Tag Archives: History

This refers to a trip where some kind of historical element was present (old artifacts, etc)

11/13/2021-West Pinhead Butte and Skyline Trail Segments

Date of Hike: 11/13/2021
Location of Hike: Skyline Trail segments and West Pinhead Butte
Weather during Hike: Mostly Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:40 AM  End Time: 4:20 PM
Hike Distance: 7.25 miles  Elevation Gain: 1400 feet
Pictures: Link
Saturday was supposed to be reasonably good weather (for November) and I thought maybe we could get in one late season hike on the east side. It won’t be long before this area is all covered with snow and inaccessible. The thought was to do some more exploring of the Skyline trail – maybe extend what we hiked a couple weeks ago to get a longer track of segments. In addition, since we went up to Sisi last time, there is a road all the way to the top of West Pinhead Butte, so I thought that might be interesting.

We headed out a bit early since it is a long drive – we decided to not go to the same spot we went last time – I was concerned it would be REALLY muddy in the “wood chip roads” due to all the rain we had, so we parked at a turnout on 4220 and headed over to the trail (which isn’t too far off the road anyway).

Right next to where we parked there were a bunch of pink ribbons, and then I found this short segment with some older flagging which looked an awful lot like old tread – could this have been an old connector trail to the skyline trail?:

Shortly, we came to the trail which we were on 2 weeks ago. A lot of this is in pretty good shape, other than all of the downed logs:

We hiked south, all the way to its junction with an old, closed road east of where 4290 meets 4220. Parts of the trail north of here are rather vague, but we were able to make our way thru it, using blazes and flags and the tracks we had previously. When we got to the old road, we stopped and had lunch. After a quick lunch (the days are short), we headed west back to 4220 (we didn’t want to go back the way we came – it was pretty tough going) and then walked 4220 back to the truck.

Once loaded back up, we headed north to the 4230 road – the plan was to drive as far as we could up 4230 and then walk the rest of the way to the top of West Pinhead Butte. There was a gate on the maps, and I assumed we would get stopped there – it was about a mile and a half to the top from that gate. Fortunately, we were able to drive very close to the top. We looked for the 120 spur to the top but it wasn’t in the place the map showed. It wasn’t far to the top and it was pretty open, so we figured we’d just make our own way to the top. It wasn’t too long before we encountered a road, which was the 120 spur. It wasn’t where the map showed it – at least the spot just above 4230:

We walked the rest of the way up the butte using the road. As we were walking up, Kirk saw North Pinhead Butte – which has an area that looks a lot like line Ruddy Hill – a big red spot (harder to see in this photo – it was much more apparent in person):

When we got to the top of the butte, we were surprised to see the remnants of an old lookout:

This looked to be larger than other lookouts – maybe 20′ square – most seemed to be about 14′ square. The other interesting thing was that there was still a lot of wood up there- like they hadn’t burned it like that had other lookouts – maybe it just collapsed?:

We looked around, I flew my drone and I thought I got video of the view above the trees, however I guess I didn’t hit record and so didn’t get that video.

One of the things that Kirk found below the lookout were 3 garbage pits – or maybe they were the old outhouse – not sure, but they all had old metal in them:

After looking around a bit more, we headed back down. The amazing thing was that if you were so inclined, and brought a chainsaw, I think you could actually drive to the top of West Pinhead Butte – it gets a bit brushy in a few spots, and there is a bit of road washout in a couple of places, but overall the road wasn’t bad. We walked back down the road to see where it intersected the 4230 road – it isn’t where it shows on the map, but it starts about a quarter of a mile downhill from where it shows on the map. This actually makes sense as it would have been too steep if it had been built where the map shows it. We walked back to the truck, loaded up and headed out for the third (and last) segment of the day.

Just down the road a bit from where we were, the Skyline trail crossed the road – I had short segments both north and south of 4230. We decided to head north to see what we could find. The trail in here is actually in pretty good shape, except for a few short areas. We were able to follow it pretty easily. Here are a couple of shots:

Along the way, we found 3 different places that had this weird flagging – at one point we thought it was the trail but soon realized it was not. It was two orange flags with a pink flag in the ground. We couldn’t figure out what it was for:

We continued north and were following trail but it was starting to get late. We got to this interesting rock cairn and decided we should turn around:

We got back to 4230 and headed south for a short ways but it was really starting to get dark so we turned around and headed back. I think we added another mile or 2 to the tracks we have for the Skyline Trail! Had it not gotten dark so early, we could easily have gone farther north or south.

We capped off the day by stopping at Fearless for dinner. A great way to end a great day of exploring.

10/28/2017 – Plaza and Salmon Mountain Trails

Date of Hike: 10/28/2017
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  
Pictures: Link
The plan for Today’s hike was to hike up the Plaza trail to the old plane crash site, then see how we felt and maybe press on to the old lookout on Salmon Mountain. The weather report was supposed to be just about perfect weather for hiking.

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):

And I took this photo of Mt Hood:

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.

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

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

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

This was the plan:

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

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

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

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

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

Now, on to the details.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And more giant blowdown:

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

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

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

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

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

And then this really strange “gate”:

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

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

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

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

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

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

As well as another above a snowfield:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is a VERY active river, changing channels frequently.

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

And there was a beautiful waterfall both above:

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

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

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

On the way back, it was barely a trickle:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Date of Hike: 5/7/2016
Location of Hike: Lower Milepost 3 Trail and Oak Grove Work Center
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Don, Brian, Elizabeth, Jane
Start Time: 10:30 AM  End Time: 3:00 PM
Hike Distance: 1.3 miles  
Pictures: Link
Hike description

The agenda for this day was to do two things:
1- Explore below the 4635 road where the MP3 trailhead is, to try and find the trail down to Oak Grove
2 – Meet some of Rondy’s family at Oak Grove to get a tour of the buildings and hear about what it was like to live there 50 years ago.

We parked on car at Oak Grove and then drove up to the MP3 trailhead to start our explorations – we fanned out in the woods, and it bout 15 minutes, Kirk had found a phone line insulator:

Unfortunately, that was the only one we found, but at least it showed us where the tread was. Once we found that we worked back and forth from that point, flagging and doing some lopping ot make the route more apparent. Much of the route was overgrown with vine maple. Here is one section of tread (it looked much better in person):

We continued down the trail, flagging as we went until we got to a newer cut area where it kind of disappeared. We ended up finding the spur road that shows on the map – we had thought that maybe the spur road took out the trail since it headed in exactly the right direction. We followed it down until we were pretty much due north of Oak Grove and we saw a “corridor” thru the woods – we headed down that way, wondering if we might find some tread. On the way, we found these bird bones and Skull (kind of a weird find):

We ended up finding what seemed like tread in this area and it led down to 4630. We were running out of time, so we will have to come back and scope out the 3 areas that were kind of fuzzy – right below the road – the section before the spur road (180 spur) and then the last section above 4630.

We made it down to the Oak Grove work center and ate lunch. Shortly after we were done, Elizabeth came walking down the road, followed shortly by her husband and mom. A few minutes later, Brian came and joined us. We chatted for a bit and did introductions and then started looking at all the old buildings. We had viewed them over a year ago, but really didn’t have any context for any of the buildings. We had made guesses (and some of them were correct), but now we know what each building was for, and also the location of a couple of other buildings that are no longer there:

Unfortunately, there has been even more vandalism – now there is graffiti in at least a couple of the buildings. In Rondy’s old house, the chimney has been “tagged” and in the warehouse building, the walls are completely covered in graffiti now. It is very sad what is becoming of this place – it holds such history.

I thought I had photos of all the houses and buildings from our prior trip, but I only took a couple of photos – I will have to take more photos at some other time to preserve what is left of these buildings.

We also found out that the the meadow to the east was where the horses and mules grazed while they were there. They were taken somewhere lower in the winter, but spring, summer and fall they were there. Actually, most of the summer they were probably out on the trail, supplying the lookouts. In addition, we identified which of the 2 shop buildings was the sign shop (where all the cool signs were made) and which was just a shop.

After touring all the buildings, we drove back up the road to locate the location of the old Collawash Ranger Station. It was where I kind of thought it was – pretty much at the junction of the 4630 and 4631 roads – there is an open area in the woods where people now camp – that is where it used to be – just west of Silvertip (which used to be a logging camp). Once the Rippplebrook Ranger station was built, the Oak Grove and Collawash Ranger stations were combined in Ripplebrook and both of the others closed. At some point both buildings were destroyed.

