Sunday, June 21, 2015

Searching For Mowich Cave

Hubby was playing on the internet and found some old documents talking about Mowich Cave in Eastern Douglas County. Interest was piqued and we decided to try and find it. We knew the general area from the paperwork but none of the maps we have showed a Mowich Cave. Not even Google Maps. Here's a link to an old map that shows Mowich Cave. (The documents show the spelling as "Mowitch" where as everything else, roads etc, spell it "Mowich".)

So with a general idea of where to go we packed a lunch and took off. 

Oh, look! Another ruffed grouse. Later on we saw a blue grouse with several babies but they were camera shy.

First stop was Stump Lake, across the road from our turn off.

Like many of the small lakes that dot the county, Stump Lake is a part of an electrohydraulic system.

This is taken right at the outlet. Look how clear the water is!

And there she goes! The canal leading out of Stump Lake.

Now our search for Mowich Cave begins. We were to follow the road across from Stump Lake off of North Umpqua Highway. The canal bordered the road.

Every couple hundred feet or so were these odd bridges that went across the canal. They were blocked off so vehicular traffic couldn't go across. We finally figured out that they were for animal crossings.

I was not the one in charge of directions so I was purely a passenger. Somewhere, somehow, we took a wrong turn and ended up at the top of Basket Butte. Mt. Thielsen on the left, Mt. Bailey on the right. If you look at a map you'll see Diamond Lake is between the two and Crater Lake is directly south of Diamond Lake. I didn't realize we were so close.

When we realized we had taken a wrong turn we finally stopped at the top and dragged out the giant Forest Service map. Then we figured out where we went wrong and headed back down. Turns out we should have never turned off the road we were on and followed the canal to the Clearwater Forebay #1. We were so close and ended up taking about a 45 minute detour.

Here's where the canal empties into the forebay.

The middle section.

The dammed end. As opposed to the damned end. Never mind.

From there we continued on until we hit the Clearwater Dam, and we knew we had gone too far. From the description of the old paperwork the cave was "about 1/2 east of the Clearwater Dam." We drove back about 1/2 mile and pulled over. We had Clyde with us and the forest was very dense and overgrown with brush, which made walking kind of difficult. I stayed in the truck with Clyde while hubby took off to see if he could find anything.

About 25 minutes later he came back with his report. Walking straight north he ran into a sheer cliff. He followed the cliff wall for a ways and said he found a couple of openings, but couldn't tell how big they were, especially since he hadn't taken a flashlight with him. He said the going was pretty tough, being all overgrown.

We decided then that we would come back another time, since now we knew we were in the right area. Plus we had the dog with us and having him along complicated things a bit. 

So we headed back to the Clearwater Forebay #1 and had our lunch. Crackers, sardines in tomato sauce, brie, doritos, and an Activia. Yum!

The view from our picnic table.

On the way home we decided to go the back way. First we followed the road that was along the canal leading down from the Clearwater Dam.

Hubby wanted to try dipping his line in the creek on the opposite side so I stayed back and enjoyed the view. I loved this section of the canal as it followed the edge of the curving cliff. It reminded me of a lazy river. But if you look at the sign at the beginning of the forebay you'll see where it says to stay out due to the swift current. (PS-No luck with the fishing down in the Clearwater River.)

Then I got the idea to video this section so you can see it a little better. If you have Google Earth you can put the exact coordinates in to see this spot.  43º14'56.32"N 122º20'41.33"W

Back on the way home on the Umpqua Highway we were held up by a work crew. Look at the orange cones in the truck on the right. Straight up between the cones about half way up the picture is a worker. There were two guys up there but I couldn't find the other one in this shot.

There he is in the middle of the picture.

It almost looked like they were deliberately causing the rock slides, most likely to prevent future slides. Kind of like avalanche crews.

I had to grab a quick shot as we passed.

So we didn't find Mowich Cave this time around. There is a website that has the alleged coordinates. We could use our fancy GPS if we knew how it worked, plus it's in storage right now. I have no doubt we'll find it eventually. Something to look forward to! 


Anonymous said...

Such an adventure!! You make sure when you go out, both phones are charged and you leave a note at home where you are heading, I had never seen bear poop, so that scares the heck out of me! I hope you are both 'packing' too!!! Dangerous but exciting, looks like you are right in the area, hopefully those creeks have not changed too much, should help to lead you in the right direction next time.
I also have the recipe for Grey Stuff, omgoodness that sounds too yummy!! Hope you have a wonderful time tonight, and again

Anonymous said...

Found it years ago before they decided to pretend it didn't exist. Its been taken off all current maps and can only be found on some of the older maps. You were in the right area and as I recall there was a road that started near a house and it was a hundred yards or so beyond the house. It would be on the left if you're coming from the Roseburg direction. The first time I found it there was a trail but no sign leading from the road. The second time I went back an attempt had been made to disguise the trail with piles of brush and tree limbs covering it. There is a steel gate covering the entrance to the cave and on the day we came it was unlocked but other times it can be locked. The cave is a roosting place for some endangered bats, thus the hush hush situation. Worth going to if you're lucky enough to find it and then find it unlocked.
Good Luck!