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Four Stars

10/14/2017 – Pechuck Lookout

Date of Hike: 10/14/2017
Location of Hike: Pechuck Lookout
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Robert and Thor
Start Time: 10:40 AM
End Time: 3:30 PM
Hike Distance: 5 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
Today’s hike was going to be a lookout hike. The weather was supposed to be PERFECT (blue skies, clear and cool). I wanted to go to a lookout and was wavering between going to Bull of the Woods or the Pechuck Lookout. I had never been to the Pechuck Lookout and have always been fascinated by its stone design, so I opted to go there. It was supposed to be about a 5 mile round trip with about 1500′ of elevation gain.I’m not very familiar with the trails in the Molalla drainage, so this was a new adventure. I’ve hiked a couple of the trails, but not many. I looked back to when I hiked Table rock back in 2008 and I saw this note at the bottom of the trip report:

On the way home, I wanted to try and see the Pechuck Lookout, but my directions to it were not very good, and I later found out that it still requires a pretty long hike to see. I’ll go back and do that hike another time, possibly from the Rooster Rock trail.

I didn’t even remember that! Pretty funny…. But that is a big reason why I do these reports – to help me remember these trips. Sometimes it is interesting to know how may times or the last time I hiked a particular trail. At least I think it interesting. (Wow! It has been 8 years since I did this trail!)

Anyway, back to the trip – We found the trailhead pretty easily – the road was in good shape (could have easily driven a car) and there is a relatively large parking area – there was one car there we we got there, so we knew we were going to have company on the trail at some point. (more on that later). The description says it makes a pretty aggressive ascent initially, and it was pretty accurate. It gets a little better farther up, but the grade on the first part of the trail is pretty steep. It gets to switchbacks farther up which make it a bit better. As we were headed up, Thor found the first snow on an old jeep road at about 3900′ and had to play in it. I don’t know what it is about snow, but he LOVES the snow:

We continued up, finally attaining the ridge and meeting the trail that goes up to the lookout. From there, we followed the ridge down a bit and then back up to an old road where there was an old signboard – of course all the wilderness “permits” were gone – the sign was in pretty bad shape – but it was interesting to see:

This was the road before just the last push up to the lookout. I’m sure this road is gated and/or closed – The crossing was in kind of a saddle. It had 2-3″ of snow on it and Thor ended up frapping in the snow.

After letting Thor expend some energy, we continued across the road, up the trail. I think we could have gone up the road too, but the trail looked like a more direct route. Looks like there are several trails/routes up to the lookout from this point. On the way up, in a short series of switchbacks, we got this incredible view of Table Rock:

Shortly after this view, we encountered a couple who had a small dog (“Ninja”) who was off leash (like Thor was at the time) and ran over and they got into quite a tussle. I got Thor and put him on the leash and they picked up Ninja and we continued up. It was kind of funny – I wasn’t sure if they were fighting or playing, but that little dog was pretty brave – he couldn’t have been more than 10 pounds or so and he didn’t hesitate to run right up to Thor.

After that, we continued up and very shortly arrived at the Pechuck lookout with 2-3″ of snow on the ground which was melting quickly:

We went into the lookout and found a backpack and some gear – we were assuming it was from the couple we just passed. We explored the inside of the lookout and then went up the ladder into the cupola. There aren’t a lot of views left (the trees have grown up considerably), but this is the view from the cupola looking north to Table Rock:

After a few minutes looking around and figuring out how the shutters fit the windows, we headed back down the ladder. After I got home I realized I didn’t take any photos of the inside of the lower part of the lookout. Oops! It has a concrete floor and a table and a “bed” – It was really just a low, flat table, but I’m sure it was intended to be used as a bed. There were a variety of things inside the lookout, including a fire extinguisher and some other tools, along with many notes from the caretakers about reporting any problems or damage to the BLM.

We headed back outside and ate lunch. We got a weak cell signal and Robert said he thought there was a geocache up there so he tried to find the page for it. He did, and ended up finding the geocache about 300′ east of the lookout under a rocky outcropping. After finding the geocache, we packed up and headed back down the hill. Right before the road crossing, we met another backpacker headed up to the lookout to spend the night. We chatted with him for a bit and then headed down. While we were headed back up the ridge, we met “Ninja” again, but this time both dogs were on leash, so the encounter was not quite as “lively” as the last one.

We continued up the ridge to the junction and then headed down the connector trail to the trailhead. Thor was getting tired – he stopped 3 or 4 times on the trail. We found out that evening that I think he overdid it somehow – he was limping on one of his back legs. He did that on another recent trip – but the next morning he was fine.

We made it down to the truck about 3:30 and found 5 vehicles at the trailhead – we were guessing that one of the groups had gone over to Rooster Rock – one guy was just getting out of his car and wanted to go explore – it was pretty late to be starting this hike this time of year, but he was going to see what he could see.

On the way home Robert showed me the remains of the “Looney” cabin (I guess it was the Looney family cabin at some point in time) and the “Molalla Eye” on the drive back down the corridor.

It was a great way to spend a beautiful fall day. I’d like to go up and explore Rooster Rock at some point.

10/9/2017 – Rho Ridge to Hawk Mountain

Date of Hike: 10/9/2017
Location of Hike: Rho Ridge Trail to Hawk Mountain
Trail Number: 564 and 564-A
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 11:00 AM
End Time: 1:40 PM
Hike Distance: 4.2 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
Today’s hike was kind of last minute. I had wanted to do a hike today, but after Saturday’s hike when Thor was limping around after we got home, I wasn’t sure he was up to doing another hike. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I was either. I kind of decided last minute to go do this short hike – one of my favorites.

We headed out about 9:30am, and got to the trailhead about 11. When we got there, there were two cars there! I was amazed that there would be two other groups on a Monday! Anyway, we headed up and shortly met one of the groups already coming down. They said there was another group that was behind them. We caught up to them in a few minutes. They had two dogs, and I had Thor off leash and he wanted to play with his new “friends”. He wouldn’t come when I called (he apparently thought the dogs were more interesting than I was), so I had to go get him. They passed, and we headed back up. Unfortunately, there was a switchback and he saw them coming back, and so he ran down the hill to see them. I had to go get him again, and this time I put him on his leash since he was not obeying.

Anyway, we headed up, thru the clearcut area – fall colors were out in full display. The vine maple was literally on fire it was so bright. Here is a picture of Mt Jefferson with the vine maple in the foreground:

I guess this trip was mostly about the fall colors. Although I hate vine maple on the trail, it is certainly beautiful in the fall. I’m always amazed at how fluorescent the colors are. Pictures just don’t do it justice.

We continued up thru the clearcut and soon entered the woods. The trail and the woods were VERY quiet. It was very peaceful walking up to the cabin. We made good time and soon made it to the cabin. I setup my chair and we ate lunch and enjoyed the view of Mt Jefferson. After lunch, I opened up the cabin and explored inside. I just love this view from inside:

Thor didn’t seem to like being inside the cabin. Not sure what it was, but he was anxious to get back outside. So we walked around the area and I took a photo of Mt Jefferson and Olallie Butte from out towards the end of the meadow up on top:

Olallie has snow on it – I’m not sure how much longer we will have access to these high elevation trails this fall. Winter seems to be coming quickly this year.

This is probably my favorite picture of the day – The little cabin with Mt Jefferson in the background and all the fall colors in the foreground:

We enjoyed the view for a little while longer but Thor was anxious to start hiking again, so I closed up the cabin and we headed back down. As we were going down, I was wondering if I’d see any phone line insulators – there was a short piece of phone line on the trail near the top. So on the way down I made a concerted effort to scan the trees and see if I found any. I only saw one (and this isn’t a very good photo of it):

We made excellent time on the way down – it isn’t very far. When we got back to the clearcut, I snapped this photo of Olallie Butte with the fall colors in the foreground:

We got back to the truck a little after 1:30. I know that one of my friends had located the continuation of this trail and so I did a little looking across the road to see if I could find where the trail picked up, but nothing looked promising. So we got into the truck and headed back down the hill. When we got to the junction with 6350, I decided to go straight – down 4671 so I could check out the Rho Creek trailhead on the way home. The weirdest thing happened – I stopped at the trailhead, and a tow truck came the other way! I drove up to meet him since he had pulled over at a wide spot. He asked if I saw a car back up the road and I replied no. I Asked where it was supposed to be and he said road 46. I told him this wasn’t road 46 and asked him where it was supposed to be on road 46 and he said “2 or 3 miles from something”. I hadn’t seen any cars on 46 on my way in – I’m not sure how they got a call out. He said it was kind of a wild goose chase and he would keep looking. I hope he found whoever was needing help. I didn’t see anyone on my way out along 46 that looked like they needed a tow truck. Kind of a strange way to end the day!

This was a very short, but relaxing day out in the woods. Just about perfect weather for hiking – I love fall hiking.

8/26/2017 – Oneonta Gorge and Oneonta Creek

Date of Hike: 8/26/2017
Location of Hike: Oneonta Gorge and Oneonta Creek Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm
Hiking Buddies: Cass, Jeff, Torren and Kirk
Start Time: 8:15 AM
End Time: 11:50 AM
Hike Distance: 4.5 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
This was a hike with the Boy Scouts – unfortunately, we only had one scout, and 4 adults, but it was still a GREAT outing. The idea was to hike the Oneonta gorge to the waterfall (which I had never done before) and then do a hike up to one of the other waterfalls, time permitting. We opted to leave very early to help beat the worst of the crowds – I’ve been told this place can be absolutely PACKED on a Saturday – so we left the school at a little after 7am on Saturday, getting to the gorge/creek a little after 8am. We could tell it was already somewhat busy. We parked, then headed down the road to the creek for the beginning of our adventure. Note that all of the photos of the gorge were kind of washed out – I think due to the poor lighting conditions of our early morning trip. The photos absolutely don’t do the place justice.

When we got to the creek, we were greeted by these somewhat ominous stairs, that led down to the creek:

We started down the creek, not having to get wet initially, but quickly came to the “Big logjam”:

Someone had rigged up a rope on one section, and there was already a line to get past this – even at 8:30am. We shortly made it past the logjam and started up the canyon:

It was amazing to see the number and variety of people attempting this “hike” (I put hike in quotes because it is a very short trip – the biggest obstacles are the logjam and the deep water – otherwise it is only about a half mile round trip to the falls). We saw young people, old people, babies, kids of all ages – all successfully navigating these obstacles.

After walking up the river, we got to the first deep spot – it was about thigh deep on this day (other days I guess it can get up to your chest):

We got to one other deep spot (which I didn’t take a photo of) that was slightly deeper, but it was about crotch deep for me. Very soon, the falls at end of gorge appeared:

Kirk and Torren kind of dared each other and ended up swimming at the base of the falls – the water was COLD! I ended up putting my jacket on because the air temperature was pretty cool due to the early morning, coupled with the cold water was making me very chilly. My jacket kept me warm enough to not shiver anymore.

The waterfall was not terribly energetic due to the low water flow (normal for this time of year), but it was a very soothing and beautiful waterfall – especially given the dramatic canyon it sits in. I took a short video of the falls:

We spent a few minutes enjoying the waterfall and then headed back out. It was kind of interesting that there was a young couple who were flying a drone near the waterfall. I assume they were taking video of the waterfall. You can see them here (including the drone) on this shot looking back north thru the canyon:

The trip back out was pretty uneventful, but the gorge was getting more crowded – much more crowded – there were a LOT of people headed in while we were headed out.

We went back to the van and dried off and changed shoes for the hike up to Triple Falls. I was surprised the whole trip in and out of the gorge only took us about an hour – I didn’t feel like we rushed things, but it is not very far. We headed out on the Oneonta trail and soon got to an overlook of Triple Falls (a little over a mile up the trail):

It was a beautiful waterfall. We encountered quite a few people coming down as we were coming up, including a huge group of girls – we weren’t sure what group they were with, but it had to be a group of 30 or more. And there were several other groups as well. I’m not used to seeing so many people on my hikes!

After taking in the view and getting a few pictures, we headed back to the trail and shortly came to a bridge over Oneonta creek above triple falls – I got this photo of the creek just above the falls:

We crossed the bridge and explored the other side a bit and then decided we needed to turn around due to time. We turned around and headed back down – getting back to the van a little before noon. By that point, the road and parking along the old highway had become crazytown – people everywhere. We headed back the old highway and when we got to Multnomah falls, the parking areas were full and there was probably a half to a mile long backup on the eastbound lane. All people waiting to get to Multnomah falls I guess. It was really a madhouse. Originally we were going to stop for ice cream at Multnomah falls, but due to the crowds, we decided to stop in Troutdale at Dairy Queen. It was a good call!

The ice cream was a great way to cap off a short, but very unique hike. I don’t do a lot of hiking in the gorge, but this was worth the crowds – I’m just glad we went early to avoid most of them.

8/19/2017 – Corral Springs Trail – 507

Date of Hike: 8/18/2017
Location of Hike: Corral Springs Trail
Trail Number: 507
Weather during Hike: Misty at first then sunny
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:00 AM
End Time: 3:30 PM
Hike Distance: 5.75 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
This was kind of my birthday hike. I decided to do it with just Thor and me. I had wanted to head down Corral Springs for a while – 1, because I haven’t hiked it in quite a while and 2, to see if I could see any evidence of old trail on the east side of the Roaring River. Old maps show the trail continuing on across to the 511 which goes down the South Fork Roaring River.

