Location of Hike: Eagle Creek Trail
Trail Number: 440
Weather during Hike: overcast
Hiking Buddies: Zack
Start Time: 8:45 AM End Time: 2:45 PM
Hike Distance: 13 miles
The words of the day for me were wow, amazing, thundering and wet. I kept saying “wow” due to the scenery, and the “amazing” trail that was literally blasted out of the side of a cliff. The waterfalls were absolutely thundering due to all the water – some you could actually feel. Wet was just what it sounded like – this is a pretty wet trail, and when we’ve had as much rain as we have had recently, the cliffside areas were dripping heavily.
We got to the parking lot about 8:45:
There were not many cars – most of them appeared to be from a work party that was there to do some work on the trail. We had heard there was a slide near the beginning of the trail and assumed there was downed logs due to the recent wind storms. We headed down the trail, following the work party – they quickly let us pass since we were trying to make good time in order to get back before dark – this was going to be a long day of hiking.
Our goal was to get up past Tunnel Falls, and then return and (hopefully) take our time on the way back. After hiking for a little while, we shortly approached Punchbowl falls:
As with all the waterfalls, it was thundering and running fast. After enjoying it for a bit, we headed down the trail, soon coming to the bridge at Tish creek, which has been heavily damaged due to a recent downed tree:
The bridge is uncrossable, but we were able to hike down and across the creek to continue our journey.
We continued down the trail, making good time and trying to get over the numerous blowdowns on the trail – like this:
Parts of the day were kind of a blur, since we were moving quickly, and I wasn’t familiar with all the waterfalls and trail geography. I’m not sure where this was taken, but this is a picture of one of the slot canyons on this trail – pretty dramatic – you can see the trail in the upper left of the photo – where it was carved out of the side of the hill:
And is a photo from the top of one of the waterfalls (I can’t remember which one – there were so many!):
This was one of my favorite waterfalls – it had a neat bowl near the bottom which was very unique (I found out later this is called Loowit Falls):
We soon got to High Bridge, which is very dramatic (and a bit scary if you are afraid of heights):
In fact, this whole trail is probably not good for someone who is afraid of heights. There are long sections of trail that are pretty narrow, with near vertical drops down to the creek. If you were to slip, you would be done for, since there is nothing to catch you on the way down. Dramatic, but a little bit scary, and requiring careful navigation. There are cables attached to the rock face, but on a busy day this must be pretty terrifying to hike.
The second to last waterfall we saw was by far my favorite – Tunnel Falls. It reminds me of the Waterfall on the South Fork of the Clackamas river. It is about 120′ high, and has a tunnel behind it!
The surrounding cliffs are very dramatic as well:
And here is a picture of the tunnel behind the falls – it isn’t very long, but it is very dramatic walking through it, especially on a day like today when the water was flowing fast:
Lastly, here are a couple of videos I took of the falls and approaching the tunnel. They don’t do it justice, but the waterfall was absolutely thundering. You could feel it in your bones.
After looking in awe at Tunnel falls for a while, we continued down the trail to our last waterfall (I think it is called Twister Falls) – here is a photo of the top of the waterfall:
We the continued a little bit farther until we found a good spot to have lunch:
We were amazed at how high the water had been recently! We fashioned a makeshift bench out of the wood, and ate lunch. We marveled at the trail, the canyon, the waterfalls, and the water flow. We started getting cold, so we packed up and headed down the trail. We finally warmed back up on the way down, successfully navigating the several creek crossings (one of which was a bit sketchy). We made good time – much better time than we had expected – we did the side trails down the the viewpoint for Metlakao Falls, and also the lower Punchbowl falls. We headed back and met quite a few people on the way in as we headed out – it seemed strange to be starting a hike that late in the day – when it was going to be getting dark soon. But maybe they weren’t going very far.
We got back to the car at 2:45 and headed home. A great day on a very spectacular and unique trail. I now understand why it is so popular.
Location of Hike: Fanton Trail
Trail Number: 505
Weather during Hike: Cloudy, snowy, rainy and windy
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:45 AM End Time: 2:00 PM
Hike Distance: ~5.5 miles (GPS flaked out)
Today’s hike had two parameters:
- It had to be accessible (snow)
- It had to be easy enough for Bodie
In looking at snow levels and trail elevations, I thought the Fanton trail might fill the bill. It seemed low enough and it seemed relatively level – we could also turn around at any point. It has also been quite a while since I’ve hiked this trail.
So, off we went – got a bit of a late start, but that was OK since this was going to be a pretty short hike anyway. We got to the trailhead about 10:30 or so. We just hit snow about 2800′ – right before we got to the trailhead. As I was getting ready, I noticed what appeared to be a continuation of the trail on the west side of 4613. After getting ready, we headed across the road and sure enough, there was a BEAUTIFUL trail there! Easy to follow and nice tread:
We followed it for about a quarter of a mile until the edge of the FS property where it abruptly ended:
There was a recent clearcut on that property which obliterated whatever was left of the trail thru there. Too bad – looking at the old maps, it looks like it went west until it hit an old road in the area called Fanton (I’m guessing that is where the trail got its name). There used to be a school and guard station there and what looked to be a small community.
Well, enough old trail exploring. We turned around and headed back to 4613 – it had some slushy snow on it:
And then I took a photo of the trailhead – not much signage – I guess this trail missed out on the stimulus money a few years ago where all the trailheads got new signs:
Bodie was raring to go – he was ahead of me all day long! I was surprised how well he did. Even jumping over logs!
This trail, although not spectacular is very pleasant to hike. It is basically a ridge walk thru some very nice forest and a variety of ecosystems. Not a ton of views, but there are a few. When we started out, there was really no snow on the trail (just a tiny bit on the road), but as we got higher, snow started appearing, especially in the more open areas of the trail. It was quite the winter wonderland farther down the trail:
When we got up to the old road along a clearcut (don’t know what the number was, it doesn’t show on my maps), there are some good views looking south. I was surprised we could see much on this day. I’m not sure, but I think this might be Fish Creek Mountain and Whalehead in the distance:
The snow was getting pretty deep on that old road:
We continued down the trail, fighting the wind (it actually blew off my hat at one point) and the snow bombs off the trees as the snow melted and the wind gusts came thru and blew it off. Not too much farther down the trail, we decided to turn around. It was getting a bit much and the snow was getting deeper and deeper – And the wind seemed to be getting stronger. I kind of wanted to get to the junction with the parking area that most people take – the one that goes up the Squaw/Tumala Mountain. But we had gone far enough.
On the way back, I found this cool old blaze and sign after a road crossing:
The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. We quickly arrived back at the truck. By that time, 4613 was pretty much melted out. Since it was still early, I decided to drive up 4613 and hit 4610 and see how far up I could get. I encountered a lot of traffic on 4610, mostly mudders who had been up higher. I made it to about 3500′, and decided to turn around. It wasn’t too bad, but I was by myself and I really didn’t want to get stuck. I got to within about .75 miles of Lookout Springs I think. We turned around and headed back down and headed home.
A short hike for a short day. But it was nice to get out and I’m glad Bodie had fun.
