11 October 2015

Return to Opal Creek

The trip begins at Sequoia (College Outdoors’s warehouse) with a fine breakfast.  Once we have eaten we prepare our lunches, load our gear, and head off on our journey.  After a couple dusty gravel roads we pull into a gravel parking lot, meet our guide, and load our gear into the Opal Creek shuttle so they can deliver it to the cabin for us.  We then gather our daypacks and start the 3 mile hike to Jawbone Flats.
Jawbone Flats a rejuvenated mining town and now houses the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center, the center’s staff, and those participating in the center’s programs.
The hike takes much longer than usual because of frequent stops to look at mushrooms, interesting plants, and old mining equipment.
Rattlesnake-plantain (Goodyera oblongifolia)
Western grisette (Amanita pachycolea)

 As well as stops to admire the beauty of one of Oregon’s few remaining old growth forests.
The sun peeking through the trees

The shorter scenery
An old mine

Opal Creek
After we arrived, unpacked our gear, and had a fantastic (and vegan/gluten-free friendly) dinner, we took a short hike to Opal Pool to take a look and dip our feet into the ice cold water.

Any activity with College Outdoors is challenge-by-choice, if you don’t want to or can’t participate in an activity then you will not be forced to.  Friday’s plans involved a 15 mile hike up a mountain, but due to old injuries acting up it wouldn’t have been a good idea for some of us to participate.  Those who decided the hike would be a bad idea started the hike with the main group and headed back to Jawbone after a few miles.  We spent the rest of the afternoon reading, enjoying the scenery, and comparing the summer camps we worked at.
My camp went with a dinosaur theme last summer.

Movie night!
In the evening we cooked up some of the collected mushrooms and watched an old movie about Opal Creek.  After that people hung around, played board games, talked, and read.

Opal Creek by Cedar Flats

 We hiked out on Saturday by way of Cedar Flats, an old western redcedar (Thuja plicata) grove.  Once we were about a mile from the parking lot it started to rain on us.  It’s a common occurrence in a temperate rainforest, I know, but it has been dry in Oregon for an unusually long time and the plant life was beginning to suffer.  I honestly love the rain and became completely soaked because I left my raingear in my backpack instead of putting it on like the more sane participants did. 
The CO Logo, courtesy of their Facebook page


It was a fantastic way to spend fall break.  I’m incredibly grateful that I was asked to help lead it and I look forward to being able to work with College Outdoors more as I get into the rhythm of school.

If you have any questions feel free to send me an email at ameliaberle@lclark.edu