Jan 31, 2010

A Walk in the Winter Woods

We are so lucky to have a beautiful forested park right outside of town. Shevlin Park was gifted to the city of Bend by one of the big lumber companies in 1920 and most of its 650+ acres are undeveloped. Just the place to go on a sunny winter day for a walk with my sweetheart.

As we are in the middle of a classic El Nino winter (most West Coast precipitation occurs south of us, bringing torrential rains to California and a mild, dryish winter to the Northwest) there is very little snow on the ground at our elevation (4000 ft). Skiing continues to be great just uphill from town, but for a less strenuous outing on our Thursday day off together, we took ourselves here.

Winter walks are a time to see the bare bones of the landscape -- nature's hardscape, and the remnants of last summer's greenery as well.

The park consists of a long canyon, with a paved road along part of the valley floor, and trails along the creek, the hillsides and on the canyon rim.

It's a favorite destination for mountain bikers, runners, walkers, and people on leashes. Since it is a wildlife refuge, dogs are required to be leashed, but I'd say the majority of dog owners let their dogs run free as soon as they leave the entrance and simply carry the leashes, obviously considering the rules don't apply to THEIR dog. I don't quite get this, so I assume they know best: that it is they who need to be on the leash.....

There's a covered bridge, a large group area with big shelter, a couple of very low key picnic areas, including one in Fremont Meadow, named after explorer John C. Fremont, who camped in the area during his 1846 expedition.

There's a creek....

and an interesting cast of characters.

The Rock People...


Trees with history...

and ex-trees.... This one fell across the trail during a big windstorm last winter.

These are all that's left of last summer's wildflowers...

Manzanita is evergreen...

I love its smooth red bark and sturdy round leaves..

On our way back towards the car, we took the trail on top of the rim, which goes through a burn. No pine needles underfoot, just mud and lots of tracks. Footprints of joggers, hikers, bike tires, dogs...

and these...

hmmmmmm, definitely not dog prints. Bobcat or a young mountain lion. There have been a lot of cougar sightings in the park in the last 10 years or so. My intrepid sweetheart, who rides there several times a week during the season, has never seen one. But he says he won't be surprised if and when he ever does. Conventional advice when coming upon a mountain lion is to stop, make oneself look tall, and slowly back away. I suspect it would be tough to ride backwards, so I hope the looking tall would be enough.

The day after we took this walk, it snowed several inches and the trails and park were buried under a new blanket of white. After a few warm, sunny days, it's clear again. We'll probably head out there again soon.


  1. What a beautiful walk. With that and your new photo at the top, I'm fully convinced I need to see oregon. I may have mentioned, but I feel a strange connection to the state for whatever reason. The area with the rocks reminds me of a scene from The Princess Bride. Do you know what I'm talking about? I think it was the fight scene with visik (sp) and the hero.

  2. Hey Wendy, come on out. We'll give you the grand tour. Oregon definitely rocks -- I've lived here for 35 years now and I still love it.

    The photo is of Crater Lake, a couple of hours' drive south of us. I loved the sky that day, and the amazing light effects on the water. That photo was taken in late June a couple of years ago, after a very snowy winter. This time of year there is so much snow that the rim road is buried, usually not opening until early July. We do the 33 mile rim road on our bikes at least once a year.

    I sort of remember that scene, though it has been a while since I've seen Princess Bride. I wonder where they filmed it?

  3. Hi;
    Ah ha! Read through your comments and now I now. I was wondering if that masthead photo was of Crater Lake. It's gorgeous! As are all of your photos from this great hike. I've logged a lot of miles on the Oregon trails. I just love it out there...

  4. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! How can we ever take such beauty for granted?! Please take a deep breath of that pine scented air for me..... I can smell it now. Oregon deserves you, Li'l Ned.

  5. PS I just KNEW that Big Foot exists!

  6. Kate, thanks for the kind words on my pocket digital camera photos. Coming from you, that's a real compliment.

    Jackie, not only does Bigfoot exist, but I am married to him! Well, to the one in the photo, at least. And I had forgotten, until my husband saw this photo and my caption, that his mum used to call his dad 'Bigfoot' when they lived in a cabin/house in the forest north of Astoria. Dick spent his days puttering around the place, disappearing and then reappearing from the surrounding trees. One winter he grew a beard and at that point she christened him 'bigfoot'. Looks like we've come full circle in the Bigfoot family.

  7. I knew it! Big Foot has a bicycle stashed somewhere in the forests and uses it to elude scientists. Well, give Big Foot a hug from Kansas (and lets hope his bicycle makes enough strange noise to keep those mountain lions away). ; )