Location of Hike: Dickey Creek Trail
Trail Number: 553
Weather during Hike: Sunny and cold
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 11:45 AM End Time: 3:15 PM
Hike Distance: 6.5 miles
I haven’t hiked this trail since the moved the trailhead back about a half mile – they decommissioned the old road and turned it into a trail. Here is the new trailhead:
I was surprised to see another vehicle there when we arrived. As we were getting ready, another truck came down the 164 spur, which also surprised me. After getting ready, we headed down the old road, soon getting to the old trailhead (which also continued down an old road that was converted to trail – the first mile or so of this trail is old roads). After heading down the road and crossing a creek (there are still remnants of an old bridge there), we got to the “bad section” – this is a section that drops very quickly, and the tread was never built well. It heads straight down hill – no switchbacks and the ground is very unstable. When Carly and I did this several years ago, we literally slid down the hill on the way down and climbed and slipped up the hill on the way back. It was very difficult. Since I’ve been on this trail, this section has improved somewhat. They have installed steps on several areas of the steep sections:
There are still a few sections that could use steps, but it is much improved over what it was. We continued down the trail, thru the old cut area until we got into uncut timber. This is a beautiful section of trail – probably my favorite on this trail. Big old trees, lots of moss. We stopped to eat a bit and while sitting there, I noticed this beautiful ray of sunshine coming thru the trees:
And I had to take a picture of Bodie – he was having a good time:
After eating a little bit and drinking some water, we continued down the trail. It was rather cool, and when we got to an overlook of Dickey Creek, we saw these frosty trees:
Continuing down the trail, we shortly headed into a very brushy, low, swampy area where this very large tree had come down. It will be tough to remove this, and it is pretty tough to get over.
And this is the “Alder Swamp” area – it is very similar to the “real’ alder swamp off the Collowash, but this one is smaller and apparently un-named.
While hiking the north side of this swamp, I tripped over a root that was in the middle of the trail. I took a pretty good fall, and bumped my knee – I almost thought I was going to have to turn around, but I ended up “walking it off”. We continued down the trail until I saw this Section Line Tree right next to the trail. I can’t believe I never noticed it before:
Somewhere in this area, we met a backpacker and stopped to talk with him for a few minutes. He had camped at Big Slide lake the night before. I asked if there was any snow there and he said not really, but he could see snow up on the peaks around the lake. I think my decision to not try a higher elevation hike was probably smart. We parted ways and continued down the trail. We had to get back home relatively early, so we were kind of racing to get to our objective – the creek crossing at Dickey creek. We managed to get there just about at our turnaround time:
One thing I did notice – the trail continues on the north/west side of the creek – I saw a definite blaze past the current crossing point. I wonder if the trail used to cross farther up creek? Something to research.
We quickly ate a bit more, drank some water and then headed back – the goal was to get back to the truck by 3:00. We missed it by 15 minutes, but still got home in plenty of time. When we got back to the truck, the backpacker we met was at his truck packing up. He went a little slower than we did on the way back I think. That climb back up the hill is not easy, especially with a backpack. Glad to see he made it out OK.
A WONDERFUL day in the woods – the weather was SPECTACULAR! It was too good to waste and not hike.
Location of Hike: Cottonwood Meadows Trail
Trail Number: 705
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:00 AM End Time: 2:15 PM
Hike Distance: 6 miles
I decided on Cottonwood Meadows since it seemed like a relatively flat and easy trail to do, and it wasn’t too long. The cross country part was a little tough on him, but he did really good all the way. In addition, this is the perfect time to visit this trail, since the meadows are all dried up and the bugs are all gone. I had not been here in several years (looks like it has been 7 years!!!!), and wanted to go back.
The hike was pretty low key – nothing terribly exiting happened. Shortly after we started down the trail, we arrived at the first meadow:
We looked around a bit, headed across the meadow and soon came to the second, largest meadow that has a “lake”:
And then we found something completely unexpected – A boat!!!:
I can’t believe that someone drug a boat all the way into this lake. I can’t imagine there are any fish in this lake – it is very shallow.
We wandered down the trail to the end of the official trail at the 5830-240 spur road. From here, you must go cross country through an old clearcut (that isn’t recovering well) to get to the lower section of trail. Basically, you need to go from the 5830-240 spur to the 5830-260 spur road thru the old clearcut. About in the middle of the clearcut, right at the edge, we found this tree that had something painted/written on it, but we couldn’t make it out. What does this tree say?
We then made it down to the 5830-260 spur and took it to the end where the lower trail starts again. The very beginning is a little rough, but once you get into the uncut area, it is a beautiful trail:
Had to get a shot of Bodie next to a big old tree with a blaze:
We continued down to the 6345-120 spur where the trail ends. We thought about heading down to the Cot Creek bridge that is washed out, but Bodie seemed to be getting tired, so we turned around and headed back up. On the way back up, I took a picture of this rough spot:
There were only about 10-12 trees down on the lower section – less than the upper section. The tread down there is REALLY good!
We continued back up the trail – I’m sure I took a different route thru the clearcut on the way back, but ended up close to where we were started. Got back up to the truck pretty quickly and then headed home.
A very nice, peaceful, pleasant day in the woods.
Location of Hike: Baty Butte Trail
Trail Number: 545
Weather during Hike: Foggy in the morning, Partly Sunny later
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:55 AM End Time: 3:00 PM
Hike Distance: 5.7 miles
We headed out a little later than normal – it was kind of foggy and looked like rain – but that was supposed to clear up and be partly sunny in the afternoon.
It has been several years since I’ve been here, and on the way up the 7010 road, it was obvious that thinning has been going on for a while. The forest looked really good where they had thinned. The road up to the point where the thinning stops was in great shape (obviously because of the thinning projects). Beyond that, the road deteriorated a bit – got narrower and a little rougher, but wasn’t bad.
We were driving thru the clouds on the way up to the trailhead – I was hoping that the clouds would burn off so we could have some views later in the day. We passed the Culvert replacement on 7010 at Blister/Stroupe creek that stopped us the last time I was here in 2011. That project is long complete now. We finally hit the 7010-160 spur road that takes you up to the trailhead. One the way up, we ran into a BUNCH of new, DEEP waterbars in the road:
You have to take these VERY slowly as some of them are VERY deep. I’m not sure a passenger car could navigate some of these.
We arrived at the trailhead and headed down the trail. Very quickly, we found some VERY recent trail maintenance!
A big thank you to whoever did this work. Both logging and brushing were done VERY recently.
As we proceeded down the trail, we came to the first rockslide and found brilliant fluorescent fall colors – this photo doesn’t even begin to do it justice – the colors were so vibrant – it was amazing!
We came to the junction and headed north/east – the goal was to get to the top of Baty Butte and have lunch there. On the way, I met a bow hunter (he was VERY quiet-didn’t even know he was there until we were right on top of him) and later we met another couple – the husband had a bow but said he really wasn’t hunting.
As we progressed east, we went under the “white spot” of Baty Butte, and it looked like the east ridge might be a viable way to get up to the top. At an opportune place, we started up the east ridge – we found what appeared to be old tread heading up, but shortly got cliffed out (it got VERY steep and narrow – didn’t want Bodie to trip and fall), so decided to come back down. On the way down, we found what appears to be an old water bar in the tread:
Definitely didn’t look natural – I’m very sure this was some sort of trail at one time. We headed back down the trail to the west side ridge – to a switchback with an obviously homemade sign that said “Bracket Mountain” and pointed north. Figured maybe there was some sort of user trail, so we headed that way. The “tread” didn’t last long, so we ended up basically just walking more or less east – essentially straight uphill – near the top of the hill we found old tread and figured this must go to the top. Well, after going back and forth on the tread, and finding the spot on the east side where we had been earlier, it was obvious that there was no recognizable (at least I didn’t see it) tread to the top – we were VERY close, so we just headed uphill a bit and finally made it to the top of Baty Butte. It was a little bit of a letdown – since it was an old lookout location, I was hoping to find some remnants of the lookout – at least something. We found nothing – it is a very small area with steep dropoffs on all sides, so we had to be careful. Some nice views, however:
Looking west to the Molalla drainage:
Looking south/southwest back to where we started:
And there was a geocache at the very top:
We ate lunch and headed back down the west ridge – we followed the trail down – it wasn’t much of a trail, heading pretty much straight down the hill (it was REALLY steep). On the way down the hill, I literally tripped over this piece of old phone line:
We finally found the real trail again and headed southwest down the trail. When we got to the southern part of the trail, it was obvious it hadn’t had much activity. It was VERY brushy in places and had quite a bit of blowdown. We ended up hiking about a mile south of the junction, and in that mile, we counted about 40 trees down – and some spots in the trail are almost completely grown over with brush. This portion of the trail needs a bit of love.
