Weather during Hike: Sunny and cold
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Robert, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 9:00 AM
End Time: 4:30 PM
Hike Distance: 10.1 miles
We ended up starting a little earlier than normal, which was good, because the days are short so we would have limited daylight hours. We made it to the trailhead a little before 9am and quickly headed out. It was pretty cold – the roads were frosty and nothing was dripping – it was all frozen. We headed down the calico road trail/road and at the Rimrock creek crossing, Kirk and Robert noticed this really interesting “hair” fungus – I’ve never seen it before:
We took some photos and then headed down the old quad track back down to the old 54 road. The beginning of the trail is in decent shape – not too many trees down, but there are sections that are getting VERY brushy. We didn’t do any brushing on the way in really, because we were trying to make time. The new cedar and fir trees that are now growing on the old road are really starting to encroach on the trail track. I’m hopeful that as those grow up and shade the old roadbed that it will be easier to maintain, but I guess time will tell how it all plays out.
We continued south on the trail and made really good time – we got to the first bridge about 10:30. We stopped there, drank some water and took a few photos. Here is an un-named creek coming in just north of the first bridge:
We then continued south to the first real challenge of the day – the third creek crossing – I knew this might be a challenge since we’ve had all the snowmelt and runoff, but it was wider and deeper/faster than I’ve ever seen it:
We headed upstream and found a way to cross without getting wet. It was rather challenging navigating on the south side of the creek, and we found this interesting “cave” while going back to the “trail”:
We made it back to the trail and continued south, fighting our way thru the brush and eventually making it to the second bridge about noon. We ate lunch there and pondered on what to do.
I got this really cool shot looking south from Second bridge towards the Fish/Wash creek confluence – the sun and mist was really neat looking, although as usual, the camera doesn’t pick up the beauty of it very well:
After eating and enjoying the view for a bit, we needed to decide how to proceed. We were a ways from the trailhead and when we calculated our return time, we figured we only had 30 minutes or so before we needed to head back (or hike in the dark, which none of us wanted to do). We decided to see how far up Wash Creek we could get – We figured we wouldn’t have time to get to Pick Creek today. We didn’t get very far before we hit the Music Creek crossing of old road 54:
The water there was running even higher and faster than third creek. We decided that this would need to be our turnaround point since it would take quite some time to cross this raging creek safely.
I made a short video of the raging Music Creek:
While we were looking around, I found this neat “chute” just north of where Music Creek empties into Fish Creek:
And a short video of this “chute”:
This was the closest we got to the confluence – Kirk found a good little viewpoint of the confluence. You can see Fish and Wash Creeks in the background with Music Creek in the foreground:
And another short video of this shot:
We then turned around and headed back. Since Kirk had the loppers and I had the saw, we did a little more lopping on the way back, cutting back the worst of the brush – although it needs a LOT more work to make it easily passable.
One thing I had skipped taking a photo of on the way in was this weird area of blowdown – probably a section 50′ wide and a couple hundred feet long – all the trees were all snapped off. We were thinking it was probably some sort of micro climate wind gust that knocked them all down:
At the Third creek crossing we put away the loppers and saw and checked the time. We figured we were cutting it pretty close so we decided to stop doing any more lopping on the way back. We ended up crossing Third creek in a different spot than we did coming in. Robert and I made it just getting our feet slightly wet, but Kirk ended up getting pretty wet. He slipped on a rock and was up to his knees in water. But we all made it safely across the creek. After that crossing, we tried to hasten our pace to get back to the van by dark. We made it just before sunset I think – good timing.
A great way to start 2018!
Location of Hike: Switch Creek Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny and Cold
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Zack, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:30 AM
End Time: 3:50 PM
Hike Distance: 6.8 miles
It had been something like 5 years since I’d been on the trail, so I had to try and remember some of the more obscure parts. Fortunately, I had a track from my last visit that helped us to stay (mostly) on the trail. We headed up from the parking area on road 46 where it was somewhat windy – down by the reservoir it was REALLY windy, but all up and down the Clackamas Gorge it was windy. The wind made the air temperature feel even colder – it was below freezing and there was frozen frost on road 46 in quite a few places, so driving was a bit tricky.
After getting ready (quickly due to the cold temps), we headed up the old spur road which is the beginning of the trail. It is still reasonably easy to follow, however the small trees are growing in in spots. We shortly got to the creek crossing and picked up the trail on the other side. That was not very easy, since there were quite a few rather large logs that had fallen, many right in the tread. We made our way thru that mess, and a better trail emerged after that (at least for a while). It wasn’t too long after the creek crossing where we ran across the first grisly/gross/interesting find of the day – a dead blacktail deer – and a pretty large one at that – Zack said it was a “4×5” – a 4 point buck with a smaller point near the head which was the “5”. He said that was a REALLY large deer for the Clackamas area. Something had eaten a large portion of it, but it was still pretty fresh. We couldn’t tell if this was a bad shot by a hunter, or if it was a cougar kill. Warning – gross picture ahead:
After checking out that find for a bit, we continued up the steep hillside – sometimes VERY steep – losing the trail for a bit here and there – but someone has flagged most of it reasonably well – so we were able to re-find the trail easily. When you get near the top of the hill, you intersect a better, more established trail. This trail takes you up to the 4640 road. At the trail junction, eagle eyed Kirk found an insulator (the old map shows this trail heading back up to Oak Grove Work Center with the phone line):
We shortly got to the newly decommissioned 4640-157 spur – the one that took you to a hunter camp at the top of the hill. The section out to the 4640 road is very short and soon we were on the 4640 road, attempting to follow the road and a bit of cross country to head east:
After doing a short cross country route thru an old gravel pit, we soon crossed Switch Creek again:
And then headed up to a rather swampy little lake area where we had lunch. There were a few of these “birdhouses” – but I’m not sure what is supposed to nest in them. The hole is HUGE:
After eating lunch in the sun on the north side of the swamp/lake, we made another cross country route – pretty much directly east to the 163 spur road, where we passed another swampy/lake area and then attempted to find the old trail that headed east. We walked up the ridge, and thought we were in the right area, but ended up going too far north and came back down and finally found the old tread. It was on a VERY steep, unstable hillside, but it had good views to the south in a couple of spots. This was looking southeast towards Burnt Granite with Olallie Butte just to the left of it – Olallie was all white, although it didn’t show up too well in the photo:
We headed up a little higher, following the trail relatively easily, with a few spots that had kind of fallen away. This is what some of the better trail looked like up higher:
At some point, we talked about what our turnaround time should be, and we decided it should be 2:00 (since the days are pretty short). We got to a particularly indistinct area on the trail, and we weren’t quite sure where it went. At that point, it was 1:57, so we made that our turnaround spot. We headed back the way we came – I got another shot looking south/southeast with a cool shot of the fog/clouds hanging over the hills:
We went back the same way we came except for one section where we walked back the road instead of going cross country – it was all downhill and we figured it would be faster. Looking at our route, I don’t think it cut much distance off anyway. We pretty quickly got back down the hill and got to the van a little before 4:00. It was starting to get chilly again, so it was good we got there when we did.
