Category Archives: TripReport2013

11/25/2013 – Old Hillockburn Trail Exploration – Old Silvicultural Area

Date of Hike: 11/25/2013
Location of Hike: East of old Hillockburn Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:30 AM  End Time: 1:15 PM
Hike Distance: 5 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This hike was kind of planned last minute. We’ve had an extended run of nice, sunny (but cold) weather, and I needed to take some time off before the end of the year, so I took a weekday off to do a hike in the nice weather.

While the snow has not buried all of the higher elevation trails, anything above about 4000′ or so seems to be out of range for hiking. So, I had to try and find a trail that appealed to me that was lower than 4000′. My first thought was to go back to Cold Springs and do some more cutting on areas that badly need it. My saw was still in the shop, so that idea did not fly. I looked at a few others, but they were either too high, or too far for a short day trip. I was still recovering from the Cold Springs trip two days prior, so I wanted a relatively easy, short hike.

The original goal was to drive out the 45-242 spur and then just hike down to where we hiked to from the other side of the old Hillockburn trail (not sure if that is the correct name for it or not). Since the gate was locked at the junction of road 45:

So we ended up walking all the way down to the jump off point. It was an easy and interesting walk.
Shortly after we started down the road, we were presented with this odd sign:

The day turned out to be a lot more about the Silvacultural research station that used to be located here. I’m not sure when it was abandoned, but the research areas are still all fenced off, with tags on trees.

You can see from this photo it has been a while since anyone drove into this particular fenced area:

At the junction of the 240 and 242 spurs is where the research station used to be located. You can still see a lot of remnants of what was there – an old outhouse (turned on its side with a missing roof), old roofing materials, lots of firewood, and the outline of a burned structure, which I’m assuming was the actual research facility. You can see what looks like office chair pedestals, and a couple of filing cabinet drawers along with some other rusty burned stuff. It was interesting to poke around all this stuff.

The old outhouse:

The old burned out building footprint:

Some of the rusty relics:

Some of the tags on the trees:

The fenced off area:

When I came down the 240 spur, I saw the turnoff to the research station and mistakenly thought it was the 242 spur road. We walked north until we hit a fence, then we followed the fence mostly west (a little south) to another fence. These fences are 8′ high, and are still in surprisingly good shape. I found a couple spots where people have jumped the fence, but the top of it still has 2 rows of barbed wire. I wasn’t about to try and navigate that, plus I had the dog, who wouldn’t be able to climb the fence anyway.
Here is the “road” we followed the fence:

I headed back thinking we were done for the day. When we got back to the 240 road, I looked down the road a bit farther and lo and behold, there was the 242 spur road heading north. We took off down that road to our jump off point.

Here is the 242 spur road:

One thing that was troubling – we saw several piles of neatly stacked logs – probably 25-30 cords of firewood at least. All sitting there just rotting away. Why did they leave so much wood?

When we got almost to the end of the road, we headed west, downhill searching for the point where we had come up from the other direction several months ago. The going was brutal. First, we had to navigate a VERY dense thicket of small fir trees. Actually, I think there were a couple of those.

Once we got through those, we were presented with this – a BUNCH of downed logs:

After the difficult day we had Saturday, I didn’t think I was up to navigating all of those downed logs. We still had to hike back up to the truck! So, we decided to turn around and head back. We ended up getting about halfway to where we ended up last time (probably about a tenth of mile away).

The trip back was relatively un-eventful and went quickly. The elevation gain was pretty easy since it was all well graded roads. We ended up back at the truck about 1:15 and then headed home. A short, but very nice day in the woods. The weather was SPECTACULAR! I was dressed for cold weather, and although it was a big brisk in some of the shady areas, it really was pretty warm up there – especially in the sun. It was nice to get out and enjoy a unique area on a nice fall day. Maybe I will return when that gate is open and I don’t have to walk all that way – then I would have enough energy to negotiate all the underbrush and downed logs.

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
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.

9/13-9/14/2013 – Goat Rocks Wilderness backpack trip

Date of Hike: 9/13-9/14/2013
Location of Hike: Goat Rocks Wilderness backpack trip
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Carly
Hike Distance: 26.5 Miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This was our “annual” father/daughter hike – this year we decided to go to the Goat Rock Wilderness in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. I had seen good reports about this area, and since Carly really liked Eagle Cap last year, this seemed like a good fit. It worked out really well. Not quite as aggressive as Eagle Cap was, a little less mileage, and less travel with packs on. The trip did contain a few challenges, though.We started from home pretty early, since I head heard this was a busy place, and I wanted to make sure we got a decent campsite. We left home about 7am on Friday, hoping to be on the trail by 11 or so. After a couple of stops on the way up (gas, coffee and a stop at the ranger station), we ended up at the trailhead about 11:30 or so. We purchased a NW Forest pass, even thought it wasn’t required at the Snowgrass trailhead (only at the Berry Patch trailhead) – we couldn’t purchase one at the trailhead, and if we didn’t have one, we would be out of luck, so we bought one just in case. We got to the trailhead, suited up and headed west to the Berry Patch trailhead, where we took one last stop at a “real” bathroom (outhouse), and had some lunch before continuing down the trail. From the Berry Patch trailhead, the trail starts climbing almost immediately, gaining quite a bit of elevation before you get up to a good contour line and mostly follow that for a ways. I do remember there being a rather confusing trail junction (trail 95A) about half way up. I don’t know what that trail is for, since it meets up with trail 95 a little farther up. It appears to go around two peaks – maybe there is something interesting up there – we didn’t find out – we were too interested in getting up the hill to our campsite. The trail in this section was mostly unremarkable – going through reasonably dense forest:

A bit further up, in a small sidehill meadow, things started getting interesting when we could start to see the views that would be everywhere all weekend.

And our first glimpse at a mountain (I think this was Ranier):

As we climbed higher, we could start to see some of the Jordan Creek drainage below us:

And a bit further, we could see exactly where we had to go – to go through a saddle and pop out into the Goat Creek Drainage:

Once at the top of this trail, we got a GREAT view of the Jordan Creek drainage:

At the top, there was a small meadow with Jordan creek running through it (a great source of water!) and a few nice campsites:

We watered up at the creek, took a little rest, and then headed up the rest of the way to the saddle. From there, it was pretty much downhill to Goat Lake:

It was an amazing sight. Middle of September and STILL having ice floating on it! And still some snow in places. This place must get a LOT of snow in the winter. And finally, the guys who gave this place its name (I’m guessing):

They are hard to see, however there was probably 12-15 of them on the opposite side of the lake when we came down. That was the best view we were going to get all weekend, unfortunately. After enjoying the view for a bit, we headed down the trail in search of our campsite. Having never been here, I wasn’t quite sure what the possibilities were. I had been told there was a nice site a little bit from the lake. I always like to camp near water, and trees are always nice (for a little privacy). We found a really nice spot about a mile from the lake:

It even had a pretty decent view of Mt Adams:

By the time we got to our campsite, it was time for dinner. We setup camp, cooked dinner, cleaned up and by then it was starting to get dark and we were both tired, so we just went to bed. The next morning, we got up pretty much with the sun, made breakfast, cleaned up and then were on our way for our day hikes. The plan was to go up to Hawkeye Point in the morning, come back to camp to eat lunch, and then head over to the PCT to go up and explore the area around Old Snowy. On our way to Hawkeye point, we got to enjoy this nice view from the north end of the Goat Creek drainage (near Goat Lake):

We headed around the lake and then took the cutoff trail up to Hawkeye Point. The trail was rather steep:

Once on top, we looked down upon Goat Lake:

And got a great look at Mt Ranier:

Here are two panoramic photos from up on top of Hawkeye Point:

They don’t even begin to capture the awesomeness of that view! After enjoying the view for a while, we actually started to get a bit chilly. It was a bit breezy up on top. So, after taking in the view a bit more, we headed back down and had a pretty uneventful trip back to camp. On the way back, we met a group who was on the way out, informing us that there was supposed to be rain coming in that night. The weather report I had heard said it should hold off until Sunday afternoon, but he was pretty sure it was going to rain. When we got back to camp, we talked a bit about how we really didn’t want to wake up in the rain. So, we decided to do our afternoon hike (up the PCT) and see how we felt and what things looked like when we got back to camp – we could decide then whether or not to hike out, or stay the night.