Just south of the junction, there was this neat view of Baty Butte and Mt Hood (which had emerged from the clouds finally):
And a little farther, one of the cool side hill meadows (the first one as you head south):
And the neat ridge walking in the trees – this is just really cool to me:
We walked down the trail for about a mile and I could tell Bodie was getting tired. We were nearing our turnaround time anyway, so I decided to turn around and come back. I think it was just about the perfect length for Bodie. Had we not expended so much time and energy trying to climb to the top of Baty Butte, we could have gone farther south, but I was glad I finally got to see the top of the Butte.
A very nice and pleasant day in the woods.
Location of Hike: Devils Dome Loop - Psayten Wilderness - Washington
Weather during Hike: Sunny that turned into cloudy and cooler
Hiking Buddies: Kirk and Carly
Hike Distance: 41 miles - 33 miles by foot, 8 miles by water taxi (boat)
So, the plan for the trip was to go pick up Carly in Chelan (she was working on Stehekin all summer) off the ferry on Thursday, camp somewhere near the trailhead, and then head out early on Friday for our 4 day adventure. Due to the length of the trip, we opted to take the water taxi to cut off about 8 or 9 miles off the loop – from all the reports I saw, we didn’t miss too much – no real views, just kind of hiking around the lake and then over Hidden Hand Pass, which didn’t sound all that scenic. Night 1 was to camp at Devils Park (with a shelter), night 2 at Devils Pass, night 3 at Devils Creek/Junction along Ross Lake and then on day 4 take the water taxi around and then complete the loop and then drive home (a very long drive). This area is almost to Canada – we were less than 10 miles from the Canadian border (the top of Ross Lake is in Canada)!
We were a few minutes late picking Carly up from the ferry (a small miscalculation in how long it would take to get there), but we ended up only being about 10 minutes late – my luck was that the ferry was right on time! Anyway, we picked her up, went into Chelan, had dinner, got gas and then went out to find our campground for the night. Originally, I wanted to camp at Loup Loup campground, but we found out that it was closed due to the fires. We ended up staying at JR campground which was nearby – it was starting to get dark and we just wanted a place to sleep for the night.
One interesting thing that happened – we were setting up camp, and not one, but THREE rangers came into the campground – they had reports of a “huge bonfire”. They asked us if we saw anything and we had not – turns out it was probably a white gas stove that had gotten a bit out of control when it was starting up – someone saw that and reported it. While the rangers were there I asked for a good breakfast place for Friday morning and also about the permits I was told we needed at Ross Lake – there was a ranger station in Winthrop. He told me about a great breakfast place a “combination restaurant and sewing place”. It sounded interesting, so we decided to try it – if we could find it.
The following morning, we packed up camp and tried the rangers suggestion – probably wouldn’t have stopped there had he not said anything, but the breakfast was really good – the sewing stuff was quilting supplies. After breakfast, we headed down to the ranger station for our permit, which I understood to be similar to the wilderness permits – you basically fill out the tag and go. This took quite a bit longer than that. It took over a half hour to get all the correct info and get the permit. Once that was done, we headed down highway 20 to the Canyon Creek trailhead to start our adventure – a little later than we had planned.
We got there about 10:30 and headed out shortly after. Here is Carly hamming it up for the camera in the parking lot:
Shortly after starting, we got to the bridge across Granite Creek:
And a little farther, this old cabin on Canyon creek:
We then headed up the unrelenting switchbacks to gain the 4000 feet of elevation we needed to gain to get to McMillan Park. Most of the day was just grunting up the hill, stopping for rest breaks and stopping to fill up our water bottles. Part way up the hill, out of nowhere, I got stung by a bee on my arm! That was kind of a bummer, but fortunately, that was the only sting of the trip.
Shortly before one of the creek crossings, we ran across the first of our “mountain chickens” (grouse). There were actually 2, however one was down off the trail. When Carly came thru, they were both on the trail. I “chased” this guy down the trail aways before he finally jumped off the trail.
After what seemed like an eternity of hiking up, we finally arrived in McMillan Park and had completed the majority of our elevation gain for the day. There were beautiful fall colors on display in McMillan Park:
We continued thru McMillan Park and ascended our final elevation gain until we reached the shelter at Devils Park:
This is where we camped on night 1. The shelter is in reasonably good shape for something that is close to 80 years old. It is missing some of its roof shingles, but still seems pretty much intact. Although there were annoying bugs (gnats, flies and the occasional bee), interestingly enough they didn’t appear to like to go into the shelter. We couldn’t figure out why, but it was nice to be able to get away from them in the shelter – it also had nice benches for sitting.
The evening of day 1 was uneventful – cook dinner, clean up, hang our food and then we went to bed. A couple of interesting things happened overnight. First, I had to get up to pee in the middle of the night – I unzipped the tent and heard a flurry of thumps – I had startled some large hooved animal that was probably grazing in the meadow. I never got a look at it, but from the noise it made, I’m guessing it must have been an Elk (or maybe 2). It sounded too big to be a deer. We found lots of signs of elk in the meadow.
The second thing was Carly wanted me to wake her up to take night sky photos – we set an alarm for 1:00am and it went off but I couldn’t wake her up. Oddly enough, she woke up herself around 3:00am and took some cool photos of the night sky:
We woke up on day 2, cooked breakfast, packed up and headed down the trail. The trail continues thru the meadows, and then starts another long ascent up the south end of Jackita ridge. Today was the day the big views really started. Crater Mountain and Jack Mountain would be our almost constant companions for the next 2 days:
Needless to say, Carly was well ahead of us almost the entire trip – she had spent all summer in Stehekin doing hikes and backpacking trips, so she was in pretty good shape – plus she was 30 years younger than us! We continued north on the trail, and we got to a ridge where we found Carly’s backpack and a side trail that went up to the top of an un-named peak along Jackita ridge. We saw Carly at the top of the peak:
We waited for her to come down and then continued down these horrible switchbacks – sometimes heading almost straight down the hill:
We finally got down these switchbacks safely, and continued our descent – this was the theme of this trail – almost always going up or down – very few level stretches, and a lot of the up and down was not well graded – it went straight up or straight down. We stopped for lunch near an un-named creek (maybe the South Fork Devils Creek?) and then continued ascending to a ridge, which then plunged down to the North Fork of Devils creek. We followed this creek up the hillside, heading east until we got to our “final” elevation where the trail headed pretty much north. There was a neat waterfall and campsite near the top of the creek:
The trail from here pretty much kept to the same elevation and was very pleasant walking, although we were very tired after 2 days of aggressive elevation gain (in 2 days, we had done about 15 miles of trail and 7300 feet of elevation gain – all with full packs).
A short descent put us at Devils pass:
And once there, we saw more “mountain chickens” (grouse):
And a cool old sign – this sign must be REALLY old – it appears as though the post has rotted away:
We setup camp and headed down to the spring shown on the map – we were a bit worried it would be dry since we were late in the season and it has been such a dry year. I filled up with extra water at the last opportunity just in case we didn’t find any. Kirk was able to coax a bit of water out of the spring, even though it was flowing slowly. I had enough water from the last fillup, so didn’t try to use the spring. One thing we didn’t find was the “pipe” out of the spring that I had seen mentioned. Maybe it was on the upper trail or something, but we never found it.