We finished the day with dinner and a beer at Fearless. An awesome winter day in the woods! Oh, and we never put on our snowshoes – we got to almost 4000′ but the snow was never deeper than 3-4″. so it turned out we didn’t need them after all!
Location of Hike: South Fork Mountain Trail
Weather during Hike: Varied - Foggy to Sunny and cool
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 11:50 AM
End Time: 3:50 PM
Hike Distance: 5.12 miles
Originally, we were going to hike the Memaloose trail (from the bottom). Kirk had a better idea – hike it from the top down – we were almost already there, so we hiked up an old segment of the South Fork Mountain trail up to the old lookout site and then down to the lake and back. To top it all off, I realized I had forgotten my phone – fortunately, Kirk had his, so he was the track recorder and photographer for this trip.
On the way in, the sun came out and we got this great view from one of the old clearcuts along the 4540 road – looking east to Fish Creek Mountain and Whalehead:
After our snowy escapades, we turned around and headed back to the 017 spur, where we parked and headed up (the snow was deeper than it looks in this photo):
Once up at the landing at the end of the 017 Spur, we started up the real trail:
On the way up, we got a peek of where Mt Hood was hiding in the clouds:
We got up to the old lookout pretty quickly and looked around a bit. We found the old foundations of the lookout and then headed down the “un-maintained” trail to Memaloose Lake – although I think it is strange there is a 515 trail sign on the “un-maintained” portion of the trail:
For an un-maintained trail, it was pretty well maintained. We didn’t have ANY trouble following it except for one very short section in a rooty/rocky section. One interesting thing was that we found a bunch of these orange flags on this portion of the trail – they were all placed VERY low and had “SOL” written on them – looks like they were placed this year:
We made quick time down the trail and shortly got to the beginning of the “un-maintained” section with this old sign that is clearly showing its age – I wonder how much longer it will survive?
We quickly made it to Memaloose lake and looked around the campsites there. The dogs were expending even more energy at the lake:
We ate some lunch and walked around a bit and then headed down the trail to the Memaloose trailhead. Memaloose Creek was flowing fast and furious – the crossing wasn’t bad, but you had to choose your steps carefully to stay dry (although Thor just wanted to play in the water):
A little farther down the trail, I recalled this tree that was down in 2014:
Now it is all cut out and easy to traverse:
A little ways further down the trail, we encountered a couple heading up the trail. We were a bit surprised to see someone else there – it is a LONG drive to the trailhead now. The dogs barked at them, so we leashed them up and let them pass. They asked if it was worth the trip up to the top, and we said yes, but we didn’t see them again the rest of the day. I’m thinking that we passed them when we took the alternate route up the lake.
After leashing up the dogs, we shortly made it down to the trailhead and walked around a bit on the road – Memaloose creek was flowing heavy under the road – ALL the creeks were flowing quickly due to all the snowmelt and rain we’ve had. After exploring the trailhead a bit, we headed back up to the lake:
A little ways up the trail, Kirk noticed these interesting trees – we figured they must have been from when they cut the hillside north of here:
A little farther, Kirk noticed an old sign – I never noticed it before – wonder what it said?:
As we headed up the trail, there was a junction that we noticed on the way down – we decided to see where it went – we think it was the old alignment of the trail:
And sure enough, it put us out a little bit north of the current trail alignment. You can see on the track where it put us out at the lake just north of where we came in.
Since we were a little farther north on the lakeshore, we explored some of the campsites up the east side of the lake and found this poem tacked to a tree near the lake – an “in memory of” poem:
We then headed back up towards South Fork Mountain, and Kirk noticed this odd artifact. We never did decide what this really was – fire pit or old outhouse? Or something else?
We continued up the switchbacks towards South Fork Mountain. Just below the point where you attain the ridge up to South Fork Mountain, we saw this beautiful sunbeam coming thru the trees. The pictures are pretty good, but don’t do it justice:
Once up on the ridge, Kirk found a great rocky outcropping just below the summit that had great views to the south. We got this great view of Mt Jefferson from there:
As we stood there enjoying the views, we realized that it was getting pretty cold. The sun was still up, but the temperature was dropping quickly. We made it down to the truck and quickly got in and fired up the heater which felt good. The truck had frost on it and the puddles on the road were starting to ice over, so it was definitely below freezing when we made it back. We left the chains on the truck until we got thru all of the deep snow and then stopped and took them off.
On the way back, we encountered a half dozen or more vehicles that were all gathering Christmas trees. They all seemed to be having a good time.
Although we didn’t achieve our initial objective, it was still an excellent adventure in the woods exploring some beautiful old forest, and some beautiful old abandoned trail.
Location of Hike: Hillockburn Trail
Trail Number: 516
Weather during Hike: Overcast and cool
Hiking Buddies: Carly and Thor
Start Time: 10:40 AM
End Time: 12:50 PM
Hike Distance: 2.75 miles
We stopped and let Thor play in the snow for a bit:
We then turned around and so as not to not make the day a total bust, we decided to hike the Hillockburn trail down to the South Fork of the Clackamas River. It is a pretty short hike, but it is really pretty down by the river. Unfortunately, when we got to the trailhead, we found a bunch of damage from shooters at the trailhead:
We counted at least 6 trees killed by shooters now. That was kind of a sad start to the hike, but we headed down the short trail and pretty soon got to the campsite near the river:
Thor played in the river a bit and we decided we would opt for a late lunch at Fearless in Estacada rather than eating the lunch we brought, so we soon headed back uphill. On the way, we did a little trail maintenance, cutting off a few smaller trees off the trail.
On the way back up the trail, we encountered another group of hikers – which was good – we were a little concerned about shooters shooting down the trail, but we obviously didn’t have to worry since they had come down.
It was a very short, but somewhat disappointing day (since we couldn’t get to our original objective) – but it was really nice to share a hike with Carly – I don’t get to do that too often.