After locating that, we went back to our car and drove back up to get the Van and come home. A stop at Fearless made for a great end to a great day out in the woods with great people.

A couple of closing photos:

Wintertime view of Oak Grove looking east (from 1959):

Lastly the beautiful view from Oak Grove – looking east (taken today):

3/12/2016 – South Fork Waterworks

Date of Hike: 3/12/2016
Location of Hike: South Fork Clackamas River - Old Waterworks
Weather during Hike: overcast, rainy and some sun
Hiking Buddies: Kirk and Zack
Start Time: 9:45 AM  End Time: 2:45 PM
Hike Distance: 4.75 miles  
Pictures: Link
Hike description
Note: The map above was a hand rendered guess as to our route – I forgot my phone on this trip, so had no real GPS track.

Photos will be coming soon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Date of Hike: 1/23/2016
Location of Hike: Eagle Creek Trail
Trail Number: 501
Weather during Hike: overcast and rainy at times
Hiking Buddies: Zack
Start Time: 10:00 AM  End Time: 3:50 PM
Hike Distance: 10.8 miles  
Pictures: Link
Hike description
This was kind of an unplanned hike. I had planned to stay home today and do some things around the house. Zack texted me about 7:30 and asked if I was going anywhere today. After a few back and forth texts, we decided to meet at 9 and head out. When he got here, we decided to head up to Eagle Creek on the Clackamas – I hadn’t been there since they had done some logging at the trailhead, and on a previous trip he had found (and marked) what he thought was a trail junction down the trail a ways. Sounded like a good place to go on a rainy day after a long, stressful week.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Date of Hike: 8/29/2015
Location of Hike: Pansy Lake and Motherlode Trails
Trail Number: 551 and 558
Weather during Hike: A little bit of everything - wind, misty, overcast and sun spots
Hiking Buddies: Zack
Start Time: 10:15 AM  End Time: 5:15 PM
Hike Distance: 9.3 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
Today’s hike was going to be interesting due to the weather – we haven’t had any significant rainfall for almost 3 months now (except one really short intense storm about a month ago), and they were predicting a rather stormy, rainy weekend. I just wanted to get out in the woods! The weather ended up being much more cooperative than I had expected.

Zack and I talked about a few options, and decided to hike up to Pansy Lake to see if we could find the old mines up there, as well as some other artifacts from long ago. Zack also had an off trail lake he wanted to explore to see if there were any fish in it. He said it had been stocked with fish in 2011.

We arrived at the trailhead a little before 10:00 and were surprised to see several other cars there – 2 of them were leaving as we got there, and 2 guys headed in just ahead of us. We figured we would see them later in the day. We also figured that some people were probably camped at Pansy Lake – that was an incorrect assumption – no one was camped at Pansy.

We headed up the trail and soon got to Pansy Lake – hiking past all the campsites on the north end of the lake – We got intermittent wind gusts in that section – some pretty strong. I was surprised how strong they were in there – I was thinking the lake would be much more protected. We were on guard for falling trees, though! Once past the campsites, we kind of kept going west, and followed the map over to a spot marked “prospect” (which I suspected was the mine). That turned out to be a good assumption, as we found the old mine:

And after exploring a bit, we found an old generator near the mine:

There was also supposed to be remnants of a horse corral and other signs of an old encampment. We were not able to find much, but we think this might have been the old watering hole:

We wandered around looking for a kind of open area, and ended up finding a trail on the north side of this watering hole. It was blazed and pretty well defined, but very steep – we were wondering if it might have been an old Indian trail:

It deserves more exploration sometime in the future, as well as some research to see if we can find this trail on some old maps. After wandering around for a while, we headed back to Pansy Lake:

Headed up to the saddle where the Motherlode trail joins. Shortly, we entered the burned area (from the BOTW fire a few years ago):

On the way down the Motherlode trail, just before the dry Motherlode creek crossing, there was this very interesting double blaze – I have not see one like this before where both blazes are side by side:

We continued down the trail until we got to what seemed like a good route up to the un-named lake. We fought our way thru the dense rhodie brush until we got up to the burned area. Once, there, travel was a little easier due to less brush, but it got pretty steep in places. One thing I noticed – what I called the “Forest of a thousand bent trees” – It seemed like every small tree in the burned area was bent over like this – I don’t know what causes this, but it was interesting to see:

We finally made it up to the bowl where this un-named lake was above the Motherlode trail:

Zack got out his fishing pole and tried some catch and release fishing. He got a strike on his first cast, and then nothing for a while – he worked his way around the lake and eventually ended up catching (and releasing) 3 fish – one of them a really nice one.

We were concerned that we wouldn’t have enough time to get back, so we started back downhill a little after 3:00. It was easier going downhill and quickly met the Motherlode trail and headed back up the hill. We didn’t really stop on the way back up except to cut a few of the “bent” trees that were hanging over the trail. We made really good time, and ended up getting back to the truck a little after 5:00. We were thinking it would take us 3 hours to get out and it only took us slightly over 2 hours!
We only saw 4 other people on the trail all day – the 2 who headed out before us (we figured they took the loop up the BOTW lookout), and what looked like a mother/daughter coming up Motherlode – they were coming from Twin Lakes.

It was a great trip, although a bit farther than we had anticipated. We got very little rain, and only periodic short spurts of wind – a lot better than I thought it would be! We even got some short sun spots! On the way back down from the saddle, we started getting a little mist, but we really only felt it in the open areas. When we got back to Estacada, it was really raining. Either the hills didn’t get as much rain as the valley, or we lucked out and missed the brunt of the rain. We stopped in Estacada at Fearless for a burger and a beer.
All in all, a great day.

09/13/2014 – Horseshoe Saddle, Ruddy Hill and Skyline Trail

Date of Hike: 9/13/2014
Location of Hike: Horseshoe Saddle, Ruddy Hill and Skyline Trails
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Zack
Start Time: 10:30 AM  End Time: 4:00 PM
Hike Distance: ~5 Miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This was originally going to be a light hiking day – the plan was to meet the daughters of “Rhondy” (a former Trails supervisor in the Mt Hood NF) to hike the trail that has a sign commemorating him – he passed away in 2007 – I wish I had been able to meet him. I found his name while searching through historical documents at the forest service and got in touch with his daughters who were thrilled that someone was interested in trails as much as their dad was.
On the way up, all the rough roads shook up my bladder so I needed a break. We stopped at the Olallie Meadow campground to use the outhouse. While there, Zack happened to spot tread! We hiked it a ahort way just to see where it went. I realized this must be the old Skyline trail when it was routed near the meadow. After scouting that out for a short way we headed back to the truck and checked out the guard station/cabin (not sure its official name):

It was unlocked so we went in and looked at it. It was cool to see a structure that is probably close to 100 years old (built in the 20s?):

And soaked in the views of the huge Olallie Meadow:

After checking that out for a bit, we headed on up to Olallie Lake – we stopped at the store to look around (since Zack had never been there before). It was rather breezy, which was putting whitecaps on the lake. After enjoying the view of the lake fora bit, we headed up to Horseshoe Lake campground. Well, I didn’t do any real planning – the plan was to meet at the campground and hike the Horseshoe saddle trail (which has the sign on it). Well, never having met them in person before, I wasn’t sure who to look for, but I kind of figured 3 women camping would be easy to spot. Zack asked if I knew what they drove and I said “that would have been a good question to ask!”. Looking around the campsites, we didn’t see anyone who fit the bill – we asked a couple people and they kind of looked at us strangely. We decided to hike the trail and then head up to Ruddy Hill – maybe we would meet them on the trail. So, off we started down the trail. Shortly, we came to the new sign, which was very well done:

We continued down the trail, reaching the saddle shortly and then headed north on the PCT to the short, but steep Ruddy Hill trail. Huffing and puffing, we finally arrived at the summit of Ruddy Hill, were the first thing we saw was the old phone box. A little worse for wear than the last time I saw it, it continues to stand (barely):

We took in the incredible views from up on this aptly named hill:

