Coburg Hills-Baldy

June 6, 2004

I decided to keep the size of the group this year to 20, but with the chance of rain, cancelations, no shows, and alternates who really wanted to hike, we ended up with 18 hikers. The group got together at the parking lot, and after collecting the trip fees and cars/riders together, we headed out Coburg Road to the gravel parking lot just beyond Spores Bridge over the McKenzie River. From there I drove on McKenzie View road to the “Pasture Gate”. I opened the gate and drove up to the parking area. Soon the rest of the cars showed up full of eager hikers ready with umbrellas and rain parkas. Then a pep talk, warnings, unwanted advice, and a comment about the special permission allowed us to hike on private land. We walked McKenzie View Road eastward to the “Trail Gate”. Over the gate and up the hill to where years ago there was a small lake. It’s now a marsh due to past logging silt. We got a view of the “East Caves” area which we were heading up to. The people/cow/deer/turkey trail leads past the marsh. Then on the “Kirk Memorial Trail” that goes up the steep slope to the “Cave”. It’s always a kick to look down the switchbacks of the trail to see all the hikers slowly working their way uphill. We explored the “Cave”, with the rain the moss on the entrance was slippery, so not everyone climbed inside. We then continued along the trail, which in someplaces is built with boards fastened to the rock wall, while I pointed out the many rock climbing routes on the steep vertical rock cliffs. At the top of the ridge we walked over to the open area to view the Springfield/Eugene area below. Then slowly upward and onward to the summit of “Baldy” which we reached at 12:00. This year the weather was crappy, with rain, wind, and clouds covering the normal awesome view. So to keep the hypothermia down we headed north and down under the large fir trees to get out of the wind and rain. Here we had a short lunch period and conversations with old friends and new friends. After lunch we headed downward by cross country route. Lots of tall wet grass that the leader type being first, would strip of most of the water and transfer to his pants. I was soaked to my belly button. This years hike was different as I added a new area to visit. I had scouted a trail over to the “Main Caves” where the Obsidian climbing schools for years used to teach basic climbing. Following orange tape we wandered down through the woods to just above the Main Caves. I had planned to climb up and show the views, but the wet mossy conditions made things a bit spooky. So after pointing out some of the climbing routes, I led the group down the hill, across the meadow, over to the “Whale”. This is a very large rock with a lot of short rock climbing routes. On the way we found ourselves as part of a herd of cows. They were not happy with us and said so in loud voices. The owners of the property are active in returning the area back to an oak savannah. And so this year I wanted to show where they were cutting back the blackberries and small firs. After leaving the “Whale” Wayne Deeter and I were way in front of the group and as we came around a large rock, out jumped a very large coyote, which dashed toward the tree line. We were both watching to see it again, when from behind the rock came a small baby coyote heading toward the trees. We wished the others could have seen them, but they were again in the middle of mini-stampede. We all thought the reason for the strange behavior of the cows was caused by the coyotes. Headed on to the stream crossing where we found the cows had made into a mud wallow. Wayne Deeter decided to charge ahead and found out how deep mud can really be. Soon the whole group was looking for safe ways to cross the creek. They all made it and we continued on through huge patches of bare ground where blackberries used to be. Just when the group was wondering if the leader was lost, we found the road. Back to the cars with wet boots and pants, but everybody had made it in fine shape, and I think had enjoyed this different view of Eugene/Springfield area, the woods and rocks of the Coburg Hills, as I had enjoyed sharing it with them. Those on the trip were: Danny Baihuber, Mari Baldwin, Anne Bonine, Dave Chapman, Kim Chapman, Wayne Deeter, Ron Funke, Ron Gerweck, Maggie Gontrum, Tom Happy,  John Lee, Becky Lipton, Anne McLucas, Jack O’Donnel, Shawn Phelps, Donna White, Ron Wood and Gary Kirk, leader.

Visit to Coburg Caves

“On the Edge” climbing route

On the trail between the cliffs below the “Tsunami” climbing route

Elephant’s Tail

Viewing other parts of the beast

Up above Springfield

Spencer Butte (far left) to Skinner Butte (far right)

Final push up Baldy

Lunch under the trees near the top

Death Camas

Hamburger on the hoof, near the Whale

—photos by Wayne Deeter

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