BECOMING AN OUTDOORS WOMAN
When you go hunting for pheasant at the EE Wilson Wildlife Area near Corvallis, be ready to put in your time and lots of energy – often you are pushing through thick, waist high grass.
On the EE Wilson Wildlife Area near Corvallis, newcomer Kelly Ruboin is on her toes because the pheasant can launch themselves skyward in a heartbeat.
Kelly joined accomplished hunter Mark Steele, and his hunting dog, “Neela,” for an afternoon in the field.
Mark is a volunteer guide who gave his hunting services over for a special day designed for women only.
In fact, two-dozen women gathered on the wildlife area to learn what upland bird hunting’s all about.
“Ok, Kelly,” coached Steele. “Walk right down into this field – a bird could be sitting out there fifty yards or so – if I was a pheasant this is where I’d be hidin ‘out.”
Ruboin, like many of the other women, has never done anything like this before. But that’s okay because she’s taking a class to learn how it’s done.
The EE Wilson Wildlife Area Pheasant Hunt is part of a unique Outdoor Skills program sponsored by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and it is called “Becoming An Outdoors Woman.”
The class was too good a deal for Kelly to pass up. For twenty-five dollars each woman learned hands on gun safety, hunting techniques, proper clothing, plus how to shoot and hit what they aim at.
Experienced instructors from ODFW offered lectures on firearms and led the students through a number of exercises in proper gun handling and safety.
They helped to build confidence in the newcomers with an atmosphere of trust that paid off with relaxation and fun.
EE Wilson offers nearly 1800 acres for hunters, fishers, hikers and cyclists to explore throughout the year.
Back out in the hunting area, Ruboin was on high alert and ready for her shot at a pheasant. She walked the field with “Neela” out front and on point.
Suddenly, two birds erupted from the grass, Ruboin tracked one of the birds as it flew to her left and away – she fired, but it was a clean miss!
Yet, she turned and smiled – full of enthusiasm: ”That was great!, she shouted. “This has been so educational even though I didn’t get a pheasant.
At least I got a shot off. It’s so much fun! I’ll be back too.”
KLAMATH CANOE TRAIL
While Klamath Lake feels huge at first glance, you’ll feel comfortable and right at home inside the cozy confines of a canoe or kayak as we paddle across the Upper Klamath Wildlife Refuge’s designated “Canoe Trail” where hundreds of bird species make their seasonal home.
You don’t need to be an experienced birder to enjoy Klamath Marsh music when you join Darren Roe of ROE Outfitters.
We recently joined Darren, his wife Jen and their friend Melody Warner on the Upper Klamath Wildlife Refuge.
As we loaded our gear into dry bags and prepped for a morning of paddling,
Darren noted: “It is amazing to folks that come here for the first time and they always want to know – why aren’t there more people here?”
It was an intriguing question as we left the pavement far behind to discover an enchanting world that was all ours to explore.
The Upper Klamath Wildlife Refuge Canoe Trail extends more than nine miles and that takes you into the heart of a freshwater marsh on the north end of Klamath Lake
“It is splendid and scenic with just a ton of wildlife species,” said Roe. “This waterway is mostly fed by freshwater springs in the marsh that help to create these waterways – they actually well up out of the ground.”
“And it’s a friendly place to paddle too,” added Jenifer Roe. “There aren’t a ton of tough turns, you don’t need to be an expert paddler. It’s really friendly to someone that’s just beginning to paddle a canoe.”
The braid work of channels that make up the Canoe Trail are defined by bulrushes and cattails and plants called “Wocus” that are always at your side.
The marsh is home to hundreds of wildlife species – especially bird life – from small red wing blackbirds that flit from branch to branch in an endless parade of feeding activity to the large and dramatic White Pelicans.
The big birds arrive at Klamath Lake on 9-foot wingspans from as far away as Baja and will summer in the Klamath Basin’s nesting and brooding wetlands.
“Typically we see them flying across the lake and occasionally you’ll see a group actually fishing for the perch.”
It is a place where ducks, geese and shorebirds rest and probe muck of the marshes. The abundance of varied bird life includes Oregon’s largest concentration of nesting bald eagles.
Diverse habitats, varied wildlife within a refuge system where 80 percent of all Pacific waterfowl are funneled.
Jenifer Roe added that the Upper Klamath Lake’s protected Canoe Trail allows a closer visit that’s filled with surprises!
“Make sure you take enough time off so that you can really enjoy it. Once you get here and experience the canoeing, kayaking and fishing, the disappointment is going to be that they couldn’t get it all done in one trip.”
KLAMATH RIVER RAINBOW TROUT
Who does not love to cast into rivers or streams for big, hungry trout?
Mark me down as one who cannot resist the allure of magical places that hold big-finned secrets in the riffles and runs.
So it is this week as we travel to a designated Wild and Scenic section of the broad-shouldered Klamath River in Southern Oregon.
We joined a couple of pros that know just the right flies to cast into the river and provide us a chance to catch the Klamath’s red-band rainbow trout.
A rough roadway with bumps and jumps and a jarring ride down a single track dirt road that leaves you wondering: where is this adventure headed?
And then you arrive – riverside!
Where scenery softens and the world is reborn along Oregon’s remote wild and scenic Klamth River.
Our hosts, Darren and Jen Roe of ROE Outfitters, told me that the Klamath Canyon is known mostly for its rafting, but wanted to impress me with why it needs to known for its fishing too.
That began with preparation – so a rod, reel and waders are required.
Plus, a collection of imitations of nature’s creations that promise to catch fish.
