Location of Hike: Old Trail East of the Battle Creek Shelter
Weather during Hike: Sunny, but cold and windy
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:00 AM End Time: 2:10 PM
Hike Distance: 4.4 miles
So I had the day off (Veteran’s Day) and went up and hiked this trail. Thanks to the wonderful description, and a copy of the track, we were able to follow most of the trail. It gets pretty iffy in the middle – LOTS of blowdown and the tread gets less discernible along with LOTSs of rhodies. It is obvious this trail has not seen real work in a long time – and no hikers for a long time either. The tread is covered in moss, but most of the route does have intact tread. It is actually pretty amazing that it is still hikeable (although with a fair bit of difficulty). A day or two of lopping/brushing and maybe a bit more flagging in a few spots would make this trail relatively easy to hike.
We headed up the old road to find the cairn that marked the start of the trail. The directions I was given were very good, and we had no problem finding it. We headed through a rhodie thicket (on old downed logs to minimize the fighting the rhodies) and soon came to the other side of the rhodie meadow – we found tread! And flags! We followed these for quite a ways pretty easily. In the middle the trail starts to get rather vague – I think we pretty much kept to the tread (there are blazes all along the way). We continued down the trail until we found a flat spot with an old old sign:
We continued on down to the creek – at the creek there are a LOT of REALLY BIG logs down, which were a challenge to navigate around. We decided not to cross the creek – it was pretty cold and the creek runs pretty high. We stopped to have lunch, enjoy the sights and sounds of the creek, and then headed back up the hill.
Going back up was a little tougher than coming down. We lost the trail a couple of times at difficult points, but picked it back up after getting our bearings and looking around a bit. On the way back up we found a few interesting things. One was a section marker cut into a tree – this was very close to a section line – kind of cool:
This tree looked like it was the location of old sign maybe?
This next photo might have been an old junction – it was just about at the halfway mark on the trail. You can’t really see much tread to the right (the trail heads to the left – you can see a flag). But the tree to the right looks double blazed and it looks just like an old junction would look – and there is a bit of tread heading down to the right – it just doesn’t go too far:
And lastly, on the way home I took this very sad photo of Detroit Lake – I don’t know if is it always this low this time of year or not. Wondering if they drain it down really low to allow water to accumulate over the winter? It looks like the water level is at least 50′ below where it should be. All those docks are sitting WAY high and dry.
When we got back to the truck, I realized it was colder than I thought – my boot laces were FROZEN! But we left feeling good that we could find this very old trail. A bit chilly (the heater in the truck felt REALLY good), but satisfied at successfully hiking another old abandoned trail.
Location of Hike: Horseshoe Saddle, Ruddy Hill and Skyline Trails
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Zack
Start Time: 10:30 AM End Time: 4:00 PM
Hike Distance: ~5 Miles
On the way up, all the rough roads shook up my bladder so I needed a break. We stopped at the Olallie Meadow campground to use the outhouse. While there, Zack happened to spot tread! We hiked it a ahort way just to see where it went. I realized this must be the old Skyline trail when it was routed near the meadow. After scouting that out for a short way we headed back to the truck and checked out the guard station/cabin (not sure its official name):
It was unlocked so we went in and looked at it. It was cool to see a structure that is probably close to 100 years old (built in the 20s?):
And soaked in the views of the huge Olallie Meadow:
After checking that out for a bit, we headed on up to Olallie Lake – we stopped at the store to look around (since Zack had never been there before). It was rather breezy, which was putting whitecaps on the lake. After enjoying the view of the lake fora bit, we headed up to Horseshoe Lake campground. Well, I didn’t do any real planning – the plan was to meet at the campground and hike the Horseshoe saddle trail (which has the sign on it). Well, never having met them in person before, I wasn’t sure who to look for, but I kind of figured 3 women camping would be easy to spot. Zack asked if I knew what they drove and I said “that would have been a good question to ask!”. Looking around the campsites, we didn’t see anyone who fit the bill – we asked a couple people and they kind of looked at us strangely. We decided to hike the trail and then head up to Ruddy Hill – maybe we would meet them on the trail. So, off we started down the trail. Shortly, we came to the new sign, which was very well done:
We continued down the trail, reaching the saddle shortly and then headed north on the PCT to the short, but steep Ruddy Hill trail. Huffing and puffing, we finally arrived at the summit of Ruddy Hill, were the first thing we saw was the old phone box. A little worse for wear than the last time I saw it, it continues to stand (barely):
We took in the incredible views from up on this aptly named hill:
