Location of Hike: Lower Milepost 3 Trail and Oak Grove Work Center
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Don, Brian, Elizabeth, Jane
Start Time: 10:30 AM End Time: 3:00 PM
Hike Distance: 1.3 miles
The agenda for this day was to do two things:
1- Explore below the 4635 road where the MP3 trailhead is, to try and find the trail down to Oak Grove
2 – Meet some of Rondy’s family at Oak Grove to get a tour of the buildings and hear about what it was like to live there 50 years ago.
We parked on car at Oak Grove and then drove up to the MP3 trailhead to start our explorations – we fanned out in the woods, and it bout 15 minutes, Kirk had found a phone line insulator:
Unfortunately, that was the only one we found, but at least it showed us where the tread was. Once we found that we worked back and forth from that point, flagging and doing some lopping ot make the route more apparent. Much of the route was overgrown with vine maple. Here is one section of tread (it looked much better in person):
We continued down the trail, flagging as we went until we got to a newer cut area where it kind of disappeared. We ended up finding the spur road that shows on the map – we had thought that maybe the spur road took out the trail since it headed in exactly the right direction. We followed it down until we were pretty much due north of Oak Grove and we saw a “corridor” thru the woods – we headed down that way, wondering if we might find some tread. On the way, we found these bird bones and Skull (kind of a weird find):
We ended up finding what seemed like tread in this area and it led down to 4630. We were running out of time, so we will have to come back and scope out the 3 areas that were kind of fuzzy – right below the road – the section before the spur road (180 spur) and then the last section above 4630.
We made it down to the Oak Grove work center and ate lunch. Shortly after we were done, Elizabeth came walking down the road, followed shortly by her husband and mom. A few minutes later, Brian came and joined us. We chatted for a bit and did introductions and then started looking at all the old buildings. We had viewed them over a year ago, but really didn’t have any context for any of the buildings. We had made guesses (and some of them were correct), but now we know what each building was for, and also the location of a couple of other buildings that are no longer there:
Unfortunately, there has been even more vandalism – now there is graffiti in at least a couple of the buildings. In Rondy’s old house, the chimney has been “tagged” and in the warehouse building, the walls are completely covered in graffiti now. It is very sad what is becoming of this place – it holds such history.
I thought I had photos of all the houses and buildings from our prior trip, but I only took a couple of photos – I will have to take more photos at some other time to preserve what is left of these buildings.
We also found out that the the meadow to the east was where the horses and mules grazed while they were there. They were taken somewhere lower in the winter, but spring, summer and fall they were there. Actually, most of the summer they were probably out on the trail, supplying the lookouts. In addition, we identified which of the 2 shop buildings was the sign shop (where all the cool signs were made) and which was just a shop.
After touring all the buildings, we drove back up the road to locate the location of the old Collawash Ranger Station. It was where I kind of thought it was – pretty much at the junction of the 4630 and 4631 roads – there is an open area in the woods where people now camp – that is where it used to be – just west of Silvertip (which used to be a logging camp). Once the Rippplebrook Ranger station was built, the Oak Grove and Collawash Ranger stations were combined in Ripplebrook and both of the others closed. At some point both buildings were destroyed.
After locating that, we went back to our car and drove back up to get the Van and come home. A stop at Fearless made for a great end to a great day out in the woods with great people.
A couple of closing photos:
Wintertime view of Oak Grove looking east (from 1959):
Lastly the beautiful view from Oak Grove – looking east (taken today):
Location of Hike: Grouse Point Trail
Trail Number: 517
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Paul, Brian and Kirk
Start Time: 9:45 AM End Time: 4:00 PM
Hike Distance: 4.6 miles
Anyway, the plan for the day was to hike part of the Grouse Point trail, see Parrywinkle Falls on the Roaring River, then cross the river and head up the other side of the canyon. At some point, we were going to bail off the trail and head over to the South Fork of the Roaring River to see it and also to see if we could find any remnants of the elusive 511 trail or a waterfall that was supposed to be near the confluence of the two rivers.
We got a little bit of a late start and had a bit of a time finding it, but ended up at the trailhead a little before 10:00. The trail starts at the end of the driveable section of the 4611 road. From there you head down the remnants of the road a bit to the actual trailhead, which really doesn’t have much of a sign, just some flagging and an old shot up post (which probably used to have a sign on it before some yahoos decided it would be fun to shoot it to pieces). The trail starts relatively easily, but quickly descends into the Roaring River canyon, losing elevation quickly. In no time we were at the Roaring River and headed upstream to see Parrywinkle falls. It is pretty much a bushwhack to the falls, but it wasn’t too difficult. Parrywinkle falls is a very interesting waterfall – not too large, but an interesting setting:
Here is a photo of the falls with Paul wading the river in front of it:
And a photo of the very interesting sign:
And finally, a view of the Roaring River downstream of the falls:
After enjoying the view of the falls, we noodled a bit as to how we were going to cross the river. Paul had already gone over and back up near the falls. Brian and I had not come quite as well prepared, and so opted to cross on a log near the trail crossing. As luck would have it, there was a cedar tree that went all the way across the river. Brian was brave enough to walk across the entire log. I walked about halfway, and then sat down and “scooted” across the rest of the way. At the end, while I was trying to get off, I slipped a bit and ripped my pants on one of the broken limbs. I got a scratch on the back of my leg, but nothing (other than my dignity) was really hurt. With all of us successfully across the river, we headed up the Grouse Point trail – up the other side of the Roaring River. When we got to what we thought was a good area, in a relatively level place, we headed off trail, east to the South Fork of the Roaring River. This was a river I have never seen, and is not easy to get to, as there is no trail that goes to it. The only way to see it is to bushwhack your way in. We made it to the South Fork, and crossed on a big log jam (not a great photo of the logjam, but it was BIG):
We explored around on the far side of the river for a while, and did a little looking for any evidence of the 511 trail, but found none. I think we probably didn’t go uphill enough. We also headed upriver looking for the waterfall, but we didn’t see any. It was sunny on the north side of the river and it was getting warm, so we decided to cross back over the river on another log and have lunch in a nice shady spot – this was our view:
After having lunch and watering up for the trip back, we packed up and headed back the way we came. On the way back up to the Grouse Point Trail, I saw this tree:
Which has to be one of the trees from the fire so many years ago (1920s?). When it was alive, it was a BIG tree.
