Posts Tagged ‘orchid’

Staying Cool on the Trail Below Buffalo Peak

The garnet-colored flowers of the well-named long-tailed wild ginger (Asarum caudatum) were plentiful.

On Saturday, May 13, I joined Molly Juillerat, her friend Michelle, Molly’s dad Lee, and his girlfriend Liane for a hike. Given the forecast for low 90s and the late flowering after such a cold, wet April, I suggested we try the trail that goes along the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. It’s mostly through old-growth forest and is not far from the river, so I thought it would be relatively cool, not too strenuous, and hopefully there would be some pretty woodland flowers. I hadn’t been there since April of 2014, not long after they constructed that section of the North Fork trail (see New Trail to the Base of Buffalo Peak), and none of the others had ever hiked it, although Molly had surveyed in the area back when she was still the botanist for the district.

Michelle was thrilled to have spotted this unusual and very large fungus, sitting right on top of a log, looking rather like a burned-at the-top, sinking soufflé.

These heart-leaved twayblade (Neottia cordata) were growing on top of the stump of an old-growth tree. I don’t think I’d ever seen them growing like this.

Interestingly, the flowers were very similar to what I saw in early April of 2014, and here it was a month later in the season. Spring really was late this year! There were a number of obstacles along the apparently little-used trail, including creek crossings, downed logs, and piles of branches. In spite of those, we made it to the base of the rock just west of Buffalo Peak (or, more appropriately, Buffalo Rock since it is a stand-alone rock well down the side of the ridge). Just before we reached the base of the rocky slope, however, we had to crawl under a very large tree that had fallen down across the trail from the steep slope above, and crossing it below the trail was block by a tangle of branches. Everyone was very good-natured about it, rather enjoying the challenge. I was just relieved we could still find the trail.

I rarely see snakes in the forest, but just like on my first time on this trail, we saw garter snakes. A pair of them were sunning themselves on a mossy log by a wet spot.

On the way back, we decided to look for a shortcut and bushwhacked off the trail at a bend where the trail was close to the road we had parked on. We did find the road, but it certainly wasn’t driveable at that point. We walked back on the mossed-over road, passing an open area called Major Prairie that Molly said the Forest Service had done some work on and she had surveyed many years ago. From here, the road was still maintained and not far from the intersection with the road that continues up past the top of Buffalo Rock. If I can get back to explore the beautiful, rocky slope, I might just park at Major Prairie, walk on the remains of the rest of the road, and cut over to the trail (I made some waypoints on my phone for this) to save some time and energy for the climb. The trail turned out to be a great choice for the hot day, and we all really enjoyed the walk, the flowers, and the company.

The columnar jointing on this rocky slope is spectacular. The sheets of gold stars (Crocidium multicaule) and Menzies’ larkspur (Delphinium menziesii) are like icing on the cake.

I was surprised Molly and Michelle followed me up the steep bank to where we could get an unobstructed view of the rocks and flowers. Here they are carefully making their way back down to the trail. Someday, I still want to climb all the way up the slope, but I’ll have to do that when it’s not so hot and I don’t have people waiting for me down below.

A sandbar in the North Fork Middle Fork near the end of our walk. The just-leafed-out trees along the river were quite pretty.

The Forest Service doesn’t mention this segment of the North Fork trail on its website, so here are some directions:

Take Highway 58 to the Middle Fork Ranger Station. Turn southeast onto Road 19 (the Aufderheide). After the bridge crossing, turn left and continue for approximately 23 miles. About 1 mile past the Kiahanie Campground and a third of a mile after the road crosses the river, turn left onto Road 1939. Stay left when you reach the intersection of Road 758 on your right after about 0.6 mile. Continue for a half mile until you see the trailhead sign on the left. The trail is about 4 miles one way. It is about 3.3 miles to where the base of the rocks suddenly appears.

On the way home, we stopped along Road 19 at a pull-off where you can look down at a particularly wild place along the river and across at the tall cliffs on the other side. The river was quite dramatic, swollen as it was from the snow melting at higher elevations. This is one spot where I’ll need a drone to get a good look at all the plants growing on the inaccessible cliff!

Very Early Visit to Monarch Meadow

A view of Dome Rock from the top of Monarch Meadow

With the continued spring-like weather, Sabine Dutoit and I wanted to head out to Road 21 and Hills Creek Reservoir for our annual ritual to see the gold stars (Crocidium multicaule) in bloom. Seeing the first show of floral color really starts the year off right. The fact that it is so much earlier than usual worries me, but for now, I’m trying to just enjoy being able to start botanizing in February. They were much farther along than last week when John Koenig and I stopped to check, but they still have a long way to go before they are at peak bloom. Hopefully, we’ll get some rain soon to keep them going. Read the rest of this entry »

Smoky Day on Tire Mountain

At the beginning of the hike, I had to deal with smoke obscuring my view, but it wasn’t nearly as bad then as it became later in August.

On August 18, I decided to risk the smoke of what had now become a terrible fire season and head over to Tire Mountain for some more seed collecting. On most of the days up until that point, the smoke from the nearby Jones Fire drifted onto my property overnight but was blown off after the winds picked up in the afternoon. I was hoping for something similar, even though I was heading farther east. As I drove to Oakridge, I was wondering if I made the right decision. The smoke seemed to get thicker with every mile. But on the way up to the trailhead, it magically disappeared! Or so I thought. There was more smoke when I hit the trail. Oh well, I’d come this far, I had to at least get some seeds—my main motivation for going out. Read the rest of this entry »

Late Season Visit to Monarch Meadow

Purple milkweed going to seed stands conspicuously in the otherwise dried out meadow.

As July ended, super hot weather was predicted for the first week of August. I figured I’d better get out one more time before getting stuck inside for a week (or most of the month, as it turned out). So on July 31, I headed back to what I call Monarch Meadow, southeast of Oakridge, to look for ripe purple milkweed (Asclepias cordifolia) seeds and any sign of monarchs. It was in the low 90’s by afternoon, so I wasn’t up for anything taxing, but a stiff breeze kept me surprisingly comfortable. Read the rest of this entry »

Bristow Prairie

Sorbus scopulina

Sorbus scopulina in fruit

Sabine and I had a very nice time yesterday at Bristow Prairie. No problem getting up there and no hunters, unlike my last trip. We parked on the road a little before the gravel pit and walked up into the meadow from there. We headed down toward the lake until we found the cairns. I hadn’t been sure if the trail was still in existence since it is on the USGS map but not the new district map. Maybe that’s because it is actually in the Umpqua NF. We also hadn’t found the north trailhead although we drove very slowly hoping to spot it.

This is one of the few indicators that there is still a trail here.

From the cairns, we decided to follow the High Divide trail to the south first and do the lake later. We were able to follow it no problem. We found some Horkelia fusca very quickly just after the trail passes through a short stretch of woods into a logged area. Unfortunately, this and most everything else we saw was on the Douglas County side of the county line which appears to go right through the lake. The trail passes through some pretty sloping meadows. Mostly we saw lots of goldenrod, Symphyotrichum foliaceum, Eucephalus ledophyllus, old coneflowers and lots of Hypericum perforatum and miserably stinky Madia glomerata. There were lots of gorgeous Sorbus scopulina with brightly colored, shiny berries. The rocky meadows on the west facing side of the ridge were covered with fading Eriogonum compositum, umbellatum, AND marifolium. All three common little polygonums were there and blooming as well. Also some Alaska yellowcedar and a small patch of oaks. I guess that is the area called Picture Rock Prairie. Read the rest of this entry »

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