H. J. Andrews/Lookout Creek

October 26, 2008

This trip in the H. J. Andrews Experimental Forest began with a tour led by Site Manager Kathy Keable. We toured laboratories, conference rooms, and support spaces where scientists from all over the world come to study forests, watersheds, air quality, soils, flora, and fauna. We learned about long-term studies of spotted owls, log decomposition, stream sediment flows, and logging practices. The site has the capacity to house about 80 visitors. One of the unusual uses of the site is Long Term Ecological Reflections, a creative writers collaboration intended to continue for 200 years, in which participants reflect upon the many parts of the forest through poems, essays, and other literature. We finished up our tour with a visit to the experimental debris-flow flume, a concrete chute 300 feet long with a 60 percent slope and a large runout area where scientist study the effects of landslides.

After the tour, we drove about eight miles to the Lookout Creek Old Growth Trail, leaving one vehicle at the upper trailhead. We started at the lower trailhead and hiked the 3.5 miles in about 3Ĺ hours with a break for lunch. We had cool but clear weather and enjoyed the autumn colors, huge cedar, fir, and hemlock trees, many varieties of mushrooms and ferns, nurse logs, and lots of thorny Devilís Club. The trail was in good shape, with several slippery log bridges and some log stairs, but it was a more rigorous hike than we had expected. Near the creek crossings, many large trees had fallen and we were impressed by the effort it must take to keep the trail cleared by cutting and moving sections of logs up to six feet in diameter. After reaching the upper trailhead, we shuttled back to our second vehicle.

We finished our day with a short hike on an unmarked trail to the site of the 200-year Log Decomposition Experiment which has been continuing for over 50 years. It was fascinating, but to those of us without a scientific background, it generated about as much excitement as watching grass grow!

Our eight hikers/tourists included guest Meredith Fox and Obsidians, Jim and Sharon Duncan, Mary Hamilton, Joanne Ledet, Charlene Pierce, Jim Pierce, and Brian Hamilton (leader).

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