Location of Hike: Plaza and Salmon Mountain Trails
Trail Number: 783, 787
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:20 PM
End Time: 5:05 PM
Hike Distance: 10.25 miles
We headed up a little earlier than usual, and made our way down the pothole laden 4610 road to the east end of the Old Baldy trail. The Plaza trail actually starts here – you take off from the trailhead and in about 50 feet the Plaza trail heads east for a bit (to the old Plaza Guard station) and Old Baldy heads west.
We parked, got ready and headed out. I remembered to bring Thor’s backpack so he could carry his own water, etc. Here he is all ready to start the day:
We headed out, heading pretty much east until we got to the old Plaza Guard station location. About the only thing noticeable now is the old fireplace:
We looked around a bit and then headed up the trail. At this point the trail turns north, heading up to Sheepshead Rock and beyond. We got to Sheepshead Rock pretty quickly, and found a side trail that headed up to the small, rocky area on top of the rock. We got probably the best views of the day from this point, however I neglected to take a photo of the rock itself. It was a pretty unique looking rock. Here is a picture of Mt Hood from the top of Sheepshead rock:
And here is a 360 Photo from the top of Sheepshead Rock that Kirk took (mine got messed up somehow).
After soaking in the views for a bit, we headed back down and then continued north until we got to the junction with the Salmon Mountain trail (the marker sign has obviously seen better days):
And on the way up we saw a half dozen or so old phone line insulators along the trail that went up to the old lookout:
Shortly after the junction, we headed offtrail to get to the plane crash site which occurred in 1966. Here is part of the debris field of the crash – the debris field was actually much larger than I thought:
We explored the debris field a bit and then realized it might not have been a great idea to let the dogs run around – there was LOTS of gnarled metal on the ground – we were concerned that one of the dogs was going to cut their paws. We walked back out of the main debris field to make sure the dogs didn’t get hurt, and then headed back up the hill to the trail. It was still pretty early, and it didn’t look like it was too far to the lookout, so we continued east up the trail. Partway up, we saw these remains – we couldn’t figure out what it could have been. It was kind of small for an outhouse – we thought maybe the phone line terminated here, but we saw insulators farther up the trail, so what it was remains a mystery – some sort of box probably about 30″-36″ square:
Here is kind of typical tread on the Salmon Mountain trail-the trail guide says the tread disappears, but it seemed to be pretty good the whole way – but maybe I’m just used to hiking abandoned trails and this wasn’t as bad as those are:
And a bit farther up the trail, we found a ribbon from the recent hiker search in the area (just last week-thankfully he was found alive and well):
After some odd junctions on the trail, we finally made it up to the old lookout site on Salmon Mountain:
We found out that the trail location on the map is wrong. The trail actually goes below the summit, over to the east, and then switchbacks to the west to get to the summit. Apparently there is a cliff on the east side that is pretty much impassable. It was rather small up on top, and only had two footings there. Kirk took this photo of me and the dogs at the lookout (I was sitting on one of the footings):
We ate lunch at the lookout site and enjoyed the sunshine and the views for a while. After a while, we decided we should head back and then went back down the way we came. When we got to the switchback at the bottom of the hill (where it switchbacked back west up to the lookout), Kirk wanted to see if there were views on the second peak – the switchback was kind of in a saddle between the two peaks. There was a faint trail that headed up, so we followed it up to the high point, but there was really no views, just a small meadowy place where the faint trail seemed to kind of die. So, we headed back and then headed down the trail. We still had a long ways to go back and by this time it was almost 3:00.
On the way out, I had forgotten how up and down this trail was – or maybe I was just tired. It seemed like there was a LOT more UP on the way back than I remember.
We got back to the trailhead a little after 5:00 and found another vehicle parked there – we were guessing they must have been hiking the Old Baldy trail. We packed up and headed out.
On the way out, driving the 4614 road, a lone hunter was along side the road with a deer. He flagged us down and asked if we could help him load it into the back of his minivan. We did, although Kirk got some blood on him while we were loading it. It was kind of an interesting way to end the day!
We capped off an almost perfect day of hiking with dinner at Fearless.
Location of Hike: Bull of the Woods Trail
Trail Number: 550
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:15 AM
End Time: 2:40 PM
Hike Distance: 6.7 miles
I hadn’t been up to the lookout in probably 5 years now, so I decided this was a worthy destination for the day. We headed out at the normal time and I was surprised at how much thinning was going on up the 6340 road. I hiked the Dickey Creek trail back in May and it was all uncut. Today, this is what the junction with the 6340/140 spur road looked like:
It was looking a bit rough, but in a few years time, that forest is going to look much better – it was really thick in there.
We made pretty good time up to the trailhead, stopping along the 6340 road for a nice view of the Pansy Drainage:
We got to the trailhead about 10:00 and I was surprised to see two vehicles there. It looked like they had come in the night before. I wasn’t expecting to see anyone on a Tuesday in October! There was a bit of snow at the trailhead – interestingly enough there seemed to be more snow down lower than there was up higher:
We got ready and headed up the trail. The beginning goes thru a cut area with some new blowdown, but shortly you get into timber and the trail is very pleasant to hike. Part way up, there is a good viewpoint north. The mountains were all out today – the views were spectacular. They are hard to see in the photo, but were easy to see in person. 4 mountains all in a row – Mt St Helens, Mt Ranier, Mt Adams and Mt Hood:
In a couple of hours, we got to the lookout. I had Thor on his leash, but he was dragging it most of the way. We got near to the lookout and he got ahead of me – I started hearing voices and thought “Oh no! he is going to go bug someone!”. Sure enough, I rounded the corner and there were three people with backpacks – one of them, a young woman was sitting on the ground and Thor was licking her, saying hi. I apologized and she said she loved dogs so I guess all was well. We chatted for a little bit and then they headed off down towards Pansy lake to complete their trip. Thor and I sat by the lookout and had some lunch.
After lunch, we headed up onto the catwalk around the lookout (Thor wasn’t so sure about that, but he went up there). The views were incredible – much better than most of the summer when we had lots of smoke. Looking south to Olallie Butte, Mt Jefferson, Three Sisters and Broken Top – they were all out:
And I got this cool photo of Mt Hood from the lookout – looking north:
The lookout is faring OK, but is suffering from neglect. There is a broken window on the lookout – it has been broken for a few years – but at least someone has tried to limit the damage – they put boards behind the open window:
After enjoying the views for a bit, we headed back down the stairs. I got kind of the iconic photo of the the lookout:
I was really surprised at how warm it was – especially at the lookout – it wasn’t very windy at all and the sun felt really good – but not hot. I was in short sleeves and very comfortable.
