Friday, February 24, 2012

Oregon: The Trouble-Free Skunk

Oregon was beautiful. This past week has been crazy. It's the paradox of "retreats." You go to get away from it all, and end up having to catch up with a backlog of it all when you get back. But it's still worth it.

It rained most of the time we were there, but once in awhile the clouds would part and the sun would glitter on the dripping greenery.

Our home away from home was the lodge...

And its fireplace, which had a crackling, fragrant fire going constantly.

It was chilly and windy much of the time, and the fire felt good.

If you wanted, you could go to the other side of the building, heated by a woodstove, and lay back on a soft couch and just look out the window and think--or dream.

On Saturday morning my brother Mark and I wandered over to the sweat lodge to help with preparations for the afternoon sweat.

We helped haul and stack wood over and around the pile of volcanic rocks. Later, heated red hot, they would glow in the darkness of the sweat lodge, and, with a hiss and crackle, transform the cold water dashed on them into clouds of hot, purifying steam.

In picking up wood we uncovered this Ensatina Salamander. We carefully covered it up again.

Then we uncovered this Rough Skinned Newt. They are one of the most toxic newts known, and would be fatal to a human who was foolish enough to eat one. But Garter Snakes prey upon them with impunity. We covered this one up again, too, with hopes that its refuge might be overlooked by any hungry snakes.

Once the fire was going strong it was time to go get the blankets.

We layered them over the sweat lodge frame until not a speck of light could get through.

The sweat was good. By the time it was over the afternoon had become evening, and it was too late to get to town to see about fishing licenses. That was OK. We decided to spend the next afternoon at the beach.

The creek that runs through the camp, a trib of the Coquille River, was slightly off-color and a little high. But it would have been fishable except that the camp doesn't allow fishing. They have spent many hours restoring salmon spawning habitat in the creek, and it's a sanctuary for the fish.

I found a great post on The Caddis Fly this week. The writer heads out on a solo fishing expedition on the Oregon coast just two days after we were there. It's a grueling, life-threatening day of man against the mountains, and streams and rivers that are just a little too high and a little too colored. He gets skunked.

We got skunked, too, but with a lot less trouble.


  1. Looks like a nice trip Jim. All that green , lush vegetation really makes me wish for Spring around here! Getting tired of looking at brown grass and leafless trees (although I'd rather be seeing the brown grass than white stuff covering it).

    1. That green was a definite bonus. Spring is close!

  2. Great report and photos! The lushness and green is almost startling. Looks like beautiful country.

    1. Great country, with a wild edge to it that does startle you once in awhile.