After we got home, I found out that if we had followed this water trail to the end, we would have found the old, now collapsed Devils Pass Shelter. We only followed the trail to the spring. We thought the Devils Pass shelter would have been at the pass. Oh well….I don’t think we missed much.
We cooked dinner, hung our food and caught the sunset and some Alpenglow from the pass:
Alpenglow – not sure what peak this is – maybe one of the un-named peaks northeast of Devils Pass:
Sunset from Devils Pass:
We went to bed early again (with the sun) – tired from another day of hard hiking.
We woke up on day 3 to clouds – we weren’t sure if we were going to get rain or not, but we would make the best of whatever Mother Nature threw at us. Kirk had gotten up early and climbed the ridge that was northwest of the pass – this was him coming down – he said the views weren’t great due to the clouds:
We cooked breakfast, cleaned up and broke down camp. We tried to get a little bit of an earlier start since we had a longer day ahead of us (~12 miles). By the end of the day we would be down at Ross Lake.
We headed down the trail, and shortly saw this tree that looks like a bear had been scratching on:
As we continued along the trail, we were a bit concerned due to the threatening clouds:
But we continued – we were prepared for whatever happened. The trail in this part was pretty well graded for the most part. This one section was particularly interesting, following a bowl around with a very nice grade – made for easy walking:
The trail continued until we could start to see the beginnings of Devils Dome, the highest point on our trip. At this point, the wind had picked up and was intermittently chilly:
But we were getting some more fantastic views – looking North up the Middle Creek drainage:
And the seemingly never ending “up” of these trails:
Until we finally got to Devils Dome – just shy of 7000′ (6982′) – Carly on top of Devil’s dome (near the campsite):
When reading trip reports, some people found this area to be the high point of their trip – It wasn’t for me – I was just COLD – it was very windy up there. For me, it was interesting, but not a high point of the trip. Maybe if the weather had been less severe up there it would have changed my mind. I know some people camp up there due to the great views. It is VERY exposed, so it would be prone to being very windy. Not my preferred spot for a campsite.
After crossing Devils Dome, we started our long (5000′) descent to Ross Lake and got ready to say goodbye to Crater and Jack Mountain.
At one point while heading down, Kirk noticed an ice cave on Jack Mountain (zoomed in):
And shortly, we came to my favorite viewpoint of the trip – this rocky outcropping:
Unfortunately, none of the photos capture the dramatic view on this outcropping – it drops very precipitously down to Devils creek and then Jack Mountain is right there. Incredible views:
We stayed there for a few minutes, resting and grabbing a snack, enjoying the view. From there, we continued down the trail and decided to take a short side trip to the Bear Skull shelter where we had lunch:
We ate lunch, explored the area a bit, filled up our water in the small creek and then headed back to the trail to continue our descent to Ross Lake. On the way, we got our first peek at Ross Lake:
It was shortly after this point that we started our heavy descent, and had to say goodbye to Crater and Jack Mountain – we would be entering the trees and would not seem them again, except for a few glimpses here and there.
On the way down the narrow, steep, brushy trail, we found an interesting artifact – a tree with a very old mile marker plate on it, and also with old telephone wire on it:
This meant we had around 3 miles to go to Ross Lake – our destination for the night. I’m not sure the 3 miles was to the point where we were camping, but it was still an interesting artifact. We were eager to jump in the lake to wash the “funk” off (that was a term another trip report used, and was pretty accurate).
We finally made it to the hikers camp above Ross Lake – the signage was somewhat confusing, but we finally figured it out. We got there around 3:30, setup camp and then Kirk and I went down to the lake (a half mile hike) to jump in and get cleaned up a bit. It was pretty chilly, but it felt REALLY good to wash all the “funk” off and feel somewhat clean. We had been sweating a LOT – my shirts even had salt stains on them when they dried!!! After Kirk and I cleaned up, Carly went down to clean up.
Ross lake is a beautiful lake – smaller than Lake Chelan, but still very large – about 20 miles long:
This was the view from our camp above the lake:
While we were at the boaters camp (right on the lake where the dock was where we would get picked up the following morning), I looked around the campsites – I ended up finding an iPhone 6! After we got home, I was able to reunite it with its owner – surprisingly enough, he lived in Portland! Small world!
Sunday night was pretty uneventful – cooking dinner, enjoying the views of the lake, cleaning up and hanging our food. After dinner, Kirk decided to take a jaunt down the lakeside trail to see where that trail crossed Devils Creek – it is a cool suspension bridge (this photo was taken on the boat ride the following morning):
Carly and I went to bed with the sun again (although it was probably a little earlier due to the clouds making it get dark sooner). Kirk got back to camp a little after dark. I wanted to go with him, but my feet were really tired and needed a rest for our final day of hiking.
The plan for day 4 was to get up early, eat breakfast and be down at the dock by 8:45 since our ride was supposed to be there at 9:00. We wanted to be a little early just in case they were early. We were going to leave camp at about 8:30 to give us time to get down there – but at about 8:15 we heard a boat coming up the lake – I had already packed up, so I raced down the trail to the campsite – Carly and Kirk finished packing up and joined me a few minutes later. Fortunately, that boat was not our boat, but our boat did end up being early, so it was good I went down when I did. We got on the boat about 8:45 and he took us down to Ruby Arm, which has a trail that meets up with the lakeshore trail and heads along Ruby creek back to the trailhead where we started our adventure.
Some photos of the boat trip:
One of the fires from this summer is still smoldering a bit up the hillside:
Once we got off the boat, we made the ascent back up to the trail. At this point, it looked like a road it was so wide:
After seeing artifacts along the trail, we figured this portion of the trail must have been an old road. We found culverts, old telephone wire and other artifacts, and the corridor just looked like it used to be a road. This portion of the trip was pretty uneventful – not a whole lot to see other than Ruby creek, which was very pretty. We got to the midway point where there is a bridge over Ruby creek that connects to highway 20:
From this point on, the trail kind of disintegrated into a narrow, brushy trail that was difficult to follow in spots. We all successfully negotiated this part of the trail and soon came to our last thing to see on this trip – Beebe’s cabin – this was the Granite Creek guard station for over 30 years according to a plaque nearby, although it has now completely collapsed:
Shortly after this building, you get to the bridge across Canyon Creek, meeting the trail we started out on 4 days ago, and then shortly thereafter you get to the Granite creek bridge and then to the car.
We were all relieved to make it back to the car in one piece – tired and sore, but otherwise unharmed.
We all had a change of clothes for the trip home, so we cleaned up a bit, then headed back to Winthrop for some real lunch and then the long drive home.
Winthrop, Washington (highway 20 goes right thru it) is a very interesting place – the main street (actually the whole town) is built to look like an old west town:
If it weren’t so far away, I’d love to come back here and poke around more.
We ate lunch at a local restaurant and then started the long trip home. We stopped in Yakima for gas and dinner and then continued home. To put one final “adventure” on the trip, just outside of Hood River, the front tire on the passenger side started making a weird noise – we stopped at a rest area to take a look and the inner part of the tire failed and we had to put the donut spare on. Fortunately it happened relatively close to home. I had to drive slower on the way home, but we made it home safely – about 11:30pm – a very long day.
This trip was incredible – awesome views and scenery – but it was probably the toughest backpack trip I’ve ever done.
One last thing – we saw almost no one the whole trip – we saw one person on the first day, no one on the second day, and 4 people (2 up the trail from Ross Lake, and 2 people at Ross lake – horse campers). That was it. Probably due to being late in the season, but it made for a true wilderness experience.
