HORSENECKS, QUAHOGS AND STEAMERS
Oregon’s springtime super low tides are the best because that’s a time when the dinner table is set.
Mitch Vance, Shellfish Biologist with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, said that any of the really good low tides during daylight hours provide ample opportunities to harvest Oregon’s varied bay clam species.
“Some folks like to get out as early as possible and have more digging opportunity; they follow that tide as it goes out, looking for new exposed areas and then work back as the tide turns to flood.”
Norm and Bonnie Clow recently traveled to Tillamook Bay from their home in Dayton, Oregon.
They were among the first early risers to explore the exposed sand and gravel bars on a sunrise clamming adventure.
The Clow’s have been digging their dinner on the bay for more than sixty years and said the 4a.m. wake up call was “no big deal!”
Best advice for the novice clam digger?
“Keep digging,” Clow said with a chuckle. “Usually, the clams are thick enough that if you dig one hole and excavate out, you will have little problem harvesting a limit.”
April, May and June each provide many super low minus tides that occur early in the morning.
This is the favored time for digging bay clams with names like horsenecks, quahogs, steamers and cockles.
Jeff Folkema, alocal guide and the owner of Garibaldi Marina, showed off a half dozen of the prized horseneck clams that he harvested from the bay.
He said they are called “gaper” clams because of the “gape” in the shell where the neck pokes through.
“This is a nice size,” he said while handling a hefty 2-3 pound grapefruit-sized bivalve. “This is pretty average size with a lot of meat. A good sized clam but I have seen much bigger too.”
Jeff added that clam diggers 14 years and older are required to purchase an Oregon Shellfish License.
“And remember that each person who is harvesting clams must have their own container – a bucket or a clam net on their belt – even a plastic bread bag will do – because you cannot lump other people’s clams into your container – you’ll get a ticket for that.”
Keep your eyes open for ODFW placard that show pictures of the different clams species along with the harvest limits and other regulations.
Vance offered: “If you’re digging it really helps to know what you’re after so you can understand the regulations around that species.”
He added that abundant food, reliable cold, clean water contribute to perfect habitat for bay clams populations in most of Oregon’s coastal estuaries.
There is also a delicious reward for the clam digger’s efforts – bay clams can be delicious according to local resident Don Best who showed off his limit of quahog clams.
One of his all time favorite recipes is an old-fashioned clam fritter:
“All it takes is a little cracker crumb, flour and egg – perhaps some chopped onion. Chop up the clams, mix them with the batter and fry them in a skillet with oil. They are awesome that way!”
Vance added that in addition to supper from the sea, digging bay clams can provide hours of family fun for each member of the family: “Oh, it is really good for families because it’s so easy and there’s not a lot of gear – just a shovel or a rake – so get the kids in some boots and get them out here and have some fun in the sand.”
Don Best’s Clam Frittter Recipe
Makes 15 to 18 fritters
1 cup unsifted flour and a half cup of bread crumbs
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup milk
2 cups chopped clams
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
In deep fat fryer or large heavy skillet, heat oil to 375 degrees.
Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
In medium mixing bowl, beat egg, milk, 1/4 cup reserved clam liquid and 1 tablespoon oil.
Stir in dry ingredients and clams. Drop mixture by heaping tablespoonfuls into hot oil.
Fry until golden on all sides. Drain on paper towels.
Rick Thompson is a detective - not a crime detective but of Oregon geologic history.
He’s on the trail of one of the region’s oldest mysteries: how hundreds of Montana granite stones ended up in farm fields in Oregon’s Willamette Valley.
“They’ve been in the ground a very long time,” noted Thompson on a recent field trip into western Washington County. “Farmers usually plow or till them up and they’re often just sitting where the icebergs left them as they melted.”
Icebergs in Oregon’s farm country?
“It’s true!” said Thompson, a member of the Lower Columbia Chapter of the Ice Age Floods Institute.
“The icebergs just floated around and then reached a certain area and sat there, melted and these rocks fell out, “ he added.
The evidence of icebergs is all around the metro area too; like the hiking trail at Fields Bridge Park along the Tualatin River in West Linn.
Three granite rocks totaling 46,000 pounds rest along the trail.
Thompson’s group, Ice Age Flood Institute, designed the paved, wheelchair-accessible trail, complete with several information kiosks along the riverside trail.
As you stroll you learn much about the remarkable events that occurred 15,000 years ago.
In fact, one kiosk offers a colorful map that Thompson created of the Willamette Valley that shows off the ancient “Lake Allison;” a 400-foot deep lake that stretched from Kalama, Washington to Eugene, Oregon.
The ancient lake was created when the massive Lake Missoula burst thru an ice dam and flooded the region.
