May 29, 2006
The Den is getting far too easy to access. There’s now a gravel quarry a few hundred feet away for which the road has been greatly “improved.” The ruts big enough to swallow a jeep are gone—you can now drive all the way to the Den.
When I delayed the trip a couple days (it’s no fun trying to scramble around on wet rock) a number of signees had to cancel. So on the rescheduled date Larry Huff met the seven other Den novices (Doug Nelson, Matt Bell, Suzanne Algara, Bob Freed, Valentina Radchenko, Larry Cotton, and Hollis Terhune) at the SEHS lot, collected trip fees, facilitated the car pooling, and led the group down to Cottage Grove to pick me up. From there we drove down to Roseburg, then on west and up to the top of the Callahan Road. We parked at the usual spot and started hiking up the new, improved road. I miss the good old mud and ruts. Apparently so do the motorized two and four wheelers—they’re tearing up the trail sections now. Gargh!
I was pleased to see that the balancing rock was still there, in spite of the new, working quarry just below it. And when we got to the Den entrance, all looked pretty normal. We took Gary’s way in, squeezing between poison oak and stepping over the big crack. I set up the hand-line, and we were soon all down in the foyer of the Den. We found out why Valentina is so quiet—she doesn’t understand English—only Russian!
All were soon making their way through Chockstone Alley. After that ordeal, everyone was ready for lunch, which we had on Bathtub Rock. But the Den beckoned, so we soon continued around the outside wall and found the gully which contains the Rabbit Hole. One by one, it’s face down in the dirt to squeeze yourself through that tiny opening. Then, once there’s enough room to stand, it’s up and over the hill-in-the-crack, and slither sideways back out into the light, and the Big Room. Here we dropped our packs.
We worked our way through the lush vegetation which grows inside the Den, then dropped down past the entrance to the Bat Cave and stopped at the hole which leads into the Knife Room. Here the language barrier proved to be Bob’s undoing—his Russian isn’t much better than Valentina’s English. As he couldn’t convince her that the Knife Room was optional, he was forced to follow. Once through the jumble of rock in there and back out into the light most availed themselves of the traditional romp around the Blarney Madrone—the Devil knows who didn’t!
We returned to the Den via the back door, then started to retrace our way back to the Big Room. It was here that Valentina decided that she had had enough of this “nonsense” so Doug helped her and Bob find an easier way back to the Den entrance. The rest of us found our way back to the Foyer by an alternate route. Along the way we found that someone had dumped a bunch of old tires down into the Den from the road above, further evidence that it’s now too easy to get to the Den. Larry promises to take over this trip next year—we’ll see... —Wayne Deeter
—photo by Wayne Deeter