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About Appeal tribune. (Silverton, Or.) 1999-current | View Entire Issue (May 27, 2020)
❚ WEDNESDAY, MAY 27, 2020 ❚ 1B
VALLEY OF THE GIANTS
Large trees stick out along the trail at Valley of the Giants. ZACH URNESS / STATESMAN JOURNAL
This hidden grove features Oregon’s largest and oldest trees
Salem Statesman Journal
USA TODAY NETWORK
Oregon's outdoors is slowly reopening from
closures related to COVID-19. Until things get
back to normal, we're featuring the "greatest
hits" from SJ outdoors writer Zach Urness for
armchair traveling purposes and future plan-
This story was originally published in Sep-
tember of 2013, but has been revised.
There comes a moment, during the drive
from Salem to the Valley of the Giants trailhead,
when even the most mature adults transform
into 6-year-old children.
Are we there yet?
Are. We. There. Yet?
Although just 33 miles from Salem as the
crow ﬂies, the route to this hidden grove requires
navigating a labyrinth of rough and unmarked
logging roads deep into the Coast Range.
Time seems to melt away on winding, car-
sick-inducing curves that pass the ghost town of
Valsetz and follow the Siletz River on a drive that
totals about two hours and 15 minutes.
But then you arrive.
All the journey's frustration vanishes into the
breeze on a 1.6 mile trail below titanic Douglas
ﬁrs and hemlocks twisting into the sky like goth-
ic pillars, standing 250 feet above an emerald
forest showcasing some of the largest and oldest
trees in Oregon.
In a landscape deﬁned by logging, the Valley
of the Giants is a 51-acre island of old-growth
protected by the Bureau of Land Management
as an Outstanding Natural Area.
"It's like a pocket of Coast Range forest that
time forgot," said Trish Hogervorst, an oﬃcer for
the BLM's Salem District. "There's a long and
bumpy ride to get there, but people really love it.
It's a real hidden jewel."
Every trip to the Valley of the Giants should
begin by either calling or visiting BLM's Salem
District Oﬃce, where mile-by-mile directions
are provided and information can be obtained
about roads often closed, blocked by snow or
washed-out (or just email me at zur-
email@example.com for the details).
Still, with the proper preparation, a trip to
this garden of ancient trees becomes an adven-
ture into Oregon's history.
The story of Valsetz
On a recent Sunday afternoon, Kalab Broadus
walked through the Valley of the Giants with his
13-month-old daughter, Addisyn, strapped to
his chest in a baby carrier, exploring a forest
that's deﬁned much of his life.
A third-generation logger, Broadus has deep
roots in the area. His grandparents and father
lived in the timber company town of Valsetz —
located just up the road from the Giants — until
the town closed in 1984.
See GIANTS, Page 2B
Of woodpeckers and utility poles
note, one of Oregon’s most beautiful
birds – had pounded some smaller ex-
ploratory holes before concentrating on
the current location about a third of the
way up the pole on the southern side.
By about day four, it had excavated a
cavity about 4 to 6 inches deep, so you
could see just the rump and tail feathers
sticking out of the tunnel.
You tend to notice the little things
when you’re self-isolating/social-dis-
tancing/mostly staying at home, such
- After about six weeks (and count-
ing), the gas gauge on the Tacoma says
that you’re gone through a quarter-tank
of gas, and the battery is sluggish when
you crank it over.
- Outdoor outings consisting of daily
dog walks with Harry the hound draw
comments from fellow travelers about
the bounty of wildlife in Oregon consist-
ing of “I saw a couple of squirrels.”
That from Karen, a former SJ employ-
ee who lives in the neighborhood and
who also is an avid walker, along with
- And then there was the thack,
thack, thack of a woodpecker beavering
away from sunrise to sunset, including
Sundays, on a power pole across the
In the interests of full disclosure,
what would have been a mere curiosity
during normal times becomes an object
Can a Flicker bring down a utility
Halfway home, a woodpecker, northern
flicker to be precise, is about 4 inches
deep in a nesting cavity that it
chiseled into a utility pole across the
street. HENRY MILLER/SPECIAL TO THE
of fascination during a nature-lover’s
So I went over to check it out.
A northern ﬂicker – on a personal
At that point, I decided to call Port-
land General Electric to see if there was
potential for major structural damage to
I was assured by the operator at the
utility that woodpeckers seldom do that
A lineman who came out with a buck-
et truck to inspect thought otherwise.
“Did you have trouble ﬁnding it?” I
asked about the cavern, the entrance to
which was about the diameter of a 1-
pound can of Rosarita refries.
He grinned, informing me that when
he elevated the bucket and looked in the
cavity, he could see light coming
through where a companion hole on the
opposite side had been chiseled out.
Because it was decades old, and a
junction pole for neighborhood utility
lines, it was the worst one that the ﬂick-
er could have selected, he added.
It will have to be replaced, he said,
adding a thanks that I had called it in.
Yesterday while walking Harry, an-
other longtime acquaintance and fellow
dog-walker was out with Mollie, her
“Did you see that bird in the hole on
the pole?” she asked.
“You bet,” I replied. “It’s been work-
ing on it for a week or so.”
Or words to that eﬀect.
She informed me that the bird was
now all the way inside the pole, and
judging by the tapping, expanding the
At that point, fascination with bird
watching becomes secondary to some
The Pythagorean woodpecker
If the pole represents one side of a
right triangle and the length of the shad-
ow equals the base, you can calculate
the height by using a known length, say
a ruler, then also measuring its shadow
at the same time.
The length of the shadow of the pole
See MILLER, Page 2B