Group Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Eugene-based hiking group | Date: in September 2023 | Duration: 1 day | Walking Distance: 3.5 miles | Participants: 3 | Elevation Gain/Loss: 30 feet
Snag Boat Bend is the eastern unit of the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge. The centerpiece of the property is an old meander of the Willamette River that connects with Lake Creek. On our walk, we saw four River Otters (one is shown), herons, egrets, one turkey, several kingfishers, numerous skeletal fish scattered on the bank which are believed to be carp, several ducks, signs of beaver, and a large burrow in the bank located near the water level. We were the only people on the trail during our 2.5-hour walk. Separately, we visited the Mennonite Bakery that was in the area and returned home with some delicious snacks.
Group Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Eugene-based hiking group | Date: in April 2023 | Duration: 1 day | Walking Distance: 4.5 miles | Participants: 8 | Elevation Gain/Loss: <100 feet | Type: Urban Walking
Walkers, runners, bikers, birders, and anyone who enjoys exploring the many trails and paths of the Whilamut Natural Area in Eugene, Oregon (and nearby Springfield) can learn from these quiet stones of place. The stones help to connect people with traditional names on the land and remind people that the Kalapuya people are still here. Our 2.5-hour walk was sunny and the temperatures were perfect for a springtime walk. Shown is the Gudu-kut stone; Gudu-kut is the Kalapuyan name for frog.
Group Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Eugene-based hiking group | Date: in April 2023 | Duration: 1 day | Hiking Distance: 3 miles | Participants: 10 | Type: Walking
The weather was a little cool and cloudy, but that did not deter our group of lifelong learners. Our walking group enjoyed exploring local museums, seeing colorful murals, and eating some great local food. Shown in the Opal Whitely mural in Cottage Grove. A special thanks to the Cottage Grove Museum.
Group Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Eugene-based hiking club | Date: March 2022 | Walking Distance: 2 miles | Participants: 10
The weather was a bit wet and windy, but it did not lessen our enjoyment of the University of Oregon’s iconography. Our walk focused on the historic head sculptures at the Knight Library representing historic figures from the disciplines taught in academia, the science gargoyles of the Lokey Science Complex, and the printer’s marks (colophons) at Allen Hall. Shown is the humorous Einstein gargoyle.
Group Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Eugene-based hiking club | Date: March 2022 | Walking Distance: 3 miles | Participants: 10
Downtown Eugene has some colorful building-sized murals along with multiple micro-art pieces. It’s been about 9-months since a previous walk downtown, it was good to see several old favorites, and a few new pieces too.
Shown are two recent additions: “We Rise” by Rachel Wolfe Goldsmith & a colorful Tyrannosaurus mural by Bayne.
Group Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Eugene-based hiking club | Date: February 2022 | Walking Distance: 6.5 miles | Participants: 10
Our walk through the Masonic cemetery and across the UO campus recognized the 200th birthday of Thomas Condon, a fossil-hunting minister who was Oregon’s first state geologist, the University of Oregon’s first science professor, and the first to recognize the paleontological importance of the John Day region: an area with a fossil record that spans over 40 million years.
Group Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Eugene-based hiking club | Date: February 2022 | Walking Distance: 5 miles | Participants: 11
Scattered throughout the Whilamut Natural Area in Eugene, Oregon (and nearby Springfield) are 15 boulders etched with words from the Kalapuya language. These are the Kalapuya Talking Stones, and they help educate and remind visitors that the Kalapuya people, the original inhabitants of the area, are still here. The writing on the stones reflects natural items in the traditional landscape. We enjoyed visiting all 15 stones on our walk.
On Saturday, February 26th, attend the Kalapuya Storytelling & Drumming event (Downtown & Online) at the Eugene Public Library.
Trip Report: Group Leader: Mark Hougardy | Organization: Eugene-based Hiking Club | Date: June 2021 | Distance: 5 miles | Participants: 8 | Type: Urban Walking
After 15 months of businesses having reduced in-person visits due to Covid-19 safety measures, it was good to go for a walk to re-discover 3 locally-owned independent bookstores in Eugene. Our group walked from Amazon Park to J. Michaels Books, Smith Family Books, and lopping back to Tsunami Books. A fourth bookstore was still closed to in-person visits, we will get this on the next trip. We visited a local tea house before wrapping up the day. At least 10 books were purchased between the 3 locations.
Winter is a wonderful time to explore Eugene, Oregon. Here’s a sampling of several group tours I led in late 2019 to see local murals, holiday lights, the university, and historic districts.
Leading an evening walk to see some of the holiday lights.
Learning about a local author (Opal Whiteley) and the statue commemorating her life. This was part of a local art walk.
