Old Baldy/Coburg Hills

May 2, 2009

Hikers in the cave — photo by Gary Kirk

If you decide to lead a hike in May or June when the wildflowers are the most active, you take a chance on rain. So while it looked promising as we drove out McKenzie View road to park, you never know. Soon the eager group was assembled, the short talk about the special permission to hike, and our responsibility to respect the area and not bring up others.

We headed up McKenzie View Road to the gate that leads up to The East Caves. Over the gate and up to view the cliffs where a lot of rock climbing has been done. Slowly up the trail of many steps, through the climbing rock area, and over to the large moss/grass overlook to view the valley and the Healing Power of the River Hospital. The weather is looking better, the pollen count is down, and we are heading upward.

Then Oregon mist starts, followed by drips, falling fog, liquid sunshine, heavy dew, drizzle, sprinkles, sun, real rain, streaks of sun, precipitation, all in all a typical Oregon Spring day. But the happy hikers are wandering through the wet grass with smiles, and with positive comments about the views all about us. The hike is about 25% cross country, with deer trails, cow trails, man made trails, and even a stretch of the old Coburg-Marcola Wagon Road which has been graveled. We reached the steep part of the hike, had a short lesson about the “rest step”, and then slowly headed toward the summit of Old Baldy. Problem is, the low clouds have also headed toward the summit. No views, slight rain, a bit of a breeze, so we wandered off to the North into the old growth firs, and found a nice spot for lunch. I was sorry we had missed the views, because so many places the Obsidians hike to, are normally visible from the top.

After lunch we headed on down through the Butterfly Flyway the Nature Conservancy has made by removing some of the young firs, which is also part of the Oak Savannah restoration efforts. Then down into the large wetland meadow below, angling over to a new way to return to where we parked. While I knew where I was, I had not ever been this way before, so it was basic, “pick the easiest way to go”. We did cross one creek four times, but at no time did I hear any mutiny muttering behind. What a super group of hikers to lead. Ended up on the lower trail, and then went up the trail and over to a nice outlook clearing for some views. Down to “The Whale”, a very large rock where 100s of Obsidians used to learn the fundamentals of rock climbing every Spring. Then follow the trail down though the Buck Pasture to finish at the parking area.

Tom Happy reported that the count was right, so nobody fell into the creek. I thanked one and all for making the hike a fun one, and soon everyone was heading down to the McKenzie View Road and home. I locked the gate, and turned toward my pickup which was parked across the road. I almost did not make it to the pickup, as I did not have a life vest on. The Gully Washer of all Gully Washers open up, and so I jumped into the pickup, and waited it out, because I knew my wipers could not keep up with it. Sure glad it had waited until we had completed the hike.

Hikers were: Joan Abel, Neil Cawood, Alan Cohn, Brian Hamilton, Mary Hamilton, Tom Happy, Carolyn Higgons, Cork Higgons, Stewart Hoeg, James Kiley, Moshe Rapaport, Lauren Tuchmon and Gary Kirk, leader.

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