June 12, 2005
The trip went much more smoothly this year than last, as I now have some slight idea of where things are in the Den. John Jacobsen did the assembly honors, picking up George Jobanek and Rob Castleberry in Eugene, and coming down to the Cottage Grove Wal-Mart, saving me 80 miles of driving.
An omen awaited us at the trailhead—a 20" dia. cut Doug-fir on its side. Blissfully ignorant of what lay ahead, we set a fast pace northwards towards the Den. We soon encountered mucky sections of road containing Subaru sized ruts, dirt-bikers from hell, and more cut trees—hmm, what did this all mean?
After about 1½ miles we took a path off to the right. From the meadow we then entered we saw from Melrose down below us, Roseburg beyond, all the way to Bailey and Thielsen far off in the east and McLoughlin in the southeast. The temperature was coolish—just right for hiking. A few clouds lounged about in the blue sky.
Argh! We had to scramble over a slash pile to get up to the balancing rock. To the west, last year a tangle of manzanita, was now a waste-land, roads cut here and there through the sand-stone. We found the trail again on the other side of this mess, and were soon down to the entrance of the Den.
I attached a hand-line to a near-by tree, and one at a time we lowered ourselves into the foyer. A quick journey through the jumble of chockstone alley got us to Bathtub Rock in time for lunch. After that we found the Rabbit Hole and, pushing packs ahead, squeezed through, crab-walked up and over the bump in the narrow hall, and crawled out into the Big Room inside the Den proper. Leaving our packs there, we made our way into the room with the big maple growing out of a ledge half way up the wall. Then we climbed up and over a moss-covered boulder, up a ramp, and down into the ante-room to the Bat Cave and the Knife Room.
George elected to be first down into the Knife Room. Note for next year: it’s a good idea to have a light in there, as it’s rather difficult to feel ones way across without. The exit is steep and muddy. Once out, we all made the obligatory circle around the Blarney Madrone, then headed back into the Den via the north entrance. We were soon back to our packs, which we collected, then went back to the foyer along side the rotting trunk of the maple that some fool had cut down about 20 years ago.
Back at the trailhead I couldn’t convince anyone else to go check out the Callahans climbing area, so we instead left for Peggy’s at Rice Hill where I indulged myself with a triple scooper (Devil made me do it!) The others were more restrained. —Wayne Deeter
—photos by John Jacobsen