We headed back down the trail, back the way we came. We enjoyed all the viewpoints on the way back down. I noticed a few things on the way down that I had not noticed on the way up. Like this wilderness sign propped up against a downed tree – I guess when this tree went down it broke the sign:
As we got closer to the trailhead, the snow increased, but it was melting quickly. In a few days, I think most of it will be gone. We made it back to the truck a little after 2:30 and then headed back down the mountain and home.
What a beautiful fall day of hiking! The weather really was almost perfect – not too hot, not too cold, not too windy. And visibility was excellent.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Edit – Later – this was a uniquely sad hike in that about a week after we did this hike the Eagle Creek Fire started and this whole area burned significantly – I’m glad I had the opportunity to see this area before it burned
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
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!
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
- 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!
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
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 the 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 started 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 us 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.
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
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.
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: 11.5 miles
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 for a 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.
Location of Hike: Burnt 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
We had not really planned on doing much in the way of maintenance but we did more than 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! (Edit-later – Kirk counted the rings and counted 53 rings!!!):
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!
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
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 had 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!
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
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
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 beautifully 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!
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
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.
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
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.
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
- 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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Location of Hike: Lower Milepost 3 Trail and Oak Grove Work Center
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Don, Brian, Elizabeth, Jane
Start Time: 10:30 AM
End Time: 3:00 PM
Hike Distance: 1.3 miles
The agenda for this day was to do two things:
1- Explore below the 4635 road where the MP3 trailhead is, to try and find the trail down to Oak Grove
2 – Meet some of Rondy’s family at Oak Grove to get a tour of the buildings and hear about what it was like to live there 50 years ago.
We parked on car at Oak Grove and then drove up to the MP3 trailhead to start our explorations – we fanned out in the woods, and it bout 15 minutes, Kirk had found a phone line insulator:
Unfortunately, that was the only one we found, but at least it showed us where the tread was. Once we found that we worked back and forth from that point, flagging and doing some lopping ot make the route more apparent. Much of the route was overgrown with vine maple. Here is one section of tread (it looked much better in person):
We continued down the trail, flagging as we went until we got to a newer cut area where it kind of disappeared. We ended up finding the spur road that shows on the map – we had thought that maybe the spur road took out the trail since it headed in exactly the right direction. We followed it down until we were pretty much due north of Oak Grove and we saw a “corridor” thru the woods – we headed down that way, wondering if we might find some tread. On the way, we found these bird bones and Skull (kind of a weird find):
We ended up finding what seemed like tread in this area and it led down to 4630. We were running out of time, so we will have to come back and scope out the 3 areas that were kind of fuzzy – right below the road – the section before the spur road (180 spur) and then the last section above 4630.
We made it down to the Oak Grove work center and ate lunch. Shortly after we were done, Elizabeth came walking down the road, followed shortly by her husband and mom. A few minutes later, Brian came and joined us. We chatted for a bit and did introductions and then started looking at all the old buildings. We had viewed them over a year ago, but really didn’t have any context for any of the buildings. We had made guesses (and some of them were correct), but now we know what each building was for, and also the location of a couple of other buildings that are no longer there:
Unfortunately, there has been even more vandalism – now there is graffiti in at least a couple of the buildings. In Rondy’s old house, the chimney has been “tagged” and in the warehouse building, the walls are completely covered in graffiti now. It is very sad what is becoming of this place – it holds such history.
I thought I had photos of all the houses and buildings from our prior trip, but I only took a couple of photos – I will have to take more photos at some other time to preserve what is left of these buildings.
We also found out that the the meadow to the east was where the horses and mules grazed while they were there. They were taken somewhere lower in the winter, but spring, summer and fall they were there. Actually, most of the summer they were probably out on the trail, supplying the lookouts. In addition, we identified which of the 2 shop buildings was the sign shop (where all the cool signs were made) and which was just a shop.
After touring all the buildings, we drove back up the road to locate the location of the old Collawash Ranger Station. It was where I kind of thought it was – pretty much at the junction of the 4630 and 4631 roads – there is an open area in the woods where people now camp – that is where it used to be – just west of Silvertip (which used to be a logging camp). Once the Rippplebrook Ranger station was built, the Oak Grove and Collawash Ranger stations were combined in Ripplebrook and both of the others closed. At some point both buildings were destroyed.
After locating that, we went back to our car and drove back up to get the Van and come home. A stop at Fearless made for a great end to a great day out in the woods with great people.
A couple of closing photos:
Wintertime view of Oak Grove looking east (from 1959):
Lastly the beautiful view from Oak Grove – looking east (taken today):
Location of Hike: 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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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!
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
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.
Location of Hike: Eagle Creek Trail
Trail Number: 440
Weather during Hike: overcast
Hiking Buddies: Zack
Start Time: 8:45 AM
End Time: 2:45 PM
Hike Distance: 13 miles
The words of the day for me were wow, amazing, thundering and wet. I kept saying “wow” due to the scenery, and the “amazing” trail that was literally blasted out of the side of a cliff. The waterfalls were absolutely thundering due to all the water – some you could actually feel. Wet was just what it sounded like – this is a pretty wet trail, and when we’ve had as much rain as we have had recently, the cliffside areas were dripping heavily.
We got to the parking lot about 8:45:
There were not many cars – most of them appeared to be from a work party that was there to do some work on the trail. We had heard there was a slide near the beginning of the trail and assumed there was downed logs due to the recent wind storms. We headed down the trail, following the work party – they quickly let us pass since we were trying to make good time in order to get back before dark – this was going to be a long day of hiking.
Our goal was to get up past Tunnel Falls, and then return and (hopefully) take our time on the way back. After hiking for a little while, we shortly approached Punchbowl falls:
As with all the waterfalls, it was thundering and running fast. After enjoying it for a bit, we headed down the trail, soon coming to the bridge at Tish creek, which has been heavily damaged due to a recent downed tree:
The bridge is uncrossable, but we were able to hike down and across the creek to continue our journey.
