Willamette Valley – Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge (#3)

Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge
March 20, 2010
 Info: (taken from the US Fish and Wildlife website http://www.fws.gov/WillametteValley/baskett/): Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge is located in the fertile Willamette Valley of northwestern Oregon . The Refuge is situated in open farmland near the eastern foothills of the Coast Range , with the broad Willamette Valley and the Cascade Mountains to the east. Elevations range from 185 to 414 feet msl. The Willamette Valley , with its mild, rainy winter climate, is an ideal environment for wintering waterfowl. The Refuge consists of 1,173 acres of cropland, which provide forage for wintering geese, 300 acres of forests, 550 acres of grasslands, 500 acres of shallow water seasonal wetlands and 35 acres of permanent open water. As with the other refuges within the Willamette Valley National Wildlife Complex, the primary management goal of Baskett Slough National Wildlife Refuge is to provide high quality wintering habitat for geese, especially the dusky Canada goose, to ensure healthy, viable goose populations while minimizing goose browse damage to crops on private agricultural lands.
The Baskett Slough NWR also provides habitat for a wide variety of birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Populations of several endangered and threatened animal and plant species can be found on the refuge. Wildlife/wildlands observation, photography, hiking, and environmental education and interpretation are the major public use activities allowed on the Refuge.
Directions: (taken from my book: Oregon Hiking) From Salem, follow Highway 22 to Rickreall, turn north on US 99 West for 1.8 miles, and turn left on gravel Colville Road 1.4 miles to the trailhead lot on the right.
Jenn’s View: Great easy hike for the family and great views of the refuge. Tons of birds but need binoculars to see anything. I think the best part of this hike was that a winery was very close by ;)The beginning of my hiking adventures. I was just getting over the flu/cold, so an easy hike was in order. My girlfriend, Terri Jacobe, came along and had a blast. Most of the trails were closed and wouldn’t re-open until April. The trail to the view of the Baskett Slough was open, so that’s the one that we did.

The trail was a steady climb up but not at all difficult. You get great views of the Willamette Valley and the coast range when you hit the top. The loop is approximately 1.5 miles. Go straight on the wide grassy path for 0.5 mile and then left at the junction up grass-topped Baskett Butte for the view. (quote from my book) If the refuge is open, you can continue straight into the refuge through a white oak forest another 0.4 mile to a junction and an old barn colonized by darting swallows. Going right takes you to the shores of Morgan Lake, a 1.4 mile walk to a gate, where you can return via an old road for another mile back to the barn, passing a small pond of cattails and the nutria.

When we got to the top, Terri and I thought we saw what looked like vineyards….OOOHHHH, you should have seen the look on my face! I think I had a big fat grin on my face! We completed the walk on the trail.

Found a hollow tree and Terri dared me to go in. I’m not dumb, I know there are tons of bugs in there..so she did it! Gotta love her!

Terri Jacobe being all silly

We hurried back down the trail to get back to my car so we can hunt for the winery. 🙂

Can you see the little ground squirrel? Well I think it’s a squirrel. He blends in pretty well in the grass

Well, I do recommend this hike for families. Wait for a nice clear day to see the Willamette Valley and the Coastal Range. Don’t do the hike in the rain because it gets pretty muddy and “sloushy” in some areas. The best part – go visit the winery! Sit on the porch and enjoy the views! I believe this was at Van Duzen Vineyard. What a great way to end the day though! I did end up buying a couple bottles of wine!

Terri Jacobe and I doing a little bit of wine tasting.
Around the corner was a sitting area.
The main goal of the picture was to show how pretty their tasting room is. NOT the big butt that dominates this picture.
I did end up picking up wine!

Since we were in a wine tasting mood, we hit another vineyard in West Salem area called Orchard Heights Winery. I love living around this area because of all the numerous vineyards that surrounds here! I haven’t hit them all, but one of these days, I will!


COAST- Saddle Mountain March 6, 2010 (#2)

INFO:(From the Oregon State Parks and Rec site) Moderate to Difficult: Two and a half miles. That’s all it is from the parking lot (elev. 1,650′) to the summit of Saddle Mountain (elev. 3,283′). Be prepared to marvel at the sheer volume of natural beauty packed onto the mountain, from a mature forest setting to fields of wildflowers to an open rocky summit. The view from the top of the mountain is one that cannot be described … it must be experienced.The trip to the top isn’t an everyday stroll through the woods, though. Come prepared with water and layer your clothing. The temperature is very different at the summit than in the parking lot. Wear appropriate shoes for rough terrain and be prepared for some steep grades, which make for interesting climbing. A nice walking stick and friend’s hand would be helpful in many areas. As you climb, though, remember to look up and out at the landscape before you. Also look down at the wild floral show that may only exist at that elevation. Take frequent breaks and enjoy this unique landscape as well as the beauty of the forest below you.

