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Outdoor group celebrates
By RANDI BJORNSTAD
Whatever your idea of
outdoor exercise - a stroll through magnificent gardens, a 5-mile hike
through the woods, a climb to the top of one of the Three Sisters or a
weeklong camping trip into wilderness - the Obsidians probably have just the
This month alone, the group's calendar lists a dozen hikes, a couple of
mountain climbs, a potluck with slide show of Peru and the Amazon, and a bus
trip to three horticultural stops, including an iris garden.
About a week ago, Obsidian member and bicycle enthusiast Norma Lockyear
led a group on a 40-mile loop through the Willamette Valley near Shedd and
Tangent. In two weeks, she'll head up another entourage, biking 45 scenic
miles in and around Scio, including through five covered bridges.
Lockyear has been a member of the Obsidians since 1985.
The Obsidians held an
open house Sunday for their 75th anniversary. Member Dave Predeek
(center) leads a group on a short wildflower hike.
Obsidians and guests
pause during a wildflower tour on the group's 4-acre grounds near
Laurelwood Golf Course. The group formed back in 1927 as the Eugene
WAYNE EASTBURN / The Register-Guard
"I moved here and wanted to do things outdoors, and the group had lots of
activities - even if you were alone, you could do things in a group and make
new friends," she said. "I've been part of it ever since."
Organized 75 years ago, the Eugene-based group boasts 500 members -
ranging in age from 5 to well over 80 - who regularly get together in small
groups and fan out across Oregon and adjacent states to stroll, hike, climb,
bicycle, ski, snowshoe, camp and canoe.
For no particular reason except habit, their leaders say, they keep a
fairly low profile - no telephone number in the phone book, no address but a
post office box on their letterhead.
But on Sunday, the Obsidians emerged from their unintentional anonymity
for a few hours to play host to each other and the community at an
anniversary open house - "75 Years and Still Out There," the commemorative
T-shirts read - at their clubhouse tucked away on four acres of wooded land
off the southeast edge of the Laurelwood Golf Course.
Among those who came to reminisce was 80-year-old Dorothy Scherer of
Springfield, who giggled like a schoolgirl as she recalled "becoming
acquainted" with her late husband, Clarence, back in 1948 through Obsidian
"On my first hike, which was somewhere near Bend, he asked if I could
ride over in his car - he had a big convertible," Scherer said. "After the
hike was over, he decided to show me how fast he could go up this butte,
around and around, in his big car."
After that, the couple went on Obsidian trips and summer camps for the
next year or two. They became engaged after a summer camp in the Grand
Tetons, and were married in December 1950. The couple remained active in the
group, she said, until her husband's death in the mid-1990s.
Sunday's event was also a chance for newcomers to check out the
"So you hike, climb, take bus trips and eat," a prospective member joked
after glancing through the long list of coming attractions on a brochure
handed to her by member John Jacobsen.
Not a bad assessment, Jacobsen admitted with a grin. But while the group
now emphasizes a wide variety of outdoor activities, its beginnings had a
rather more serious purpose, he said.
Back in 1927, two young men - a University of Oregon student named Henry
Cramer and his friend, UO graduate Guy Ferry - set out to climb the Three
Sisters. They never returned.
"They had signed a visitor log somewhere along the way - they wrote that
it was cold and the weather was getting bad," Jacobsen said, looking through
newspaper clippings in one of the Obsidians' many scrapbooks. "A bunch of
local outdoorsmen went up to look for them but didn't find them - their
bodies were found two years later - but the experience made them realize
that Eugene should have an organization focused on search-and-rescue
They formed the Eugene Outdoor Club, which soon emerged as a social group
as well as one devoted to finding lost hikers, Jacobsen said. From the
beginning it involved both men and women, and it earned its permanent
moniker a year or two later.
"A number of people in the group organized a summer camp outing and
climbed all three of the Sisters," he said. "They decided 'Obsidians' would
be a more fitting name for a bunch that tough. At the next year's summer
camp, they officially changed it."
What: A group of people interested in outdoor activities,
including organized hikes, mountain climbs, bicycle tours, canoe trips, bus
tours and camping outings throughout the year in Oregon and other states
Membership eligibility: Must attend three hikes or one climb to
become active member
Cost: Membership dues, $20 per year; individual hikes, $1 for
members or $4 for nonmembers; individual climbs, $2 for members or $10 for
Information: John and Janet Jacobsen, 343-8030. The Obsidians
also maintain an informational bulletin board inside the north entrance of
the YMCA at 2055 Patterson St., Eugene. People may sign up there to
participate in group's activities.
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