Old Baldy/Coburg Hills

April 24, 2010

I head on down to South Eugene parking lot and park. Put up my Baldy sign on top of the pickup, so people who are going will know where to assemble. Then soon the hikers started to arrive. I collected fees and made sure things were signed. At 9:00 one person who had signed up, had not arrived. I called, no answer. I was lucky, the first alternate had shown up in hope, and there was an opening. The rides were worked out and off we went. Met at gravel lot just past the bridge over the McKenzie. I had Tom Happy be the lead car, and wait just a bit, in case Matt (our Nature Conservancy guide) had not got the gate open. Down the road, and the gate is open, so I drove in and parked and soon the rest were heading up and parked. When everybody was ready, Matt gave a short, but excellent talk about the mission of TNC, and the ways they are going to affect the area. Maps and diagrams helped visualize the large scope of the restoration project. Then I did a short bit, but mostly to get going, as I want to be on top Baldy by 12:00 for lunch. Down to the gate, and walk down to Trail Gate. Matt has said we can go up that way, and then over to a road and up. So we got to show the cliffs of the East Caves. But we did not get to use the Kirk Memorial Trail to see the climbing routes, as there are peregrines possibly nesting in the rocks. As the group was going through the boggy area, Carol Stern fell and bruised her hip; She continued to hike, but it was soon apparent that it was really slowing her down. As the hike had just started and a lot of steep cross-country hiking was yet to come, it would be best if she goes back to the cars. If she had continued, I also worried it might get worse, and require a rescue. Bob Foster will go back with her, and Tom Happy will go with them with the gate key to let them drive home. So it was worked out, though I know they were disappointed a lot. We continued up and added a little extra distance to the hike, as I had not had a chance to scout out the route, due to the peregrines. But we ended up, after a bit, on the regular route. Soon slowly heading up the ridge, in and out of meadows. Lots of flowers, a few deer, and wonderful views. Eventually we got to the Coburg/Marcolla Wagon Road, that has been improved and graveled, to be used by TNC for removal of the trees that will be cut to improve the oak savanna. Here Tom Happy rejoined us. Up the road to where the summit trail crosses, and headed up it. When we got to the “Steep”, I gave my little talk about the value of the “rest step” and locking your knee to reduce calf muscle strain. Then I had Tom Happy lead the more eager hikers up the “Steep” while I served as sweep (and rested) to the top. It worked out perfect, and I did not have to push myself (Old Age & Trickery). On top at 12:00, in breezy weather, but good valley views. Lunch was served, and everyone relaxed. By 12:30 everybody had eaten and rested well, so packs on and we headed north down through the butterfly flyway (TNC cut out all the small firs between the two meadows, so the butterflies would not be buffeted by the wind) and into the meadow between Baldy and the Towers. Here Matt showed the group the Kincaid’s lupine, which is the food source for the Blue Fender butterfly. He explained how they are gathering seeds to later grow more lupine to spread around. We slowly worked our way down the hill into the lower meadow across the wetlands, and then headed into the woods, following a cross-country trail I had marked a few weeks ago with small strips of orange plastic tape. I removed them as I got to them, as I’m not a litterbug. We got to the Main Caves (where years of Obsidian climbing schools were given) and had a quick tour. Now it is too mossy to have people climb about, but it is still impressive. Back to the trail and down the hill some more, into the meadow and the creek crossing, where Jan Jacobsen decided to show the correct way to fall in. She did it with great skill and panache. She was fine, but wet. Showed everybody the Whale and how important it was in the Obsidian climbing schools. Then it was basic down the trail to the parking area. Thanks to all the excellent hikers, Tom Happy (sweep), John Jacobsen (asst sweep), and Matt Gibbons for sharing his knowledge. It was a leaders delight today.

Participants were members Bob Foster, Laurie Funkhouser, Janet Jacobsen, John Jacobsen, Gary Kirk (leader), Chris Molly, Charles VanDeusen and Sue Wolling; and nonmembers Jane Happy, Tom Happy, Ben Sechiek, Dave Sechiek, Carol Stern and Jim Zajac.

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