After eating a quick lunch, we headed south down the trail and soon came across this really cool, interesting waterfall:

One of my maps shows it as “slide falls”, which is pretty descriptive. It is right next to a big rockslide. We continued south until we met the Snowgrass trail and then headed east to meet the PCT:

At this point, we were essentially above the treeline and everything was heavily exposed, but the views were amazing:

We passed below Old Snowy:

And continued north (and up) to a ridge where we got a great (although different) view of Goat Lake:

We continued north on the PCT, across a snowfield until the junction with the trail up to Old Snowy. We knew we really didn’t have enough time to climb Old Snowy, so we opted to stop there to refuel a bit. We had a great view of Mt Ranier:

and the Packwood Glacier:

After we refueled, we headed back down to camp. On the way up, we had seen horses way in the distance, but didn’t figure we would see them. Well, they were apparently doing a day trip near where we turned around. On the way back down, we saw them:

We continued back down the way we came, stopping once to get more water (we went through a LOT of water!!!) and then got back to camp about 4:40. We talked about what we wanted to do, and a nice warm shower and a comfy bed sounded kind of good. We had done everything we had set out to do – all we would do in the morning would have been to pack up and hike out. We figured we had just enough time to hike out before it got dark. So, we quickly packed up and headed south down the trail. We had already logged about 13 or 14 miles, but we were determined to make it home. The trail is essentially all downhill (minus a couple of short uphill segments) to the trailhead. We were counting on that to allow us to make better time. We did catch one nice break, though. When I was looking at the map, it showed the trail going down to the floor of the drainage, then crossing Goat Creek, and then heading back uphill about 500 feet before dropping back down to the trailhead. I thought that was kind of stupid, but figured that there must be a reason. Well, we went back uphill about 100′, and then the trail was pretty much just level. The map was wrong! Either the trail got re-routed, or the map was just plain wrong. I didn’t care, it was just nice not to have to go up and then back down right at the end of the hike.

I had one really neat thing happen on the way down – at one of the rockslides, I heard the typical “meep” from the pikas that live there. I never really looked at the rockslides, thinking the pikas were hiding (as I had always seen). Well, on this rockslide, the pika was right there! And when I looked at him, he ran over to me! I wasn’t going to feed him, but he was really cute. I didn’t have enough time to get the camera out take a picture – when he realized I didn’t have anything for him, he darted off back down the rocks. MAN those guys can run fast! It was still cool, though.

We ended up getting to the truck about 7:45, just as it was getting dark – although we did use flashlights for the last bit of trail. It gets REALLY dark in the woods! We were tired, but glad to be back to the truck. Then we just had to drive the 15 miles of washboarded forest service road to get back to a real paved highway, and then make our way home. We made two stops on the way home – one for dinner (which we had skipped) and one for gas. We finally ended up at home at about 11:30pm. A VERY long day. But, it was really nice to be able to take a shower and sleep in my own bed.

I really enjoyed this trip – I always enjoy the trips with Carly, and this was no exception. I was a bit worried about the reports of how busy the place is. It was really busy, but I never felt like we weren’t in the wilderness. It wasn’t THAT busy. And, it was kind of fun to talk to some of the other hikers on the trail. We are already talking about next year – the Enchantments. That will be another epic trip – even bigger than the last two!

9/2/2013 – Shellrock Lake, Grouse Point, Cutoff Trails and Frazier Mountain

Date of Hike: 9/2/2013
Location of Hike: Shellrock Lake, Cutoff Trail (between Shellrock Lake and Cache Meadow), East end of Grouse Point Trail and finally, Frazier Mountain
Weather during Hike: Partly Cloudy
Hiking Buddies: Don
Start Time: 10:25 AM  End Time: 3:35 PM
Hike Distance: 7.3 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
The goal for this hike was to capture a track for the Shellrock Lake trail, and to capture the east end of the Grouse Point trail (that is a LONG trail!) for inclusion on the trailadvocate website. In addition, I had heard rumor that there was a telephone box on top of Frazier Mountain – I wanted to see if it was still there. I had also been informed of an old “cutoff” trail that went between Cache Meadow and the Shellrock Lake trail which I wanted to explore a bit. So, a bit of a mismash of objectives.

Since Don knew the cutoff trail location, and he also wanted to go up on Frazier Mountain, he came with me. We started at the Shellrock Lake trailhead parking lot about 10:30 under sunny skies. Shellrock lake starts through a clearcut, and it pretty open and hot, but thankfully, it wasn’t too warm this day. Almost immediately after entering the forest from the clearcut, there are 2 posts on the side of the trail (wonder what they used to say?). This was our clue to head uphill to find the cutoff trail. You only have to head uphill 100 yards or so and you’ll see blazes and the trail. It is in pretty good shape – amazing shape actually, for a trail that is no longer used. We made our way up this trail until we came to the first “excitement” of the day – a nest of wasps/hornets/yellow jackets that had been dug up next to the trail (just like the hike from 2 days ago where I got stung 3 or 4 times). I tried REALLY hard to be careful around it, but I ended up getting stung on my left hand anyway. STUPID BEES! Don gave me some Benadryl which helped a bit.

The trail starts getting a little sketchy towards the bottom of the hill, but following blazes helped us stay the course. Once it gets to the bottom where it starts getting wet, we kind of lost it for a bit, but quickly located some more blazes and then it was easy to follow to the point where it meets the Grouse Point trail near Cache Meadow. We headed west on the Cache Meadow trail until we got to the site of the old cabin there:

We walked a little farther east, to the point where the Cache Meadow trail intersects, and then turned around. We got a good view of Cache Meadow “proper”:

And found an interesting sign that had been eaten by a tree (not exactly sure what it said):

And another sign that looked like a woodpecker attacked it:

Once we got done looking around Cache Meadow, we turned around and started heading east up the Grouse Point trail. Up the hill….to the first rockslide of the day:

And finally to the end of the old Frazier road, which is now trail:

The road continued southwest from where the trail meets it, however we did not explore that section. We had other things to explore this day. We proceeded up the old road, which was really nice walking – to the next rockslide:

On a clear day, it would have an AWESOME view of Mt Hood, but on this day, it was hiding in the clouds. Here is what the old road looked like through the rockslide:

We continued up the road until we got to Frazier Turnaround. Another old trail that interested me was the old South Fork Roaring River (511) trail. Supposedly there was a junction off the Serene Lake trail not too far from the beginning. Don had seen it quite a few years ago, and we headed up to see if we could find it. We didn’t go too far, but couldn’t find the old junction – a quest for another day. We stopped to eat lunch at Frazier Turnaround and then headed back down the Grouse Point trail (east) to a jump off point to make our way up to the top of Frazier Mountain. Our plan was just to walk the ridge from the road up to the top of Frazier Mountain. We did, and it wasn’t long before we found an old trail!

The trail is pretty overgrown, but we guessed this must have been the route before the road was built. Once up on top, we got some great views:

And found evidence of the old phone box and phone line:

One more interesting thing – Don had seen from one of the old lookout photos (from the 30’s) a very clear “line” across a rockslide above the South Fork Roaring River – it certainly looked like a very clear trail. Since we were up at a similar vantage point, we decided to see if we could see the same “line”. The view was a little more obscured due to the trees being much larger, but we did see a very clear “line” on the rockslide:

This anomaly really needs to be investigated. That trail heading up the South Fork would be AWESOME if it could be located. This visual clue certainly looks like a trail, however it will be need to be investigated up close to determine exactly what this “line” is. Maybe it is the first hard evidence that the 511 actually exists?

Once we enjoyed the view from the top, we followed some blazes west until we hit the flat area west of the summit of Frazier Mountain at which point we lost the trail – so we just headed south to go back to the Grouse Point trail. Once on the trail, we headed back to the junction with the Shellrock Lake trail and headed down the 700 trail until we got to Shellrock Lake:

We took in the views of the lake (and the MANY campsites surrounding it) and continued back towards the beginning of our journey.

We got back to the parking lot around 3:30 – a day well used and lots of new things found and as usual, more items to explore another day.

A short stop at Fearless in Estacads for a beer made a great ending to the day.