We continued down the trail, making good time and trying to get over the numerous blowdowns on the trail – like this:
Parts of the day were kind of a blur, since we were moving quickly, and I wasn’t familiar with all the waterfalls and trail geography. I’m not sure where this was taken, but this is a picture of one of the slot canyons on this trail – pretty dramatic – you can see the trail in the upper left of the photo – where it was carved out of the side of the hill:
And is a photo from the top of one of the waterfalls (I can’t remember which one – there were so many!):
This was one of my favorite waterfalls – it had a neat bowl near the bottom which was very unique (I found out later this is called Loowit Falls):
We soon got to High Bridge, which is very dramatic (and a bit scary if you are afraid of heights):
In fact, this whole trail is probably not good for someone who is afraid of heights. There are long sections of trail that are pretty narrow, with near vertical drops down to the creek. If you were to slip, you would be done for, since there is nothing to catch you on the way down. Dramatic, but a little bit scary, and requiring careful navigation. There are cables attached to the rock face, but on a busy day this must be pretty terrifying to hike.
The second to last waterfall we saw was by far my favorite – Tunnel Falls. It reminds me of the Waterfall on the South Fork of the Clackamas river. It is about 120′ high, and has a tunnel behind it!
The surrounding cliffs are very dramatic as well:
And here is a picture of the tunnel behind the falls – it isn’t very long, but it is very dramatic walking through it, especially on a day like today when the water was flowing fast:
Lastly, here are a couple of videos I took of the falls and approaching the tunnel. They don’t do it justice, but the waterfall was absolutely thundering. You could feel it in your bones.
After looking in awe at Tunnel falls for a while, we continued down the trail to our last waterfall (I think it is called Twister Falls) – here is a photo of the top of the waterfall:
We the continued a little bit farther until we found a good spot to have lunch:
We were amazed at how high the water had been recently! We fashioned a makeshift bench out of the wood, and ate lunch. We marveled at the trail, the canyon, the waterfalls, and the water flow. We started getting cold, so we packed up and headed down the trail. We finally warmed back up on the way down, successfully navigating the several creek crossings (one of which was a bit sketchy). We made good time – much better time than we had expected – we did the side trails down the the viewpoint for Metlakao Falls, and also the lower Punchbowl falls. We headed back and met quite a few people on the way in as we headed out – it seemed strange to be starting a hike that late in the day – when it was going to be getting dark soon. But maybe they weren’t going very far.
We got back to the car at 2:45 and headed home. A great day on a very spectacular and unique trail. I now understand why it is so popular.
Location of Hike: Dickey Creek Trail
Trail Number: 553
Weather during Hike: Sunny and cold
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 11:45 AM
End Time: 3:15 PM
Hike Distance: 6.5 miles
I haven’t hiked this trail since the moved the trailhead back about a half mile – they decommissioned the old road and turned it into a trail. Here is the new trailhead:
I was surprised to see another vehicle there when we arrived. As we were getting ready, another truck came down the 164 spur, which also surprised me. After getting ready, we headed down the old road, soon getting to the old trailhead (which also continued down an old road that was converted to trail – the first mile or so of this trail is old roads). After heading down the road and crossing a creek (there are still remnants of an old bridge there), we got to the “bad section” – this is a section that drops very quickly, and the tread was never built well. It heads straight down hill – no switchbacks and the ground is very unstable. When Carly and I did this several years ago, we literally slid down the hill on the way down and climbed and slipped up the hill on the way back. It was very difficult. Since I’ve been on this trail, this section has improved somewhat. They have installed steps on several areas of the steep sections:
There are still a few sections that could use steps, but it is much improved over what it was. We continued down the trail, thru the old cut area until we got into uncut timber. This is a beautiful section of trail – probably my favorite on this trail. Big old trees, lots of moss. We stopped to eat a bit and while sitting there, I noticed this beautiful ray of sunshine coming thru the trees:
And I had to take a picture of Bodie – he was having a good time:
After eating a little bit and drinking some water, we continued down the trail. It was rather cool, and when we got to an overlook of Dickey Creek, we saw these frosty trees:
Continuing down the trail, we shortly headed into a very brushy, low, swampy area where this very large tree had come down. It will be tough to remove this, and it is pretty tough to get over.
And this is the “Alder Swamp” area – it is very similar to the “real’ alder swamp off the Collowash, but this one is smaller and apparently un-named.
While hiking the north side of this swamp, I tripped over a root that was in the middle of the trail. I took a pretty good fall, and bumped my knee – I almost thought I was going to have to turn around, but I ended up “walking it off”. We continued down the trail until I saw this Section Line Tree right next to the trail. I can’t believe I never noticed it before:
Somewhere in this area, we met a backpacker and stopped to talk with him for a few minutes. He had camped at Big Slide lake the night before. I asked if there was any snow there and he said not really, but he could see snow up on the peaks around the lake. I think my decision to not try a higher elevation hike was probably smart. We parted ways and continued down the trail. We had to get back home relatively early, so we were kind of racing to get to our objective – the creek crossing at Dickey creek. We managed to get there just about at our turnaround time:
One thing I did notice – the trail continues on the north/west side of the creek – I saw a definite blaze past the current crossing point. I wonder if the trail used to cross farther up creek? Something to research.
We quickly ate a bit more, drank some water and then headed back – the goal was to get back to the truck by 3:00. We missed it by 15 minutes, but still got home in plenty of time. When we got back to the truck, the backpacker we met was at his truck packing up. He went a little slower than we did on the way back I think. That climb back up the hill is not easy, especially with a backpack. Glad to see he made it out OK.
A WONDERFUL day in the woods – the weather was SPECTACULAR! It was too good to waste and not hike.
Location of Hike: Devils Dome Loop - Psayten Wilderness - Washington
Weather during Hike: Sunny that turned into cloudy and cooler
Hiking Buddies: Kirk and Carly
Hike Distance: 41 miles - 33 miles by foot, 8 miles by water taxi (boat)
So, the plan for the trip was to go pick up Carly in Chelan (she was working on Stehekin all summer) off the ferry on Thursday, camp somewhere near the trailhead, and then head out early on Friday for our 4 day adventure. Due to the length of the trip, we opted to take the water taxi to cut off about 8 or 9 miles off the loop – from all the reports I saw, we didn’t miss too much – no real views, just kind of hiking around the lake and then over Hidden Hand Pass, which didn’t sound all that scenic. Night 1 was to camp at Devils Park (with a shelter), night 2 at Devils Pass, night 3 at Devils Creek/Junction along Ross Lake and then on day 4 take the water taxi around and then complete the loop and then drive home (a very long drive). This area is almost to Canada – we were less than 10 miles from the Canadian border (the top of Ross Lake is in Canada)!