Darren noted his preferences: “Stone files and red headed prince nymphs and a salmon fly and a golden stone. You want to unhook your fly, not walk up too close and just plop it in closely – then pick it up and go a few feet further.”
High buttes crown the canyon rims as the Klamath River carves its way through Oregon’s volcanic cascade mountain range for 11 miles to the border with California.
You can easily watch the canyon come to life: vegetation cools the riverbanks and shade covers the boulders and provides a home for insects:
“The biggest passion here is the fly fishing,” noted Jen. “It’s a great large population of red-band rainbow trout and the food source is really incredible as well as the aquatic life.”
The Klamath River is managed as summertime catch and release fishery and that means flies or lures only – no bait allowed.
Once I got the hang of the technique: casting and then stripping line, I was into fat rainbow trout too.
The fish are all wild red band rainbow trout and it is prolific fishery – fish range from 9 to 16 inches and average 11-13 inches.
The river has been protected as wild and scenic since 1994 - a special place that’s a distant world away from city hubbub and noise and aren’t we lucky it’s that way!
Jen offered: “ It’s really just about getting off the main highway and getting out and exploring all of these great things like the Klamath Lake Wetlands and the river and lake fishing – too many people pass it by. They don’t think it has anything to offer and that’s really wrong.”
“It’s so peaceful, it’s so quiet, added Darren. “It so beautiful too - I think it’s just a well-kept secret – I think people just honestly don’t know it exists.”
Lava Lands - Looking Back in Time
Recently, I pointed my travel compass into the Oregon Cascades and a campground I’d heard of for many years but had never veered into during cross-mountain treks.
A real historic hotbed across a landscape that was a true hot zone of volcanic eruptions, magma flows and a birthplace of mountains – evidence that’s obvious not only above ground, but below the surface too at Central Oregon’s Lava Lands inside the famous Newberry Crater National Monument.
First, travel to the Lava Lands Visitor Center; headquarters for all of the Newberry National Volcanic Monument and a super place to get well grounded, so to speak, on the geologic history that created the 500-square-mile region.
The visitor center offers displays and exhibits and rangers who can school you well before you head out to see the terrain.
Larry Berrin, USFS Spokesperson, said that there are 400 buttes or cinder cones that date to the time when volcanoes ruled the landscape near Bend.
“The Trail of Molten Lands” gives you a perspective but then coming up to the butte and seeing it – wow! It keeps going, it’s not just right around here- it’s not just this cinder cone. It actually flows and continues on.”
Berrin added that lava either exploded into the air or oozed out of the ground for miles around – the trail allows you a close up view of the power of nature.
“It knocked down very tree in sight and wherever it went, nothing lived. So, anything you see now came after the flow – 7,000 years of growth on the flow itself…here’s not much growing on this lava field, it’s pretty barren.”
You can hike or drive to the top of Lava Butte. The way up the narrow, winding lane prepares you for the stunning display you’ll find at the top.
Lava Butte erupted several successive times beginning about 7,000 years ago with enough basaltic rock to build a roadway six times around the planet. The lava from these cones flowed for miles--not only above ground but below, too
A mile south of the visitor center is Lava River Cave, a mile-long lava tube, Oregon’s longest.
Berrin said the chance to go underground and view the lava’s unique legacy is “an opportunity to plunge yourself into a primitive environment.”
Lava River Cave’s entrance is nicknamed “the collapsed corridor” because the cave’s air mixes with the outside air to expand and contract cave’s walls and ceiling.
But rest easy for there’s no record of rock fall over the past century.
Your cave adventure is perfectly safe as you reach the smooth sandy floor.
Be sure to stop along the way and examine what at first glance looks like a sort of “glazed” donut effect on the cave walls
“What you see here is almost like candle wax I guess,” noted Berrin.
“It isn’t but it looks like it is. People think that the water is mixing with minerals and dripping – but that’s not what’s happening – this is solid basalt and hasn’t changed in 75,000 years. When the gasses got trapped, they re-melted the walls and all the walls started dripping again after they hardened.”
You can proceed for over a mile down an eerie passage through a tube where lava flowed, twisted, turned, and drained away.
You lose your sense of space and time and direction the minute you go into the cave and turn the lights out.
There is a nominal entrance fee, and lanterns can be rented to view this cavern. Be careful of ice and always carry two light sources if you descend into the cave.
It is an eerie experience – best enjoyed on a tour – which take place each afternoon – and like all of the lava lands experience – teaches you much about a unique chapter in Oregon.
Lava River Cave is open May 1-October 15.
Wear boots to protect your feet and allow an hour for your trip. Remember, it’s akin to being your refrigerator, so dress for the cold. Lighting is also critical and while lanterns can be rented, I always take a backup flashlight too.
Outdoor Tip of the Week
With a camera and inspiration, Oregon’s unique scenery offers special moments that last a lifetime as we see on this Outdoor Tip of the Week.
Don Best is a lifelong local in Tillamook County – his grandfather arrived by horse and wagon and his father told tales of old growth timber, giant elk and waterfalls galore.
So, Best looks up at Munson Falls, (the tallest waterfall in the Oregon Coast Range), with a nostalgic nod to a somewhat romanticized past and offered us a tip or two that might help you capture the best that falling water offers.
“The secret to shooting a waterfall is to get as slow a shutter speed as you can so that the water looks silky. To do that dial that shutter speed to 25th of a second or even 15th of a second. All of that water will have a real silky look to it.”
Best added that there are many waterfalls in the Tillamook State Forest that go unvisited and are under appreciated.
He called it a “treasure hunt for nature’s beauty” and he added: “The fun part of it all is discovering them but I always tell people that God is better at the posing part than I am at taking pictures. Waterfalls are spectacular.”