Category Archives: TripReport2020

12/23/2020 – White Iris Trail

Date of Hike: 12/23/2020
Location of Hike: White Iris Trail
Trail Number: 502-A
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 9:55 AM  End Time: 1:55 PM
Hike Distance: 4 miles  Elevation Gain: 1400 feet
Pictures: Link
With most of the Clackamas district still closed due to after effects from the Riverside and Lionshead fire, options are extremely limited. The weather was supposed to be nice today and so I decided to head up the lower portion of the White Iris trail. I wasn’t quite sure how far I would go, but I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be a problem to get to the trailhead.

When I looked at the modeled snow depth maps, it didn’t show any snow at all at the trailhead. The modeling was obviously wrong – this is what it looked like driving to the trailhead:

The modeled snow depths did seem to get updated – I checked them after I got home and they seemed pretty accurate. I’m guessing most/all of this snow came down yesterday. This is what it looked like parked at the trailhead:

No one had been that far down 4615 recently – you could see old tracks but nothing in the last day or two. We parked and got ready and headed up – it was really easy to see the trail heading up in the snow. When Carly and I looked for this trail in the spring it was hard to see where it was. Today it was really easy.

We headed up the trail and soon I got annoyed with some of the brushiness and hanging branches, so I got out my loppers and started lopping the worst of the hanging branches. Soon, I got out the saw and I started sawing thru some small logs to clear the path. I spent a while on some of the spots since there were multiple logs I had to cut. Once we got a little higher, Thor was complaining about not moving too fast so I stopped doing so much cleanup. Here is a picture of part of that lower segment – it had a lot more snow than I was expecting:

When I was working on the hanging branches and logs, I had to be very careful with loppers and saw – the snow would eat them up REALLY easily:

Once we got up a ways, I stopped lopping completely – when we got to the big uprooted tree where the trail heads north, the tread got a lot better. It was near this point where we stopped to have lunch. I had hoped to have a little bit of sunlight but it quickly moved. We ate a quick lunch because it was kind of cold.

Past the uprooted tree, this section of forest is quite impressive. Beautiful old growth. In the fresh snow it was just incredible. There were a few sunbreaks in the forest and it was absolutely spectacular. We continued up the trail and it wasn’t long before we got to the 4614 Crossing. It was kind of interesting -someone had been there very recently:

I kind of pondered what we should do and I decided to keep going. Since I hadn’t brought my snowshoes the going was getting tougher, but we didn’t have too far before we’d hit the junction with Old Baldy, so I decided to press on.

We kept going and the snow continued to get a bit deeper as we got higher. It was tough going, post holing (I’d guess the snow was getting to about a foot deep), but I took it slow. We finally made it to the junction with the Old Baldy trail – Here is the very beginning of the north fork of Eagle creek – where Old Baldy crosses it:

And the Old Baldy trail sign – this was our turnaournd point:

As we headed down, I noticed that someone is showing this trail some love – this is a new sign it appears:

The trip down took quite a bit less time than the trip up. Partially because it was pretty much all downhill and partially because we weren’t doing any maintenance on the way down. As we came down, I had to take a picture of this section of tread – although it doesn’t even begin to do it justice. There was a sunbreak down the trail and the sun coupled with the was just beautiful.

It wasn’t long before we got back to the 4614 crossing and then it seemed REALLY quick when we got back into the cut area. We continued down and got back to the truck just before 2:00. Days are very short this time of year, so between it being quite a workout and the fact sunset was in another couple of hours, I was happy with how the day progressed.

A fantastic day out in the woods! Nothing better than fresh new snow and no one else around.

12/5/2020 – Bissell and Old Baldy Trails

Date of Hike: 12/5/2020
Location of Hike: Bissell and Old Baldy Trails
Trail Number: 502
Weather during Hike: Sunny most of the day
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:05 AM  End Time: 4:15 PM
Hike Distance: 5.1 miles  Elevation Gain: 1800 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was planned to be one of the few trails we have access to due to the Riverside fire. Originally we were going to do the White Iris trail, but we decided to head up the old abandoned Bissell Trail to the Old Baldy trail. The weather was forecast to be very good, unlike last weeks hike that was rather wet and cold. We didn’t really have any plans on what do do – just wanted to get out into the woods.

We started out at our “normal” time since it is a relatively short drive to the trailhead. On the way there, we decided to switch from White Iris to Bissell and I’m glad we did. I didn’t take a lot of photos since we ended up doing quite a bit of trail maintenance on the Bissell trail.

Once at the trailhead, we quickly got suited up and headed out. Before we left I had to get a shot of my truck parked at the trailhead (I love this truck):

We headed up the old spur road (or whatever it is), and soon found the real tread. It was easy to follow for a while. It heads uphill pretty aggressively. We got to the spot where it joins with a side trail out to the 4614 road. This spot is no longer accessible via vehicle since the road has been bermed off. This is what the end of 4614 Road looks like:

After heading back up the trail, we struggled for a bit to find where the trail continued up the hill. I headed in one direction and Kirk headed in another – I found the trail farther up the hill and he found where it took off after the junction – we then connected the pieces together and did some clearing so it was much clearer where the trail went.

We got up to a flat spot and had a hard time figuring out where the trail went. After a bit of searching, we found it again and did some more clearing. I added a couple flags for clarity as well. We continued up the trail, lopping stuff off, pulling small trees, etc. in order to be able to follow the trail easier. We continued doing maintenance for a while. At one point I looked at my watch and it was already after 1:00. We were within about a half mile of the junction with Old Baldy and decided to just head out there, stopping our maintenance activities.

We had a few rough spots but followed the trail out to its junction with Old Baldy:

From there, we decided to head up to the ridge to see if we could find any views. We didn’t really find much in the way of views, so we found a large log to sit and eat lunch. We ate lunch and then decided to follow the old trail route (there were blazes all over the place along the ridge) until it met up with the Old Baldy trail. While we were able to follow the blazes, there was really nothing in the way of discernible tread. We soon got to the junction with old Baldy and since it was only about a quarter of a mile, we decided to head up. It appeared there had been a lot of blowdown recently and we were wondering if maybe it opened up more of a view from up on top.

We headed up the trail and soon got to this enormous bundle of blowdown:

We found a few more on the way but we worked our way thru or around it and were soon on top of Old Baldy. Unfortunately, there is still really no view from up there. It seemed to be somewhat more open than what I remember, but there were still no views.

We didn’t spend a long time up there since the days are short this time of year and it was already after 2:30 already, so we headed back down. It wasn’t long before we got back to the Bissell junction. We turned and headed back down the Bissell trail. We started doing more maintenance, making the trail more evident and wider. It wasn’t too long before the clouds started to come in and it started to get noticeably darker. At that point, we decided we needed to stop doing maintenance and just head down the trail so that we made it back to teh truck before it got dark (sunset was at 4:28).

On the way down, I stopped and had to take this photo. I just liked the tread in this picture:

We made it back to the truck about 4:15 – just a little bit before sunset. We loaded up and headed out.

On the way home we decided to stop at Fearless for dinner – it was different today due to COVID restrictions – we had to eat outside. It was a bit cold, but it was nice to end the day in traditional fashion.

A great day out – I’m guessing I will e re-visting this trail again soon partly because I don’t have too many options right now, but partly because it is a very cool old abandoned trail.

11/28/2020 – Wildcat Mountain

Date of Hike: 11/28/2020
Location of Hike: Wildcat Mountain
Trail Number: 781
Weather during Hike: Overcast and foggy
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 9:10 AM  End Time: 2:25 PM
Hike Distance: 9.1 miles  Elevation Gain: 2500 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was an idea that Kirk had. Since pretty much the entire Clackamas district is inaccessible due to the Riverside fire, he had the idea to head up to Wildcat Mountain. Initially, the idea was to go from the Eagle Creek (501) trailhead, but that seemed too far to attempt on a short winter day (getting dark before 5:00 right now). So, we decided to start from a decommissioned spur road (the 3626-255 spur) which intersects the Douglas trail but do a bit of cross country to reduce the distance. It promised to be an interesting day.