We were a few minutes late picking Carly up from the ferry (a small miscalculation in how long it would take to get there), but we ended up only being about 10 minutes late – my luck was that the ferry was right on time! Anyway, we picked her up, went into Chelan, had dinner, got gas and then went out to find our campground for the night. Originally, I wanted to camp at Loup Loup campground, but we found out that it was closed due to the fires. We ended up staying at JR campground which was nearby – it was starting to get dark and we just wanted a place to sleep for the night.
One interesting thing that happened – we were setting up camp, and not one, but THREE rangers came into the campground – they had reports of a “huge bonfire”. They asked us if we saw anything and we had not – turns out it was probably a white gas stove that had gotten a bit out of control when it was starting up – someone saw that and reported it. While the rangers were there I asked for a good breakfast place for Friday morning and also about the permits I was told we needed at Ross Lake – there was a ranger station in Winthrop. He told me about a great breakfast place a “combination restaurant and sewing place”. It sounded interesting, so we decided to try it – if we could find it.
The following morning, we packed up camp and tried the rangers suggestion – probably wouldn’t have stopped there had he not said anything, but the breakfast was really good – the sewing stuff was quilting supplies. After breakfast, we headed down to the ranger station for our permit, which I understood to be similar to the wilderness permits – you basically fill out the tag and go. This took quite a bit longer than that. It took over a half hour to get all the correct info and get the permit. Once that was done, we headed down highway 20 to the Canyon Creek trailhead to start our adventure – a little later than we had planned.
We got there about 10:30 and headed out shortly after. Here is Carly hamming it up for the camera in the parking lot:
Shortly after starting, we got to the bridge across Granite Creek:
And a little farther, this old cabin on Canyon creek:
We then headed up the unrelenting switchbacks to gain the 4000 feet of elevation we needed to gain to get to McMillan Park. Most of the day was just grunting up the hill, stopping for rest breaks and stopping to fill up our water bottles. Part way up the hill, out of nowhere, I got stung by a bee on my arm! That was kind of a bummer, but fortunately, that was the only sting of the trip.
Shortly before one of the creek crossings, we ran across the first of our “mountain chickens” (grouse). There were actually 2, however one was down off the trail. When Carly came thru, they were both on the trail. I “chased” this guy down the trail aways before he finally jumped off the trail.
After what seemed like an eternity of hiking up, we finally arrived in McMillan Park and had completed the majority of our elevation gain for the day. There were beautiful fall colors on display in McMillan Park:
We continued thru McMillan Park and ascended our final elevation gain until we reached the shelter at Devils Park:
This is where we camped on night 1. The shelter is in reasonably good shape for something that is close to 80 years old. It is missing some of its roof shingles, but still seems pretty much intact. Although there were annoying bugs (gnats, flies and the occasional bee), interestingly enough they didn’t appear to like to go into the shelter. We couldn’t figure out why, but it was nice to be able to get away from them in the shelter – it also had nice benches for sitting.
The evening of day 1 was uneventful – cook dinner, clean up, hang our food and then we went to bed. A couple of interesting things happened overnight. First, I had to get up to pee in the middle of the night – I unzipped the tent and heard a flurry of thumps – I had startled some large hooved animal that was probably grazing in the meadow. I never got a look at it, but from the noise it made, I’m guessing it must have been an Elk (or maybe 2). It sounded too big to be a deer. We found lots of signs of elk in the meadow.
The second thing was Carly wanted me to wake her up to take night sky photos – we set an alarm for 1:00am and it went off but I couldn’t wake her up. Oddly enough, she woke up herself around 3:00am and took some cool photos of the night sky:
We woke up on day 2, cooked breakfast, packed up and headed down the trail. The trail continues thru the meadows, and then starts another long ascent up the south end of Jackita ridge. Today was the day the big views really started. Crater Mountain and Jack Mountain would be our almost constant companions for the next 2 days:
Needless to say, Carly was well ahead of us almost the entire trip – she had spent all summer in Stehekin doing hikes and backpacking trips, so she was in pretty good shape – plus she was 30 years younger than us! We continued north on the trail, and we got to a ridge where we found Carly’s backpack and a side trail that went up to the top of an un-named peak along Jackita ridge. We saw Carly at the top of the peak:
We waited for her to come down and then continued down these horrible switchbacks – sometimes heading almost straight down the hill:
We finally got down these switchbacks safely, and continued our descent – this was the theme of this trail – almost always going up or down – very few level stretches, and a lot of the up and down was not well graded – it went straight up or straight down. We stopped for lunch near an un-named creek (maybe the South Fork Devils Creek?) and then continued ascending to a ridge, which then plunged down to the North Fork of Devils creek. We followed this creek up the hillside, heading east until we got to our “final” elevation where the trail headed pretty much north. There was a neat waterfall and campsite near the top of the creek:
The trail from here pretty much kept to the same elevation and was very pleasant walking, although we were very tired after 2 days of aggressive elevation gain (in 2 days, we had done about 15 miles of trail and 7300 feet of elevation gain – all with full packs).
A short descent put us at Devils pass:
And once there, we saw more “mountain chickens” (grouse):
And a cool old sign – this sign must be REALLY old – it appears as though the post has rotted away:
We setup camp and headed down to the spring shown on the map – we were a bit worried it would be dry since we were late in the season and it has been such a dry year. I filled up with extra water at the last opportunity just in case we didn’t find any. Kirk was able to coax a bit of water out of the spring, even though it was flowing slowly. I had enough water from the last fillup, so didn’t try to use the spring. One thing we didn’t find was the “pipe” out of the spring that I had seen mentioned. Maybe it was on the upper trail or something, but we never found it.
After we got home, I found out that if we had followed this water trail to the end, we would have found the old, now collapsed Devils Pass Shelter. We only followed the trail to the spring. We thought the Devils Pass shelter would have been at the pass. Oh well….I don’t think we missed much.
We cooked dinner, hung our food and caught the sunset and some Alpenglow from the pass:
Alpenglow – not sure what peak this is – maybe one of the un-named peaks northeast of Devils Pass:
Sunset from Devils Pass:
We went to bed early again (with the sun) – tired from another day of hard hiking.
We woke up on day 3 to clouds – we weren’t sure if we were going to get rain or not, but we would make the best of whatever Mother Nature threw at us. Kirk had gotten up early and climbed the ridge that was northwest of the pass – this was him coming down – he said the views weren’t great due to the clouds:
We cooked breakfast, cleaned up and broke down camp. We tried to get a little bit of an earlier start since we had a longer day ahead of us (~12 miles). By the end of the day we would be down at Ross Lake.
