Upper Table Rock

April 25, 2008: Upper Table Rock, near Medford, OR, is a nature preserve maintained in a cooperative effort between the BLM and the Nature Conservancy. Before the summer sun withdraws life sustaining moisture from the soil and vegetation a triumphant succession of wildflowers will bloom here. On any given day during the spring bloom you may find the parking lot serving the trail head full of cars.

Marvin and I were in the parking lot for Upper Table Rock. It was after one o’clock and we had a hill to climb.

Two empty school buses were waiting in the parking lot and as we readied our camera gear we could hear the children coming down the trail from the mountain. The noise they generated met the definition of cacophony. If you can imagine a combination of a gaggle of geese and a flock of turkeys in full cry the resultant sound would be close to what we heard. Within a few minutes about 60 children were lined up at the two vault toilets at the trailhead.

As the children traded goodbyes to each other we headed up the trail. An elevation gain of 800 feet in a little over a mile puts the trail in the steep category. We took our time going up the hill, looking for blooms, stopping often to take pictures and catch our breath.

Two of our favorite flowers (Erythronium hendersonii and Calochortus tolmiei) bloom under the oaks found below the Table Rock rim but their season was very nearly past. Our least favorite plant, Poison oak (Rhus diversiloba), is very abundant on these hillsides and provides ample punishment for those foolish enough to leave the trail.

Scarlet Fritillaria
flower Scarlet Fritillaria Table Rocks 4/25/2008 Jackson County

Near the summit we found a dandy display of Scarlet Fritillary (Fritillaria recurva). As we were photographing the blooms another hiker stopped to chat. It was Dr. Susan Mackinnon who climbs Table Rock often and plans to publish a wildflower book later this summer. We asked to be the first in our neighborhood to receive a copy.

As we sauntered across the meadow on the summit a butterfly challenged me for the right of way. It would fly out in front of me about ten feet, land, and then turn to face me. I was determined to get a closeup picture and finally did… it was a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui).

Vanessa cardui
Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) butterfly Upper Table Rock Jackson County

Because we were running out of allotted time we headed back to the parking lot. While we were loading our gear into the car we noticed a young woman come down the trail carrying an armful bouquet of Scarlet Fritillary!

Incomprehensible! The reader board at trail head clearly states not to pick the flowers. Anyone who visits this type of preserve should know not to pick the flowers. We drove five hours to be able to see these flowers and she managed to spoil the opportunity for all others to follow within a few thoughtless, inconsiderate, selfish moments. It occurred to me that I should take her picture and publish it on the internet. May she be forever cursed with poison oak rash for her efforts.



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