November 18, 2008
As they say, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there!” Having gone upstream on recent hikes starting at the duck pond, I felt we should go in the other direction on this beautiful sunny morning (no fog!) and then decide after an hour whether to go further or return. So, we set out along the North Bank Trail in the hope of finding a pond turtle basking in the sunlight. The first stretch, just past the North Bank brewpub is almost on the freeway and then there is the long section along the Valley River Center parking lot (the key is to look to the left where the Willamette offers continuous eye catching vistas).
We soon were spotting great blue herons (we saw five or six on the hike), lots of ducks and geese and a family of four raccoons making their way across a pond and up a hillside. After passing Willamette Oaks at the one hour mark, we conferred and our adventurous troop decided to cut over to Goodpasture Island Road and explore the Delta Ponds. Enroute, we saw a whole squadron of cormorants posing on a log. At first, we missed the trail and found ourselves on a newly constructed raised wooden walkway leading to a viewing platform. We retraced our steps and found the trail, which took us into the center of the ponds. The city is apparently letting this area return to its natural state and the trail was not always easy to follow, especially when we had to climb over and crawl under tree and brush limbs.
Then it was back to the North Bank River Trail. We crossed the Valley River bridge and returned to the duck pond via the South Bank trail and the DeFazio bike bridge. What was advertised as an easy four to five-mile hike became a three-hour moderate six to seven-mile jaunt. . . with no complaints from any of the participants. On the hike were members Brad Bennett, Myron Cook, Jim and Sharon Duncan, Marshall Kandell and Jim Pierce.
Unfortunately, we never did see a western pond turtle. They must have gone to sleep for the winter, because this was certainly a great day for basking in the sun.