We headed down the trail, and shortly saw this tree that looks like a bear had been scratching on:
As we continued along the trail, we were a bit concerned due to the threatening clouds:
But we continued – we were prepared for whatever happened. The trail in this part was pretty well graded for the most part. This one section was particularly interesting, following a bowl around with a very nice grade – made for easy walking:
The trail continued until we could start to see the beginnings of Devils Dome, the highest point on our trip. At this point, the wind had picked up and was intermittently chilly:
But we were getting some more fantastic views – looking North up the Middle Creek drainage:
And the seemingly never ending “up” of these trails:
Until we finally got to Devils Dome – just shy of 7000′ (6982′) – Carly on top of Devil’s dome (near the campsite):
When reading trip reports, some people found this area to be the high point of their trip – It wasn’t for me – I was just COLD – it was very windy up there. For me, it was interesting, but not a high point of the trip. Maybe if the weather had been less severe up there it would have changed my mind. I know some people camp up there due to the great views. It is VERY exposed, so it would be prone to being very windy. Not my preferred spot for a campsite.
After crossing Devils Dome, we started our long (5000′) descent to Ross Lake and got ready to say goodbye to Crater and Jack Mountain.
At one point while heading down, Kirk noticed an ice cave on Jack Mountain (zoomed in):
And shortly, we came to my favorite viewpoint of the trip – this rocky outcropping:
Unfortunately, none of the photos capture the dramatic view on this outcropping – it drops very precipitously down to Devils creek and then Jack Mountain is right there. Incredible views:
We stayed there for a few minutes, resting and grabbing a snack, enjoying the view. From there, we continued down the trail and decided to take a short side trip to the Bear Skull shelter where we had lunch:
We ate lunch, explored the area a bit, filled up our water in the small creek and then headed back to the trail to continue our descent to Ross Lake. On the way, we got our first peek at Ross Lake:
It was shortly after this point that we started our heavy descent, and had to say goodbye to Crater and Jack Mountain – we would be entering the trees and would not seem them again, except for a few glimpses here and there.
On the way down the narrow, steep, brushy trail, we found an interesting artifact – a tree with a very old mile marker plate on it, and also with old telephone wire on it:
This meant we had around 3 miles to go to Ross Lake – our destination for the night. I’m not sure the 3 miles was to the point where we were camping, but it was still an interesting artifact. We were eager to jump in the lake to wash the “funk” off (that was a term another trip report used, and was pretty accurate).
We finally made it to the hikers camp above Ross Lake – the signage was somewhat confusing, but we finally figured it out. We got there around 3:30, setup camp and then Kirk and I went down to the lake (a half mile hike) to jump in and get cleaned up a bit. It was pretty chilly, but it felt REALLY good to wash all the “funk” off and feel somewhat clean. We had been sweating a LOT – my shirts even had salt stains on them when they dried!!! After Kirk and I cleaned up, Carly went down to clean up.
Ross lake is a beautiful lake – smaller than Lake Chelan, but still very large – about 20 miles long:
This was the view from our camp above the lake:
While we were at the boaters camp (right on the lake where the dock was where we would get picked up the following morning), I looked around the campsites – I ended up finding an iPhone 6! After we got home, I was able to reunite it with its owner – surprisingly enough, he lived in Portland! Small world!
Sunday night was pretty uneventful – cooking dinner, enjoying the views of the lake, cleaning up and hanging our food. After dinner, Kirk decided to take a jaunt down the lakeside trail to see where that trail crossed Devils Creek – it is a cool suspension bridge (this photo was taken on the boat ride the following morning):
Carly and I went to bed with the sun again (although it was probably a little earlier due to the clouds making it get dark sooner). Kirk got back to camp a little after dark. I wanted to go with him, but my feet were really tired and needed a rest for our final day of hiking.
The plan for day 4 was to get up early, eat breakfast and be down at the dock by 8:45 since our ride was supposed to be there at 9:00. We wanted to be a little early just in case they were early. We were going to leave camp at about 8:30 to give us time to get down there – but at about 8:15 we heard a boat coming up the lake – I had already packed up, so I raced down the trail to the campsite – Carly and Kirk finished packing up and joined me a few minutes later. Fortunately, that boat was not our boat, but our boat did end up being early, so it was good I went down when I did. We got on the boat about 8:45 and he took us down to Ruby Arm, which has a trail that meets up with the lakeshore trail and heads along Ruby creek back to the trailhead where we started our adventure.
Some photos of the boat trip:
One of the fires from this summer is still smoldering a bit up the hillside:
Once we got off the boat, we made the ascent back up to the trail. At this point, it looked like a road it was so wide:
After seeing artifacts along the trail, we figured this portion of the trail must have been an old road. We found culverts, old telephone wire and other artifacts, and the corridor just looked like it used to be a road. This portion of the trip was pretty uneventful – not a whole lot to see other than Ruby creek, which was very pretty. We got to the midway point where there is a bridge over Ruby creek that connects to highway 20:
From this point on, the trail kind of disintegrated into a narrow, brushy trail that was difficult to follow in spots. We all successfully negotiated this part of the trail and soon came to our last thing to see on this trip – Beebe’s cabin – this was the Granite Creek guard station for over 30 years according to a plaque nearby, although it has now completely collapsed:
Shortly after this building, you get to the bridge across Canyon Creek, meeting the trail we started out on 4 days ago, and then shortly thereafter you get to the Granite creek bridge and then to the car.
We were all relieved to make it back to the car in one piece – tired and sore, but otherwise unharmed.
We all had a change of clothes for the trip home, so we cleaned up a bit, then headed back to Winthrop for some real lunch and then the long drive home.
Winthrop, Washington (highway 20 goes right thru it) is a very interesting place – the main street (actually the whole town) is built to look like an old west town:
If it weren’t so far away, I’d love to come back here and poke around more.
We ate lunch at a local restaurant and then started the long trip home. We stopped in Yakima for gas and dinner and then continued home. To put one final “adventure” on the trip, just outside of Hood River, the front tire on the passenger side started making a weird noise – we stopped at a rest area to take a look and the inner part of the tire failed and we had to put the donut spare on. Fortunately it happened relatively close to home. I had to drive slower on the way home, but we made it home safely – about 11:30pm – a very long day.
This trip was incredible – awesome views and scenery – but it was probably the toughest backpack trip I’ve ever done.
One last thing – we saw almost no one the whole trip – we saw one person on the first day, no one on the second day, and 4 people (2 up the trail from Ross Lake, and 2 people at Ross lake – horse campers). That was it. Probably due to being late in the season, but it made for a true wilderness experience.