“I used a topographic map and traced the four hundred foot depth level all the way down to Eugene. I drew all the nooks and crannies where the valleys would have filled with water and then I went back and put in all the major cities, towns and highways so people can have a sense and appreciation for how much water there was in the valley.”
Thompson is a self-proclaimed “flood nut” and said that the huge floods roared thru the Columbia River Gorge with water lapping at the ridge tops.
He said that the flood events occurred perhaps a hundred times.
The floods carried giant granite boulders called “Erratics” deep into the Willamette Valley across Lake Allison.
In fact, not long ago we flew with Roger Anderson and his Vista Air Balloon Adventures over the valley floor and saw the lasting impressions of the flood events.
It was a breath-taking ride to be sure, but it was also quite revealing for we could easily make out Lake Allison’s marks on the valley floor.
We could see the rise and fall of the river and lake bottom that was created during the ice age floods.
In addition, you don’t have to travel far to see and touch ancient history too.
There’s a huge erratic rock near Sheridan, Oregon at Erratic Rock State Park.
At 90 tons, it’s the biggest in the state and you can visit and touch the rock anytime.
Not far from that site is another huge erratic that you can visit and perhaps enjoy a glass of pinot too.
Pull into Left Coast Cellars Winery and see the second largest erratic in Oregon.
What makes Erratics so special?
“Oh, the distance from it’s source,” noted Thompson. “Plus, it’s all granite and to imagine the size of the iceberg that carried a 90 ton rock so far from its source is just amazing.”
The icebergs floated across Lake Allison for a time and most were pushed west by prevailing winds.
When the water dropped and the bergs melted, the granite chunks were left behind – like a ring around the bathtub.
“It affected the entire northwest and shaped the Willamette Valley,” said Thompson.
Moreover, the Lake Missoula Floods eventually brought pioneers to Oregon in a roundabout way.
It’s true! You see, the floods or rock, ice and other debris scoured the Eastern Washington landscape of all its rich topsoil and then deposited it in the Willamette Valley.
It was the same rich topsoil from which early Oregon pioneers built a thriving agricultural economy in the mid-19th century.
Thompson speculates, “It’s interesting because if the flood and erratic events not happened, Oregon agriculture might never have developed either.”
It is such a powerful and compelling story that nearby Tualatin, Oregon has embraced it too.
Last December, Yvonne Addington, President of the Tualatin Historical Society, helped arrange the delivery of two giant erratics that are now displayed at the Tualatin Heritage Center.
She said that local folks are betting the erratic story is something people will want to see and know better.
Put simply, she believes that “if you display the ancient rocks, people will come.”
“We have a strong interest in the ice age here,” said Addington. “A local man discovered a Mastodon skeleton in 1962 (it is displayed in the Tualatin City Library) and that has led into erratics conveying the power of nature that shaped of our community. It’s something that visitors and residents can enjoy and it has a special quality that no other city really offers.”
Back out in Washington County, Thompson continues to track down more erratics across farmland as he develops an “Ice Age Trail.”
He wants travelers to someday journey the region and learn more about the powerful forces that shaped the Oregon we know today.
“It’s a detective story,” he said. “And I love mysteries!”
It’s called the “HUB” and it’s a neighborhood hit where standing room only is the rule on most nights.
Folks come from all over to SE Portland’s 29th and Powell to sip a brew, dine with friends and relax in the knowledge that things are different in the newest neighborhood eco-pub.
Keri Rose, a neighbor and regular customer, explained: “It’s amazing beer that’s organically brewed, plus really friendly people and I think you get something uniquely Portland. I think the HUB speaks to all of us who are really oriented toward that way of life.”
The HUB is an eco-Pub and it’s a first on the SE Portland brew scene that’s built upon the practices of sustainability, organic ingredients and eco-friendly ideas.
The business is the brainchild of Christian Ettinger, the HUB’s Brewmaster (he has fourteen years experience brewing beer,) and alongside his dad, Roy Ettinger, (a veteran architect of forty years experience) the team co-designed the nearly 17,000 square foot eco-pub.
Both agree, the 1948 building that they selected for the HUB, once a diesel fuel depot and a former Caterpillar Tractor showroom wasn’t always warm or inviting.
“Oh no, not at all,” noted the elder Ettinger. “ It was full of dust, you couldn’t lean on anything because you’d get black soot on you. There were
tons of wires strung on the ceiling …just 43 years of decay and dust and it was that greasy, grime.”
Christian quickly added, “We turned what was 60 years of a business into piles of material that were to be either recycled or shredded into fuel or reused.”