We decided to eat lunch on the hill, enjoying the views. Once done with lunch, we headed back down the trail. When we got to the campsite, we looked around to see if anyone new had arrived. For some reason, I was thinking they were going to stay Friday and Saturday nights, but I was wrong – they were only staying Saturday night and had gotten a late start from town. Needless to say, we didn’t find them, so we decided to head out. We figured maybe plans had changed or something else happened. Having a bunch of extra time in the day, since we were so close, I asked Zack if he wanted to go explore a section of the old Skyline Trail that Donovan had shown me a couple of years before. I guess that was going to be “plan B”….. On the way, we decided to stop at Olallie Meadows and do a little more checking of that section of the Skyline trail. We went back and got on the trail segment again and hiked north a short ways. Zack found a really cool artifact – an old fence/hitching post along the edge of the meadow – they are kind of hard to see in the photo, but they are in a line – all leaning to the right in the center of the photo:
We also found a blaze:
After poking around, finding a couple more fence posts on the ground, we decided to head out and go up to the other junction I had been shown a couple of years before. We headed up an old decommissioned road to the point where the trail crossed it. We could either go north or south. We opted to go north. Following the trail was difficult in parts, but we kept finding blazes. Up the trail a little ways, we found another interesting artifact – an old phone line insulator – it is kind of hard to see in this photo – it blends in with the tree behind it:
We continued north, finding tread and blazes – the trail gets pretty wide near an old grazing/watering hole. We ended up kind of running out of time, but since the trail pretty much ran parallel to the road (the 4220 road), we decided to go a bit farther and then hike over to the road and back to the truck. We figured it would be MUCH faster than climbing over all the logs we came thru and we could go a bit farther up the trail. So we ended up going a little farther than a mile up the trail and then headed over to the road and back to the truck. The trip back to the truck was a LOT faster than the trip in. Note for future explorations – we can head over on the road and then start where we stopped to continue north.
It was a good day of trail exploring. Not quite what was planned, but we had a good time. The big event happened on the way home. Not too far from Estacada on Highway 224, we got stopped by a flagger. We didn’t know what was going on, but we heard a helicopter and were stopped for 10-15 minutes. I got out and asked the flagger what was going on and he said there was a fire – once I was out of the truck and around the corner, I could see a smoke plume up on the canyon wall. It was a pretty good fire, that was certain. We watched the helicopter do about 3 or 4 runs, dipping his bucket in the river and then heading up to the fire to drop it. They did not want cars going under the helicopter due to safety concerns. After those runs, the helicopter stopped for a bit and they let us go. After we got past the fire, Zack took a couple photos of the fire out the read window of the truck:
It was obvious this was a large fire and growing quickly – it started right above the quarry at milepost 36 sometime during the day. I guess it is named the “Pit 36 fire”. As of today, the fire is still growing and they have closed highway 224 – hopefully they will get it under control soon. It was a very somber way to end the day.
Location of Hike: Three Lynx Way Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:00 AM End Time: 3:30 PM
Hike Distance: 9.6 miles
Anyway, the route was intended to be going up the Shellrock Lake trail to the “shortcut” trail (another old abandoned trail) over to the Grouse Point trail and then head up this trail to the junction with this abandoned trail. I started out on the “shortcut” trail which has blazes all over the place:
Made it up the shortcut trail, and then to Cache Meadow – I never get tired of looking at it:
Heading past the meadows and up Grouse Point, we came to the helispot overlook above Serene Lake – It is a beautiful spot with a great view of Serene Lake and Indian Ridge:
Proceeding a little further, we came to the junction with the Three Lynx Way trail – the tread is recognizable for much of the trail:
We continued southeast on this tread until we got to a clearcut, where the trail essentially disappears. We headed around the edge of the cut, looking for where another old abandoned trail intersected it. Unfortunately, we did not find any evidence of this other trail. We did, however pick up the trail on the southeast corner of the clearcut, and followed it out to the 4635 road. We headed across the road to see if we could find any evidence of the trail on the west side of the road, but the only thing we found was this (whichI really don’t think was tread):
While exploring this area, I found this cute little tiny frog hopping about – he was hard to get a photo of:
After searching for a while and finding nothing, we headed back up to the road to go back to the Cache Meadow trailhead. We then followed the Cache Meadow trail to the meadows:
And then back to the shortcut trail and down the Shellrock Lake trail back to the truck.