We started out a bit early since we expected to do 9-10 miles. We were right on with the estimate – we did just over 9 miles total for the day. We actually made pretty good time, getting done well before it got dark. I guess we can cover a lot more ground when we aren’t doing trail maintenance!

We got to the 255 spur about 9:00, quickly suited up and headed out. It was misting a good bit at this point, so we put on rain gear. We headed down the REALLY bad, ripped up asphalt road. A little ways down the road there appeared to be a side trail, so we tried that for a bit. It didn’t last long and we were back to the road. It got a little better after the initial aggressive ripping up, but it was still pretty tough going. It would be REALLY easy to sprain an ankle on that stuff.

We got to a point where it seemed to make sense to go cross country, trying to find the trail. This shortcut cut about 1.5 miles (maybe a bit more) off the trip since the road headed west a ways and then the trail came back east. After tromping thru the woods for a bit we found the trail – it was a pretty easy cross country trip.

Once on the trail we headed east/southeast and started making pretty good time. Soon, we came to this crossing of an un-named creek, which someone had thoughtfully placed rocks to make it an easy rock hop:

We continued thru the second growth and soon got into the old growth and into the original Wilderness area. The forest in this area is pretty impressive. Although it was foggy and misty, it was still beautiful. I think it was in this area that we encountered a bow hunter coming down.

It wasn’t too long before we arrived at the old start of this trail, the Wildcat Quarry – which is a BIG quarry:

And in the past it has had a LOT of “bad activity” – like this completely shot up sign:

The moved the trailhead north about a half mile, decommissioning the road to the quarry, but as you can see by the tracks in the snow, people still get around it. We didn’t see a lot of evidence of recent shooting in the quarry however.

We couldn’t see anything due to the fog, so we headed around the rim of the quarry and found the trail continuing east. A little farther up the trail is what appears to be a great viewpoint in better weather, but there was not much of a view today:

We continued east, and the snow continued to get deeper although there had been enough footprints in the snow that it was easy to follow. A ways up the trail we saw an opening and headed over to take a look. What we found was another unmapped road that appears to have been decommissioned – it appears to have been an undocumented spur off the 105 spur – it was a LONG road:

After investigating that road, we continued east. We soon got to the McIntyre Ridge/Douglas trail junction:

And just beyond that, I saw some wire hanging down on a tree next to the trail, and looked up and saw an insulator:

It was at about this point that the trail route became unclear – there was a definite split – most of the footprints headed on the right path, but a few headed to the left. Kirk headed up to the left and I headed to the right. It appears the tread to the left was the “old” alignment – it is a bit steeper but is more scenic on a day you had a view as it followed the edge of the cliff looking down into the Boulder Creek drainage. We finally met up where the trails re-converged and made the final push to the top of Wildcat Mountain.

It wasn’t long before we popped out on top of Wildcat Mountain. There was probably 18″ of snow on the ground and there were no views – it has grown up – it is similar to Fish Creek Mountain or Old Baldy – trees mostly ring the perimeter. I think if you headed out to the south end of the top you might have been able to see something – it appeared there was a small opening there. Here is a picture of Thor and Kirk on top of Wildcat Mountain:

We bundled up and ate lunch at the top of the mountain. But not moving, we quickly started to get cold. So, it was a pretty quick lunch. We then packed up and headed back down.

When we got to the junction of the old/new alignments, we headed down the old alignment – I hadn’t seen it and it was quite a bit shorter. In good weather, that would definitely be the preferred route I think.

We made really good time coming down. At one point, I wanted to take a photo of the forest and trail:

We soon got back to the quarry and things had cleared up a bit, so we got a tiny bit of a view looking south – down below is Eagle Creek and somewhere across in the fog would be Old Baldy:

We continued down from the quarry and headed down. On the way up, we had seen what appeared to be another undocumented road and a side trail that appeared to head up to it. We decided to take that route back, thinking it might be easier than the way we came in. That side trail was REALLY short, and put us onto that undocumented road, which we soon discovered was the extension of the 155 spur. We headed north on this spur and it was in pretty good shape – not ripped up or anything:

We walked this very nice road back up to almost the junction with the 3626 road where we had our last adventure of the day. As we were walking we heard gunshots. As we got closer I was concerned they were shooting down the spur road – fortunately, they were not shooting down the road – they were shooting off onto a “sort of” backstop – but we yelled and they heard us and stopped shooting long enough for us to get back up to the 3626 road. We walked this road back to the truck. Along the way we encountered quite a few vehicles. It appears most of them were looking for Christmas trees.

We made it back to the truck just before 2:30. The dogs were tired and so were we. We started packing up and someone asked if we were leaving – I guess they wanted to park where we were. It was kind of a weird experience to be out in the woods and feel like you were at the mall – with someone waiting for your parking spot.

All in all, it was a great day out, even with the weather and no views. I’d like to come back and do this trail again, maybe a mid week (to escape most of the crowds) hike on a nice day – where there are views.

11/21/2020 – Fanton to Old Baldy to Squaw Mountain

Date of Hike: 11/21/2020
Location of Hike: Fanton and Old Baldy Trails
Trail Number: 505, 502
Weather during Hike: Sunny but cold
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:00 AM  End Time: 12:30 PM
Hike Distance: 3.3 miles  Elevation Gain: 1000 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was intended to be short (however it ended up shorter than I expected). The weather was supposed to be beautiful, and I hadn’t been out in a couple weeks, so I knew I had to go out this day. I’m glad I did. I just wish I had calculated the distance before I left. I was thinking the trip to Squaw Mountain from that last trailhead before 4614 turns north was about 5 miles round trip – it is just over 3. I would have started farther down Fanton if I had known that to make a bit longer day. It was still a really nice day, however.

We got to the chosen access point a bit before 10. When we got there, a woman was there – I rolled down the window and asked where she parked – she said she parked down at the Fanton trailhead. She had gotten an early start! Anyway, she headed out and we got suited up for the cold and snow and then headed out a few minutes later. Although the trail was snow covered the entire way, it was easy to follow – there have been others hiking this trail after the snowfall. The snow was mostly crunchy and hard down lower – as we got higher out of the trees we got into some new fluffy snow however.

On the way up, there were several points where the sun was shining thru the trees on the snow. I caught one of the on my camera:

We made pretty good time – I actually missed the junction with the Old Baldy trail (I missed it on the way down too). I was thinking we should see it soon and I looked at my phone and we had passed it. Soon after that point, we got to the now unmarked junction to Squaw Mountain (the sign fell off the tree):

We continued straight to head up the Squaw Mountain. A little farther up the trail there was another beautiful show shot with the sun:

It was about at this point where I put on my snowshoes. I wasn’t sure if I would need them or not, but I brought them just in case. I could have made it without them, but there were enough sections where they came in handy.

It didn’t take long for us to reach the road and then the old garage location and lookout. The views were spectacular! Here was Mt hood from the old lookout location (you can see the old steps):

Next I headed to the south end of the ridge to see if I could get a good view of the the Riverside fire damage. Unfortunately it was hard to see a lot – it is too far south:

Got to see the tip of Mt Jefferson:

And then heading up to the north end of the ridge, we got to see St Helens, Ranier and Adams – they were a LOT clearer in person:

As we were looking around, the woman who we had met at the parking area came over – she had been down the ridge a bit. We talked for a bit (keeping our distance of course). She has been discovering the Clackamas district and hiking a lot of the trails she can. There were others she wanted to hike, but was unable to because of the fire. She then headed back down.

It was still a bit early, but I thought we should eat some lunch before heading down. It was a bit windy on the ridge, so we headed down to the old garage foundation and ate some lunch there. While we were down there, another group came walking up the road with 2 dogs. The headed up to the lookout.