A truly memorable backpacking experience.
Location of Hike: South Sister Summit Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Sarah and Daniel
Hike Distance: 13.1 miles
We ended up leaving quite a bit later than we planned – something like 2:30pm. That put us at the trailhead around 6:30-6:45. The days are getting shorter now, so we were kind of racing the sun to get to the lake before it got dark.
Our view of Broken Top on the way into Moraine Lake:
We barely made it to Moraine lake before it got dark, but then we had to find the “posts” where the designated campsites are. Fortunately, Kirk had been here before and had some idea where they were. After a bit of searching, he found one, and we setup camp in the dark, followed by cooking dinner in the dark. We then went to bed – the goal was to start off relatively early to beat the crowds. I have to say, it was kind of a strange experience wandering around in the dark woods looking for a post.
We got up (mostly) with the sun, ate breakfast and broke down our camp. We hiked over to meet the climbers trail and stashed our packs in the trees for the day. We then headed up the 5+ miles to the top of South Sister.
Here is a view of Moraine Lake with our objective (South Sister) in the background:
The trail at the start is like small road – nothing like I’m used to hiking – and South Sister is always in view to the north:
We made our way up – the trail isn’t too steep at this point, although the air continues to get thinner and the soil is pretty loose in places. After a couple of hours, and a few rest stops, we made it to this lake below the Lewis glacier:
Kirk filled up with some water, we rested a bit and then started the hardest part of the climb. You can see the route in the picture above – we go to the left on the ridge and work our way up. It seems like it continues to get steeper. And there were a lot of people on the mountain this day:
Most of the way up, we got a good view of this interesting formation – not sure what it is, but I found it very intriguing:
After numerous rest breaks, we finally made it to the crater rim where we had lunch – a view from the crater rim:
This was where all the hard work made it all worth it. The views were spectacular:
The snow in the crater at the top – looking across to the true summit:
The best view from below the true summit – looking north to Middle and North Sister, 3 Finger Jack, Mt Jefferson and Mt Hood in the distance.
We mostly walked around the crater rim, although we bypassed the jagged SW part and ended up walking thru the crater. This is where the Teardrop pool would be most years – I guess the lack of snow this year dried it up.
After exploring around the top of the mountain for a while, we started our way back down, which was almost as hard as going up since the ground is so loose. You have to watch your footing going down. We made pretty good time down the hill, stopping a few times to rest and drink some water. We found our packs we had stashed in the trees and got back to the van about 5:30. We stopped in Bend for dinner and then headed home.
It was a quick trip but a really good one – interesting. Now I can say I have climbed a “glaciated peak” – I guess I can join the Mazamas!
Location of Hike: Pansy Lake and Motherlode Trails
Trail Number: 551 and 558
Weather during Hike: A little bit of everything - wind, misty, overcast and sun spots
Hiking Buddies: Zack
Start Time: 10:15 AM End Time: 5:15 PM
Hike Distance: 9.3 miles
Zack and I talked about a few options, and decided to hike up to Pansy Lake to see if we could find the old mines up there, as well as some other artifacts from long ago. Zack also had an off trail lake he wanted to explore to see if there were any fish in it. He said it had been stocked with fish in 2011.
We arrived at the trailhead a little before 10:00 and were surprised to see several other cars there – 2 of them were leaving as we got there, and 2 guys headed in just ahead of us. We figured we would see them later in the day. We also figured that some people were probably camped at Pansy Lake – that was an incorrect assumption – no one was camped at Pansy.
We headed up the trail and soon got to Pansy Lake – hiking past all the campsites on the north end of the lake – We got intermittent wind gusts in that section – some pretty strong. I was surprised how strong they were in there – I was thinking the lake would be much more protected. We were on guard for falling trees, though! Once past the campsites, we kind of kept going west, and followed the map over to a spot marked “prospect” (which I suspected was the mine). That turned out to be a good assumption, as we found the old mine:
And after exploring a bit, we found an old generator near the mine:
There was also supposed to be remnants of a horse corral and other signs of an old encampment. We were not able to find much, but we think this might have been the old watering hole:
We wandered around looking for a kind of open area, and ended up finding a trail on the north side of this watering hole. It was blazed and pretty well defined, but very steep – we were wondering if it might have been an old Indian trail:
It deserves more exploration sometime in the future, as well as some research to see if we can find this trail on some old maps. After wandering around for a while, we headed back to Pansy Lake:
Headed up to the saddle where the Motherlode trail joins. Shortly, we entered the burned area (from the BOTW fire a few years ago):
On the way down the Motherlode trail, just before the dry Motherlode creek crossing, there was this very interesting double blaze – I have not see one like this before where both blazes are side by side:
We continued down the trail until we got to what seemed like a good route up to the un-named lake. We fought our way thru the dense rhodie brush until we got up to the burned area. Once, there, travel was a little easier due to less brush, but it got pretty steep in places. One thing I noticed – what I called the “Forest of a thousand bent trees” – It seemed like every small tree in the burned area was bent over like this – I don’t know what causes this, but it was interesting to see:
We finally made it up to the bowl where this un-named lake was above the Motherlode trail:
Zack got out his fishing pole and tried some catch and release fishing. He got a strike on his first cast, and then nothing for a while – he worked his way around the lake and eventually ended up catching (and releasing) 3 fish – one of them a really nice one.
We were concerned that we wouldn’t have enough time to get back, so we started back downhill a little after 3:00. It was easier going downhill and quickly met the Motherlode trail and headed back up the hill. We didn’t really stop on the way back up except to cut a few of the “bent” trees that were hanging over the trail. We made really good time, and ended up getting back to the truck a little after 5:00. We were thinking it would take us 3 hours to get out and it only took us slightly over 2 hours!
We only saw 4 other people on the trail all day – the 2 who headed out before us (we figured they took the loop up the BOTW lookout), and what looked like a mother/daughter coming up Motherlode – they were coming from Twin Lakes.
It was a great trip, although a bit farther than we had anticipated. We got very little rain, and only periodic short spurts of wind – a lot better than I thought it would be! We even got some short sun spots! On the way back down from the saddle, we started getting a little mist, but we really only felt it in the open areas. When we got back to Estacada, it was really raining. Either the hills didn’t get as much rain as the valley, or we lucked out and missed the brunt of the rain. We stopped in Estacada at Fearless for a burger and a beer.
All in all, a great day.
Location of Hike: Elk Lake Creek Trail
Trail Number: 559
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 12:00 PM End Time: 3:00 PM
Hike Distance: 5 miles
We set out much later than I usually get out – I had to work until 3am, so I slept in a bit. We headed out about 10:30 and got to the trailhead around noon. Surprisingly, there were 3 cars at the trailhead, so I put Bodie on his leash. We headed down the trail and shortly entered the burned area:
It is beginning to recover – there are seedlings EVERYHWERE, and there is some amazing resilience evident – these trees are blackened WAY up but are still alive and healthy:
A little farther down the trail is the nice short waterfall on Elk Lake creek and the beautiful green pool below it:
Here is a short video of the waterfall:
The creek crossing at Pine Cone creek is the start of official wilderness – this sign has seen better days, but it still standing after the fire:
We crossed the creek and continued thru the fire area, finally heading out of the fire area into unburned forest:
A little farther down the trail is this great campsite, right next to the trail at a point where the trail is right next to the creek. It would be a very peaceful place to camp:
In this campsite was this interesting tree – Many people have carved their initials into this tree – it looks like it started by some survey crew – it is so old the bark has covered some if it – something MR NOR something survey crew 6 something – maybe in 1971?:
A little farther down the trail we explored an old side trail – it does appear on the maps, but the trail is overgrown in spots and has a lot of blowdown on it. If you follow it all the way down to the creek there is an old campsite spot that obviously hasn’t been used in a long time:
We explored down by the creek and then headed back up to the trail and continued down to the Knob Rock creek crossing:
And then very quickly arrived at the Welcome Creek crossing:
This is a picture of the mini waterfall on Welcome Creek:
As we continued down the trail I found an old phone line insulator – After I saw this one I made a conscious effort to find more of them and ended up finding over 30 of them along the trail! Some were just the loop (the ceramic insulator part had broken off), but probably at least half of them were still complete.
