Perfect weather for an Eagle Creek retreat

Alton Collins

This weekend I was lucky enough to attend a retreat in Eagle Creek.  Our group had business, but there was much more focus on camaraderie, games, relaxation, and good food.   The Alton Collins Retreat Center is a perfect setting for such purposes.  There are a couple miles of trails in the area, so you can bet I went out to enjoy them.   Saturday afternoon I led a group hike in a casual loop dropping downhill to skirt Deep Creek, then curving back to the center.   The dynamics of hiking with ten people or so were unusual for me.  I am accustomed to hiking solo or with experienced hikers who move quickly and who contemplate little but the view from the top.

Fellow hiker in what felt like a primeval forest

Fellow hiker in what felt like a primeval forest

The trail system at Alton Collins is well marked, if the signs are mossy at times.  Some of the brush had obviously been cleared recently, and the trails were in decent shape.  The forest is typical for Western Oregon, heavy on the cedars and alders with plenty of sword ferns.   Deep Creek itself was small but lovely, with a couple of exceptionally nice little pools.   The trail flattened as it turned upstream, and members of our group perched on a bridge for a bit, contemplating the blue sky day and the clear waters running beneath us.   We then stretched out as a second group joined the first.   Assuming others would follow, I led a cluster of hikers further upstream until the trail neared the highway and turned again.   The trail climbed rapidly but briefly as it wound back toward the retreat center.  While the temperature must have been close to 80 in the sun, hiking in the trees felt perfect.

Lovely woods near the creek

Lovely woods near the creek

My only worry was when our group stretched out so far I couldn’t see the end of the line.  As it turns out, one member of the second group bringing up the rear joined the first, while the rest turned around, unsure of the way.  Naturally, I didn’t know this at the time.  I am fairly used to being in a leadership role, but with this group and this event, it was an entirely new situation.  After the first few hikers returned, I realized we’d straggled into multiple clumps, and I found myself worrying until the last group returned, perhaps because it included my lovely other half.  Next time, I would pay more attention.  Naturally, it was a perfect day and nothing went wrong, but one never knows. A twisted ankle can change everything.

IMG_6184

Massive cedars and their branch latticework

Our visit to Alton Collins was pleasant and I would recommend it for other groups as well. The accommodations were fine, the food was better, and the lawn was spectacular.  There was some serious croquet at one point, along with a diverse talent show.  I forced a couple poems on the unsuspecting audience, but the highlights of the evening included the amazing singing of two women, the manic energy of a young thespian, and a lovely Norwegian jokester.

In the morning, before we concluded our business, I went for a walk alone on a trail along Spring Creek.  I walked slowly, listening to birds, noticing the way light hit tree trunks and crowns.  Interestingly, I found a series of snails along the trail.  I am accustomed to seeing slugs on Oregon trails, but this seemed unusual.

Snail city: one of seven or eight in fifty yards

Snail city: one of seven or eight in fifty yards

The light in the forest was spectacular all weekend.  I wish I had the photographic skills to better capture the interplay of light and moss, branch and leaf.   At times, it was stunning.

Fungi on the "Easy" trail near the retreat center

Fungi on the “Easy” trail near the retreat center

When it was time to pack my bags and depart, I was ready to leave the forest retreat, thinking always of bigger hikes, but also very content with what I’d experienced, my personal batteries recharged.

Looking up and enjoying the scale of tree and sky

Such scales of tree and sky

About Josh Baker

"The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” ― John Muir

Posted on May 6, 2013, in Flora and Fauna, General Hiking, Navigation, Outdoors, Peakbagging, Uncategorized, Waterways and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. It’s always nice to take advantage and get out and enjoy a hike whenever you can – even if it’s a short one! I love all of the green undergrowth – we don’t have as much of that here in Colorado.

  2. Sun dappled moss is one of my favorites…and would definitely be a reason I’d be slowing you down. Glad there were no twisted ankles!

  3. We definitely have all shades of green, best seen in the light, as Heather suggested, but we don’t t have the Colorado views…. I will definitely take what I can get for beauty, and the combination of sun, water, and greenery usually does the trick.

  4. Looks like a beautiful place for a retreat!

  5. I like the pic of the giant cedars, very cool.

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