Although I didn’t find the continuation of the trail, it was neat to hike a short section of a historical trail. On the way out, I took a picture of this unusual thing:
I’m guessing this is some sort of water “cache” for fighting fires. It kind of looks like a small swimming pool. It was on the 5380 road on the way to the Shellrock Lake trailhead.
This was a wonderful way to spend the beginning of my birthday! Weather was just about perfect for hiking – not too hot and not too sunny.
Location of Hike: Enchantments Backpack Trip
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm - blue skies all week!
Hiking Buddies: Carly, Kirk, Emily and Sarah
Hike Distance: 20 miles
Once we had our permit secured, we then needed to plan our adventure. We were going to have two novice backpackers, and none of us are in outstanding shape, so we had to plan accordingly. We wanted to plan short enough days that were realistic in order to make sure we were able to complete the loop. The entire loop is about 18-19 miles, with LOTS of elevation gain and loss. Actually, doing it counter-clockwise like we did we ended up losing more elevation than we gained (the hike was a shuttle with the starting trailhead about 2000′ higher than the ending trailhead).
The plan was this:
- Day 1 – Stuart Creek trailhead to Colchuck lake – ~5 miles and > 2000′ of elevation
- Day 2 – Colchuck Lake to Leprechaun lake – ~5 miles and 2200′ of elevation (all of it in less than a mile – Aasgard pass)/li>
- Day 3 – Before packing up, backtrack to Prusik pass and out to Shield, Earle and Mesa Lakes, then pack up and head to Upper Snow Lake – ~6.5 miles and a loss of about 1500′ of elevation/li>
- Day 4 – Upper Snow Lake to Snow Creek Trailhead – ~6.5 miles and a loss of about 4000′ of elevation/li>
We deviated slightly from our planned itinerary – we didn’t go all the way to Leprechaun Lake on Tuesday – we stopped just past Sprite Lake which seemed like a good place to camp. We also didn’t go all the way down to Shield, Earle and Mesa lakes on Wednesday – we stopped at Prusik Pass and enjoyed the view.
OK, on to the report. We left home on Sunday afternoon, had our “last supper” in Leavenworth and camped near the trailhead at eightmile creek campground. We got up on Tuesday morning and left my truck at the lower trailhead and then drove the van up to the upper trailhead to start our adventure. We got to the the trailhead about 9:00 and were on our way before 9:30am, heading up the Stuart Lake trailhead.
We headed up the well groomed trail through relatively small timber until we got to the first crossing of Mountaineer Creek:
We continued on to our second crossing of Mountaineer Creek, which was quite different from the first:
We got to the junction of the Snow Lakes trail, and headed up towards Colchuck Lake. After a bit, we got our first glimpse of what was to come:
After climbing in the hot sun for what seemed like forever, we finally got our first view of Colchuck Lake, Dragontail Peak and Colchuck Peak:
We also got our first look at what would become rather annoying over the next couple of days – Mountain Goats:
Although that one was the only one we saw at Colchuck Lake, they would be constant companions once we entered the upper lakes basin. The weird part of them is that they crave salt, and want to lick up people’s pee to get the salt from it. It is really kind of gross, but that is what they do. They were not really aggressive, but they certainly were acclimated to humans and were not afraid of us.
We proceeded around Colchuck Lake, looking for a good campsite for the night. About halfway around, we found what we thought was a good place. It had nice access to the lake (a big rock was just under the water which made for great wading), and enough space for our three tents. It also allowed us to ponder our big challenge for the next day – Aasgard pass – 2200′ of elevation gain in .7 miles:
There was supposed to be a trail up that face, but we couldn’t see anything visible. It was going to be an interesting day on Tuesday. While we were pondering our fate on Tuesday, Kirk decided to go for a refreshing swim in Colchuck Lake:
We went to bed early with a plan to get an early start to try and beat the sun on the rocks up the pass. We woke up at 5:30 and were hiking by 7:15. We started around the lake and our first obstacle was the boulder field at the south end of the lake:
We worked our way through the boulder field(s), and finally got to the bottom of the ascent and started our journey up (it was even steeper than it looks):
We continued our climb, which kept getting steeper and steeper, and the “trail” getting more difficult to follow. They put rock cairns along the way, but it was still difficult to figure out where we were supposed to go. We got up right beside Dragontail Peak, and it had a whole new look to it, although it was still very impressive:
We got up a little higher and ran into a marmot, looking for food – he didn’t seem too interested or bothered by us:
We kept climbing, and climbing and climbing until we finally reached the pass – one last look down at Colchuck Lake:
We were now entering the upper lakes basin – the “good stuff”. All the alpine lakes and really interesting areas – along with the Mountain Goats.
