Seven of us escaped the brown, flaking air in Ashland on Friday and headed up to Crater Lake for a long day of wildflower wandering under slightly smokey, but much improved skies. As usual, we started IDing as soon as we got out of our cars. Then, just across the road from the Park Headquarters ranger station (still closed), began one of our FAVORITES, the Castle Crest Wildflower Garden trail. If you haven't visited that trail, you are missing one of the most magically floral spots in Southern Oregon. We were surrounded by flowers as we picked our way along the Cascade Creek; the star of the shows were the beautiful, huge pink Lewis Monkeyflowers, with a wonderful supporting cast.
Back in the cars, we headed to our next spot along the East Rim Drive, Videa Falls, where we spotted a white sport of the pink Lewis Monkeyflower, and lunch at the picnic area. Fortified, we headed down Pinnacles Road with a short roadside stop at the "Wall of Flowers", a vertiginous talas slope with seeps covered in wildflowers, then onto our next target, the 1-mile trail to Plaikni Falls. Along the dusty forest trail we saw a few of our saprophytic friends such as Sugerstick, Pinedrops and Pacific Coralroot before the profusion of flowers at the base of the gushing falls. Our final stop was the ghostly, gothic Pinnacles Overlook - what an eerie place.
Nancy and Rich headed home while the rest of us stayed the night at the historic Prospect Hotel. Elisabeth was eager to scout the newly opened 5-mile section Union Creek trail from the Falls trailhead to the Union Creek lodge. The first 1-1/12 mile was heaven along the rushing creek. The next 2 miles were hell as we battled through towering ferns and Thimbleberry bushes that either tried to trip you are take your face off. When finally felt we couldn't take it anymore, the final 1-1/2 miles of trail miraculously cleared. It's a nice hike if you can just avoid that miserable middle.
We checked everything off our 45-species wildflower list and added another half dozen flowers. Check out Kay's photos below and the attached updated list. This ends our WWs for this year, hope to see you all in 2024.
Respectfully submitted, Your Flower Floozy Liz