It’s day three of our paddle trip and time to break camp and load our camping gear into our vehicles before making our last paddle of the trip.
Today’s trip is a short three-mile round trip on Spring Creek, so named because it is fed from underground springs. We drive up the road past the Collier Memorial State Park Logging Museum to the day use area. The walk from the parking lot to the water’s edge is a little over 100 yards.
The first thing we notice about the creek is its crystal clear water, due in large part to its fine silt bottom, as opposed to mud, and because underground springs recharge the water in the creek and not run-off from the surrounding hills. These conditions and the fact that the water in the creek remains a constant 40° F year round help explain the presence of mare’s eggs near the headwaters of the creek.
Mare’s eggs (Nostoc pruniforme) are a form of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) that appear as stones sitting on the bottom of the creek, but they are actually gelatinous balls that are hollow in the center. They’re unique to only three known places in the world, and seeing them is the reason I have brought paddlers to Spring Creek this morning.
Homes and farms line the banks of Spring Creek for about half the trip, but many of these homes and farms are rustic and spread out and don’t detract from the beauty of the creek. We pass a lady who is busy watering tomato plants on her dock. She tells us that we must see the mare’s eggs. I shout back to her that seeing the mare’s eggs are the reason we are paddling the creek and wish her a good morning.
We’re at the headwaters before we know it—it was, after all, only a mile and a half up to the headwaters. I have brought rubber boots with me, so I venture out into the water. Some have chosen to step into the cold water in nothing more than sandals and can’t stand long in the chilly water. We also take this time to grab a quick snack and peer through the clear water to view the mare’s eggs.
It’s time to head back to the put-in. Most of us have at least a five-hour drive back home and hours of unpacking and gear clean-up.
Back at the put-in, I hear some paddlers remark that the trip on Spring Creek ended too soon and that they wish it had lasted longer. Several comment that paddling Spring Creek was the highlight of the trip.
Alas, all good things must come to an end, and so it is with the South-Central Oregon Paddle 2015 trip. I see further group trips to the region in the future now that paddlers from the Portland area are aware of the beauty and paddling opportunities that await those willing to make the drive to the Klamath Basin.