Kind of a mix of moonscape, snow fields, lakes and strangely stunted trees. The scale of everything was way off. The rocks and peaks were HUGE and just popped out of the ground while all the vegetation was really tiny. Ground cover was sparse and short – trees – where there were any were gnarled and short.
After successfully summitting Aasgard Pass, we decided it was time to take a break for lunch. We were looking for some shady spot (it was getting really hot in the sun) and ended up stopping at Tranquil Lake, taking shade against some rocks. It wasn’t much shade, but it was the best we could find.
We also got our first real taste of the goats – Mama and her twins:
After we had lunch, used the “facilities” (there was a toilet on the other side of the lake), we headed down to the next lakes in the chain. Once you summit Aasgard pass, you are on essentially a downhill path – each lake feeds the lake(s) below it, so each lake is lower than the previous lake. When I was looking at the maps, I didn’t really realize this fact, since it is rather subtle. We made our way down to the next un-named lake:
We also got our first glimpse of mountain peaks that would remain with us for the next 2 days – Prusik Peak and McClellan Peak:
We continued across this barren plateau – There was still some snow left from the winter that we had to navigate through – we would encounter that on several different occasions over the next couple of days:
We went to an overlook and saw Crystal Lake – a very beautiful lake down in a bowl:
We then continued on down the trail to Inspiration Lake:
And then headed around the North end of Perfection Lake, seeing all the meadows there:
We also got a great view of Little Annapurna from the North end of Perfection Lake:
And a great view of a really cool waterfall on the West side of Perfection Lake:
We went just a little bit past this and found a campsite near a toilet (to try and escape the goats) with plenty of space for our tents – it was just past Sprite Lake. This photo was taken just above our campsite showing where Perfection Lake emptied into Sprite Lake:
We couldn’t escape the goats, however – they were constantly patrolling the campsite. They were so stealthy – you would look around and not see any, and then all of a sudden they would just appear – a few of the group that patrolled our site:
We successfully avoided the goats on Tuesday night, made dinner, and went to bed early again (we were pretty tired). We woke up on Wednesday, intending to do our side trips before our backpack to Snow Lake, however two of our party were too tired to do the side trip. So we did a shortened trip up to Prusik Pass to take in the views:
And to see Shield Lake, which was on the other side of the ridge:
It was also neat to see a preview of our upcoming lakes – Leprechaun and Viviane:
As well as being able to see where we were camped on Tuesday night:
And getting a more up close view of Prusik Peak:
And a great panorama from the pass:
Moving down the trail towards Leprechaun Lake we found this neat waterfall that drained into Leprechaun Lake:
We negotiated the trail around Leprechaun Lake and got this great view of it below McClellan Peak:
Proceeding, we got to Lake Viviane, with Prusik Peak in the background:
And a view of our destination for Wednesday night – Snow Lakes – WAY down in the valley:
The beginning of this descent started a series of climbing down rock faces – this particular one wasn’t nearly as bad as it looked – everything was dry so it wasn’t slick, but you sure didn’t want to slip off this rock:
We then crossed the outlet of Lake Viviane:
And then continued to make our way down the rock face, following the “trail”:
Until we finally got to Snow Lake:
Where we found a great campsite for the night – near a HUGE boulder:
We setup camp and then played in the water for a while. Later that afternoon, a helicopter buzzed both lakes, and sounded like Nada Lake (the lake below us), left, and then came back a few minutes later and hovered right next to the dam between the lakes:
I always thought it was illegal for helicopters to enter wilderness areas – at first I thought it was for the nearby fire – expecting to see a water bucket or something. Still don’t know what they were doing, but it was really weird.
We made dinner, played some cards and then went to bed. This was to be our last night in the wilderness. I had kind of mixed emotions – while I really enjoyed the trip, I was ready for a nice hot shower and a comfy bed (and flush toilets with no goats!).
