The Springfield News, Springfield, Oregon

Posted: Mar 23, 2005 - 11:17:22 PST


The great outdoors and big bargains
By Dorothy Velasco


When the sun shines brightly and plants burst into bloom, even the most sluggish of us begin to turn our thoughts to outdoor activities. Those who are brave want their outdoor activities to be adventures.
Adventures can be costly, but fortunately we live where exciting outdoor activities are not too expensive. We're lucky that many local folks who love the outdoors are willing to volunteer their time and skills to help others enjoy modestly priced outings.
You'll do well to start your search for affordable adventures with the Obsidians, an organization that promotes prudent enjoyment of our wilderness areas. The Obsidians formed in Eugene in 1927 to provide better safety measures and outdoor opportunities for people wanting to begin hiking, skiing or mountain climbing. The group also encourages learning about waterways and conservation.

The Obsidians offer a busy schedule year 'round, with skiing and snow shoeing trips in the winter, hikes and climbs in the summer, summer camp for adults, Byways-By-Bus trips, potlucks, trail maintenance and conservation efforts. Hikes can be as easy as an afternoon walk or as strenuous as overnight backpacking trips. Climbs can include technical rock climbing and snow climbing.
For more information about the Obsidians, check their Web site at . You must participate as a guest before you are eligible to join. (Anyone may be a guest and you don't need a sponsor.)
Fees for trips and membership are modest. Information about scheduled activities and sign-up sheets are posted at the Web site, or in the Outdoor section of Thursday's Eugene Register-Guard. You may also check activities listings at the Eugene YWCA.
The Eugene Outdoor Recreation program, offered through the City of Eugene, is another good bet. The outdoor program provides opportunities for climbing and mountaineering, family outings, and certifications, trainings and workshops.
Some offerings, such as skiing classes in alpine, cross-country and telemark styles, are aimed at specific groups like senior adults or adaptive recreation. For more information call 541-682-5333 or check the Eugene Parks & Recreation program guide. The Web site is .
Willamalane Park & Recreation District in Springfield offers some outdoor activities for different age groups, and other cities like Junction City and Cottage Grove have their own activities.
At the University of Oregon, all students are members of the Outdoor Program. If you're not a UO student you can become an Outdoor Program co-op member and participate in Outdoor Program trips by paying $15 a year.
The Outdoor Program at Erb Memorial Union on campus is a student-funded wilderness cooperative with the following basic elements:

  • Cooperative sharing of all decisions, responsibilities and costs.

  • Sharing and support, rather than competition.

  • Human-powered.

  • Environmentally proactive, minimum-impact.

  • Common sense and maturity rather than rules and structure.

  • Development of lifelong skills and leadership rather than one-shot thrills.

  • Participants encouraged to take an interest or skill to whatever height they wish.
    The university's trips and activities are all participant-planned, so count on devoting considerable time to organizing the event.
    Now UO students and Outdoor Program co-op members can rent gear for private outings at a low cost. You can choose from a variety of rafts, kayaks, backpacks, sleeping bags, tents, rain gear, and much more in this new rental program. Some equipment is even available on loan free of charge.
    Members wishing to sell outdoor equipment can also post their items on the used equipment board and the Web site.
    For more information call 541-346-4365 or check the Web site at
    Dorothy Velasco is a Springfield writer whose column, "Lighten Up," appears each week in The Springfield News. She can be reached c/o The Springfield News, PO Box 139, Springfield, OR 97477, or at