An Abbreviated Flower Finder for Dog Mountain in May

by Barry Maletzky

Northwest Balsamroots
There exists no finer month than May to sample the floral glories on the various legs of the Dog Mountain. While it would take many pages to describe the more than 50 species of wildflowers present alongside these trails, perhaps you might be interested in brief descriptions of some of the more prominent species inhabiting these slopes. I will describe my favorite routes on Dog – up the steeper west-side trail, then down the gentler east-side loop:

Surely every hiker and climber is aware of the overwhelming display of Northwest Balsamroots in the meadows approaching the summit of Dog, reaching their peak during the second-to-third week of the month. However, some of the lesser-known flowers can be enjoyed throughout the month by those with a somewhat smaller eye and an appreciation for their delicate architecture and singular beauty, even though they are less abundantly-massed than the Balsamroots mentioned above.

Broadleaf Lupine (Lupinus latifolius)
Even in the parking lot, one can enjoy the well-known Broad-leaf Lupines so common in so many locales in the Northwest. Note the palm-shaped arrangement of their leaves; often a spot of dew resides at their center, like a diamond jewel held in their leafy hands. As you trudge the road and begin the trial proper, that tall shrub with bluish flowers may masquerade as a lilac but is actually a ceanothus, this one commonly called Deer Brush, somewhat ignominiously growing quite close to the outhouse. In the woods as you begin the trail, note the many small, pinkish-to-white low-growing Star Flowers, well-named as they sparkle against the monotone of green underneath.

Blue-eyed Mary's
Further up these switchbacks, openings at about 650-750 ft. of elevation display Small-flowered Blue-eyed Mary’s, accompanied by small white flowers with golden central “eyes”. These, unfairly, lack a common name and are referred to by the Latin moniker of Common Cryptantha. That tall white daisy plant decorating both sides of the trail here is Western White Groundsel (or Senecio) while much smaller, but of more colorful character, Herald-of-Summer (or more depressingly named Farewell-to-Spring) hews to the ground on your right. This last combines charming shades of pink on its petals but with bold red splotches toward the center of the flower.

Hooker's Fairy Bells
On the plateau at about 850 ft., the predominant flower is Hooker’s Fairy Bells. You will need to
peek underneath its drooping pointy leaves to discover the shy white bell-shaped flowers which lend their name to this brushy 3-ft. tall plant. Also on this plateau, a most unusual saprophyte exists, ghostly white throughout. It is the Phantom Orchid, rarely seen except in a narrow longitudinal range along the eastern crest of the Cascades. Saprophytes such as the three Coral Roots (also in the Orchid Family) inhabiting out forests, lack chlorophyll and thus are not green in any of their parts; they have no need of sunlight as they are fully sustained by the fungi and bacteria in the soil which supply minerals and water to the pant in exchange for the carbohydrates the saprophyte supplies to them. We do have other orchids in our mountains, though they cannot rival in color or size those of tropical realms. One such may still be out in the forests of early May between 900 and 2,000 ft., the beloved Calypso Orchid (or Fairy Slipper), with its diminutive pink tongue and red-spotted petals.

Fairy Orchid (Calypso Orchid)
More switchbacks bring one to a second plateau at 1,400 ft. Here, that white multi-petalled flower is the Columbia Gorge Windflower, actually an anemone closely related to the blue Oregon Anemone so common high on Nick Eaton Ridge. All anemones are in the Buttercup Family, a reminder that floral and leaf appearance do not correlate well with family membership – not so different than in our human families as well.

Dutchman's Breeches
After the sign and convenient bench at 1,900 ft., early in May look for the fancifully-named Dutchman’s Breeches, especially on the right as you steeply ascend the trail, then make a right-hand turn at 2,000 ft. With some imagination, these Bleeding Heart relatives do look amazingly like the upturned pantaloons commonly depicted in paintings of 17th Century Holland. After this turn, and accompanying you through the steep uphill trail from 2,100 to 2,300 ft. are yellow Stream (or Wood) Violets (most of our violets, despite their name, are yellow) and its frequent companion, Candy Flower, with white petals softly engraved with peppermint-like pencil-thin pink stripes.

