Saturday, February 3, 2007

Cascades-Black Butte w/ the boys

If there's anything I've learned about going into the wild with the boys it's that having some overall goal has nothing to do with it. The kids want celebrate the little things on the trail along the way. A tree stump, a bug, a rock, moss and so on. Appreciate the journey. I'm convinced I learn more from them than them from me.
We started off this day expedition shooting to investigate the Metolius and Black Butte. Now as of this trip, Shane (left) is 3 and Drake is 5 so the goal is just check stuff out, not bag peaks.

The trip began with a stop near Camp Sherman. This is a remarkable place where the kids are standing that looks anything but. This spot is about a 1/4 mile walk in from the road and is known by locals, but not much beyond that. So-what is it?

Well, the green you see in the background is algae of course, but it's not a muck filled pond. This spot is the beginning of the Metolius River. It's not a trickle on a mountain side, but a flow blown river that erupts out of the ground at this spot.
You can get a little more perspective on that when I turn the camera to the right with Drake standing in the same spot. The water in the background is the Metolius in all is full glory. Amazing. The river was buried at the base of Black Butte when it erupted recently, (geologically) about 20,000 years ago. The eruption built a cone about 3,000 feet above the surrounding landscape making it one of the tallest such cones in Oregon.

It was time to climb the Butte. Now this being February, it was a challenge getting up to the trailhead in the Prius, but with some chains and gumption we made it.

Unfortunately, I don't own any pictures of Black Butte at the moment, but you gotta see this amazing cinder cone. Google "Black Butte photos" if you haven't seen it. Here the boys huff it up the trail on the southwest side. You see Ponderosas which on the east face, only a mile or so up the trail change to an entire different species of plants-manzanitas and fir trees flourish.
A mile in or so, you see a few ancient ponderosas like the one I'm standing next to. The tree to the left is about 300 years old. I love how they show deep wrinkles of age as the fissures in the bark layers get deeper. Ponderosas get a distinctive orange tint on their trunks around 100 years that stays with them. Their color seems to relfect their wisdom of all they've seen.
These trees are beautiful, but also darn smart. The bark has dozens of layers which are sacrificial by design. When fire comes thru' they can have those outer layers of bark burn while the cambium layer (the tree tissue which acts like a blood vessel) stays protected.
Here Drake investigates a younger ponderosa-counting the rings to determine the age. At this moment he is showing me the distance between rings which varies depending on the amount of rainfall and then subsequent growth that year. When you look at the rings of an old tree like this (this one was about 200 years old) you are seeing a climatic record of the area. When the dry spells hit, wet periods and other stresses to the tree over many decades.
Our little 3 year old is getting spent after a short jaunt in.
Time for lunch and a recharge!
We didn't make it far up the trail that day, but the trip got Drake charged up and we summitted the Butte (6,436 feet) and camped out up there a month later.

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