We decided to eat lunch on the hill, enjoying the views. Once done with lunch, we headed back down the trail. When we got to the campsite, we looked around to see if anyone new had arrived. For some reason, I was thinking they were going to stay Friday and Saturday nights, but I was wrong – they were only staying Saturday night and had gotten a late start from town. Needless to say, we didn’t find them, so we decided to head out. We figured maybe plans had changed or something else happened. Having a bunch of extra time in the day, since we were so close, I asked Zack if he wanted to go explore a section of the old Skyline Trail that Donovan had shown me a couple of years before. I guess that was going to be “plan B”….. On the way, we decided to stop at Olallie Meadows and do a little more checking of that section of the Skyline trail. We went back and got on the trail segment again and hiked north a short ways. Zack found a really cool artifact – an old fence/hitching post along the edge of the meadow – they are kind of hard to see in the photo, but they are in a line – all leaning to the right in the center of the photo:

We also found a blaze:

After poking around, finding a couple more fence posts on the ground, we decided to head out and go up to the other junction I had been shown a couple of years before. We headed up an old decommissioned road to the point where the trail crossed it. We could either go north or south. We opted to go north. Following the trail was difficult in parts, but we kept finding blazes. Up the trail a little ways, we found another interesting artifact – an old phone line insulator – it is kind of hard to see in this photo – it blends in with the tree behind it:

We continued north, finding tread and blazes – the trail gets pretty wide near an old grazing/watering hole. We ended up kind of running out of time, but since the trail pretty much ran parallel to the road (the 4220 road), we decided to go a bit farther and then hike over to the road and back to the truck. We figured it would be MUCH faster than climbing over all the logs we came thru and we could go a bit farther up the trail. So we ended up going a little farther than a mile up the trail and then headed over to the road and back to the truck. The trip back to the truck was a LOT faster than the trip in. Note for future explorations – we can head over on the road and then start where we stopped to continue north.

It was a good day of trail exploring. Not quite what was planned, but we had a good time. The big event happened on the way home. Not too far from Estacada on Highway 224, we got stopped by a flagger. We didn’t know what was going on, but we heard a helicopter and were stopped for 10-15 minutes. I got out and asked the flagger what was going on and he said there was a fire – once I was out of the truck and around the corner, I could see a smoke plume up on the canyon wall. It was a pretty good fire, that was certain. We watched the helicopter do about 3 or 4 runs, dipping his bucket in the river and then heading up to the fire to drop it. They did not want cars going under the helicopter due to safety concerns. After those runs, the helicopter stopped for a bit and they let us go. After we got past the fire, Zack took a couple photos of the fire out the read window of the truck:

It was obvious this was a large fire and growing quickly – it started right above the quarry at milepost 36 sometime during the day. I guess it is named the “Pit 36 fire”. As of today, the fire is still growing and they have closed highway 224 – hopefully they will get it under control soon. It was a very somber way to end the day.

11/25/2013 – Old Hillockburn Trail Exploration – Old Silvicultural Area

Date of Hike: 11/25/2013
Location of Hike: East of old Hillockburn Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:30 AM  End Time: 1:15 PM
Hike Distance: 5 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This hike was kind of planned last minute. We’ve had an extended run of nice, sunny (but cold) weather, and I needed to take some time off before the end of the year, so I took a weekday off to do a hike in the nice weather.

While the snow has not buried all of the higher elevation trails, anything above about 4000′ or so seems to be out of range for hiking. So, I had to try and find a trail that appealed to me that was lower than 4000′. My first thought was to go back to Cold Springs and do some more cutting on areas that badly need it. My saw was still in the shop, so that idea did not fly. I looked at a few others, but they were either too high, or too far for a short day trip. I was still recovering from the Cold Springs trip two days prior, so I wanted a relatively easy, short hike.

The original goal was to drive out the 45-242 spur and then just hike down to where we hiked to from the other side of the old Hillockburn trail (not sure if that is the correct name for it or not). Since the gate was locked at the junction of road 45:

So we ended up walking all the way down to the jump off point. It was an easy and interesting walk.
Shortly after we started down the road, we were presented with this odd sign:

The day turned out to be a lot more about the Silvacultural research station that used to be located here. I’m not sure when it was abandoned, but the research areas are still all fenced off, with tags on trees.

You can see from this photo it has been a while since anyone drove into this particular fenced area:

At the junction of the 240 and 242 spurs is where the research station used to be located. You can still see a lot of remnants of what was there – an old outhouse (turned on its side with a missing roof), old roofing materials, lots of firewood, and the outline of a burned structure, which I’m assuming was the actual research facility. You can see what looks like office chair pedestals, and a couple of filing cabinet drawers along with some other rusty burned stuff. It was interesting to poke around all this stuff.

The old outhouse:

The old burned out building footprint:

Some of the rusty relics:

Some of the tags on the trees:

The fenced off area:

When I came down the 240 spur, I saw the turnoff to the research station and mistakenly thought it was the 242 spur road. We walked north until we hit a fence, then we followed the fence mostly west (a little south) to another fence. These fences are 8′ high, and are still in surprisingly good shape. I found a couple spots where people have jumped the fence, but the top of it still has 2 rows of barbed wire. I wasn’t about to try and navigate that, plus I had the dog, who wouldn’t be able to climb the fence anyway.
Here is the “road” we followed the fence:

I headed back thinking we were done for the day. When we got back to the 240 road, I looked down the road a bit farther and lo and behold, there was the 242 spur road heading north. We took off down that road to our jump off point.

Here is the 242 spur road:

One thing that was troubling – we saw several piles of neatly stacked logs – probably 25-30 cords of firewood at least. All sitting there just rotting away. Why did they leave so much wood?

When we got almost to the end of the road, we headed west, downhill searching for the point where we had come up from the other direction several months ago. The going was brutal. First, we had to navigate a VERY dense thicket of small fir trees. Actually, I think there were a couple of those.

Once we got through those, we were presented with this – a BUNCH of downed logs:

After the difficult day we had Saturday, I didn’t think I was up to navigating all of those downed logs. We still had to hike back up to the truck! So, we decided to turn around and head back. We ended up getting about halfway to where we ended up last time (probably about a tenth of mile away).

The trip back was relatively un-eventful and went quickly. The elevation gain was pretty easy since it was all well graded roads. We ended up back at the truck about 1:15 and then headed home. A short, but very nice day in the woods. The weather was SPECTACULAR! I was dressed for cold weather, and although it was a big brisk in some of the shady areas, it really was pretty warm up there – especially in the sun. It was nice to get out and enjoy a unique area on a nice fall day. Maybe I will return when that gate is open and I don’t have to walk all that way – then I would have enough energy to negotiate all the underbrush and downed logs.

9/2/2013 – Shellrock Lake, Grouse Point, Cutoff Trails and Frazier Mountain

Date of Hike: 9/2/2013
Location of Hike: Shellrock Lake, Cutoff Trail (between Shellrock Lake and Cache Meadow), East end of Grouse Point Trail and finally, Frazier Mountain
Weather during Hike: Partly Cloudy
Hiking Buddies: Don
Start Time: 10:25 AM  End Time: 3:35 PM
Hike Distance: 7.3 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
The goal for this hike was to capture a track for the Shellrock Lake trail, and to capture the east end of the Grouse Point trail (that is a LONG trail!) for inclusion on the trailadvocate website. In addition, I had heard rumor that there was a telephone box on top of Frazier Mountain – I wanted to see if it was still there. I had also been informed of an old “cutoff” trail that went between Cache Meadow and the Shellrock Lake trail which I wanted to explore a bit. So, a bit of a mismash of objectives.

Since Don knew the cutoff trail location, and he also wanted to go up on Frazier Mountain, he came with me. We started at the Shellrock Lake trailhead parking lot about 10:30 under sunny skies. Shellrock lake starts through a clearcut, and it pretty open and hot, but thankfully, it wasn’t too warm this day. Almost immediately after entering the forest from the clearcut, there are 2 posts on the side of the trail (wonder what they used to say?). This was our clue to head uphill to find the cutoff trail. You only have to head uphill 100 yards or so and you’ll see blazes and the trail. It is in pretty good shape – amazing shape actually, for a trail that is no longer used. We made our way up this trail until we came to the first “excitement” of the day – a nest of wasps/hornets/yellow jackets that had been dug up next to the trail (just like the hike from 2 days ago where I got stung 3 or 4 times). I tried REALLY hard to be careful around it, but I ended up getting stung on my left hand anyway. STUPID BEES! Don gave me some Benadryl which helped a bit.