When we got to the abandoned Lookout Springs campground (where the trailhead starts), there was a family camped there. Thor, being Thor wanted to meet them and ran over to them. He made a new friend with their son, who seemed to really like him. The dad asked me about Huxley Lake – how far, how hard, etc. I told him what I remembered from the last time I went down there and told them about the weird side trail to the lake (which tripped me up on my first attempt). When we returned from our hike, they were still in the camp and I asked if they had gone to the lake they said no. Oh well – at least they didn’t get lost.

OK, back to the hike – The beginning of this trail has some nice trees in it and the trail is pretty flat. It goes thru some beautiful old growth forest – a sample of the upper section:

And then after about a mile, it starts the brutal descent into the Roaring River canyon. Shortly, you get a great view of Indian Ridge which is across the canyon (this is near the big rockslide):

At this point, the trail changes quite a bit – it gets steeper, and the trees are much smaller and there are a lot more rhodies. A little farther, I noticed a bunch of White Iris on the trail, which is really interesting because you don’t see that very often:

As you get closer to the river, the trail gets steeper and more faint. Fortunately, there is good flagging where the trail gets really faint. And as you get closer to the river, the trees get larger as well. The lower part of the trail is somewhat like the upper part, except for an abundance of salal (which is the primary reason the trail gets so faint). We eventually arrived at the Roaring River, which wasn’t too Roaring this time of year:

We ate lunch at the campsite (which obviously hasn’t been used for a while):

Once we were done with lunch, we crossed the Roaring River (I took my boots off and waded and Thor swam) and looked for any sign of tread on the other side – we were trying to find the junction with the old 511 trail. The brush over there was brutal, and there are HUGE logs down EVERYWHERE, so moving around over there was pretty tough. A photo of the rootball of one of the downed trees (hiking pole for scale):

So many downed trees:

We did find one possible short section of something that kind of looked like tread, but it was only about 10 feet long. We found no blazes at all. We spent about 30 minutes over there looking for anything, and found nothing. I’m guessing that the maps are correct and at some point Corral Springs got re-routed farther north (its current location) from its original routing. I’m guessing any tread or blazes (if they exist) would be wherever that alignment was. Since we couldn’t really find more 511 tread across the river, I think that end of the 511 is probably gone.

We crossed back over the river – this time I thought I could rock hop, but it turned out that I missed a rock – I ended up getting wet on the far side. But it wasn’t too bad. We headed back up the steep trail, doing some brushing on the way (it allowed me to rest a bit on the long trip back uphill).

This was a burned out stump I noticed on the way back up which I thought was kind of neat:

And I really liked this little area on the way back up – an interesting combination of dying old trees and new trees taking their place:

We made it back up in pretty good time and then headed home. A very nice day in the woods – great way to spend a birthday!

8/16/2017- St Perpetua Trail – Yachats

Date of Hike: 8/16/2017
Location of Hike: St Perpetua Trail - Yachats
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Gail, Abby and Thor
Start Time: 9:30 AM
End Time: 4:00 PM
Hike Distance: 6.5
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
This hike was really cool. It was a several hikes we did on our family vacation. We went to the Cape Perpetua Scenic area, and hiked several trails:

  • Cape Cove/Captain Cook/Trail of Restless Waters trails
  • Giant Spruce Trail
  • St Perpetua/Whispering Spruce Trails

The only track I recorded was the last one (the toughest one since we had to hike up about 700′ to get to the top of the cape). I honestly didn’t think we were going to hike that much, but it just kind of happened. There is a LOT to see in this area and it was all really neat – we kind of just kept going and going and going.

Since we had Thor with us (his first trip to the beach) we started out wanting to go see “Thor’s Well”. We went down the Cape Cove/Captain Cook trails and shortly got to the beach. There was a neat overlook of a bunch of tide pools:

We continued down until we found the spouting horn (which wasn’t spouting too much on this day) – we thought we saw Thor’s well, so we went down and walked on the rocks out to it.

Thor’s well is a really interesting natural phenomenon – a hole in the ground that keeps taking on water. It has an underground cave from the ocean, that both fills and empties it as the tides go in and out. It was pretty cool to watch the water coming in and going out and making huge splashes sometimes.

After watching Thor’s well for a bit we headed back up the loop trail and then decided to head up the “Trail of the Restless Waters” up to Devil’s Churn. It is a beautiful trail along the coast where you get beautiful views like this (looking south):

And some of the beautiful old Spruce trees along the way:

And shortly, we got to Devil’s Churn, which although the surf was relatively calm, was still pretty “churny”:

We watched Devils Churn for a few minutes and then headed back – pretty quickly we were back at the visitor center. We decided to take off down the Giant Spruce Trail to go see a 500-600 year old Spruce tree. The trail was longer than we thought – about a mile each way. We eventually got to the big spruce tree, and it did not disappoint:

It is hard to grasp how large it was. The sign said it had a 40′ circumference, so if my math is correct, that means it was about 12 feet across!

Thor was enjoying himself while exploring around the tree:

After basking in the shade of this huge ancient tree, we headed back to the car for some lunch. We ate on a bench on the beautiful deck around the visitor center. After lunch, we decided to try and hike the St Perpetua trail, which went up to the top of Cape Perpetua. There is a road up there as well, but we thought we were up for a challenge, so we headed up. We all did really well, and make it to the ovelook area, which has a beautiful view looking south down the coast:

We had an intersting encounter with a lady on the overlook. She really liked Thor and proceeded to tell us a long story about her career as a veterinary technician and how she loved animals. She was with her father and they soon left, so we headed on around the loop trail at the top of the hill and found the “West Shelter” – it was built by the CCC back in the 30’s and was used as a lookout in WWII.

After completing the upper loop and getting one last look at the view from up top, we headed back down. We were all getting tired, but I guess Thor was getting REALLY tired (and hot), so partway down, in a cool spot of loose dirt, he just laid down to cool off:

It was actually pretty funny – he was a good sport all day and we hiked a lot farther than we had originally intended to. I think we did about 7 miles or so that day. Anyway, after a short rest, we continued down the trail. The trip down seemed to go a lot faster than the trip up, and we were soon back at the car. We were all kind of tired, so we were done hiking for the day – we had hiked most of the trails in this area. We decided to drive south to see the Heceta Head lighthouse and then we headed back to our rental house.

What a wonderful way to spend a day of vacation! Hiking in beautiful forest at the coast!

7/23 – 7/25/2017 – Sawtooth Backpacking

Date of Hike: 7/23-7/25/2017
Location of Hike: Pettit Lake - Sawtooth Wilderness
Weather during Hike: Mixed - Hot to cool with a little mist
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Sarah and Carly
Hike Distance: 23.5 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
This trip was our annual Father/Daughter backpacking trip and “phase 2” of the week. Phase 1 was driving to the trailhead (about 550 miles). Phase 2 was this trip, Phase 3 was a couple of days in the Grand Tetons, and Phase 4 was the long drive back home (about 1000 miles, planned to be done over two days).

Sarah picked out the location this year, which was somewhat close to where Carly is working for the summer – the Grand Tetons. The plan was somewhat loose, since we weren’t really sure exactly what we would encounter. This was the rough plan for the backpack trip:

  • Day 1 – Pettit Lake to Farley, Edith or Imogene Lake (depending on how the day went)
  • Day 2 – Hike to Alice Lake (needed a relatively short day since we were traveling to the Grand Tetons after we were done)
  • Day 3 – Alice Lake out to Pettit Lake and then drive to the Campground where Carly was working

We left home about 7am on Saturday and headed to the Pettit Lake trailhead in Idaho. We were not sure if we would be able to find a campsite at the campground there, but if not, we figured we could do some dispersed camping nearby. The plan was for Carly to meet us there – she worked until 3pm so she was going to be there late. Since there was no cell service at the campground, it was a bit iffy on whether we had all our communication correct. We got to the campground early evening and found it full, so we looked for a good dispersed spot. We found a pretty good spot near the creek and called it good. This was our campsite first night – I climbed up a small hill to get a better look at things and see if I could get a cell signal to text Carly – but had no luck.

I waited on the road in to the campground (so she would see me), and fortunately, Carly showed up a little after 9pm. I was somewhat relieved that we had successfully met up and we could now begin our 2017 trip.

We went to bed in our camp, had a VERY cold night, kind of slept in a bit due to the cold night, then woke up to frosty tents! We were surprised since it was so hot the day before. Fortunately, it warmed up pretty quickly, so we cooked breakfast, packed up and then drove to the trailhead. Shortly, we were on our way! This was where we started our adventure:

We headed down the trail, shortly taking the uphill junction to the trail that would eventually take us to Farley Lake (I couldn’t find trail names or numbers). After the junction with the trail coming in from Yellow Belly Lake (what a name!), we crossed a small creek. I was the only one who got their feet wet – I didn’t like the log crossing – but the cool water felt good on my feet. While I was putting my boots back on, a packtrain came along and crossed the creek – I think Kirk counted 12 horses:

After letting the packtrain go past us, and me getting my boots back on, we continued up the trail. Soon, we got our first real glimpse of the mountains and a flower filled meadow:

We continued up the trail – it was pretty hot by this time and the trail is pretty exposed – we were all getting really hot and trying to stay as hydrated as we could.

As we got closer to Edith Lake, the trail crossed the creek 3 times on the way up the hill – this was one crossing point:

After the third crossing we finally arrived at Edith Lake:

When we got there we encountered a rather large group – we found out later it was a group of “Father/Child” campers – they had been doing a “Father/Child” backpack trip annually for the last 5 years or so. It was interesting that we were both doing the same thing, although their children were much younger. We set up camp up on the hill above Edith Lake. The mosquitoes weren’t too bad here. Carly, Sarah and I kind of cleaned up at the lake, while Kirk went for a brief swim (the water was really COLD).

We made dinner and then pretty much just went to bed. We were all pretty tired due to the heat. I got up early the next morning and captured the sunrise from our camp on Monday morning:

And here is Edith Lake from our campsite in the morning light – we would be headed up to the pass in the upper middle of the photo. It is hard to see the ridge.

We made breakfast, cleaned and packed up and headed out (and up). We climbed above Edith Lake and starte climbing up to the pass – we passed thru this beautiful meadow:

And as the trees thinned out, we saw many of these old, fire damaged trees – I thought they were really neat looking:

As we continued up, we got into more snow, having to find the trail across large snowbanks. Most of the time it was pretty easy since there was already footprints leading the way. Here we are looking back down the valley we came up the day before – Farley and Yellow Belly Lakes below (Edith Lake is not visible):

When we got up to the pass, we climbed up a side ridge/peak (un-named – 9568)to get a good view of the area. The climb wasn’t bad at all – we dropped our packs at the pass and headed up the ridge. The view was pretty spectacular. From on top of the ridge, you could see all 3 lakes – Yellow Belly, Farley and Edith below:

And Toxaway Lake on the other side – we would be shortly heading down to it:

While exploring the peak, Carly heard some noise and saw two deer up on the peak!!! She spooked them and they ran down – but we were all surprised they were up that high. No one got any photos of them, and she was the only one who saw them unfortunately. After enjoying the views for a bit on the peak, we started down – the wind was picking up and we started to get a little light mist. We were concerned it was going to really start raining. Fortunately, that was about all we got – a few very light drops of rain and light mist.

We continued down the long slow, descent to Toxaway Lake (the trails were really well graded), and we walked thru a variety of beautiful wildflower meadows:

When we got down to the trail junction at Toxaway, we saw a couple of guys having a break near the campsite area. We stopped for a few minutes and then continued down around the Southeast corner of the lake and ran into the bottom of an avalanche that occurred last winter:

On top of the avalanche area we got a good view up the hill to where we could be going later. It was a really neat smooth rock hillside where the snowmelt was coming down. We ended up having lunch here and resting a bit. There was another family with small children (you can see them near the water in the above photo) that was ahead of us who we would see off and on up the trail for a bit.

After lunch, we continued up the hill and ran into more avalanche damage up the hill. This damage completely obliterated the trail for a bit and was difficult to figure out where to go:

We successfully navigated the avalanche damage and shortly got to the first of 3 small un-named lakes before the pass:

We continued up (and up and up) – this is almost to the pass – looking back from where we came:

And we finally get to the pass with its 20′ wall of snow – I should have taken a photo of the other side of it. It was pretty impressive (the trail heads off on the left side, hugging the cliff to begin):

Once we were over the pass, you get a good view of the Twin and Alice Lakes below:

We headed down the trail, encountering a few snow fields and quite a few people (including families with small children) coming up. It didn’t take too long for use to reach the shoreline at Twin Lakes:

We went out on the land spit between the two lakes and explored a bit, enjoying the beautiful location – nestled between the mountains. After exploring around the Twin Lakes a bit, we continued on our journey down to Alice lake. On the way, there was this “right turn” waterfall which was really cool:

And finally, we came to our objective for the day – Alice Lake with El Capitan towering over it:

We started looking for a good campsite, and finally found one, although the mosquitoes were TERRIBLE – you could HEAR them buzzing in the swarms. They were close to the worst I’ve experienced (I think Serene Lake and Cache Meadow many years ago was worse):

After we got camp setup, we explored a bit more – here is a cool island in Alice Lake:

As usual, we made dinner, cleaned up and pretty much went to bed – partly due to being tired, but partly due to the mosquitoes. We planned to try and get an early start so we could get on the road to the Grand Tetons (it is at least a 6 hour drive – over 300 miles). We got up the next morning and quickly made breakfast and broke camp. I think we were on the trail by a little after 8. On our way out, we got this great view of Alice lake with El Capitan looming over it:

And then the rest of the mountains surrounding the southeast side of Alice Lake:

Once we got past Alice Lake and its little lakes below it, we saw our final objective for this trip – headed down the valley and back to Pettit Lake:

On the way down the hill, we ran into more avalanche damaged areas and had to find our way around the area where the trail was obliterated. At one point, we got slightly separated and I ended up crossing a creek, only to have to come back over when I heard Kirk yelling at me from up on the rockslide-luckily I heard him over the roar of the creek!. I had gone down to explore what looked like a possible trail (I think it was an old alignment of the trail that was no longer used). We ended up going up into a rockfield and around all the damage and eventually re-joined the trail.

