Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Stewart Park Music On The Halfshell

As we were driving through town we noticed some goings-on at Stewart Park. 

They were getting ready for a Music On The Halfshell program. In the summer time this giant umbrella like structure is unfolded, making a sort of mini amphitheater. In the winter in is folded back down. Looks like it's Big Bad Voodoo Daddy tonight.

The tradition here is earlier in the day people will lay their blankets out to reserve a spot for the show.

At show time the people come back to their saved spot and enjoy the show.

Pretty amazing in this day and age that people can still do this without worrying their blankets will be stolen. Or their reserved spot.

You can barely see it here but the halfshell actually backs up to the river. 

A beautiful setting and a fun time for all!

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Search For Mowich Cave, Part Two

After our first failure to locate Mowich Cave we decided to look again. We felt we were close that last time and figured we'd give it another shot. Little did I know it would be the work out of my life! In case I failed to mention it the there are no trails. None. At all.

This is the type of terrain we had to forge through.

Lots of vine maple, fallen and rotting logs, bramble bushes, prickly holly, and not to mention spider webs to push past.

And then there was the steepness. We got separated for a bit while I was resting and hubby went to see if he could find a good route. He came back part of the way and told me to continue "straight" rather than climb up to his location. 

He continued from above as I struggled through the tangled mess. I lost sight of him and at one point I found myself forced to cross a small stream. I swear it was a little rivulet maybe 1 1/2 feet wide but because of where I was it probably took me 10 minutes to get across. At least it seemed like it. As I had one foot in the water trying hard not to slip a small 1' x 4" rotted piece of a log was dislodged and rolled down in front of me. It took me totally by surprise and I let out a little "WHOO!". Hubby heard me and yelled back "I'm up here!" 

We finally made it to the rock face and started picking our way along the bottom. Along the way we saw a couple of low holes in the bottom of the wall but they were definitely not caves. Maybe a small lava bubble.

We found ourselves having to take more frequent and longer rest breaks. At one point I mentioned it felt like we were climbing at 6,000 feet elevation. Hubby said it was actually about 3,000 feet. Well no wonder I was sucking air! It was only about 2,600 feet higher than I was used to!

Anyway we finally got to the first point of true interest, a nice dribble of water coming off the cliff. It was cool and wet and invigorating. I actually stuck my head under the main stream. Click on the picture to enlarge and you can probably see the water coming down and the wet rocks below.

We spent a lot of recoup time there.

But then it was time to move on. We got to a ledge-like area where it looked like maybe something was up above. I sat down to wait while hubby went up to check if there were any caves.

We were just around the corner from the water wall and he was taking a breather when I heard something or someone crashing through the brush. Hubby didn't seem to hear it so I thought I was hearing things. But then a moment later he heard it as well and I knew I wasn't hearing things. 

He was still up above and told me to get the gun. I started to panic a little as I fumbled with trying to get the gun out of the backpack, but I finally calmed myself down and undid the velcro and had gun in hand ready to shoot whatever walked around the corner.

He climbed down and I passed the gun over to him. We sat for several minutes listening to the brush thrashing and waiting for something to come around the corner. Our first thought was a person following us (forest ranger??), then a bear (!!), and then a Yeti. I did let out that little whoop earlier and maybe it heard and was coming to investigate. 

The thrashing stopped and all we heard was the trickling water. Time to move on.

Oh wait! Is that the Yeti??!!

We continued on around the cliff face and found more of the lava bubbles. That's hubby there with the white t-shirt at the left of the hole.

More holes but not the cave we were looking for.

Another small one.

I think there was possibly a cave up this part of the cliff but it would be very difficult and dangerous without special gear. We decided to play it safe and not investigate further.

As we kept rounding the edges of the lava wall it seemed the lava bubbles were getting bigger. The problem was we were getting more and more tired. My legs were starting to get shaky.

The biggest hole yet.

As you know, I like to take pictures of the flora if it's a little unusual. I didn't have the camera with me when I saw what I thought might have been wild grapes. These are scarlet gilia.

 And these are thimbleberries, said to be absolutely delicious if you can get them before the birds.

We were just about to call it quits and head down towards the road when I saw a tree that looked like it could have been the tree in the sketch. "Let's go around one more corner," I said.

 There we found the biggest hole yet. Right above the fern in this picture.

It's the dark spot on the lower left of this picture.

 Another view point.

We aren't sure this is Mowich Cave. It was the biggest of the caves we found. You could actually walk into it but only about 10 feet. According to the paperwork it should have gone on for about 100 feet. Of course there is the other possibility that this is the cave and it was either caved in by natural causes or filled in by the Forest Service to prevent people from going in and messing things up. Who knows.

Now part of the fauna. I know it's hard to see but look carefully at the right of center of this photograph. Hubby pointed them out to me and told me they were rhaphidophoridae. I told him he was nuts; these are cave crickets!

