Of late Theresa and I have been fairly busy with two citizen science projects; our monthly COASST bird surveys and the Wild and Scenic River surveys. However, when we can, we still enjoy heading out into the backcountry with nothing on the agenda other than finding new areas to explore and sights to behold. We found a gem in Bear Canyon just outside of the picturesque logging town of Morton.
We stumbled on this gorgeous canyon purely by happenstance. We had decided to get out of town on short notice, and all our usual parks in the Mt. St. Helen area were booked so we turned to Hipcamp to see what was available. The nearest property that had an open spot was a tree farm. Not our first choice, but like a book, you can’t always judge a property by its listing. Turns out the Arboretum was an exceptional find.
Bear Canyon can be accessed by multiple points along SR 508. If you travel a bit further east apparently there is a trailhead. You can find more details here. For us, it was as easy as taking the trail behind our campsite. The trail quickly drops into the canyon and is heavily wooded. At its bottom, we found the Tilton River. I found out afterward that this river is popular with white water kayakers.
The appeal for us was the solitude and obvious signs that the area wasn’t visited very often. Theresa had brought a book and read while I snapped photographs. The fact that Theresa would ‘slow down’ and enjoy the serenity of the place should tell you something about the energy of the area. Besides the occasional chirp from a bird, the only sound was the gurgle of the small waterfall which fed the river.
Our mission is a labor of love, but it does come with overhead. If you’d like to support our efforts we’d certainly appreciate it. Currently, we’re actively participating in the following field research:
- COASST Beached Bird Surveys
- Wild and Scenic River Project
Our first trip to Morton was a few years ago when Theresa, on a curious whim, announced we were going to be attending a Loggers Jubilee in this small mountain community. What a day we had! From a bed frame race through the middle of town to watching loggers race in some nail-biting competitions to the swamp meet, we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.
Let’s get this out of the way. Certainly, I wish we had done a better job of managing our old-growth forest here in the Pacific Northwest, but I personally don’t hold that mismanagement against the workers out in the forest putting bread on the family’s table. They weren’t the ones making policy; just hard rugged men in a dangerous job.
Morton was settled in 1880 and a two-room schoolhouse soon followed as the community grew to meet the demand for lumber. Incorporated on Jan 6, 1913, and named after the country’s current Vice-President Levi Morton, the city developed into the business center for East Lewis County.
The town certainly has a colorful past having survived both devasting fire and flood. It also has a certain claim to fame in T.A. Peterman. After enjoying success in modifying trucks to operate better in the local steep hillsides, he moved his operation to California and started what is now known as Peterbilt Trucks.
The downtown may have seen better days, but there are still some jewels to be had in the local businesses. One is Rivers Coffeehouse and Bistro. Good food, good coffee and a rich tapestry to enjoy it are to be found here.
If you’re anywhere in the area, it’s worth spending a day in this area.