After that experience, shortly after we re-joined the trail, we stopped at a rockslide that was next to the creek. We saw a Pika there (this isn’t a great photo since he was hard to see, but he was pretty cute):

And continued down the hill towards Pettit Lake. I think we counted like 5 creek crossings on the way down. Most were pretty easy, but the last one was rather difficult. There was a family there trying to get across. Carly ended up crossing on a sketchy log, I ended up putting my crocs on and getting wet – Kirk and Sarah crossed on a pair of logs a bit upstream (which was really the best option). After making that last crossing we were almost to the last mile hike to the trailhead:

We finally got there (it seemed like a REALLY long mile). We did a little cleaning up in the bathroom in preparation for our trip to the Grand Tetons, and then headed out – I think it was about 11:30 when we left the trailhead. On to phase 3 of the trip!

On the drive to the Grand Tetons, we went thru the Craters of the Moon park – I snapped this quick photo from the car – we didn’t stop since we had a long ways to go, but it was pretty interesting. Someday it would be nice to stop and investigate it.

We had lunch in Hailey, Idaho at the “Power House” (great burgers and an interesting place – a combination pub/restaurant/bike shop), and then drove to the Signal Mountain Campground in the Grand Tetons where Carly is working this summer. Fortunately, we had a campsite waiting for us. We setup camp and then started our next phase of this trip.

This backpacking trip was tough, but very interesting, and areas that I’d not seen before. It was great to spend several days with Carly. We had a great time and saw some beautiful scenery. I can’t wait for whatever trip we plan for next year.

7/27/2016 – Grand Tetons – Mormon Row and Laurel Lake

Date of Hike: 7/27/2017
Location of Hike: Grand Tetons - Mormon Row and Laurel Lake
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Sarah and Carly
Start Time: 3:50 PM
End Time: 5:50 PM
Hike Distance: 2.5 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
This was our last day in the Grand Tetons, and Carly had to work a morning shift (until 3PM). We decided to do some “touristy stuff” in the morning and early afternoon, deciding to drive around a bit and visit the visitor center, Mormon Row, the Cunningham Cabin, and the top of Signal Mountain.

We started at the visitor center and enjoyed the exhibits and displays and watched a short movie on the Grand Tetons. From there, we drove around to Mormon Row, which is an abandoned row of homesteads. There were several homesteads and buildings along this road, but this is a photo of the Thomas Murphy Homestead:

After walking around the Mormon homesteads for a bit, we got back in the car and went to see the Cunningham Cabin. He was another early settler:

We then decided to go up to the top of Signal Mountain – you can drive to the top and get a great view of the whole valley. This is Jackson Lake from the top of Signal Mountain:

By this time it was almost time for Carly to get off work, so we headed back to camp to get ready for our last short hike up to Laurel Lake. As we were headed back to camp, we ran into a “Bear Jam” – a Bear had been chased out of the campground and was along the road. People had stopped in the middle of the road to take pictures. The bear seemed completely uninterested in all the attention it was getting.

We got changed and met Carly and then headed out to the String Lake trailhead. This “trail” split off from the String Lake trail and then headed (literally) straight up the hillside to Laurel Lake. There were a few very short switchbacks (more like a snake trail than switchbacks) and a lot of the trail was very brushy, but it was pretty easy to follow – you can tell a fair number of people hike this unofficial trail. This is a photo looking down the trail – the hillside is probably 45 degrees or more the whole way – you can see the official trail down near the lake:

We made good time and it didn’t take too long to get up to the lake since the ascent was pretty aggressive. We gained about 850 feet in short order. We found the lake and it was a beautiful small lake in a bowl:

We enjoyed the lake for a bit and then headed back to the car and then on to Leek’s Marina for some great pizza. A great way to end our stay in the Grand Tetons.

7/26/2017 – Grand Tetons – Delta, Surprise and Ampitheater Lakes

Date of Hike: 7/25/2017
Location of Hike: Grand Tetons - Delta, Surprise and Amphitheater Lakes
Weather during Hike: Ranged from Sunny to Misty
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Sarah and Carly
Start Time: 10:45 AM
End Time: 4:30 PM
Hike Distance: 7.25 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
This hike was the first hike with Carly in the Grand Tetons. This was a partly offtrail hike (up to Delta Lake) and then up to Surprise and Amphitheater lakes.

We started out and headed up the Lupine Meadows trail, which then joined the Amphitheater Lake trail. On switchback number 6, there was a pretty rough side trail (goat path, really), that led you up to Delta Lake. It went thru two rock fields and in some places straight up the hill. It was a challenging route. Here is one portion of one of the rock fields:

And a photo looking up from below on the descent – this hill was probably at least 60 degrees – maybe steeper:

Once we got up to Delta Lake (we would see later in the day how it got its name), we hiked around the north side of the lake to a very large rock in the water. We had lunch on this rock and enjoyed this view of the Grand Teton:

After having lunch and enjoying the view for a bit, we headed back down to the junction with the Amphitheater Lake trail. On the way down, we saw these pouches on a tree and a small placard explaining what they were. They are trying to save the Whitebark pine trees from the mountain pine beetle, and the pouches are “pheromone pouches” which must repel the beetles.

We continued down the trail to the junction with the real trail and at this point, Carly went downhill since she had to go to work. We continued up the hill to Surprise and Amphitheater lakes. On the way up, we talked with a man who said we should continue past Amphitheater lake up to the ridge above the lake – he said it was quite a view and worth the climb.

Shortly after Carly left us, we saw a deer right off the trail. He didn’t seem to be too concerned about our presence. He just kept munching away at the brush as we walked up the trail:

A little later, we started to feel a little drizzle. This continued for a while and got heavier. Unfortunately, I did not bring rain gear on this hike since I only had my little teeny day pack. I did bring my OmniHeat jacket, which isn’t waterproof, but it kept me warm while it rained. The rain let up somewhat, but continued for a few hours.

Shortly, we came to Surprise Lake:

We tried to shelter under some trees at Surprise Lake, but still got wet there. After spending a few minutes checking things out, we went back to the trail and headed up to aptly named Amphitheater Lake:

Since it was still raining, we didn’t waste much time and headed up the north side of the lake on a somewhat legible user trail. We headed up to a small pass between the Amphitheater lake basin and the Delta Lake basin. Although we couldn’t see Delta Lake from there, it was quite a view:

There was also quite a “chute” between the ridge and where we were standing – it went all the way down to the Delta basin-about 1000′ below:

After checking this out for a few minutes, Sarah and I were ready to head back down, but Kirk wanted to explore a bit higher. We were tired, but waited for Kirk to explore up higher. I’m so glad he did, because he found a really cool little platform where we could see Delta Lake (the lake we visited in the morning):

You could see how this lake got its name – seeing the delta feeding it and the sediment going into the lake. It was really interesting to see the lake from 1000′ above like that – you couldn’t even see the brown part of the lake from below!

After enjoying the view of Delta lake from above, we headed back down to Amphitheater lake. When we were coming up, Kirk thought he saw some sort of climbers trail on the south side of the lake up high. When we went back down, there were two climbers heading up (they are pretty small but they are in the upper snowbank in the middle of the photo):

That was really interesting to see. We were thinking they might try and summit one of the mountains.

After watching the climbers fora bit, we continued down the trail. Shortly after that point, the rain mostly stopped, so we took off our rain gear and continued down the hill. The trip down was pretty quick (compared to going up). We got back to the trailhead about 3:30 and headed back to camp – a wonderful days adventure in a BEAUTIFUL place.

6/17/2017 – Burnt Granite

Date of Hike: 6/17/2017
Location of Hike: Bunrt Granite Trail
Trail Number: 595
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Charles, Robert and Thor
Start Time: 10:50 AM
End Time: 6:10 PM
Hike Distance: 6 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
The hike today was originally supposed to be a different one, but we found out that we couldn’t get to the trailhead due to lingering snow. So, we decided to hike the old Burnt Granite trail – a segment of the Skyline Trail back in the day.

We had not really planned on doing much in the way of maintenance but we did more that we planned to, moving and cutting small logs off the trail – since the trees in the lower section of this trail are pretty small, it isn’t too hard to do with a handsaw. One thing we noticed on one of the cut trees – VERY small growth rings – although this tree is only 5″ or so in diameter, it looks to be 30-40 years old!:

As we continued up the trail, we were enjoying the brush work from a couple of years ago – still holding up very well:

Shortly, we got to a decent sized log that was partially rotten. Charles decided he could saw it out with his handsaw. It turned out to be more involved than originally thought, but we did end up removing it. A before shot (well, kind of a “during” shot):

And what it looked like after it was cut and pushed off the trail:

We stopped for lunch at the 3rd switchback and then continued up the trail. Up to that point, we had not seen any snow, but about 4500′ we saw our first snow on the trail:

The snow wasn’t too bad – it was intermittent and got kind of deep in spots, but we were able to keep going. When we got to the junction with the Tarzan Springs trail, Charles said he was going to turn around and head back down. Robert and I continued up the trail, and would join him back and the vehicles later. We made it up to the first rockslide, where we were treated to beautiful views of Mt Jefferson and Olallie Butte::

I had thought it would be fun to go up to the top of Burnt Granite, but once we started seeing the snow, I figured it would be too deep up there. Shortly before we hit the rockslide the snow disappeared, and the route up the hill (there is no trail left up there), seemed relatively clear, so we decided to head uphill to the saddle below Burnt Granite and then walk the ridge up to the top. It wasn’t TOO difficult, but we did encounter some significant snow drifts up on top, but we were able to get thru them. Once on top, we found a cut area, which was an old helispot:

I never knew that existed. Kind of a neat find.

We continued up the ridge until we got to the top of Burnt Granite, which is all covered in trees now:

We then continued over to the east side, just below the top where we found the post and telephone wire that we had found on a prior visit:

While we were up there, I took a video of Thor playing in the snow – he always cracks me up when he does this:

We spent a few minutes up on top, and then headed back down – eventually finding the trail. The way down was a little more covered in rhodies than the way up, but we managed to find the trail again, and then headed down. We lopped a few of the worst of the rhodies on the way down, but didn’t really do much – we were already running late. We ended up getting back to the truck about 6:00, which would put us back in town around 7:30. Charles was starting to wonder where were were! We decided to stop at Fearless on the way home – we were hungry – Charles had to get home so he didn’t join us. The burger and beer tasted really good after a hard day of hiking and trail work!

A great early summer day in the woods!

5/27/2017 – Bissell, Old Baldy, White Iris Trails

Date of Hike: 5/27/2017
Location of Hike: Bissell, Old Baldy and White Iris Trails
Trail Number: 502
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Charles, Zack, Robert, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:25 PM
End Time: 4:30 PM
Hike Distance: 5.5 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
I had a 3 day weekend for Memorial Day and the weather was supposed to be beautiful (if a little warm for this time of year). So, I wanted to get out and do a hike. Options are still somewhat limited due to the heavy snow load this year.

I had been thinking of hiking MP3 up to the Rimrock trail and trying to get out to the overlook or maybe going up 4635 and the Cripple Creek up to Cache meadow. Charles had the great idea of doing a shuttle hike using the old Bissell Trail, Old Baldy and the White Iris trail. I was hoping that the Iris would be in bloom, but due to the late spring, it had unfortunately not bloomed yet.

He also said those of us who were “adventurous” could go down and explore the un-named lake below Old Baldy. That all sounded intriguing to me, so we all planned to head out early on Saturday morning. The plan was to leave one car at the White Iris Trailhead, then drive up to the Bissell Trailhead (about 2 miles up the road), and then hike the Bissell trail up to a point where we could head cross country over to the un-named lake below Old Baldy. After exploring the lake, we were going to go up to Old Baldy, and then head down the Old Baldy trail to its junction with the White Iris Trail and take that back to the 4615 road where we could retrieve the other car.

The day went off mostly as planned with the exception of the beginning of the White Iris trail. We ran into some serious snow on the Old Baldy trail, and were unable to continue following it, so we ended up going cross country in the general direction of the White Iris trail, hoping to find it. We eventually did, and followed it the rest of the way down.

OK, on to the play by play and photos of the day.
We made quick work of the Bissell trail, and although the uphil to get to the un-named lake below Old Baldy was physically difficult, it didn’t take too long. Once up the hill, we stopped at the top to eat lunch and rest a bit before heading downhill to the lake. There was this weird hanging snag next to where we ate lunch:

The only thing holding it up was the top branch on the snag next to it. Very odd, although it looks like it has been hanging there for quite some time, so it must be pretty solid.

