Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Storming Mount Pisgah

After spending the past 10 days on the East Coast, I finally got back to Oregon today and hit the city of Eugene's personal stairmaster, Mt. Pisgah. The trail starts at the Mt. Pisgah Arboretum and climbs 1.5 miles to the 1500ft summit (about 1,000 ft elevation gain).

The snowcapped Cascades were shining to the northeast from the summit -- almost as good a view as I got flying in the tiny prop plane from PDX to Eugene this morning.

From MattStansberry

From MattStansberry

Oregon feature photo: Mount McLoughlin

Mount McGloughlin, Oregon, originally uploaded by Steve Byland.

Today's Oregon feature photo comes from Steve Byland, who said: On a recent trip through southern Oregon, I glanced out of the car window and saw this sight. I pulled over and took a few photos - amazed that other people in passing cars barely gave this mountain a second look. I had to get out a map to even find it's name.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey, Mount McLoughlin (aka Mount Pit or Pitt) rises 1,200 meters as a steep-sided, dominantly basaltic andesite lava cone. Mount McLoughlin is a young volcano, according to experts.

You can check out Mt. McLoughlin yourself on the 5.5 mile long trail to the summit (11 miles round trip) through the Winema National Forest.

Klamath dams coming down?

This news comes courtesy of Teh Wind Knot: the U.S. federal government has ordered utility giant PacifiCorp to modify four hydroelectric dams on the Klamath River to allow passage for salmon.

From today's Washington Post article: Since modifying the aging dams would cost an estimated $300 million, removing them has suddenly become a much more plausible -- and considerably cheaper -- option.

For more info, check out the Klamath Restoration Council.

Also, here is a link to the official Trout Unlimited response.

In the meantime, I'm taking advice from the Trout Underground and popping a celebratory beer.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Oregon Outdoors feature photo: Upper Proxy Falls

076-Upper Proxy Falls I, originally uploaded by bookgrl.

This photo of Upper Proxy Falls was taken in the Willamette National Forest, in Lane County Oregon. If you would like more info on Upper Proxy Falls, check out Waterfalls West. This is the first entry of a new feature on Oregon Outdoor Journal; I will be posting some of the best Oregon outdoors photos from random photo-bloggers at Flickr. If you have a photo you would like to submit, let me know. Thanks to bookgrl for stepping up to the plate to be the first one.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers looking for NW Sportsmen's Show volunteers

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers conservation group is looking for member volunteers in the Washington-Oregon area for the Northwest Sportsmen's Show from February 7-11 2007 in Portland. A few of the founding members are working the event, but they're looking for more voluneers.

If you're wondering who the BHA is, they're a hunting and fishing group dedicated to keeping our roadless wilderness areas wild. Sick of seeing bubbas sitting in recliners in the back of pickup trucks with rifles driving up to Waldo Lake? I saw that on Opening Day of blacktail season last year. Or how about the time I went to check out a little coastal stream a few months back called Tenmile Creek, where I watched a bunch of brain damaged apes pull each other around the parking lot of a recreation area on their trucks, while a bunch more watched, revving their 4-wheelers. Yeah. That was pretty awe inspiring.

If you're looking for a group that will help fight the ATV lobby that's trying to put quad runners in your favorite stretch of wilderness, maybe it's time to give BHA a look and a hand. Definitely stop by the booth.

If you are a BHA volunteer and will be able to run a booth for a little while, write a note to BHA Director Mike Beagle.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Fishing bloggers taking action

Fishing bloggers are taking action on issues that impact our sport. I've been going out and reading a lot of outdoors blogs lately, and I've been really impressed. One of the bloggers I'm reading hits close to home, Greg Lum from Rotten spawn sacs, tattered flies and leaky waders wrote about a private club owner that is moving in on Ohio steelhead streams, trying to lease the crown jewels of the Great Lakes run. I lived 25 years of my life in Ohio and I'm glad somebody like Greg is watching over the home range. Plus, I love fishing Midwest steelhead with my dad and brother when I'm back east, see below:
From MattStansberry

Then there is the Trout Underground, who wrote one of the most persuasive posts to take action to save trout I've ever read. This guy should be working for Trout Unlimited.