8/9/2013 – Olallie Butte Trail – 720

Date of Hike: 8/9/2013
Location of Hike: Olallie Butte Trail
Trail Number: 720
Weather during Hike: Overcast with bits of sunshine - one rumble of thunder on the way down
Start Time: 10:20 AM  End Time: 3:40 PM
Hike Distance: 7.35 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This has has been on my “to do” list for a while now, mostly due to it being one of the last trails I do not have an official, full trail track for. Kirk was camping with his family at Olallie Lake and asked if I wanted to do this hike while he was there. Since I had some extra vacation I needed to use, I decided to burn a Friday and take this hike. I’m glad I did.
I had seen photos of the top of Olallie (it looks like it has a hat from a distance) and had wanted to see it for myself. That, coupled with this peak being the highest peak between Mt Hood and Mt Jefferson made it even more attractive. One thing that I wasn’t so sure of – I like more of the “deep woods” trails, and the Olallie area is much sparser and drier. I wasn’t sure I would like the trail itself – maybe the view from the top, but I figured the trail would be kind of “ho hum” at best. Well, I was pleasantly surprised with that as well. This day was giving me all sorts of surprises!

We started out around 10:30am at the southern edge of the powerline clearing, just north of Olallie Lake. There is a powerline road that takes off from here and near the beginning of that powerline road is where the Olallie Butte trail takes off. It was in great shape, with little blowdown. It stays in the trees, and shortly crosses the Pacific Crest Trail, and then continues its rather relentless trek uphill. Since the trail has to gain about 2500′ of elevation in 3.5 miles, it has to be reasonably aggressive. The nice thing was that this trail really was well graded – it pretty much just is continually going up, but almost never at a steep grade. It was much easier than I had expected – especially for all the elevation gain.
The trail continues up through some very nice forest – much larger and greener than I had expected. It passes a few little meadow areas (which I should have gotten photos of). Although the theme of this day would be all about views. Our first glimpse of the views we would be enjoying came on the first rocky opening in the trail, about 2/3rds of the way up the trail. We stopped for a bit to take in these views:

Here is a photos of Kirk (and Bandit) reviewing the map to identify the peaks on the horizon:

And here is a photo of the “lone dog”, Bodie

Although Bodie LOVES to go hiking with me, he is not terribly good around other people or dogs. Kirk has taken Bandit with us on several occasions and he is a great trail companion. I thought (maybe) that if Bodie was not at home he might do better with other people and dogs. Turns out I was partially correct. If I let him off leash he could do his own thing and run away from other dogs – if I left him on the leash he got rather scared and snippy. It worked out OK, but I don’t know if I will take him on another group hike. He tends to do better when it is just me or the family. OK, back to the hike….

After breaking out into the open (pretty much above treeline at this point), and a bit more climbing-getting a little steeper as we approached the “hat” of Olallie. As we finally got on top, this was pretty much the first relic we found:

It was a really big firepit, with some of the wood from the old lookout. The wood from the lookout was scattered all over the top of the butte. It looks like people have used it for various things. I was surprised at how big it is up on top, and also that it isn’t really flat – it has a higher and lower end. The lookout was built on the north end of the butte, on a pile of cinder rocks, but collapsed many years ago – you can still see the remains of the lookout which was very interesting. My recollection was that it collapsed due to snow load one winter and they just left it in place. It shows how slowly things break down at this elevation:

Once we saw the old lookout, we started exploring the rest of the top of the butte. The east side has a pretty dramatic drop off – much different than the west side. There was even still some snow on the northeast corner of the butte, although Kirk said it is a much smaller snowfield than he has seen in previous years:

And then we got our first look at some of the dramatic rock outcroppings on the east side – wow:

Even though it was a bit smoky this day, you could see all the way east from on top – Bend is out there somewhere – you can definitely see the wheat fields of central Oregon:

Walking around to the south side of the butte, you got a GREAT view of Mt Jefferson – this photo doesn’t do it justice – you really felt like you could touch it from up there:

And then looking down on Olallie Lake:

Most of the bushes/trees on top of Olallie were pretty flat. I think it is because of all the snow – they get flattened out every year, so grow out more than up:

Lastly, I will leave you with some of the panoramic views from the trip – they don’t even being to do these views justice:

View from the rockfield about 2/3rd of the way up:

This was a cool one – I wish I could have gotten Mt Hood in the panorama – it is from the old lookout – starting at the south, panning west up to Mt Hood – I couldn’t quite get Mt Hood in the panorama. It was neat being able to look to your left and see Mt Jefferson then look to your right and see Mt Hood:

Lastly, a panorama looking kind of southeast (Mt Jefferson to the right), with Kirk pointing at something:

After eating some lunch and taking in the views one last time, we headed back down. We did a little bit of trail maintenance on the way down, nothing major – just a little brushing and moving logs off the trail. We did hear one burst of thunder on the way down. Thunderstorms were forecast for the evening, and I guess they were correct. The trip down was much less strenuous than the trip up for sure.

A great day – and a surprising hike. I would definitely do this one again. It is all about the views!

8/2/2013 – Rimrock and MP3 trails – 704

Date of Hike: 8/2/2013
Location of Hike: Rimrock and MP3 Trails
Trail Number: 704
Weather during Hike: Cool and Overcast (we hiked in the clouds most of the day)
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:50 AM  End Time: 4:00 PM
Hike Distance: 7.5 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This hike was just a fun hike, and a chance to get back to one of my favorite trails and to also capture the rest of the track for the trail, as well as to capture the upper MP3 trail track. If I had time, I thought I might try and hike the MP3 trail from the bottom as well. I ran out of time for that, but was able to get to the top section of MP3 and show it a little love (trail maintenance).

We started off in the morning, and it was pretty cool – especially for an August morning. I almost put a jacket on when I started, but figured I would warm up soon enough-which I did. I had high hopes that the clouds/fog/mist would burn off, but that did not happen to any great extent. We did have a few moments later in the day when the sun came out for a few brief moments, but most of the day was in the clouds and fog. That was OK – it was still a great day.

This gives you a sense of what it was like hiking in the fog:

On the way up, I had wanted to see if I could find the junction with the MP3 trail. I remember the last time I was there, I saw some flagging, and thought that might be the junction. Although I didn’t see any trail at the flagging, I followed it a bit to an interesting little seasonal stream (or at least that is what it looked like):

We explored that a bit, and quickly realized that was not the junction. We continued on our way to the overlook trail. When we got there, this was our view for the day:

Not much of a view. Even the “point” which normally is an exceptional view of the valley was completely socked in:

We didn’t even venture out to it. We stayed on the main landing (near the old helicopter landing pad) and ate lunch and enjoyed the spot. After eating lunch and watering up a bit, we headed back down the trail. One thing I noticed while hiking down was how wide the trail corridor was. It is getting somewhat overgrown, but where it goes through the trees, you can see a very wide corridor. I’m thinking this must have been a pretty major re-supply route for the lookouts. I could just imagine a long pack trail of horses/mules with supplies headed down this trail:

After getting back to the junction with Rimrock, we continued up the trail to the point where it starts its short descent to road 5830 and the Cottonwood meadows trail. Normally, you get a pretty good view here, but not today:

There is a cool rock field on this end of the trail, though:

We (I) didn’t really want to do the descent to the 5830 road, since we would just have to turn around and come back up, so we turned around at this point and headed back. I had some time (a little), so I decided to look for that junction with the MP3 trail. After reviewing the trail info sheet, I realized the junction was near the start of the trail, right after the first overlook viewpoint. So, I carefully looked to the south for any evidence of a trail junction. While I was thinking, I remembered seeing a 704 sign on a tree – I thought that was an odd place for a trail sign, but then thought that must be where the junction is – signs are usually at or near junctions to identify trails. I figured it was near a jog in the trail – I was RIGHT! The problem was that there was so much blowdown, it was obscuring the MP3 trail and its junction:

I saw a “hole” on a tree that used to have a sign on it – I’m guessing this sign used to identify the MP3 trail (whatever it was originally called). After following the cut logs for a bit, I found the trail and followed it down a bit. I did some trail maintenance, removing sticks and rocks and doing some brushing – it was in quite a bit worse shape than I remember it being when I hiked it last. I don’t think it has seen many boots on it in a few years. Here is a before and after photo of a section of trail we cleared:

We hiked down to the first rock field, clearing as we went, and by that time, the fog was beginning to lift a bit and we got a bit of a view:

Shortly after that, I looked at the time I realized I needed to head back, so back up the hill we went. The rest of the MP3 trail would need to wait for another day. It is a cool trail….The rest of the trip back was pretty uneventful, except for right around the marshy/swampy area. I saw this on the way in, and wanted to make sure and pick it up on the way out:

The balloon said “We miss you Marcos”. I wonder who Marcos was, and why they released a balloon for him? Kind of sounds like a sad story. Anyway, I picked up the balloon and took it home to dispose of it properly.