The trail starts getting a little sketchy towards the bottom of the hill, but following blazes helped us stay the course. Once it gets to the bottom where it starts getting wet, we kind of lost it for a bit, but quickly located some more blazes and then it was easy to follow to the point where it meets the Grouse Point trail near Cache Meadow. We headed west on the Cache Meadow trail until we got to the site of the old cabin there:

We walked a little farther east, to the point where the Cache Meadow trail intersects, and then turned around. We got a good view of Cache Meadow “proper”:

And found an interesting sign that had been eaten by a tree (not exactly sure what it said):

And another sign that looked like a woodpecker attacked it:

Once we got done looking around Cache Meadow, we turned around and started heading east up the Grouse Point trail. Up the hill….to the first rockslide of the day:

And finally to the end of the old Frazier road, which is now trail:

The road continued southwest from where the trail meets it, however we did not explore that section. We had other things to explore this day. We proceeded up the old road, which was really nice walking – to the next rockslide:

On a clear day, it would have an AWESOME view of Mt Hood, but on this day, it was hiding in the clouds. Here is what the old road looked like through the rockslide:

We continued up the road until we got to Frazier Turnaround. Another old trail that interested me was the old South Fork Roaring River (511) trail. Supposedly there was a junction off the Serene Lake trail not too far from the beginning. Don had seen it quite a few years ago, and we headed up to see if we could find it. We didn’t go too far, but couldn’t find the old junction – a quest for another day. We stopped to eat lunch at Frazier Turnaround and then headed back down the Grouse Point trail (east) to a jump off point to make our way up to the top of Frazier Mountain. Our plan was just to walk the ridge from the road up to the top of Frazier Mountain. We did, and it wasn’t long before we found an old trail!

The trail is pretty overgrown, but we guessed this must have been the route before the road was built. Once up on top, we got some great views:

And found evidence of the old phone box and phone line:

One more interesting thing – Don had seen from one of the old lookout photos (from the 30’s) a very clear “line” across a rockslide above the South Fork Roaring River – it certainly looked like a very clear trail. Since we were up at a similar vantage point, we decided to see if we could see the same “line”. The view was a little more obscured due to the trees being much larger, but we did see a very clear “line” on the rockslide:

This anomaly really needs to be investigated. That trail heading up the South Fork would be AWESOME if it could be located. This visual clue certainly looks like a trail, however it will be need to be investigated up close to determine exactly what this “line” is. Maybe it is the first hard evidence that the 511 actually exists?

Once we enjoyed the view from the top, we followed some blazes west until we hit the flat area west of the summit of Frazier Mountain at which point we lost the trail – so we just headed south to go back to the Grouse Point trail. Once on the trail, we headed back to the junction with the Shellrock Lake trail and headed down the 700 trail until we got to Shellrock Lake:

We took in the views of the lake (and the MANY campsites surrounding it) and continued back towards the beginning of our journey.

We got back to the parking lot around 3:30 – a day well used and lots of new things found and as usual, more items to explore another day.

A short stop at Fearless in Estacads for a beer made a great ending to the day.

1/1/2013 – Abandoned Broughton Log Flume Exploration

Date of Hike: 1/1/2013
Location of Hike: Abandoned Broughton Log Flume Exploration
Weather during Hike: Overcast and rather cold
Hiking Buddies: Kirk
Start Time: 11:00 AM  End Time: 2:30 PM
Hike Distance: 2 miles (more driving than hiking - the map is mostly showing the route we took driving the area)  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This was a hike I had originally heard about on the Portland Hikers website. It combines two of my interests – hiking and history. This is an old abandoned log flume that was used from about 1913 all the way until 1986 when it was shut down. As far as I could tell, it was the last commercial log flume operating in the United States. Parts of the flume are almost 100 years old now! It was used to send partially cut wood (called “cants”) from the upper mill in Willard, Washington, down to the lower finishing mill at Hood, Washington. This mill was where the lumber was milled to finish dimensions and then shipped out via rail or by ship. The flume was built because it was much cheaper to send it down the hill this way than to truck it 13 miles via narrow, windy roads. It ran 120,000 – 150,000 board feet of timber down the flume each day (enough to build something like 12 houses). The flume was about 9 miles long and dropped 1000 feet to the lower mill. It took about an hour to make the trip, so the water ran about 9 miles per hour in the flume. The water was taken from the Little White Salmon river and was emptied into the Columbia river after it exited the flume. There was a 5 man team that was responsible for maintaining the flume. Each section of flume was about 16 feet long and lasted 15 to 20 years, after which it had to be replaced.

One of the interesting things I found was the “alarm” system that the flume had. It had wires on the downhill side of the flume (from the Chenoweth road crossing down to the Hood mill) and if one of those wires were cut, the flume would automatically shut down and divert all its water to Drano lake. There was concern that if there were a leak on the side of the hill, it could cause rocks or trees to come tumbling down the hill onto the trains and cars below. The alarm system and bypass mechanism was near the Chenoweth road crossing.

OK, enough of the facts and figures of the flume itself. On to the description of the trip. We started out early on New Years Day – it was cold and the roads were icy in spots. No matter, it was a good day to go exploring – a great way to start a new year. We got to Hood River and made the trip over the toll bridge (it was $1 each way). We stopped in the small town of Bingen to look at a steel portion of the flume that used to go over a roadway. It had some history of the flume and some photos that were interesting to see. After this stop, we were ready to go looking for what was left of the flume. We headed west on Highway 14 until just before tunnel 5 (I think that is the right tunnel-maybe it was tunnel 6). Anyway, there was a nice place to pull off the road. We headed back up the road a bit to get around the cliff. Then we headed up. In less than 100 feet up, we found remnants of the flume. There was LOTS of poison oak all over the place, but since it was cold, and the plants were all in hibernation for the winter, I think we were OK. It was interesting to walk down the flume line and see how far it has degraded in a short time.

There was also a section that was in reasonably good shape:

We also saw the wires for the alarm system:

After poking about those pieces for a while and enjoying the view of the river, we headed back down and continued west on highway 14 until we got to Draino Lake. WOW, was the wind howling there! And it was COLD! We stopped just long enough to look at the plaque they had at the boat ramp and then continued west to Cook-Undewood road, and then headed north towards Willard (where the upper mill was). We passed through “Mill A”, a small mill town, and after taking a left fork on Willard Road, eventually got to the small town of Willard (population 46 according to the town sign). In Willard, we saw the long metal flume that went across Cook-Underwood road:

As you can see, there was a fair amount of snow on the ground. I was surprised, since we were only at about 1200′ of elevation. Near this piece of flume, we also saw a family of deer resting in the front yard of one of the houses:

Driving a little further up the road, we found one of the best preserved pieces- this piece didn’t actually carry any cants, it was the “feeder” flume from the dam on the Little White Salmon river to the mill in Willard where it picked up the cants:

From there, we saw where the flume crossed the Little White Salmon River:

We kept driving down Willard Road (it kind of makes a U Turn) looking for more remains of flume. The flume was supposed to parallel the road, but we could see no evidence of it. We then proceeded to what I found to be the most interesting part of the trip. We went down Chenoweth road, almost to the end. At this point, the flume went under the road – there was quite a bit of flume left in this area. Seeing no “No Trespassing” signs, we went and explored the pieces of old Flume. On one side of the road was pieces of flume, some elevated as much as 8 feet or so. Some pieces were pretty much ruined, but some were in relatively good shape. On the other side of the road was the interesting piece. This was the place where the “alarm” worked. There was a small building next to a trap door. When the alarm was triggered, the motor in the building opened the trap door and all the water ended up going down to Drano Lake rather than continuing down the flume.

There was some old “decking” which looked like it could have been used for a variety of things (removing jammed up logs if the alarms triggers, sending replacement lumber down the line for flume repairs, etc). As we got back to the car, there was a nice gentlemen on a tractor who informed us that we were now on a nature preserve. We told him we were interested in looking at the remains of the flume and he told us stories of what it was like and how the “alarm” worked. It was great to hear stories from someone who had actually seen it work. Apparently after it use was discontinued in 1986, many (most?) sections of it were sold off – reclaimed. About the only sections that were not were sections that were either in inaccessible areas, or those on private property. The area where the nature preserve is located is private property and the owners had opted to keep the flume in place. Thank goodness for that! It is too important of a historical treasure to leave to rot! Even better, they are discussing preserving a section of the flume permanently so that people can see what it looked like.

After talking with the nice gentleman (I never got his name, just that he was the caretaker of the preserve), we headed out, and back down to Bingen and then back home. While we didn’t do a lot of actual hiking, it was a great day out exploring this bit of NW history.