We finished lunch, packed up and headed down. The trip down was pretty quick. On the way down we encountered (I think) 2 more groups of people. I’ve never seen this trail so busy, especially in the winter! We made it back to the truck, and after getting everything packed up, I started driving out, and someone was trying to head up the spur road to the trailhead! Kind of a late start it seemed. But on the way out, I ran into about 10 vehicles coming up! There were a lot of people in the woods!

As I passed one of the spur roads (167 I think), I saw a car parked there – There have been people shooting down this road and the Fanton trail crosses it. I backed up and asked if they were shooting and said there was a trail down the road. They seemed to appreciate knowing that and I think they were going to pack up. I wish they would put up a “no shooting” sign on this road.

Since we were so early, I decided to drive down 4613 to see how far I could get – I figured they probably blocked it at some point since it intersects 4610 which has been closed since the fire. Sure enough, it has a big concrete barrier at the North Fork Crossing:

We turned around and this point and headed home. It was a short day, but a really nice one. I’m glad I was able to get out.

11/7/2020 – Shellrock Lake to Cache Meadow to Cripple Creek Trails

Date of Hike: 11/7/2020
Location of Hike: Shellrock Lake to Cache Meadow to Cripple Creek Trail
Trail Number: 700, 702, 703
Weather during Hike: overcast and snowy
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:105 AM  End Time: 4:20 PM
Hike Distance: 10.5 miles  Elevation Gain: 2800 feet
Pictures: Link
The goal for today’s hike was to get down to the Cripple creek trail to see how it fared in the recent Riverside fire. I knew it was going to be a tough day and I knew it was going to be tough to get as far as I wanted to get – I wanted to get about another half mile down the trail, but I ran out of time.

The days are short right now and I had to take the long way around over Mt Hood to get here – it takes about 2 hours to get to the trailhead, so I started early – I left the house at 8:00. The weather report said it would be cold, but it also said it would be “partly sunny” – that turned out to be a lie. I got off 26 and started down 42, soon getting to road 58. It climbs quite a bit and I was soon into a fair amount of snow. It kind of looked like someone had plowed the road (two tracks – it didn’t look like just driving). But it was deeper than I was expecting:

We soon made it to the junction with 4610 and I decided to drive up a bit to see what the east end of the road closure looked like – I don’t think anyone will be getting around that gate:

There was also a pretty large log deck there:

After quickly checking this out, we headed back down to 58, then down to the 5830 road and out to the Shellrock lake trailhead. As I expected, I saw no one else, nor any evidence of anyone driving out this way at all. This is what my truck looked like parked in the Shellrock Lake trailhead parking area in the morning (about 10:15):

And this is what it looked like when I returned about 4:15 – It had been snowing a lot of the day and I was concerned it would have been a lot more snow – and I would have a difficult time getting home – fortunately things were OK – I think we got about a half inch of snow during the day:

We suited up for the cold and quickly headed out. A little bit up the trail we got a really beautiful view from the trail – looking east ish:

It didn’t take Thor long to start REALLY enjoying the snow – doing his “beaver” thing in the snow – you can hardly even tell he is there – he kind of buried himself in the snow! There was probably 4-6″ of snow at this point on the trail:

We continued down the trail and soon got into the woods. It is at this point that the abandoned trail takes off to the west. There used to be a post that was a good jumping off spot – the trail going up the hill seems to have mostly disappeared but once you are up the hill a bit, it re-appears. I couldn’t find the post so we took a shot and headed up the hill – it was kind of tough going, with the snow, but we eventually found the trail and continued west. Pretty soon, we got to this junction with another abandoned trail that heads down to 5830 – I had not seen this before – but I’ve only been on this segment a couple of times:

We followed the trail thru the snow and soon came to this small lake around cache meadow:

Shortly after this small lake, we hit the junction with the Grouse Point Trail (517). Just past the junction we saw Cache Meadow proper:

And near this is a campsite where Cripple Creek Trail comes in and where there used to be a cabin – it burned in the early 2000s:

We stumbled around in the snow a bit, struggling to find the trail, but eventually found the cripple creek trail and headed south, and then took a westerly turn. At that point, we came to this lake – I’m not sure what it is called – Cripple Creek Lake? – Cripple creek feeds it and is the outlet from it, so that would make sense, but it is not labelled on any of the maps I have:

We continued down the trail, fighting a LOT of downed logs such as this – I’m guessing these might have been casualties from the Labor Day windstorm:

Soon after that tree, I found this Bear print in the snow:

And soon after, Thor found what looked to be a “deer nest” – there was deer fur all over the place – or maybe that is where a deer got eaten – I’m not sure – it sure looked like a good “den” – It sure interested Thor:

We continued down the trail – I kept looking for the trail heading north (I didn’t want to have to road walk around) – I found it and we soon got to the spot where where all the trail junctions come together with a few signs – it is very confusing:

We actually headed off in the wrong direction – heading back up the Cache Meadow trail – I soon realized my mistake and we headed back and found the correct trail – which was probably 20′ from those signs. We soon got out to the 4635 road where the Cache Meadow trail starts:

We headed a bit down the road where Cripple creek continues downhill and continued down. It wasn’t too long before we got to the spot where the trail crosses the 4635 road farther down:

Shortly after the road crossing, the trail gets into a big rockslide. It was here that we got our first look into the burned areas farther below:

We continued down the trail, thru the cut area, and soon saw the first evidence of burn damage. It started out relatively limited, and soon got worse. This is one of the more severe burn damaged areas – lots of trees downed across the trail – you can see a cut log where the trail went in the distance:

Some of it wasn’t too bad to follow, but some got tough. In many spots, the tread burned out, like this section -a big hole that was one tread:

I saw this interesting section as well – it burned on both sides of the tread but the tread itself is completely intact – It seems like in this area it was mostly a ground fire:

We continued down the trail – it kept getting harder and harder to make progress – there was a lot of stuff on the trail, a lot of downed trees (some green). I used my loppers and a bit of hand saw work to get thru some of it, but it was getting increasingly difficult. This was another example of a heavily damaged area:

It was getting close/past my turn around time (1:30) and we still had not eaten lunch. I decided that we would turn around and find a spot to eat lunch. We had been pushing hard all day long. We found a small unburned section not too far from where we turned around. We quickly ate lunch and then headed back up.

On the way up, it started to snow, even at the lower elevation where there really wasn’t any snow. I started to get worried about how much snow was falling and whether or not I’d be able to get out. We hurried our pace (as much as I could, since the beginning was mostly uphill – heading back up to Cache Meadow). It continued to snow off and on. When we got back to the confusing junction (with the signs), I decided to go back on the Cache Meadow trail instead of going back the way we came in. I wasn’t sure if it was any shorter, but it didn’t seem like it was any longer and since it has been a LONG time (2008?) since I’ve been here, I thought it would be good to have different scenery. We made it around the north side of Cache Meadow and soon got back to the Grouse Point trail near the old campsite. We went a little bit on Grouse Point to the cutoff trail – on this end it is VERY apparent – so apparent it would be easy to take the wrong turn. We headed east on the cutoff trail, heading uphill – struggling a bit to follow the trail in the snow, but keeping with it. We did well until we got to the top of the hill. There was a big downed tree, and we kind of lost the trail at that point. We went downhill, navigating a BUNCH of downed logs and finally hit the Shellrock lake trail. From there, it was easy sailing back to the truck. I had set a target of being back at the truck by 4:30 – we beat it by about 15 minutes. We quickly loaded up and headed out. I didn’t want to drive too far on the forest service roads in the dark. Fortunately, it didn’t get really dark until we got close to 26. The drive over 26 was rather interesting. It was snowing pretty hard and it was icy – the thermometer on the truck said 27 degrees and there were signs that said watch out for ice. At some point, there were trucks and what looked like some cars spun out. We successfully navigated all that, and got home safely. I think it took us almost 2.5 hours to get home, though.

