Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Walking Along the Willamette River (Middle Fork)

I've begun stitching this Heart in Hand 'Collector's Heart' from 2009.  It's a good "stitch while watching TV" piece as it has large blocks of the same thread color.

It's Wednesday - time to share a walk.
The weather has certainly been conducive to outside activities this month. It has been sunny and mild, very unlike February. So on Saturday my sister and I decided to take advantage of the weather and 'Go Outdoors'. We went for a five mile hike along the bank of the Middle Fork of the Willamette River.

Willamette River Watershed (copyright free from Wikipedia)

The main branch of the Willamette River (pronounced 'Will-lamb-ette' -with the accent on the 2nd syllable) runs north from Eugene to Portland where it meets up with the Columbia River and heads west to the Pacific Ocean.  Though I've lived here all my life, I suffered from typical "Native Ignorance" and did not realize that so many different rivers drained into the Willamette, or that the Middle Fork of the Willamette River flowed through Springfield, OR. 

Fortunately Springfield has a great new park - Clearwater Park -which features the Middle Fork and the Springfield Mill Race.
The park has a nice wide walking path.  It begins with a deciduous forest of Cottonwoods and Ash trees. 

Soon it follows Springfield's historic Mill Race. Originally constructed in 1852 to power Springfield's earliest industries, the Mill Race supported both timber and agriculture in the early years. Connecting naturally existing waterways, Elias Briggs, the founder of Springfield, hand-dug connections to create a waterway which would drive a saw mill and grist mill. The grist mill thrived until it burned down in 1930.

This park is only about a year old - there is lots of habitat restoration work. 

And then, ahh, the Middle Fork of the Willamette River. 

While the catkins of the Hazelnuts were a bit further along, I was surprised at how similar the River Bottom ecosystem was to my own. Ash and Cottonwood, Sword Ferns, and the usual invasives - Blackberries and Scotch Broom.  

While the river was not particularly high, it was flowing very briskly.

On the other side of the river we were able to see a remnant of an Oak Savannah.  Before pioneer habitation, most of the Willamette Valley was a mix of prairie and Oak Savannah.

We did glimpse a few ducks in a quarry pond along the walk.

And, as I mentioned, there were Sword Ferns a-plenty.

Thought it was a sunny day, there wasn't much boating activity on the river.  We want to go back in the Spring / early Summer and see what the park and the river look like then.

We were, however, most thrilled to first hear (thunk, thunk, thunk), and then see this fellow's industrious activity!  The Pileated Woodpecker furiously worked on this snag - bark, and wood, and bits of fern and moss literally flew through the air.  He did not appear to mind us at all, and allowed us to snap as many photos as we liked.  

I probably went overboard!  But I've never been as close to this magnificent large (16") bird before. 

A great day - a great walk!  Don't you agree?


Nicole said...

Beautiful pictures as always, Beth!!

Mouse said...

oooo very nice walk you've tired me out and cooo well done and no I don't think you went over board at all :) love mouse xxxxx

Terri said...

I agree, great day, great walk, and great pictures!!!!

Barb said...

What a wonderful place to take a walk! I don't think you went overboard on the woodpecker photos-they are so amazing when you see them. We always get excited!

Nicola said...

I absolutely agree. I could so easily live very happily in your part of the world.

Your heart pattern is adorable, I particulalynlike the colours and button.

Unknown said...

A wonderful walk! It's been decades since I have been in Oregon, and DH has never been there - it is on our bucket list!

Thanks for the pix and the motivation!

Ann at Beadlework. said...

Yes I agree, a great walk today.

Melanie said...

That's a great walking path! I wish we had something like that around here. There is a path the next town over but it goes mostly downtown, where the bulk of traffic is so it's not nearly as sedate and pretty. :(