Sunday, June 21, 2015

Opal Creek

Opal Pool.
I've been hearing of the legendary beauty of Opal Creek for years.  We jumped at the chance to experience it for ourselves.  The trailhead is at one end of a 3 mile road leading to the "ghost town" of Jawbone Flats, an old mining town once abandoned and now owned by Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center.  They are the only ones to use the road.  All the electricity at Jawbone Flats comes from a Pelton wheel hydroelectric generator, an 1870s invention which visitors can glimpse inside its shed. Mysterious abandoned logging equipment can be seen along the trail, and all the rusty artifacts make this a very unique hike.  But logging efforts were successfully thwarted at some point, because there are some impressive old-growth trees along the trail.   A short walk from Jawbone Flats is the famous Opal Pool.  We marveled at its deep turquoise waters. The creek has completely stripped away all the sediment down to the bedrock, and I suspect the color of the water is simply due to its purity and depth.  A Northwest Forest Pass is required at the trailhead. The road to the trailhead is not great.  We navigated it without a high clearance vehicle but sadly returned missing a hubcap. It's a very popular hike so don't go there for solitude.  

Bleeding heart.
Piggyback plant.
Mitrewort.
Fairybells.
Star-flowered false Solomon's seal.
A sealed mine passage.
Falls on the Little North Santiam River.
Bunchberry.
Heart-leaved twayblade orchid.
Penstemon. 
Climbing down to the Opal Pool.
Opal Pool.
Opal Pool.
Opal Pool.
Monkeyflower.
Rhododendron.
Broad-leaved starflower.
Stonecrop.
Angled bittercress.
False lily-of-the-valley.

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