Cayuse Creek

June 14, 2010

Four Obsidians met shortly before 8:00 a.m. at Amazon Community Center and gathered around the trip leader’s “show & tells”. The 30" diameter, 350 year old Douglas Fir round from a tree which once grew near our destination for the day got the most attention.

Billed as a Conservation Hike and sponsored by the Sci-Ed/Conservation Committee, this adventure begins 70 miles from Eugene with a look down the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. The vantage point from the FS 1944 Bridge is a classic. After a brief discussion about local topography and significant geographical features and noting the confluences of both Fisher Creek and Cayuse Creek we began our trek up Cayuse Creek following Forest Service road 1944.

We passed one camper hidden away in a remote site and soon saw our first reportable wildlife, a small brown rabbit with rather large ears. Hikers discussed recent studies on the linear relationship between trees and bird populations. We also discussed large woody debris, debris flows, carbon storage and sequestration in NW forests, critical water temps, fishing, and the importance of shade to hikers on a warm summer day. Alas the tenor of the trip soon changed and the conversation became: “Wow that’s something, you could have billed this as a waterfall hike.” Before long we were plotting extended trips and lost in the springtime wonderland of bright mosses, blooming rhododendrons, and cascading rivulets beneath the mostly Red Cedar and Fir canopy. Lunchtime found us at the end of the road.

With clear skies and perfect weather and noting nary a single mosquito, after a leisurely lunch our small company decided to bushwhack another half mile through dense forest to a small lake. Named Devils Lake on the map, we soon discovered why! Devil’s Club. Huge patches of the thorny, thick stemmed forest menace! Proceed with caution. We also “discovered” a magnificent undisturbed grove of huge, 4-foot diameter trees.

After navigating over, around, and through the Devil’s Club, negotiating Vine Maple, climbing over and around huge downed trees, and traversing natural log bridges crisscrossing Cayuse Creek, we arrived at the edge of a small, perhaps 300 ft. diameter, mostly round lake. The far side of the lake was a snowbank in a natural bowl beneath a ridge. As we stood admiring both the scene and our own perseverance for getting there, we were greeted by two salamanders that came swimming up to us at the water’s edge.

The hike back out to the road was another adventure. We took a somewhat higher route along the edge of the draw where we encountered more Vine Maple and steep terrain, but we dropped out of the wild and back onto the road in just the spot we were aiming for.

We arrived back at our automobiles after a brisk five miles downhill and were soon on the way home. Kudos to all participants for a super great day. We arrived back in Eugene at 6:30 p.m.

Hikers, all Obsidians, were Lamonte Smith, Pat Soussan, Mary Holbert, and Tom Musselwhite (leader). Everyone agreed that this group’s well-matched abilities and overall condition were important to making this trip enjoyable and safe. Hikers considering this trip in the future should remember that unmarked trails could be dangerous, map and compass or GPS skills, along with other wilderness skills are prerequisites to safety.

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