After eating lunch, we headed down the steep slope to the lake. Just before the lake, Zack found this really cool cave-no sign of bears, however:

Continuing down the hill (it had gotten less steep by now), we found the un-named lake below Old Baldy:

But there was still LOTS of snow and ice at the lake – it was still mostly frozen over!:

We explored around the lake, and while doing so, Thor ended up kind of falling into the lake. I think he ran out on to the ice and it broke. It didn’t seem to bother him much, but he didn’t stay in the water too long. It had to be VERY COLD in that lake!

We ended up walking all the way around the lake, exploring the outlet and the other side of the lake. Once we had finished exploring, we headed back uphill. We opted to go a different way up, which was a bit less steep (although it was still pretty steep). In a few minutes, after much huffing and puffing, we made it around the east side of Old Baldy and found the trail up to the top. Kirk, Robert and I headed up and spent a few minutes on top while Zack and Charles waited on the trail below. Thor was enjoying himself on top of Old Baldy (there isn’t much of a view on top of Old Baldy – it isn’t very “bald” anymore):

After a few minutes on top, we headed back down (we heard Charles yelling for us down below). We continued south on the Old Baldy trail encountering very little snow – this was the largest patch of snow we saw (other than down by the lake) – until we got near the White Iris Junction:

We headed down the trail and soon found a beautiful viewpoint with views of many of the mountains to the north – Mt Hood and Wildcat Mountain from the viewpoint on Old Baldy trail:

After enjoying the view for a few minutes, we packed up and headed down the trail. We made good time until the trail crossed over the ridge onto a north facing slope and the snow got REALLY deep, REALLY fast (like from nothing to 3 or 4 feet of snow). We weren’t exactly sure where the junction was with the White Iris trail, but knew the map was wrong. Since the snow was making it really difficult to follow the trail, and it was also making it hard to walk, we decided to head downhill in the general direction of the White Iris trail and eventually found it. We soon got out of the snow in the woods, however there was still a LOT of snow at the 4614 road crossing on the White Iris trail:

We picked up the trail on the other side of the road and we had no problem finding and keeping the trail all the way back down to 4615. It was a little warm in the cut area going down the hill, since we were in the full sunshine. Fortunately, we were going downhill, and the exposed area wasn’t too long. Thor has apparently had enough though – about half way down the hill, he stopped in the shade behind a tree and laid down. I gave him some water and let him rest a bit and he was then ready to finish the trip. I think he was getting hot in the sun. Black fur makes it easy to get REALLY warm in the sun!

We did a fair amount of trail maintenance on this trip as well, doing a bit of lopping and cutting or moving quite a few trees off the trail.

A beautiful day in the woods with good friends. Per tradition, We stopped at Fearless for a great end to the day!

5/21/2017 – Dickey Creek Trail

Date of Hike: 5/20/2017
Location of Hike: Dickey Creek Trail
Trail Number: 553
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Robert, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:30 PM
End Time: 5:30 PM
Hike Distance: 6.8 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
Today’s hike was intended to shake off the winter “blahs” after all the rain and snow we’ve had this winter. Spring is coming late due to all the snow – there was new snow below 4000′ just a week ago! The snow is supposed to be melting now, not accumulating!

Anyway, Dickey Creek is low enough to be accessible earlier in the year, so I thought it would be a good trail to hike. The trail has been extended by about a half mile in the last few years – the last half mile of the spur road to the old trailhead has been decommissioned and turned into trail. The “trail” past the old trailhead is an old spur road too, so the first 3/4 to a mile of this trail is walking old roads – but they are in good shape for the most part.

When we got to the trailhead, there was a vehicle there – we met a lone backpacker on his way out. While we were getting ready, a couple pulled in and asked about the trail. They had intended to go to Pansy lake but apparently couldn’t get there due to snow. We thought we heard them at one point, but never saw them on the trail all day long. When I got back home, I checked the elevation for the road to Pansy lake and it didn’t appear to get to 4000′, so if that is true, higher trailheads will be inaccessible much longer this spring due to the heavy snowpack.

We headed down the trail and shortly arrived at the old trailhead and kept heading down an even older spur road (I’m guessing this trail might have been built after they logged this area), and pretty quickly we were at the dreaded “rotten log bridge” – normally, I walk across the big log (it has always felt very stable and strong to me), even though the trail walks around it. Thor did not want to walk across the log, so we went around. (on the way back I broke one of the sticks across the water and fell in – oops!)

We continued down and got to the steep descent into the old growth groves and the part that follows the creek. The steep descent has gotten a lot better as they have added steps in some places, but it is still very steep and there is a lot of ground movement on that hill – some of the steps have even moved since they were put in a few years ago. We were able to successfully navigate the steep downhill part and soon came to one of my favorite parts of the trail – the old growth groves (this old photo was taken on a 2005 trip):

Continuing down, the trail crosses several small side creeks like this one (all of them un-named):

There was a fair amount of blowdown from the winter – we cleared a couple that we were able to on the way up, but decided to press on and get to the creek crossing so we could eat lunch. Here is the camp at the Dickey Creek crossing – our turnaournd point:

And the new log “bridge” at Dickey Creek crossing – this has come down very recently it appears.

After eating lunch we all sat and enjoyed the creek – each in their own way. I enjoyed the sounds of the river and the beautiful blue sky:

Kirk decided to cross on another log upstream and Ollie was having separation anxiety when Kirk was on the other side of the creek. Ollie ended up crossing over to the other side of the creek on the new log and then they both came back on the same log a few minutes later:

I recorded a short movie of Dickey Creek (you will hear Thor bark partway thru – he was tied up and not too happy about it):

After a while of enjoying the symphony of the babbling creek, we decided we should head back up. The intention was to clear up some of the blowdown we had come over on the way down. We only had loppers and a small handsaw, but we did a fair amount of trail maintenance. A couple of examples – Before

After – the larger log was too big to cut, and the lower one made a good step to get over the upper log so we left it

Before

After

On the way back up we did clear quite a few downed trees (I lost track of how many). If they were too big to cut or move off the trail, we trimmed all the branches off to make them easier to get over or under. I’m guessing there are a half dozen or so trees left on the trail, but all were trimmed up. We definitely left the trail in a lot better shape than we found it!

On the way back up, we stopped again at one of the overlooks and I noticed how Beautiful clear the water in Dickey Creek is:

And another random photo of Thor playing in one of the creek crossings – he really loves the water – and the snow:

Here is a photo of teeny tiny growth rings – this log was in the boggy area, and I remember having to step over it last time I was on this trail – it was really hard to get over – I was glad to see it had been cut:

Lastly, Robert captured this great photo of some really interesting fungus (I’m not sure where he saw this):

We made it thru all the blowdown, and then made the slow trek back up the steep section. We got back to the van around 5:30. Pretty tired, but pleased with a good day of hiking with good friends.

We stopped at Fearless for dinner – great way to cap off a great day!

11/19/2016 – Buck Lake Trail – old 701

Date of Hike: 11/19/2016
Location of Hike: Buck Lake Trail
Trail Number: 701
Weather during Hike: Cold, sunny at times, overcast others
Hiking Buddies: Zack
Start Time: 10:20 AM
End Time: 3:15 PM
Hike Distance: 6.7 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
This hike was an opportunity to explore the old 701 Trail – It is referred to as the Buck Lake trail on the old maps. I was made aware of it recently and wanted to explore it since it appeared to be a relatively long segment of an old trail. It was also probably my last opportunity for a higher elevation hike this year due to impending snowfall.

We got to the trailhead a little after 10:00, and found just a little bit of snow:

We headed up the short trail, and while I had planned on going to the lake and then going up, Zack had seen some segments of trail on previous hikes in the area, so we headed up the ridge off the trail about half way to the lake. We shortly found the first evidence of trail – a blaze and tread:

And a little farther up we found a very old cut log:

We continued up the ridge, mostly following blazes, but occasionally losing the trail in the snow. We finally arrived on top of the ridge, where the terrain flattens out. This area has been cut extensively in the past, so the trail goes in and out of cut areas, making it difficult to follow (especially in the snow, since it obscures many clues to the trail). There is also a tremendous amount of blowdown in places, making traversal quite difficult. Here is what it looks like on top in one of the easier to traverse spots:

In one particularly well maintained section, we did find some interesting artifacts. The tread was discernible and blazes were plentiful, and someone had worked on cutting out a number of downed logs. We also saw these “diamonds” along the way – Red, blue and one yellow one:

Our guess as to the purpose of these was to mark the trail for winter use – maybe snow shoeing or cross country skiing, but that was just a guess. They were high up on the trees, maybe 10-12′ high, placed at regular intervals marking the trail.

When we got up higher (we actually got up to about 4800′ in places), and got into some of the cut areas, the snow we getting a bit deep, and any semblance of trail was almost impossible to see. We were soaking wet from being rained on (melting snow from the trees) all day long, and decided to cut our losses and take the roads back rather than trying to go back the way we came. We figured it would be easier and much faster – I think that was a good call. We headed over to the 160 spur and hiked down to a point where it looked like it would be easier to go thru the woods. That also turned out to be a good call – in the uncut trees the snow was almost non existent and the underbrush was very easy to walk thru. We walked uphill back up to the flat area and then headed down the “nose” back to the 240 spur. On the way down, we encountered 3 or 4 of these rock outcroppings, which were really interesting. Here is the largest of the 4:

These would be interesting to explore – I think this one in particular would yield a nice view from the top. We didn’t want to climb it with all the snow on it. An adventure for another day.

We soon came to the 240 spur and headed back down to the trailhead. That was easy walking and we quickly made it back to the trailhead, and a warm truck. A stop at Fearless on the way home made for a great end to a great exploration. Probably the last high elevation one for this hiking season. This trail will stay on my list of “todos” for next year, for further exploration.

10/28/2016 – MP3 and Rimrock Trails

Date of Hike: 10/28/2016
Location of Hike: MP3 and Rimrock Trails
Trail Number: 704
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Dave and Bodie (in spirit)
Start Time: 10:15 AM
End Time: 3:45 PM
Hike Distance: 7.8 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
Today’s hike was very unique. It was unique for two reasons – first, it was my first hike with Dave. Second, it was my last hike with Bodie (in spirit) where I spread his ashes on the overlook on the Rimrock trail.

Originally, I had planned to do the hike myself, but Dave and I had been emailing back and forth and he was interested in the MP3 trail, so I thought I could show him the trail and hike it up to Rimrock and then out to the overlook.

The weather was almost perfect. It was sunny and reasonably warm for a later October day but it was somewhat windy up on the overlook which was a bit chilly.

We met at the church and I drove up to the trailhead. We had great conversation on the way about all sorts of trails in the Clackamas district. Soon we got to the trailhead and shortly headed up the trail. We soon got to the first rockslide which had a neat view of the clouds still stuck in the valley:

We continued up the trail and eventually got to the junction with the Rimrock trail. We headed up Rimrock to the overlook where we had lunch.

After lunch, it was time to say my final goodbye to Bodie. I went out on the overlook, said goodbye and scattered his ashes to the wind. It was sad to say goodbye to a great hiking partner, but he had a good life, and 14 1/2 years is a good run for a dog. All good things must come to an end. Here was his ashes final resting spot:

After performing that sad task, I enjoyed the view of Mt Jefferson for a bit:

We were both getting cold so we quickly headed back downhill, trying to get the blood flowing. Near the overlook, I spied this thing I never noticed before, even though I’ve been up there numerous times:

After looking at the 1/4 section benchmark, we quickly headed downhill again. We made pretty good time going down, stopping a couple of times for water and also to soak up the sunshine in one of the rock fields. We got back to the truck about 3:45 and headed home.

A great (and also sad) day out in the woods.

10/2 – 10/3/2016 – Thornton Lakes Backpack

Date of Hike: 10/2 - 10/3/2016
Location of Hike: Thornton Lakes Trail
Weather during Hike: Partly cloudy to overcast
Hiking Buddies: Carly
Start Time: 11:00 AM
End Time: 11:00 AM
Hike Distance: 11 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
This trip was kind of a last minute plan. Originally, I didn’t think we would be able to do our annual Father/Daughter backpack trip due to Carly working in Stehekin again, but she sent me a message mid September thinking it might work the first week of October. I pulled together a few options and we decided to try the Trapper Lakes trail – it is a little farther west than the trip we did last year – the Devils Dome Loop. Due to the time of year and the amount of driving involved, we could only do a 2 day/1 night trip, but that turned out to be just perfect.
The plan:

  • Day 1 – Drive up to Chelan and pick up Carly off the ferry – drive to somewhere around Winthrop and spend the night.
  • Day 2 – Drive to the Thornton Lakes trailhead and head up the hill – taking a side trip up to Trapper Peak – camp the night at Thornton Lake.
  • Day 3 – Hike back down to the truck and drive back to somewhere near Chelan to camp the night.
  • Day 4 – Drop Carly off at the ferry and then drive home.

The actual trip changed a bit, as we talked we decided that Carly could just come home with me and then we could look for a car for her. She could go back up to Stehekin/Wenatchee later. The weather was a big unknown, as some of the weather reports were talking about snow and/or rain and freezing temperatures. Whatever happened, I knew it was going to be quite an adventure.

