Devils Den “Exploratory”
June 12, 2004
This trip was led several times in the ’80s by Gary Kirk, and then once two years ago. Without Gary to lead the way, I called it an “Exploratory” hike. The drive to the trailhead was made with only one slight detour, thanks to careful scrutiny of the map. (Ask Gary for directions? No way!) I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted there by only one noise maker—a fellow warming up his dirt bike. Once he took off, we saw him no more. We found the sections of the old trail to the lookout without too much problem, and enjoyed views of the Umpqua Valley—Roseburg to the east, and Sutherlin to the north. The weather cooperated for this venture; after several days of wet, we were having a couple dry, cool days.
When we arrived at the “Den” I set a handline to prevent too rapid entry into the interior, and coaxed everyone into the atrium. Then the problems began which were only cleared up after I had returned home and re-read Gary’s reports from previous trips. I searched in vain for a passage (that doesn’t exist) into the big room. Finally giving up the search, I led everyone up over some rocks in what turns out to be the normal exit route. We stopped at a 10' drop off that looked from that vantage rather difficult to negotiate. After backtracking to the atrium, I explored the “Chockstone Crack” by myself, coming out at the “Bathtub Rock.” Aha! I circled around, extricated everyone from the atrium and took them on the outside of the “Den” to “Bathtub Rock” for lunch.
After lunch all but Danny decided that they had had enough exploring for one day—perhaps Dave’s father was right in forbidding him to enter the den many years ago (his grandparents used to own a farm in the valley below.) Danny and I set out together to do more exploring while the others looped around the “Den” to where they could see inside from above. We soon found an easy back entrance to the “Den”. Things were beginning to look a bit familiar; I even identified the entrance to the “Big Slab Room”, though chose not to enter. Danny soon found he had rock climbing skills he didn’t know he possessed as we made our way up over some large rocks and into the “Big Room”. Coming around the big maple that some fool had cut down 20 years before, we heard shouts from above, and saw the faces of the “outsiders” peering down. At the point where earlier we had turned back, we found that what had looked impossible from above was not all that difficult from below. Turning back, we explored several side cracks, finding one that leads to the “Rabbit Hole”. While I had no problem squeezing through, Danny didn’t think he could make it, so we exited the Den by the way we had gotten in.
Thanks to Danny Baihuber, Dave Becker, Yuan Hopkins and Sheila Ward for putting up with their “deetouring” leader: Wayne Deeter. Next year I'll have to get John Cecil to make up some more Cave Certificates to pass out—I now even know where the “Blarney Madrone” is.
—photos by Wayne Deeter