In the aftermath of the Las Vegas shootings last week (on top of everything else going on in this country) I needed a big hug from nature.
Off I went with 3 other women friends to walk in the Opal Creek Wilderness Area. This place has been a refuge for me for years. It is tucked up in the Cascade Mountains about 30 miles due east of Salem, Oregon.
This is one of the largest old growth forests left in the United States and the largest in the Western Cascade Mountains in a watershed virtually untouched by loggers saw. As a result, stunning Opal Creek runs sparkling clear through its rocky course through this forest wonderland of giant Douglas fir, W. Hemlock, & W. Red Cedar.
The Shiny Rock Mining company operated in the midst of this forest in the 1930s from the “town” of Jawbone Flat. In its heyday, about 50 souls lived & worked there. The relics of the town still remain.
By the 1980s, timber companies were eager to log the area. Friends of Opal Creek, an activist organization dedicated to preserving the watershed to a wilderness area, was formed. I joined up. For the next few years, I made many 4-hour roundtrip drives to lead educational hikes to the public along with other docents in an effort to expose and educate the public about why we should preserve this gem of an area.
The strategy worked. Eventually, with public pressure, Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon pushed legislation through Congress in 1996 before he retired forming the Opal Creek Wilderness Area. The Shiny Rock Mining Company deeded over their holdings to the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center whose mission it is to educate children and others on the value of old growth forests.
Today it is a sanctuary for many including myself and a myriad of flora and fauna. Walking through this forest cathedral, the four of us absorbed the healing power of nature and our souls were washed clean, at least for a while, from the cascades of Opal Creek.
It was good to know, there is still beauty in this world.
There is Still beauty in this World
Seek it in the wild forests
Where the only news you will hear
Are the songs of birds
And the shatter of chipmunks
Let the music of cascading waters
Soothe your soul
As you tread in a green world
Lined with lush moss, rocks, and ferns
A winding trail beneath your feet
When you look up through
The cathedral of conifer branches
And the stained glass window of the vine maples in their sunset hues
Know that nature will endure
Beyond the world of man