It was a challenging, beautiful, COLD day. I’m glad I was able to get as far as I did. I think this is the last opportinty to get into the high country this year. It is forecast to be cold and snowy all week long – unless we get a big warm spell, I think these areas area all closed for the year now.

10/3/2020 – Eagle Creek (Clackamas) – 501

Date of Hike: 10/3/2020
Location of Hike: Eagle Creek Trail
Trail Number: 501
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:10 AM  End Time: 5:20 PM
Hike Distance: 15.5 miles  Elevation Gain: 3700 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was very interesting, and VERY different than what was originally planned. Originally, we had planned to do a little “civil disobedience” and technically violate the forest closure order. We were hoping we could get up to the White Iris trailhead and hike up to the Old Baldy trail and then up the Squaw Mountain to get a better look at the recent damage from the Riverside fire.

Unfortunately, there was a security guard posted at the border of the forest and he was not letting anyone pass. So, we had to move to plan B. Plan B was to hike the Eagle Creek trail (501) which was not in any kind of closed area. It took a little time, but we made it to the trailhead and it looked a bit different than we remembered. There appeared to have been recent work done there. We were greeted by this sign at the start of the trail, informing of us the closures, etc (which seemed odd, since this trail and the whole Salmon-Huckleberry wilderness was open.):

We started down the road which has been widened considerably. Soon we got to a new landing area, which had been worked quite extensively. They took a huge chunk of the hillside off to make the landing:

After that, the old road reverts to what it used to be – a very narrow old logging road that is pretty overgrown:

We hiked down the road and soon took a hard left onto real trail. From there we got down to the creek, which the trail follows the rest of the way. It goes up and down a bit, but is relatively level. We were making really good time as we were not doing any real trail maintenance – just hiking. Since the tread was pretty level, we were able to make really good time.

A little over 4 miles down the trail, we explored a side trail that Zack and I had found almost 5 years ago. It is an old “cattle camp”. We found the side trail (it was more overgrown than I remember, although we were there in January when all the ground cover was dormant). We headed up and looked around and found several old relics. One of the coolest is an old watering trough which Thor just thought was the coolest thing ever:

Here is one of the old hitching posts:

We searched around a bit and then headed down the trail looking for a lunch spot. We found a somewhat sunny spot next to the creek. Ollie took advantage of it to cool off – he spent most of the time in the creek:

We ate lunch and then headed back up to the trail and continued east. Soon, we found this really interesting tree on nurse log that had toppled over and raised up the nurse log out of the dirt:

We continued down the trail – although it still gets traffic this far up, you could tell it gets less traffic. The areas that were more open were rather overgrown although you could clearly see the tread. There were a few spots where the brush was still really wet – we were guessing it must have had a heavy dew the night before.

We continued down and finally got to the crossing point – from the other side of the creek the trail transitions to the 504 – Eagle Creek cutoff trail – it heads up to the Old Baldy trail. The crossing point is very calm and pretty:

We rested a few minutes at the campsite on the south side of the creek and then headed back. It was about 2:30 and we had quite a ways to get back to the truck. And a lot of it was still uphill – especially at the very end. We tried to make good time and we didn’t stop a lot – we took a few water breaks, but they were pretty short. The trip back was pretty uneventful – we got back to the truck about 5:15. We loaded up and headed out.

We decided to have dinner at Fearless but before we did that we decided to head up 224 to the crest to see if we could see what the Clackamas Canyon looked like. We couldn’t see a ton, but this is what it looked like from the crest of 224:

A fair amount of burned area with some green areas and also some mosaic burning as well. Time will tell what it really looks like. It is kind of doubtful we will be able to drive 224 this year I think.

Dinner at Fearless was great as usual, and to top off the day, Zack and his family stopped in after doing some exploring on the east side of the mountain.

It was a great day out.

9/27/2020 – Mosier Creek – BLM Land

Date of Hike: 9/27/2020
Location of Hike: Mosier Creek BLM Land
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 1:45 PM  End Time: 3:45 PM
Hike Distance: 4.4 miles  Elevation Gain: 1100 feet
Pictures: Link
Since the Riverside fire has completely closed the Clackamas district for the foreseeable future, I was looking for other “off the beaten path” hikes that I might be able to do. This area on Ridge Road – a parcel of BLM land – has been on my wintertime to-do list for a while, but I’ve never gotten around to it. Today seemed like a good time to do a short hike in here to see what we could find. Kirk and Ollie decided to join us.

The trail is only about 10 minutes from our house and I knew there wasn’t a ton of space to explore so I figured a Sunday afternoon would be great. We hiked a lot farther than I thought we would be able to. We went a bit off the BLM land, but not too far – and I think Port Blakely allows people on their land – I see people all the time parked at the various entry points.

We headed up the road and soon started seeing lots of side trails – these woods have TONS of trails going all over the place. We more or less stayed on main paths – there is a lot more to explore up here at some point. We headed up and more or less continued straight on the main road/trail. We ended up at the border with the Port Blakely land – a section line – and went just past, but this area was all small trees (it had been harvested within the past 20-30 years I’d guess). From there, we turned around and headed north at another junction – this was on more of a real road I think. We headed up this road looking for a spot to head down to the lake that showed on the map. We finalyl found a side trail that went down to it. I’m not sure what its official name is, but since it appears to be essentially a dammed up Mosier Creek, I’m calling it Mosier Lake – almost a swamp really – not very deep:

We continued north past a second small pond and heard water gurgling, so we looked for the “dam”. We found something that was sort of like a dam – it was some rocks piled up that appear to be somewhat damming up the creek to create the lake/swamp. There appears to be a LOT of people that come in here, as there was lots of activity visible.

Once we found the dam, we needed to re-cross Mosier creek, which we found a great spot – basically a ford of the creek:

We crossed and continued back from where we came. On the way back, we decided to take another junction – we were hoping it might lead to a spot where we could see an odd feature on the map. Neither Kirk nor I could tell what it was supposed to be so we wanted to get a good look at it. The road continued up and ended at a gate along Rutherford Lane:

We turned around and headed back where we came from. Somewhere along the way, I took a photo of what one of the older areas looked like:

There wasn’t really much more of note during the trip – it was short, but this is a very interesting area and one which I’m sure I will come back to in order to do more exploring. It is certainly convenient!

8/19/2020-Bull of the Woods Trail – 550

Date of Hike: 8/19/2020
Location of Hike: Bull of the Woods Trai
Trail Number: 550
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:15 AM  End Time: 2:00 PM
Hike Distance: 7 miles  Elevation Gain: 1500 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was my birthday hike. I have the week off and today was my birthday, so I decided to take a hike (no pun intended). I decided to hike the Bull of the Woods trail up to the lookout since I was doing a mid week hike. I was hoping I wouldn’t encounter any people. It can get rather busy at times.

We headed out and made good time up to the trailhead. We got there just after 10:00 and found no cars there (whew!). We suited up and headed up the trail. The hike up was pretty uneventful, but I did get some nice views of Mt Hood from the trail:

We probably stopped once or twice to drink some water, and I stopped a few times to eat some huckleberries – they were all over the place right next to the trail, but it didn’t seem like anyone was eating them! Thor even ate a few – they were small, but REALLY good.

Just before noon we made it to the lookout. I could tell Thor was tired. He laid down under the lookout and I went up to look around. I had an experience I’ve never had up here before – I was actually able to go inside the lookout! Someone had replaced windows and had one of the storm shutters propped open. This is what it looks like inside the lookout:

Nothing hugely special – pretty much typical of what you’d see in a lookout. There were lots of tools in there – a few years ago I remembered seeing shingles inside the lookout – I couldn’t tell if they had used them on the roof or not, but they were gone. Someone had replaced some of the windows in the lookout however, so it does appear to be getting a little bit of attention.