From the Trout Underground:

As if surviving another work week wasn’t accomplishment enough for a Friday, it turns out we need to stop a Canadian mining company from building an open pit coal mine. Seems they want to build it smack dab atop the headwaters of the Flathead River in British Columbia.

I myself think that you simply haven’t truly enjoyed a quality outdoor experience until you’ve seen a couple dozen trout go belly up from toxins while taking in gorgeous scenery like mountains with their tops removed.

If it’s one thing the Trout Underground stands for, it’s Trout Protection. We worship trout. We got their backs.

Here’s the part where you walk the walk: invest 18 seconds (I timed myself, honest) convincing the British Columbia government to reject the Cline coal mine and protect the trout fishery of the Flathead River. Eighteen Seconds. That’s all it takes. Eighteen (I timed myself). Do it. Now. Right now. Now. And then let us know you did.

Well, what are you waiting for? Fill out a letter.

Lastly, special thanks to Fishing Jones for the link today. I've been blogging in various forms since '03, but I always existed in a vacuum. What I'm finding now is a real community. It makes me feel like I might not be crazy.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Lightweight Backpacking and Camping book review

I finished reading Lightweight Backpacking and Camping this week and it was definitely worth the price ($25). I wrote about some of the things I learned in a recent post and this is a follow up to include more of the points I took away from the book.

Key things I learned:
  • Waterproof lining inside of your pack (a trash bag for example) works better than trying to keep your whole pack dry.
  • Closed cell foam pads are warmer than air mattresses. Use both (air for comfort) and keep them under you by either lashing them together with straps (for couples) or buying a sleeping bag with a pocket to keep pads underneath you.
  • Tarps are lightweight and open (good ventilation and great views); but they look like a real pain in the ass (my opinion, not theirs).
  • Vitamin C tabs or electrolyte additives are a good idea, especially if you're treating your water with chemicals.
  • Purell doubles as hygeine and emergency fire starter.
  • Passive cooking allows you to boil water and not have to simmer a dish on the stove. This means you can boil water for macaroni or something, put it in a flat-bottom ziploc and avoid dirtying your cook pot. You're looking for items with cook times of less than eight minutes.
  • Pre-planning should include giving someone detailed trip plans, packing notes on evacuation options and packing A Comprehensive Guide to Wilderness and Travel Medicine.
  • Pack fiber foods, Imodium and disposal blue shop towels. The runs will hurt you pretty bad out in the bush.

    Like I said, great book, one of the most helpful I've ever read on any topic. I highlighted a ton of info and I'll likely become a member of their Web community ($25).
  • Friday, January 26, 2007

    Summer steelhead action heats up in Eugene and Springfield

    In order to keep the blog updated while I travel, I'm posting this content in my absence. This is the second article I wrote for the Springfield News Outdoors Section before the paper closed last fall.

    Fly fishing for summer steelhead is peaking right now on the Middle Fork of the Willamette and McKenzie River near town.
    From MattStansberry

    Last week I stood waist deep in the Middle Fork, watching my fly line float down and across the current. I had been catching 10-inch trout, rainbow and cutthroat, in the hours before dinner.

    On my last cast before packing it in, I whipped my line into the middle of the river and let it swing through the tail out. I twitched the fly with a pull of my left hand and felt a tap. A split second later, the reel handle spun back so fast it nearly broke my thumb.
    From MattStansberry

    The big fish didn’t give me time to dwell on my wound. It dug itself into the current and started yanking me into the river and taking line. I knew I had to land this fish or no one would believe me.

    A short time later I had the giant sea-run rainbow on the bank, and a short time after that it was on my grill.

    Brian Marz, owner of the McKenzie Angler fly shop in Walterville, OR said the good fishing will continue on both rivers. He recommended wade fishing the stretch below Leaburg Dam on the McKenzie during the week -- weekends are a zoo. He said boat anglers would have success drifting the Willamette from the D-Street ramp down to Valley River.
    From MattStansberry

    According to Marz, who often guides in the area, the fish in the town runs can really turn aggressive with the falling temperatures, shifting daylight and fresh rain.