I headed up on a Saturday morning to Chelan – the drive was pretty uneventful (although long). Made it to the ferry early, as I left early and made good time. Fortunately, the ferry was on time and I picked up Carly and we headed out. Since it is getting dark earlier, and the trailhead was 3 miles from the ferry landing, I decided Winthrop was a good spot and since we were only going to “camp” one night, and the weather was kind of iffy, I decided to get a hotel for that night. It turned out to be a good decision, as we would have been setting up camp in the dark. We made it to Winthrop and had dinner and filled up the truck and pretty much went to bed.

We got up Sunday morning and had the continental breakfast at the hotel and then packed up and headed out. In the field next to the hotel, they were preparing to launch a hot air balloon, which was kind of interesting:

We had about an hour and a half drive to the trailhead, so we headed out – we stopped for coffee at a little bakery in Winthrop and found out it was so busy because there was a marathon that day. Good thing I got a reservation for the hotel!

We headed up highway 20, marveling at all the huge mountains and dramatic views along the way. We passed the trailhead we hiked last summer, near Ross Lake. A bit further down the road was an overlook – looking out over Diablo Lake – we stopped to take a look:

Quite a dramatic place. After enjoying those views for a few minutes we headed back out and shortly made it to the town of Newhalem where there was a North Cascades visitor center. We stopped there for a bit to see what was there. Lots of exhibits and info about animals and trees and such. Neat place.

We headed back out and soon got to the trailhead – after driving up a 5 mile long narrow rough road (the whole reason I brought the truck rather than the car and I’m glad I did). There were 3 other cars at the trailhead, which kind of surprised me since we were at the beginning of October and the weather hadn’t been all that great. We weren’t sure if we were going to have decent weather or not – the weather report had gotten better – from rain/snow to showers and possibly some sun – but still forecast to be near freezing at night. We got ready and headed down the trail – the first couple miles of the trail is actually the continuation of the road – it was closed to vehicles due to some washouts but was still pretty much a road. Since the trail was relatively flat and easy walking, we made great time on this portion of the trip. Soon, we got to the Thornton Creek Crossing:

A little farther, the actual trail portion took off uphill. Portions of this were steep and rocky, but overall it wasn’t too bad. As we neared the top of the hill, the trail leveled out a bit and there was a neat meadow area:

We continued up to the pass where there was a side/unofficial trail up to the top of Trapper Peak. Carly had read that it got a bit steep in places but was a non technical climb, so we dropped our packs in the woods and headed up the side trail. It basically follows the ridgeline up the top of Trappers peak, although it does get a bit steep in places:

About halfway up was this interesting, very small (about 8 feet in diameter) tarn:

In about 45 minutes we reached the top – we looked bakc down at where we had come – this was not all the way up the hill, but you can see the ridge route down to the pass:

This gave us some impressive views in all directions. We got a great view of Upper Thornton Lake, which would be very difficult to hike to – it is in a huge bowl:

And here is a view of both of the two upper Thornton lakes:

The views were in all directions and were incredible – we were very blessed with good weather – the clouds had mostly cleared and the wind was very calm. An absolutely beautiful fall day.

Here is a few of some of the fall colors down in the valley from the top of Trapper Peak:

And what it looked like on top of Trapper Peak – there were like 3 little “peaks” with flat areas in between:

Here is a 360 degree panorama video from the top of Trapper Peak:

After enjoying the views for about an hour, we headed back down – we wanted to make sure we would get to our campsite in plenty of time before dark and it was already almost 4:00. So we headed down and shortly got back to our packs and headed over the saddle and down the rough, steep, narrow trail down to the lake. It was kind of a slow trip down since it was pretty tough. Once we got down, we then had to make our way across a difficult boulder field and then across the logjam at the outlet of the lake (it was a LOT harder than it looks – those rocks are HUGE, and pretty steep).

We made it across and then decided which of the two campsites we wanted to use – we opted for the first one, since it seemed a little nicer than the second one, and we would be serenaded by the outlet creek. Our campsite at Thorton Lake:

Here is what the lake looked like from near our campsite – looking up at Trapper Peak where we were earlier in the day:

We set up camp and were both hungry so we made dinner and then cleaned up. By that time it was starting to get dusky and chilly, so we buttoned up the campsite for the night, hung our food and crawled into the tent.

It got cool overnight, but I don’t think it got as cold as was predicted (34 degrees). When we woke in the morning, it was foggy, which I’m thinking might have kept some heat in to keep it a little warmer. We got up, made breakfast and then packed up and headed back up that horrible trail. I had to stop 3 times to take layers off – I was getting too hot!

On the way back up, I stopped to take this photo of the lake, which is kind of a neat point of view:

We made good time on the way back up and arrived at the truck about 11am – shortly after we got there, it started lightly raining – the first rain we had on the trip. We changed our clothes for the long drive back home and packed up the truck and headed out. We had 309 miles and about 6 and half hours of driving (according to Google). We stopped somewhere north of Seattle for lunch and then stopped in north Vancouver for dinner, finally arriving home about 7pm.

It was a very short trip, but it was pretty incredible, and I was very happy to be able to take the trip with Carly. I hope we can plan a trip next year – I really enjoy our father/daughter trips – I assume it will probably be somewhere in the same neighborhood since she really likes the North Cascades.

9/16/2016 – Rimrock Trail – 704

Date of Hike: 9/16/2016
Location of Hike: Rimrock Trail
Trail Number: 704
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Start Time: 12:00 PM
End Time: 3:25 PM
Hike Distance: 5.6 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
I needed to burn some vacation days for 2016, so I’ve taken off most of the Fridays in September. I was thinking of what trail to hike on this particular Friday and this one is one of my favorites – I love the overlook and since the weather looked pretty good, it seemed like a good candidate. This overlook is where I scattered portions of my dad’s ashes in 2010.

I got a late start to my hike, being lazy and sleeping in. So I didn’t get to the trailhead until about 11:30 – when I got out of the truck, I smelled something smoky. When I looked around, there was a campsite across the road from the trailhead and the fire pit was smoking. I went over to investigate and it appears as though they let their fire get out of control and burn really hot and then when they left, they did not douse the fire with water. It ended up smoldering for who knows how long, getting to 2 feet or so outside of the fire ring:

I didn’t have my shovel or extra water, so I used a stick to try and dig it up and pour water on it – when I poured water on it it was still REALLY hot. I even hiked down the trail to the swampy area near the start to see if I could get more water, but was pretty much just mud this time of year. By the time I got done, it seemed OK so I headed out on my hike.

I was now out of water (2 water bottles – about 72 oz of water), so I needed to try and find some water. Fortunately, I had read about a spring along the trail – I had wanted to investigate it anyway, but now it was more important. I actually needed the water! I would have been OK without it, but it would be nice to have a little bit of water at least. Fortunately, I was able to easily find the spring – it had a reasonable trail to it and was flagged:

I was able to pull about 32 oz of water to filter from it, enough to fill one of my bottles, which was fine for this trip. Thank goodness!

After filling my bottle, I headed back to the main trail and up to the overlook. It was a reasonably clear day so the views were pretty good:

Here is a short video of the panorama:

I spent about an hour up there, eating lunch, enjoying the view and “living in the moment”. It was very pleasant up there with a slight breeze blowing. While I was eating, a bald eagle flew about 20 feet over my head! The large birds seem to like this area since there must be good thermals due to the steep cliffs.

While I was up looking at the wonderful panorama, I noticed this smoke plume to the West/Southwest:

It looks like a forest fire to me, but maybe it is something else. Hopefully so.

Since I needed to get back, after about an hour, I headed back down the trail, making EXCELLENT time back to the truck. One thing that always amazes me about this trail is its corridor. You can tell this trail was heavily used back in the day – the corridor is 6-8 feet wide all the way. Plenty of space for wide pack animals.

I got back to the truck a little before 3:30 and checked on the fire again. It appeared to have stopped smoldering, which is good. Out of caution, I stopped at the Ripplebrook store and reported it. They called some fire line and I explained the situation and they said they would send out a crew to investigate. Since rain was on the way, it most likely would have been OK, but you never know. Better to be safe than sorry.

It felt a little odd hiking all by myself. I can’t remember the last time I hiked all by myself. Usually I have Bodie or I’m with one of my friends. I decided not to take Bodie because I thought the distance would be too much for him. I guess this is just preparation for the near future when he is gone.

It was a short, but very pleasant day out in the woods with a few interesting experiences thrown in.

8/10/2016 – Beullers Bluff – Stehekin

Date of Hike: 8/10/2016
Location of Hike: Beullers Bluff Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm
Hiking Buddies: Carly, Gail, Abby, Raina
Start Time: 10:00 AM
End Time: 11:00 AM
Hike Distance: 1.5 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
This was a very special hike for me. It was very short, but special. It was a hike we did on the last day of visiting Carly while she was working in Stehekin. In addition, most of the family went along for the hike.

The map does not show the entire route – I accidentally forgot to turn on the tracking at the top of the hill, so I missed the very last part of the trail to the top. You can see the bluff to the northwest of the end of the track.

It was supposed to be a short but steep hike up to a small bluff with a great view of the lake and valley. The trail is on private property but Carly had spoken to the land owner and he was OK with her hiking the trail, so we decided to make it a short trip the last morning we were there. We ate breakfast and then rented bikes in Stehekin and headed the mile or so up the road to the trailhead. We headed up the very well maintained trail – while it is not too long, it does get rather steep in spots.

Part way up, we got a hint of the view that was to come:

After huffing and puffing a bit we finally made it to the top. The views were pretty amazing. Looking south over lake Chelan:

Looking north up the Stehekin River valley:

And then, there was Tupshin peak across the valley which loomed even larger:

Up on top of the bluff there was a cool little chair to enjoy the view. Carly and Raina (Carly’s friend who joined up) decided to take advantage:

Old cabin remains:

And some sort of weird water trough or something:

Where I found this interesting guy hanging out:

After enjoying the view for a bit, we headed back down hill to our bikes. We rode up to the bakery to get some lunch for our ferry ride home and then headed back to Stehekin.

This was a great way to cap off a nice visit with Carly. Stehekin is a beautiful area to explore.

7/6 – 7/10/2016 – Enchanted Valley Backpacking

Date of Hike: 7/6 - 7/10/2016
Location of Hike: East Fork Quinault Trail
Weather during Hike: mostly cool and misty/rainy
Hiking Buddies: Kirk and Sarah
Hike Distance: 43.5 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description

This was my annual backpacking trip. Unfortunately, Carly was not able to join this year, so Kirk, Sarah and I went to explore the Enchanted Valley in the Olympic National Park. The trip took us up the long East Fork Quinault river valley.

This was the plan:

  • Day 1 – Graves creek to O’Neil Creek – ~9 miles
  • Day 2 – O’Neil creek to Enchanted Valley – ~ 6.5 miles
  • Day 3 – Enchanted Valley to Honeymoon Meadows – ~6.5 miles
  • Day 4 – Honeymoon Meadows to Pyrites creek – ~ 10 miles
  • Day 5 – Pyrites creek to Graves creek then home – ~ 12 miles

Our itinerary changed a bit during the trip. More on that later.

The first thing I have to say about this trip is that it was absolutely the wettest backpacking I’ve ever done. Technically, it rained every day of the trip. The humidity was so high that it was almost impossible to dry anything out, even though we had a campfire on 2 of our nights. That was not terribly enjoyable, but being in a rain forest, it is to be expected.

Secondly, I found myself continually saying “wow” during this trip. The number of HUGE trees on this trip is incredible. Everywhere you look there were big trees and HUGE trees. Looking at those huge trees never got old.

Thirdly (and definitely not any less importantly), we got to see 2 bears – one up close and personal (20-25′ away), and a big herd of elk as well as a host of other small animals and birds. The wildlife on this trip was really cool.

Now, on to the details.

Day 1 – Graves creek to O’Neil Creek – 9.4 miles

Kirk picked me up about 7am for the long drive to the trailhead (about 4 1/2 hours according to google). We had kind of factored that into the plan so had a relatively short day planned. We had to go to the ranger station at Lake Quinault, register, and we got 3 bear canisters (required in the valley now – you can’t hang your food anymore). The ranger went over all sorts of rules, regulations and told us about the big washout about 7 miles up the trail. He also made kind of an odd comment – that we had “flexibility in our scheduling” – meaning we weren’t REQUIRED to camp in the places on our plan/permit. I just thought it was an odd comment since so many things can change when you are backpacking so your plans need to potentially adjust to the conditions. Maybe he was just assuring us that it was OK to deviate from what we had told them.

Anyway, we got all that done, paid our fees, loaded up our bear canisters and decided to have a “last supper” in civilization. There was a general store with a small cafe in it that sounded perfect. It was quite interesting – we had to wait a while until they cleaned the grill from breakfast – then it took a while to get our orders and finally our food. It was good – it was just kind of slow – they had a sign that say “we can’t promise fast food, but we can promise good food”. I think they lived up to that promise.

After our “last supper”, we headed back to the van and on to the trailhead. Last winter was really rough in this area, and it washed out the road about 2 1/2 miles from the trailhead so we had to park on the road and hike up the road to the real trailhead. We knew about this beforehand, so had planned it into the schedule. We got packed up and headed up the road, making good time since it was pretty easy hiking. Shortly, we got to the real trailhead. We stopped there to use the bathroom (the last “real” bathroom we would have for the next 5 days), and then headed up the trail. The trail starts by crossing Graves creek on a nice bridge (which I didn’t get a picture of). It then continues up what appears to be an old road (it is REALLY wide).

