Stint Four: Little River

Last season our training weeks finished up in the Little River Watershed—this year my crew returned to the Lake in the Woods Campground for genuine surveying of Little River and some adjoining tributaries. We had a variety of sites; a few roadies, a few hikes down from ridge tops, and even a hike from camp to a site just above Hemlock Falls. The sun shone down on us for most of the week, with the exception of a fantastic thunder and lightning storm late one night.



I awoke to the rumblings of a cacophony of cracking thunder nearby, and then quickly saw the first bolt of lightning. The sky seemed to be pulling away from and yet smashing into itself all at once with sound that I could feel through my body. The rolling noise gave way time and time again to seemingly blinding flashes of white light. Mere seconds separated the shaking roars and outstanding bursts. The closeness of the action first led me to tense up in my tent and curl up on my sleeping pad—fearful darting thoughts filled my mind, ‘should I stay in my tent where I’m surrounded by trees and right next to a lake? This is where the lightening would be drawn to, right?’ And, ‘is the rest of my crew hearing this, should I go to the truck?’ Rain droplets pelted my rainfly. I repeatedly calculated the supposed distance of the storm in my head, ‘one second per mile, am I remembering correctly?! Booooooooom…one mississippi, two mississippi, three mississippi, four mississippi…flash! Four miles! Boom…one missis…flash! One mile?!’ Yet eventually, thankfully, I had the good sense to calm down. Realizing that the storm was most likely not concerned with my whereabouts and would likely roll right on over without a care—I decided to simply enjoy the pre-dawn performance.  It only continued on for about twenty minutes, but it was quite a fantastic moment of the week.

Other notable occurrences from the week include the candlelit dinners we shared as a crew each night as we stuffed ourselves full after steep daily hikes, enjoying French-pressed coffee each morning thanks to a great birthday gift of a travel press mug (thanks, Katy!), reading wonderful stories from the Sun Magazine (thanks Mom!), and trying Chobani Greek Yogurt for the first time (I’d recommend some flavors of it, though I think I prefer standard yogurt). And, I got the chance to talk to my dad for a good while on our ‘town evening,’ which succeeded in getting me far too excited about my upcoming travel plans! Let’s see, what else?– our data recorder went berserk and had to be replaced midweek, then we came inches from hitting a deer on our drive into town, and nearly lost our GPS that had been left on the hood during that same drive. We also managed to lock our keys in the work truck one morning, and were lucky enough to have a nearby recreation ranger hear us on the radio and pried our door open for us! Quite a few exciting moments throughout the week!

It was a week well spent in the Umpqua National Forest.

Up next (I just got back from stint five yesterday): Hehe Creek in the Willamette National Forest, just east of Eugene.

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