    A heavy stonefly pattern or leech imitation with an egg fly dropper will catch a lot of fish on either river. It’s a down and dirty presentation, heavy flies and floating strike indicators, but it gets the job done. My personal choice over the past week has been a weighted olive wooly bugger with big rubber legs.

    Marz said this year the fishing has been better than usual, especially on the McKenzie. He attributes this in part to the fact that Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife hasn’t been trucking fish back down river from the Leaburg Hatchery -- an operation ODFW terms “recycling”.

    In past years, ODFW biologists trapped adult steelhead stacking up outside of Leaburg Dam -- fish that are trying to return to the hatchery where they were reared. The biologists loaded steelhead onto trucks and then hauled them back down river where the anglers would have another shot at them.

    According to Jeff Ziller, district fish biologist, this was done for two reasons. First, it gave anglers another shot at catching the fish as they ran up the river again. Secondly, it kept a number of fish from breaching the fish ladder at Leaburg Dam.

    While ODFW rears and plants steelhead on the McKenzie system, they don’t want them to move upriver beyond the dam or reproduce. These stocked fish can carry a virus that could potentially affect wild trout populations upriver. Yet the waterway must remain open because ODFW cannot impede the migration of spring Chinook salmon. But the recycling program minimizes that risk.

    This year, ODFW did not recycle the steelhead, and Marz said he thinks the fishing has been better as a result. “The recycled fish are thrown for a loop and won’t bite for a month,” he said. “You can pound a recycled fish in the face with a fly and it won’t bite. There are more fish biting this year, they are fighting more and have better flesh.”

    Marz hadn’t spoken with biologists about his theory and was anxious to hear what they had to say.

    Ziller agreed that there might be some validity to Marz’ idea, but he said other factors played into the better than average season.

    Ziller said the river systems had more water this year and the fish didn’t get the summer doldrums. Also, 20,000 steelhead returned to the Willamette system this year, 25% more than last year’s count of 14,000.

    With more and meaner fish in the system, the action should remain steady for the coming weeks. If you are interested in learning about how to fly fish for steelhead, the McKenzie Angler is offering a seminar on Sunday evening. For more information call (541) 736 5045.

    Saturday, January 20, 2007

    Whittaker Creek Recreation Area

    Today KP and I tried to get to Kentucky Falls through the Whitaker Creek recreation area. Tons of people were lined up at the boat ramps to access the Siuslaw. The water was running lower today and it looked like a good area to wade fish as well. On the way up the ridge we ran into rockslides that left beach ball sized boulders in the road. We ran into ice covering the roads about halfway up and had a pretty hairy few minutes trying to turn back around.
    From MattStansberry

    Instead, we drove back to the Whitaker Creek campground and to hike the Old Growth Ridge Trail. The campground is closed this time of year, and so is the river, but that didn't stop a bunch of bubbas from fishing it. It's posted and clearly stated in the regulations, but maybe they couldn't read.
    From MattStansberry

    We hiked the Old Growth Ridge Trail which is located inside the campground. You get to see some giant trees on this hike, but the payoff at the top of the ridge isn't much.

    Friday, January 19, 2007

    Sweet Creek: Coastal rivers and waterfalls in Oregon

    Yesterday Bill Laroux from the Eugene Chapter Trout Unlimited and I went on a steelhead scouting trip to Sweet Creek, a coastal river near Mapleton, OR. This small Siuslaw tributary didn't seem to be holding any fish at the time, maybe next month. The falls were really big and some signage along the trail said that spawning steelhead jump the falls to get upriver. Hard to imagine. Here are some photos.
    From MattStansberry

    From MattStansberry

    From MattStansberry

    Thursday, January 18, 2007

    Fly fishing film tour comes to Eugene

    Tuesday night about 65 fly fishing enthusiasts braved the weather to check out the Fly Fishing Film Tour at the University of Oregon. The Caddis Fly sponsored the event and the guys from the Angling Exploration Group hosted. The AEG are the young ballsy fishing filmmakers that brought us the Trout Bum Diaries, 150 minutes of fish porn set to schizophrenic music.

