Middle Schoolers backpack along the magical Siouxon Creek
Nine 6th and 7th grade students joined the two Davids from the Outdoor Program and Sara Dier from the Learning Center on a weekend backpacking trip to the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. Nick and Miguel had returned from their 7th grade class trip just hours before we departed for our backpacking adventure on Saturday morning, but that wasn't enough to stop them from joining in on the fun. Due to a drippy forecast, and trip reports of muddy trails, we moved the destination for this trip away from the original plan of the Tillamook Head Traverse between Seaside and Cannon Beach. This was a good call, as the trail along the Siouxon Creek is wonderfully maintained, and we harly saw any precipitation at all!
This trip provided the opportunity for many of the students to try out backpacking for the first time, but you could hardly have guessed that that was the case! Between the class trips and other Outdoor Program offerings throughout the year, all of the student participants had gained significant outdoor experience over the past year, and everyone made the transition from car camping to backpacking without any major hurdles. We split up group gear, and did a backpacking tutorial - covering packing a backpack, adjusting the straps, proper foot care, and hiking as a group - before heading off down the trail.
The trail descends right off the bat before crossing West creek on a cool log bridge, and proceeds to flatten out once reaching Siouxon Creek. We stopped at Horseshoe Falls to look at the first of many falls along the trail and to snack on our big bag of trail mix. Alon proved to be quite good at catching M&Ms after throwing them into the air. We put the packs back on, and continued along the wooded, Cascade creek. For its ease of access and beauty, this trail is relatively unknown and we passed many open and inviting campsites before settling in in a wide open spot along the creek. After setting up camp, we headed back on the trail to a rocky beach that we had passed on the way in. We explored the creek shore, skipped rocks and had a rock-throwing competition before heading back to camp to cook our pasta dinner. Some cheesecake and relfections on the day around the fire, rounded out a satisfying day.
Sunday morning started with hot cocoa, oatmeal, and the requisite SPAM. We packed up our personal gear, but left our tents standing as we explored further upstream to see what we could find. The trail winds its way up the verdant gorge, at times passing along dramatic precipices, before reaching another crossing of one of the many tributaries to Siouxon Creek. We crossed the creek on logs, and then explored the rocky shelves that form the rim around the main channel of Siouxon. We then continued a bit farther to discover a large, and spectacular waterfall. We messed around in the splash-zone of the falls and filled waterbottles before heading back down the trail. Multiple rounds of the game "Eagle Eye" were played in a large campsite on the way down the trail, and Marcell was unbeatable as the Eagle.
After our enjoyable side hike, we made it back to camp and finished breaking down tents before heading back toward the trailhead with our full packs. Again, there was nary a complaint as we sang and joked our way down the trail. We stopped for a nice lunch at a viewpoint overlooking another waterfall before powering through the final couple of miles on the trail. Activity bus 21 was loaded up as we exchanged high-fives after a successful trip. We were back on campus by 4:30 on Sunday, ready for the final week of classes, and all the more excited for the start of SUMMER!
Thanks for making this trip great, and enjoy some photos from our adventure: