Posts Tagged ‘O’Leary Mountain’

Autumn at Lowder Mountain

Summer is definitely over. The vine maples are turning on a distant talus slope, and new snow has fallen on South Sister.

Thursday (October 13) was supposed to be a nice day, so Sabine and Nancy and I headed east to the mountains. I was hoping to collect a few Gentiana calycosa seeds to go along with the samples I’m going to send to the gentian researchers (see Singing the Blues at Tidbits for more about this project) and any other good rock plants that might be in seed. I decided I’d rather do the longer but less steep to Lowder Mountain instead of nearby Horsepasture Mountain where they also grow. The promised sun didn’t materialize, and there were even a few drops of rain, but it was still a pleasant and successful trip. Read the rest of this entry »

Natural Rock Gardens at Horsepasture Mountain

One of the big thrills of the day was the discovery of a Pacific giant salamander dining on a succulent slug along the road on the way up.

Yesterday (October 15), Sabine Dutoit, Loren Russell, and I took a special visitor from Sweden to Horsepasture Mountain. Peter Korn is touring the West, speaking to many of the NARGS chapters. He was in town to speak to our chapter the night before. Peter has an extraordinary 5-acre botanic garden and nursery near Gothenberg, Sweden (click here to check out his website), where he grows an enormous collection of plants from around the world, including a great many Pacific Northwest natives. He wanted to see these plants in the wild and hopefully collect some seed. I figured Horsepasture Mountain would be an ideal spot to give him a taste of the Western Cascades. The hike is fairly quick, and the cliffs are small enough to allow one to access the front without a difficult climb up a talus slope like many cliffs I have explored.

The view from the summit of Horsepasture is a real bonus, and we were very lucky that clouds drifting above us when we arrived at the trailhead disappeared quickly. By the time we reached the top, we had a great view of many of the High Cascade peaks as well as nearby mountains including Lowder, Olallie, Tidbits, and Castle Rock. The closest peak to Horsepasture is O’Leary Mountain. There was a great display of fiery vine maples on its shrubby slopes. The sun was appreciated on this chilly autumn day. About the only thing left in bloom was tiny Polygonum cascadense and some reblooming skyrocket (Ipomopsis aggregata). It is biennial or monocarpic (dying after setting seed), so somewhat like an annual, it is opportunistic, blooming as long as it can get moisture. Read the rest of this entry »

To the Top of O’Leary at Last!

I’m finally back doing Lane County sites and thought some of you might be interested in my trip yesterday to O’Leary Mountain. All that rock on the top that you can see from Horsepasture has been calling me for years. I did the old trail along the front in 2006 and also went part way up the ridge another time, but this time I went up before doing Horsepasture, so I wouldn’t run out of time. I dragged Jim with me and unfortunately it was a lot cloudier up there than it was when we left home, so the view was limited and the lighting pretty bad. The last time he came with me we had the same bad luck. No wonder he doesn’t hike with me very often. I’m sure it has nothing to do with the botany pace! Still, I accomplished my small missions. One was to reach the summit, and the other was to find the Minuartia rubella that Hickman listed for O’Leary. There is also a more recent vouchered specimen from Herm Fitz in 1979.

To get to the top, you just stay as close to the ridge as possible. The north slope is too covered with thimbleberries and other shrubs to plow through. There is a lot of open rocky habitat along the ridge, and it is filled with wonderful plants. Only asters, Columbiadoria, goldenrod, and a few stray flowers of earlier blooming stuff were left. Next year I must go up and see them when they are still in bloom. At the very top, we climbed over the ridge to the south side outcrops. I found 3 more plants of Heuchera merriamii there. I reported it from the north-facing talus slope of O’Leary several years ago, but those pictures are gone, so I had no proof of them up there anymore. There’s also a little Trifolium kingii var. productum which is also on Horsepasture.

Minuartia rubella

Minuartia rubella in seed

There are a number of plants of Minuartia rubella scattered around the top of O’Leary. While their leaves are still quite green, they are all in seed (I collected some and pray they germinate!) and so covered with dry flower stalks that from a distance they look like small beige puffs. This is only the second place I’ve ever seen Minuartia rubella. I know it is listed for a number of sites, but other than Mt. June where it is fairly common, I simply haven’t been able to find it.

I’ve never been to Rebel Rock, but Hickman also lists it at Bohemia, Browder Ridge, and Three Pyramids, and there are several specimens and reports from the great Cone Peak/Iron Mtn area. I’ve looked but never managed to relocate it at any of those sites. I climbed Lamb Butte once, where Bruce & company have a sighting, but I wasn’t looking for it at the time.

I know I’ve brought this up before, but has anyone seen this cutie anywhere other than at Mt. June? I just don’t think there is very much of it around in the Cascades. Hickman’s sightings are old, and the Douglas County and Devil’s Peak specimens are even older. I sure would like to find some more. Maybe it is disappearing.

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