    I'm a big fan of the AEG and the Trout Bum movies, but the highlight of the presentation came from the team at Felt Soul Media. The opening film was a short film about fly fishing for rooster-fish from shore and I can say it was one of the most entertaining fishing videos I've ever seen. The second film from Felt Soul was "The Hatch", about the salmonfly hatch on the Gunnison River. The film definitely had a really good conservation message.

    And that's what the Trout Bum movies are missing. They're not big on message -- and that's their gig. But the Felt Soul guys have something to say and it definitely adds to the film. I will say that I bought the DVD of "The Hatch" and it was about 17 minutes long. So if you saw it on the film tour you probably don't need the DVD unless you want to support the guys on their quest to make a movie about Mongolian Taimen.

    The Fly Fishing Film Tour was definitely worth the $12 ticket price.

    Monday, January 15, 2007

    Gearing up for lightweight backpacking

    I've been researching backpacking, specifically lightweight backpacking, because I want to try to make it a better couples activity. Also, after almost dropping dead chasing the Trout Unlimited guys (15 years older than me) last summer with my giant boots and cargo pack, I need a better option.

    I've been reading up on it in a new book, Lightweight Backpacking and Camping from Beartooth Mountain Press. What have I learned so far?

  • Taking a pound off of your boots is equivalent to taking five off your pack.
  • Specialized hiking insoles make a difference.
  • Wet feet aren't necessarily unhappy feet (as long as it's not winter).
  • Trail shoes beat high-top, heavy leather stompers.

    I've got more to learn -- I'm only halfway through the book -- but so far the pearls of wisdom are worth the $25 cover price.

    At the end of the day today I headed out to Spencer's Butte. The park was actually locked down. There were cars lined up all down the road. If I had to guess, they closed the park because it was so icy. It wasn't immediately apparent, but once you got past the point of no return, the trail was so slick, you had to drag yourself up the rest of the way.

    From MattStansberry

    Once you got to the top though, the view was awesome. The Cascades were lit up bright white in the setting sun. The valleys to the West were covered in fog and shadows. It was amazing. Don't take my word for it. Check the pics.

    From MattStansberry

    One nasty byproduct of the ice was that people were taking off-trail paths to avoid super slick, packed trail snow and ice. And that resulted in torn up off-trail areas.

    Here is a list of the layers I was wearing (since I'm getting more technical about gear):
    Fleece lined cap
    Lightweight fleece LL Bean vest
    Ultra lightweight fleece top White Sierra
    Mountain hardware poly T-shirt
    Exofficio Nylon shorts
    Patagonia Expedition weight Capilene
    Wigwam merino wool, lite hiker (seconds $6.50)
    Sock liners
    Merrell Mesa Ventilator II
  • Sunday, January 14, 2007

    Yurts extend season for fair weather campers

    As promised, here is the first of three articles I wrote for the Springfield News this fall. This one is about camping in yurts and the photos are from our trip to the Rogue River yurt site. Check out the wild Rogue River steelhead photo.

    As the rain starts to fall across Oregon many campers are packing up their tents for the year. But that doesn't mean that the camping season is over. Instead of spending a wet night on the ground in a nylon tent, campers should consider staying in one of the Oregon State Parks' yurts.

    From MattStansberry

    What's a yurt? Think of it as a luxury tent. These wooden framed structures are dome shaped, measuring 16 feet in diameter. They feature sparkling clean wood floors, a locking door and a skylight. The standard versions sleep five people with a bunk bed and pullout futon. The mattresses are the real deal, at least by comparison to the alternative.

    In addition to comfy sleep quarters, the yurts offer coffee tables and work desks, lighting, heat and some sites even have wireless internet.

    From MattStansberry

    Deluxe yurts sleep seven and come with a showers, TV, VCR, fridge and microwave.