Arriving back at the truck about 4:00, we headed home – a great (cool) day in the woods!

7/27/2013 – Surprise Lake Cross Country Expedition

Date of Hike: 7/27/2013
Location of Hike: Surprise Lake
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm
Hiking Buddies: Kirk
Start Time: 9:55 AM  End Time: 6:20 PM
Hike Distance: 7 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This hike was a re-do on one we tried to do about 2 months ago. We were turned back by snowdrifts, so we did a “plan B” hike. The intent of this hike was to find an easy way to get to Surprise Lake in the Fish Creek drainage. Since the roads were closed after the ’96 floods, this lake is very difficult to get to.

The plan was to drive out to the end of the road, then take the decommissioned road to the end – from there, the idea was to hike on the same contour line (same elevation) until we got to the decommissioned road on the other side. According to the map, that distance was only about 3/4 mile. Reality on the ground proved to be much different.

We drove to the end of road 4540-020 spur (or 54-020, not sure which it is – it is the 020 spur road). That road looks to have been closed by rockslides before where it shows the end of the road on the map. After the rockslides, the road was decommissioned and pretty heavily treed with young alders (like most of the roads up Fish Creek). We trudged through, hoping the alders would thin out a bit, which they did (sort of) for a bit. We got our first view up the canyon at the corner on the road:

That was just a taste of the views we would see today. Here is a picture of a “good” place in the old road:

Continuing up the road, it shortly disintegrated and then we were left to cross country travel. The road stopped before it showed on the map, so we would be doing more cross country travel than expected. Little did we know it would end up being a LOT more than expected before the end of the day was over. As we headed cross country, trying to stay on the same contour as we left, we ended up having to head uphill to try and avoid thicket after thicket of Devils Club. We ended up quite a bit higher than we wanted to be, so when we started getting close to where the other road was supposed to be, we headed downhill. We looked and looked and found no road, but we continued in the general direction of where the road was supposed to be. We finally found a corridor that had been cut, but a roadbed had never been made. So, it was covered in vine maple and other assorted brush. We fought our way through this for a bit, and decided to head back into the woods, where the undergrowth (at this point) was much less. After a bit, we came to the LARGEST thicket of Vine Maple I’ve ever seen in my life. I swear it went on for at least a tenth of a mile (although probably not that far). It went up, down and across the hill, making travel almost impossible. We then headed downhill, until we finally got through the vine maple thicket. We continued below this old corridor for a while. The map shows an old quarry, so we surmised that there must have been a road to the quarry, so we headed back uphill (a long ways up a very steep hill) to try and find the road. Fortunately, we were able to find the road at this point, and we started making pretty good time, since the road wasn’t too bad. It was getting overgrown with young trees, but it was reasonably easy to navigate through them. After a short bit of hiking on this road, we came to a turn, and were presented with this view up the Cedar Creek drainage:

Interestingly enough, we also had a reasonably good cell signal here. Here is a nice panorama of the view from this spot:

After resting a bit and watering up, we continued down the old road and quickly arrived at Surprise Lake:

We poked around the lake a bit and Brian (who wasn’t able to accompany us) wanted us to explore the outlet of the lake, looking for a waterfall. We headed to the outlet and followed it to the road east of the lake. We followed it past the road a bit, but it was very brushy. Knowing we had a lot more bushwhacking to do, we opted to turn around and start back to our rig. Since we had such bad luck on the way there, we decided we would try and stay high, on the ridges, and maybe avoid the worst of the Devil’s Club and Vine Maple (they like water and the hope was that there wouldn’t be a lot of water on the ridge). So, off we went. And we climbed. We mostly missed the heavy brush we encountered on the way in, but we did a lot of climbing. We got to the site of the old quarry and found a nice viewpoint:

We enjoyed the view and continued on our way. And we climbed. And we climbed. Part way up to the top of Bracket Mountain, we got this really nice view of Mt Hood:

And we continued to climb. For what seemed an eternity up a REALLY steep hillside. I’m not sure you could really call what we were doing hiking – it was climbing more than hiking. We FINALLY got to the top of Bracket Mountain (5013 feet if you believe the benchmark placed there in 1913):

And we got quite the panoramic view:

Here you can see Kirk checking out the benchmark – this was the peak of the mountain:

Looking down from the top, you could see some very interesting rock formations:

And a nice “kind of” meadow – at least the wildflowers seemed to like it:

Once we enjoyed the views for a bit, we decided on a route back to our rig. We decided to continue along the ridgeline, to keep out of the brush. This plan worked pretty well. Until the very end of our hike. On the map, it looked like the ridge went down pretty easily back to the road. What we found was pretty steep. A couple of times we thought we might have to turn around, but very carefully and slowly we managed to work our way across rock faces and down a pretty steep hillside. We ended up about 20 feet from our rig!

A few lessons learned from this trip:

  • Nothing in the Fish Creek Drainage is as simple as it looks on the map.
  • Don’t ever wear shorts when planning to go cross country.
  • Going cross country always takes longer than you think it will.
  • Fish Creek country is beautiful – but you have to earn it.
  • You never know when you will find a geocache (we found 2 of them!) even when you aren’t looking for one.

We ended up getting back to the rig at about 6:30pm – about 4 hours later than planned. Since I was a bachelor all weekend, I had planned on hiking the Rimrock trail (a relatively easy task) on Sunday – but after this trek, I was too wiped out. I ended up staying home to recover. This was a fantastic (albeit very difficult) adventure on a fantastic day. The visibility was great, and even though it was exhausting, it was a bunch of fun.

7/13/2013 – Huxley Lake – 521 and Vicinity

Date of Hike: 7/13/2013
Location of Hike: Huxley Lake Trail (and vicinty)
Trail Number: 521
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk and Bandit (Kirks dog)
Start Time: 10:15 AM  End Time: 6:00 PM
Hike Distance: 11.1 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
Today’s goal was to capture a good track of the Huxley Lake trail and to do a little exploring around the area. It was a beautiful day, not too hot, not too cold and sunny. What a great day for a hike!

We started out at Lookout Springs about 10:00, and headed down the trail to Huxley Lake, passing the old corral (which I assume is what Corral springs was named for). At the junction, we started our steep downhill down to the lake. The trail is pretty steep (I should have gotten a few photos of it) due to it being abused by ATVs over the years. We believe we found remnants of the original trail that switchbacked down the hill a lot more than the existing trail does. The existing trail just heads straight downhill in a lot of places. After enduring what seemed an endless series of steep downhill sections of trail, we finally came to the old road described in the trail guide. The trail to the lake takes off to the left, however we kept walking down the old road – I was trying to remember where I had gone the first time I hiked the trail. We made it all the way out to the 4612 road, which now has a huge “tank trap” on it to keep people off the old road. Once we found the old road, we headed back to the Huxley Lake side trail, which we followed down to the lake.

Here was our first view of Huxley Lake:

We looked around a bit and had lunch at the lake. One interesting thing – there was a fire at the lake, and it appears as though it was caused by the campfire. It looks like a “root fire” that smoldered underground and killed several of the trees, which subsequently fell over into the lake.

Here are some of the trees – they were kind of stacked like lincoln logs on top of each other:

Here is a nice panorama shot of Huxley Lake:

It is a small and shallow lake, but it is pretty. I remember the last time I was there, there was a lot of damage from ATV riders around the lake. It appears as though some of that damage has been reduced over time, but you can still see the scars left by the ATV riders.