From the catwalk on the lookout it gives you great views of the surrounding mountains and peaks. Looking northeast, there was a great view of Mt Hood and Big Slide Mountain:

And to the south there was Mt Jefferson and Three Sisters:

I was enjoying the view from up there, but Thor was whining because I was up there, so after taking a few photos I came down. We ate lunch in the shade under the lookout where Thor laid down for a bit. I just enjoyed the view and the solitude for a while and then we decided to head back down. As we started down, I realized I hadn’t taken a photo of the lookout, so I snapped a quick one from the trail below as we were leaving:

As we headed down, I was stopping to eat some of the huckleberries and encountered a couple that was backpacking. They must have come up from Dickey Lake because when I got back there were still no cars in the trailhead lot. We passed each other quickly (in a covid world) and I continued down. As we got partway down, I decided to start looking for insulators – I’d never been able to find any, but today I found two – here is one I found:

We made good time going down, and the last thing I wanted to do was to try and find the old alignment of this trail. I had made a waypoint at some point marking “old trail”. When coming up, I realized it was where a post was. There was no tread apparent right at the junction, but going just offtrail, the old tread was quite evident. Here is a photo looking back up to the existing trail and the post. The tread is all there, just overgrown with huckleberries:

Here is another section not quite so overgrown:

It was pretty easy to follow all the way down to where it ended at an old spur road – I’m guessing the old trailhead must have been here at one point:

We walked back this road to the truck. Here is a view of Pasola Mountain from the 6340-033 spur – the original trail used to go to the left of Pasola and would have met up with this alignmnent I’m pretty sure – but that was a long time ago:

We soon made it back to the truck and headed out.

The last memorable thing about the day was on the way out a fox trotted across the road in front of me. He didn’t seem too concerned about me – he wasn’t running or anything. First time I’ve ever seen a fox in the woods!

It was a great way to spend my birthday.

6/20/2020 – White Iris Trail

Date of Hike: 6/20/2020
Location of Hike: White Iris Trail
Trail Number: 502a
Weather during Hike: Rainy
Hiking Buddies: Carly, Otis and Thor
Start Time: 9:45 AM  End Time: 12:00 PM
Hike Distance: 1.7 miles  Elevation Gain: 900 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was a quick run up to the White Iris trail. Carly had come down for Father’s Day and we had until early afternoon so we did a quick hike to see if the white iris were in full bloom yet.

We started off early to make sure we had enough time to do the hike and get back home in time. We left about 8:00 and headed up 4614. It has been several years since I’ve been up this way and I made a wrong turn. I thought the 4615 junction was farther up 4614, but I was wrong. We made it all the wy to the current end of 4614 – it was bermed a few years ago:

After reviewing maps to figure out where I made the wrong turn we headed back. We finally made it to the real western trailhead on 4615. We looked for the trail for a few mins (it is an abandoned trail and is rather brushy) – I finally found it and we headed up. As we went up, there was a lot of small tree blowdown from the winter as well as a LOT of brush – since it had rained, it made for a very wet hike. We cut and lopped several trees off the trail as we went up.

As we continued up the hill, what started as a light mist started getting heavier. It went on and off, but since the trail is so brushy, we did some maintenance and everything was drenched, we both got VERY wet. We continued up the hill, losing the trail a few times along the way, but mostly following it. We soon got to the beginning of the bloom:

And here is probably the best bloom photo of the day – it might not have been in full bloom but it was blooming pretty good:

We continued up and got to the downed log where we had to turn north (left) and continue up the hill. There were several large logs that have come down in the cut area so it made travel tougher. We got back into the old growth and headed up a ways. I checked the time and it was a little after 11:00. I figured we should turn around to make sure we got home in time. We were both really wet anyway, and there wasn’t anything terribly different that we would see if we made it up to the 4614 road anyway. So we turned around and headed down.

We made good time on the way down and got back to the truck right at noon. We headed out and then called home to see if we had enough time to stop at Fearless for lunch. We were both hungry. We had enough time so we had a nice lunch at Fearless and then headed home.

It was great to hike with Carly and to see the white iris in bloom, even though it was a very wet day.

6/13/2020 – Rho Creek Trail – 569

Date of Hike: 6/13/2020
Location of Hike: Rho Creek Trail
Trail Number: 569
Weather during Hike: Overcast with periods of rain and sunbreaks
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:45 AM  End Time: 5:00 PM
Hike Distance: 9.4 miles  Elevation Gain: 2200 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was to revisit a trail I haven’t been on for over 6 years. Kirk and I hiked this trail on New Years day of 2014 (a winter with way below normal snowfall). When we were coming back down last week, we passed 4671 and I thought about Rho Ridge and I thought it would be good to hike it again. I’m glad I did because my perceptions of the trail are very different this time from the last time I hiked it. I guess I have grown quite a bit in my hiking perspective in 6 years.The forecast for the day was rain early followed by showers and then potentially thunderstorms later in the afternoon. We decided that our “normal” time of 9am would be good, hoping that the rain would be done by the time we got to the trailhead. We got there a little before 11, got all of our rain gear on, and headed up the trail. Fortunately, the rain stopped by the time we started hiking. One thing I thought I remembered was this trail used to start closer to Rho Creek, but maybe my recollection is wrong. I seem to recall it starting with a “user trail” section, going thru some small pine/fir trees. I went back and looked and that is what it was when I hiked it in 2006. It appears someone located the original route all the way down to the road at some point.

We headed up the trail and soon saw evidence of recent maintenance:

A little farther long where the trail gets very close to Rho Creek we got this great view of it:

And a little farther we got to one of the rough spots – the crossing of Tumble Creek:

We crossed the creek on the big log and continued – there is a switchback just past the crossing and the trail starts climbing more aggressively. At some point along the way, we encountered the relatively new, very large uprooted tree:

We had to climb above the tree to get around it, but it wasn’t too bad. As we continued up (this trail gains 2000′ of elevation, so it is almost constantly going up). Along the way, I noticed that the rhodies were starting to bloom:

As we proceeded up, we got to this old post, which marked the intersection with an abandoned trail (the Tumble Creek trail) that headed north:

Here is a piece of the abandoned Tumble Creek trail – we only headed up a tenth of a mile or so:

After exploring the Tumble Creek trail, we continued up the trail, crossed the beginnings of Rho Creek and then got into the clearcut. We passed Fadeaway spring and continued up thru the clearcut. Near the upper part of the clearcut, Kirk saw this really interesting orange fungus on a relatively young tree:

When we got to the top of the clearcut we had a decent view of Peavine Mountain:

We got to the 4672 road and headed across, up the next segment of the trail. The trail continues to climb thru large old growth until it gets up to the flat area surrounding Rho Meadow. As we were heading up this segment, we found these bones right in the middle of the trail:

Somewhere near these bones the trail flattened out and there were lots of downed trees. They were almost all small trees (2-6″), with a few larger ones, but there was a lot of them, many times piled on top of each other. It made passage rather difficult. We passed the post that wet southeast towards the meadow and continued down the trail. We finally came to the collapsed Ranger/Guard station at Rho Meadow:

We stopped there for lunch – there were a few bugs, but not too bad. It threatened to rain on us, but we mostly stayed dry. After we ate, we decided to continue west, following some flagging – there were trails going all over the place from this spot – it was the center of a lot back in the day.

We were able to follow the trail for a while, but at some point lost it. We just continued in the same general direction and soon came to a decommissioned road. It does not appear on any maps but appears to be a spur road off of 4670. We saw a flag and a blaze across the road and we followed it – this was the continuation of the trail. We also found the trail on our side of the road – it appears we were a little bit too low. Anyway, we followed the trail across the road and quickly intersected the Rho Ridge trail. We walked this out to the junction of 4670 and 6350 – Graham Pass. From there, we pondered going up to Mt Lowe, but I’m glad we didn’t -that would have added another 5 miles to our day and it was already about 3:00. Kirk remembered a trailgoing east from a hunters camp just up 4670. So we headed up there. We found the camp and then started searching for the trail. We never did find it, but we did end up finding the Rho Creek trail just west of the guard station. We then started hiking back and soon found the junction with the trail we had been looking for. We apparently didn’t go north quite far enough to hit this trail. Kirk did a short recon trip up the trail and then we started back.

