in the Western Cascades. Read the rest of this entry »

First Trip to Cloverpatch in 4 years

Cloverpatch is a great place, but I hadn’t made it there in 4 years. I had decided yesterday that I was going to stay home today and finish vacuuming, do laundry, and take care of lots of paperwork piling up on my desk. Forget that! When I woke up this morning and had actually slept well (quiet cats for once) and saw that it was not so hot, I hightailed it for Cloverpatch.

I had 4 plants in mind to find and photograph. Out of thousands of budded up Castilleja tenuis in the main meadow along the trail, only one was in bloom, but that was all I needed to get a good closeup of the individual flower. In the uppermost and easternmost meadow (off trail) I found a nice patch of Castilleja attenuata, the other ex-Orthocarpus, to get a similar closeup. Check and check.

Woodsia scopulina

Woodsia scopulina

The next plant was much more of a challenge. I first found Woodsia scopulina in that uppermost meadow in 2004. On my last trip there in 2005, I tried in vain to relocate it. It just wasn’t on the rock face I thought it was on, and there are so many up there. And with all the Cystopteris fragilis everywhere, it’s hard to pick out a Woodsia from a distance. Little did I know when Sabine and I were discussing the large Arctostaphylos (canescens or a hairless columbiana—Ken Chambers thinks they should be lumped and I agree) up at the very top of the meadow, that the ferns were just on the other side of the nearest outcrop, 10 or 15 feet away. Today I searched many rock faces before I stopped in frustration, threw up my hands and cried “I just can’t find it!” (with a few other choice words sprinkled in). No sooner had the words left my mouth when I realized I was looking right at them! Now I don’t know how I ever found them in the first place, 5 small plants tucked away on this large rock face. Near them were a few fading Dodecatheon pulchellum and lots of gorgeous Cascadia (Saxifraga) nuttallii (it was going gangbusters in all the seeps up top). Both much more conspicuous plants. I was so relieved to have found them, that they are still there, and that I wasn’t imagining them. And I now have photos of the whole area and a GPS location so I won’t lose them again. One of these days, I’ll try to search the rest of the many rock faces up there to see if there is more. And someday, I’d like to search all the meadows since the trail cuts through only a few. Read the rest of this entry »

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