Posts Tagged ‘Deception Butte’

East Side of Deception Butte

Whether you take the long route from the bottom or the short 1/3 mile path from near the top, the official trail to Deception Butte peters out before you reach the real reason to go up there—the glorious open slope that graces its south-facing side. Animals have made paths all over the summit, and it is easy to continue a short ways from the end of the trail down to the opening with its fabulous view. Last spring, I was up on another ridge near Oakridge scanning the mountains with my binoculars. Looking over to Deception Butte, I could see a large open area facing east, one I knew nothing about. Naturally, I just had to check it out.

Early flowers of harsh paintbrush (Castilleja hispida) on the main slope

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Deception Butte again and a early look at Patterson Mountain

Heading back up to Deception Butte yesterday (May 29), I came upon a gorgeous bear on Rd 5847. This was probably about where Sabine and I saw a bear several weeks ago. Could it be the same bear? I imagine their territories are fairly large, but perhaps it is a related bear. It is always exciting to see a bear but especially exciting to see bears (or the same bear!) twice in one month. The flowers at Deception Butte are a little farther along than my last trip (see Dodecatheon at Deception Butte) but not as far as I expected. While the Dodecatheon pulchellum is finished, the Lomatium utriculatum still looks beautiful. Some little Hemizonella minima has started, and there are beautiful flowering plants of Cerastium arvense down low on the far west end of the meadow.

circumhorizon arc

A circumhorizon arc above Deception Rock

Normally, my eyes tend to be fixed on the ground, looking for plants and stepping carefully across steep rocky areas such as this. Luckily, I looked up in time to see a surprising show of color in the sky. Two prisms of light were hanging along the same line. This really confounded me. It certainly wasn’t the arc of a rainbow, and I’d seen sundogs—they are vertical on either side of the sun. An internet search indicated this was most likely a circumhorizon arc, something I’d never heard of before. It’s part of a very large halo around the sun. It is only seen at certain times of year when the sun is very high. I was in fact looking due south right around when the sun was highest in the sky. I had seen a light halo around the sun as I drove east of Hwy 58 in the morning, so evidently the atmospheric conditions were right for some wonderful optic phenomena. For some amazing photos of circumhorizon arcs and other colorful atmospheric displays, check out Atmospheric Optics. Read the rest of this entry »

Dodecatheon at Deception Butte


Madrone (Arbutus menziesii)

Although the promised sunny day didn’t really materialize until after we got back to the car, Sabine and I had a good trip to Deception Butte near Oakridge yesterday (May 12). It was a last-minute decision to head up to this relatively low-elevation, rocky knob after I remembered that there was Dodecatheon pulchellum up there growing in a very similar situation to the ones at Cloverpatch, and I wanted to continue to survey and collect at my known populations. Being a botanist—not an ardent hiker—we headed up to the upper trailhead (accessed from Road 549 off of 5847). This makes the trip quite short, although it is still steep and rocky.

The open rocky slope was not as far along as I’d hoped, in spite of being south-facing and only 3500′ in elevation. Both Lomatium hallii and L. utriculatum were in bloom, along with a few of their close relative, Sanicula graveolens. Lots of things were showing promise of a great bloom in the next few weeks, however, and as we traversed the open area, we found more Delphinium menziesii in bloom along with a few early Castilleja hispida, Romanzoffia californica, and Cascadia nuttallii. The tiny Collinsia parviflora and Mimulus alsinoides were also in bloom. The madrones are gorgeous up there. The ones up at our level were in bud, but we could see them blooming a couple of hundred feet below near the bottom of the open area. Tempting as it was to go down the slope to see what else might be further along, I could imagine how my calves would feel trying to get back up to the top, so I settled for binoculars to explore the lower areas. Read the rest of this entry »

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