Beyond, after the right turn at 2,300 ft., lie the meadows so often decorating calendars and wildflower book covers. But look beyond the maze of Balsamroots to find the fuzzy purple flowers of Ball-head Phacelia, especially early in the month. As you pass Windy Point (or The Puppy) at 2,500 ft., gaze up to your right at the towering fins of basalt at around 2,700 ft. to spot the shocking pink of Rock Penstemon, a plant that adheres to rock outcroppings here and on Table Mountain. It should be awarded the honor of “most colorful” amongst the many blooms you will find along these Gorge trails (think Vera Wang and Versace, not Old Navy or REI). At top, the shiny yellow flowers decorating the well-trodden meadows are Western Buttercups.

Death Camas
Down the east-side trail beyond the sign and bench at 1,900 ft., a few Calypso Orchids may still be in bloom at 1,850 ft.  Just before arriving at the glorious opening at 1,750 ft., look to your left for a mass of pink blooms called Rosy Plectritis populating a meadow, then immediately check the next meadow to your right for a view of Death Camas. Appearing as a miniature version of Bear-grass, to which it is distantly related, this Lily Family plant lives up to its name: Several folks have been known to have been done in by eating an excess of the bulbs of these plants, mistaking them for real Camas before they bloomed and showed their true colors. Watch here too for the rare Bicolored Cluster Lily, with faintly blue petals each streaked with a line of deeper blue down its middle.

Western Groundsel
Down in the forest, most flowers are absent but openings at about 1,100 ft. display Blue-eyed Mary’s, white Western Groundsel (which strangely is yellow west of the Crest), and the raggedy small flowers of Prairie Star, pink-to-white with tri-cleft petals. That white flower hugging the sandy soil is Woods Strawberry and its fruit, if available, should definitely be sampled. No poison here!

So many other flowers are to be found on Dog throughout the spring and summer than can be listed here. But even if you don’t know their names or the families and genera to which they belong, don’t fail to enjoy this trip. No able-bodied Mazama should fail to sample these floral delights on the Dog in May.


How is the Mazamas Governed?

Do you know how Mazamas is governed? Each October members elect three new members to three-year terms on the nine-member Executive Council. The Nominating Committee selects 4-6 candidates to run based on their experience and the unique skills they can bring to making tough decisions about how the organization is managed. Are you interested in serving on the Executive Council or do you know someone you think would do a great job?

Since the Nominating Committee was formed, progress has been made toward the objective of significantly improving the annual EC nominee selection process. We aspire to include all Mazamas members and to identify and target those with skill sets that will best serve the organization now and in the future.

The Nominating Committee has worked with the past and current Executive Councils to define the skills and attributes that would ideally be present on the council at any given time. The Nominating Committee has been using a database that was created with member self-defined professional skillsets to recruit for council, but this database only includes the subset of the membership who completed a survey. As such, we are now reaching out to encourage members with the skills below to get in touch with the Nominating Committee to learn more about running for the Executive Council.

We strive to always have climb leader representation as well as members with other significant Mazama experience/involvement on the Executive Council. There are also technical and other skill sets that must be present to ensure that the organizational fiduciary and oversight responsibility is being met.

We’re currently seeking members with skills in the following areas:

  • Board Governance/Board Leadership Experience: Past board experience
  • “Big Picture” Strategic Thinkers: For example, business owners, management consultants, organizational development consultants, directors, VPs, CEOs, fundraising strategy experience
  • Legal: We’re seeking a lawyer with relevant experience (e.g. non-profit, general commercial/corporate, ideally with prior board experience)
  • Finance: This remains a critical area, as we’ve identified this as an area that would ideally be represented in more than one person to have a pipeline for treasurer. Targeted skills include: non-profit experience, fund accounting, restricted funds, accrual accounting, budgeting experience, CPA (experience in the following type of positions would be great: Controller, VP Finance, CFO)
  • Management/Leadership Experience: Experience managing a staff, w/ hiring and firing decisions, setting performance goals & holding staff accountable, handling corrective action, and employment relations issues, understanding of human resources issues, compliance and risk management 

Executive Council service is a great way to give back to the organization, but it is also a wonderful professional development opportunity. It can provide valuable experience and help position you for future leadership positions in your professional career. Executive council positions can also be great for those who are retired from positions such as those mentioned above.