The deconstruction took over a year an a half to complete - but they salvaged every bit of material from the old building – the first step in walking the talk of creating a sustainable brewery and restaurant where reduce, reuse and recycle is an everyday business.
Christian noted that the bones of the building, the old growth doug fir posts, beams and planks were solid, substantial and deserved new life.
The old wood became the booths, bar and other varied pieces of furnishings in the HUB.
And then there is Christian’s signature statement; scores of bike frames and old wheel rims that were incorporated above the bar and the booths of his pub.
“Every one of these frames was recycled and I’m only about 300 bucks into this – and it really sets the bar apart from anyplace around.”
Downstairs, you could say the same thing about the HUB’s brewery where pesticide-free and fertilizer-free ingredients are staples of the 10 crafted organic beers that the HUB produces each week.
In the kitchen, organic ingredients take center stage too – from pizza dough to the sauces to the sandwiches with all the trimmings and more.
In fact, even the heat from the pizza oven is recycled and circulated to heat the heat the pub’s water.
“That’s free heat,” said Christian. “Free heat is free energy and lowers our bills but it also lowers our needs to bring in fossil fuels.”
Lionne Decker, the HUB’s General Manager, is quick to point out that the entire HUB team walks the talk of taking care of the environment and making customers smile at the same time.
It starts with a commitment to the environment, a commitment to what you’re putting on the plate, what you’re putting in the pint. Really, it’s a commitment to leaving the world a better place than we found it. It’s amazing! It really is.”
It’s amazing adventure that may keep you coming back for more – built upon a philosophy worth living.
The Hub is one of just three Oregon breweries – out of 80 statewide – that have made the move to produce all organic beer.
The folks who work at the HUB are eager to share and explain all of the different ways that they walk the talk of sustainability.
So, stop in and enjoy a beer and strike up a conversation! The folks at HUB will be pleased to tell their story - it's that sort of a friendly, neighbrohood place.
WHITE RIVER FALLS
Back road byways are the best when they lead you down trails toward Oregon’s secret hideaways.
The east side of Mt Hood offers two hideaways for the price of one getaway and each feels a million miles away from city hubbub and noise.
Grant takes to the open road and discover an easy to reach high desert point of view with a wildlife area and a state park waiting for you.
It’s little more than a ninety-minute drive from Portland to explore Oregon’s White River Wildlife Area.
It’s a place where you may soon discover that back-road adventures are the very best when they let you enjoy a sneak peek at nature.
There are nearly 30,000 acres of refuge that reach across more than 20 miles of terrain that provides an eastern point of view to the mountain.
Josh Moulton, the White River Wildlife Area Mgr, noted, “We’re a bit off the beaten path for sure; tucked out here in the oaks and pines at about 2100 feet in elevation. You soon see, it’s a different sort of wildlife area.”
The White River Wildlife Area was established in the 1950’s to keep wintering deer and a growing elk herd up in the Cascade Mountain foothills rather than down on neighboring farmlands.
“A winter feeding program continues to serve the wildlife; both deer and elk,” added Moulton. We begin feeding in early December at designated stations throughout the refuge and the animals pretty much tell us by their behavior when to stop. That is usually about now. We planted an alfalfa field last year and the deer love that. It’s giving visitors a bit more reliable opportunity for viewing the deer herds – which can reach several hundred strong in winter.”
Moulton added that the eastside view to Mt Hood is a surprise for visitors too: “We’re less than twenty miles as the crow flies and while many of my friends in the valley say, ‘You should see our view of Mt Hood.’ I have to chuckle because you really should see it from this side too. It really shines from up here.”
Above the nearby burg of Tygh Valley, an overlook provides a peek to the namesake White River and marks a route that pioneers followed in the great migration across Oregon to reach the Willamette Valley.
There are several lakes and ponds but a short cast away where boating and fishing can be enjoyed:“ Many folks have weekend or summer homes at Pine Hollow Reservoir and nearby Rock Creek Reservoir, said Moulton. “People come for the fishing – trout fishing. It’s easy access for the kids too– no steep banks.”
From Tygh Valley, you may wish to strike out further east on a short four-mile drive along State Highway 216 to another secret hideaway where the White River plunges over a basalt shelf.
White River Falls State Park offers a sprawling greenway with scattered picnic tables at a day use site that opens each spring.
You’ll be drawn to explore the rugged quarter-mile trail that takes you riverside where you discover something more:
A complicated system of pipes and flumes diverted water from above the falls down into a powerhouse and where electricity-producing turbines generated power for the region from 1910 to 1960.
The Dalles Dam construction and completion led to the White River project’s demise and it shut down in the 60’s.
For obvious safety reasons, Oregon State Parks does not want visitors inside the old powerhouse building that is falling in upon itself. “Keep Out” signs on the shuttered building make that message clear, so observe the signs as you explore the riverside scenery.