Shortly, we saw an old water tank next to the trail which was obviously not being used anymore. We were thinking it might have been used for water at the Graves creek campground – there was something similar/newer in the parking lot of the trailhead.

A little farther up the trail we got to the junction with the Graves creek trail – a more primitive trail. There was also a really nice sign showing mileage to our various destinations we had planned:

A little farther up the trail we found a very old picnic table (probably used when this was still a road):

Continuing on, we got to our first Quinault River crossing – the “Pony bridge”:


We enjoyed the views from the bridge in this slot canyon and the proceed down the trail. It continues thru the rainforest and shortly crosses Fire Creek:

Shortly after Fire Creek we found the sign for the O’Neil Creek campsite – it is quite a bit below the trail right next to the river. We found a good spot and setup camp for our first night:


We explored the “jungle” that was this camp – it was nestled in a grove of mostly salmonberry and it was over our heads. They have carved a path thru it, but it is still pretty thick. We found the “bear wire” that was there for hanging food:

We made dinner, cleaned up and were all tired so we went to bed.

Day 2 – O’Neil creek to Enchanted Valley – 7 miles

After we went to bed on day 1 it started raining – Pretty much all night. Fortunately, it stopped by morning, but everything was wet by then. So we had to pack up wet tents. We headed back up to the trail and continued thru the magnificent old growth rain forest:

We knew the big washout was not far. We should have known we were in for trouble when we saw this flagging at the start of the re-route:

We were guessing the bone was to keep the flagging visible. It was kind of weird to see, though.

The re-route was really a user boot path thru the area. We had to cross a lot of pretty large downed logs:

Before finally crossing the river on a huge log to bypass the washout:

We then crossed another huge log a bit upstream to get back to the trail – the washout section was about 1/4 mile total. Winter was not kind to this section of trail. Fixing it will be a huge effort.

After successfully traversing the big washout, we continued down the trail, passing huge trees that had been previously cut, as well as some fresh ones:

We then successfully crossed no name creek (yes, that is really its name) and kept hiking thru these giant trees:

And more giant blowdown:

We then started into the beginning of the valley – it is a LONG valley:

And we came across another one of these side channel washouts (I’m not really sure what to call them). This one was kind of unique though, in that it had these big huge cedar trees below which were interesting. We weren’t sure if they were multiple trees that had grown together or if it was one tree that grew multiple stems. They were certainly massive though (as pretty much everything in this valley is).


the trail kind of flattened out and we hike a flat section for a while. We came to this “forest art” (as Sarah called it) – a HUGE cedar tree that had uprooted a long time ago – pretty cool:

And a little bit farther down the trail we found an old phone line insulator – this was not he only one we found, but it is the only one I took a photo of:

Continuing down the valley we found the spot where the trail crews had cut up logs for various projects:

And then this really strange “gate”:

That gate was kind of the beginning of the “real” valley – where the chalet was. Once thru that gate, the trail opened up quickly and we got our first glance at the chalet off in the distance. But before we could get to the chalet, we had to cross the river again – this time at a narrow section. They had this cool, kind of scary bridge to cross:

It was about 80-100′ long and 30-40′ above the river. It was kind of odd it only had one handrail given it was so high up. But we all successfully navigated the bridge and shortly arrived at the Chalet:

Since it was raining we decided to get some cover under the porch of the chalet and figure out where we wanted to camp that night – either in the valley or farther up (to make the trip to Honeymoon Meadows shorter). We scouted the sites around the meadow and found a good one under the trees – it had a fire pit and was pretty sheltered from the rain. Since it had been raining/misting most of the day, we decided that would be a great place to camp. We were hoping we could make a fire to maybe dry a few things out too. We also had firmed up our plans to stay here for 2 nights and just do a day hike up to Anderson Pass instead of trying to camp up at Honeymoon Meadows. That turned out to be a very good idea in retrospect. The going continued to get rougher and the weather continued to get worse.

Once we got camp setup (I did not take a photo of that campsite unfortunately), we started exploring the valley around the chalet a bit. Although it was foggy, you could see waterfalls coming down the west side of the canyon like this one (this was the most prominent one):

We also went up and explored the waterfall on the east side – above the chalet. It appears as though this used to be the source of water for the chalet, although the regular “gulley washers” have destroyed whatever dam or setup they had to capture the water. The line also got exposed part way down and is broken in two. The waterfall was very pretty though:

Before dinner I headed down the meadow a bit further and got a little better look at the lower portions of the waterfall:

As well as another above a snowfield:

Around dinner time, a ragged hiker arrived in camp and asked if he could borrow a pan to boil some water. Apparently he had forgotten to purchase a pan and had lots of dehydrated food which is of little value without boiling water. My jetboil really has to be used on my stove, but Kirk offered up his pan. The man was thankful and said he would eat and then was headed out. I’m not exactly sure what transpired, but he ate, walked around a bit and then setup his tent. He ended up spending the night. Apparently he hadn’t been feeling well, and he decided to stay in our camp for the night and get a good rest and head out in the morning.

After my brief explorations, we cooked dinner, started a fire and attempted to dry a few things out. We were semi-successful and ended up going to bed somewhat early.

Day 3 – Day hike to Anderson Pass and Siberia Camp – 10.6 miles

We got up about the same time (7:00), got breakfast ready, cleaned up and then headed out north up the valley thru the giants:

A bit farther up the trail was the high point of the trip for me. We stumbled upon a large herd of elk in a meadow below the trail:

The elk heard us and got up and started heading uphill out of the meadow. While that was happening, I heard rustling in the bushes beside us, and then I saw a black head. Shortly, he rose up to see what was going on – it was a BEAR – not 20 feet or so from us:

It was kind of scary and kind of exciting all at the same time. He didn’t seem interested in us in the least. Once he saw what was going on, he sat back down and continued to eat the huckleberries in front of him. Once the elk had exited the meadow, we moved down the trail, keeping watch behind us for the bear. He just kept on eating.

With that excitement behind us, just 3/4 mile or so from camp, we continued north. Looking up at the west canyon wall, there were more waterfalls – someone told us this place has the nickname of “valley of 10,000 waterfalls”. I think that is a bit of an exaggeration, but there certainly are a LOT of waterfalls here:



We also got just a hint of blue sky – Kirk got excited, but it was not to stay too long:

We continued on, the brief blue sky turning to mist and then turning to light rain. A bit farther along we got a good look at the carnage of the alluvial plain of the river:

This is a VERY active river, changing channels frequently.

When we got to the white creek crossing, we found the bridge had been tipped over – a temporary log had been put in place to cross, which was good because the creek was flowing fast:

And there was a beautiful waterfall both above:

And below the crossing – this waterfall was interesting because it made an almost 90 degree turn right before going over the edge. There was a rock face that turned the water – it is kind of hard to see in this photo, unfortunately:

We continued up the trail, gaining elevation as we went on our way to Anderson Pass. On a clear day, the views from this portion of the trail must be incredible. But today, we got lots of clouds:

We shortly cane to another one of the many side creek crossings, but this one was particularly interesting. When we got to it, it was flowing pretty well, with muddy brown water:

On the way back, it was barely a trickle:

We continued up the trail and got a pretty good view of the beginnings of the Quinault River – it flows from the lake below Anderson Glacier. you can see it about mid photo below:

We soon made it to Anderson Pass – thru the rain and wind:

We were tired and wet, but our friend back in camp had told us about an old shelter that was just over the pass. We thought if it wasn’t too far we would go explore it before turning around. We all decided that Honeymoon meadows and/or the Anderson Glacier was not in our future. They were just too far. We looked out over the valley and saw a meadow and then I glimpsed the shelter just down the hill. It was not too far, so we headed down to find it. On the way, we got this great view of Mount LaCrosse:

And then shortly to this old shelter which we were later informed was called “Camp Siberia”:

We stopped in the shelter for a bit to dry off and eat something and have a little water. The shelter has had some work done to it recently and there was more wood stacked outside, so it appears as though it will be getting more work done soon. It is amazing it is still standing – a cool artifact from a bygone era.

We knew we had over 5 miles to get back to camp and it was already after 2:00, so we headed back up the hill to Anderson Pass. On the way back I saw all these wildflowers that I had not noticed on the way down:

We got back up to Anderson pass and the small tarn/lake there:

We continued down the trail, back the way we came. Along the way, I saw this view of what I think is that beginning of the Quinault river. It is a different view coming down the trail than going up:

We continued down, making good time since it was mostly downhill. Getting closer to camp, we saw a couple of hikers and then saw a sign pointing to the largest recorded Western Hemlock. We followed a short trail down to the river and found it – it was certainly a very large hemlock:

After enjoying brief moment of sun in the river channel, we headed back to camp. On the way back, the same herd of elk we saw in the morning was in the meadow near our camp. We passed by them on the trail, although this time they did not move since they were off the trail a bit. They watched us intently as we passed by. They were pretty close – this is a shot from next to Sarah’s tent:

We made dinner, cleaned up and then made another fire – in the hope we could dry things out a bit. It seemed like we were having some success, but alas things got wet again so easily.

After dinner, I noticed the cool cliffs behind the chalet:

We enjoyed the warmth and dryness of the fire. Probably around 8:30 or 9, Kirk saw a bear out in the meadow lumbering around. It was too dark to get a picture, but I’m thinking it was probably the same one we had seen earlier. He just kind of wandered around sniffing things until he wandered off into the woods below the waterfall. We stayed up and enjoyed the fire until around 10 and then went to bed.

Day 4 – Enchanted Valley to no name camp near Pony bridge – 9.8 miles

Day 4 was a relatively uneventful day. The goal was to get back so we could have a shorter day on the last day so it wouldn’t be so long of a day (with the 4+ hour drive home). We were thinking of trying to get to the campsites at Pony Bridge, but we would see how things went. I woke up with a huge blister on my big toe of my left foot. Having my feet wet all day long was making it hard on them. Kirk had a safety pin, so I sterilized it and then popped it and bandaged it up as best I could. I was hoping it would do OK.

We made breakfast, cleaned up and then packed up camp, getting on the trail around 9. We got back to the “scary bridge” and noticed it had a Columbia Helicopters sticker on it, so we assumed they were the ones who flew it in. It was definitely quite a job to install this beast:

We went over the bridge, and headed back down the valley, getting our last glimpse of the chalet:

We continued thru the weird horse gate and down the trail. Although this was supposed to be mostly downhill, due to the river and the terrain, this trail has a lot of ups and downs in it. A ways down the trail we found a great bear print in the mud (notice how wet my boots are!):

It didn’t look like a huge bear, but it was cool to see.

As we went down the trail, we met hikers. As we got closer to Pony Bridge, we met a couple of guys who weren’t sure there was any room at Pony Bridge (that is where they were camped). My feet were bothering me and slowing me down as well. Kirk had been looking for an “unofficial” campsite next to the river. He noticed a side trail at one point with no obvious campsite, but headed down there to investigate. It was a ways off the trail, but he found what we think was a camp that the trail crews use. We found stuff stashed behind big logs, including 4 big aluminum bear boxes (we were guessing they must have brought them in via horse or mule at some point). It was a great campsite right on the river with a good access point for water. Even better, we had it all to ourselves! We stopped, setup camp and then it started raining – harder than it had been. There was a relatively dry spot under the tree where the campsite was. You can see a kind of dry spot where Kirk is sitting:

Soon, the dry spot was getting dripped on. We were thinking about doing a fire, but since the fire wasn’t protected like the last campsite we had, and it was raining harder, we decided not to. It was too bad too, because Kirk had carried a couple of pieces of pitchy wood a couple of miles in anticipation of a fire.

I made the following short video – you can hear the rain (you can’t really see it):

We made dinner, cleaned up and then went to bed early because of the rain.

Day 5 – Noname camp to Graves creek then home – 6.5 miles

We awoke to a foreign sight on the morning of Day 5 (Sunday morning) – Sunshine! Real sunshine! It was the first real sunshine we had the entire trip. Unfortunately, it didn’t reach the camp to dry our tents before we had to leave. But it lifted our spirits. I think we were all tired of being wet and stinky and were ready for a good lunch, followed by a warm, dry ride in a comfortable seat and then a hot shower and sleeping in our own beds again.

We made breakfast, cleaned up and then packed up camp. We got going a bit earlier than previous days and then headed back to the trail. Right where our side trail met the main trail, we met two guys on their way in. We chatted a bit and found out that one of them was the guy who moved the chalet in 2014! He was a driving force behind getting it saved from destruction. They were headed in to check it out. It was an interesting conversation.

After chatting for a few minutes, we said goodbye and headed down the trail. Nothing much exciting happened – I think we were all focused on getting home. But a bit down the trail, we encountered 6 happy guys. One of them touched each of us on the shoulder and said something like “have a great day, man”. They were all very happy and smiling – it was a bit weird, and I wondered if they might have had some “assistance” getting happy, but they were harmless. Just kind of an interesting sight along the trail.

Nothing much else happened along the way – we just pounded out the miles. I stopped and got a photo of the Graves creek Ranger station, which is probably no longer being used due to the road being washed out, but is a cool old building:

We continued down the road, and shortly before the washout, came to this neat roadside waterfall:

We made it back to the van about 11:45. We quickly loaded up and headed out. Our goal was to drop off our bear canisters, get cleaned up a bit (Sarah and I had clean clothes in the van) and then head up to a pizza place up the road for lunch. Then head home.

