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Showing posts from May, 2012

Cool and Moist: A Day Hike to Opal Pool

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The Opal Creek area was the subject of a nearly 20 year battle between corporate interests, including the Forest Service(FS) and conservationists. The Detroit FS Ranger Dave Alexander even vowed he would cut Opal Creek, thankfully the conservationists prevailed. Short history of the protection of Opal Creek.

The forests that line Opal Creek and Battle Ax Creek are only a sampling of what use to cover much of the western Cascade foothills. Douglas Firs, Western Red Cedar, and Western Hemlock tower over the landscape. It's common place to find trees over 200 feet tall and over 500 years old.

My favorite day hike in the area is starting at the 'end' of Forest Road 2209.  After passing a couple of old mine shafts you will reach Merten Sawmill. It now serves as a camping area for backpackers. There are some pretty cool looking things to check out, including Sawmill Falls.





Shortly after Merten Sawmill you can cross Opal Creek on a large footbridge. 
This trail will take you alo…

Drift Creek Wilderness: Horse Creek Trail North

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Often my adventures take me towards the Cascades. I was recently asked why I didn't ever check out the Coast Range. After thinking for a moment, it came to me, the Coast Range usually depresses me. It's pretty much impossible to get to any hikes without passing the massive clear-cuts that the state of Oregon allows on private land. If it wasn't for forward thinking conservationists we would only have photos of what a native Oregon rainforest looks like.



Drift Creek Wilderness is a relatively small but incredible place. There are only 2 trails and a 'thru-hike' of the Wilderness requires a ford of Drift Creek, which in Winter can be dangerous if not impossible. I'll save the Harris Ranch Trail for another entry.

As you walk down the old logging road take note of the large stumps to your right, it's very surprising that this wasn't the fate of Drift Creek Wilderness. After climbing over or walking around quite a bit of wind fall you'll come to fairly …

Lard: The Other Cooking Oil

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Lard is not something I ever thought I would be using in food, let alone making. But after coming across a  lot of articles talking about how much better it makes baked and fried food, I had to make some.

Thankfully I live in a town where I can ride my bike to a butcher's shop. In Harrisburg we have Farmers' Helper. On top of the close location, they also offer meat from Oregon. I walked in and asked the woman working if they had any pork fat I could make into lard, she looked at me somewhat strangely and then disappeared into the freezer. She returned with a 20 pound bag of pig fat, I was hoping for a pound or two. I asked her how much and was surprised she only wanted two dollars. I didn't any cash on hand, so she said to get it to her next time. 


 After putting some of the larger pieces of pork fat in the stock pot I pulled out my copy of Encyclopedia of Country Living. I realized that I need to cut the fat into strips no more than half and inch wide, in order to get th…

The Tallest Sugar Pine, Umpqua Falls and Skookum Pond: Two Days in Umpqua National Forest

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When I break out my maps my mind always goes back to being a little kid driving Hot Wheels cars on a road map of Oregon. I love the feeling of looking at a map, thinking that an area or specific place might be cool and then with little or no knowledge of the area going there. One of my favorite college professors told me about the idea of filling in the geographic blank spots in your mind. I had never really thought of it that way but I have loved doing it my whole life. Whether it's something seemingly insignificant as old abandoned gas station along a highway or something as breathtaking as Umpqua River, I love filling in those blank spots.


After spending some time staring at my Forest Service map and atlas (Benchmark), I decided that Skookum Pond would be a good place to camp. The fact that we all wanted to check out the 'Super-Moon' made me steer clear of the other more heavily forested campgrounds. After loading up on the 'esstentials' for car camping we set …