JENN’S REVIEW: OK, so this was what my 2nd hike and JUST started getting back in to an exercise routine. HA! THIS HIKE WAS HELLA HARD! We did it though. Took us a lot longer than what my book states that it can be completed. I will re-visit this hike knowing what to expect. I would probably have to do the Insanity video before conquering this hike. OH, this time I’m bringing a Subway Sammich! Read on and you’ll get the whole start of the Subway Sammich tradition.

Kaylee and Joyce and Cassandra all the way up there
Joyce and I
It starts off right off the bat with a steady incline. Marvel at the trees, ferns, bushes…forest, you know, the nature stuff because as soon as you start reaching the summit – it’s gets brown…just brown…blah brown. This trip consist of my step girls – Kaylee and Cassandra and of course, my sister who suggested this trail.

So, each chance we got (which was A LOT), we STOPPED to breathe, inhale as much oxygen, REST, and take pictures. Now, at the beginning of the trail, we came to a large group.  I would say it consisted of maybe 6 guys and 6 women. Now, I call this group “INTEL”. Personal joke, I guess. Well, the competitive side started to come out. Every switchback that we were at “resting”, the Intel Group would be coming up the hill and I would jump off the bench and yell at the girls and my sis, “Let’s go, Intel is coming”.  I wouldn’t yell cuz they sure didn’t hear me.
Photo opportunity, plus I had to stop

Nope that ain’t no peace sign!
Did I mention, THIS IS HELLA HARD! Okee, more picture opportunities and more stopping and resting. But Intel was coming so we bust our tails.

OKEE, we reached what we thought was the top.  We hung around a bit took some pictures and started to get back on the trail and wanted to see why a few people were going the opposite direction and on to this other trail.  When we came out, our hearts sank!!! We weren’t at the top and we had to climb THAT THING!

Oh baby geezus, we almost cried but we moved on! We haven’t even reached the base of the mountain and Joyce felt like dying already! Poor gal!

Now, we are about 1/2 way up this thing and like I said, we stopped at every chance we got. The wonderful Park people provided picnic tables at most switchbacks to sit and rest. Oh we took every opportunity to do so. he he but Intel was coming! Now a little note, when someone who is coming DOWN from the summit says, “You are very close, not much further”. LIARS! Don’t believe them…It’s further than it looks and its HELLA HARD. IT’S STRAIGHT UP!
We were very close to the top and the girls, Joyce, and I were resting at one of the benches and notice 2 guys from the Intel group coming up…I freaked and said I’m going. I left Joyce and Cassandra behind and Kaylee and I took off. Now, these guys caught on to my little shenanigan and one of the guys said, “oh you racing me huh?”. I just gave him an innocent grin and said, “nope”. LOL. Dang him! him and I were neck and neck and unfortunately he did beat me. Just him though out of his group. Kaylee and I reached the top first and stayed up there waiting for Joyce and Cassandra to come up. I saw Joyce coming up and she had the worst look on her face.  She was like in a trance…Poor gal. Shortly following her was Cassandra. Poor Cassandra – she wasn’t even wearing the right shoes for this hike!

Joyce in her zombie like trance
Here comes Cassandra!

AWWWW the joys of making it to the top! Started taking pictures and enjoying the views.

The subway sandwich tradition — So, we made it to the top, enjoying our piddly snacks, ohhhin’ and ahhhhin’ the scenery and notice ALL the Intel Group made it to the top.  Hooray for them.  Now, they are sitting there and all of a sudden started busting out all these subway sandwiches out of their packs.  Mine and Joyce’s jaws drop and no longer was the beautiful cascade range, trees, nature the focus of our attention, it was the Subway Sandwiches! Dang, I swear I can feel the saliva increasing in my mouth and soon caught myself drooling and more than likely my tummy making loud growling sounds! So, Joyce and I made a pack. Each hike we do, WE BRINGING A SUBWAY SAMMICH!

Views from the top

I think we can see the ocean