The pizza tasted really good! And it was nice to sit on a seat that wasn’t hard plastic (my bear canister). We made it home by about 5:30, so it wasn’t a late night like we originally thought it would be.

This trip was another difficult trip – for many reasons, but it has to be one of my top trips due to the elk and bear sightings – plus the natural beauty that is everywhere on this trail.

5/7/2016 – Lower Milepost 3 Trail and Oak Grove Work Center

Date of Hike: 5/7/2016
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
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description

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):

4/30/2016 – Cripple Creek and Cache Meadow

Date of Hike: 4/30/2016
Location of Hike: Upper Cripple Creek and Cache Meadow Trails
Trail Number: 702 and 703
Weather during Hike: Overcast to start, then partly sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my Dog)
Start Time: 11:15 AM
End Time: 1:30 PM
Hike Distance: 2.2 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description

The plan was for this to be another short hike with Bodie. After seeing the conditions over the past few weeks, I thought I might be able to make it up to the Rimrock trailhead (plan A). If tht wasn’t possible, I figured I could make it up to the Cache Meadow trailhead (plan B). The day took an interesting turn.

On the way up, we passed the MP3 trailhead where had been a couple weeks ago. After that, the 4635 road deteriorates a bit – with more potholes and it gets a bit brushier. There has been some interesting winter damage as well 0 this was across the road farther up:

We continued up, seeing only two tiny patches of snow about 3600′ on the side of the road – until we got to the junction with the 140 spur, where we were surprised by about 2 feet of snow all over the road:

So, that nixed both Plan A and plan B. I was thinking we wouldn’t be hiking at all. Then I remembered that the cripple creek trail crosses 4635 and I thought we had already passed that. So, we turned around and headed back down. We found the crossing point, and surprisingly enough, I had cell service there, so I texted Gail with Plan C. We headed up the Cripple creek trail from the 4635 crossing, doing some brushing on the trail and shortly got to 4635 up higher – at the Cache Meadow trailhead junction. Bodie was enjoying himself in the snow:

We headed up the Cache Meadow trail thru the snow and found that Cache Meadow was pretty wet – the snow is melting quickly and the trail is more of a creek at this point:

We made it thru the first bit of water and got to a nice place for lunch, overlooking the “lake” at Cache Meadow (it is pretty shallow, but is technically a lake I guess):

We stopped to have lunch – it was very pleasant there in the sun. I wasn’t sure we were going to get sun since we were in the clouds earlier, but the sun finally burned them off. It was very nice and peaceful with a gentle breeze. We finished lunch and while we were getting ready to leave, some wispy clouds started rolling in over the lake, which was kind of cool looking:

We decided to head up a little farther to see how hard it would be. We didn’t get too far before we encountered alternating large patches of snow and then more “creeks” in the trail. We decided to turn around and head back down. It was a quick trip back down with a little more brushing in places. We got back to the truck and headed back down 4635. Not too far from where the trail crosses 4635, the road crosses Cripple creek, which was running pretty swiftly:

And here is a short video of the creek:


A little farther down the road is a nice viewpoint:

We headed down and headed home. It was a pretty short day, but a great, peaceful day in the woods.

4/16/2016 – Milepost 3 Trail

Date of Hike: 4/16/2016
Location of Hike: Milepost 3 Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:30 AM
End Time: 3:00 PM
Hike Distance: 3.4 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
This was a relatively short hike on a beautiful sunny day – above average temperatures for this time of year – in the 70’s. I don’t think it was quite that warm up higer, but it was till beautiful weather.

On the drive up, I was surprised I didn’t see more cars on the road going in. There were a few, but not many – more coming out than in. On the way in on the 4635 road, I got to see 3 or 4 deer (at least one fawn) cross the road – they bounded out of the woods and disappeared so fast I didn’t get a good look at them, but it was cool to see. More on the deer later…

We made it to the trailhead, parked and headed up. Since the last time I was here, someone has put up several pieces of flagging at the trailhead. It is hard to miss now.

We started up the trail, and I figured I’d do a little bit of maintenance-I ended up doing a lot more than I had planned. I didn’t think I was going to do much, so I didn’t bring my gloves, but I ended up doing quite a bit of brushing and removing oregon grape from the tread. It ended up doing quite a number on my hands, including a big blister on my index finger. Oh well, it will heal.

There was very little blowdown on the first part of the trail – mostly just branches and brush which I was trying to clean up. A half mile or so up the trail was a section where there were two very large trees that had come down a long time ago and both had been cut. One of them had slipped down the hill, so the cut had closed up:

I almost thought we were going to have to turn around, but after a bit, I finally got Bodie to let me help him jump over the log. There was an area that was much easier to get over since it had kind of a step, but he still needed help. At one point, he was trying to find a different way around and he kind of got stuck – his coordination and strength keeps declining due to his brain tumor. I went over help him, but he finally figured out how to get himself out of the situation he was in. Once over that log, the rest of the downed logs were pretty easy.

We continued up the trail, doing brushing, removing limbs and branches and removing oregon grape from the tread in particularly faint areas. Shortly, we came across this cougar scat:

It looks like cougar scat to me, and it looked like he had eaten something very close (a big pile of hair) and then done his business right on the trail. I guess he was warning others!

A little farther, we got our first snow – at about 3500 feet – it was intermittent:

A bit farther down the trail, we found this deer trail, going straight up and down the hill – there was lots of sign of deer on the trail (3 or 4 piles of deer pellets):

Continuing up the trail, we got to the upper rockslide where we had lunch. There is a nice view from here:

After lunch, we continued up and shortly got to the junction with the Rimrock trail:

We poked around a bit and it was already 2:00 (I had spent quite a bit of time on the way up doing maintenance), so we turned around and headed back down. On the way back down, I found this antler shed right in the middle of the trail – my first one! (I forgot to take a photo of it on the trail):

On the way back down, I noticed this interesting activity in this old cut log – something is very actively eating it. There was a pile of fresh sawdust on the ground under it:

Made it back to the truck about 3:00 and headed home. An absolutely wonderful, peaceful day in the woods on a beautiful old trail.

4/1/2016 – Hillockburn Trail – 516

Date of Hike: 4/1/2016
Location of Hike: Hillockburn Trail
Trail Number: 516
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 9:40 AM
End Time: 11:40 PM
Hike Distance: 3.1 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
This was no April Fool’s Joke!!! This was a quick trip down the Hillockburn trail with Bodie. The weather was beautiful and I needed to take a day off from work, so I decided to take this trip. The plan was to hike down to the river and then sit there for a while and enjoy the solitude. Bodie didn’t want to sit there – he kept wandering around – I don’t know what the issue was, whether he smelled or kept hearing something, or if it was just his brain tumor (he does a lot of pacing at home now).

Anyway, we got to the trailhead about 9:30 and headed down shortly after. There were no shooters at the shooting gallery up the road, however we did see evidence of shooting down the trail. In retrospect I probably should have parked my truck in front of the trailhead to try and tell any potential shooters that someone was down the trail.


Three trees appear to have been killed by shooters – the one just recently came down – ugh.
We headed down the trail a short ways only to find that they didn’t stop at the beginning of the trail:

We headed down the trail, making quick time of it. Shortly we were into the larger trees and before we knew it, we were right above the river, looking down at the Beautiful old growth grove:

And one there, we had to get a close look at the South Fork (what a beautiful river):

Here is a short Video of the river in motion – so peaceful:


And this is the campsite near the river that we were going to sit for a while and enjoy the surroundings (until Bodie had different ideas):

After about 10 minutes, Bodie just couldn’t sit still, so we turned around and headed back up. On the way back up, I noticed (thru the trees) a new clearcut area to the North – NNE. When I got home, it looks like this might be above Big Cliff or in that general area. I’m guessing it is fire damage they are logging off. I’ve heard helicopters up the Clackamas a couple times and I’m wondering if that is the area they were logging with helicopters. I tried to get a photo thru the trees, but nothing came out.

We continued up the hill and pretty soon started hearing gunshots. I was worried – I was hoping that no one was shooting down the trail again. I figured I could figure it out as we got closer. Fortunately, they were shooting up the road a bit, so we were fine. We got back to the truck and since it was still so early, I decided to go up looking for the snow level. I headed up 45 and then took off up 4540. Here is where we turned around on 4540 (about 3/4 mile from Helen Lake at about 3600′):

After turning around, I thought I’d see how far I could get up the 45 road. Although I didn’t take a photo, we ended up getting to within about a mile and a half of the Memaloose Lake trailhead. I think we were at almost 3800′.

We turned around and headed back – on the way, I saw the the gate on the 45-220 spur was open. When I was up there in 2013 checking out the Silvacultural area, that gate was locked. I thought I’d go explore a bit. We drove down the road to the old Silvacultural area and then the spur road down to where I went looking for the end of the old Memaloose trail in 2013. Got to the end of the road – not much to see really:

After that we turned around and headed home. While it was a short day out, it was really nice. It was great to get out, enjoy some beautiful weather and some big old trees.

3/12/2016 – South Fork Waterworks

Date of Hike: 3/12/2016
Location of Hike: South Fork Clackamas River - Old Waterworks
Weather during Hike: overcast, rainy and some sun
Hiking Buddies: Kirk and Zack
Start Time: 9:45 AM
End Time: 2:45 PM
Hike Distance: 4.75 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
Note: The map above was a hand rendered guess as to our route – I forgot my phone on this trip, so had no real GPS track.

Photos will be coming soon.

This trip was to explore some of the burned areas up road 45 that were burned as part of the 36 pit fire a couple of years ago. The road has not re-opened, so we walked across the bridge and walked up the road. We weren’t quite sure what we were going to look for on this trip – one option was to explore portions of the old abandoned Memaloose trail, which still existed above (and below) road 45 before the fire.

We crossed the Memaloose bridge and headed up the road, looking at the fire damage on the hillside above the road. We also noticed that all the culverts on the road had been replaced. A new benchmark at the BLM property boundary appears to have been installed as well. I looked for the place where the Memaloose trail took off above the road, however nothing looked familiar to me – I had only been on it one time. We ended up walking up to the old borrow pit and looking around for trail there. We think Kirk found some trail on the ridge at the back side of the borrow pit.

Since we were not having much luck with that trail, we decided to go down and explore the old waterworks. We hadn’t been there in several years and wanted to see what things looked like after the fire. So, we headed across the road, down the old decommissioned road to the “trailhead” – and down the hill to Memaloose creek.

The route has been well traveled since we were last there, and someone has tied ropes down the steep traverse down to Memaloose creek. There are also some new slides which have made things a bit more challenging, but still not too bad. We opted not to go down to see Memaloose falls, and continued down the old road to the bridge at the confluence of Memaloose and the South Fork. It is amazing how much more you can see now that things have burned out. Zack noticed some very interesting rock formations on the east side of the South Fork at the confluence. You could never see things like that before. We also noticed a very long rock retaining wall at the confluence – where all the valves were – we had seen teh valves before, but never the extent of this rock wall – Kirk thinks there might have been some sort of shed roof over it at some point.

We continued up river to the big tunnels and the tall falls. Now that a lot of brush has been cleared, you can get a good look at the falls from various locations – before the only way to see the whole falls was to go down to river level. We got to the “bridge of death” and made our way around the bypass “trail” and then headed up thru the long tunnels. We popped out up on top – there wasn’t as much burn damage up there as I would have thought, though. It had started raining, and it was a good point for lunch, so we went back into the tunnel to eat lunch.

After eating lunch, we headed back down river. As we headed down, the sun actually came out! It was nice for the rain to stop – the sun felt good.

The fireline appears to have been right on that old road most of the way – above the road it was burned, but below it was mostly unburned – there were some big trees downhill from the road that were untouched. We made it back to the area of all the buildings and started looking for the old stove that I had seen someone post. Zack found it – it appears to have been essentially a dump site for this little encampment. There were a couple of old lawn mowers, the old cookstove, a couple of old doors from old cars (model A’s?) and just a bunch of junk. After looking at that for a bit, we headed over to the South Fork to see if we could find a tree to cross on – otherwise we would be heading back the way we came. Fortunately for us, there was a relatively new cedar tree that had come down over the river – Zack shimmied across and cut off the branches on the top so it was a relatively easy way to cross the river. We made it over to the east side and then started looking for the Memaloose trail that headed back up to the 45 road. Shortly we found some flagging and found the tread – still rather faint, but followable. This hillside was burned pretty heavily and there will be a LOT of snags coming down in the future years. As we made our way up the hill, you could see new brush growing in the tread. This area is very open now, so it getting lots of sunlight.

We made it back up to the road, and then headed back down to the truck. A great day in the woods with a couple of good friends. We stopped at Fearless for dinner and met up with some other friends.

1/23/2016 – Eagle Creek Trail – 501- Clackamas

Date of Hike: 1/23/2016
Location of Hike: Eagle Creek Trail
Trail Number: 501
Weather during Hike: overcast and rainy at times
Hiking Buddies: Zack
Start Time: 10:00 AM
End Time: 3:50 PM
Hike Distance: 10.8 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
This was kind of an unplanned hike. I had planned to stay home today and do some things around the house. Zack texted me about 7:30 and asked if I was going anywhere today. After a few back and forth texts, we decided to meet at 9 and head out. When he got here, we decided to head up to Eagle Creek on the Clackamas – I hadn’t been there since they had done some logging at the trailhead, and on a previous trip he had found (and marked) what he thought was a trail junction down the trail a ways. Sounded like a good place to go on a rainy day after a long, stressful week.

