A walk across the land

My dad said that we should go on a hike at 7 a.m. on Saturday; I said no. 

And so there we were, me, my dad, my mom and my sister Abe, at the start of the trail just a touch past 7 on Saturday morning. 

We had decided to go hike Green Island as part of the McKenzie River Trust’s Oregon Walk the Land Day. Green Island was one of 16 hikes around the state where people could go and walk on these natural lands that are protected year-round and often not allowed for people to roam. These are nature preserves that are protected to restore the land back to its original state but on this day all across Oregon, we could explore these nature-filled lands. 

A quick drive through Coburg and a turn onto a seemingly random gravel path and we had arrived at our destination. We found ourselves in a full parking lot in the middle of… somewhere. It wasn’t quite nowhere, I mean, we had just left from Eugene, but it certainly was not somewhere familiar. 

As I filled my pockets with granola bars I looked around to take in the world around me. There were big trees and there were outhouses. There was a glowing bright blue sky and then there were sign in sheets and volunteers. It felt like the start of a 5K race except once we began, instead of using our energy to get ahead we got to leisurely stroll through the path.

As we began our walk, I remembered why were there. It was not just to celebrate the beauty that is the state of Oregon but here we would be offered a glimpse of the confluence of the McKenzie and Willamette River. This convergence of the two rivers is rarely seen and we were there on one of the few days that it is open to the public. 

According to the McKenzie River Trust over 2,000 people would be taking part in this day and almost half of those at Green Island but when we were walking on our route, it was just us. Just us and nature. As we walked along the grass we stopped at various places marked off as lookout points. At one in particular spot we were right next to the slowly rushing river with a gaggle of geese to our side. We watched the river simply flow and it felt as if we were in the middle of a dreamy poem about a summer’s day.  

After about a mile in we got to the spot near the confluence. While we were blocked by bushes and were not able to get close to the water on this occasion, we got to see where these two powerful rivers fluidly flow forward. 

It was not this wildly overwhelming or breathtaking moment, and if coming to see it had not been the reason we had come I may have missed it altogether, but it was just peaceful. Serene. The river flowing, the birds that we were unable to identify their species chirping while the warm sun heated us up. 

And sure, maybe the tone of the moment shifted when a middle aged woman was upset that the bushes kept her from getting to the water and she threatened to file a complaint to, uh, someone at this place working to keep nature in its original state. But the complaint didn’t matter. We got to be in nature and be on this land that is taken for granted and often forgotten about. And it was even worth waking up before 7 a.m. to see it.