November 25, 1979
The Cloverpatch adventure actually started one week ahead of the scheduled hike, when yours truly (Karen Houglum), assuming the role of Obsidian leader for the very first time, set out alone to scout out the trail on Sunday, Nov. 18. After making a series of blunders (for example: overshooting the town of Lowell by four miles), I was finally headed east on North Shore Road when I came to a fork in the road, and abruptly chose the road less travelled. This error in judgement was followed by a truly consummate error as I backed both rear wheels off the grade in an attempt to turn around.
What followed was a spontaneous one and three-eights mile hike back to the town of Lowell, where I helped to underwrite the cost of a certain phone booth in my attempts to secure aid. My efforts were finally rewarded—and how!—when a tow truck driver in Oakridge agreed to rescue me from my plight. However, the first thing he did upon arriving at the scene of the accident was to slip his arm around me and murmer, “What would you think if I were to kiss you out here?” He then served me up a bill for $38.75. (Fortunately the car was Triple A.)The following Sunday, having received assurances from my co-leader, Helen Smith, that SHE would lead the party from Lowell to the trailhead, three of us set out from Eugene under dismal skies to meet Helen in Lowell. By this time my navigation had improved: I only missed one freeway exit. After vibrating along over twenty miles of gravel road—my experience with gravel had heretofore been limited to driveways—we spat out our loose fillings, blinked in dismay at the mixture of snow and rain pelting the windshield, and slithered into our rain gear. Ironically, the only Obsidian present who had never hiked Cloverpatch Trail before was the one who was leading; i. e.: ME!
Cloverpatch Trail is a five mile hike which is similar in terrain to its neighbor, the Tire Mountain Trail. The trail winds gradually through lovely woods, at one point crossing the foot of a cascading waterfall where one can stand and see the water toppling over a second falls a little way upstream. Madrona trees were observed growing along the lower levels of the trail, their red bark peeling away in strips to reveal their curious, yellow-green trunks.
Although the views of the upper Willamette drainage and Diamond Peak were lost in milky obscurity, we were more than compensated by the beauty of the snow, which at first dusted the ground at each open spot along the trail, but increased with the elevation until the entire wood around us was encrusted in glistening snow. We paused for lunch at the viewpoint, which was as enlightening as a projection screen without a slide, and then proceeded to the end of the trail, where the snow had attained a depth of three inches. Deer tracks were seen here and there, but no wildlife aside from our cold, reddened faces was seen. Enjoying the snowscape with me were John Cecil, Betty Legris and co-leader Helen Smith.