Middle Fork Willamette/Chuckle Springs

September 21, 2003

On a perfect fall day, 13 hikers explored a portion of the Middle Fork Trail, which follows the Willamette River for 33 miles to its origin at Timpanogas Lake. After shuttling a car, we began the hike where the trail crosses Road 2143, heading upstream for three miles before stopping at Indigo Springs for lunch. Parts of the trail go through old growth forest where rocks and tree trunks are carpeted with thick green moss. The trail crosses numerous springs and streams flowing into the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. Negotiating some of these streams on rocks and logs added to the interest and challenge of the hike. In addition to its physical beauty, this area has an interesting history. The Lost Wagon Train of 1853 struggled over Emigrant Pass in October 1853 and finally made its way down into the Middle Fork region where early settlers of the Willamette Valley rescued nearly 1500 emigrants, some of whom were found at Indigo Springs. In addition, much of the Middle Fork Trail follows the route of the Oregon Central Military Road, whose construction began in 1865. The road connected the Willamette Valley with eastern Oregon and it was used until the early part of the 20th century. Tracks from the road can be seen at Indigo Springs. After lunch, we continued up the trail, detouring to Chuckle Springs where we rested and enjoyed the quiet beauty of the springs. We continued on a small loop back down to the main trail and returned to Indigo Springs for our departure. A stop in Oakridge for cold drinks and ice cream slightly delayed the return of the modern day emigrants to Eugene. A most congenial group of hikers included Daniele Delaby, Jim Fritz, Anne Hollander, Yuan Hopkins, Helen Liguori, David McClurg, Rayla McClurg (age 9), Carol Petty, Lee Pritchard, Barbara Schomaker, Sheila Ward, and leaders Sharon and Jim Duncan.

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