Monday, November 7, 2011
Taking my son on a short hike the other day, my wife and I were pleased to enjoy a relaxing, carefree afternoon in one of our favorite locations in Springfield- Dorris Ranch Living History Farm. This Filbert (or Hazelnut) orchard produces a large crop each year, and we were catching the tail end of the harvest. As the three of us meandered through the trees, the dogs played joyfully around our feet and amongst the trees, looking for both squirrels to chasse and sticks to play with. Finding none of the former and all too many of the latter, they had a tough time picking out the perfect toy for us to throw.
We spent only an hour or so in the orchard, making a large loop toward the Willamette River whose banks the orchard grows upon and back toward the car again. The trees were still completely green, surprising for this time of year, but the air was crisp, clean, and cool which reminded us that winter was soon to come in our neck of the woods. Being a weekday, the foot traffic from other visitors was minimal and we enjoyed our solitude. Anson seemed to enjoy the sights and sounds of the park, as well, as he carefully observed everything we encountered.
After loading up the dogs and the gear in the car, we were bound for home, knowing that the hike we’d embarked upon would be the highlight of our day, if not our week, in the outdoors.
Riding along Highway 97 the other morning, I couldn’t help but thinking how very lucky I am to live in Oregon, and to work among the varying regions of this state. At the southern end of my territory I work in Klamath Falls, just about 15 miles from the California border. Sitting at about 4,200’ elevation, Klamath Falls has a topography that is unique to many other areas in Oregon. The land is dry and dusty, surrounded by mostly bare hills that tower over town, reaching across the horizon and playing wonderful tricks with the suns’ light. As the day fades into evening, the rays race across the hills and alight them with yellow and gold. The hills themselves, which are upwards of 6,000' in elevation, are laden with low grass and copious amounts of lava rock, peaking through here and there creating a patchwork of black spots among the fields of grass .The air is usually very dry as this is the high desert, and the mornings even in the summer can bring fog and low clouds that burn off just as quickly as they have formed. The majestic Mt. Shasta can be viewed on the southern horizon, reminding you once again that you are indeed in a highly volcanic region.
Traveling north on Highway 97, the mix of Ponderosa, Lodgepole, and Aspen trees provided a diverse mix of greens and yellows. The trunks of the Ponderosa Pine, after reaching maturity, develop a beautiful reddish-orange tint that added another hue to the already diverse mix of sights. The Aspens grow in tight clusters of 10-30 trees that provide small islands of yellow among the green backdrop.
Turning onto Highway 58 the landscape quickly changes from dry, high desert to a wetter, denser forest. The Lodgepole Pines and their counterparts give way to Oregon’s state tree, the Douglas Fir. It is estimated that out of all the trees in Oregon, 80 percent of them are Douglas Fir. It is an easy fact to understand as we head over Willamette Pass, diving down from about 5,000’ toward our destination for the day, Eugene., which rests at 800’. The densely packed firs are accompanied by an assortment of low-growing plants, ranging from ferns such as Sword, Maidenhair, and Brackenfern to bushier plants such as Vine Maple and the beautiful Rhododendron. The Vine Maple from the top of the summit all the way into the foothills right now is typically a gorgeous shade of red, and the Brakenfern have taken on a yellowish-brown as they fades into the soil.
As we drove, I took note of the diversity that was being displayed to us. Fall is definitely a wonderful time of year in any part of the country, but I would wager in Oregon, it’s a little nicer than most.
As I ran my most recent 5k the other day, I couldn’t help but think- “MAN, it’s getting cold out here!” Perhaps it was because I had just woken up from a long nap, but I wager it was almost certainly because it was 28 degrees outside! Klamath Falls sits at 5,000’ and it had been snowing most of the day before I went out. Though nearly all of the snow had melted, the moisture was still on the ground providing plenty of opportunities for me to slip and hurt myself.
It didn’t help that I was running in the dark. Or maybe it did. Because it was so dark out, I couldn’t differentiate the ice from the bike path, which undoubtedly made me faster, if not more foolish for being out in such conditions. But I’d made a commitment: to you, to myself. I honestly don’t know how many more of these 5ks I have to do this year to make 100, but I’m not quite there yet. Not yet.
I’ll keep running until something in my brain realizes that I’ve fulfilled my goal- 100 5ks in a calendar year. Until that point, I’m putting my nose to the grindstone and getting out there to make resolution come true!