Chip Ross Park - Northwest passages: riding out the storm - CycleBlaze

June 28, 2020

Chip Ross Park

It looked from last night’s forecast as if we’d be seeing rain today, so Rachael decided to take a day off the bike and go for a walk.  It didn’t rain today after all, but she’s ready for a break from the saddle anyway so she stayed with the plan anyway.  She mapped out a 12 mile walk west of town to Bald Hill, a nature preserve that rises up west of the OSU campus.  It’s more of a walk than I feel like my knees can take on today, so she goes off on her own and I plan on a local bike ride instead.  

When we meet up back home later in the afternoon, Rachael talks enthusiastically about what a fine hike it was, with one exception.  She was held up at one point by three young, unmasked women on horseback blocking the path ahead of her (yes, Rocky is an aggressive walker).  One of the women was having great difficulty controlling her horse, so Rachael delt unsafe passing.  She asked if they’d let her by, but received an angry response From the one with the unruly mount - she objected to the fact that Rachael had taken their photograph, stating that they hadn’t given their permission to be photographed.

Rachael said she wasn’t intending to post their photos, so you’ll have to use your imagination there.  She did bring back these to share though:

Part of a dazzling, long floral display on the OSU campus.
Heart 6 Comment 2
Andrea BrownAhem. This is the OSU campus, OHSU is here in Portland.
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownYou make a good point. I’ll pass this on to Rachael.
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1 week ago
In the Bald Hill Natural Area.
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Image not found :(
In the Bald Hill Natural Area.
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In the Bald Hill Natural Area.
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The impressive view from the top of Bald Hill. I think this must be looking southwest, with Marys Peak cloud-capped.
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For myself, I have a route mapped out that takes in another unexplored road - the climb up Sulphur Springs Road to Lewisburg Saddle, northwest of Crescent Valley.  From there, the plan is to continue north to Tampico Road, cross over to the Corvallis-Independence Valley, and then double back toward home again.  It looks just right for a day with uncertain weather - only 30 miles, and never too far from home if I need to cut it short.

The ride begins with the familiar route north out of town over Highland Drive to Crescent Valley.  I’ve not shown a photo along this road before, mostly because the views as we drop into Crescent Valley are restricted by trees lining both sides of the road.  Today, with time on my hands and no one with me to slow down, I stop at the crest of the ridge and decide to take a detour west along Dexter Avenue to see if I can come to a place with an open view.

A mile later the pavement ends at a small, wooded park, Chip Ross Natural Area.  It’s all uphill from the parking lot, so I won’t be getting a view unless I lock up Roddy and take a hike.  That’s not the plan for today though, so I turn around and start coasting back toward Highland Drive.

Looking east down Dexter Avenue, from the entrance to Chip Ross Natural Area.
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Almost immediately though, I pull off at a spot I passsed by the first time: the parking lot for Calvary Corvallis church.  It’s in a more open spot on the ridge and I think I might get a view north through the trees from here.

No view here either, but there is a western bluebird in the grass ahead of me.  I quickly pull out the camera, and am lucky enough to just catch him as he flies off.

A lucky shot. I was just starting to focus on him when he took flight.
Heart 6 Comment 2
Bruce LellmanHe must have not wanted his photo taken.
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6 days ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanA good point. I feel bad.
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5 days ago

Seeing this bird and being surprised by capturing an image of it caused me to rethink the day.  The sky to the north looks a bit threatening anyway, so why don’t I just stop here and explore this little park I’d never heard of before now?  I bike back up to Chip Ross again, lock Rodriguez to a picnic table, and start up the hiking path.

Good choice!  Chip Ross is a delightful little area.  Primarily an oak savanna, it’s a small garden of delights with spectacular views from the crown of the hill.  It’s not large, with perhaps two miles of walking paths, but it is contiguous with the much larger McDonald-Dunn forest with its many miles of hiking and riding trails.  Today I’m content to walk slowly, humoring my knees and keeping my eyes and ears open.  It’s a wonderful way to spend a few hours.

The last several days have been a bit of a revelation for us.  For no obvious reason other than that there are more roads in that direction, we mostly looked to the east when we started exploring around Corvallis.  Actually though, it looks like the best is to the west, into these low foothills of the coast range.  We’re about out of time now, but it gives us a good reason to consider coming here for another extended visit some day.  I imagine it could be spectacular in the fall.

