I saw these lodgepole pines on pilings next to a bridge crossing the Deschutes River. I was hiking the trail to Benham Falls but had to pause to marvel at these little trees. Trout swam around the pilings, providing a little extra fertilizer for this odd nursery.
Who knows why the trees settled there. They certainly found a nice piece of waterfront property with a view. 😉
These western juniper trees near the shore of Prineville Reservoir were rooted in the past. After many years of fluctuating water levels, their roots became exposed. The red volcanic soil here stands out in strong contrast with the deep blue sky and green foliage.
This gigantic pine is Big Tree, AKA Big Red, the biggest Ponderosa pine, Pinus ponderosa var. ponderosa, ever recorded. It’s located in LaPine State Park, north of La Pine, Oregon. Though it lost 30 feet of its crown during severe storms, it is still the largest Ponderosa pine in circumference.
Here are some facts about this tree:
Circumference: 28 feet 11 inches
Height: 167 feet
Crown spread: 68 feet
Approximate age: 500+ years
Board feet: 25,000
LaPine State Park Manager, Joe Wanamaker, gave insights about Big Red in an article in the local Source Weekly. He thought it was spared from being logged due to evidence of fire damage. This may have affected the quality of the wood harvested. Wanamaker also pointed out this tree is growing in an ideal location where water tends to collect in the soil from the nearby Deschutes River.
A paved, ADA accessible, 1/4 mile trail leads to this unique sight. Foot traffic around this much-loved attraction caused soil compaction that threatened its growth. A protective fence was constructed around it in the year 2000.
In this map of the park, from Oregon State Parks, Big Tree is located in the lower right corner.
I saw this loop-de-loop lodgepole pine growing alongside Firehole Lake Drive in Yellowstone National Park. Everyone drove right past it but I had to stop and take its picture. I wondered what stopped it from going straight up. It figured out how to grow around obstacles and keep going in the right direction. A lesson for us all.
The 0.4-mile Trail of the Whispering Pines winds its way through the forest near the visitor center. You get great views of pine trees, Lava Butte, and several nearby volcanoes. This path sits on part of Newberry Volcano, a 1,200-square mile shield volcano.
South Sister, pictured on the left above, is the youngest and most geologically active of the Three Sisters volcanoes. The mountain last erupted 2,000 years ago, but a “bulge” began forming in 1997. By 2001, the bulge grew to 9 inches in height and 10 miles in diameter. Its growth since that time has slowed considerably. Both South Sister and Newberry are regularly monitored for volcanic activity.
I watched the colors turning last fall on this fiery red oak tree in a local park in Bend, Oregon. This young tree doesn’t yet have the twisting branch structure of mature oaks, but those uniquely-shaped leaves are beautiful three seasons of the year.
I’m representing my feelings towards 2020 by showing it being struck by lightning. Yes, there were some great moments, but I’m glad to be saying bye to this particular year.
See how all the other western juniper trees around this tree are thriving? Can you see the sliver of blue in the distant sky? Once the dark clouds dissipate, we’ll have a brighter future where more of us can thrive.
One of my favorite local trees is the western larch, Larix occidentalis. This conifer tree is unique because it drops its needles in the winter. Before they litter the forest floor, the needles turn a distinctive golden-yellow color. They stand out from the deep green shades of surrounding trees.
They have a delicate, almost lacey, growth form. Look at these needles radiating out in little groups of 15-30 on this branch. They are softer and more flexible than some of their pine tree cousins.
A home for wildlife
A wide range of wildlife relies on larch for food and cover. Squirrels feed on the cones and cache the seeds for future use. Songbirds nest and forage in their branches. They are especially important to pileated woodpeckers. This tree is an important food source for several kinds of grouse. Large mammals forage on the needles as a last resort since they are not as tasty as other trees.