The next morning we got up, made breakfast and then broke down camp for the last time. We wanted to get another early start, since the lower part of the trail went through a fire area and would be really hot later in the day. So we headed across the dam, down the hill, ready to start our 4000′ descent to the trailhead:
Soon we came to Nada Lake – much lower than Snow Lakes, but very long and narrow:
After a while, we crossed Snow Creek:
We eventually made it to the final set of switchbacks which would take us to the lower trailhead (if you look really hard you can see the parking lot below):
Continuing down the hill through the burned section, we sampled a few thimble berries. We finally came to the final bridge – the one that crossed Icicle Creek (more of a river!):
We all made it back down to the truck without incident. It was a pretty hot day already. Kirk and I drove my truck up to the upper trailhead to get his van. Once back at the lower trailhead, we headed into town to look for a good, hearty lunch. We found a place and had a feast (as Carly called it). Once done with lunch, we started the long journey home. 5 hours later, we were home again safely.
A truly epic trip – while the mileage wasn’t huge, the condition of the trail and the difficulty of it were incredible. It was quite a challenge, even for experienced hikers/backpackers, and everyone rose to the challenge and successfully completed it. I had a great time visiting a truly special area. While it does remind me of the Wallowas, it has its own special charm – and it requires a great deal of work to be able to see it in person. I hope to see it again some day.
Location of Hike: Fish Creek Mountain Trail
Trail Number: 541
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 9:50 AM End Time: 4:00 PM
Hike Distance: 7.5 miles
Anyway, Fish Creek Mountain seemed like a good option. It has some good elevation gain, and isn’t too long. Plus, I haven’t been there for several years. It was going to be a warm day, so I intended to get an early start, but I didn’t get going as quickly as I had wanted to. Got to the trailhead a little before 10. On the way up, I noticed that they have done a LOT of thinning along the 4620 road.
We headed up the old trail (a segment of the old Cold Springs trail, I think), up to the old road. This part of the trail was in pretty good shape, although it was a little brushy in the switchbacks near the top of that first hill. The road is getting reclaimed by nature and getting very brushy in places, too. We got to the original trailhead and headed up. In the sun, it was very warm, but in the shade it was very comfortable. On the way up, there was lots of beargrass blooming along the trail:
Not much blowdown to contend with either. Most of the trail is in excellent shape. A little farther up the trail we came to a beautiful hillside meadow with a neat rock formation:
And of course the great viewpoints like this rocky outcropping near the High Lake junction – look at all the old cuts on those hills:
We proceeded up to the lookout location and was greeted with a ton of beargrass blooms. Although the summit is grown in a bit, there are still a few spots that provide views. If I remember correctly, this was Olallie Butte peeking over the ridge in the distance:
And something I had never seen before on previous trips – the location of the old outhouse:
And the memorial plaque – this was well hidden:
And something else I had never seen before up there – what looks to be the remnants of an old helipad:
After poking around the summit for a while, we ate lunch in the trees since it was a lot cooler in the trees than out at the old lookout. After lunch, we headed back down, and did a little cleanup of the trail on the way down, lopping some of the brushier sections of trail, and moving some small logs off the trail. At the junction, we took the trail down to High Lake, and although the trail was a little brushy, when we got there it was very still and calm:
We spent a little while exploring the lake and then headed back up – on the way we cut some of the brushier sections of trail, and I cleared a bunch of “head slappers”. By this time it was starting to get cloudy and I was concerned we might get some thunderstorms, so we headed back down the trail pretty quickly. We made good time back to the truck. When we got there, there was a rather large group (8-10 people) wondering where the “trail to high lake” was, and how far it was. I told them how to get there and they went on their way. Some of the group was going to camp at the lake, but others were just day hiking it. It seemed like they were starting kind of late, but I didn’t question it.
A nice day in the woods – got to give the dog a good workout, and I it gave me some conditioning for the Enchantments trip in a couple of weeks. I need to do more of this to get ready.
Location of Hike: Lower Burnt Granite Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Don and Murphy
Start Time: 10:00 AM End Time: 2:15 PM
Hike Distance: 3.5 miles
We headed up to the road where the “current” Burnt Granite trail takes off from – but that starts down the road a bit. The section where this crossed the road was clearcut, and so the current trail uses an old cat road to begin. In due time, maybe the original tread can be located in the clearcut and the original path restored. Who knows. (edit – the original route has been found! And restored!!) It is just cool to see this very old path. It will make a great wintertime trail – could be used to snowshoe – start at the bottom, hike up to snow, then put on showshoes to go higher.
On the way back down, we took a slight detour to the un-named creek – there is a user/game trail down to it that is flagged with blue and white flagging. A neat little creek.
On the way back home, we stopped to explore the old Memaloose trail off road 45. We didn’t go too far up the trail, but we did find some old cut logs:
And even cooler, we found an old benchmark tree!