Once we found the trail again, we made pretty good time back to the Roaring River. We all crossed the same way we came over – Paul and Kirk waded across and Brian and I crossed on the log. Once back across the river, it was time to regain all that elevation that we lost on the way down. It was tough, especially being at the end of the day. I continue to have breathing issues when doing serious elevation gain like this. I have to stop way more than I would like to catch my breath, but I eventually made it. I was at the back of the pack…..
It was a great day, with great company and great weather. Couldn’t ask for a better day in the woods.
Location of Hike: Music Creek Falls and Wanderers Peak
Weather during Hike: Overcast and rainy most of the day with occasional sunbreaks
Hiking Buddies: Kirk and Brian
Start Time: 1:45 AM End Time: 6:15 PM
Hike Distance: 5.4 Miles - Wanderers Peak .25 Miles - Music Creek Falls
The day took a bad turn when we encountered 12-24″ of snow on a sheltered area of the 4550 road near Pick creek. After looking at the snow (and the downed tree across the road), we opted to go for “Plan B”. Here is what stopped us:
We passed Music Creek and there is a very interesting waterfall just off the road. We turned around and went back to explore this waterfall a bit. A short hike from the road brought us to this surprising waterfall which is about 60′ or so in height. It was running pretty wild on this day due to all the rain we have had. On lower flow days, you can rock hop across the creek and go into a cave behind the waterfall, but today the waterflow was WAY too much to attempt this (without getting completely soaked in the process – we were getting wet enough due to the rain all day long). The waterfall ampitheater is very interesting – not a typical place for a waterfall. It was just kind of a bowl on the side of the hill – beyond which looked pretty normal. Very neat place to visit.
After exploring the waterfall for a bit, the plan was to go up to Wanderers peak and do some more exploring up there, potentially looking for an old trail that was supposed to exist there. We started up the spur road to Wanderers peak, and were quickly stopped by a bunch of downed trees across the road. We didn’t have anything to cut them out, so we parked and walked up the road to Wanderers peak. On the way up, we found a couple of animal skeletons. First, what appears to be a cougar skeleton:
Next was a pair of elk skeletons:
We walked up to the weather station there and explored a bit. I found that the “conduit” that I had seen last fall in the snow wasn’t really a conduit. What I thought had gone into the ground was really just sitting there – essentially it was just garbage. Mystery solved. When we got there it was REALLY foggy and rainy off and on, but after being there for a while, the fog cleared out a bit and we got a reasonably good view across the canyon to Fish Creek Mtn, Whalehead and Camelsback. The clouds kind of came and went, but we had a pretty good view from a rock outcropping below the weather station.
From there, we proceeded to head up to the “summit” of Wanderers peak on an old double track “road”. It led up to a campsite near the peak (it is pretty flat on top of Wanderers peak). We found another rock outcropping and enjoyed the views for a while until a large dark cloud came in.
The view from the top of Wanderers Peak:
We then started looking for the mystery trail. There are a LOT of small little “trails” up on top of Wanderers Peak – we wandered around a bit looking for tread, blazes or cut logs and were about ready to leave when Kirk found what he thought was a blaze (after traversing a particularly difficult section of rhodies and small fir trees). From there we continued north along the ridge, looking for blazes and cut logs. We found virtually nothing of existing/recognizable tread, but we did find quite a few blazes and a few cut logs. The terrain is relatively flat open as it progresses down the ridge. After progressing down the ridge a ways 3/4 a mile or so, the wind and rain was picking up, it was getting a bit late, and we started hearing thunder in the distance. Rather than continue looking for trail and going cross country, we opted to walk down the spur road to the end of the ridge. From there, we went downhill to road 45 through some rather dense reprod. Once on road 45, we walked back to the spur we parked on then up the spur. On the way up, there is a small spur to the east where we stopped and took in another view of the Fish Creek drainage. It was sunny for a bit, but then quickly turned back to drizzle and then rain, so we packed up and headed back up to the truck.
All in all, it was a great salvage of a day after a disappointing start. The waterfall, the views of the Fish Creek drainage and finding some good evidence of the old trail made for a wonderful adventure. And to top it all off, the weather wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it might be. It probably only rained half of the day, and most of the rain was pretty light.
Location of Hike: Fish Creek Basin - Old decomissioned roads - leading to Surprise Lake
Weather during Hike: Cloudy and drizzly
Hiking Buddies: Mark, Chris and Brian
Start Time: 10:30 AM End Time: 4:30 PM
Hike Distance: 21 miles
At most of the creek crossings the crossing was tough since all the culverts have been removed and going down and then back up the ravines was difficult. The weather sort of cooperated, but it drizzled off and on all day. It was definitely cloudy and overcast. It was interesting to see much of the area that was closed after the 1996 flooding.
Although it was a physically very tough day, it was a lot of fun, although I’m not ready to repeat it anytime soon.