The Tallest Sugar Pine, Umpqua Falls and Skookum Pond: Two Days in Umpqua National Forest
|The World's Tallest Sugar Pine|
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.
|Absolutely Massive Douglas Fir In Days Creek, Oregon|
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 out from Fred Myers in Roseburg.
|All Beer And Wine From Great Cascadian Companies. . . Of Course|
Though there are many ways to get to this area depending on where you come from, I decided on exit 98 in Canyonville. Before you head out I would suggest getting a map of the Umpqua National Forest, the roads are not always marked and you will not have cell service. Here are the basic directions that I based my route off. This campground can be easily accessed by a two-wheel drive car, in good weather anyways. On the way up to Skookum we had to stop at the tallest sugar pine in the world.
Though there have been a couple of larger Sugar Pines( more about the largest) recently discovered this tree is definitely impressive. I mean it's very hard to tell the difference between a 265 foot tree and a 268 foot tree, unless you've got some talent. Though there wasn't anyone around when we visited you could tell this place got a fair amount of traffic. Sadly the ease of access and prominent signage lead some scumbag to try and kill the tree by girdling it with a chainsaw. For some reason vandals love to destroy or attempt to destroy some of the most impressive trees on Earth, here are some other examples.
|Scar From The Vandal|
Our next stop was Skookum Pond. Along the way we stopped and grabbed some wood that had been left in the sun, it definitely helped out later. When we pulled up to Skookum Pond my girlfriend was very excited about the pit toilet, I was equally excited about the large Douglas-fir near the edge of the pond.
|Fairly Large Douglas-fir At Skookum Pond Campground|
There were three campsites, the only one pondside was occupied up by an Eagle Scout and his father who had built the nature trail that went part way around the pond. The trail couldn't have been more than half a mile one way, but it was great of him and his father to build it. After looking at the two other campsites we decided on the one farthest from the bathroom.
After setting up camp we went to check out the trail that the Eagle Scout had built.
|Half Douglas Fir Half Cedar: All Awesome|
|The Wonderfully Fragrant Skunk Cabbage|
After talking to the Eagle Scout and his father I found out there is a spring that flows from a metal culvert. It's found by walking between the bathroom and sign and back about 100 feet. It's behind a massive Cedar and not hard to find. The water was cold and refreshing. The father told me that it wasn't flowing from the other side of the road, I believed him. I drank the water untreated and I'm alive still... but if you want to be on the safe side, treat it or boil it.
The next morning my girlfriend and I wanted to go and check out Umpqua Falls before heading home, I'm glad we did. We didn't know which route we should travel and we ended up hitting a random snow patch, so we ended up drive back to FR 29. This also allowed us to grab some drinks at the 'Bear' Store ( Directions).
I was excepting something different from Umpqua Falls, something more vertical, but what was there is beautiful all the same. There was a few signs about the various fish runs that happen on the river and what you should and shouldn't do around the spawning areas. I really wanted to jump in, but because of the large amount of snow melt the water was absolutely freezing.