Discover a multifaceted excursion with timely sections--first catch the public transport, next hike a National Recreation Trail that weaves a thread of the riparian edge into a deeper fabric of the Douglas Fir forest, and midway, relax at a private resort before returning on time.
First, the 8:20 AM # 91 LTD bus is packed with bicycles and strollers. Riders hop off and on at country stores and at blueberry, lavender or filbert farms. Old time boaters, neon-clothed cyclists, and demure families, a grandmother with toddler all exchange local news. Last stop, McKenzie Ranger Station.
Next, our hike starts directly across the highway in 70 degree weather cooled by a downriver breeze. A McKenzie River Drift Boat quietly slips through high gradient rapids, 950 c.f.s. At Paradise Boat Launch, our group notices a cluster of nodding flowers with white leaves, no chlorophyll. The Ghost Pipe is getting its energy from the photosynthesis of the Douglas Fir, a wondrous example of mycorrhizal symbiosis. Next break is Lost Creek. We appreciate a delightfully sturdy yet elegant bridge. Freshly hewn logs and large bolts grace the handrail. This project includes voluntary labor by our hardworking members! Here, one hiker notices a familiar spring emerging in soft mineral rich pools at hand's length. We picnic on a fallen log. A shy Townsend chipmunk scampers behind us. Layers of vine maple gracefully mingle with Oregon grape, sword fern over herbaceous lily and dogwood. A Western Toad is out for a warm midday amble, awkwardly traversing the rock crevices right at our knees.
Midway, some hikers choose to dip into the Belknap Hot Springs pool and others freely explore the gardens searching for an elusive classical column. The 1.5 hours of relaxation is liberating. Returning, all eight women are hiking with curiosity, spontaneous smiles, or lively conversation. About a dozen novice bicyclists pass us on the trail. Near the LTD bus stop, we pause at the river's edge. A group of 6-8 paddle rafts float past us. Met by an 80 degree upriver breeze, we gratefully catch the return LTD Bus #91 at 4 PM. Yes, we are seasoned hikers treading lightly, revisiting a cherished river, and using minimal fossil fuels.Members: Meg Stewart Smith, Mary Marshall, Dorene Steggell, June Sutterfield, Cari Soderlund, Karla Rusow, Sandra Larsen, Patricia Bean.
Mary, June, Sandra, Karla, Dorene, Cari, awesome Douglas Fir Log—photo by Meg Stewart Smith
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