We continued down the trail to the spot where the trail makes its first crossing of Elk Lake creek. I thought this would be a good lunch and turnaround spot. The creek is very shallow here and it is very peaceful.
Just upstream of the crossing is a tiny waterfall. I took a short video of the waterfall and the creek:
We are lunch and enjoyed the creek for a few minutes and then headed back. I could tell Bodie was getting tired but he did very well. The trip back was pretty uneventful except for meeting a family who was heading in to backpack somewhere. They had a dog which is always a challenge with Bodie – it went fine – they passed us and continued down the trail.
We got back to the truck about 3:00 and headed home. On the drive home I tried to look for the short side trail down to the old “Oh Boy” camp, but couldn’t find the flagging. I think this road has been brushed out and the flagging got clobbered. They have done a fair amount of thinning up the 63 road and there is the Jazz timber sale happening up the 6370 road (didn’t see any clearcutting up 6380, but I believe there is some in the Jazz sale). Once I got home I checked old notes about where it was – next time I’m in the area, I’ll see if I can find it. It is 1.6 – 1.7 miles from the 6370/6380 split.
It was a nice, peaceful day in the woods. I am grateful for the opportunity to be able to enjoy these beautiful places.
Location of Hike: Thunder Mountain and Skookum Lake Trails
Trail Number: 542 and 543
Weather during Hike: Sunny and Warm
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 8:30 AM End Time: 12:15 PM
Hike Distance: 5.8 miles
Not a lot to really say about the day. Nothing really unusual happened – just a nice day in the woods.
A few highlights:
There were quite a few lilies along the trail – both white and purple:
On the way down to Skookum lake, there is a fair amount of blowdown, including these two areas that are quite a mess – the second one I cleaned up a bit to make it easier to pass (a tough crawl under):
I had read about this spring, but never saw it before – it was really the only place on the trail with any water, and it was running pretty slowly:
I’m always amazed at how I see things now that I never used to see. Like this section line tree:
If you know where to look, there are all sorts of signs in the woods.
We got back to the truck a little after noon and headed home with the A/C blasting away in the truck. It felt REALLY good. Bodie was pretty tuckered out from the day, but I think he enjoyed himself.
A good, although very warm day in the woods.
Location of Hike: Whetstone Mountain Trail
Trail Number: 546 (and 3369)
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 11:00 AM End Time: 1:30 PM
Hike Distance: 4 miles
After looking at some trails, I decided on the Whetstone mountain trail. I have not hiked this trail in almost 9 years – at least not from this trailhead. I did hike to the lookout with Carly several years ago.
The goal was to just make it up to the lookout and return to the truck. Figured ~ 4.5 miles or so based on the trail sheets. Turned out to be just over 4 miles round trip. Perfect day for the dog.
Ended up leaving the house a bit late – slept in and really didn’t decide to go until later in the morning. Left around 9:30, so got to the trailhead about 11. The first thing that happened was I forgot where the trailhead was! The sheet says it is at the end of road 7020 – well, that isn’t quite correct – it is at the end of the 7020-020 spur road, which is right near the end of the 7020 road. Anyway, after a bit of searching, I found it:
We then proceeded down the trail thru a recent clearcut where we found this empty Wilderness box:
We proceeded down the trail, and shortly entered uncut timber:
The trail goes thru some beautiful old growth:
And had some rather “vigorous” brush along it, although the trail was never hard to follow:
With its own small rockslide:
We continued up the trail, to the intersection with the 3369 trail, which will take us up to old lookout location. Once back in the trees, the trail takes on a more “normal” look:
We stopped for a drink and a rest at a small viewpoint, and spied our eventual goal:
After one more trail junction, we finally made it to the top – the old lookout location. It is on the top of a rock and is mostly clear. The views were outstanding, although it was a bit hazy today:
We ate lunch on top, enjoyed the views, and then started our way back down. We made good time on the way back down, and while descending, I noticed this interesting blaze pattern:
It kind of looked like this double blaze was on trees near potential water sources – I probably saw 3 or 4 of these blaze patterns and all of them were near potential water sources (although almost all were dry today). Someday, I’d love to know all the different blaze patterns, although maybe it was up to the person doing the blazing. Maybe there never were any true “standards”.
We continued down the trail, making great time, enjoying the beautiful forest along the way. Shortly, we were back at the truck. We loaded up and headed down the hill for home. I stopped at A&W in Estacada on the way home for an ice cream. A great way to end the day. Short and sweet!
Location of Hike: Rho Ridge and Hawk Mountain Trails
Trail Number: 564 and 564-A
Weather during Hike: Mostly Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 12:15 PM End Time: 2:45 PM
Hike Distance: 4.2 miles
It has been a long time since I’ve been to this cabin (I think it was 2011), but I remember the wonderful view of Mt Jefferson you get from driving along the 6350 road:
Olallie Butte has a nice view as well – it has lost almost all of its snow – that is telling how little snow we got this year – the top of it is over 7000′:
We drove to the trailhead, parked, and got ready. Someone appeared to be camped nearby – I could hear voices to the south somewhere, although I didn’t see any vehicles. We headed down the trail, and I quickly remembered how neat it was going thru the beginning of the trail – thru the old clearcut. It gives you another impressive view of of Olallie and Jefferson:
We headed into the woods and walked the trail, enjoying the solitude and peace. The temperature was just about perfect. I wasn’t sweating too much, but wasn’t cold, either – without a jacket on. We continued on until we got to a spring I saw a photo of recently, but never remembered seeing it before:
And on the trail next to it was a tree with a very unique blaze pattern – not sure what it means (I’m guessing it has something to do with the spring):
A little farther down the trail, we passed Round Meadow (the source of Round Lake):
Shortly, we got to the junction of the 564-A trail to Hawk Mountain and up we went. Along the way, I found another interesting blaze pattern – I don’t know what 2 on the left, one on the right means?:
We continued up to the top until we got to the cabin on top of Hawk Mountain – cute little cabin:
I opened up the windows to let it air about a bit, and started looking at the logbooks that were there that people had signed over the years. I took some photos of some interesting ones:
I absolutely LOVE this view from inside the cabin – looking out to Mt Jefferson:
I sat in the cabin for a bit, reading the entries and just enjoying being in there. After a while, I closed it all back up and went out and sat in the sun and ate a snack and enjoyed the views from on top of Hawk Mountain. Bodie poked around, sniffing everything in sight. After about 15 minutes, I decided we should head out, so we could get home on time. We headed back down the trail and made great time back to the truck.
A very quiet and pleasant day in the woods.
P.S. – The better way to get to this trailhead is to take 46 all the way down to where 6350 intersects and then take that north to the 6355 road. It is a LOT better driving than doing all the gravel roads. Probably slightly longer, but it has to be a LOT faster.
Location of Hike: Thomas Lake Trail
Trail Number: 111
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Carly
Start Time: 10:45 AM End Time: 2:10 PM
Hike Distance: 6 miles
We knew going in it was going to be a little iffy due to the snow that was received the prior week – it was the first snow at 4000-5000′ in a couple of months probably. We decided to chance it anyway. I recorded GPS routes of the trail, so we could follow even if it was covered in snow.
