9/27/2013 – Pansy Lake, Motherlode, Schreiner Peak Trails – 551, 558, 555

Date of Hike: 9/27/2013
Location of Hike: Pansy Lake, Motherlode, Schreiner Peak Trails - 551, 558, 555
Trail Number: 551, 558, 555
Weather during Hike: Mostly Overcast in the morning, drizzle in the afternoon
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 8:45 AM
End Time: 2:00 PM
Hike Distance: 10.3 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


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Description of Hike:
This hike is one I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time. In fact, I had tried to do it with Kirk last summer, but we missed the junction of the Motherlode and Schreiner trails, and kept going. By the time we figured out our mistake, we decided to do a tour of the Welcome Lakes basin instead. Anyway, this was on my list to do as it was one of the few trails that I didn’t have a complete track for. And, as it turns out, this was the LAST trail that I needed to complete in order to have a full inventory of GPS tracks for all official trails in the Clackamas district!

Anyway, on to the trip report – I got an early start for this trip because there were impending reports of serious weather coming in early Friday afternoon. Heavy rain and high winds – I don’t mind a little rain, but this was supposed to be a big storm. The forecast said the rain would start around 11am, so I was hoping I could get done by early afternoon so I would be out of the worst of the storm. I left the house about 7:20am and got to the trailhead around 8:30am. A little before the trailhead, I stopped on the road to capture this photo:

I was amazed that we had sunshine! Maybe it was a good omen for the day? I wasn’t expecting to see anyone else crazy enough to be out in weather like that (especially on a Friday), but a woman who had been camping just up the road from the Pansy trailhead kind of popped out of the brush. Since I didn’t see any cars at the trailhead, I assumed no one else was around, and I had Bodie off leash. Fortunately he didn’t cause a scene, and came right to me when I called him. Once we started up the trail, I let him off leash again (he likes that so much better).

Once I got suited up for the wet weather, we started up the trail, keeping a pretty brisk pace. I knew if we were going to beat that storm, we wouldn’t have a lot of time to waste. We made it up to Pansy Lake pretty quickly and kept going. This is where the incline starts getting a little steeper. On the way up, I took a few pictures of the Pansy creek drainage from one of the rockslides above the lake:

One we made it to the junction with the Motherlode trail (the end of the Pansy Lake trail), I was getting pretty hot, so I took off my thermals so I wouldn’t sweat as much. It wasn’t terribly warm, but keeping a brisk pace on the trail kept me pretty warm. I didn’t want to get too wet from exertion, otherwise I might get chilled. Anyway, after a short stop at the junction, we headed off down the Motherlode trail (someone had been really creative fashioning an arrow directing people on the Motherlode trail – it takes a sharp right at this junction):

This trail continues the upward climb, although at a gentler pace. We continued up the trail until we got to the junction with the Bull of the Woods trail and continued just a bit further to the Schreiner junction. This was the junction we passed last time – it was my mistake – I thought the Schreiner junction was farther down the trail. Anyway, this time, we headed north at the junction. This section of trail goes downhill at a pretty good pace, and then steepens with a series of short switchbacks down the side of the hill. It then levels out and joins the Dickey Creek trail right where there is a seasonal creek. I was surprised the creek was not flowing. Every other time I’ve been through there it has been flowing – but not today – It was dry as a bone. Once through the flat area, you start heading up the hill to Big Slide Mountain, passing several rock fields with expansive views of the Welcome Lakes/West Lake basin:

You can really see the fire damage done in the recent fire (2011). We got a good look at the Welcome Lakes basin, especially the lower Welcome Lake (the larger one) and all the burned area. You can see some green starting to come back, however, which is great! We continued up the hill until we reached the saddle between Big Slide mountain and the hill next to it where the trail down to Lake Lenore starts. I’ve been down this trail one time before, in 2006 with Carly on a backpacking trip to Big Slide Lake. The beginning of the trail was unaffected by the fire, but very quickly, you clearly see the fire line:

From there the trail quickly degrades to the point it is very difficult to follow due to all the debris on the ground – bark, branches and burned out logs litter the ground and obscure a large portion of the route of the trail. It was never a well used trail, and the fire really took a toll on it. After watching carefully and making our way down the hill, we finally arrive at Lake Lenore:

Compare that to our trip in 2006 – taken from a similar location:

But the good news is that nature is regenerating itself! Without any help from man – we saw LOTS of these little seedlings popping up everywhere:

It was also interesting to see the burned trees with the old blazes on them (which will probably soon fall down and disappear since they are all dead now):

After looking around the lake a bit, it was time to head back – It was just beginning to rain a bit, so we hurried back up the hill (well, as fast as we could, huffing and puffing) and quickly made our way back. On the way back down, we caught a glimpse of the lookout on Bull of the Woods:

And I stopped to enjoy the vine maple turning colors one one of the rockslides:

The rest of the trip back was a bit of a blur – we were trying to make time to get back to the truck before the worst of the storm hit. It was supposed to be a real doozy of a storm, and I didn’t want to get stuck in high wind and heavy rain. We made really good time on the way down, stopping only a couple of times for a quick drink of water or snack. I had to make one quick stop at the rockfield above Pansy Lake though – I wanted to capture the difference in weather between the morning and the afternoon. In the morning, it had been sunny, but by early afternoon the rain had moved in (I don’t think this picture really shows how misty and gloomy it was):

We got back to the truck right at 2:00 – a pretty good pace – the GPS showed about 10.3 miles in just over 5 hours with almost 4000′ of elevation gain. Not too shabby….. Although it was a rather rushed day, it was good to get out into the woods and seeing Lake Lenore post fire was an interesting excursion. The woods around Pansy and in Bull of the Woods are absolutely gorgeous, too. Beautiful old growth timber with some spectacular views (even in the rain). We were both tired, but we had a great day in the woods.

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