I didn’t get many pictures of the trail, since I’ve been there before. I did get this one from my favorite veiewpoint of Eagle Creek – about 4 miles down the trail or so:

This trail is beautiful once you get down to the creek – some pristine old growth forest. The trail follows the creek, and this day it was running pretty high, fast and loud. We made great time down the trail – before I knew it we had done 3.5 miles! We were getting close to the spot where Zack had marked the junction, so we slowed down a bit to be able to look at all the potential junctions. We soon found this junction (which was more apparent in person):

And here is a close up of one of the trees at this junction, which used to have a sign:

From here on is where this hike got really interesting. We wandered up what looked like old tread, finding a cut log and a blaze. Shortly, we found these very old, but obviously milled boards (covered in very thick moss):

These were obviously man made, not natural, so we wandered around trying to see if we could find more, or maybe what they were part of. We thought maybe they were part of a bridge across the nearby unnamed creek, but could not find a clear crossing point. We continued poking around and then I came across this old sign laying on the ground!

This area was kind of strange looking, like had been a lot of disturbances in the area. Like a camp, maybe. Lots of open, flat ground. We continued searching the area, and then found the first of a set of posts:

We were postulating that these might have been “hitching posts” to tie horses to – they obviously had some sort of cross brace on them at one point in time. We ended up finding 5 sets of them in the area.

We wandered over to a very open area, and I spotted this unusual item – an old watering trough:

The next find was really weird – Zack was commenting that “you’d think we would see some sort of fire pit around here” – I looked down and saw a heavily moss covered fire pit! We removed the moss and found a concrete fire pit underneath:

Looking around the area of the firepit, I found several more milled pieces of wood, a few of which were notched:

These looked to be remnants of a picnic table – the notches were at an angle that would match what you’d see on a picnic table and there were some longer boards like you would have for the top.

We continued searching the area for a while, looking for more artifacts, but other than some more cut logs, didn’t really find anything else – but what we found was quite enough! We headed back down to the trail to find a spot for lunch. We stopped at a spot next to the creek and ate our (late) lunch. We then headed back down the trail to the truck. We made really good time on the way back, just as we had on the way in. The weather alternated between almost sunny, drizzly and rainy as it had all day long. I was a bit worried we would not make it back out by dark, but we got back to the truck before 4.

We headed back to Estacada for a celebratory strong scotch ale at Fearless and then headed home. For an unexpected hike, this was an AWESOME day! Thanks, Zack for pulling me out of the house!

1/1/2016 – Fanton Trail – 505 – Snowshoe

Date of Hike: 1/1/2016
Location of Hike: Fanton Trail
Trail Number: 505
Weather during Hike: Sunny, cold and windy
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Sarah, Daniel, Emily
Start Time: 11:20 AM
End Time: 4:20 PM
Hike Distance: 5.6 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
Todays hike was continuing a 4 or 5 year tradition of hiking on the first day of the year. This year, Kirk and I decided to try a snowshoe trip, since we’ve had lots of snow so far this year. I got snowshoes for Christmas 2 years ago and had yet to use them due to the minimal snow we’ve had the last 2 years. Sounded like a perfect opportunity to use them.

Most of the “regular” (higher elevation) trails would be out, since they would be under snow. After much discussion, we decided to try and hike the Fanton trail. We weren’t sure if we could get all the way to the lower trailhead, but we thought the road got plowed to within a couple of miles of the trailhead, so worst case, we could drive to that point and then hike in. Well, it was quite a bit different than we had planned…..The road was clear up to the snowplow turnaround, so we kept going – it went up a hill that was VERY icy, so we put on chains and kept going for a bit. Kirk’s van was having a bit of trouble with the packed snow, so we parked it and piled everyone into the bed of my truck and headed up. What was amazing was how many people were up there – this road gets a LOT of traffic in the winter.

We easily made it to the 4614/4613 junction and I’m sure could have made it to the lower trailhead, but we decided to head up the 4614 road a bit farther to see how far we could go – maybe we could make it all the way up to Squaw Mountain? That would be kind of a neat day! We continued up the road, which got increasingly deep with snow. We finally found an old decommissioned side spur – the trail went right next to it. It was about 2 miles from the junction with 4613. That seemed like the perfect place to park and start our hike. We bundled up, put on our snowshoes and headed out.

Amazingly, the trail was pretty easy to follow, even with the 2-4′ of snow on the ground. We lost it in a couple of places, but for the most part, it was obvious where it went.

We headed east on the trail, and shortly came to the first Landing:

The view looking south from the first landing – it was a winter wonderland!

And here is a photo of most of our intrepid crew (Sarah was adjusting her snowshoes):

We enjoyed the view from the landing and then continued east on the trail. Here is a picture of our broken trail in this clearcut below the landing:

We continued down the trail, alternating people to take the lead – since breaking trail in this snow – even with snowshoes is REALLY hard work. A little while down the trail, we came across this broken snag that is going to fall fall really soon – it was cracking, creaking and groaning when the wind blew:

I thought it might come down by the time we returned, but it must be stuck up high pretty good, as it was still there on the return trip.

We continued down the trail until we got to the next trail access – on an old gated spur off of 4614. There was a nice sunny spot that didn’t seem too windy, so this is where we had lunch:

The only vehicle that had been up 4614 that far was a snowmobile – I’m glad we stopped where we did. We definitely could not have made it this far on the road.

After lunch, we continued east to the junction with the Old Baldy trail. The snow continued to get deeper and more powdery:

I was expecting to see a trail junction with the Old Baldy trail, however we just kept paralleling the ridge. At some point, I realized we must have joined the Old Baldy trail. On the way back down, we found the Trail junction:

It was not apparent due to the snow and the fact it was a Y junction, not a T junction.

It was about at this point we realized we would not have enough time to get up to Squaw/Tumala Mountain. It was getting late, and we wanted to get down off the hill, out of the snow before dark. So, we headed uphill to find a viewpoint so we could see Mt Hood and the mountains north of us. We finally found a few spots where you could glimpse views of the mountains – it was BEAUTIFUL (although rather chilly with the wind).

View of Mt Hood from above Old Baldy Trail:

View of Mt Adams from a slightly different viewpoint above Old Baldy Trail:

After enjoying the views for a bit, we headed back down the the trail to start the trek back to the truck. It was almost 2:30 so we needed to make good time back to the truck – it had taken us 3 hours to get here. We were hoping the trip back would be considerably faster since it was mostly downhill, and the trail had already been broken, so it should be faster and easier.

A couple of interesting points on the way back. There was this REALLY deep canyon of snow on the trail – probably close to 4′ deep – I’m thinking that water came down thru here to melt the snow – there was a small little creek/spring crossing the trail:

And a bit farther down the trail, there was this beautiful un-named creek that was partially frozen:

We did make really good time on the way back down, and got to the truck a little after 4:00, but it was already starting to get dark. We quickly took off our snowshoes and piled back into the truck for the trip back down. We had a little bit of excitement on the way back down – we met 3 trucks on the road – it wasn’t really wide enough for 2 rigs to pass each other, and one of them got stuck – the other 2 backed down and he had a winch, so would be able to get himself out easily. We wound our way back down the hill slowly.

Once we got down out of the really deep snow, we started encountering LOTS of vehicles – this area must be party central at night. Trucks, SUVs, ATVs were all up there around fire pits, and more were coming up. We must have met at least 20 vehicles on the way down.

Once out of the snow and ice, we stopped to take off our chains and then headed back down the hill and out to Estacada for a well deserved post hike dinner at Fearless.

Truly a “bluebird” day in the mountains – traversing lots of untouched snow with beautiful views.

12/14/2015 – Eagle Creek Trail – 440

Date of Hike: 12/14/2015
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
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
Today’s hike had been planned for quite some time. Zack and I wanted to do Eagle Creek (I had never done this hike before), but we wanted to do it with a minimum of crowds. Today worked out really well, as the water flow was extremely high due to all the recent rains.

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.

11/21/2015 – Dickey Creek Trail – 553

Date of Hike: 11/21/2015
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
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Hike description
Today’s hike was to get Bodie out while he is still able – and for me. The weather was BEAUTIFUL, so a hike just had to be made! I decided to hike the Dickey Creek trail since I was unsure if I could get to any higher trails due to snow. We’ve had quite a bit of upper level snow in the last couple of weeks, and the nearest snotel at 4000′ had about 5″ of snow reporting, so I decided to play it safe and do this hike, which is much lower.

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.

9/11 – 9/14/2015 – Devils Dome Loop Backpacking

Date of Hike: 9/11 - 9/14/2015
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)
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Description of Hike:
This trip was one of our annual father/daughter backpacking trips – it may be our last – certainly for the next 2 years at least, since Carly is heading off to the Peace Corps for the next 2 years. Since it was going to be the last at least for a while, we wanted to do something special. Carly likes the Washington wilderness areas, and found the Devils Dome Loop. It is a challenging loop around Crater and Jack Mountains that has lots of strenuous elevation changes. The one thing it has is tons of incredible views – you just have to pay for the views with the difficult trail.

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.

Day 1:

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:

Day 2

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.

Day 3

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.

Day 4

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.

9/6 – 9/7/2015 – South Sister Climb

Date of Hike: 9/6/2015 - 9/7/2015
Location of Hike: South Sister Summit Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Sarah and Daniel
Hike Distance: 13.1 miles
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Description of Hike:
Kirk invited me on this hike – it was to be a rather quick overnight trip to go up to the top of South Sister. I had not been there before, so it sounded interesting. The idea was to leave Sunday afternoon, hike into Moraine Lake, camp the night and get up early on Labor day to climb to the top. Then return back down and head back to the car and home. It worked out a little different than the plan.

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:

Broken Top:

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!

8/29/2015 – Pansy Lake Explorations – 551, 558

Date of Hike: 8/29/2015
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
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Description of Hike:
Today’s hike was going to be interesting due to the weather – we haven’t had any significant rainfall for almost 3 months now (except one really short intense storm about a month ago), and they were predicting a rather stormy, rainy weekend. I just wanted to get out in the woods! The weather ended up being much more cooperative than I had expected.

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.

8/15/2015 – Elk Lake Creek Trail – 559

Date of Hike: 8/15/2015
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
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Description of Hike:
This was to be a relatively easy hike – I wanted to take Bodie out – since his brain tumor diagnosis a few months ago, he is having a harder time getting around, but he still loves to get out hiking. I don’t know how many more hikes I will be able to take him on. This is a relatively level hike, and I thought going to the first creek crossing would be a good day – not too hard. I had wanted to see this area since the burn a few years ago, so it seemed like a great option.
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.

7/3/2015 – Thunder Mountain and Skookum Lake

Date of Hike: 7/3/2015
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
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Description of Hike:
This was kind of a spur of the minute hike. I had thought about going out, but we have been in the middle of a heat wave, so I wasn’t sure I wanted to. I thought maybe I could leave really early and avoid most of the heat, but then I didn’t sleep well on Thursday night – the dog woke me up twice! Anyway, I decided maybe he was trying to tell me something so I headed out about 7am for a short hike. Decided to do Thunder Mountain and Skookum Lake – almost skipped the lake though. Bodie is having more trouble hiking these days – I wasn’t sure if he could do the whole thing, plus I had forgotten to bring a bowl for him for water. I improvised with the lid to my water bottle which seemed to work OK. Even though we got an early start, it was still a pretty warm day. The portions of the trail that went thru the sun were pretty warm indeed.

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.

6/16/2015 – Whetstone Mountain Trail – 546

Date of Hike: 6/16/2015
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
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Description of Hike:
Today’s hike was a chance to do a quick hike with the dog (while he still can), and to unwind a bit. It was a very busy weekend.

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!

5/25/2015 – Hawk Mountain

Date of Hike: 5/25/2015
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
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Description of Hike:
Todays hike almost didn’t happen. I had wanted to it to be a family hike with the dog (while he is still able to hike). No one else seemed interested, and I almost didn’t go, but mid morning, I decided to do it. Bodie and I got in the truck and headed out about 10:30. That is much later than I usually go, but this was going to be a short hike, so I knew it would be OK.
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.

2/21/2015 – Tidbits Mountain Trail

Date of Hike: 2/21/2015
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
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Description of Hike:
My daughter called me earlier in the week and said the weather was supposed to be nice. I was supposed to be on call for work, but I got one of my co-workers to cover for me for a few hours while I was out of cell coverage. I’m really glad I took the opportunity to take this day. It was a great day to spend with my daughter, and even though it was a LOT of driving (about 7 hours of driving), it was nice to spend the day with her and experience this part of the state that I’ve not seen before.

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!

2/16/2015 – Grouse Point and Serene Lake Trails

Date of Hike: 2/16/2015
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
Pictures: Link
Hike Map


g4MapImage
Description of Hike:
The words of the day were: Breezy, Gift and Blowdown – It was a very breezy day (although I was protected from it for much of the day). Being able to hike this area in mid February (!!!) was a wonderful gift! And there was a LOT of blowdown on the trail, which started right at the beginning of the trip.

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!