After exploring that trail for a short ways, we headed back down and wanted to stop at fearless for a pint, but found out they are closed on Tuesdays! So, we headed over to another bar in town and had a pint there – not the same as Fearless, but still tasted good.
Both of these trails will be on my list to explore further.
Location of Hike: Memaloose Trail
Trail Number: 515
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 12:30 AM End Time: 3:00 PM
Hike Distance: 2.5 miles
The day started out by seeing how far up road 4550 I could go. I got a little past where I did the prior week, but not much past Music creek.
So, plan B was to hike the Memaloose trail and see if I could make it up to South Fork Mountain. The road to the trailhead was almost completely clear of snow, and the trail was completely snow free almost to the lake. The trail was mostly free of downed trees, except for a couple, including this BIG tree over the trail, which will be really hard to remove with crosscut saws:
After crouching under that big log, we continued up the trail and eventually crossed Memaloose Creek on the way up:
It was running pretty fast and high, but it was a beautiful sight. I’ve only been on this trail a few times, but I’ve never seen the creek so high. Continuing up the trail, soaking in the glory of all the old growth, we finally got to a Frozen Memaloose Lake:
We stopped for a bit at the first campsite and then I headed up the South Fork Mountain trail, not knowing if I would be able to find the trail and/or make it to the top. The trail quickly got buried in snow, however I was able to continue to follow the blazes, but after a short while, the snow got just too deep:
18-24″ in spots, and the postholing just was no fun. So, I turned around and went back to the lake. I found a nice spot to sit and just take in the sights and sounds of the woods, and sat there for over a half hour. It was really nice to just stop and enjoy where I was and really be in the moment. The experience soothed my spirit and calmed my mind. It was exactly what I needed to help endure recent events. Not a terribly long day, but just perfect.
Location of Hike: North Fork Clackamas River - Fisherman Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Zack
Start Time: 11:15 AM End Time: 3:15 PM
Hike Distance: 4.7 miles
It was a beautiful day – probably close to 60 degrees and sunny. The beginning of the walk climbs, but you hear the sound of the river for a ways – you then veer away from the river and keep climbing quite a bit above it. A little later, you come back down to the river – it is about here where the old road kind of disintegrates and gets tougher to follow. I think it was about this point where we came upon a small herd of elk. We scared them and they ran off, but it was pretty cool to see. The trees in this area are relatively large and it is a very pleasant area. Here is a photo of one of the tracks:
We continued following the increasingly difficult road, coming to a large old washout which was rather difficult to get around. We had a hard time figuring out exactly where the road went. We finally found bits and piece and made it up to an old spur road. We stopped for lunch and saw a logging operation on the hill across the way. We ate and then decided to head up this old spur to see how much farther we could go. A little ways up the spur we came across what looked like an old marijuana grow operation. Abandoned camping gear, fertilizer bottles and trash. It was very odd because they camped right on the old road, and there was active logging nearby. Maybe they did this before that area was logged. Anyway, we kept going up the road until the road stopped at a removed/collapsed bridge across Fall creek. The creek was running pretty fast and deep and we really didn’t want to cross it, so we turned around and headed back. We took a slightly different track back, hoping to avoid some of the blackberries we encountered on the way in. A photo of the removed/collapsed bridge:
It was a nice day in the woods. I really enjoyed hiking with Zack, although it wasn’t as good of a day as it would have been if we had been able to get to our original goal. Still, any day spent in the woods is better than a day anywhere else!
Location of Hike: Newell Creek Canyon
Weather during Hike: Sunny but cool
Hiking Buddies: Gail
Start Time: 10:30 AM End Time: 12:30 PM
Hike Distance: 1.25 miles
The walk started at Nelson’s Nautilus and followed the power line corridor for a bit down to a gate in the fence that surrounds the area. The gate is apparently an old logging road that took you down into the canyon. The naturalist that led the hike said the area was logged in the 40’s and 50’s. It has recovered pretty well. The road was pretty narrow and very muddy, but still a very recognizable road until we got close to the bottom. One the way down she stopped and showed us some native plants, invasive plants and several tracks in the mud. It was an interesting, although very slow walk down. As we descended into the canyon, the trees got larger, and we saw several areas where there had been homeless people camping. We stopped at a creek that they named Tumble Creek (also called Red Soils Creek):
The road kind of stopped there, but there is what looks like a user trail that continues north past the creek. After spending a bit of time down at the creek, we turned around and headed back up the hill, back to the starting point. It was a short walk through an interesting area. I think I will be returning (with others) to explore more in the future.
