March 24 – 27, 2008
Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, on the border between Oregon and Washington
Organized by Judy Harpel
The 2008 SO BE FREE was held in the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. The Columbia River Gorge offers spectacular views, dry rocky southern slopes, cool damp northern slopes and a wide diversity of bryophyte species. The Gorge is an almost sea-level cut through the Cascade Range of Oregon and Washington with elevation ranging from around 100 ft at the river to over 3000 feet on both sides of the Gorge. On the west end of the Gorge the vegetation is dominated by mesophytic Douglas-fir/western hemlock forests that transition into a xerophytic ponderosa pine/Garry oak forest on the east end. This unique area offers both old growth forests, soil crust communities, dry and wet rocky cliffs.
We were based at the Menucha Retreat and Conference Center in Corbett, Oregon, which is located on the rim of the Gorge about 10 miles east of Portland International Airport. The retreat center is located along the old scenic highway along the gorge rim and has a rich assortment of bryophytes right on the grounds.
We stayed in Wright Hall at the Menucha Center, where meals were prepared for us and served in their dining hall. There was also a nice and spacious conference room where we set up microscopes for evening use. There was some interesting weather (rain, hail, and snow, with high winds), but it mostly held off during our trips into the field and it was a glorious time. On the right are some candid photographs by Charles Espey.