May 17, 2006
Leading an “exploratory” trip means getting lost is a possibility. But in the middle of Eugene!?! Everyone knows about Hendricks Park’s Rhododendron Garden, but few explore the other 60 acres of the park, all undeveloped forest (except for a few walking trails). That was our mission. Starting from the picnic area and guided by map downloaded from the park’s website, we embarked on what I later learned was the West Trail. It should be pointed out that the new kiosk trail map, the web map and a brochure (available on the backside of the kiosk) all display slightly different trail alignments. It’s easy, however, to come upon many side trails and forks in trails not shown on the maps.
With everyone in the exploratory spirit, we went off in all directions, hoping to see everything. The trails quickly plunge you into deep forest where the sounds of the city fade and the birds take over. Wildflowers and tall trees with lush undergrowth prevail.
We met other Obsidians, consulted with a park employee leading a trail maintenance crew and still managed to find ourselves a bit lost. As far as I can figure, we hiked the Old Road Trail, the Oak Knoll Trail, the Highland Trail and the Floral Hill Trail. We may or may not have covered the Wildflower or Pileated Trails. Floral Hill Trail dumped us out on Floral Hill Drive. After exploring downhill to see if we could find another trail back into the park, we turned around and followed the road to the rhody gardens (getting a good view of Moon Mountain’s west side).
After taking a restroom break (running into more Obsidians), we walked down to Pre’s Rock on Skyline Drive. There we joined a busload of Asian visitors on a Nike tour, getting a presentation by Steve Bence, one of Steve Prefontaine’s teammates. How’s that for a hike bonus!
We wrapped things up back in the rhody gardens, enjoying our lunches surrounded by serene beauty. Did we hike three miles? Four? Not sure.
The good sports willing to get lost with me were members Zella Andreski, Max Brown and Margaret Prentice; and nonmembers Lynne and Brian Gunnari. (Note: Although this was the Gunnaris’ first Obsidian hike, they had already attended a potluck presentation and volunteered their labors on the lodge renovation!) Marshall Kandell, leader.