Location of Hike: South Fork Water Pipeline
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk and Zack
Start Time: 10:15 AM End Time: 3:40 PM
Hike Distance: 3 miles
The day started at the location of the old “Oregon City Water Patrol Station” (that is how it is labeled on the maps). The house is no longer there, however there is a nice big pullout and lots of parking there. Kirk brought his canoe and the plan was to canoe across the river over to the landing on the other side and then follow the pipeline trail north as far as we could.
The trip across the river went easier than expected – the current in the middle of the river was relatively fast, but it was pretty narrow – on the far side of the river was an eddy that was actually moving upstream! Anyway, we quickly made it across the river, got the canoe out of the water and then proceeded to find the pipeline grade. Doing this trip in the winter is really the best option for two reasons: 1 – there is LOTS of woody brush (salmonberry, blackberry, various grasses) that would be tough to navigate in the summer. 2 – There is a fair amount of poison oak along the pipeline grade – in the winter it is dormant, so it a lot easier to move past without getting itchy.
We wandered around a bit, and finally found the pipeline grade and started our trip north. I had forgotten how rough this “trail” was – and I think it has gotten worse since I was here last. We struggled with the downed trees and brush and it seemed the farther north we went, the worse it got. I finally had enough of it, and pulled out my little pruning saw and started cutting some branches. Zack had just given me new loppers, but I didn’t bring them, thinking I would not need them – that was a mistake. The pruning saw helped a lot, but loppers would have made it easier. Kirk soon took over the pruning saw, and I got out my hand pruners. There is a LOT more clearing that needs to be done on that trail, but we made a bit of an improvement. Here is some of what we had to go around (and there was a lot worse that I didn’t take photos of:
Here is Zack and Kirk clearing a particularly rough spot:
Once we got past the “cliffy” parts of it, just north of the bend where we started, the going improved a bit, but it was still rather brushy:
Although you couldn’t see the pipeline itself most of the way, these coax cables were visible almost the entire route – they made it pretty easy to follow the route of the pipeline:
Sometimes they were buried in the duff, sometimes they were stretched in mid air (like guard rails almost) – this photo also shows a big downed log that was cut at some point long ago – it wasn’t cut all the way through, but a notch was made in it – it was cut so long ago the notch was now at ground level:
A little farther up the trail, we found this item – Kirk thought it was a device to bleed off air from the pipeline, which kind of makes sense since it seemed to be at a high point along the pipe:
We continued north, following the river – the route improved a bit, and we even got to some rock slide areas where the grade was very good (if you look closely, you can see the coax cables in the lower left of the image):
Around one of these rock slides, an interesting/scary thing happened: When Kirk moved a log off the trail and threw it downhill, the rocks started giving way – a mini slide occurred. We were waiting for it to take out the trail, but it didn’t (thankfully). It did slide a LOT of rock downhill however.
Continuing north along the grade, we finally found the tunnels we had heard about. The tunnels did not start at the cliff face directly north of the bend in the river, they started a lot farther north. Here is the entrance to the first of four tunnels:
They were not very large – and seemed to get smaller the farther north we got. The first one was big enough to stand up in, but just barely
This was a very weird sight inside the first 3 tunnels. Groups of daddy long legs spiders and crickets, all grouped together. We had no idea what was going on there, but it was really weird looking:
At the entrance to the second tunnel, Kirk found an old insulator laying on the floor of the tunnel – it was kind of a weird place to find one:
All of the tunnels were in the cliff behind an “island” in the river. I’m not sure it is actually an island, but it does have a slough going alongside the cliff on the north side, and looks kind of like an island. This is the view from between two of the tunnels looking out at the flat area between the cliffs and the river:
Inside the 3rd tunnel, we had to walk on top of the pipe – there was up to a foot of water in the tunnel and it made for difficult going:
When we got to the other end, we found out why – a landslide had blocked up part of the tunnel exit and there was water dripping down into the tunnel from runoff. I”m sure during wetter parts of the year, this tunnel has a lot more water in it. Here is the exit of the tunnel – that straight thing is not a piece of the pipeline, but a tree that had fallen downhill – you can’t even see the pipeline, just the small tunnel exit:
The last tunnel had what looked like a piece of petrified wood in the ceiling of it:
And it also has a curve in it:
At the end of the 4th tunnel, the pipe takes a hard turn and goes straight down to the water – it is kind of hard to see in this photo because the pipe is covered in moss and ferns, but it goes downhill at probably a 60-70 degree angle until right above the water and then turns north right above the waterline:
On the way back someone noticed this interesting “glaze” on the wall of one of the tunnels:
It reminded me of stuff I remember seeing in the Oregon Caves. When looking it up, they referred to this as calcite deposits. It looks like it is soft, but it feels just like rock (although smooth).
