Posts Tagged ‘Saddleblanket Mountain’

Relaxing Day at Elk Camp Shelter

It was peak season for the common camas (Camassia quamash) at Elk Camp.

Gina especially loved the old-growth forest near the Elk Camp Shelter. As we walked along the trail past the shelter, we were surprised to see someone just waking up after having arrived there on his bike very late at night. I don’t think he was expecting to see us either. The trail past the shelter is part of the much longer Alpine Trail that passes through Tire Mountain and is very popular with mountain bikers.

I’d much rather see flowers than fireworks on the 4th of July, so my neighbor Gina and I went up to see wetlands up at Elk Camp Shelter, Nevergo Meadow, and Saddleblanket Mountain, all no more than 15 miles away as the crow flies from where we live in Fall Creek. It was a pleasantly cool day, but the clouds mostly disappeared as the day went on. Although we did see several hikers and bicyclists—a first for me in that area—it was quiet and peaceful. That’s just the way I like my holidays!

One of the plants I had hoped to see in the Elk Camp meadow was Nevada lewisia (Lewisia nevadensis). Sabine Dutoit had discovered it there a number of years ago when I led a trip for the Native Plant Society (see NPSO Trip to Nevergo Meadow and Elk Camp). Luckily, I timed it right, and some of them were in bloom. I saw several between the trail and large willow thicket, where Sabine originally spotted them, and several more as I wrapped around the edge of the wetland to the bit of meadow that is hidden from the trail. Though there aren’t very many (although there could be more than I think as they are very hard to spot out of bloom), that’s where I had seen the largest number of them in the past. That’s also where most of the population of the rare endemic Umpqua frasera (Frasera umpquaensis), but there were no signs of buds or flowers on them. I”m not sure if they will bloom at all this year as they bloom only periodically. The Nevada lewisia and its frequent companion threeleaf lewisia (L. triphylla) seem to prefer more or less bare ground in moist meadows. I headed farther south along the edge of the wetland to look for more bare ground. I was rewarded with another patch of Nevada lewisia. The odd thing was that these had much smaller flowers—about the size of the threeleaf lewisia near them. I had never noticed this before, but then I rarely see open flowers because they seem to close up on warm afternoons (as does the threeleaf lewisia). With the partly cloudy day, some were still open. Read the rest of this entry »

Early Blooming at Elk Camp and Nevergo Meadow

Mountain shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi and marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala)

Mountain shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi) and marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala) put on a great show at the Elk Camp meadow. Note how similar this photo is to one I took here last year on June 10.

shooting star flowers go through a number of changes as they bloom. Buds start out upright, then bend over. The flower petals start out forward, then they flip back. This makes it easier for bees to do "buzz pollination" where they hang on the style and their buzzing shakes the pollen onto them.

Shooting star flowers go through a number of changes as they bloom. Buds start out upright, then bend over. The flower petals and sepals start out forward, then they flip back. This makes it easier for bees to do “buzz pollination” where they hang on the style, and their buzzing shakes the pollen onto them. Mountain shooting star has flower parts in 5s, long styles, and glandular pedicels.

With the mountains melting out fast, it is time to go willow hunting in earnest, so on Tuesday, May 20, I headed up to the wetlands at Elk Camp, Nevergo Meadow, and Saddleblanket Mountain. As it turns out, this is the exact date I went to Nevergo last year (see Wetland Bloom Starts with a Bang Near Elk Camp Shelter). Last year I was stopped by snow across the road just at the trailhead for Elk Camp and didn’t bother to go into the meadow, being quite satisfied with everything blooming at Nevergo Meadow a quarter mile earlier. This year, there were just a few very small patches of snow in the ditches. The plants were a little farther along but still quite beautiful and fresh. In fact, they were almost as far along as they were on June 10, last year (see Back to Elk Camp Shelter—Not Once But Twice). The skunk cabbage (Lysichiton americanus) was especially noticeable as being ahead of last year. All three locations had beautiful shows of marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala) at peak bloom with Mountain shooting star (Dodecatheon jeffreyi) just coming on. Along the drier edges of the meadows were lots of the gorgeous blue Oregon bluebells (Mertensia bella). At the edges where the last snow had melted there were still plenty of glacier lilies (Erythronium grandiflorum). Along the roadside were blooming Lyall’s anemone (Anemone lyallii) and round-leaved violet (Viola orbiculata). Read the rest of this entry »

Insects and Flowers at Saddleblanket and Elk Camp Wetlands

It had been 4 weeks since I had been to the wetlands at the base of Saddleblanket Mountain and in the area near Elk Camp, so since I am trying to track the whole season of bloom there, it was time for a return visit. John Koenig had never been to the wetlands, so he accompanied me on Thursday, July 11. With John along, I took advantage of his knowledge of graminoids to try and learn a bit more about the many sedges, grasses, rushes, and woodrushes that are found in wetlands. While I can’t remember everything he showed me, I was happy to make some progress and learn to at least recognize some of the species, even if I can’t remember all their names yet.

Platanthera dilatata

We couldn’t have timed it any better for the white bog orchids, which were at peak bloom and in perfect shape.

Read the rest of this entry »

Back to Elk Camp Shelter—Not Once But Twice

The meadow by the Elk Camp Shelter was awash in color, with both marsh marigolds and mountain shooting stars still in their prime.

The meadow by the Elk Camp Shelter was awash in color, with both marsh marigolds and mountain shooting stars still in their prime.

After the beautiful day I had enjoying the first flowers of the season near Elk Camp Shelter last month (see Wetland Bloom Starts with a Bang Near Elk Camp Shelter), I decided I should try to come back every few weeks and follow the whole season as it progresses. I’ve thought about doing this many times, but it is hard to squeeze in so many trips to the same place, especially when there are so many great spots to visit. But this one is so easy for me to get to, and the only time I’d seen this area before this year was at the very tail end of the season, so I have a lot of catching up to do. Read the rest of this entry »

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