After eating lunch and investigating the burned area for a while, we decided to head back up to the trail and take it all the way down to the 4611 road. (so we could get a complete track of the trail). We headed back up to the trail, until we got to a strange intersection – we opted to go downhill, which was the right decision. After a while, we ended up at the 4611 road. The map showed the “real” Huxley Lake trail starting up the 4611 road a ways, so we walked up the road thinking maybe we had followed an ATV trail instead of the real Huxley Lake trail. After walking up the road a ways past where the map showed the trail, we decided the map must be wrong – but on the way back, we decided to go cross country to see if we could see any other trail. We were unsuccessful, however we did see this interesting marsh/meadow area:

We ended up right at the junction of the two trails. Just to see where it went, we decided to go back up the other trail. We were thinking this was the “real” Huxley Lake trail – all we had to do was to read the description on and we would have known what this trail was:

If you start at the 4611 end, keep right at the first trail junction about a half mile up the trail. The route to the left is an old trail which leads back towards Winslow Pit. You can come in from this direction on this unofficial trail (a re-use of a segment of an old trail) if you like. It starts on the left at the crest just before the end of the 4611-136 spur in a recently harvested area, about a mile off the 4611 road before Winslow Pit. The 4611 road gets rough beyond Winslow Pit. The alternate access is good road but will add a mile and a quarter to your hike.

We walked a ways until we realized the trail was not going in the correct direction – after a bit of discussion and a brief attempt at off trail cross country travel, we decided to turn around and head back up the trail (back the way we came). We needed to water up before our big ascent back up the hill, so we stopped at this pretty little creek crossing and filled up:

After filling up, we headed on our way, doing some trail maintenance as we headed up the hill (cut a couple of logs, did a lot of brushing of the trail, and kicked branches and rocks off the trail). After what seemed an eternity of steep uphills, (similar to the downhill section), we finally ended up on top. We made it back to the truck without incident – a little tired, but having a great day in the woods.

We stopped at Fearless for burgers (we were both hungry!) – a great way to end the day!

7/6/2013 – Grouse Point, Parrywinkle Falls, South Fork Roaring River

Date of Hike: 7/6/2013
Location of Hike: Grouse Point Trail
Trail Number: 517
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Paul, Brian and Kirk
Start Time: 9:45 AM  End Time: 4:00 PM
Hike Distance: 4.6 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
Today’s hike was setup by a couple of hiker friends, Brian and Paul. Paul was the one who took me on the “death march” a few years ago. It was a great trip, but it was quite a stretch for me to do. I think the day ended up as 19 miles and 5000′ of elevation gain. I made it, but it took a lot out of me.

Anyway, the plan for the day was to hike part of the Grouse Point trail, see Parrywinkle Falls on the Roaring River, then cross the river and head up the other side of the canyon. At some point, we were going to bail off the trail and head over to the South Fork of the Roaring River to see it and also to see if we could find any remnants of the elusive 511 trail or a waterfall that was supposed to be near the confluence of the two rivers.

We got a little bit of a late start and had a bit of a time finding it, but ended up at the trailhead a little before 10:00. The trail starts at the end of the driveable section of the 4611 road. From there you head down the remnants of the road a bit to the actual trailhead, which really doesn’t have much of a sign, just some flagging and an old shot up post (which probably used to have a sign on it before some yahoos decided it would be fun to shoot it to pieces). The trail starts relatively easily, but quickly descends into the Roaring River canyon, losing elevation quickly. In no time we were at the Roaring River and headed upstream to see Parrywinkle falls. It is pretty much a bushwhack to the falls, but it wasn’t too difficult. Parrywinkle falls is a very interesting waterfall – not too large, but an interesting setting:

Here is a photo of the falls with Paul wading the river in front of it:

And a photo of the very interesting sign:

And finally, a view of the Roaring River downstream of the falls:

After enjoying the view of the falls, we noodled a bit as to how we were going to cross the river. Paul had already gone over and back up near the falls. Brian and I had not come quite as well prepared, and so opted to cross on a log near the trail crossing. As luck would have it, there was a cedar tree that went all the way across the river. Brian was brave enough to walk across the entire log. I walked about halfway, and then sat down and “scooted” across the rest of the way. At the end, while I was trying to get off, I slipped a bit and ripped my pants on one of the broken limbs. I got a scratch on the back of my leg, but nothing (other than my dignity) was really hurt. With all of us successfully across the river, we headed up the Grouse Point trail – up the other side of the Roaring River. When we got to what we thought was a good area, in a relatively level place, we headed off trail, east to the South Fork of the Roaring River. This was a river I have never seen, and is not easy to get to, as there is no trail that goes to it. The only way to see it is to bushwhack your way in. We made it to the South Fork, and crossed on a big log jam (not a great photo of the logjam, but it was BIG):

We explored around on the far side of the river for a while, and did a little looking for any evidence of the 511 trail, but found none. I think we probably didn’t go uphill enough. We also headed upriver looking for the waterfall, but we didn’t see any. It was sunny on the north side of the river and it was getting warm, so we decided to cross back over the river on another log and have lunch in a nice shady spot – this was our view:

After having lunch and watering up for the trip back, we packed up and headed back the way we came. On the way back up to the Grouse Point Trail, I saw this tree:

Which has to be one of the trees from the fire so many years ago (1920s?). When it was alive, it was a BIG tree.

Once we found the trail again, we made pretty good time back to the Roaring River. We all crossed the same way we came over – Paul and Kirk waded across and Brian and I crossed on the log. Once back across the river, it was time to regain all that elevation that we lost on the way down. It was tough, especially being at the end of the day. I continue to have breathing issues when doing serious elevation gain like this. I have to stop way more than I would like to catch my breath, but I eventually made it. I was at the back of the pack…..

It was a great day, with great company and great weather. Couldn’t ask for a better day in the woods.

6/15/2013 – Anvil Lake and Black Wolf Meadows – 724

Date of Hike: 6/15/2013
Location of Hike: Anvil Lake and Black Wolf Meadows
Trail Number: 724
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:30 AM  End Time: 12:15 PM
Hike Distance: 3.25 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
Today’s hike was a short jaunt on the day before Father’s day. I had seen a posting on another website talking about this trail, and I knew it was a short hike and I needed a GPS track of the trail, so it seemed like a good option for the day.

Got a bit of a late start, and I wish I hadn’t. There was LOTS of traffic on the roads today. If I had left earlier, it would probably have been less crowded. No matter, I finally arrived at the trailhead about 10:30 and found two other cars there, which was surprising. I thought this trail was pretty lightly traveled. Anyway, after a few minutes of getting ready, we headed down the trail. The beginning of the trail was rather uneventful, hiking through sparse woods.

Once we got to the meadow, it started to get really wet and soggy. The trail going into the meadow was under 3-6″ of water, which made travel a bit difficult.

Once in the meadow, it was still wet, but less so. Walking through the meadow it was a little tough to follow the trail since it wasn’t too evident in places. There are a few posts to help guide you, but basically you just stay to the right and eventually the trail re-enters the woods. A short while after re-entering the woods the trail crosses Anvil Creek, which was kind of nice. The creek was flowing pretty well this time of year – draining the meadow.

The trail was well blazed and easy to follow in the woods. A little while further is the junction to the short side trail to Anvil Lake. We opted to keep going straight, to the other end of the trail at road 5820. The rest of the trail was pretty uneventful, however it did head downhill a bit to the road. Once on the road, we walked down to where Anvil Creek crosses the road just to see what it looked like. You can’t see much since it goes under the road in a culvert and was pretty well hidden by undergrowth.

After turning around, we took the side trail to the lake. It is a pretty short trail (1/8 mile?) Anvil Lake is shallow and brushy, and the bugs were pretty thick, just like they were in the meadow. I’m sure they are all hungry!

On the way back, we stopped to enjoy some of the flowers along the way. I found an interesting bunch of what I think are trillium’s, but they were not white – they were kind of a purpleish color. Very interesting.

Lastly, right before the trailhead, I noticed black and pink striped flagging on a tree. This typically is left by the FS historian, and it denotes some sort of historical artifact. I looked around but could not find anything that looked like it might be historical. A mystery for another day…..

On the way home I stopped at High Rock and took in the view – Mt Hood was BEAUTIFUL today – very clear.

I also did a little scouting for a good spot to do a cross country hike to try and find the big old growth down in the Roaring River (stuff that wasn’t burned in the big fire 100 years ago). I think I may have a good idea of where to take off for that hike, but that will also be for another day.

All in all a short, but nice day in the woods.

