11/11/2017 – Fanton Trail to Squaw Mountain Snowshoe

Date of Hike: 11/11/2017
Location of Hike: Fanton Trail to Squaw Mountain
Trail Number: 505, 502
Weather during Hike: Overcast with a few sunbreaks
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:30 AM
End Time: 12:45 PM
Hike Distance: 3.5 miles
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was almost cancelled. I had thought about this for a couple of weeks, hoping I could complete a trek we had done almost 2 years ago (although a bit shorter). No one else wanted (or could) go, and I had debated a LOT about doing it myself. I ended up leaving later than normal, which was OK since it is a pretty short drive to the trailhead. I’m really glad I decided to go, even though it was a short day. (The beginning of the track is a little messed up – I forgot to disable power saving mode)

The plan was to head up the 4614 road as far as possible (the Fanton trail pretty much follows the road – more or less), and then head up the trail to its junction with Old Baldy and then up to Squaw Mountain. When we did this trip on New Years Day in 2016, we ran out of time and energy to get to Squaw Mountain – but we started quite a ways back down 4614. I was hoping to get to the point we did, and possibly a bit farther. I was able to get to the easternmost point of the road, where an old spur road heads to an old landing. When we got to the trailhead, I was surprised to see two other cars parked there:

We got ready and shortly headed out. I saw boot prints and dog prints, so knew one of the cars had headed up the trail and had a dog, so I made sure Thor was leashed.

There was not much snow at the start of the trail:

Shortly, not too far up the trail, we met the lone hiker with his dog. I Asked how far he got up the trail and he said not very far – maybe 1/4 mile or so. It wasn’t loo long before we passed their turnaround point and the trail ahead was clear of any new tracks – we were breaking new trail in the snow! As we were hiking, I saw lots of other tracks in the snow. Some were clearly deer, but there were a bunch of these tracks, which were hard to see detail since they were partially melted, but they were LARGE. I’m thinking this had to be a bear print:

The farther we headed up the trail, the deeper the snow got, but it was still pretty easy to walk – no major postholing. By the time we got to the Old Baldy Trail jct, the snow was getting rather deep:


Looks much different than it did back in January 2016:

At this point, Thor decided he needed to “frap” a bit – it went on for quite some time (wow- you can really hear me breathing hard!) – he must have gone back and for 10 or 15 times at least:

Shortly after this point, I ended up putting on my showshoes since the snow was getting too deep to easily walk in. It kept getting deeper and deeper. It was really deep in the open areas approaching Squaw Mountain:

As we were headed up, Thor was having lots of fun playing in the snow (it was up to his chest! – But he didn’t seem to mind):

We soon made it up to the old road, and found that someone had recently walked up the road to the old lookout:

We finally got up to the top where it was almost sunny (almost), but a bit windy.
The view to Mt Hood from Squaw Mountain (Mt Hood was hiding):

We spent a little bit of time up on top looking around, but it was pretty cold in the wind, so we headed back down to the old garage foundation where it is a bit sheltered. We ate some lunch there and drank some water. Thor was having a great time running around in the snow, but even out of the wind, it was getting a bit cool for both of us, so we headed back down the hill. As we headed down, the sun was kind of coming in and out and at one point, there was this really cool Sunbreak thru the trees – although this photo doesn’t begin to capture it. It was really pretty:

We continued down the trail and at some point I removed my snowshoes since the snow wasn’t very deep and it was easier to walk in boots. Thor typically stayed near me, but at one point, I thought he had gotten the scent of something and ran uphill (a LONG ways uphill). I saw a black rear end running up the hill in the snow. I assumed it was Thor and I started walking uphill, calling him. I was getting VERY upset since he wasn’t coming – I had visions of him disappearing. I kept calling, and walking up the steep hillside, and pretty soon, I see him coming up the hill from below. I think what I saw was the rear end of a bear running away from me! After that, I kept his leash on so he stayed closer to me. It was kind of scary and cool all at the same time.

We quickly made it back to the old spur road, and we ended up walking out to the old landing. You can’t drive out there anymore, as the small bridge over Fanton Creek has failed (that is the creek running under that snow):

We enjoyed the views from the landing for a bit and then headed back to the truck and then home.

It was a very short day (I was really surprised how quickly we were able to do this trip), but it was a beautiful winter trip.