    All yurts feature a sheltered porch and fire pit.

    It's not exactly roughing it. But after spending a recent weekend in an empty campsite in the Umatilla Forest, shivering in my bag and listening to the coyotes getting closer, the yurt was an easy sell.

    From MattStansberry

    My first yurt experience took place at Valley of the Rogue state park last weekend, a busy campground just south of Grants Pass on I-5, about 2 1/2 hours from Springfield.

    The campground included showers, vending machines and a fleet of giant RVs. But wilderness was just across the manicured yard from the sites. Rowdy Chinook salmon were tearing up the river bottom in their yearly spawning ritual. And just below them, feeding on the stirred up nymphs and eggs were hungry steelhead.

    The campground made a great jumping off point for exploring the Applegate Trail, a winery-studded drive through southern Oregon's rolling farmland. It’s also a good base camp for the Rogue River scenic byway to Crater Lake.

    The majority of Oregon State Parks' yurts are located on the coast. There are 190 in all across the state. That may sound like a lot of yurts, but it's really not enough to keep up with the demand. These weird little huts book up faster than you could imagine.

    Part of the draw for these facilities is the cost. During the off season (October 1 through April 30), the standard yurt books for around $27 per night and the deluxe yurts book for $45 ($65 for regular season). Compare that to the $100 you'll spend at nearly any motel.

    Also, there is an indirect savings on gear. If you want to spend a winter evening on the Oregon coast, but don't own a small fortune in high tech, magazine-endorsed equipment, the yurt is a great option.

    In addition to yurts, the state parks offer rustic cabins. Eastern Oregon parks feature teepees and covered wagons.

    To reserve a yurt, call Reservations Northwest at 1-800-452-5687 or visit

    Saturday, January 13, 2007

    Carter Dunes January hike

    KP and I took a hike on the coast, trying to avoid icy roads up in the mountains. Brice Creek/Bohemia Mountain was too slippery to get even close yesterday. The Carter Dunes hike was pretty , coming out of the Taylor Lake trailhead to catch the Carter Lake trail. Too much water on the trail to actually get to the beach from the dunes. I was checking out the steelhead creeks above Florence and it looks like the best spot to park to access China Creek and Big Creek would be Muriel O. Ponsler Wayside and walk upstream.

    From MattStansberry

    From MattStansberry

    From MattStansberry

    Thursday, January 11, 2007

    Spencer's Butte Winter Hike

    Hiked up to the top of Spencer's Butte yesterday. Winter is blanketing the Willamette Valley. Tying some flies, trying to get out and fish. We'll see. Looking into seeing the guys from the McKenzie Fly Fishers next week. I'd like to check them out, maybe sucker some of them into coming to TU's banquet.

    Spencer's Butte photos:
    From MattStansberry

    From MattStansberry

    Monday, January 08, 2007

    Springfield News closes; Hiking in the path of Bill Sullivan

    Ok, that's kind of old news, but it really put me off writing in the blog for a while. I was doing some weekly columns for the Springfield News over the fall, then one day they just shut their doors. Kind of sad. And they didn't pay me. Thanks Lee Publishing! No big deal -- I wasn't doing it for the cash -- but it still sucks. I'll post the stories that ran over the next week on this blog.
    From MattStansberry

    What's happening now? Yesterday we hiked Mt. Pisgah, today we did Shotgun Creek. We're trying to do the 100 hikes in Bill Sullivan's book on the Central Cascades. I've been looking for fishable water the last few days -- checked out the North Fork and Middle Fork of the Willamette near Oakridge, fought my way to the coast through a monsoon to find Big Creek, Tenmile and Cape Creek blown out -- not even accessible. The whole coast was white with spray yesterday and out in the ocean you could see black mountains rolling in like tsunamis.

    Big Trout Unlimited Eugene meeting Wed. night to meet with the US Forest Service rep that's been working on restoring Swift Creek for Bull Trout.

    I spent the last month in Ohio. Check out this Lake Erie trib steelhead.
    From MattStansberry