After "exploring" this cave we were thoroughly exhausted and decided it was time to head back to the road and our truck. The going was certainly easier since it was down hill but still treacherous considering the hidden holes from the years of fallen leaves and rotted wood. My only insult was when I slipped straight onto my butt bottom as I was making my way down.

Hubby had a little more substantial injuries from the pokey branches he managed to not avoid.

Right arm.

 And left arm!

Just a couple scenes from on our way out of the area.

This is the Clearwater 1 dam.

Across from that is the "pen stock", the water pipeline coming from the Clearwater Forbay.

 The back side of the Clearwater 1 dam.

The water between the Clearwater 1 dam and Clearwater 2 dam.

 Clearwater 2 dam.

Next to the pen stock and running into the Clearwater 1 midpoint area.

I'm not closing the book on this search just yet. We weren't 100% convinced that we found the remains of Mowich Cave. Until the next time!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Broken Branch

Around 9:30 pm we were in the living room watching tv when I heard a strange creaky noise. It sounded at first like something was scratching on the side of the wall.

It started getting louder.

Then it got a little louder and was definitely a slow cracking. 

The next thing you know there was a CRAAACK and WHOOSH and THUMP! We grabbed a flashlight and ran out front. A large branch had broken off one of the oak trees in the front. 

In the morning you could really see just how big the branch was.

It's a good thing it wasn't closer to the house!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

You Pick Cherries

Hubby wanted to go to a you-pick place to get strawberries, and then get the fixings to make a strawberry pie. That sounded dandy to me. 

He checked on line and to my surprise it said strawberry season is about done around here. We thought we'd go by the Kruse Farm* you pick place because they also had cherries and blueberries.  We went to check it out and give it a whirl.

We checked in with the lady at the pay stand. She confirmed that the strawberries were about done. Of the ones you could find she said 8 out of 10 would be overripe. I guess with the unseasonably warm weather they fruited quicker than usual. So we opted for the cherries. 

All potential pickers have to sign a quick release form, so that was done. Then since we didn't plan very well and forgot to bring a fruit carrying receptacle she gave us new plastic bags, pointed us down the road where the cherry orchard was and away we went.

There were quite a few other people in there picking cherries. 

There were picking ladders situated here and there throughout the orchard but they were all being used.

It didn't really matter because there were so many cherries low on the branches we just had to reach up a little to fill our bags. 

After just a few minutes I figured we had plenty. After all I didn't want to get so many that we couldn't eat them and they went bad. Back we went to the pay stand to get our cherries weighed and paid for. 

Our beautiful haul of Rainier cherries amounted to about 5 pounds at $1.50/pound. We stopped at the grocery store for some items and noted the Rainier cherries were on sale for $6.00/pound. I think we did well!

I've read that Rainier cherries are sometimes called nature's candy because they are so sweet. Now what to do with all our cherries. Eat them like candy without any guilt!

*Kruse Farm is rather famous in our area. They have a large farm stand along with a great bakery. And of course the various you pick locations.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

North Umpqua Trail, Swiftwater

The North Umpqua Trail is a 79 mile long trail that runs along the North Umpqua River from Swiftwater Park just east of Idylwyld all the way to Maidu Lake. It's open to hikers, bicyclists, and horseback riders. There are several segments ranging from 3.5 miles to 13 miles, with the going being easy to difficult, depending on what trail section you are on. 

The first section has been divided into two new sections not long ago. What used to be the longer Swiftwater segment is now the Swiftwater and the Tioga segments. A bridge was added just west of Susan Creek and that is now the Tioga trailhead.

This is part of the Swiftwater segment, 7.8 miles. We didn't go the entire length, but walked what we guessed to be about 1 1/2 miles before we headed back.

Not far from the trailhead is a split in the trail. Go right to continue on. Going left will take you to the "wildlife viewing area". More on that later.

The trail is beautifully maintained and this section has wide pathways. It looks like before the bridge was in the trail went across the fallen tree. I don't think I would try it.

I couldn't help thinking this was looking like Jurassic Park, thankfully without the Jurassic animals!

Though the trail along this section is nice and wide it is listed as one of the more difficult stretches. That is because there is a lot of elevation changes (that means a lot of up and down). That means a lot of huffing and puffing on my part....

Now to the wildlife viewing area. Not far from the trailhead is a spot along the river called Deadline Falls. 

It's a great spot to sit and watch while the fish jump to go upstream.

If you're lucky you can catch a picture of a fish jumping up.

 Here are a couple of wild iris plants. They are so pretty.

I believe these are wild sweet peas. There are no peas and they don't have the fragrance of the sweet peas you would buy at the store. But they are everywhere, even on the sides of the roads.

I snapped this photo of these strange looking things. I thought they were some sort of fungi at first until we got home and did a little research. They are "Indian Pipe" plants. You can read more about them by clicking on this link.

I think this is a grove snail.

Same snail, different view.

 The disgusting Pacific banana slug.

One of my favorite creatures, Clyde.  Looking pretty on the stump!

I'll post about each section as we go back to hike them.