We got to the trailhead about 10:30 – there was almost no snow at the trailhead – just a few small patches. There were 3 other vehicles there, so we knew someone was hiking the trail. We headed out, up the trail to Thomas Lake. This lake was completely melted out, with really no snow:
We poked around the lake for a bit and then headed up the trail. From here, the trail headed uphill rather steeply. Fortunately, it was a short steep section. We shortly popped out onto a flat meadow, which had a fair bit of snow, and was REALLY wet and muddy:
We headed up a bit more, and got to Naha Lake, which was still frozen over:
Although the trail wasn’t too bad at this point:
We went past Naha Lake, and up to this point had a really good track from others. It was at this point the track kind of fell apart – there were footprints everywhere:
And the snow was getting quite a bit deeper (and it was all really soft):
It is hard to tell from the photos, but the sky was getting dark as well. The forecast called for 100% chance of rain on Friday night, and the clouds looked like it was starting to roll in. I wanted to make sure we had setup camp before the rain started. We talked a bit, and decided that it would be too difficult without snowshoes to do the loop we wanted to do. Since we were unable to get to much farther down the trail, we decided it really wasn’t worth camping – we would just camp out, then pack up and head out in the morning. So, we decided to hike back out and come home. No overnight on this trip.
On the way back, we stopped at Eunice Lake to eat lunch.
We also explored a few campsites (in this area you can only camp in designated sites) – they were WAY off the trail, and a good ways from the lake – they like to keep 200′ from water.
After exploring the campsites, we headed back down to the truck and drove home. Not quite the trip we were expecting, but it was still interesting to see this new wilderness area. I think this would be a great place to go later in the summer when it has all dried out.
Location of Hike: Tidbits Mountain Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Carly
Start Time: 10:45 AM End Time: 1:25 PM
Hike Distance: 4 miles
I headed from home at about 7am, and headed for Eugene. The plan was to pick up my daughter and head east to the trail. I guessed it was about an hour and a half from her apartment to the trailhead, and it turned out to be pretty close. We got to the trailhead about 10:30 or so.
On the road up to the trailhead (road 1509) we saw this interesting rock formation:
The Sullivan book that I found this trail in said the spur road 877 was steep – boy he wasn’t kidding. It went straight up the hill. Didn’t have any issues getting up there, thankfully. It said this is a lightly used trail. I was kind of surprised, since it seems like a nice trail. Once we found the trailhead, we headed up the trail, and shortly came to the junction where we found the remains of a 1930’s Forest Service Shelter:
After checking out the old remains (and taking a few photos) we continued on. The trail goes thru some beautiful old growth along the way – it is a very pleasant trail and very well graded:
Continuing up (you pretty much are constantly going up on this hike), and when you get near the lookout location, you travel across a rockslide, below this imposing rock peak:
After climbing a bit more, and coming around the peak, and climbing pretty steeply for a short period, you get to the end of the trail, and you can see where the stairs used to go up to the old lookout:
Once you scramble up that hill, you can see the remnants of the old lookout location:
With impressive views in all directions – you are on the top of a rock:
And a not so great video from the lookout location – panning around:
We ate lunch on top, explored the geocache that was there (we didn’t take anything since we didn’t have anything to put back in), and due to the wind, we started getting kind of chilly, so we packed up and headed back down. The book talked of a faint trail that allows you to do a small loop around the peak. We thought we found the faint trail, so followed it down and eventually joined the trail we came up on. It was faint, but not too bad, and it was shorter than the route we came up.
A little farther down the trail, I remembered this tree on the way up and I had to take a photo of it – it fell in EXACTLY the right spot – wedging itself between two other trees:
And I also saw what I think is a crocus, that is blooming really early for 4500 feet! Spring is coming early all over the northwest:
We continued down the trail until we got back to the truck. We decided to head out to the end of the 877 road – it looked like there might be a good view out there. The road wasn’t too bad, but it was obvious it didn’t get a lot of traffic. We went all the way to the end, and we found a very curious sight – a man sitting in his pickup with the engine running, smoking a cigarette. Not sure what we was doing there, but it was kind of weird. It was kind of a wasted trip anyway since there was no view at the end of the road. We turned around and headed back down the road.
On the trip home, we saw this covered bridge and stopped to check it out:
It was built in 1937 and rebuilt recently. There was an interesting interpretive display at one end of the bridge.
We headed back to Eugene and went to “Cornucopia” (I hope I spelled that right) for an early dinner. I had one of the best burgers I’ve ever had there! It was AWESOME! Had some great conversation with my daughter and then headed out to drop her off and finish off my long day of driving.
It was a four star hike!
Location of Hike: Grouse Point and Serene Lake Trails
Trail Number: 517 and 512
Weather during Hike: Sunny and Breezy
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:40 AM End Time: 2:30 PM
Hike Distance: 8.1 miles
This hike was a President’s day outing. I had the day off (one of the perks working for a bank), so I decided to take advantage of the lack of snow this year. I thought I could make it up to Frazier turnaround to do a loop – Grouse Point to Serene Lake and then back. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, although since it was windy, I did pack the chainsaw in case some trees came down while I was hiking. Didn’t want to get the truck stuck behind a downed tree!
Anyway, the trip up to Frazier turnaround was uneventful until I got onto that horrible spur road. 4.4 miles of rutted, rocky, pothole pocked road. The first couple of miles were pretty typical, with almost no snow on them. Once the road takes a turn and gets a southern exposure, there started to be some snow on the road. I was a little leery of continuing, but thought I would try. The snow drifts were so compacted, and frozen, I basically just drove right over them, only sinking an inch or two. I continued down the road, and the only sketchy part was the long, narrow section on the big slide – but it wasn’t too bad with the truck. I got past that and the snow disappeared again. A little farther up the road, it was good I brought the chainsaw – there was a few small trees across the road which I cut with the saw. I made it to the turnaround in pretty good time, and this is what I saw when I got there:
A HUGE tree had come down and blocked the “turnaround” part of the road. I was to learn later that this tree actually was right next to the trail – it came down and now is hanging over the trail (although it is easy to walk under). It was a bit breezy at the turnaround, and a bit chilly, so I decided to head out quickly (to get my blood pumping and warm up). Getting over that big tree was a challenge for Bodie, but he finally figured it out. We headed up Grouse Point (an old road that has been converted to a trail), and shortly came to a big rockslide, which had VERY little snow:
Looking the other direction on that rockslide was our first incredible view of the day – looking down the Shellrock Creek drainage:
We continued down the road/trail, through a few small spots of snow, heading down thru the forest until we got to a partially frozen Cache Meadow:
After looking around the meadow a bit, we headed back uphill along the Grouse Point Trail. Shortly, we came to the helispot overlook above Serene Lake with its pitiful lack of snow on the ground at almost 5000′:
And I can’t do this trail without showing the wonderful view of Serene Lake down below – with only a little bit of ice:
I thought This was kind of neat – 4 mountains out for viewing – St Helens, Ranier, Adams and Hood (I think):
We continued a little farther on the Grouse Point Trail until we got to the junction with the Serene Lake Trail. We headed down this trail, avoiding most of the wind. It was a relatively short trip down the hill to the west side of Serene Lake and the camping spots there. There was a complete lack of snow on the ground. I decided to eat lunch there, trying to sit in a location protected from the wind. I was somewhat successful, but I had to put on my shell to stay warm. I ate lunch quickly, and we headed around the north side or the lake – across the Serene Lake outlet:
We continued down the trail, stopping at a rockslide to look across at where the old 511 trail is – across the drainage over there somewhere:
As we continued down the trail, we had to negotiate many big areas of blowdown on the trail – this was one of the worst ones:
After we got to the junction with Middle Rock Lake, we took the short side trail up to it. We didn’t go any farther than the first campsite, but it was interesting that it was almost completely frozen, unlike Serene Lake:
After stopping and enjoying the view for a few minutes, we headed back (climbing back over all the fallen trees) and continued up the trail (we were headed back up now). We came across some VERY wet sections of trail:
We made good time going back up the hill, and made it back to the truck. I really wanted to get out of there before it started to get dark. On the way out, I encountered someone driving a car that had made it quite a ways up the road. I told him he was guranteed to get stuck if he kept going. On the way out, the snow drifts that had been frozen on the way in were partially thawed. I sunk a few inches into them. No problem with a truck with ground clearance, but a car would probably have high centered. I hope he turned around, but I passed him and kept heading out.