5/28/2013 – Music Creek Falls and Wanderers Peak

Date of Hike: 5/28/2013
Location of Hike: Music Creek Falls and Wanderers Peak
Weather during Hike: Overcast and rainy most of the day with occasional sunbreaks
Hiking Buddies: Kirk and Brian
Start Time: 1:45 AM  End Time: 6:15 PM
Hike Distance: 5.4 Miles - Wanderers Peak .25 Miles - Music Creek Falls  
Pictures: Link


Description of Hike:
This trip was intended to be to further explore the Surprise Lake in the Fish Creek drainage (there are at least 3 “surprise lakes” in the Clackamas country). There is no trail to the lake, however there are still the old decommissioned roads in the area that lead to the lake. After some great sleuthing by Brian (who accompanied us on this trip), a potential route was found that wasn’t too long – ~2.5 miles each way, with only about 3/4 mile of cross country travel needed. The rest would be on old spur roads.

The day took a bad turn when we encountered 12-24″ of snow on a sheltered area of the 4550 road near Pick creek. After looking at the snow (and the downed tree across the road), we opted to go for “Plan B”. Here is what stopped us:

We passed Music Creek and there is a very interesting waterfall just off the road. We turned around and went back to explore this waterfall a bit. A short hike from the road brought us to this surprising waterfall which is about 60′ or so in height. It was running pretty wild on this day due to all the rain we have had. On lower flow days, you can rock hop across the creek and go into a cave behind the waterfall, but today the waterflow was WAY too much to attempt this (without getting completely soaked in the process – we were getting wet enough due to the rain all day long). The waterfall ampitheater is very interesting – not a typical place for a waterfall. It was just kind of a bowl on the side of the hill – beyond which looked pretty normal. Very neat place to visit.

After exploring the waterfall for a bit, the plan was to go up to Wanderers peak and do some more exploring up there, potentially looking for an old trail that was supposed to exist there. We started up the spur road to Wanderers peak, and were quickly stopped by a bunch of downed trees across the road. We didn’t have anything to cut them out, so we parked and walked up the road to Wanderers peak. On the way up, we found a couple of animal skeletons. First, what appears to be a cougar skeleton:

Next was a pair of elk skeletons:

We walked up to the weather station there and explored a bit. I found that the “conduit” that I had seen last fall in the snow wasn’t really a conduit. What I thought had gone into the ground was really just sitting there – essentially it was just garbage. Mystery solved. When we got there it was REALLY foggy and rainy off and on, but after being there for a while, the fog cleared out a bit and we got a reasonably good view across the canyon to Fish Creek Mtn, Whalehead and Camelsback. The clouds kind of came and went, but we had a pretty good view from a rock outcropping below the weather station.

From there, we proceeded to head up to the “summit” of Wanderers peak on an old double track “road”. It led up to a campsite near the peak (it is pretty flat on top of Wanderers peak). We found another rock outcropping and enjoyed the views for a while until a large dark cloud came in.
The view from the top of Wanderers Peak:

We then started looking for the mystery trail. There are a LOT of small little “trails” up on top of Wanderers Peak – we wandered around a bit looking for tread, blazes or cut logs and were about ready to leave when Kirk found what he thought was a blaze (after traversing a particularly difficult section of rhodies and small fir trees). From there we continued north along the ridge, looking for blazes and cut logs. We found virtually nothing of existing/recognizable tread, but we did find quite a few blazes and a few cut logs. The terrain is relatively flat open as it progresses down the ridge. After progressing down the ridge a ways 3/4 a mile or so, the wind and rain was picking up, it was getting a bit late, and we started hearing thunder in the distance. Rather than continue looking for trail and going cross country, we opted to walk down the spur road to the end of the ridge. From there, we went downhill to road 45 through some rather dense reprod. Once on road 45, we walked back to the spur we parked on then up the spur. On the way up, there is a small spur to the east where we stopped and took in another view of the Fish Creek drainage. It was sunny for a bit, but then quickly turned back to drizzle and then rain, so we packed up and headed back up to the truck.

All in all, it was a great salvage of a day after a disappointing start. The waterfall, the views of the Fish Creek drainage and finding some good evidence of the old trail made for a wonderful adventure. And to top it all off, the weather wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it might be. It probably only rained half of the day, and most of the rain was pretty light.

4/27/2013 – Big Bottom Exploration – Round 2

Date of Hike: 4/27/2013
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 11:30 AM  End Time: 2:30 PM
Hike Distance: 1.6 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This hike was round two of trying to find the largest cedar (Western Red Cedar?) tree in Oregon. The last time I went (two weeks ago), I was unable to find it. So I went back to Big Bottom today looking for the giant.
On the way down, I did some clearing of the old road to make it easier to pass. There were some downed trees and hanging branches that were annoying. I recently purchased a replacement pair of loppers after breaking my old pair, and also purchased a small pruning saw to deal with limbs larger than my loppers can handle. They worked well in clearing out some of this debris and it should be easier passage down the road now.

This is actually my third trip down into Big Bottom. I went down there several years ago on a very hot day to try and find the record holder. I realized after I made that trek that I had gone down the wrong spur road. It was an interesting trip, but was not fruitful obviously. After my prior trip two weeks ago I reviewed GPS coordinates someone had sent me and compared it to my track from last time. I was convinced I was on the right track last time, I just didn’t go far enough. That made me want to try again!
There is supposed to be a “faint trail” that heads off from the old road, however I was not able to find it last time. This time, I think I did find the beginning of it. There was a flag (kind of hidden) right on the corner where you start heading north on the old road. It is right where the turn starts, however it was kind of hidden due to all the new, young trees growing up – I was amazed at how many young trees were in this area. I started up that way, and found another flag, and another, and another. I cut out a trail between the flags that should be easy to follow. The bad news is that the flags (and any semblance of a trail) stopped as quickly as it started. Since I could not find any other flags, and I wasn’t sure where it should go, I stopped cutting. There were so many places I thought might be a faint trail, but I’m pretty sure they were just game trails. There was a LOT of sign of elk and deer in those woods…..

Here is the log we ended up taking across the “creek” (bog really) to get into the grove:

Anyway, I came to two trees at the coordinates I was given, but I don’t think either one was “the” big one.

A picture looking up the trunk of one of the giants:

I looked around a bit, saw another one nearby, but I don’t think it was any bigger than these two.

It had a very interesting “bump” on the side of it:

I was just about to leave when I saw another giant kind of “over in the corner” of the grove. I went over to look at it and took a photo. I still wasn’t convinced I found it until I looked at another photo of the giant and compared it to mine. I think I found it! There were some telltale signs – two gashes on its bark. This was a monster of a tree! My Guess was 12+ foot in diameter (more if you measured it at ground level due to the huge root ball). But there were LOTS of HUGE trees in that basin. Just AMAZING.

After taking some photos of the tree it was time for lunch. We had lunch atop a downed cedar that was probably 5’+ in diameter. That was a really neat place to eat lunch. The only way I got on top was because it was next to another tree and it helped me get up on top.

This place feels so remote, but is actually very close to road 46 – I could hear traffic in the distance periodically. It didn’t detract from the serenity of being with these ancient giants, though. Here is a photo of part of this grove – it is impossible to grasp the scale of these trees in these photos:

After having lunch, it was time to head back. You really have to pay attention to where you are going because it all looks very similar – having to navigate around all those HUGE downed trees makes travel difficult. It was a short day of hiking, but a great day.

Driving on the spur road on the way out I got my last little perk of the day. A deer ran across the road in front of me. She didn’t seen too scared of me, after getting a little ways away – she just stood there and looked at me. This isn’t a great photo, but it was a cool way to end the day:

Another wonderful day in the woods, and a great accomplishment to see the largest cedar tree in Oregon!

