I have been a member of the Native Plant Society of Oregon off and on for about 45 years but I have only been to a couple of meetings and I have never gone along on any of their hikes. This year, I went to their annual meeting at the Hancock Field Station near Clarno, OR and signed up for a hike that went to the Painted Hills Monument. Hancock is an educational facility maintained by OMSI and we brought along our sleeping bags and slept in the dorms.
We checked in on Friday evening and breakfast was at 6:30 on Saturday. After we finished our coffee we put together a sack lunch and then piled into a van for the drive to the Painted Hills. The drive was about an hour and half and we were met by an off duty park ranger who was our guide. After we received the customary warning about rattlesnakes, scorpions and ticks, we hiked along the base of the ancient ash deposits and identified the flowering plants that grew there. My primary goal for this trip was to take pictures of the Hedgehog Cactus “Pediocactus simpsonii”. They are about the size of a very spiny cantaloupe and have beautiful rose to magenta flowers that are one to two inches across. We saw several and I took lots of pictures.
We returned to the van without seeing any snakes, ticks or scorpions and we returned to Hancock for dinner. Our evening program was a slide show on the contribution of plants during the development of the world as we know it. Our presenter was Ellen Bishop and in real life, she is an Igneous Petrologist. After breakfast on Sunday, we packed up and headed for home.
My second goal for the trip was to take some pictures of the Sand Lily “Leucocrinum montanum” which grows east of the Cascades in Oregon. The location that I was looking for was on Innes Market Road near Sisters but we ended up on nearby Fryrear Road and found a large patch of them. The plant is a lily that is only 2-3 inches tall and it has dainty white flowers that are about an inch in diameter.
I was able to take photos of both of the plants that were on my list along with some others that happened to be blooming at the same area. After that we stopped near Shirers Bridge on the Deschuttes and took pictures of a Western Tanager with its yellow breast and scarlet head and an equally colorful Lazuli Bunting with its blue head and orange and white breast. We also stopped at Camp Sherman near the headwaters of the Metolius near Sisters and took some pictures of a pair of nesting white headed woodpeckers.
There are lots of really neat adventures for us to consider but we need to get out there while we still chase the flowers.