The last treat for the day was on road 57, about a half mile from where it meets 224/46 – There was a group of 3 deer that were on the road. They didn’t hear me coming down the road and when I rounded the corner, they were startled and ran off, but I got a good look at them. It was a great way to end the trip!
Location of Hike: MP3 and Rimrock Trails
Trail Number: 704 and 705
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Emily, Carly and Zack
Start Time: 10:25 AM End Time: 4:30 PM
Hike Distance: 7.75 miles
Kirk had asked if I wanted to go hiking too, and when his daughter heard my daughter was going, she wanted to go too! So, it was 4 of us. Then, Zack texted me in the morning asking about some other trail, and I told him where we were going and said he was welcome to join us if he wanted. We weren’t sure if he would be coming or not. It turned out to be quite a party!
We headed out about 9am and make good time to the trailhead. Took us a few minutes to find the MP3 trailhead (it isn’t marked), and then we went on our way. On the way up, we did quite a bit of lopping in some of the tougher sections. Even though the MP3 trail is abandoned, it is in pretty good shape. In its heyday, I think the trail got a lot of use from pack trains coming from Oak Grove Ranger Station down below.
On the way up, Kirk noticed a big tree – kind of behind another big tree – a REALLY big tree:
And a little further up the trail, we ran across this reminder of prior maintenance on the MP3 trail – probably the last time it had any significant maintenance:
As we were doing some lopping, Zack came up the trail and joined us. It was a great surprise! After chatting, we continued up the trail, clearing brushy areas and navigating around the few pieces of blowdown. Once we got close to the junction with the Rimrock trail, we ran into the somewhat messy area – there is a fair amount of blowdown near the junction. We stopped and had lunch at the junction and then proceeded up the Rimrock trail to the overlook junction. The Rimrock trail had quite a lot of blowdown on it:
And right next to the trail, we came across this rack from a deer – looks like it has been out here for a while – quite green and gnawed on:
We were very surprised at how little snow there was. This was the most snow we ran across the whole trip – at the most there was maybe 12″ of snow on the ground – but you can see other spots were completely bare:
We continued going up, and soon got to the overlook area where there was still almost no snow – the overlook is just over 5000′. It is shocking that there is essentially no snow at 5000′ on the last day of January. We headed out to the point, where you get great views in almost all directions – this is looking south at Mt Jefferson:
We stayed up on the point for a while, enjoying the wonderful views and taking pictures. Since it was starting to get late, and we wanted to make one more stop before it got dark, we decided to head down the hill. We made GREAT time coming down, and got back to the vehicles about 4:30 – just enough time to stop at the old Oak Grove Work Center to look at some of the old houses and buildings. This was the precursor to the Ripplebrook complex and it is where the MP3 trail actually started (not sure if it is still accessible down lower or not). It has a few houses, a shop, a bunk house and other miscellaneous buildings and a big old barn. The barn was getting a new metal roof, so they must be planning on doing something with it. Here is a picture of one of the houses:
Although the houses have been heavily vandalized and have a LOT of mouse/squirrel/rodent activity in them, they have some really neat architectural details inside. Here is a view of a really neat fireplace in one of the houses:
We walked around to the various buildings and then made our way up to the old barn. By this time it was starting to get dark, so we headed back to the vehicles and home. We stopped at Fearless for dinner. A great way to end a great day of hiking!
Location of Hike: Harris Ranch Trail (Siuslaw Forest - Drift Creek Wilderness)
Trail Number: 1347
Weather during Hike: Alternated between foggy, Sunny and misty
Hiking Buddies: Carly and Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 12:15 PM End Time: 3:20 PM
Hike Distance: 5.6 miles
This is a hike that has been on my list for a while. I saw it in my backpacker magazine a few years ago – the part that intrigued me was the comments about lots of wildlife and big trees.It was an interesting day to say the least. Since it is down near Eugene, I asked Carly if she would like to join me, so we met in Corvallis and headed out. My planning said it was 3.5 hours to the trailhead from home (a lot of driving!). We met in Corvallis at 8:30 and proceeded to the beach to find the trailhead. I had printed out a couple different sheets on the trail and brought them along. We had to make a stop along the way, and took a picture of the ocean – although it was sunny, the waves were pretty big (bigger than they look in this photo):
We continued on to the trailhead, got out of the truck and started getting ready. When I looked at the trail name, I realized we were at the wrong trailhead! Apparently, I had downloaded a similar trail (it still ends up near the creek), but it was different than what I had originally planned. So, back in the truck we went, and off to the other trailhead. The first trailhead was the Horse Creek North trailhead – we had originally intended to hike the Harris Ranch trail – Horse Creek North comes in from the north, Harris Ranch comes in from the south, but both end up next to Drift Creek. I guess we could have hiked the first trailhead and ended up in almost the same spot!
Once we arrived at the other trailhead, we quickly got ready and headed down the trail. The trail starts off on an old road, going thru an older cut area, and after a half mile or so, enters the Drift Creek Wilderness:
At this point, the trail changes into a different trail – old growth coastal forest. You are accompanied by large spruce, hemlock, fir and a variety of deciduous trees. The forest floor is covered in ferns, salal, oregon grape and mosses of all kinds. A lot of the trail looks similar to this:
I didn’t get many other photos of the trail, but soon were were down near Drift Creek, which was running high and fast due to all the rain we recently received (almost 3″ over the weekend at home, probably almost double that here in the coastal forest):
And a really nice campsite – one of several down by the creek:
We explored down near the creek for a bit and then had some lunch. Another hiker and her dogs came down and we almost had an “incident” with Bodie, since he wasn’t on a leash – we had passed the only hikers that were on the trail when we started, and I thought it was safe to have him off leash. Fortunately, it all worked out OK – we got him on the leash and all was well.
Bodie being a doofus down by the river:
We had a very brief misty shower after lunch. It was odd because it was sunny and you could see blue sky, but there was a small cloud above us that was misting. It just kind of added the variety of weather we experienced. After lunch, we started back up the trail. On the way back up, we came to this beautiful sight:
Sun poking thru the fog in the big trees. Very pretty. The rest of the hike out was pretty uneventful. We got back to the truck about 3:30, and headed back down the mountain. On the drive down from the trailhead, Carly took this very interesting photo with the sun gleaming through the clouds:
We decided to take a different route home – highway 34 back to Corvallis. I had had never driven that road before, and it seemed like it might be faster. It is a very pretty drive, although parts of that road are pretty curvy.
On the way back to Corvallis, it started raining, and we saw several rainbows – very bright rainbows!
We made it back to Corvallis just before 5 and went to Woodstock’s Pizza (a hometown favorite) for dinner. I dropped Carly off at her car, and we both headed home. It was a very long day, with LOTS of driving (I think I drove about 350 miles), but it was a great way to spend Martin Luther King Day.