Opal Creek

April 18, 1993

On a rare semi-sunny day, 28 hikers gathered for an adventure. Destination: Opal Creek. The group split in two, eight choosing the 7-mile hike into the mining community of Jawbone Flats, then on to Opal Pool for lunch. The remaining 20 elected to take the longer new trail which follows the Little North Santiam River on the east bank. The trail then turns and heads up the Opal Creek drainage. When complete, it will end at Opal Lake. The area is truly beautiful, a lush old growth rain forest. We enjoyed lunch on rocks overlooking the gorge that Opal Creek poured through before spreading out into Opal Pool. The “Jawbone contingent” showed up on the opposite bank. After lunch, the plan was to continue on to Beachie Creek. Unfortunately, the bridge across Opal Creek was not complete, so we missed seeing the 1,000-year-old cedars but we did get to see Flume Creek cascade down the side of the mountain.

The following are answers to some of the many questions raised that day:
1. The bridge across Opal Creek should be completed by the end of summer. This bridge is a volunteer effort between George Atiyah and the Forest Service. When finished, the span will be 52-ft. long. It was not finished last year because of the fire season.
2. The peeled small logs were carried in by hand. They will be used to support the ail on the bridge.
3. There is a “user” trail on the other side which goes further but it was put in by the people who live in the area and parts of it are considered an “environmental nightmare” by the Forest Service. Also, its use is discouraged to keep so many people from going through Jawbone Flats.
4. Late summer is a good time to return. You can walk across Opal Creek on rocks in many areas (seems impossible!). (All this information is courtesy of Ray Crist of the Detroit Ranger Station.)

My sincere thanks to Clare Tucker and Chuck Mitchell for leading the “Jawbone contingent”; to Gary Marx, Marc Hansen and Kevin Clark for providing strong arms and moral support across “THE CREEK”, and to Bob Dark for his greatly appreciated hot tea and donut holes at the end of the journey. Attending were non-members Marilyn Marcer, Sally Jo Schwader, Randall Speck, Sue Wolling, and Marie ??. Members were Susan Baker, Cheryl Berry, Lynda Christianson, Kevin Clark, Bob Dark, Elizabeth Gates, Marc Hansen, Sylvia Harvey, Marty Hathaway, Mary Holbert, Corrine Hunt, Ray Jensen, Vi Johnson, Carolyn Kompanik, Gary Marx, Chuck Mitchell, Anne Montgomery, Aaron Novick, John Pilafian, Harvey Speck, Clare Tucker, Birgitte Williams and leader Sharon Ritchie.

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