After a tour, I always ask if participants would like to continue their day (or evening) enjoying some local flavors.
A walk through the grounds of the University of Oregon to see local art and craftsmanship.
Enjoying a brief side-trip to learn about some of the participant’s explorations in Oregon with this wall-sized map.
There are always curious things to see on my trips, this Holiday skeleton was spotted in a car while I was leading a recent group walk.
Eugene was once home to 18-miles of electric streetcars (trolleys). On this neighborhood walk, our group was able to see some of the original tracks that are resurfacing.
This location is actually near an old stop on the historic trolley line (from the previous photo), but today the stop is home to little free tea kiosk where a person can get a hot cup of tea and enjoy a book.
Walk participants are finding some micro-art pieces for themselves in this photo. This is a trompe-l’Å“il art piece, it uses realistic imagery to create the optical illusion that looks three dimensional.
Trip Report -Volunteer Leader: Mark Hougardy; Group: Eugene-based Hiking Club; Dates: April 2019; Participants: 16; Type: Urban & Trail Walking
Imagine attending a grand celebration… Every year, 100 people gather to laugh, tell stories, eat good food, and celebrate. Near the conclusion of the festival, everyone erupts into a joyous song, this music is extra special because for it to be harmonious each person is responsible for contributing just one note at the right time. The song rises and flows with many voices as old and young share. The following year there is another celebration but now a people few are missing. The next year, there are others who don’t attend and the melody starts to fray. For decades this unraveling of the song continues as fewer people are around to sing. Afer one hundred years only two people remain. They sing with passion, but how do they celebrate the larger song with so many notes missing? …How would you?
In the early 1800s, the Kalapuya people numbered around 15,000 and were the largest Native American group in what is now known as the Willamette Valley of western Oregon. Diseases introduced to the area decimated the population and by 1850 about 1,000 people remained. In 1900, the Kalapuya numbered about 300 (2% of the original population) and by the 1950s the last generation of speakers had passed. A 1977 University of Oregon anthropological paper declared, “the Kalapuya population is now presumed extinct.”
This was the setting for Esther Stutzman, a woman of Kalapuya heritage who wanted to revive the language. Over the years she made incremental steps to build awareness about the Kalapuya and awaken the language, but even into the early 1990’s, she was told by academics to not even bother as the language was dead. One reason for this difficulty was the geographic connection to Kalapuya place names no longer existed; pioneers had given all the landmarks names. Esther eventually partnered with the Citizen Planning Committee of East Alton Baker Park. Together, they convinced Willamalane Parks and Recreation and the City of Eugene to re-associate place names with Kalapuya words and phrases. The 237-acre park was re-named the Whilamut Natural Area of Alton Baker Park, and a year later, they placed cultural art installations known as the Kalapuya Talking Stones.
The Talking Stones are etched boulders that carry a Kalapuya word from one of the several dialects that describe the location where the stones reside. Today, fifteen stones quietly speak with those who will listen from along riverside trails in the Whilamut Natural Area in Eugene and the Eastgate Woodlands of Springfield, Oregon.
The stones are etched with a simple font that approximates being written by a human finger as though an elder has just shared an idea by drawing a concept in the earth.
Placing the stones required years of work, public education, and patience from Esther and often-unsung heroes on the Citizen Planning Committee (CPC), including Charlotte Behm, Vicky Mello, David Sonnichsen, and others. The group has spent more than twenty years (as volunteers) diligently working to place and maintain the sacred Talking Stones and to educate the public about their important role in our community. The Talking Stones is a watershed project on blending native place names within metropolitan areas for the education about the people who once lived -and continue to live- in the area.
To better understand the Talking Stones’ stories Charlotte Behm joined us on our 2.5-hour walk. She shared her experiences and history about the stones and some of the challenges that remain. We were happy to listen and better understand the geographic connection to Kalapuya place names. Thank you, Esther and Charlotte, and the many others for helping to share a larger story with your voices.
An additional thank you to Charlotte Behm for her help with this article.
I’m happy to have introduced a great group of 11 to some of Eugene (OR), beautiful murals. Eugene has scores of outdoor images and they are best enjoyed while walking. Most are part of the 20x21EUG Mural Project, an initiative by the city to create 20 or more world-class outdoor murals between now and the 2021 IAAF World (track) Championships. Our walk of the downtown area visited building-sized masterpieces and a number of hidden micro-art images. We walked just over 2 miles and a great lunch afterward.
Trip Report â€“ Volunteer Leader: Mark Hougardy | Eugene-based Hiking Club | Dates: March 3, 2019 | Participants: 11 | Type: Urban Walking