A truly memorable backpacking experience.
Location of Hike: South Sister Summit Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Sarah and Daniel
Hike Distance: 13.1 miles
We ended up leaving quite a bit later than we planned – something like 2:30pm. That put us at the trailhead around 6:30-6:45. The days are getting shorter now, so we were kind of racing the sun to get to the lake before it got dark.
Our view of Broken Top on the way into Moraine Lake:
We barely made it to Moraine lake before it got dark, but then we had to find the “posts” where the designated campsites are. Fortunately, Kirk had been here before and had some idea where they were. After a bit of searching, he found one, and we setup camp in the dark, followed by cooking dinner in the dark. We then went to bed – the goal was to start off relatively early to beat the crowds. I have to say, it was kind of a strange experience wandering around in the dark woods looking for a post.
We got up (mostly) with the sun, ate breakfast and broke down our camp. We hiked over to meet the climbers trail and stashed our packs in the trees for the day. We then headed up the 5+ miles to the top of South Sister.
Here is a view of Moraine Lake with our objective (South Sister) in the background:
The trail at the start is like small road – nothing like I’m used to hiking – and South Sister is always in view to the north:
We made our way up – the trail isn’t too steep at this point, although the air continues to get thinner and the soil is pretty loose in places. After a couple of hours, and a few rest stops, we made it to this lake below the Lewis glacier:
Kirk filled up with some water, we rested a bit and then started the hardest part of the climb. You can see the route in the picture above – we go to the left on the ridge and work our way up. It seems like it continues to get steeper. And there were a lot of people on the mountain this day:
Most of the way up, we got a good view of this interesting formation – not sure what it is, but I found it very intriguing:
After numerous rest breaks, we finally made it to the crater rim where we had lunch – a view from the crater rim:
This was where all the hard work made it all worth it. The views were spectacular:
The snow in the crater at the top – looking across to the true summit:
The best view from below the true summit – looking north to Middle and North Sister, 3 Finger Jack, Mt Jefferson and Mt Hood in the distance.
We mostly walked around the crater rim, although we bypassed the jagged SW part and ended up walking thru the crater. This is where the Teardrop pool would be most years – I guess the lack of snow this year dried it up.
After exploring around the top of the mountain for a while, we started our way back down, which was almost as hard as going up since the ground is so loose. You have to watch your footing going down. We made pretty good time down the hill, stopping a few times to rest and drink some water. We found our packs we had stashed in the trees and got back to the van about 5:30. We stopped in Bend for dinner and then headed home.
It was a quick trip but a really good one – interesting. Now I can say I have climbed a “glaciated peak” – I guess I can join the Mazamas!
Location of Hike: Pansy Lake and Motherlode Trails
Trail Number: 551 and 558
Weather during Hike: A little bit of everything - wind, misty, overcast and sun spots
Hiking Buddies: Zack
Start Time: 10:15 AM
End Time: 5:15 PM
Hike Distance: 9.3 miles
Zack and I talked about a few options, and decided to hike up to Pansy Lake to see if we could find the old mines up there, as well as some other artifacts from long ago. Zack also had an off trail lake he wanted to explore to see if there were any fish in it. He said it had been stocked with fish in 2011.
We arrived at the trailhead a little before 10:00 and were surprised to see several other cars there – 2 of them were leaving as we got there, and 2 guys headed in just ahead of us. We figured we would see them later in the day. We also figured that some people were probably camped at Pansy Lake – that was an incorrect assumption – no one was camped at Pansy.
We headed up the trail and soon got to Pansy Lake – hiking past all the campsites on the north end of the lake – We got intermittent wind gusts in that section – some pretty strong. I was surprised how strong they were in there – I was thinking the lake would be much more protected. We were on guard for falling trees, though! Once past the campsites, we kind of kept going west, and followed the map over to a spot marked “prospect” (which I suspected was the mine). That turned out to be a good assumption, as we found the old mine:
And after exploring a bit, we found an old generator near the mine:
There was also supposed to be remnants of a horse corral and other signs of an old encampment. We were not able to find much, but we think this might have been the old watering hole:
We wandered around looking for a kind of open area, and ended up finding a trail on the north side of this watering hole. It was blazed and pretty well defined, but very steep – we were wondering if it might have been an old Indian trail:
It deserves more exploration sometime in the future, as well as some research to see if we can find this trail on some old maps. After wandering around for a while, we headed back to Pansy Lake:
Headed up to the saddle where the Motherlode trail joins. Shortly, we entered the burned area (from the BOTW fire a few years ago):
On the way down the Motherlode trail, just before the dry Motherlode creek crossing, there was this very interesting double blaze – I have not see one like this before where both blazes are side by side:
We continued down the trail until we got to what seemed like a good route up to the un-named lake. We fought our way thru the dense rhodie brush until we got up to the burned area. Once, there, travel was a little easier due to less brush, but it got pretty steep in places. One thing I noticed – what I called the “Forest of a thousand bent trees” – It seemed like every small tree in the burned area was bent over like this – I don’t know what causes this, but it was interesting to see:
We finally made it up to the bowl where this un-named lake was above the Motherlode trail:
Zack got out his fishing pole and tried some catch and release fishing. He got a strike on his first cast, and then nothing for a while – he worked his way around the lake and eventually ended up catching (and releasing) 3 fish – one of them a really nice one.
We were concerned that we wouldn’t have enough time to get back, so we started back downhill a little after 3:00. It was easier going downhill and quickly met the Motherlode trail and headed back up the hill. We didn’t really stop on the way back up except to cut a few of the “bent” trees that were hanging over the trail. We made really good time, and ended up getting back to the truck a little after 5:00. We were thinking it would take us 3 hours to get out and it only took us slightly over 2 hours!
We only saw 4 other people on the trail all day – the 2 who headed out before us (we figured they took the loop up the BOTW lookout), and what looked like a mother/daughter coming up Motherlode – they were coming from Twin Lakes.
It was a great trip, although a bit farther than we had anticipated. We got very little rain, and only periodic short spurts of wind – a lot better than I thought it would be! We even got some short sun spots! On the way back down from the saddle, we started getting a little mist, but we really only felt it in the open areas. When we got back to Estacada, it was really raining. Either the hills didn’t get as much rain as the valley, or we lucked out and missed the brunt of the rain. We stopped in Estacada at Fearless for a burger and a beer.
All in all, a great day.