We departed from town at 8:30am with a plan: if we run into snow, turn around and go the other way. By 10:30am our party of 9 intrepid Obsidians were starting our hike up Cayuse Creek, a tributary of the North Fork in the heart of the Willamette National Forest. After about a mile of clear trail we encountered our first snow at about 2900 ft.. Not to be daunted, we pressed forward anyway. Shortly, we started noticing elk tracks, coyote scat, elk scat, deer tracks, tracks we identified to be that of a rabbit and cougar tracks we judged to be from the night before.
The snow was nice and had a lot to offer, but not great hiking, so we drove down river to check out the new Buffalo Rock segment of the North Fork Trail. The trailhead is a little bit obscure, but we found it easily thanks to master trail guide Bill Sullivan’s great instructions. It’s right across the river from Kiahanie Campground off of Forest Road 1939.
Only a few miles downstream from our originally planned hike, the difference in the volume of water in the River was remarkable. Melting snow on the watershed created cascading rivulets that seemed to pour out of every crevice. At this lower elevation, about 2000 feet, trilliums and a few other wildflowers were beginning to bloom. The high river level also made more apparent the complex braided nature of the river. Numerous intertwining smaller channels made islands of vegetation obscuring the main channel from our riverside view.
After lunch and another 5 miles of hiking along the new trail segment, we returned to our cars and were on the way back to town by 3:00pm. Despite the low snow level, it was a fantastic day to get out there.Members: Tom Musselwhite, Darko Sojak, Diana Masarie, Linda Hovey, Eric Grape, Diantha Hull, Joella Ewing, Dick Hildreth, Sam Tracer.
4 15 2012, Joella Ewing on small tributary of the North Fork of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River, OR—photo by Darko Sojak
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