Some of nature’s spectacles — outdoor and indoor — take center stage over the next few days.
If you’re up for a road trip, you might want to check out the Oregon Caves National Monument south of Cave Junction, which is holding its 12th annual community open house with free tours and music Saturday.
Closer to home, the sixth annual Ruby Van Deventer Wildflower Show is Friday and Saturday at the Del Norte County Fairgrounds. And you can join free hikes to see even more flowers in the wild Saturday and Sunday.
Meanwhile, dozens of people will graduate Friday night from the College of the Redwoods, Del Norte.
To the details.
All about the flowers
This year’s early spring conditions mean more wildflowers than ever will be on display, including trilliums, irises and lilies, according to organizer Rick Bennett. The lupine is this year’s theme flower, and a series of wildflower walks will again be held in conjunction with the show.
The popular carnivorous plant master, Harold Tryon, will again be on hand. There will also be Native American experts in medicinal, edible and utilitarian plants. All the usual attractions will be at the show, including Carol Schach’s photos.
The show’s opening day traditionally attracts busloads of third-graders from nine schools, and this year will be no exception. Each student gets a coloring book and a packet of seeds, and the kids also get to visit the railroad car and old schoolhouse at the fairgrounds.
Don’t be afraid to visit the show that day, however, because “we devise a tight schedule so they’re not all there at once,” Bennett said.
The following free hikes are planned in conjunction with the show (for more information, call Rick Hiser, 465-6191).
• Stony Creek half-day hike (Saturday). This famous and favorite botanical destination offers diverse, almost entirely native vegetation. Western azalea, Pacific rhododendron, Del Norte iris, California lady’s slipper, and Oregon anemone are among the expected bloomers.
Dave Imper and Carol Ralph will lead this 2-mile round-trip hike to the confluence of Stony Creek and North Fork Smith River. The trail is somewhat narrow and uneven, with an optional extension over boulders. Meet at 12:30 p.m. at the Wildflower Show at the fairgrounds or at the Gasquet store/post office at 1 p.m.
The hike is presented by the California Native Plant Society, and those who plan to attend are asked to call ahead at 822-2015.
• Wildflowers of Tolowa Dunes (Sunday). Laura Julian will lead an adventure out into the complex habitats of Tolowa Dunes State Park for wildflower viewing from 1 to 3 p.m.
This is a moderate hike; bring water and snacks. Meet at Lake Earl Wildlife Headquarters on Old Mill Road.
• The Historic Kelsey Trail with local history expert Clarke Moore (Sunday, 1-5 p.m.). Venture a few steps back into history and explore the current plans for the trail as part of the Coast to Crest Trail.
Meet Moore at the Big Flat campground, one mile past the GO road in Big Flat. Be prepared for a moderate to strenuous hike, bring water and snacks. Call 465-6191 for information and a map.
• Myrtle Creek Trail (Sunday, 1-3 p.m.). Hike this historic trail within the Smith River National Recreation Area with educator and avid historian/hiker Joe Gillespie. The trail is also rich in the wildflowers of the serpentine region. This is a moderate hike. Call 465-6191 for information and a map.
Free tours will be offered Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Oregon Caves National Monument, with visitors asked to bring a can of food to donate for those in need.
Music will be performed throughout the afternoon, both inside and outside the cave. From 1 to 2 p.m., sisters Skye and Tes Francis will fill the cave’s Ghost Room with folk music on guitar and fiddle. They will play every 10 minutes while tours pass through.
From 2 to 4 p.m., the Illinois Valley String Band will play old-time and contemporary Appalachian music near the Chateau’s pond. The whole family could stop by the Junior Ranger activity booth and make their own musical instruments to play in the cave.
Dress warmly, but leave behind any clothing, footwear, or gear you’ve used in any cave, mine, or other bat hibernation site east of the Rocky Mountains or Europe. Restrictions and screening procedures are in place to limit the spread of white-nose syndrome, a disease that is fatal to bats.
Oregon Caves is located about 20 miles south of Cave Junction on Route 46. A safe, leisurely drive to the monument from Cave Junction takes about 45 minutes – the last eight miles of the highway are steep and winding. Bring a jacket or sweater. The temperature in the cave averages 44 degrees. Good walking shoes are recommended, especially if you want to hike on any of the beautiful trails surrounding the caves.
Cameras are allowed in the cave, but backpacks and large purses are not permitted. Only the first room of the cave is wheelchair accessible. The cave is unsafe for small children: kids under 42-inches tall are not allowed.
For more information, call (541) 592-2100, extension 2262, or visit http://www.nps.gov/orca.
College of the Redwoods, Del Norte, will be awarding 59 degrees and 36 certificates Friday night in a commencement ceremony starting at 7 p.m. at Mary Peacock Elementary School.
The speaker will be Dr. Anthony Iton, senior vice president of Healthy Communities at the California Endowment.