Coburg Hills — Map and Compass class

March 4,11,15, 1980

At 8 a.m. March 15, as I was finishing my breakfast, my telephone rang. A quavering voice asked, “We’re not going hiking in this weather! Are we?” I looked out my window. It was raining. In Oregon, in March. So what!!! “Why, Betty,” I answered, “This kind of weather makes a map and compass field trip more realistic, and besides, whoever heard of an Obsidian trip being cancelled because of a little rain?”

At 8:40 a.m., as I was leaving my house, I looked out my window again and could see the Coburg Hills in the sunshine.

At the South Eugene High School parking lot my group gathered. Among them was Betty Legris with a tight grip on her poncho and a determined look in her eye. You were right Betty, it was a miserable day. It had snowed the night before and the snow was melting. Every cowtrack in the Coburg Hills was overflowing with water, and there were a lot of cowtracks. The clouds were high enough for us to take several bearings on the transmission towers, which show up on the “Eugene East” and “Springfield” quadrangle USGS maps.

We successfully negotiated the cow herd feeding in the old quarry and proceeded through the quagmire of rainwater and organic frisbees to our lunch stop at the “whale.”

Remember the “whale?” It brings back many memories of rock climbing classes of years gone by. It hasn’t changed much. The lichen and moss are taking over the old climbing routes, and the grass and poison oak around its base is growing unhindered. The Osoberry (Indian peach) which grows close by had opened its brave blossoms right on schedule.

During our lunch stop, the weather broke enough for us to take several compass bearings on Springfield’s “Big M” roof and various other landmarks in the Glenwood, LCC, Springfield area. Then on to the next problem. Where is here? “Here” is where you put your finger on the map and say “I am.” The location of “here” always generates discussion, mutterings, conferences and sometimes arguments and even mutinies. In the middle of the big meadow below the Coburg Caves, my group finally agreed on a reasonable location of “here.” The word “reasonable” meaning that I agreed with it.

The next problem was, what is the compass bearing from “here,” (a point on the map) to “there,” the old rock quarry? At this point, I tell my people, “I am no longer your leader. You lead me!” This was a good group; a few natural leaders came forth, turned their backs on me and started to walk. After a meandering route through the woods, I ran out in front and stopped the group before they walked over the cliff at the quarry. We had found our objective.

More cow track puddles and wet feet and on to the end of the trail. The middle afternoon of March 15 cleared and the sun came out. As I walked back into my house and looked out of my kitchen window, I could see the Coburg Hills. Such is Oregon weather.

Those attending the classroom sessions were: Mary Babarick, Fred Byrum, Bernice Claypool, Jane Hackett, Mike Hackett, Karen Houglum, Betty Legris, Joyce Nichols, Charlotte Scherer, Kathi Stroh and Gene Thaxton. Mary, Fred, Bernice, Betty, Joyce and Lois went on the field trip.


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