Friday, June 7, 2024

Exploring in the Mt Hood National Forest (while Andrew fished)

This fishing trek took us deep into part of the Mt Hood National Forest that burned back in 2020 as part of the Riverside Fire: "In the early hours of September 8, 2020 a small fire was reported near Riverside Campground. Firefighters quickly responded and tried to put the fire out. The extreme fire behavior and rapid spread soon changed their mission to evacuating campers and people in staff housing. Driven by high winds, crews reported extreme fire growth including torching, running, and spotting fire behavior as the fire moved 17 miles west along the Clackamas River drainage over the course of the day. Within about 30 hours of its discovery, the fire grew to over 112,000 acres." 

I should have tried for photos as we drove through the worst of it. Four years later much of the area still looks like a moonscape, albeit with a bright green carpet as the lowest layer of undergrowth has exploded this spring. The last time we tried to get this far into the area we were turned away with barricades across the road as it was still deemed unsafe. These next few photos were taken very near ground zero, at the Riverside Campground. It was all very very green...

Up the highway a bit (near the Raab Campground) there were what I think is Rhododendron macrophyllum, the Pacific Rhododendron.

It was pretty fabulous to see so many of these plants just doing their thing in the wild.

Our next stop was much further up into the mountains along the Collawash river. There were so many fiery castilleja blooming along the road. I think they may be Castilleja hispida, but really that's just a guess.

So many sedum too! Sedum spathulifolium

The moss in this area was rather remarkable, most of it growing on rocks and all of it this odd bleached color.

I must admit to a strong intake of breath when I saw this beauty. I knew that it was something special and that I *should* know it by name. It wasn't until I was back home in front of my computer that I was able to come up with what I think is the correct name, Polystichum imbricans...

More paintbrush (castilleja)...

The Collawash River...

My mossy rock perch...

And more of the river...

Look! Another Polystichum imbricans. I pried a few of those rocks up, to see what was underneath. There was just another layer of rocks, on another layer of rocks (that's what my feet were telling me, but I had to be sure). 

In other words, no visible soil. Rocks and strange dry bleached moss... with a fabulous fern or two.

Can't ID this one, it was tiny.

Cute, and a little larger.

In another area, I found this rockface with water seeping down it's side.

It was actually dripping in places. I tried to take a video but it wasn't worth sharing.

There were many of these small micranthes in the moss (they're related to saxifrage).

I think this strange character is Cryptogramma acrostichoides, a fern species with the common name American parsley fern.

And this fellow is a Harpaphe haydeniana, commonly known as the yellow-spotted millipede.

This formation in the rock was eye-catching. It was too far up the cliffside to properly investigate but I would have been tempted to put my hand in there if I had been able to reach it. Or maybe not. 

More Polystichum imbricans I believe...

And what looked to be our native maidenhair fern, Adiantum aleuticum, stunted by lack of soil. It was a fun day out exploring!

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  1. It's always impressive to see what Mother Nature can do if given a chance to take back what it owns.

  2. AnonymousJune 07, 2024

    That tiny fern the 11th from the bottom. I have that very fern (now 2) but lost tag. Hoping someone can Identify it correctly. I think mine was originally mislabeled as parsley fern. Also hoping someone can identify that Micranthes maybe rufidula? Love that yellow-spotted millipede. Thank you.

    1. I searched micranthes photos trying to find the species but did not find anything that looked 100% right. It's a cutie isn't it?

  3. Beautiful scenery, and so encouraging that it's growing back and thriving! The Paintbrush blooms are always wonderful to see--so vibrant and fiery. I think the first one you shared looks similar to Castilleja coccinea, which we have here. But I know there are many more species native out west. They're all so striking.

    1. To see the paintbrush blooming en masse was a treat!

  4. AnonymousJune 08, 2024

    I'm awe struck by the water dripping rock face, it's such a fabulous photo showing the tenacity of plants who can call it home...
    It's also nice to see the green carpet on the forest floor, nature is (slowly) bouncing back.
    Did Andrew catch any fish?

    1. He did, but he's strictly catch and release so none came home with us (which is fine by me)

  5. It is so great to see all the green, truly amazing. I love that crazy rock formation. The paintbrush looks sticky, is it nectar forming I wonder?

    1. Now I wish I'd touched one of the paintbrush so I could tell you!

  6. Hmm, now why aren't there many (or any) nurseries selling Polystichum imbricans? You found a beautiful place to spend the day.

    1. Evan told me he has spore... perhaps we need to all need to apply pressure for them to get busy!


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