As we were heading back, Thor saw those bones again. He decided he wanted to take one home, so he grabbed it and was carrying it for a while. After a tenth of a mile or so, I guess he decided it was too heavy or something and dropped it.

The rest of the trip home was pretty uneventful – we were trying to make time since it was getting late. We only stopped once on the way back. We made it back to the truck about 5, just about as it started raining. It rained harder the closer we got to town. We were very fortunate with the weather.

We capped off the day with a trip to Fearless for a burger and a beer – it was the perfect way to end a great day of exploration.

3/15/2020 – Cripple Creek Trail

Date of Hike: 3/15/2020
Location of Hike: Cripple Creek Trail
Trail Number: 703
Weather during Hike: Sunny at times
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie, Otis and Thor
Start Time: 10:00 AM  End Time: 3:00 PM
Hike Distance: 6.2 miles  Elevation Gain: 2300 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was kind of unique. Normally I would be going to church on Sunday, but due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) our church services have been cancelled for the next two weeks. Since I can’t go to church, I thought what better way to commune with God than to experience his creation?

The weather was supposed to be reasonably good and I expected new snow (and wasn’t disappointed). New snow is always really pretty in the woods, especially when it is undisturbed. We were the only ones on the trail all day long and it did not appear anyone had hiked it the day before.

The hike itself wasn’t anything special, other than being on a beautiful trail that goes thru some spectacular forest scenes. We headed up the trail, went past the “grotto”, the unique hillside meadow (where the dogs seemed to have caught some scent as they all wanted to head up hill into the woods). We continued up the trail to my favorite spot – the spot between the two road crossings:

I’m not sure why I like this area so much – it is just a beautiful section, especially in the snow. Big trees, a serene setting between two hills. We went thru this section and decided to continue up the trail, since the snow wasn’t really all that deep. The 4635-130 spur probably only had 3-4″ of snow on it. I was expecting quite a bit more.

Shortly after the road corssing, we got to a pretty significant section of blowdown – the trees weren’t huge, but it was tough to make it thru them, so we decided to clean it up with our loppers and handsaw. This is what it looked like before the work:

And this is what it looked like after we were able to remove all the blowdown:

As we continued up, the trail ends up going thru a rockslide, which didn’t have a ton of snow on it. This was the view from the rockslide:

We continued across the rockslide – this is the only spot where Otis had some trouble. He didn’t like the large rocks in the rockslide and didn’t want to proceed. I had to help him thru one section of the rockslide. After that, we continued up the trail to the spot where it crosses the road:

We decided this would be the perfect turnaround spot, so found a spot below the road that had a bit of a view. We had lunch – we tried to eat quickly because Otis didn’t have his jacket and since he has a short coat, we thought he would get cold quickly. Ollie, Otis and Thor did a LOT of horsing around on the 4635 road, keeping active so he didn’t get cold.

After eating lunch, we headed back down the hill. We did some more lopping and trail maintenance on the way back down, trying to improve the trail for the next trip.

The trip down was pretty uneventful and pretty quick since it was all downhill and we didn’t do NEARLY as much trail maintenance on the way down. We got back to the truck about 3:00 and then headed home.

3/7/2020 – MP3 Trail to Rimrock

Date of Hike: 3/7/2020
Location of Hike: MP3 Trail
Weather during Hike: Overcast with some sun breaks
Hiking Buddies: Otis and Thor
Start Time: 9:45 AM  End Time: 1:30 PM
Hike Distance: 305 miles  Elevation Gain: 1600 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was literally just to get the dogs out of the house for a while to burn off some energy. We’ve been babysitting Otis for the past 4 weeks and he has a lot more energy than Thor can deal with. It was also for me to get out of the house – work has not been going well, and I needed some time to just relax and enjoy the woods.

We headed out a little early, as it sounded like the weather might be better earlier in the day. I was expecting to have rain and/or snow later in the day, but fortunately, it appears the rain came in a bit later than expected.

I decided to do MP3 because I love this trail and I was hoping we could get to it. I was curious how far we would get.

On the way in, on the the 4630 road we came across 3 pretty good sized deer who were making their way across the road. Once they saw us, they scurried up the hill. It was kind of a cool way to start the day. We got to the trailhead about 9:40 – here is what it looked like when we arrived:

We quickly headed up the hill. This trail gains quite a bit of elevation pretty quickly. We soon got to the first rockslide – there was a pretty good view of up on top where you could see there was quite a bit more snow:

As we continued up, the snow got deeper in places – mostly open areas. This is a more open area where it was probably a foot deep or so:

It was right around this spot somewhere, in a rockslide that had a new bit of blowdown. The tree kind of shattered, so I was able to use my loppers and handsaw to clear the mess. Unfortunately, when I was moving one of the pieces off the tread, it rotated and a branch came back and hit me in the forehead. It hurt, and left a nice bit gash on my forehead. Earlier on the hike I hit my knee and it hurt but I didn’t realize until later than it also bled – my knee and my head are pretty sore, but they will recover.

After clearing that spot, we continued up – I did some lopping on the way up to remove some of the brush. The snow continued to get deeper, but we were able to make it up to the point where MP3 joins the Rimrock trail, which is where we ate lunch:

The snow up here was probably 18-24″, maybe a little less in places – quite a bit less than other times I’ve been up here. I thought it would have more.

We ate lunch and I could tell Otis didn’t like it too much – he wanted to sit/lay down, but it was too cold for him. So we didn’t spend too much time up there. We packed up and headed back down.

On the way back down, I did some more brushing in some of the rockslides where it was getting really tough to get thru. I tried to pull out some of the new shoots rather than just cut them, hoping it would slow them down more.

The trip back down was pretty quick, even with the additional brushing work. We made it back to the truck about 1:30 – the dogs were tired and slept the whole way home.

On the way out, I stopped at an old cut area where you get a nice view to the south and west. I took a couple of photos:
Oak Grove Butte:

Fish Creek Mountain:

It was a nice, but short day out in the woods.

2/17/2020 – Fish Creek

Date of Hike: 2/17/2020
Location of Hike: Fish Creek - Old Road 54
Weather during Hike: Partly sunny
Hiking Buddies: Thor and Otis
Start Time: 1:30 PM  End Time: 4:00 PM
Hike Distance: 6.1 miles  Elevation Gain: 1500 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was mostly intended to get the two dogs out to wear them out a bit. The weather was supposed to be nice and I had the day off (President’s day), so it all seemed to line up. Since I couldn’t dedicate a whole day, I wanted something close, so Fish Creek fit the bill.

We headed out after lunch and got to the trailhead a little after 1:00. I was surprised to see another car and and a truck there. The truck had a guy getting out of it, getting ready to hike it appeared. I was amazed there was so much interest in this “trail” on a Monday. But I guess it was nice weather and it was technically a holiday. The Clackamas River trail parking lot had quite a few people in it as we passed by.

The man in the truck headed out before us, and since there were others on the trail, and I haven’t really hiked by myself with Otis, I decided to keep them on the leashes. We soon headed down the trail, with Thor and Otis in the lead:

That didn’t last too long as Thor seemed like he felt it was his “job” to lead, and would growl at Otis if he got ahead. So Thor lead, and Otis followed (mostly).

It wasn’t too far when we met a group coming back – and I heard another dog bark, so we got off the trail and let them pass – both Otis and Thor barked at them but they passed without incident. We continued south down the old road and soon saw the man who headed out before us. It wasn’t too long before he said he needed to remove some layers and let us go by. The dogs were pulling me hard, so we were making GREAT time. We passed him and a little farther down the trail I let them off leash since there shouldn’t have been anyone ahead of us. They loved that and did the usual running around with me having to remind them not to get too far ahead. They did pretty well off leash, though.

