Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bagby rite of passage

The trail to Bagby runs along Nohorn Creek
Bagby Hot Springs is an Oregon rite of passage.  Anyone who has lived in the upper Willamette Valley for any length of time knows the name, at least, of the natural hot springs that bubble up on the southern flanks of Old Man Hood. I venture that most who avail themselves of the beauty of the wilds around the mountain have visited them.  Not so, I.  At least, not until last Saturday.

Devil's Club berries provide stark color contrast in the forest undergrowth
Fortuitously, on the very day that Portland temperatures surpassed the 90 degree mark for the first time this calendar year, Jeanine Potts and I took a hike up to Bagby.  Several weeks earlier, we had done some tramping along the banks of the Clackamas River and were so enchanted by the beauty that we decided to go further, to see what might be seen.  The rangers at the Ranger Station suggested Bagby and, since neither of us had yet been there, we gave it a go. 

A fingerling trout, camouflaged but betrayed by his shadow
Bagby has something of a spotty reputation.  It is known among the general public as a hangout for drunks, rowdies and trouble-makers.  Apparently, in past years there have been incidents involving drunkenness and violence.  I know people who fear to go to Bagby.

When we arrived the parking lot at the trail head was full.  A plaid-shirted volunteer, an older fellow named Norman, had set up his trailer there, where he might keep an eye on parked vehicles to prevent thefts.  There were many folks of all ages on the trail, and the only danger I could imagine would have been a tumble into a rocky ravine or stream bed.

If you don't ramble, you grow moss
The hike was easy and beautiful.  We arrived at the hot springs, with their rustic bath houses just as we were hitting our stride and so rather than stop, we pressed on, agreeing to check out the tubs on the way back  The trail extends beyond the hot springs into the Bull of the Woods wilderness.  We saw some excellent camp sites along Nohorn Creek

We went up another mile or so into the woods and found a gravelly beach along the creek.  We didn't yet know that Portland was cooking, but we were plenty warm from our hike.  So the coolness of the water, when we forded the creek, was bliss.

After we'd sat for a while, munching fruit and sandwiches, we were discovered by stinging flies, which swooped in for a bite.

At one point, a fly landed on my left forearm and as I raised my right hand to swat it, another, bigger fly, a predator species, swooped down and plucked the first fly off my arm.  It all took less than a second, but I was struck by the incident.  Wheel of Fortune, indeed.  And, like Hobbes said:  "...[natural] life is solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short."

Have a soak!
We did indeed stop in at the tubs on the way back down the trail.  There were probably two dozen others there as well.  The water comes out very hot, but we drew cold water from the cistern to keep it tolerable.  Muscles tight from the hike loosened up nicely in the sulfurous water.

And, after all, it's Bagby Hot Springs --a rite of passage.

Update:  Thanks, Shusli, for correcting me.  What I had identified as elderberries are, in fact, Devil's Club.

1 comment:

Rhonda/shusli said...

Sounds like a pretty good place to take a hike and camp and soak.  I missed that particular rite but did get in at McCredie Hot Springs some time ago. 

May I suggest a couple of alternate names for some in your piece?  The elderberry looks a lot like Devil's Club, and I love the name Wy'east for Hood. 

Have a great day!