Do not forget a camera when you hike this path for the photo opps are numerous and stunning – of the river, the canyon and the powerful White River Falls where two plunge pool falls drop more than 90-feet in dramatic fashion at this time of year.
The park is a popular picnicking, hiking and fishing retreat for visitors who wish to dip their toes in this corner of the greater Deschutes River corridor.
White River Wildlife Area and White River Falls SP offer easy to reach high desert escapes – for scenery, history and relaxation.
The Tualatin River meanders thru neighborhoods and industry on the western edge of the Portland Metro area.
It is a slow moving stream flanked by towering trees that puts on quite a colorful show each Fall.
Yet, natural drama is only part of the Tualatin River’s story on a getaway that takes effort, planning and persistence according to a small platoon of adventurers from the Tualatin Riverkeepers, a local conservation group.
The group had gather at Menefee Park in Yamhill County to compare notes and prepare their gear for a day long hike into one of the most stunning and surprising sites of the Tualatin River watershed.
“It’s rugged, it’s treacherous and you need a good topo map, a compass and a GPS would help you find it,” noted longtime Tualatin Riverkeeper Paul Whitney.
Tarri Christopher, a TRK member agreed, “Not everyone can do this. This isn’t ‘take your entire family and go on a stroll’ hike. You have to be prepared – you have to be fit.”
Fit enough to tackle steep, relentless and unforgiving terrain along the upper Tualatin River in the Oregon Coast Range Mountains.
Lew Scholl joined the expedition too. He had been on a trip like this before but way back in 1993 when he accompanied five friends from TRK who stumbled onto this remote stretch of the river.
It was meant to be a two-hour hike but it turned into an all day bushwhack.
“The six of us got together and we were led by then-TRK President Rob Baur. We were just going to stomp down the river and chase a rumor about a significant waterfall. We really didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into as there was no trail and we constantly had to wade across the river, doing whatever it took to get downstream.”
After hours of scrambling and rambling up and down the steep-walled river canyon, marked by big trees, hug boulders and sheer rock cliffs the group heard something loud and constant.
Scholl said it sounded like thunder, but it was a waterfall that wasn’t on any map.
“We looked at each other and said, ‘Hmm, that sounds like water rushing,’ and we got up on some rocks and looked down and holy smokes, it’s a 45 foot waterfall!”
The thick cord of whitewater rushed and then spilled out of a hidden cleft in the ancient basalt rock.
It was certainly a well-deserved reward for his efforts, but Scholl couldn't really believe that no one had ever heard of it.
“It was interesting because obviously the area was logged over. So, someone knew about the falls at one time. In a way, we re-discovered the falls.”
Scholl added that they submitted a name for the waterfall to the State Geographic Names Board and eventually the waterfall was added to government maps.
In 1999, the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde recognized through a tribal ceremony the cascading “Ki-a-Kuts Falls,” (kia-cuts) named for the last chief of the Atfalati Indians, a local band of Kalapuya Indians.
“The Elder KiaKuts stood up for his people back when Joel Palmer of the US Indian Bureau tried to get the natives to move off their land,” said Scholl. “The chief said, ‘No, we don’t want to go to a distant reservation – we want to stay right here. Why can’t you make a reservation here for us? The only thing I want is for the settlers to stop harassing my children.”
“It’s a fitting name because the falls were not discovered by the Tualatin Riverkeepers,” added Tarri Christopher. “The falls were here long before any of us knew about it. Native people knew the place long ago, so it should be rightfully recognized that way.”
Flanked by basalt columns and cliffs, KiaKuts Falls is a timeless and serene moment that is fitting reward for the effort that it takes to reach the restful site.
Brian Wegener, a TRK member, added, “It is hard to believe it’s the same Tualatin River that most of us know in the Portland area. It is so different up here from what it looks like down in the valley. If you’re adventurous and in good health and you can use a map and compass and find your way, it’s a beautiful place to be.”
Tarri Christopher agreed and added, “If you see where it comes from – to see the beauty of it – I think we’re more likely to take care of it. It’s a special place and it’s worth the effort to get here.”
The Tualatin Riverkeepers is a good place to start for specific directions to KiaKuts Falls.
It deserves special note that planning and preparation are critical if you want to visit KiaKuts Falls. That means good hiking boots with proper arch and ankle support, pack plenty of water, food, rain gear and a first aid kit.
Remember that it is a remote area with unreliable cell phone service and private logging roads. It is advised that you check wit the Forest Grove office of the Oregon Dept of Forestry for information about road closures.
You may also want to visit soon because when fire season begins, access roads through private timberland close down.