12/10/2012 – Gold Creek Mines

Date of Hike: 12/10/2012
Location of Hike: Up old 2209-330 spur road (kind of a trail)
Weather during Hike: Foggy in the morning and partly Sunny in the afternoon
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 11:00 AM  End Time: 2:30 PM
Hike Distance: 6.3 Miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This was a hike based on a trip report on the Portland Hikers website. I had the day off and was trying to find something that was interesting, new and would be doable without snow. This seemed to fit the bill, and since I love historical places, I thought it would be a great fit.

Got going a little late, so didn’t start hiking until 11:00 – it was almost a 2 hour drive to the trailhead (Opal Creek trail), but the good news is that there were only two cars there today! Unlike the weekends, where you might have 100 or more. Anyway, we started out on the hike, crossed Gold Creek on the big tall bridge and soon came to the junction of the old 330 spur road, which would take us up Gold Creek to the site of the old mines.

As we started our way up the old road and past the wilderness boundary sign, the old road seemed more like a creek than an old road:

We got a few glimpses of the surrounding terrain through the trees:

We missed the turn to continue up the old road. I had thought the Gold Creek trail would take off to the right, however what really happens is the Gold Creek trail continues on straight, and this road takes off to the left, through a bunch of brush. We saw the junction, but it looked rather overgrown and figured it was just some sort of side trail. After a bit on the Gold Creek trail, I realized we were not heading in the right direction. We were still headed up quite a bit and heading away from the creek. So, we turned around and found the junction and soon found the rest of the old road (what is remaining of the old road bed).

The road was rather overgrown with LOTS Of downed trees over it – It was tiring to keep going over or under all the big trees:

After hiking for a while, we came to an old bridge, which has kind of turned into a logjam. Only one of the original logs is still intact – the one we crossed on:

After crossing the creek and heading uphill some more, we finally found the first evidence of old mining activity (other than the “road” bed) – This was some sort of bridge over a collapsed mine shaft. You could see the remains of the wooden supports down in the bottom of the cave in.

A little farther up the road was a flat area

And an old blacksmith forge blower:

Downhill from that flat area was some more remnants. Roofing from an old building

Old Rails

An old mine car

And a woodstove (maybe? Or Maybe a blacksmith furnace?)

Knowing there might be more up the road, but also seeing what time it was, and how tired we already were, I decided it was time to turn around. I really didn’t want to be hiking in the dark, and we still had a ways to go back down the road/trail to get to the truck. I was also a little nervous about getting back over the creek on that log (with the dog). We were getting tired, and I didn’t want either of us slipping on that log on the way back. So, it was better to call it a day and head back. Going back was much easier than going in – I think we made it back down in about an hour and a half. So, we didn’t have to hike in the dark (or drive in the dark).

The weather was great for December and it was an interesting day of hiking, seeing some old relics in the woods, and being able to see some giant old trees. I would love to know how old some of the trees in that area are. Some of them are HUGE!

12/03/2012 – Bedford Point Lookout and Wanderers Peak Weather Station

Date of Hike: 12/3/2012
Location of Hike: Bedford Point Lookout and Wanderers Peak Weather Station
Weather during Hike: Cool and overcast
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:30 AM  End Time: 2:00 PM
Hike Distance: 4.5 miles  
Pictures: Link


Description of Hike:
This was a rather short hike – but I had been feeling bad over the weekend and I thought that getting some fresh air might help me recover from whatever it was I had. I had the Bedford Point lookout on my “todo” list for a while, and the Wanderers Peak weather station was one I had recently found and was interested in seeing. The two of them looked like relatively short hikes (depending on how close I could drive to them – I wasn’t sure of the state of the roads).

So the first stop was to the old Bedford Point Lookout location. According to the maps, there is a road that goes right to the lookout. Well, that was a while ago…..I started down the narrow road (although I’ve been on worse FS roads), until I got to the Whisky Creek crossing – it is hard to see in the photo, but the road was washed out on either side of the culvert, so the “road” was probably only 4′ wide. In order to drive over the creek, I would have had to drive on the culvert, which I didn’t really want to do:

That looked a little too dicey for me, so I decided to turn around and find a wide spot in the road (just in case someone came down the road and was crazy enough to cross that creek). We started hiking a little ways from the creek crossing where there was a spot just wide enough to fit two vehicles. After the creek crossing, the road wasn’t too bad for a while. It went through the corner of a privately owned piece of land that had recently been clearcut. After the clearcut, the road continued in reasonably good shape until it came to another un-named creek that had washed out the road and there were dirt berms on either side of the creek:

After crossing this small creek, we continued up the road, finding another dirt berm in the road a little farther up:

After getting around that, it was evident that the land north of the road had recently been thinned. When we got to the end of the thinning, we found this on a tree:

It appears the thinning was done in the spring of 2008. Continuing up the road, we found the old road up to the lookout site and started hiking up that road. It wasn’t in very good shape, and was definitely not driveable:

Once at the top, it was a little bit anti-climactic, since there was absolutely no view from the top (it is all grown up now), and there wasn’t a whole lot to see. We did find evidence of the old footings for the lookout:

And something else interesting – We found what I think is one of the rock piles shown in the photo from 1934:

What we saw:

What was taken in 1934 (there were lots of rock piles – we saw several, but this was the largest one):

WOW – A lot has changed in 78 years!!! We also found some old tin – not sure what it was for, but guessing it was from a roof of something:

After looking around for a while, trying to find more artifacts, we decided to head back to the truck. We easily made it back to the truck and on the way out, we saw a fenced off area to the west of the road. This looks very similar to other areas I’ve seen. The other areas were “study areas” that the Forest Service used for various purposes. I guess the fences were to try and control the experiments the best they could. I’m sure this area hadn’t been studied in years. The gate was off the fence, so anyone could go in.

The next stop on the agenda was to go to Wanderers Peak and see if we could find the weather station located there. I found out (I think) that the station is part of the RAWS network. Here is more info on that. After driving up the road, I wasn’t sure how far we could drive to. Fortunately, we were able to drive very close to the station. After a short walk (up an abandoned road), we found the weather station:

You could see the remains of the old “shack” that used to be there. I’m pretty sure the big pile of wood was the old shack. It looks like this station has recently been upgraded.

It was a shame the clouds were so low – on a clear day the view would be tremendous. After a bit of walking around exploring, we hiked back to the truck and made our way home.

All in all, a good day in the woods, and the bonus was that we didn’t get rained on!

11/10/2012 – Weather Station exploration and Oak Grove Butte Area

Date of Hike: 11/10/2012
Location of Hike: Weather Station exploration and Oak Grove Butte Area
Hiking Buddies: Kirk and Don
Start Time: 9:15 AM  End Time: 4:15 PM
Hike Distance: 5 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:

This was an end of the higher elevation year hike to try and find a couple of weather stations as well as hike to the top of Oak Grove Butte and also hike an old abandoned trail that was recently found. The goal for the day was just to have fun and hopefully stay out of the snow. I think those goals were achieved!

First off was trying to find the Peavine Ridge Snotel site. I had rough coordinates for it, but wasn’t sure exactly where it was. We drove up the road as far as possible, until it got too rough (even with a 4WD and high ground clearance) and narrow. From there, we continued walking up the road until we found what looked like an old skid road to the south. We followed this “road” which led us directly to the snotel site. It was interesting to see in person.

It had obvious old and new equipment – the “pillows” on the ground that measured snow depth were interesting to see (although we were careful not to get too near them). After looking around for a bit, we headed back out. Right after the site on the “road” we happened to notice a couple of signs:

OOPS!! In our defense, we were very careful around the equipment….

After going back to the truck, we headed to the other weather station site, which was nearby. It is called the “Red Box” site. Not sure why – none of the equipment there was red:

We spent a little while looking around there, and then went back to the truck. The next two destinations were to the top of Oak Grove Butte (where there used to be a lookout long ago), and an old abandoned trail. We decided to go to the top of Oak Grove Butte first, but on the way, Don showed us an old 4 way trail junction:

It was interesting to see the blazes on the tress going through the woods in 4 directions. After exploring in that area a bit, and talking with a hunter who showed us a big fresh bear track, we headed to Oak Grove Butte. There is a road almost to the top, but that last part is pretty iffy – more of a jeep road than anything. We parked downhill a ways and walked up to the top:

And to the old lookout site, which now has some antennas on it:

We then went down to the “reflector” (not sure what else to call it) that is on the hillside. I think it is actually what is called a “Passive Repeater” wikipedia.

