Author Archives: Beth Wilson, member of the Oregon State Parks Team

Preparing for bee stings — and earthquakes and tsunamis (2015)

Why didn’t we bring the first-aid kit? The hike was only a 4-mile round trip on a well-maintained trail. What could go wrong? Well, a yellow jacket nest encounter would be exciting.

That happened, but the result was only two stings among the three of us and no adverse reactions. Although we knew to prepare, we didn’t put it into practice.

Practice preparedness – earthquakes and tsunamis

Beverly-BeachThe New Yorker magazine ran an article this past July that brought a lot of attention to The Really Big One – a Cascadia subduction zone earthquake followed by a tsunami. That story made it real to many, and several campers and visitors asked us for our coastal campground tsunami routes. They took steps to prepare.

The good news is that every state park coastal campground within a predicted tsunami zone has an evacuation route posted with signs in the park. Each coastal brochure also includes a campground map that shows the designated tsunami evacuation route.

Make it a practice to look for the evacuation route signs after you’ve arrived at the park. You can also find the coastal campground brochures at Take the time to look at the map before you head out. The maps are also available at the park.

What else can you do?

Search for resources to help you prepare. The Oregon Tsunami Clearinghouse has an evacuation zone map viewer, as well as links for specific information for coast visitors, residents, boaters, and kids and teachers. The clearinghouse motto sums it up: We cannot prevent a tsunami but we can prepare for one.

The Great Oregon ShakeOut website has tips for preparing for the earthquake that precedes the tsunami. The “Get Prepared” section includes tips for hazard hunts, disaster-preparedness plans, emergency supply kits and more. Take a look at the Earthquake Preparedness page on the American Red Cross website.

Practice Drop, Cover, and Hold On during the Great Oregon ShakeOut, Oct. 15 at 10:15 a.m. Learn more about the drill and register at the Great Oregon ShakeOut.

Oregon wildflower identification at your fingertips (2015)

We spotted this flower durina a recent hike to the paddlers camp at Luckiamute Landing State Natural Area. Using the search by characteristics feature in the Oregon Wildflower app, we decided it's a small flowered fringecup.

We spotted this flower during a recent hike to the paddlers camp at Luckiamute Landing State Natural Area. Using the search by characteristics feature in the Oregon Wildflower app, we decided it’s a small flowered fringecup.

Do you know the difference between a purple-eyed grasswidow and a clasping Venus’ looking glass? I download the Oregon Wildflowers app to find images, descriptions and range maps for these two beauties, as well as for nearly 1,000 additional wildflowers, shrubs and vines common in Oregon.

Available for download on iOS and Android devices, it works without an Internet connection once downloaded. The majority of species featured are native to the region, with some introduced species that have become established. You can find plants by browsing a list organized by common name, scientific name, scientific family name or common family name—you choose. The list also includes high-resolution photographs of each plant.

The shapes and colors of wildflowers have always intrigued me, so the Search by Characteristics feature is my favorite way to identify a plant. Watch this short video for a quick look at searching by characteristics.


We also found this wildflower at Luckiamute Landing State Natural Area. We think it’s a western bluebell, but it could be a northern bluebell. The leaf placement is the main difference between the two.

The app is available at Amazon, Apple and Google app stores for $7.99 and is compatible with all Android devices, Kindle Fire, iPhones and iPads.  The Oregon Flora Project at Oregon State University and High Country Apps developed the app, and a portion of revenues supports conservation and botanical exploration in the region.


If you don’t have time to identify the plant on the trail, take a photo with your phone. Other than needing to switch views between the photo and the app, it’s a simple way to identify the plant later.

February camping and hiking at Cottonwood Canyon (2015)

Sometimes, you have to practice what you preach so we decided to try winter camping. Our family selected a date long before a weather forecast, but lucked out with a sunny Presidents’ Day weekend at Cottonwood Canyon State Park.


After setting up our campsite in the first-come, first-served campground, the first thing we noticed was the tinge of green on the hills and bluffs.

Cottonwood-Canyon-fogWe weren’t the only ones ready for a winter camping escape. Campers in tents, in their pickups and campers and even campers sleeping in their cars awoke Sunday to a thin fog layer hovering over the John Day River. The sun quickly dissolved the mist and melted the frost.


The park has miles of trails along the river. Our longest hike took us upstream on the Hard Stone Trail. The trail is an old road and lives up to its name. We were glad for our sturdy boots.


The park brochure shows the trail ending at 1.5 miles, but the trail continues for another three-quarters of a mile or so. We walked on to see the rock ledge meeting the river in the distance.


And, we weren’t disappointed. We stopped for a break and realized we should have brought more drinking water. Something to remember for Cottonwood Canyon in all seasons.


What are they? I don’t know their names but they brightened up the landscape on our way back to the campground.

Cottonwood Canyon State Park (park info and driving directions)

Park brochure, campground and trail map