The bylaws require that a person has been a Mazama member for three years to run for the Executive Council. If you have one or a mixture of the skills above, please contact Matt Carter (mdcarter@opusnet.com), Nominating Committee chair as soon as possible to discuss your interest and to learn more about the process. We look forward to hearing from you!!


National Volunteer Week

This week (April 12-18) is National Volunteer Week, when organizations and institutions across the country celebrate their volunteers and the spirit of service. As a volunteer-run organization, every week is volunteer week at the Mazamas, but we're taking some extra time this week to share some extra love with our volunteers. We love Mazama volunteers because they ...
Go the extra mile – Literally! Just this week, our volunteers are logging 1,100 foot-miles leading hikes for BCEP, Trail Trips and the 20s&30s Mazamas group.

20s&30s Mazamas hike at Silver Falls State Park, Photo by S├índor Lau
Have a great sense of adventure – Recently, our newest climb leader, Leora Gregory, tied the knot with her sweetie, Jay Avery, on the summit of Mt. Hood.

Summit kiss, Photo by Candi Cook

Are kind and nurturing – From helping new climbers ease off a belay ledge for their first rappel; to tenderly planting baby trees to re-establish habitat, Mazama volunteers put a ton of love and caring into their work.

BCEP Student Rappels at Horsethief, Photo by Steve Heikkila

Volunteers planting saplings along the Sandy River, Photo by Corinne Handelman
Love to have fun – What keeps volunteers coming back year after year is all the fun they have while volunteering. There’s plain silly fun,

Honey Badgers on Mt. Hood, Photo by Benjamin Grandy

and then there’s “Type II” fun

Blustery day on Table Mountain, Photo by Craig Karls

Provide an important community service – Our volunteers support Mazama classes, programs and activities; they also do important work to preserve and protect the places we play.

Rebolting at Broughton Bluff, Photo by Adam Baylor

Don't mind getting dirty - Let's face it, we all became mountaineers because we like to play in the mud!

Trail Tending is dirty business, Photo by Kati Mayfield

Thanks to over 600 volunteers each year giving 110%, the Mazamas is able to provide high quality, low-cost mountaineering education, activities and community events. Thank you, thank you, a million times thank you to our volunteers.


RTM: The Magic of a Journey around Mt. Hood

As of April 13, 2015 there are spaces available for the 2015 RTM trip. Link to register: http://mazamas.org/activities-events/round-the-mountain/

The author, Michele, had carried her water shoes 3/4 of the way around this
mountain and was determined to use them on at least one stream crossing!

RTM: One Woman's Journey

by Michele Crim

Every year my husband Glenn and I plan at least one mystery vacation for each other.
We plan a special outing and the other person doesn’t know what it is until it happens. I stole this idea from a co-worker who does this with his partner and I thought it was brilliant!
This past Labor Day weekend was our 14-year wedding anniversary so I decided to plan a mystery vacation for Glenn in celebration. I heard about this event hosted by the Mazamas called “Round the Mountain” where you hike all the way around Mt. Hood from a friend that had done it a year or two before.

The route around the mountain is broken up into three sections. Each day you hike one of the ~15 mile sections and return to the Mazama lodge in the evening for a hot meal, shower and a bed. The next morning you get a hot breakfast and then you return to the trailhead so you can hike the next section. Wash, rinse, repeat. It sounded like a perfect mystery vacation, so I signed us up!
Soon thereafter, I walked out of the orientation for the event with my heart in my throat.

Working my way across our first Sandy River crossing.
I got a little dizzy until I figured out to focus on
the log and my feet, not the rushing water below!
They spent much of the orientation focused on the amount of physical conditioning one needed to do in order to survive the adventure—or at the very least have it be an enjoyable experience. The leaders said it was the equivalent of hiking Dog Mountain ... twice a day ... three days in a row. Ugh! Hiking Dog Mountain just once a year is a significant accomplishment in my book.

To be fair to Glenn I knew I couldn’t wait until the last moment to unveil my mystery vacation.
I had to spill my secret sooner rather than later, as Glenn and I were going to need to get some significant hikes at altitude under our belts in preparation. And we did! We hiked to Tom Dick and Harry Mountain and up Dog Mountain. We did the Lost Lake Chuck Wagon (also with the Mazamas), got lost on the way to Larch Mountain, and spent a week hiking in the Olympic National Park/Forest.