4/20/2013 – Upper Falls- South Fork Clackamas River – Old Memaloose Trail

Date of Hike: 4/20/2013
Location of Hike: Upper Falls- South Fork Clackamas River - Old Memaloose Trail
Weather during Hike: Mostly overcast - a little misty but with some sun breaks
Hiking Buddies: Kirk
Start Time: 9:15 AM  End Time: 6:00 PM
Hike Distance: 7.9 miles  
Pictures: Sorry, no photos for this hike
Description of Hike:
Kirk and I decided to explore the abandoned trail on the east side of the South Fork yesterday We made our first stop at the Upper South Fork Falls, heading downhill through one of the old forest service “vertical thinning cuts”. It was a rather difficult descent, but not too bad until you got right close to the river, where it got very steep. Fortunately, we figured out how to get down to the river without incident:

Here is panorama photo of the waterfall amphitheater:

This is a really cool waterfall – a very unique amphitheater with three separate water “falls” – two from the river (it splits into two streams at the top), and one on the side from a creek. The water was running so fierce today it was really roaring and churning as it hit the pool at the bottom.
After enjoying the waterfall(s) for a while, we scouted our route out of the amphitheater. Rather than bushwhack 800′ back up to the trail and then go back down the Hillockburn to the river, we opted to bushwhack upstream. I think that was a good choice, as it was only a little over a quarter of a mile to bushwhack. Although it wasn’t easy, I think it was easier than going back up the hill. Once we got to the campsite at the bottom of the Hillockburn trail, we stopped for a break and had lunch. After lunch (where we saw a few sun breaks), we looked for a log to cross the river on. We had been informed that there was a good log to cross near the campsite. A little bit downstream from the campsite, there was a good candidate. Crossing the log was relatively uneventful, and from there we bushwhacked back to where the trail crossed the river to find the old tread (what is left of it). The lower part of this trail is not very well defined – between marshy areas and lots of blowdown, you have to pay close attention. We kept looking for cut logs – that is how we followed this lower section of trail. We did not see any blazes down lower and ended up losing the trail not too far from the start. We wandered around looking for bench, but didn’t find any (we had wandered too far south), but we did find some interesting side hill meadows:

There was some sort of waterfall on the creek down below, but we didn’t feel comfortable going down to look – the walls were close to vertical as you got farther downhill, so this is the best shot I could get of it:

Above that little creek was this massive cliff face, which was very interesting:

After heading uphill looking for tread (and feeling like a goat since it was so steep) we decided to head farther north to see if we could find more trail. We ended up stumbling back across the trail! From this point, the trail was actually really easy to follow for the most part, with blazed and well defined tread.

The occasional blowdown mess made for tough going, but once you were past the blowdown, the trail was easy to follow. We followed it for a while, until it got to a point with a LOT of blowdown that was really big. Just up the hill from this, it almost looked like a thinning area where there was even more blowdown and made the trail very difficult to follow. The good news is that someone has been in there and it is reasonably well flagged. I added a few more flags to help navigate through some of these areas. After navigating through one final area of blowdown, and having the trail become rather faint (and also getting pretty tired), we decided to turn around. We ended up going up to within about 1/4 mile of an old road (at least it shows on the map). This was our turnaround spot:

On the way back down, I took a few more photos than on the way up. Here are remnants of an old footbridge:

Here are some of the MANY BIG trees (I think they are larger on this side of the canyon):

Some of the easier to follow trail through smaller trees:

We successfully followed the trail back downhill, recognizing where we lost it (we missed a switchback), and made it safely back across the South Fork River (I think this picture was taken while I was crossing the log over the river):

Once across we did our final bushwhack back to the campsite and trail, and then headed back uphill to the car. I have to tell you, that hike back uphill seemed a lot longer than I remember it! I’m sure it was because I was so tired. This was more bushwhacking than I’ve done in quite some time, and all of it was rather difficult. Very brushy, lots of trees to crawl over or under. It was good to get back to the car and rest my weary legs. I slept very well that night.

The abandoned trail on the east side of the South Fork Clackamas River deserves some attention. It is in really good shape other than the blowdown areas and goes through some absolutely beautiful forest. That will have to wait for another day, however.

A couple of videos of the waterfall:

4/13/2013 – Big Bottom Exploration

Date of Hike: 4/13/2012
Location of Hike: Big Bottom Old Growth Grove
Weather during Hike: Take your pick - Snowy, Rainy, Windy, Sunny - it had it all!
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 11:45 AM  End Time: 1:30 PM
Hike Distance: 3 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This was a hike into the old growth grove of Big Bottom on the Clackamas River. This low, flat area has a lot of old growth fir and cedar. It is supposed to contain one the largest Western red cedar in Oregon – I’ve heard it is pretty big, and reminds you of the redwoods in California.

I had done this hike a few years ago – I think it was on my birthday – I remember it being a VERY hot day – something like 100 degrees in town. I remember it being cooler at Big Bottom due to the shade and humidity of the area, but it was still pretty warm. I was trying to find that cedar tree then, and I wanted to come back to try and find it again.

On to this days adventure. I was surprised when I got to the starting point. It had snowed overnight!

This hike started on old road which continued to get narrower and narrower the farther you got into Big Bottom. There were spots almost impassable due to small downed trees blocking the road – even for hikers. But, it is well worth the effort – you are soon rewarded with beautiful views of majestic old growth trees like this:

We hiked about as far down the road as we could. The major objective for the day was to try and find the cedar giant. Once it seemed we had definitely gone too far north, we turned around and continued to search for the “faint side trail” that was supposed to lead us to the giant cedar. I knew it would be a tough bushwhack, but I was determined to find it.

On the way back, we took several side trips, trying to find this faint side trail, but nothing looked like a trail at all – at least not for more that 30 feet. With the weather looking a bit threatening (I had hesitated to go hiking this day due to uncertain weather), I opted to leave the big cedar for another day after I could do some more research and fact finding to see if I could get more info on where it is located. So, a little disappointed, we headed back to the truck. A little disappointed, but how can you not love being around trees like this (and bigger, too!):

And more beautiful trees!

By the time we got back to the truck, the snow had pretty much melted away:

I will definitely be returning to Big Bottom, and I will find this big cedar. That will be an adventure for another day.

Note: After I did this hike, I conferred with someone else who has been to see this big cedar. He gave me the GPS coordinates of where the tree is supposed to be located. I put that in the gps track for this trip so I could see how close we got. Based on his description, it is about where I was thinking it was – you can see the route we took to the east, just west of where that GPS waypoint is. Although it will be difficult to get over there due to all the undergrowth, I look forward to returning.

3/9/2013 – Cripple Creek Trail – 703

Date of Hike: 3/9/2013
Location of Hike: Cripple Creek Trail
Trail Number: 703
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:45 AM  End Time: 3:15 PM
Hike Distance: 8.5 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This particular Saturday’s weather report was supposed to be very nice. I didn’t want to miss a springtime opportunity for good weather! So, I planned a hike up the Cripple Creek trail. I wanted to start down by the river – having done that section only once, in January a couple of years ago, I wondered what it would be like without snow. I was not disappointed! One thing that was disappointing and I did not find out until I got home – I had tried to use my phone as a camera and I was experimenting with a new mode called HDR (High Dynamic Range) which is supposed to create better photos for areas where you have different lighting levels (like taking a photo in a forest on a sunny day). It worked, sort of, but it made the pictures look really strange. I have to say I really don’t like how it does HDR and I will not be using it in the future. So, all the photos from this trip are a little “different”. They have a certain “glow” to them.

One thing that I did not remember – the lower part of this trail is BEAUTIFUL! It goes through a bunch of beautiful old growth, especially where it is near Cripple Creek. This is virgin forest that was never cut and is impressive. I also forgot how much elevation you gain on this trail. I gained somewhere between 2600 and 3000 feet of elevation on this hike (depending on who you believe). The first view on the hike is shortly after you cross the pipeline road:

Just before the interesting hillside meadow, you come the place many people refer to as “the grotto” – It is a weeping waterfall cliff below the hillside meadow:

This is really neat to see in the winter time when it is all frozen!

Continuing up the trail you proceed through a bunch of really nice forest – mixed ages, and some really nice old growth. The trail is in excellent condition:

Hiking up farther, the snow came pretty quickly (this was a little over 3200′ I think):

And finally got too deep to navigate through the young alders – This is where we turned around – about .2 miles from the 4635 road crossing:

This photo was interesting for two reasons – 1 – It was interesting to see how much more snow was in the old clearcut – in the uncut woods, there was almost no snow – in the old clearcut, there was 2+ feet. 2 – The tree on the right was used as an anchor for logging operations a long time ago. Amazingly enough, it doesn’t seem to have killed the tree.

After turning around in the deep snow in the old clearcut, we made a hasty and uneventful descent back down to the truck. It was a really nice, warm (for late winter) day in the woods.