In Chip Ross Park. On the eastern slope of the hill the ground is blanketed in wildflowers - daisies, self heal, wild roses, and especially this spectacular yellow flower, whatever it is.
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When I first looked at these trees in the distance I thought from the hue of their trunks that they were alders, but they’re white oaks. They grow differently here than when you see them sprawling in an open field.
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So what is this anyway?
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Bill ShaneyfeltMight be St John's wort.

https://biology.burke.washington.edu/herbarium/imagecollection/taxon.php?Taxon=Hypericum%20perforatum
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1 week ago
Andrea BrownTo Bill ShaneyfeltYep.
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1 week ago
I think this is a rose hip, or something attacking one.
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Bill ShaneyfeltIt is a gall.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diplolepis_rosae
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltReally. That’s quite interesting, but you’re obviously right. It looks so unlike the galls I’m familiar with.
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1 week ago
Image not found :(
White oak is the dominant species, but there is a lot of madrona giving color too.
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It’s a complex woods, with plenty of snags and deadfalls to provide habitat.
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In Chip Ross Park.
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Ocean spray is common along the trail.
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A framed display of ocean spray.
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Not the best bird photo of the day because he’s so far off, but the one I was most excited about. This is an acorn woodpecker, another of my favorite birds but one I’ve seldom seen. I think this is the furthest north I’ve ever seen one.
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Andrea BrownAcorn woodpeckers were very common at Chip Ross and Bald Hill parks and also in the small oak forest just east of the fairgrounds. They are so much fun. You might like the hike up to Dimple Hill as well.
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1 week ago
At the crown of Chip Ross Park.
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Image not found :(
I really never tire of madronas.
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Image not found :(
Salmonberry, I think.
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Bill ShaneyfeltMight be a trailing blackberry.

https://biology.burke.washington.edu/herbarium/imagecollection/taxon.php?Taxon=Rubus%20ursinus
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltMight, alright. Comparing it against a salmonberry (https://www.wildflower.org/gallery/species.php?id_plant=RUSP) it’s hard to see what the distinguishing characteristics are, once the blossoms are gone. I was influenced by an article about this park, which listed it as one of the common plants here.
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1 week ago
Bill ShaneyfeltTo Scott AndersonI read that salmonberry branches are brown and lack prickles. The photo might show a brown branch lacking prickles, but can't tell for sure. The young shoot with berries is green and prickly though.

After looking at hundreds of berry pictures, I have concluded tat they are salmonberries. Reasons are 1. Shape is more round than blackberries. 2. Color is not quite right for blackberries. 3. Fruitlets that make up the berries are glossier than blackberries. So, in my revised opinion, you were correct in your initial ID.

Good job!
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1 week ago
Jacquie GaudetNot salmonberries, imo. We have lots of salmonberries here in the Vancouver area and they don't have thorns. I've seen the type of berries in the photo but I can't identify them from the photo. Possibly unripe blackberries...
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5 days ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetGood point, that I should have picked upon from Bill. Those definitely look more like thorns than fine prickles.
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5 days ago
I like this odd fungus growing on a stump. It looks like a mollusk.
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Common yarrow.
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This one stumps me. It must be a finch or sparrow from the shape of its beak, but I can’t place it. Suggestions?
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Bill ShaneyfeltHard to tell for sure. Possibly a lesser goldfinch?

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Lesser_Goldfinch/id
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1 week ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltI think you’re probably right on this. This was the one that looked the closest to me too, but I couldn’t quite convince myself.
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1 week ago
Bill ShaneyfeltTo Scott AndersonYeah, I spent more time on this one than all the other searches combined. You are probably as good at this as I am, and possibly better if you had as much time.
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1 week ago
Pretty confident about this one though.
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Jen GrumbyGreat shot!
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6 days ago
The views from the top are spectacular. Here we’re Looking southeast across the city, I think in the direction of Lebanon.
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In Chip Ross Park.
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This is such a different look for a white oak than what we usually see. In the open they sprawl out horizontally, but here in a forest they soar skyward toward the canopy. It looks more like a hemlock than an oak.
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The view northeast. I think the rise just right of center is Palestine Hill.
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Another mystery.
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Bill ShaneyfeltImage matches well with Brodiaea.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brodiaea_coronaria
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1 week ago
Andrea BrownTo Bill ShaneyfeltBrodiaea has been swapped to Tritelia, but yes, that's what it is.
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1 week ago
Bill ShaneyfeltTo Andrea BrownThanks! It's good to see that my internet searching hit a target!

I'm really not an expert in any of this by any means, just have a thin knowledge from college botany in '64/65 to help, but mostly image comparisons on plant search sites.
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1 week ago
The view southeast, at the trunk of the elephant. Marys Peak must be behind the trees to the right.
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Really a beautiful spot, with a lot of diversity in a small area.
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It’s always a relief to get back and see Rodriguez still waiting for me.
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Ride stats today: 11 miles, 500’

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Comment on this entry Comment 2
Andrea BrownI think that's what I loved most about Corvallis, that in five minutes you could be out in the forest, and a bike path or quiet road would take you there. My kids and I took many a hike on these trails and it's good to see them again.
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1 week ago
Bruce LellmanJust for the record....Once a person leaves their front door they are fair game to have their photo taken and there is nothing they can do about that if the photo is not published. Of course, at the time you cannot tell the person this unless you want them to get even angrier.
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6 days ago