By the time the event arrived I felt like we had done a great job of preparing our feet, legs and lungs to carry us long distances high up on a mountain.

On Friday I arrived at the Mazamas lodge (near Government Camp and Timberline Lodge) with great trepidation. Not only was I anxious about the hikes (Will I be able to do it three days in a row? Will I be so slow that everyone will have to wait for me?), but my social anxiety was in high gear and I was worried about meeting the strangers I would be spending the next three days with. 
 The participants were divided into six groups of 12 people consisting of 10 hikers and two team leaders that serve as guides. Each group has a different pace from a more gentle “scenic” pace to a blistering “I’m walking so fast it’s all a blur” pace, and everything in between.

We ended up in a great group with a nice moderate pace that we could sustain over the 45-mile loop. Our group was made up of funny, interesting people who were very supportive of each other. We were also thrilled to find that my idol and inspiration, Gwen, was there for the event (I so want to be like her when I grow up!). We met Gwen on Lost Lake Chuckwagon Weekend a couple of months ago. She had gifted herself a 25-mile hiking adventure for her 70th birthday (although she hadn’t been hiking in over a decade), and was now out burning through 45 miles of trails all the way around the mountain. She rocks.

Our hiking group—one of six similar teams working
their way around the mountain over the weekend.
All of our physical conditioning paid off and not only were we able to accomplish something that I never would have dreamed possible, but we had a blast doing it! 
Although the Mazamas hiking route doesn’t make a continuous circuit around the mountain (there are some sections, such as the Eliot Glacier landslide area, that aren’t safe to cross with such a group) it covers most of it.

Before this hike, my experience with Mt. Hood was as the mountain I drove past to get to Bend or that I could occasionally see in the distance out my window at work. After this hike, I feel like I know the mountain in a much more intimate way.
Each side of the mountain has its own distinct personality varying greatly by terrain, vegetation and weather. 

Day One: Timberline Lodge to Cloud Cap
To put it mildly, the weather on our first day was miserable! It was cold, rainy and windy. Glenn and I spent most of the day dressed head to toe in rain gear and by the end we were soaking wet and cold. This was also the day we were on the east side of the mountain at the highest elevations of the weekend, crossing slippery snowfields and exposed ridges with no vegetation. We were battered by freezing rain and ~50 mph wind gusts on top of Gnarl Ridge (gnarly ridge, more like it) that were strong enough to actually blow you off the trail. Although it was cold and miserable and clouds obscured the views, this was actually one of my favorite days of hiking. It was exciting to be out there battling the elements and making the most out of the crazy expedition.

Day Two: Timberline Lodge to Ramona Falls
The weather improved slightly the second day. It wasn’t as cold or windy, but we still spent much of the day in our rain gear walking through sporadic rains and misty clouds. In many ways this day’s hiking was the hardest for me. We started high on the mountain and ended at a much lower elevation. My knees and ankles were very sore and tired from the miles and miles of downhill.
I spent much of the day stressed about the Sandy River crossings. The Sandy River is a deceptively fast moving river that can be quite dangerous to cross at times. A couple of weeks ago there were some flash floods that took out the foot bridge over the river on the Ramona Falls trail. Sadly, a man was killed there when the bridge washed out while he was on it. We knew the bridge was gone, which meant we’d have to make it across the river some other way (twice). I spent many miles on the trail envisioning falling into the river! In the end we used logs and were able to make it across safely.

Day Three: Top Spur to Elk Cove
The weather was beautiful on our third day. As such, this hike was the most spectacular in terms of views of the mountain peak as well as the surrounding countryside. The wildflowers were amazing and sections of the hike went through areas burned by the Dollar Lake Fire (2011). I was mesmerized by the beauty and eeriness of walking through stands of silver-white dead trees with a green carpet of new plants at their feet and bright blue skies above their tops.

We had a ton of fun and I would highly recommend the Round the Mountain event hosted by the Mazamas. Both Glenn and I want to thank Robyn our friend who originally suggested the trip, as well as our other team members and especially our group leaders Aaron and Chris for such an amazing time. It’s an experience we’ll never forget and one that we hope to do again next year!

To read more about Michele’s adventures including the Mazama Lost Lake Chuckwagon Weekend see her blog A Life More Extraordinary, www.alifemoreextraordinary.net