Rock Mesa Benefit Hike

September 4, 1982

A strong show of support in defense of Rock Mesa was demonstrated by hikers and backup people on Saturday, Sept. 4. This remarkable group-minded environmental effort has greatly contributed to the viability of the “Save Rock Mesa” movement, and has perhaps made more people aware of the very real dangers that face this unique geological formation in the Three Sisters Wilderness. US Pumice is intent on mining here on a large scale (having exhausted similar material at Mono Craters in California), and the Benefit Hike is a direct outcome of Obsidian concern and intention to help finance the fight against such action. Letters of encouragement were received from Jim Weaver, Bob Packwood, Ross Anthony and one-time Obsidian Cecil Andrus. Media support was given by KEZI and the Eugene Register-Guard. A feature article will appear later in “Sports Scene” magazine.

To the accompaniment of flashlight bursts and a whirring TV camera, 18 hikers thus left the McKenzie Pass at midnight, urged on by a small, vocal send-off group, intent on reaching 75-mile distant Willamette Pass within 24 hours. Forearmed with per-mile pledges, the Obsidian-sponsored, non-competitive Rock Mesa Benefit Hike was on. The continuous, mostly well-defined PCNST passes close by Rock Mesa at about the 19-mile point. Perfect weather conditions prevailed for most of the hike, and a full moon lit the way (and incidentally made passage through Obsidian Falls area quite memorable: the millions of obsidian shards on the ground shining and shimmering was a fantastic sight!).

From a prepaid, pre-registered entry of 37 hikers, 18 started. Of these, eight completed the distance in under 24 hours as follows: John Andriola (Eugene), Jeff Sherman (Blue River), Ron Sproat (Prineville), Marty Barrett (Springfield), Dave Rose (Bend), Jeff Baldwin (Eugene), Ben Ross (Eugene), and Bill Lasswell (Roseburg). Others (with distances attained) were: David Wagner (59 miles), Heather Anderson (53m), Polly Sue Starr (53m), Tony Reid (53m), John Cecil (53m), Brian Gregor (53m), Betty Legris (53m), Mary Ellen West (25m), Violet Johnson (25m), and Rod Brink (25m).

Invaluable support was given along the entire route by many people, some of whom had to hike inconsiderable distances to arrive “on-station” before the fastest hikers passed through. Prearranged “care” packages and water were hauled to these points. Aid stations were set up and manned at Sunshine Meadows (Wes Prouty), Sisters Mirror Lake (Merle and Doris Traudt and Bob Thompson) Cliff Lake (Greg Morris and Mike Kemp), Winopee Crossing (K.C, Kraft), Irish Lake (Jane and Mike Hackett), Charlton Lake (Ann Lonnquist and Jo Simrnons), and at Wait Here Camp (Jan White and Dorothy Hayes). Gail McEwen, Rob Fisher, Maradel Gale, Sandra Gleason, Mary Ellen West and Violet Johnson swept portions of the trail. At-large and miscellaneous trail functions were carried out by Bert Ewing and Pete Cecil. Thanks are also due to many other helpers, including personnel of the McKenzie Ranger District, who helped enormously with communications, as did Ron Gallager and Amy Owen, both of Bend. Staff and management of the Summit House Restaurant (especially Lois Satagaj) near the finishing point provided succour to all during the closing hours of the hike.

The organizing committee (which had been meeting and detail planning the hike since early Spring), was headed and encouraged by Ben Ross. Emmy Dale very ably co-ordinated the whole operation, and other essential contributions to its success were made by Joe Lowry (duplicating, typing, and a hot coffee pot at all times), Bert Ewing (safety aspects), John Cecil (registrations), Jon Kemp (publicity), John Powell (demographics), Merle Traudt (maps and trail arrows), Betty Legris, Greg Morris and Brian Gregor. The committee wishes to thank those involved in all aspects of the hike for the time, effort and materials so willingly given to make it the success it most certainly was.

All pledges collected by hikers, and further donations, should be handed to any member of the above committee, or mailed direct to Obsidians, Inc., P O Box 322, Eugene, OR 97440. Please make checks payable to “Rock Mesa Benefit Fund”. Totals collected will be made known in the next issue of The Bulletin, and it is hoped follow-up stories and eye-witness accounts will also be published.

At the morning-after coffee and doughnut bust held at Charlton Lake aid station, many o the people involved met and were joined by other Obsidians and friends in a big, friendly rehash of the weekend’s events. A follow-up Potluck meeting is to be held at the Obsidian Lodge on Saturday, 25th September, at 6:00 p.m.


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