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Mar-30-2009 13:27printcomments

A Day at Stahlman Point in Oregon's Wilderness

If you are quite lucky, you might also catch a glimpse of another resident here. A solitary bobcat print was still preserved in the snow here last week.

Stahlman Point by by Gerrit Roelof
Photos by Gerrit Roelof, full-size images below story.

(DETROIT LAKE, Ore.) - Spring is trying to poke through. We made the daylight savings time change, and “sprung forward”. Even though 3” of fresh snow blanketed my cabin in Detroit this weekend, the snows are generally receding up the mountain.

The birds are returning, and their frantic songs as they search for nesting sites and partners can be heard every morning. This means opportunity, not only for the birds but for the outdoorsman.

The Stahlman Point Trail (FS #3349) is one of those early season opportunities. The road to the trailhead is now clear of snow, and the trail can be hiked with no need of snowshoes (although water proof boots and gaiters are still a very good idea).

To find this spot, follow Hwy 22 out of Salem and pass through Detroit. Before you reach Idanha, across from the Pacific Pride station, turn right onto the Blowout Road (FS Rd 10).

Follow this for 3.6 miles. Just past the Cove Creek Campground, look for a small parking area on your left and a sign that says “Stahlman Point”. This trail is 2.5 miles long, and gains about 1,300 feet in elevation. It is not an easy trail; much of it tracks along a rather steep (45 degree) slope. But is well within the means of an adult in decent shape. Making frequent stops for water and to take in the scenery, it took me about 2 hours to reach the top.

The trail starts by following Sauers Creek. This section takes you through relatively thick forest. There are many trees down, from wind storms and the winter’s heavy snows.

There are new trees across the trail here, as there are throughout, so some improvisation will be necessary in keeping on the trail.

The rhododendron are impressive here, and when they bloom it will be spectacular.

After you angle east and leave the creek, you will come out into a partial clearing. This is a selective cut that was done a few years ago. It affords a great deal of light to reach the forest floor. Because of this, the deer and elk have found it.

There are signs of this everywhere, and the green shoots that will soon be appearing should provide the quiet hiker with appropriate rewards.

From here the trail continues to climb along this north facing slope. Detroit Lake sleeps in the valley below, and the snow capped ridges on the far side provide a contrasting backdrop.

Eventually the trail turns south, and climbs into a sheltered saddle. Here the forest is thick again, but now there are more giant old growth trees providing the cover. The forest floor opens up and you can see much farther under it’s protective canopy.

You are also now approaching 2500 ft elevation, and pockets of snow are appearing more often. Although snowshoes are not required here, you will be walking through a few drifts that are up to 3’ deep, and gaiters with non-cotton (denim) pants will make the trip more comfortable.

You are quickly out of the saddle, and begin the final climb. This is a series of switchbacks that quickly take you out of the old growth and up onto the rocks of the peak.

At the top you are afforded a majestic view of the North Santiam valley and the town of Idanha. In the background, a snow-covered Mt. Jefferson watches over the whole scene.

You will also notice the old footings of a long extinct fire lookout that used to call this peak it’s home. The observant hiker may be able to find a small plaque mounted in one of the trees here, “Jim R. Stahlman, 1938 - 2004”.

If you are quite lucky, you might also catch a glimpse of another resident here. A solitary bobcat print was still preserved in the snow here last week.

When time allows, Gerrit and his family make the break to the Detroit Lake area and other parts of Oregon where hunting and fishing are the order of the day. Gerrit has a way with words that is drawn from both education and life experience. While Gerrit has a full time career in law enforcement and firefighting before that, he has also taken the time to polish his natural skills at delivering written and visual information. He used to have an outdoor column in the South Salem Post. He has also written regular articles for Oregon Fishing & Hunting News and Gerrit's experience in life is both awe-inspiring and honorable. Gerrit is likable, uniquely qualified, energetic and down to earth. He helps fill the void when it comes to articles about all of the amazing things Oregon has to offer those who have a connection with nature; be it through hiking, fishing, photography, hunting, or so many other outdoor activities here.

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Scott April 7, 2009 9:50 pm (Pacific time)

Great article, and thanks for the pics!

Jess March 31, 2009 10:38 am (Pacific time)

Great article Gerrit. Makes me want to go!

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.