It didn’t take too long (a bit over an hour I think) to get to the first bridge, which I thought would be a good turnaround point for the day. Just short of the bridge there was a tree across the old road, so I sawed off some branches to make it easier to step over. We then got to the first bridge, with Fish Creek rushing underneath. Here is the view looking north:

And then looking south:

We stopped, had some water and ate a little bit – the man soon caught up to us and the dogs started barking at him, but once they saw he presented no danger they stopped. We chatted for a bit – he said his dad was a logger who had cut out a lot of the roadways in the drainage back in the 60’s. He had been coming down there regularly and liked the area. I wish I had gotten his name, but we were chatting about all the history in the area it never came up.

After a bit, he decided to continue further south. We shortly packed up and headed back north, back to the truck. I don’t think we really stopped at all on the way in or the way out. As I said, it was a pretty short hike by design, but we did end up hiking over 6 miles! It was a nice day out in a beautiful forest along an gorgeous creek.

2/9/2020 – Helion Creek Rescue Attempt

Date of Hike: 2/9/2020
Location of Hike: Helion Creek
Weather during Hike: Partly Cloudy and cool
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Zack, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 1:30 PM  End Time: 4:30 PM
Hike Distance: 2 miles  Elevation Gain: 700 feet
Pictures: Link
After the disaster last week where I lost my new drone, I had been thinking about it and I couldn’t let it go. The weather for the following Sunday was supposed to be rather nice, and I thought it was worth a shot to see if we could find and recover my drone. We had looked for a while last week, but after thinking about it some more, it seemed like it should be relatively easy to find. Kirk had the idea of using endoscopes to try and search underwater, which was a really good idea. I brought my fishing waders so I could wade the creek and look by hand as well.

I knew it would be a short day, so we headed out after lunch and arrived at the gravel area a little after 1:00. We headed out, down the horrible side hill, with tons of downed logs. We had realized that staying high was a better option that going low, as hugging the cliffs was usually a little easier.

As we went, we passed a couple of small creeks. One of them had a cool waterfall:

After about an hour, we made it to the creek and started searching. Kirk used his endoscope and I used mine and Zack was using his pole to poke around. Here is Kirk using his endoscope, attempting to find the drone (with the dogs supervising him):

And here is a great photo of the Helion Creek Waterfall:

Along with a video:


After a while with no success with the endoscope, I decided to put on my waders and wade the creek and use my hands to search the pools. That worked really well, although the water was REALLY cold. After about an hour of searching, we finally gave up. I thought we searched the target area pretty well, but there are a LOT of nooks and crannies it could have gotten stuck in, or it could have been washed way down the creek. Either way, we decided to call the search and head back.

The trip back seemed slightly better than the trip back the prior week (maybe we were getting better at finding a good route, or maybe we were just worn down by the rough trip). It took us about another hour to get out and back to the van. We were all tired and a little disappointed we didn’t find it. Even if we HAD found it, who knows what shape it would have been in. I guess I just wasn’t meant to have a drone. If/when I get another one, I will make sure I have one with obstacle avoidance, and I will make sure I’ve practiced flying it a LOT more before I try and fly it in a tight canyon.

Even though it was a disappointing day, it was nice to get out for a few hours.

2/1/2020 – Helion Creek Explorations

Date of Hike: 2/1/2020
Location of Hike: Helion Creek
Weather during Hike: Rainy
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:00 AM  End Time: 2:15 PM
Hike Distance: 3.75 miles  Elevation Gain: 1100 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was something I’ve had on my hiking todo list for a number of years. Brian had posted photos of the waterfall on Helion creek and what might have been a blasted trail bench on it. I wanted to see for myself to see what it really looked like. Nearby, there was also the old road grade where highway 224 used to go (a long time ago) which I thought might be an interesting short exploration.

The weather forecast for the day was wet – very wet. I was determined to go anyway – one plus was that it was supposed to be warmer most of the day – so as Kirk said “at least it is a warm rain”. The weather forecast was pretty correct. It rained most of the day a few times pretty heavily – but we also had a few spots of no rain at all which was nice.

We parked at the Armstrong campground:

We got all suited up for the rain and then headed back up the road to the bridge. One the way, Kirk wanted to look at something we’ve seen being built, but we never knew what it was. It is just south of one of the bridge crossings – just before the Lockaby campground. It appears to be an overlook, and maybe will have some interpretive signs. We got a good view of the Clackamas, which was rather angry – running high and fast:

We then headed across the road and then up the hill a bit – we had to go a little over a half mile on this steep hill to get to Helion creek. The first part wasn’t too bad, as there was kind of a Fisherman’s trail, but the hillside continued to get steeper and the going going tougher and tougher due to the steepness of the hill, the brush and a bunch of downed logs we had to negotiate over, under or around – all without falling into the river below us.

It was VERY slow going – It took us almost an hour and a half to get to the creek I think – and then took us a bit to actually get to where we could see it. The wash the creek was in was pretty steep and narrow. This was our first view of Helion Creek falls:

We carefully worked our way down to the creek and got a much better view of the waterfall. This is what it looked like from the bottom:

While we were there, I took this video of the waterfall:


It was at this point the trip took a decidedly bad turn. I got my drone for Christmas and thought this would be the perfect place to get a video of the waterfall from a perfect vantage point. It was crowded in the creek canyon so I knew it would be difficult. I unpacked the drone and fired it up. Kirk had to hold it to take off since there was no place to take off from. I had no sooner taken off than it started moving backwards (I still don’t know exactly what I did wrong – I’m very new at being a drone pilot) – but it moved backwards, hit a small tree branch and dropped straight into the creek. I watched all this in slow motion in my head. The creek was running really fast and there was a hole it fell into – we poked around trying to find it but the water was too fast and deep to really do much there. We looked for it downstream but didn’t find anything. Our best guess is that it fell into that hole and one or more of the arms got stuck in the rocks. Even if we had been able to find it, I’m sure it would have been ruined by the water. So my really cool Christmas present, which had probably only 4 of 5 flights (all but 2 at home in the backyard), was gone. It was about at this point when it started raining REALLY hard. We decided to head down the creek to a spot where it seemed easier to get out of the creek canyon. We headed downstream, looking for any evidence of my drone, but found nothing.

We made it down to a spot that was a lot easier to get up out of, and then started heading back. By this time it was getting close to 1:00, so we found a big log that was somewhat sheltered and had some lunch. We ate pretty quickly and were starting to get a bit cold, so we packed up continued on. We took a different path back. I’m not sure if it was any easier than the path we took in, but it had quite a few tough spots to get thru – a few that I had to help Thor get thru too. He kind of struggled with the more difficult log crossings due to the steepness of the hill.

We finally made it back to the parking area near the bridge -we were back on easy walking again. For the second piece of the day, we headed across the bridge and then over to the Carter Bridge campground where we headed up the hill to the old road grade. I’m not sure when the road was re-aligned but it had to have been a long time ago. The bridges don’t have dates on them, but they are riveted, so I’m guessing they are pre 1960’s at least. It kind of made sense the road went where it did because it eliminated the need for two bridges. The bad thing was that the route was pretty windy and they probably had some significant problems with rocks falling on the road.

Anyway, we headed down the road, and soon saw this aftermath from the 36 pit fire – it was laying right in the road – interesting it was upright:

A little farther the dogs (who were off leash – we didn’t expect to see anyone up here) started barking so we called them back and a couple passed us. They told us there was a shack a bit further up the road. And sure enough, a bit farther up the road we found this old shack – it appeared that it might have been water for the Carter Bridge campground at some point in the past – there appeared to be a spring or something directly behind it – it was obviously non functional:

After looking at the old shack for a bit, we continued down the road – at one point we got a pretty good view of the Clackamas:

We continued down the road – this is kind of what a “normal” section of it looked like:

We decided we would head down the old road to where it used to meet the current road. It wasn’t too long before we met highway 224. We then headed across the bridge and back to the truck. Fortunately for us, it wasn’t raining when we got back to the truck so we were able to change our shoes without getting soaked. The dogs were more than ready to get in the truck. We were all tired! Even though it wasn’t a lot of mileage, it was pretty tough mileage.