We took a look at it and then Don showed us the remains of the old outhouse for the lookout:

After looking around for a while, we headed back to the truck for our final destination of the day – the old “Oak Grove Butte” trail. On the way down, Don also showed us an old phone line insulator that still had the phone line in it!:

Interesting thing was that the phone line had ice all over it. It is amazing it is still hanging after all these years.

We headed back to the truck and then to the beginning of the trail. It starts at the end of an old spur road – it starts on a decommissioned section, then a normal spur road, and finally devolving into a treed nightmare for a bit before eventually opening up onto the actual trail (It appears the road was built right over the trail). We spent quite a big of time working on brushing out the trail (past the old road portion). It started snowing partway through, but never got very hard. It was an interesting trail, and it had a couple of really nice viewpoints – my favorite was this shot of Burnt Granite and Granite Peaks:

We got to the other end, which is near an old clearcut and a small, swampy lake. We attempted to find the trail from the ridge, but were unable to find anything definitive. After a bit of searching, we turned around and headed back to the truck. A little more cleanup on the way out, and we were back at the truck shortly before it got dark. We headed back and had our normal ritual of stopping at Fearless Brewing in Estacada for a beer and some dinner.
A great day with some great friends exploring some great country!

8/8/2012 – Skyline Trail Exploration

Date of Hike: 8/8/2012
Location of Hike: Old Skyline Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Start Time: 3:15 PM  End Time: 5:30 PM
Hike Distance: 2.5 miles (mostly in circles!)  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
Hike description

After getting a taste of locating old trails the prior weekend, (seeing the different Skyline Trail segments), I got so excited about the Skyline trail that I had to take a day off from work and go out mid week to do some more exploration. We did the Horseshoe Saddle, PCT and Gibson Lake trails in the morning and early afternoon (see separate trip report) and then headed back up to scout south from the old decommissioned road at the junction of 4690 and 4220. I’m assuming that road was the continuation of the 4690 road at some point – The old USGS map shows its continuation, but it doesn’t go too far.

We hiked up to the point where the old Skyline Trail crosses the road, and hiked south. We started looking for blazes and found a bunch. I marked waypoints right next to all the blazes we saw, top hopefully show the route of the trail more clearly. I also think there might have been two alignments of this trail – if you look at the map, there are two separate, parallel tracks at one point where there are blazes. But looking at the majority of the blazes, I think the route is pretty apparent. It is obvious more exploration needs to be done to nail down the exact route of the trail. There are some VERY messy areas in there – LOTS Of blowdown, but once you get up on the hill, the trail is VERY apparent.

We also found something REALLY interesting – an old Insulator! It was just off what appears to be the route of the trail, but very close to it.

We headed up the (by this point) very apparent tread up to a pretty level spot, which is really close to the 4220 road. We walked out to the road as you can see on the map. We were running out of time, so we didn’t continue, but we did find a good portion of this segment of he trail I think, and I’ve got a good track of it. Looking at the blaze waypoints on the map, it seems the route is very clear.

When I was processing the GPS track, I found one other interesting thing – In my Garmin map software, it has some old trails – it doesn’t list the name of the trail, but it does show a trail in this general area – it shows it hitting the 4220 road, then veering off again for a bit before it gets to Olallie Meadow. I’m thinking that may be a reference to the Skyline trail, because it was heading straight for 4220.
We didn’t have any flagging tape with us, but where we could we tried to tie the old flagging that was on the ground around a tree or at least get it off the ground so it was visible. Each subsequent visit should be easier to negotiate. Next time I go I will definitely take some flagging tape to make finding the route easier.

An absolutely amazing day in the forest, hiking the old route of a venerable trail. You could just feel the history…..Amazing!

I will be back to do more explorations of this trail for sure. I have already decided that once my goal of hiking all the trails in the district is complete (2 more hikes!), finding the route of this trail and bringing it back will be my next goal. I’m sure it will be an amazing journey….

7/14/2012 – Corral Springs (507) Trail

Date of Hike: 7/13/2012
Location of Hike: Corral Springs Trail
Trail Number: 507
Weather during Hike: Sunny (overcast at times)
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:00 AM  End Time: 3:15 PM
Hike Distance: 6 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This hike was a milestone for me in my goal of hiking all the trails in the Clackamas district. It marked the last trail that I have not hiked at all (I still have two more trails I need to complete hiking the entire length). This hike was on the Corral Springs trail all the way down to the Roaring River – what an interesting trail! The beginning isn’t all that great, but the further down the canyon you get, the more interesting (and faint) the trail becomes. There are some awesome viewpoints at the rock fields, and some fantastic views across the canyon.

The upper part of the trail was in great shape, however you could tell it doesn’t get hiked much. There was lots of branches, etc on the tread, although the trail was quite wide at the top – probably due to the quad traffic this trail used to get. The lower section started to get brushy in places and was difficult to follow as you got closer to the river. The last tenth of a mile or so it felt like you were going straight down! At a couple of points I wasn’t sure I was on the trail-I had to look very closely for where the trail was. I think it would have been a lot easier to hike in the early summer or late fall, when the ground cover isn’t do dense. On the way back up, I lost the trail for a bit – it was easier to see the faint tread going down than going up – the undergrowth is getting so aggressive now it is hiding what is left of the trail.

I spent a fair amount of time on the way back up the hill doing pruning of vine maple, fir trees and rhodies (it was a good excuse to take “rest” breaks on the long slog back up the hill). I didn’t have my loppers, so I was limited to smaller branches, but I think I improved the trail a fair amount. Also removed a lot of sticks and rocks from the trail – hopefully making it a little easier to follow. What the trail really needs down at the bottom is more boots on the trail. There are a few sections around the rockslides where the tread has kind of disappeared (slid down), so those areas need some tread work. But all in all, the trail was in pretty good shape – especially for an abandoned trail!

Some questions I came up with during the hike (I haven’t found answers as of yet, but will continue to look for them):

  • Where did Corral Springs get its name? Was there a horse Corral there at some point? I figure the springs are the ones at the junction of the Huxley Lake trail and Corral Springs. I did find evidence of what appears to be a corral (barbed wire) near the old campground, but don’t know what the story is.
  • A little bit past the “Corral”, past the junction with Huxley Lake, there was a small clearing?? it looks like there might have been a house or something there. Looking at the map, it is VERY close to an old spur road. I wonder what used to be there? I didn’t really see much evidence of a building or anything. Answer’ – There was some sort of corral in this vicinity. Apparently it was a grazing claim way back when. The barbed wire remnants I found were from the corrals. That clearing may have housed some kind of building at one time.
  • I found a pink ribbon tied to a tree down by the river – it said “PNW 7/27/10 Team #1” – anyone know what it means? The campsite didn’t look to have been used for quite some time. Maybe two years ago was the last time anyone camped there.
  • Near the base of the rockslides, there is what looked to be an area where a cabin may have been at one point. Anyone know anything about that? Or is my imagination running wild?

View from the trail down into the canyon:

Roaring River:

4/14/2012 – Salmonberry Canyon Epic

Date of Hike: 4/14/2012
Location of Hike: Salmonberry Canyon - Coast Range
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk
Start Time: 9:30 AM  End Time: 7:20 PM
Hike Distance: 16+ miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
Well, where to start…..This was a hike I have been wanting to do for several years now. Earlier this year I had made a recon hike to see what the two trailheads were like, how accessible they were (do we need a truck?), etc. We did a shuttle hike from Cochran (an old sawmill location) to Salmonberry (where the Salmonberry river meets the Nehalem river). The total distance was about 16 miles. My GPS disagrees with that total however. It came up with about 16.5 miles (after correcting all the GPS drift errors due to the narrow canyon and tunnels).

The day started out early – leaving home at about 5:30am. We had planned that the hike would conservatively take about 10.5 hours (16 miles/ 1.5 mph). Factoring in doing all the driving to drop the cars at both ends and pick them up, we figured about 5 1/2 – 6 hrs of driving. We wanted to have a safety margin to make sure we got done before dark, so opted to start early. It was so early, I wanted to stop and get some coffee and breakfast, so we ended up getting a bit of a late start. We ended up at Cochran (after dropping a car at Salmonberry and driving back) at about 9:30am, and headed down the tracks.

Shortly after leaving Cochran, we found a beaver dam where they used the track rail as part of the containment.

We came to Cochran pond, where there used to be a swamill.

