Janelle Hammerstrom joined the Opal Creek team at the beginning of 2015 and we’re so excited to have her on the Portland staff. A recent arrival to Portland, she comes to us from Tri-Cities, Washington, where she grew up camping and hanging out at the river.
“Opal Creek means an awakening to nature. A special place where people have fallen in love with the environment, so in love they want to save it.”—Alexa, Reynolds Learning Academy student
When I tell people I work for Opal Creek, I see an envious glimmer enter their eyes. Perhaps they imagine me and my coworkers, hiking off-trail in the Opal Creek Wilderness to a mossy rock ledge, where we pull out our laptops and write grants, make staff schedules, and do double-entry bookkeeping to the sounds of wind and birdsong.
I am at the company store explaining to a family about our backpacking trips for teenagers. Their young daughter looks up for an acknowledging sign; this is the summer adventure she’s been looking for. The parents tell her with a smile that they will talk about it at dinner and dog ear the Expeditions page in our catalog. Opal pool is their next destination, a family giving dad his day in the woods.
My grandchildren tell their friends that their Oma lives on a mountain, in a cabin, in the woods.
I am living a story book life.
My morning alarm is a robin’s trill followed by a choir of chirps and croaks and rustling of trees.
There was a snowy silence when I arrived in Jawbone Flats. Now the audible hum of spring has set in as school groups, cabin renters, and hikers filter through camp. Everything is new; the season, the staff, the creek have all shifted to a new rhythm and I am no exception. My mind is constantly racing as I absorb everything around me. From the scientific name of the Pacific Giant Salamander (Dicamptodon tenebrosus) to the difference between mosses and liverworts,