An interesting day of exploring with one bummer. A trip to Fearless for a beer and some fries (since we were too early for dinner) made for a great way to end the day.

1/20/2020 – Cripple Creek Trail – 703

Date of Hike: 1/20/2020
Location of Hike: Cripple Creek Trail
Trail Number: 703
Weather during Hike: Overcast
Hiking Buddies: Jet and Thor
Start Time: 10:20 AM  End Time: 1:30 PM
Hike Distance: 4.25 miles  Elevation Gain: 1600 feet
Pictures: Link
Todays hike was a bit different than normal. I had the day off (MLK Day), and the weather was supposed to be pretty good (for January). Alyssa was bringing Sadie over for Gail to babysit in the afternoon and she typically brings Jet as well. I thought I could take him with Thor and I earlier. Nicholas and I took Thor and Jet hiking last year and it went pretty well, so I was pretty confident I could handle two dogs by myself.

I headed over to pick up Jet and then we headed out. It is a relatively short drive to the Cripple Creek trailhead, which is a good wintertime hike. I didn’t think I’d need my snowshoes, although it turned out they would have been useful farther up the trail.

We got to the trailhead a little after 10:00 – I had to get myself ready before I let the dogs out of the truck, and I wanted to keep them on their leashes for at least the beginning of the trip – at least until we got out of view of the road. We headed up the trail and I was getting assisted up the hill by two dog power:

We got to the first rockslide and I wanted to experiment a bit with my new drone – my Christmas present. I haven’t flown it much yet, so I’m only trying to fly it relatively close and within eyesight. This was the view looking south(ish):

And here is the same general direction from the drone (much better photo!):

Drone video:


After I flew the drone for a few minutes, I packed it up and we continued up the hill. There was essentially no snow for the first bit of the trip, but as we ascended, we started to see more and more snow. This is a picture of the dogs just after we hit some snow:

Right next to the trail is a really nice spring – great place for water. It also has a very nice “bowl” that makes it great for dogs to drink out of. Jet decided to get a drink:

And close by that, I noticed this tree root. I wonder if some animal has been sleeping here?

We continued up and the snow got deeper and deeper, especially in the cut area. We soon got to the first crossing of the 130 spur where the dogs played for a bit. I was thinking that the upper crossing would be a great place for lunch. But one of my favorites places on this trail is the section between those two crossings:

I’m guessing the snow was about a foot deep in here, which made moving rather difficult since I didn’t bring my snowshoes. I figured the upper road crossing would be a good spot to turn around.

We shortly made it up to the second crossing where we stopped and had lunch and the dogs played for while. Here are some videos I took:

Video of Jet and Thor chasing snowballs:


Video of Jet catching snowballs in his mouth:

Thor doing his “beaver” imitation in the snow and him and Jet playing:

After eating lunch and letting the dogs play for a while, we headed back down.. The trip back down was pretty quick and uneventful, minus one interesting thing. We were just east of the hillside meadow when both Jet and Thor wanted to head downhill off trail. I thought they heard some animal or something – Thor came back but Jet continued – he walked over to a tree and found this (which he promptly brought back):

Both of them had smelled this bone from 15-20′ from the trail! The both have pretty good sniffers!

After that, we headed back to the rockslides where I took the drone up again and took some photos (on the first flight I just took some video). After the quick flight, we headed down to the truck, loaded up and headed home. The dogs were both pretty tired and slept the whole way home.

A great day to spend MLK day!

1/1/2020 – Lower Cottonwood Meadows – 705

Date of Hike: 1/1/2020
Location of Hike: Lower Cottonwood Meadows Trail
Trail Number: 705
Weather during Hike: Overcast to partly sunny with rain, snow and sleet
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Zack, Ollie, Thor
Start Time: 10:15 AM  End Time: 2:20 PM
Hike Distance: 5.5miles  Elevation Gain: 1500 feet
Pictures: Link
This was my (mostly) annual new years day hike – I’ve done this 8 out of the last 10 years now. One year there was just too much snow to go ANYWHERE (2017), and I’m not sure what happened the other year (2012). Anyway, Kirk and I dreamed up this idea of seeing if we could get to the lower Cottonwood Meadows trail and then either hiking or snowshoeing up to Cottonwood meadows. It seemed like a great plan. On New Year’s eve, the National Weather Service posted a Winter Storm Warning for the Cottonwood Meadows area with lots of rain, high winds and snow later in the day at the higher elevations. Undaunted, we decided to see how the day went. While we brought our snowshoes, we decided to leave them in the truck thinking we would be able to get around fine without them. I think that was a good decision as the snow was rarely very deep.

Due to the warmer than normal weather we’ve been having, we were able to easily make it to the lower trailhead at almost 3000′. It wasn’t really raining when we got there, so we quickly suited up for extreme weather and headed up the trail. The trail basically follows the ridge up to an old clearcut below Cottonwood Meadows. The lower portion of this trail is in some magnificent old growth with tread in really good shape:

We did encounter quite a few downed logs and a few messes on the beginning of the trail, but we cleaned up what we could and went over/around what we couldn’t. It wasn’t too long before we popped up onto the 5830-265 road where we saw just a little bit of snow:

We walked up the road and then went cross country thru the clearcut (the trail thru the clearcut was wiped out). After a few attempts at making sure we were going the right direction, we got up tp the 240 spur crossing where there was more snow. Beyond this crossing the real trail continues north:

Right after that crossing, we got to the first, lower Meadow, which looked mostly frozen over:

And then continued north thru a couple of small little meadows towards Cottonwood Lake:

And shortly arrived at a mostly frozen Cottonwood Lake (although none of us wanted to try it out to see how frozen it really was!):

We ate lunch there and looked around a bit and then headed out. When we got to the 240 spur, we decided to walk back the road rather than going cross country, since it was rather difficult – there was a lot of melting snow water runoff which added to the difficulty of getting thru the clearcut. The plan was to head west until the road turned and then head uphill to the upper road – this would cut quite a bit of time off the trip – almost a mile of road walking it looks like.

We made it up to the road turn and then up the hill – from there we went uphill and soon found the upper road that had been bermed at an old gate location. It was in this section I took some photos of Thor having fun in the snow:

He had lots of fun with Ollie – running around and doing his beaver thing in the snow and even doing some frapping at one point.

We finally came back to the 265 spur and things had cleared up a bit from what they were in the morning – we still got gusts of wind occasionally but there was even a few small spots of blue sky at times – You can sort of see Mt Mitchell in the background (in the clouds behind the trees):

We headed down the road and onto the old trail and quickly made it back to the truck, doing a little bit of trail maintenance along the way – cutting out some smaller trees.

Since it was still somewhat early, we decided to drive down to the end of the road and check out the collapsed bridge over Cot Creek:

It is really growing in – it was interesting to see how much work went into building that bridge too – there was a LOT of cribbing on each approach.

After checking out the bridge we headed back to town – we wanted to stop at Fearless but they were closed for New Years Day. We headed over to the Wagon Wheel Saloon (I had been there once with Don) for a beer and some appetizers.

It was a very interesting day on a beautiful old trail in a very interesting area. The winter weather warning didn’t really seem to come to pass – other than a few gusts of wind and a little bit of rain, sleet and snow at times, it really wasn’t that bad up there. I was expecting to get a LOT wetter than we did. I wasn’t even sure we would be able to make it up all the way due to the wind. It turned out to be a pretty good middle of winter day in the woods. A good start to the new year.