The tracks were in really good shape for quite a while, with only blowdown (like you would see on a trail) and a few small slides. We proceeded down the tracks, and in a little more than a mile we came to a “ballast regulator” on a siding. It is my understanding that this piece of equipment was for smoothing out the ballast (gravel) on the rail line. This machine had seen better days, and will probably be there forever now.

A little farther down the tracks we came to the first tunnel. After exiting the tunnel, we found the remnants of a board where you used to fill out an “access pass” (similar to a wilderness permit) to be able to hike the tracks. This was when trains were actively using the route.

Moving on down the tracks, we went through more tunnels, more small trestles, saw some trackside waterfalls until we got to the Baldwin creek trestle. This was the highest of the two big trestles, the supporting structure was mostly steel, with the bridge made out of wood. On each end was a large water tank – we think these were used to water the bridge in the summer, or to use for putting out any fires that might occur in dry months. They looked like tanks from old tanker cars.

After leaving that trestle, we started the series of washouts. They start pretty small, and easy to walk around, but they get bigger and bigger the closer you get to Belding (about the mid point of the hike).

The track takes a journey up Wolf creek – a sharp u-turn and then up the other side. Here you can see the washouts on the other side of the creek:

At the end of the u-turn there is another tunnel and then the second largest trestle – the Wolf creek trestle. This is a curved trestle that is completely made out of wood. It was an impressive sight.

Continuing on, we see more washouts and slides – you can easily see the damage on the other side of Wolf creek. Wolf creek must have been quite active in 2007 to do all of this damage…..We passed washout after washout – some short, some very long. At about mile 4 (or so), we came to a “B&B” shack. I think the B&B was “Bridge & Building” – essentially their maintenance guys. This was an old railcar of some sort that had been converted to a makeshift shop.

A little farther up the tracks was the Kinney creek tunnel and bridge – this was a pretty serious washout, and one of the few water bridges that caused you to make a water crossing rather than walk across the bridge. It was a pretty serious logjam that took out a good portion of the bridge.

Next we came to 3 closely spaced bridges – the river here goes back and forth like an “S”, but the railroad goes pretty much straight. These bridges were all in good shape. A couple more washouts and a tunnel or two and we were at Belding. There is a road that comes in over the tunnel to a parking area.

There used to be a bridge that went over the river here, but it was either washed out or removed a long time ago.

This is where we had lunch, rested our feet a bit, removed our boots and relaxed for a few minutes. Continuing past Belding there are several very significant washouts. The first one past Belding had an interesting thing – a small pyramid of dirt that appeared to have been eroded all around it, but the pyramid stood by itself. It was very odd looking.

At the far end of the washout, someone had taken a ladder from somewhere along the line and re-purposed it to climb out of the washout. It was very convenient.

We continued walking down the tracks through more tunnels, over more bridges (there were a lot of them!) until we came to a huge logjam that almost covered an existing bridge. It appears as though what happened was the logjam got stuck on the bridge, but it didn’t blow out the bridge – it created a new channel for the creek right next to the bridge! Absolutely amazing, and I think it is a testament to the construction of the bridge. It was easier for the creek to cut a new channel than to blow out the bridge!

Farther down the tracks, more slides, downed trees and probably the toughest washout to get around. It looks like it was a combination of a washout and a huge slide, so it took a big portion of the hillside with it. We had to go up and around and then down almost to the river level to get through it. There were are few blue arrows and ribbons to help guide us. I think that washout was probably the peak, and then they started getting smaller (but there were still a LOT of them!).

We continued past more washouts and tunnels, and came to an interesting washout – it showed the detail of something that is normally hidden. It was a square box culvert made entirely of wood. It was still functional even though all the dirt over it had all been washed out. Interestingly, we saw quite a few of these, and none of the ones we saw had plugged up. All the plugged up culverts appeared to be the typical round galvanized, corrugated metal ones.

The rest of the hike was relatively uneventful. We came to the old town of Enright, which consisted of a string of old log cars on a siding, two houses which are still in use, and a water tower.

Following that a mile or so later we found an old piece of equipment that appears to replace railroad ties.

The last highlight of the trip was seeing an inverse rainbow in the sky. Don’t know what caused it – there didn’t appear to be any moisture in the air, but it was late in the day. It was really neat to see it.

The last two miles were pretty plain – we hiked past the old town of Belfort, but didn’t see remains or anything. By that point, we were both tired and just wanted to get to the car.

All in all, a GREAT day – one of my highlight hikes I would say. It was a LONG day – I didn’t get home until after 10:00 – so 5:30am – 10:00pm, and lots of driving – but it was all worth it to see the power of nature’s fury and to see a seldom seen, beautiful coast range canyon.

3/9/2012 – Salmonberry Canyon Exploration

Date of Hike: 3/9/2012
Location of Hike: Salmonberry Canyon
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Hike Distance: 2 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This was an exploratory trip to help with planning the shuttle hike of the Salmonberry Canyon – the old railroad grade that was wiped out in 2007 and is now closed.

1/27/2011 – Riverside Trail – 723

Date of Hike: 1/27/2011
Location of Hike: Riverside Trail
Trail Number: 723
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:30 AM  End Time: 2:30 PM
Hike Distance: 9 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
I decided to take advantage of the nice weather and take a day off from work. It was a little cool and foggy in the morning, but the sun came out a little later and it was beautiful. I started this hike at the Rainbow campground, hiked the trail all the way to the Riverside campground where I had lunch. After eating lunch, we turned around and came back the same way. A couple of notes about the trail – The first bit where you are on the trail along side the Oak Grove fork isn’t too interesting. When you turn the corner and hit the main Clackamas, things start improving. You go through a lot of old growth, lots of moss, several creek crossings (which all have bridges), and basically just go up and down the whole route. Most of the time you can see the river, and sometimes you can see and/or hear the road. The last mile or so of the south end of the trail parallels the road pretty closely, so you will see and/or hear the traffic on the road. You almost always have the river as a companion, however. It was very interesting to see how the river is re-shaping its channel. There are a lot of big slides on the trail where the river is changing course.

I also found a few historical things today – or what I think are historical things – one is possibly where the old fish hatchery used to be. I’m going to check some old maps to see if I’m right. There is also a bridge across Tag creek that was an Eagle project in 1997. What a cool Eagle project!

It was a great day out in the woods. Great weather and a river that was running wild!

9/6/2010 – South Fork Clackamas falls

Date of Hike: 9/6/2010
Location of Hike: South Fork of the Clackamas River - Old Oregon City waterworks
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk
Hike Distance: 8 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This was another hike up the South Fork of the Clackamas to explore the old Oregon City Waterworks relics. I went with Kirk and the new objective was to get to the bottom of all 3 of the falls in the area (the two on the South Fork and one on Memaloose). We had tried to do the big falls on the South Fork earlier in the year, but Memaloose creek was rather high and we weren’t prepared to get wet. This time, we were able to cross Memaloose creek with no problems, not even getting our feet wet. The view from the bottom of the canyon on the big falls was quite impressive.

We spent about a half hour at the bottom of the big falls before returning to go explore up Memaloose creek. When bushwhacking down to the Memaloose falls, we started downhill too soon, and it was pretty rough going. On the way back up, we found an impromptu trail that has been forged by all the people who have been exploring this area.

It was much easier coming back up than going down. Nothing else significant on this trip, except that there was shooting debris on the road coming out. They haven’t had the “tank traps” in place too long, and already people have started shooting there, even though it is illegal on that stretch.

First Waterfall on the South Fork:

My upper thighs were complaining for a few days after this trip! It was a pretty good workout…..

8/20 – 8/21/2010 – Bagby – Whetstone – Battle Ax Creek Trails

Date of Hike: 8/20/2010 - 8/21/2010
Location of Hike: Bagby - Whetstone - Battle Ax Creek Trails
Trail Number: 544, 546, 3369, 3339
Weather during Hike: Warm, but not hot - no rain - In the 70s
Hiking Buddies: Carly
Hike Distance: 17.9 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
What a weekend! The original plan was to hike the south end of the Bagby trail, going up to Silver King Lake for night #1, then come down across the Whetstone trail and then down the Gold Creek trail down to Opal Creek. Then up Opal Creek to Battle Ax creek, camp somewhere along Battle Ax creek, and then down Battle Ax Creek back to Elk Lake and finally back to the truck. Day 1 was going to be a little over 5 miles, day 2 was going to be a long one, somewhere around 12 miles, and day 3 would be 4-6 miles, depending on where we camped on night 2. On day 1, my back started bothering me, and at camp that night, I started pondering alternatives. We could have just gone back the way we came, but I decided to opt to shortcut the route by taking the bypass trail, #3339. The trail names are confusing in this area, but I think its proper name is the Whetstone Mountain Trail (as opposed to the Whetstone trail, #546). The Gold Creek trail is (I think) #3369 and goes off the West end of the Whetstone trail, right after the junction to the trail to the top. So, instead of about a 25 mile backpack, we ended up doing about 18 miles or so, doing a little more sightseeing along the way. I think it worked out for the best, as it would have been a rough slog on day #2 if we had gone as planned.

