Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, Oregon
In the southwestern corner of Oregon three mountain ranges converge. The Siskiyous, the Cascades, and the Klamath jumble together in a mess of hills and valleys to create one of the most diverse ecosystems in the United States.
"8 August, 2017
I am stunned by the diversity here, left spatially confused as ecosystems intermingle. Last night I camped upon a grassy hillside, brown in the heat of summer. Extreme danger of fire here, the rangers say. To my left stood a lone juniper, to my right a single incense cedar, both amidst a sea of browned grass. Some strange force has smashed together elements from a host of different ecosystems. Here is the sword fern and fir of the Pacific Northwest rainforest next to the silver sagebrush and rattlesnake of the Great Basin desert. Thimbleberries by the ponderosa, fireweed by the juniper. This whole place abounds with these odd natural juxtapositions, the diversity evident even to those without the lens of a naturalist. Cedar and fir grow with trunks practically touching, lichen bridging their branches. The hillsides are an intricate emerald patchwork of texture and color as the firs, cedars, junipers, and pines intermingle."
"10 August, 2017
I reached the bluff well before sunrise, just as the first of the pink light crested a low cloud bank to the east. The land shifted and tilted upwards to create the bluff, firs giving way abruptly to a sparse hillside of juniper and dried grass. Here I saw for the first time curl-leafed mountain mahogany. They were small, with yellowing leaves and no seeds to be found. Concerning, as this was the time for them. I watched the light slowly dawn on hills stacked in endless distant rows, their flanks cloaked in the smoke of fires to the north. The hills were thin and wavering, slate blue in the morning haze. An orange-red sun broke through the horizon, light trapped in smoke particles distorted and softening rays. The flattened bluff was aglow. Wolf lichen shone neon, hunched manzanita weren't far behind on the spectrum of vibrancy, and even the ailing mountain mahogany took on a healthier air in that light. I too was elated, uplifted."