With Dad being fairly stable and Mom not needing to go anywhere, I took the car last Saturday and visited my brother. Mick is a forester who lives near Oakridge, up the slope of the Cascades from Eugene. And, oh have I found something to dream of besides Ireland.
We had a delightful lunch in Mick’s favorite pub, stopped at the bakery to enjoy the local sculptures and jewelry for sale, and then drove up the road looking for the turn-off to a trail Mick wanted to show me. There’s not much snow-pack (which bodes ill for Oregon this summer), but January had a good chunk of rain, especially compared to December. And when you combine rain with a windstorm, you get occasional trees down. And then you hope that someone has come along and cleared the road. We were lucky.
We drove by memory – Mick hadn’t checked map for which four digit logging road we needed. We followed one up, far enough to hit a bit of snow, then finally turned around. But the next road was the right one.
I’ve hiked in the Oregon forests before, but mostly when I lived here as a teen. And mostly on horseback, riding down dirt logging roads – we always chose campsites by the availability of a place to tie the horses near the tent. We’d head for a national or state forest to cut our Christmas tree, but I’m a wimp and I hated freezing and tromping through snow for hours to find the right tree. And I was too young for either of those two situations to prepare me for the path to Warm Springs.
Lush and verdant, even in winter. Mick says the only time it’s not green is when it’s snow-covered. The Douglas firs are 150-200 years old and you have to bend over backwards to see their tops. Moss and lichen are spring green, offset by darker ferns. Mick pointed out huckleberries waiting to leaf out, that make August a wonderful time to come. The river rumbled down to our left, the trees sheltered us from drippy rain. I kept stopping to take pictures. Or just to breathe and take it all in.
We reached a small pool between the trail and the river, delightfully warm. Not hot, but warm enough that I’d go in if it weren’t winter. And then it started snowing. Small bits mixed with the light rain, then all snow, then turning to fluffy flakes. We were mostly sheltered in the trees, but stepped out by the river again and tried to catch them on our tongues.
Mick, who knows many places like this throughout the northwest, says this is what keeps him sane.
For me, it was pure magic.
Where are your magic places?