July 11, 2010
It was the perfect Oregon summer day, warm with shimmering sunshine and bright blue skies with occasional high flying white clouds. Above Blue River is the Andrews Experimental Forest, a large, very beautiful intact old growth forest thanks to the protection of its “experimental” designation.
Our group of four started off at the lower trailhead, and the trail begins by descending to a crossing of Lookout Creek. On the path on the way down, we saw several “nurse logs”, fallen Douglas Fir giants whose trunks have provided soil and nourishment for many seedlings of new Doug firs and other forest denizens. These new trees are growing up into healthy youngsters. After crossing the creek, the trail climbs by switchback through giant Doug firs and Western Red Cedars, as well as many yew trees, a species of tree which was heavily logged out of most unprotected northwest forests for medical uses a couple of decades ago. It is good to see them growing here. The trail reaches a ridge where, in spite of being still surrounded by enormous trees, we often had views of the ridges across the valley and the sky beyond, so there was a feeling of openness — a nice quality in a forest hike. At this point of the hike, the forest was filled with rhododendrons, some still blooming, red huckleberry bushes, and a groundcover called bunchberry dogwood, which has a flower resembling the tree dogwood.
We proceeded at a leisurely pace, enjoying the surroundings and the company. At our lunch break, we each shared a poem or prose passage which related to the forest or nature. We heard a classic by Robert Frost, a passage by Annie Dillard, and two more modern and unknown poets.
After lunch, the trail came to many creek crossings, and we found ourselves carefully avoiding the claws of the prolific Devil’s Club plant, an impressive dweller of wet places. Some of the creeks had rocks to balance on, some had rocks to hop, and one had a lovely little bridge over a possible dipping spot where we sat for a break, and got our heads wet to cool down.
The trail comes out on the road again, and we had the option of going back through the forest, or walking down the road to our cars, and we all agreed to take the easy way down the road. This route also had its pleasant surprises.
As our co-leader Sandra Larsen said, “This is a lovely hike in an old growth forest, and was surprisingly cool for such a warm day”.
The four thoroughly enjoying hikers were: Co-leaders Anne Hollander and Sandra Larsen, and LaRee Beckley and Chuck Eyers.