After exiting the 4th tunnel, and realizing we were pretty much at the end of our route, since the pipeline went down to the water and seemed to head at waterline for a while, we decided to head up to the top of the hill and see what we could see – we got up there and saw a very difficult bushwhack. We decided this would be our turnaround point, so we stopped for lunch.
Heading back was pretty uneventful, and considerably faster than the trip in, since we had done all that clearing on the way in. We enjoyed some of the many cliffs on the way back:
We made good time back, and since we were a little early, we decided to go explore a little ways up the “Gipper” trail – it heads up and over the hill over to Hillockburn. I have been on that trail a couple of times and it offers some really nice views (this picture was taken on a trip in 2012):
After exploring up the Gipper trail a bit, we headed back down, back to the canoe, and made our way back across the river without incident. Kirk had to go home to a family dinner, but Zack and I headed to Fearless for a beer and some sweet potato fries. On our way back, we stopped to look at the point we got to, in order to see where the pipeline went. While we were looking we saw an AWESOME sight – A Bald Eagle flew up from the river into a tree! As we made our way down river, the eagle followed us for a bit. They are absolutely beautiful creatures, and it was amazing to see in the wild. An amazing way to spend an incredible winter day in the Clackamas. It felt more like a fall day!
Location of Hike: Rho Creek Trail
Trail Number: 569
Weather during Hike: Mostly Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk
Start Time: 10:55 AM End Time: 4:30 PM
Hike Distance: 8 miles
We got a lazy start, since it was New Years Day, but got up to the trailhead by a little after 10:30. The driving was a bit tricky, since there was lots of ice on road 46, and also LOTS of rocks that had come down from cliffs – some rather large rocks that required driving around.
Anyway, we headed up the trail – I had forgotten how much elevation this trail gains. The beginning of the trail climbs rather quickly. It is graded well, but you are gaining elevation rather fast. In a short while, we came to the Tumble Creek crossing:
Tumble/Rho creek is beautiful:
After crossing Tumble Creek, we headed up a couple of switchbacks, gaining more elevation before coming to the upper clearcut. It was here where I made an incorrect turn in 2006 (the last time I was on this trail). I turned right (NW) and headed along the edge of the clearcut. I should have continued mostly straight along the other edge of the clearcut, which is where the trail follows. We proceeded up the trail to the 4672 road, which was almost snow free – amazing for a road at 4000′ elevation on the first of January:
We continued across the 4672 road and headed uphill. After some more uphill, the trail levels out and the forest changes to smaller trees and more open:
After following this for a while, we got to a post that used to have a sign on it. We weren’t sure what it was marking. The notes I had sounded like this was a trail junction, and “turning left” would take us to the Guard station, which we wanted to find. We followed a very rough, faint trail for a while – it kind of came and went. We thought the guard station was near the meadow, so we continued on to the swampy area – it is actually called a meadow – Rhododendron Meadow. Maybe later in the year it is drier – today it was icy, otherwise it would have been hard to walk across.
We didn’t see any sign of the guard station site, but we were a bit confused about where exactly it was. We were running out of time for the day, so we decided to head around the meadow and find the trail that we came in on. We found the trail and started heading back, and lo and behold, we stumbled across the old collapsed guard station!
On the way back down, right above the 4672 road, we caught this nice glimpse of Mt Hood:
About half way back to the start, we saw something we missed on the way in – a post – it definitely said something at one time, but what did it say? It certainly didn’t look like a trail junction, so what could it have been for? I’ll probably never know (edit: I later learned that this post IS an old trail junction – the trail has long been abandoned and is pretty faint):
We were kind of in a hurry on the way back, racing to get back to the truck before dark (the days are very short this time of year), but I couldn’t help but take a photo of this section of the trail:
I can’t really say this is “typical” since this trail goes through so many different areas. But it is a very pleasant area. This trail is a very under appreciated trail. I will be back again sooner than 7 years next time.
We capped off the day with a burger and pint at Fearless. What a great way to kick off the new year!