Sunday, August 31, 2014

Summer's Reflection at Orr Lake

Visiting a rarely-appreciated gem on the east side of Siskiyou: 
Orr Lake, a high desert oasis tucked in a the base of Orr Mountain between 
Goosenest and Mt. Hoffman and with a view to Mt. Shasta to the south.

Fed by overflow from nearby Butte Creek, Orr Lake survives year-to-year on its winter income and yet provides a home for lily pads and fish all summer.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Downriver: Fire and Water

With multiple fires burning around us, we took a little loop drive from the Scott River to the Klamath and back home.  The air was filled with smoke and the landscape reminded us of fire at every turn.

The abandoned Fire Lookout on the point at Scott Bar Mountain once gave a view onto the Scott River's big turn north to the Klamath.  Today the view is hazy and indistinct.

Jones Beach below was a quiet respite of dappled light, where baby fish darted in shallow pools.

And still the smoke could be seen beyond.

Lake Mountain Fire Lookout, reached by a winding road west of the Scott, is the oldest lookout tower still in continuous use in Forest Service Region 5 (California) and is currently staffed by 
Nancy Hood, the longest-serving lookout in probably the whole U.S.

Below the tower, a beautiful silver-leafed buckwheat matches to an astonishing degree 
the lichen-crusted rocks of Lake Mountain.

An old fox-tail pine shows a cat-face fire scar, now lined with lichen but still alive.
This tree is one of a stand at the northern-most limit of fox-tails.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Glorious Day on the East Side

The first week of June proved to be a perfect time to revisit Little Shasta Meadows Botanical Area on the east side of the Klamath National Forest.  We were treated to a lake of camas lily, brightened by pink "elephant trunks" (pedicularis sp.), the white lollipop heads of bistort and acres of yellow buttercup.

Camas lilies are beautiful!  They were also a favored food source for the First Peoples, who cultivated great seas of lilies in wet meadows of the West.  Beware to modern foragers, though: the lily bulb is harvested in autumn when it is hard to distinguish from the bulb of the death camas!

This little column of pink flowers is named for its swooping tubules.

Bistort is another edible wild plant, but beware the corn lily
 in front of it: all parts are poisonous!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

In the pink on China Hill

Bitter root (Lewisia rediviva) was the beauty of the day when we went for 
a nature walk on China Hill on the north side of town.

A gopher snake amongst the serpentine phacelia caused some excitement.

Showy phlox (P. speciosa) shows off its notched petal.

Yreka's own unique and rare Phlox hirsuta has hairy leaves and no notch in the petal.

After the snow melt: Little Shasta Meadows

Yellow bells are one of the first things to show up when spring arrives.  The highlands of 
Little Shasta Meadows are a month or two behind us here so we get to experience spring twice.

Corn lily was just waking from its winter sleep, but the woods violet was already in bloom.

Evergreens peer through a ghostly veil of aspens at the Botanical Area.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

A Spring Walk

We took a walk through the oak woods on our property and came across some old friends:

Monday, October 7, 2013

Indian Summer, the last bright flame of the year

Oak woodland on a private elk preserve (Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation), seen from York Road rising into Willow Creek Mountain.

Spooky things start appearing at this time of year: a one-inch wolf spider looking like a tiny tarantula, a willow bush flaming out in the meadow.