We hope everyone had a happy Easter weekend. After attending a Saturday worship service we took advantage of some great weather and headed South to Fall Creek. This was our second hike in a row along a creek in the Willamette National Forest East of Eugene.
The forecast had been for a few showers throughout the day but lucky for us the weatherman was way off. Temps were in the low 50’s when we set off and it wound up being a warm and sunny day. The trail sets off on the Southern bank of Fall Creek through an old growth forest. The first few miles follow Fall Creek through this damp and mossy forest crossing several scenic side creeks on footbridges. This portion of the trail was fairly muddy in spots. Fall Creek was much larger than Larison Creek (our previous hike) with many deeper pools, and the clear water made for some great views. Our timing was good as many of the spring flowers were in bloom carpeting in the forest floor in yellow, purple, and white. The Trillium blooms were particularly pretty.
After 3.5 miles the old growth gives way to a section of forest that was burned in 2003. This burnt section housed many different wildflowers that prefer the direct sunlight afforded by the fire. It wasn’t long before that direct sunlight had us needing to remove some clothing layers. After a brief pit stop we were off again, now on the Northern side of the creek after crossing on a bridge.
Our goal had been Slick Creek Cave but we decided to continue another half a mile to Bedrock Campground just in case anyone wanted to use the facilities. When we first crossed Slick Creek we completely missed the side trail up to the cave despite my taking several pictures of the cliffs that housed it. When we reached the trail fork for the campground loop we realized we had missed it. The creek bed near the campground was very colorful and worth the extra distance.
We also came across a type of lily that we had not encountered before.
When we reached Slick Creek on our way back the side trail had magically appeared. We took the short obvious (this time) trail up to the cave which is basically a recess in the cliff. Apparently it was used by Native Americans for shelter at one point and made for a nice side trip.
Overall this turned out to be a really nice hike. In addition to the various wildflowers we saw a decent amount of wildlife. In the old growth section we came across several snails, slugs, birds, and a Rough Skinned Newt. The burnt section offered geese, ducks, an osprey, several lizards, and a snake. Although this is a heavy use trail we only ran into a handful of people on the trail on this day. Due to the various campgrounds along Big Fall Creek Road which follows the creek on the opposite side there was some car traffic and a number of campers across the water.
It’s been a few weeks since our last hike. We usually do several races between February and May and the training for those leaves us a little less time for hiking. Really it is nice to have the running because a lot of the trails are still snowed under and the weather isn’t always conducive to hiking. We are trying to fit a hike in every few weeks though to get prepared for our peak hiking season. Our most recent hike was up Larison Creek which is just East of Oakridge, OR.
We had not done any hiking near Eugene or along Hwy 58 yet and were looking forward to exploring a new area. The weather cooperated and we had a dry and mostly sunny day. It was a chilly 31 degrees when we set out, but (Aside from some chilly fingers which was our fault for not bringing the proper gloves.) it didn’t seem that cold. The hike starts next to Larison Cove which is a milky green color. This is partly due to Blue-Green Algae.
The trail slowly climbs along the creek through a moss covered forest. At times the forest floor seemed as if a layer of green snow had fallen covering everything. Small Snow Queen flowers bloomed along the first portion of the trail adding a splash of purple to the greens and browns. Larison Creek flowed within earshot, and was often in view. A couple of short paths led to clear pools below small slides or chutes that were worth the slight detour. As we gained elevation beargrass and rhododendrons became more common, but it was too early for them to be in bloom. We eventually ran into some patches of snow displaying the transition from Winter to Spring.
Wildlife was limited to birds, most notably the first Varied Thrush we had seen. Despite his posing for some pictures I was able to get a very clear shot as you can see here.
Our first hikes of 2013 are officially in the books. We headed to Cape Perpetua just South of Yachats on the Oregon coast to visit two trails. One of the things we are always on the lookout for on our hikes is wildlife. We see plenty of birds, chipmunks, and squirrels and a fair number of deer but are always hoping to see something different. On this day we would wind up spotting an owl, a small herd of elk, a deer, and an eagle eating a recently caught fish. The only problem was these were all seen from the car.
The first hike was a loop along the ridges surrounding Gwynn Creek which is located about a mile South of Cape Perpetua in the Siuslaw National Forest. We set out shortly after Sunrise on what turned out to be a nice day. Although there were some clouds and a couple of very brief very light showers, temperatures stayed around 40F for the day. Many of the plants along the trails were showing buds and a few early flowers were starting to bloom. We were also fortunate enough to be able to see the Ocean from the view points along this mostly forested trail. Anyone familiar with the Oregon coast knows there is often a layer of low clouds hanging just at the shore line which have hidden the Ocean from us on several hikes in the past.
After finishing the Gwynn Creek loop we stopped in at the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center to take the short trail up to the stone shelter constructed in 1933 at the top of the cape. We had been to the area in 2011 visiting the tidepools and Devils Churn along the beach, but we hadn’t been up to the shelter before. On our way up the 1.3mi trail we could tell we hadn’t been doing much hiking. The 700ft elevation gain felt a lot worse than it should have. 🙂 The view from the top was worth it though. On a clear day the view extends 37 miles to sea and a good 70 miles to the South and to Cape Foulweather to the North. The only drawback on this day was that the position of the Sun to the South limited the view, but did provide some nice effects as it reflected off the Ocean.
As Heather mentioned at Christmas we have been considering setting up a web page or blog to share our many wanderings along the trails of Oregon and SW Washington. Well we decided to attempt it. We are blessed to live in an area that is packed full of trails exploring some really diverse environments. As we have enjoyed these hikes we have been struck by the beauty of God’s creation and we’d like to be able to share these wonderful places with our friends and family members who are not able to experience them with us. For those who are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit these places we hope this blog will provide some useful information for your own future wanderings. We also hope that this will be a way to establish an ongoing connection with friends and family no matter how far away they are, or how often we have the pleasure of seeing them face to face.
One of the benefits of living in the Pacific NW is that the hiking season never officially ends (if you can handle a little rain) – your options simply shrink. Still it’s been a couple of months since we’ve hit a trail and I for one have been chomping at the bit. I’ve used the time to plan out several hikes for this year. Okay 37 of them totaling a little over 405 miles, but who’s counting? I enjoy the planning phase, maybe a little too much. I find it enjoyable to try and figure out when trails will be open, what the best time of year to view wildflowers or eat berries (yum) is, and most importantly when to avoid to miss the mosquitoes. We get most of our information from William L. Sullivan’s series of Oregon Hiking guides which have proven indispensable.
This year we have hikes planned for the Oregon Coast, the Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, Three Sisters, Mt. Thielsen, and Diamond Peak wilderness areas, the Columbia Gorge, the Mt. St. Helens National Monument, Crater Lake, and the Ochoco & Fremont National Forests. We hope to bring the beauty of this region to everyone who happens to check in on our wanderings in a way that is both enjoyable and informative. First up is Gwynn Creek near Cape Perpetua on the Central Oregon Coast. Happy Trails~