Thursday, September 10, 2009

Oregon Caves National Monument Hike

On Labor day we hiked the Big Tree Trail at the Oregon Caves Monument. The highlight of the trail is – one wild guess!-a big tree. The big tree is the largest Doug Fir in the state of Oregon, estimated to be around 1300 years old (give or take a few hundred years), with a circumference of 41 feet and 160 feet tall. It’s not a Redwood by any standards but it’s a really big tree. Since most old growth forest is gone it’s hard to remember that trees overall used to be a lot bigger. Here's the tree: I had a great time. Don’t let Kelly tell you I was bitching the whole way up the trail, I was not. OK, maybe I was, but just a little. A teeny tiny bit really. No need to blow it out of proportion. Kelly did point out that we were hiking on a trail in the mountains and most likely there would be some elevation gain (1100ft, to be exact). I was much more reasonable after he told me that. It’s not like I starting yelling about moving to Kansas immediately or muttering wildly “where the $%&^ is this *#$& tree” or anything like that. I really did have a great hike, especially on the downward descent. The tree is magnificent, the trail is well-maintained and the forest is enchanting. We saw a deer that was relatively untroubled by our presence, it kept hopping a short distance ahead on the trail until it got wise to our direction and moved parallel up the mountainside. The woods were alive with rodents, all industriously preparing for winter (or not - who knows really?). We saw little black, very noisy squirrels and lots of chipmunks, although I can’t ID any of them with the genus/species. There are a lot of squirrel-type critters in the west. Birds were calling, mostly the Stellar’s Jays although I did hear some Nuthatches and Chickadees. I’m glad I stuck it out- it was a memorable hike.

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