North Bank Habitat - December 27, 2008
Coordinator Jane Flewelling

On December 27, 2008, we were nine intrepid hikers donning our layers of warm clothes to challenge the inclement weather. The newly completed picnic and parking area at the east entrance of the North Bank Preserve was greatly admired. We worked our way around the hill on the Feeder Barn Road. Being originally a vast cattle ranch, the preserve is laced with roads which make for easy side-by-side hiking. Starting up a draw, we were treated to the sight of at least ten white-tailed deer that bounded quickly out of sight.As the way steepened, we side-stepped rivulets, admiring their miniature wanderings and cascades. Sprinkles of rain came and went. Along the steeper section, with patchy snow, we passed one of the four feeder barns on the preserve. Here the trail is taken over by a rushing drain-off stream.

We stopped on joining the Thistle Ridge Trail to take in the views of the twisting North Umpqua River, Whistler’s Bend and the snow patches on the ridges. Visibility was good for a mile or so.

Soon we were confronted with a workout up a 45 degree slope which slowed our pace. It gave me a chance to look closely at a dead mouse by the side. Further on we slowed our pace, purposely, to admire and feel the fabulous madrona trees lining the trail. Each one out does the other with their massive, smooth, twisting trunks and branches. Soon we broke out into the open and were tramping though snow. Rain was sprinkling on and off with a chilly wind kicking up.

We turned onto the Middle Kob Trail - the higher we got, the more wind – so invigorating! Our destination, the Middle Knob was soon in sight. When we reached the top, we took time to absorb the 360 degree panorama of the ten square mile preserve: the roller-coaster east boundary, the snow-covered north boundary, the rolling hills of the west and the many bends of the North Umpqua river to the south. A special treat was seeing strands of wind-blown snow being blown off the ridge. Some of the hikers were impressed at how they got glimpses of and were able to follow other trails that they had been on such as following chasm Creek Trail with their eyes down to the Jackson Ranch area. No one even thought of sitting down for a snack or drink so on we went, back along the same route we had gone up.

Crunching and sloshing down off the knob, we plodded on the snow-covered road. The wind quickly dried any raindrops we got along the way. There’s something to be said about going back the same way you came. You recognize each area from a different viewpoint and you gain a better understanding of the combined layout. We did vary our route by passing the West Feeder Barn Train and continuing on the Thistle Ridge Trail that gradually descended.

Thoughts of selecting a lunch spot were entertained but most in the party wanted to get back to the picnic area where the cars were parked. On the way we admired the red hawthorn berries glistening with water droplets. We soon passed a meadow with a solar panel installation. As we approached our starting trail - DEJA VU!!- a flash of one waving white tail was moving up the hill at the same spot as before. Then, just a hop skip and jump across a stream and we’re back. ANOTHER GREAT HIKE!

Seven miles and 1,000 ft. elevation gain.

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Roseburg Oregon Hiking Club
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