Eight Dollar Mountain Darlingtonia californica Wetland in February
I’ve visited the Darlingtonia californica fens and seeps around 8 Dollar Mountain repeatedly over a number of years. Southern Oregon is fascinating botanically not just for the carnivorous plants found scattered about it’s remote places but also for sheer non-carnivorous botanical diversity. From dense coniferous forest to sparsely vegetated serpentine slopes, the variety of plants follows the variable native geology, which is hard to beat in the pacific northwest.
A friend and I first attempted to visit $8 Mountain a few years ago while the Kalmiopsis Wilderness was being logged following the massive Biscuit Fire. Strictly speaking, national wilderness areas are supposed to be protected from things like logging; it should come as no surprise then (and perhaps with considerable relief) that the action received the attention of protesters.
Local authorities responded with the all-too-usual approach of banning everyone but loggers from the vicinity.
It seems all manner of wrong to allow large corporations onto protected public lands while banning all other members of the public from access; perhaps my abject failure to understand such intricacies of domestic policy could explain why I don’t work in government.
Regardless, 8 Dollar Mountain was saved from the destructive intrusions of two botany enthusiasts that day as logging trucks blasted along new roads carved into the hills above. We didn’t know how close we came to the plants at the time but it turns out we were about a five minute walk away from the closest Darlingtonia fen when we were turned away by security personnel.
It turns out that the Darlingtonia sites around 8 Dollar Mountain are among the finest in Oregon. While the more famous sites around the Darlingtonia Wayside in Florence are slipping into oblivion (thanks to vegetative succession presumably spurred on by years of fire suppression and nearby human development), the sites around $8 Mountain have proven either more resilient or better protected.
The fen with easiest road access is outfitted with a boardwalk, parking lot, restroom, signage, and other little construction projects beloved by the Forest Service. I guess it’s a sacrificial offering to the tourism bureau.
Other sites in the area are unmarked, lacking handicapped access, and appear well preserved. My hope is they will stay that way.
The Darlingtonia here are quite nice in the summer and intensely-colored and well lit by the low angle of the sun in the fall (when I’ve also photographed $8 Mountain). Mid to late winter is not the most visually promising time to photograph this species (or just about any other vascular plant in Oregon) but still interesting.
I made this image from atop a 20’ ladder. If you haven’t hiked with an aluminum extension ladder before, doing so may greatly enhance your appreciation of every hike you take without the company of a 20’ extension ladder.
The below image is from a previous fall season (when I also did not fall from the ladder, thanks) at approximately the same time of day. The seasonal difference in vegetation is interesting, no?