Butterfly Lake - December 6, 2014
Coordinator Richard O'Neill, narration and pictures by Richard O'Neill

"Hiking Leader Lynched by Hikers"

I could just imagine the headlines in the Sunday papers. I had hiked to Butterfly once before and what I remember was a brief bushwhack through some brush. Ah, but memory is so fickle. The reality yesterday was that it was a lot longer and harder than I remembered. I don't think the deer even go to Butterfly Lake.

Regular club members have hiked Tahkenitch Dunes a million times. You start from Tahkenitch campground, go up and then down through a beautifully mossed forest, stopping at the Threemile Lake overlook for lunch. After lunch it's straight to the beach, follow the beach to Tahkenitch Creek, and then back through the dunes to the campground. Been there done that, wake me up when its over.

Butterfly Lake on the other hand is mysterious as there is no trail access, and its inaccessibility is its allure. So, 9 hikers (hereafter referred to as "victims") followed me from the campground. The weather was damp and rainy and I quickly fell behind as I needed to take a picture of every mushroom I saw. However, the rain abated (mostly) as we finished lunch at the Threemile Lake overlook.

There is a dune trail that parallels the coast and we followed the trail posts as we went up and down over the sand. At a large tree island, we left the dunes and began heading up a tall ridge, following game trails as we went. Eventually, the sand petered out altogether and we waded through a dense thicket of trees.Edwin had half the hikers in tow and I had the other half, we called out to each other to keep in contact. The trees and brush were thick and visibility was about 10 yards or so. Dropping steeply down a brushy (what else but?) slope the two parties reunited and we got within 10 yards of Butterfly Lake.

Considering the formidable effort to get there, the lake underwhelmed. There are prettier lakes but hey, anybody can get there on a trail. This hike was special, made more so by the steep bushwhack out of the lake basin while 9 hikers muttered something about "...Richard Hikes". Despite the cold conditions, we were a pretty hot and sweaty bunch by the time we broke out onto the dunes which were wonderfully clear of dense vegetation.

For some extra mileage, we took the sandy track to the beach. Tahkenitch Creek has been on a rampage over the last five years or so and the trail has been rerouted due to the creek eating away at forest and trail alike. Swollen with the recent rains, the creek was more river than creek and there'd be no wading across today. After our brief beach visit it was a routine return through the dunes and fores back to the cars. At the end of the hike, most everybody agreed that this was one memorable hike but in a good way. Newspaper stories of my demise were premature.


back to top

Roseburg Oregon Hiking Club
Welcomes You!