Day 1 was a relatively uneventful day, driving down the rough 4697 road to Elk Lake and beyond, up to the Bagby (544) trailhead.

Headed up the trail, gaining elevation for the first couple of miles, but not seeing anything too unusual. The forest is beautiful, with lots of old growth. When we got up close to a ridge, we ran into a lone hiker who had just encountered a bear while eating lunch. He said he saw what looked like a big German Shepard dog, but when he saw the whole thing, realized it was a BEAR. He made lots of noise, and I think the bear was as scared as he was and the bear ran down the hill. My guess is that he was being rather quiet eating lunch and the bear didn’t realize he was there. We got to Silver King Lake mid afternoon and set up camp and just relaxed the rest of the day.

The lake was beautiful with lots of salamanders and LOTS of fish jumping. I really wish I had taken my pole….I saw a rainbow trout swimming in the lake, but when some of them jumped out farther, it looked like there might be some cutthroat as well. It was really neat to watch the fish jump. Some of them were jumping REALLY high! Had dinner, cleaned up and went to bed early.

On the morning of day 2, we got up, ate breakfast and then packed up and headed out about 8:00. We went back down the hill from Silver King Lake and then went a little farther north on the Bagby trail to investigate “Howdy Doody Camp” as mentioned on the trail sheet. Not much to see, just a fire ring and a crude bench, but was somewhat interesting.

It also sparked a discussion with my daughter about who Howdy Doody was….Filled our water bottles from a small creek (rather than the lake, which tasted funny) and then proceeded back south along the Bagby trail, back up to the junction with Whetstone. Hiked across Whetstone, taking in the beautiful views from some of the rocky outcroppings along the way. When I looked south and told my daughter where we were going she asked “all the way down there?”.

It was a ways down to the creek…. We then continued losing elevation down to the junction with the 3369 trail which was the one where we lost a lot of elevation and eventually ended up at Battle Ax creek, which we crossed.

We ended up stopping there for lunch, and trying to dry out my boots – my daughter had one of those new “Off” doo dads to keep the mosquitoes at bay and it ended up falling in the creek when we were crossing. When I went to get it, I slipped and one of my feet fell in and got soaked. Oh well…We ate lunch, enjoyed the beautiful scenery of the creek, then packed up and started the long road back up. We had about 1800 feet of elevation to gain back….Right at the creek there were two really nice campsites.

Would make a great place to camp someday…Headed back up to the junction with the Battle Ax Creek trail (3369? – I don’t know) which is a really old road that was abandoned long ago and has reverted to a trail. We went west a bit to see the Shiny Rock mining company gate.

Going further it would take you all the way to Jawbone Flats, the old mining town which is still occupied with an environmental center now. We didn’t see much except for the gate and a sign – I guess there is a mine somewhere in there, but maybe we didn’t go far enough to see it. We didn’t want to go too far, since we knew how much elevation we had to make up. So we turned around and went back up the road, heading south. The road did a pretty consistent uphill all the way, gaining elevation at a reasonably gently grade most of the way. As we got closer to Beachie Saddle, the road got steeper. It was interesting that parts of the road still looked like a road, and parts were barely a trail, being very overgrown. We got to a point just short of Beachie Saddle, which offered a great view and we could see the point where I told my daughter where we would be later in the day.

Got up to Beachie Saddle, rested a bit after the long climb and then headed back to the truck (which was all downhill). I was absolutely amazed that they had cut a road through that area so long ago. It must have been a terrifying road to drive, especially in a truck!

After getting back to the truck, we found two other vehicles at the trailhead. We took our boots off and headed home. A short stop at Dairy Queen in Stayton for dinner and then home. It was a long day, a little over 12 miles and quite a bit of elevation.

All in all a good trip, however I was a little disappointed we didn’t see more interesting things – I guess that is what I get for doing a quickly planned trip. The trail from Battle Ax Creek to Beachie Saddle isn’t a great trail – there isn’t much to see, and on a sunny day would be quite warm. It is pretty open most of the way. I very much enjoyed the south end of the Bagby trail and Whetstone is always an interesting place to be. It would be interesting to see what that Gold Creek trail is like and the section between Jawbone Flats and Battle Ax Creek – That will have to wait for another day…..

7/19/2010 – Plaza Trail – 783

Date of Hike: 7/19/2010
Location of Hike: Plaza Trail - Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness
Trail Number: 783
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Don
Start Time: 10:15 AM  End Time: 2:30 PM
Hike Distance: 7 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This was a hike up the old Plaza Trail off the 4610 (Abbot) road just before the Twin Springs campground which is now all bermed off. We first stopped at the remnants of the old Plaza Guard station, which is mostly just an old fireplace and foundation for a garage now, but was interesting to see.

Farther up the trail we stopped at Sheepshead rock, which offered a beautiful view of the terrain, most of which is untouched (not a patchwork of recovering clearcuts).

In addition to the trail, we did a bit of offtrail travel to find the site of an old plane crash. It was interesting to see how little the area of the crash has recovered. Even more somber to think that quite a few people died in that crash.

The trail is pretty well graded, and was in really good shape. All in all a nice day.

2/20/2010 – South Fork Clackamas and Memaloose Creek Falls

Date of Hike: 2/20/2010
Location of Hike: South Fork of the Clackamas and up Memaloose Creek
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Don and Charles
Start Time: 10:00 AM  End Time: 2:00 PM
Hike Distance: 5 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This was another trip up the South Fork of the Clackamas where the old OC Waterworks was. This time we wanted to get to the base of the falls to get a better look at them. We also did a little scouting of some other abandoned trails in the area. The scramble/bushwhack down to the base of the falls wasn’t easy, but it gave a totally different view of the falls than what you get up above.

The falls on Memaloose you can’t even see without scrambling down to the creek. It is a very interesting falls in a very interesting bowl with almost vertical walls.

The only fall we didn’t get to the base of was the big falls, because we would have to ford Memaloose creek and we weren’t prepared to do that. It was still a great day with some beautiful scenery that very few people have seen.

1/10/2010 – Oregon City Waterworks – South Fork and Memaloose Creek

Date of Hike: 1/10/2010
Location of Hike: Up the South Fork of the Clackamas River and up part of Memaloose Creek
Weather during Hike: Mostly overcast and cool
Hiking Buddies: Don
Start Time: 9:30 AM  End Time: 1:00 PM
Hike Distance: 5 miles?  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This was a hike I had on my list of “to dos” for quite some time. It was hiking up the South Fork of the Clackamas to explore the remains of the old Oregon City waterworks. From what I’ve been able to find out, it was decommissioned in the early 1960’s. I have not been able to find out when it was built, but for a number of years, it was the water source for the city of Oregon City. It would appear Oregon City was trying to duplicate what Portland did with Bull Run-piping in high quality water from high in the hills where it was much purer.

We crossed the South Fork near where it dumps out into the Clackamas-over a logjam which was pretty easy.

We then explored down near the river where there used to be a house of the caretaker. We found an old cable crossing point, some foundation for a small building, and even an old fire hydrant!

From there, we proceeded back up the “road” that parallels the river.

The pipeline is buried under this road and it is visible in a few places. We passed through several tunnels, saw two beautiful falls-the

higher of which has to be over 200′ tall and rivals anything you can find in the gorge. Then at the end of the trip we saw the dam and collector where the pipeline started. Back down the trail and across an old bridge just North of where Memaloose creek joins the South fork and up Memaloose creek.

Saw some more old stuff, including what looked like a settling box.

Continued up the creek, through one last tunnel and then climbed up out of the canyon to an old road and back to the car.

It was one of the best days hiking for me, since it combined two of my passions – hiking and history. It was really cool to see all the old stuff, and the waterfalls were absolutely gorgeous. I’m planning on making a return trip……