1/19/2013 – Alder Swamp, 3 Lynx Falls, Sounds Trail

Date of Hike: 1/19/2013
Location of Hike: Old Alder Swamp Trail (attempted), Three Lynx Waterfall, Sounds of Two Rivers Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny but cold
Hiking Buddies: Carly and Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 11:15 AM  End Time: 2:30 PM
Hike Distance: 3.5 miles  
Pictures: Link

Description of Hike:
This was originally going to be a short wintertime hike on the old Alder Swamp Trail. I was on this trail a couple of years ago with Don, and it is a good wintertime hike. Not too much elevation gain, and usually not too much snow. Well, this year was a little different. We made it to the beginning of the trail, which was not all that easy due to the snow on the roads. There was 6-10″ of snow on the roads – the people that go up to Bagby had pretty much maintained a single track up until the Bagby turnoff. Past that, the tracks disappeared. Once we got to where the trail started, here is what we saw:

We started down the trail, but with all the snow, it was hard to see where the trail was. The beginning of this trail is a little rough (it follows the river at the start and some of it has slid down into the river), and we had a hard time finding where it should go. To top it off, Bodie did something to his foot (he has been having an issue with one of his toenails), and his foot started bleeding. We thought it best to turn around and try something different.

I had read about a new waterfall near the small community of Three Lynx. It was supposed to be a very short hike to the waterfall, so we thought we would try it and see how Bodie did. We found the old Schoolhouse in Three Lynx (edit later- which has now been torn down):

One there, we headed up the road behind the schoolhouse. We passed through this BEAUTIFUL forest along Three Lynx Creek:

Shortly, we found the dam that supplies this small community with water:

We headed up and over the dam and just a little ways past the dam is the BEAUTIFUL 90 foot waterfall!

After spending a few minutes enjoying the waterfall, we headed back the way we came and since Bodie did fine with his foot on this trip, decided to try to hike the “Sounds of Two Rivers” trail. This is an old, unofficial trail up the north side of the Roaring River (hence the name – both the Clackamas snd Roaring rivers can be heard). Here is the “trailhead” for this trail:

We figured we could hike as far as we were able to, or until we got into too much snow, and then turn around. That turned out to be a pretty good plan of attack. We headed up the trail, which was in pretty good shape – I kicked a bunch of branches and rocks off the trail on the way up. There were a few freshly downed trees that I tried to clean up a bit (branches on the trail), but for the most part, the trail was in good shape. Once we got almost to the top of the hill, we decided to stop and have lunch. After eating, we decided to turn around and go back down to the truck.
Although the day didn’t turn out as planned, it was a great day, with great weather, and having my daughter along was a bonus! They don’t get much better than this!

1/1/2013 – Abandoned Broughton Log Flume Exploration

Date of Hike: 1/1/2013
Location of Hike: Abandoned Broughton Log Flume Exploration
Weather during Hike: Overcast and rather cold
Hiking Buddies: Kirk
Start Time: 11:00 AM  End Time: 2:30 PM
Hike Distance: 2 miles (more driving than hiking - the map is mostly showing the route we took driving the area)  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This was a hike I had originally heard about on the Portland Hikers website. It combines two of my interests – hiking and history. This is an old abandoned log flume that was used from about 1913 all the way until 1986 when it was shut down. As far as I could tell, it was the last commercial log flume operating in the United States. Parts of the flume are almost 100 years old now! It was used to send partially cut wood (called “cants”) from the upper mill in Willard, Washington, down to the lower finishing mill at Hood, Washington. This mill was where the lumber was milled to finish dimensions and then shipped out via rail or by ship. The flume was built because it was much cheaper to send it down the hill this way than to truck it 13 miles via narrow, windy roads. It ran 120,000 – 150,000 board feet of timber down the flume each day (enough to build something like 12 houses). The flume was about 9 miles long and dropped 1000 feet to the lower mill. It took about an hour to make the trip, so the water ran about 9 miles per hour in the flume. The water was taken from the Little White Salmon river and was emptied into the Columbia river after it exited the flume. There was a 5 man team that was responsible for maintaining the flume. Each section of flume was about 16 feet long and lasted 15 to 20 years, after which it had to be replaced.

One of the interesting things I found was the “alarm” system that the flume had. It had wires on the downhill side of the flume (from the Chenoweth road crossing down to the Hood mill) and if one of those wires were cut, the flume would automatically shut down and divert all its water to Drano lake. There was concern that if there were a leak on the side of the hill, it could cause rocks or trees to come tumbling down the hill onto the trains and cars below. The alarm system and bypass mechanism was near the Chenoweth road crossing.

OK, enough of the facts and figures of the flume itself. On to the description of the trip. We started out early on New Years Day – it was cold and the roads were icy in spots. No matter, it was a good day to go exploring – a great way to start a new year. We got to Hood River and made the trip over the toll bridge (it was $1 each way). We stopped in the small town of Bingen to look at a steel portion of the flume that used to go over a roadway. It had some history of the flume and some photos that were interesting to see. After this stop, we were ready to go looking for what was left of the flume. We headed west on Highway 14 until just before tunnel 5 (I think that is the right tunnel-maybe it was tunnel 6). Anyway, there was a nice place to pull off the road. We headed back up the road a bit to get around the cliff. Then we headed up. In less than 100 feet up, we found remnants of the flume. There was LOTS of poison oak all over the place, but since it was cold, and the plants were all in hibernation for the winter, I think we were OK. It was interesting to walk down the flume line and see how far it has degraded in a short time.

There was also a section that was in reasonably good shape:

We also saw the wires for the alarm system:

After poking about those pieces for a while and enjoying the view of the river, we headed back down and continued west on highway 14 until we got to Draino Lake. WOW, was the wind howling there! And it was COLD! We stopped just long enough to look at the plaque they had at the boat ramp and then continued west to Cook-Undewood road, and then headed north towards Willard (where the upper mill was). We passed through “Mill A”, a small mill town, and after taking a left fork on Willard Road, eventually got to the small town of Willard (population 46 according to the town sign). In Willard, we saw the long metal flume that went across Cook-Underwood road:

As you can see, there was a fair amount of snow on the ground. I was surprised, since we were only at about 1200′ of elevation. Near this piece of flume, we also saw a family of deer resting in the front yard of one of the houses:

Driving a little further up the road, we found one of the best preserved pieces- this piece didn’t actually carry any cants, it was the “feeder” flume from the dam on the Little White Salmon river to the mill in Willard where it picked up the cants:

From there, we saw where the flume crossed the Little White Salmon River:

We kept driving down Willard Road (it kind of makes a U Turn) looking for more remains of flume. The flume was supposed to parallel the road, but we could see no evidence of it. We then proceeded to what I found to be the most interesting part of the trip. We went down Chenoweth road, almost to the end. At this point, the flume went under the road – there was quite a bit of flume left in this area. Seeing no “No Trespassing” signs, we went and explored the pieces of old Flume. On one side of the road was pieces of flume, some elevated as much as 8 feet or so. Some pieces were pretty much ruined, but some were in relatively good shape. On the other side of the road was the interesting piece. This was the place where the “alarm” worked. There was a small building next to a trap door. When the alarm was triggered, the motor in the building opened the trap door and all the water ended up going down to Drano Lake rather than continuing down the flume.

There was some old “decking” which looked like it could have been used for a variety of things (removing jammed up logs if the alarms triggers, sending replacement lumber down the line for flume repairs, etc). As we got back to the car, there was a nice gentlemen on a tractor who informed us that we were now on a nature preserve. We told him we were interested in looking at the remains of the flume and he told us stories of what it was like and how the “alarm” worked. It was great to hear stories from someone who had actually seen it work. Apparently after it use was discontinued in 1986, many (most?) sections of it were sold off – reclaimed. About the only sections that were not were sections that were either in inaccessible areas, or those on private property. The area where the nature preserve is located is private property and the owners had opted to keep the flume in place. Thank goodness for that! It is too important of a historical treasure to leave to rot! Even better, they are discussing preserving a section of the flume permanently so that people can see what it looked like.

After talking with the nice gentleman (I never got his name, just that he was the caretaker of the preserve), we headed out, and back down to Bingen and then back home. While we didn’t do a lot of actual hiking, it was a great day out exploring this bit of NW history.