Tag Archives: Thor

Trips with Thor

11/16/2019 – Pansy Lake and BOTW Lookout

Date of Hike: 11/16/2019
Location of Hike: Pansy Lake Area
Trail Number: 551, 558, 554, 550, 549
Weather during Hike: Sunny and cool
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:40 AM  End Time: 4:50 PM
Hike Distance: 8.3 miles  Elevation Gain: 2600 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was an exploration to see if we could find the “old” Pansy Lake trail. In my picking thru historical stuff at the Forest Service, I found an old document that showed a pretty major trail re-route of the Pansy Lake trail. It showed the (at that point) existing trail on the west side of the lake and a new trail to be built going up the east side of the creek. Here is a photo of the document I found:

I had seen references to the trail before, and a few years ago Zack and I did some explorations on the west side of the lake where we found the old mine and some blazes and such. I wanted to see if we could find the whole old trail. We were mostly successful.

Since the days are short this time of year I wasn’t sure how far we would get. We started at the usual time and ended up getting to the trailhead about 10:30. Not another soul in sight however we did pass a couple of trucks coming down the hill – I’m guessing they were hunters.

We suited up and headed out. Since neither of us were sure where the old trail started Kirk started from one campsite and I started farther west and then headed south looking for blazes or old tread. I was thinking this re-route was done in the 70’s or 80’s, but I think it could have been earlier. Even 1980 is almost 40 years ago now.

After walking around the woods in circles, Kirk found the old trail not too far from the current trail. We followed it a bit and decided to back track to see if we could follow it back to the road. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find it all the way back to the road- it got lost at some point. We turned back around and followed the old trail. We did however find some pretty nice pieces of the old trail with some good blazes:



When we got to the Audrey Creek crossing (this creek is unnamed on the topo maps, but the project map document showed it as “Audrey Creek”), the trail crossed under a small but very nice waterfall:

Here is a video of waterfall in action:


We continued south and a bit farther we found an old campsite:

The trail then headed west and down into a flat area. We found the old trail along the north side of this flat area, but there was a wet area where we struggled thru some thick brush and kind of lost the trail. Kirk thought it might have gone up to the ridge farther to the west (which I think it did, because we found the tread farther south – up the hill). After re-finding the tread, we headed up the rather steep section to another flat area – we then climbed a small knoll and ate lunch. We thought this knoll might have a good view, but it had too many trees. Kirk got this photo looking north:

After eating a quick lunch and realizing it was getting late (it was like 1:30 at this point), we decided to just find the mine, take a look and then head up to the lookout and hopefully make it down before it got dark. On the Northwest side of Pansy Lake there is this interesting seasonal pond:

We continued south, following the trail past a bunch of campsites and finally finding the old mine:

We didn’t spend a lot of time looking at the mine – we quickly headed back towards the lake:

And then headed over to the east side of the lake and then south (and up) on the current trail. (we had almost 1500′ to gain before we got to the lookout) On the way up the trail, we found one of the spots where the old trail crossed the existing trail (as shown on the project map). That was kind of cool. We shortly got up to the junction with the Motherlode Trail and headed east, climbing pretty much all the way. There was a viewpoint where we got a great view of Mt Jefferson:

We tried not to stop, but we had to make a few breather breaks on the way up. We finally got to the Welcome Lakes Junction and then headed back west – our final push up to the lookout. It wasn’t too long before we make it to the Bull of the Woods Lookout:

The lookout is doing pretty well, all things considered. It doesn’t appear to be really getting any maintenance but it still stands. Every time I see it, it is a little bit more weathered than the last time I saw it.

Here is a nice view from the lookout – looking over to Big Slide Mountain and Schreiner Peak behind it and Olallie Butte to the south:

We spent a few minutes at the lookout enjoying the view, but it was getting late – it was about 3:30 and we figured it would be getting dark by 5:00. We were hoping we could make it down in an hour – the plan was to take the Bull of the Woods trail (550) down to the Dickey Lake trail (549) and then back the final leg of the Pansy Lake trail to the truck.

We kept up a good pace, but were slowed somewhat on the Dickey Lake trail due to a bunch of downed logs. We were trying to go as fast as we could. Once we got to the Pansy Lake trail it started getting rather dark in the trees, but we didn’t need to pull out the headlamps. We finally made it back to the truck just before 5:00 and it was almost dark. Not another soul to be seen all day long.

I took the drive back down the mountain slowly – I was expecting to see some animals and didn’t want to hit any of them. Fortunately, we didn’t encounter any animals on the way down. We made it back to Estacada a little after 6 and had a burger and a beer at Fearless.

It was a fantastic day of exploring on an absolutely beautiful fall day. I’m so glad I was able to get out and enjoy it.

11/11/2019 – Rimrock Trail – 704

Date of Hike: 11/11/2019
Location of Hike: Rimrock Trail
Trail Number: 704
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:50 AM  End Time: 1:50 PM
Hike Distance: 5.4 miles  Elevation Gain: 1000 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was a “just because” kind of hike. I had the day off for Veteran’s Day and it was a nice day. Even though I went out on Saturday, I did it because I could, and I couldn’t pass up getting out in the woods on a fabulous fall day.

We got a bit of a late start – I had to help with a few things around the house before I left. We made it up to the trailhead just before 11:00 and quickly headed out. I wanted it to be a relatively short day since the days are getting pretty short. We headed down the trail and made pretty quick time of it, getting to the overlook just after noon. We went out on the point, where it was kind of breezy – and it was a cold breeze. I put my coat on and we had some lunch and enjoyed the views. Here is a picture of Thor at the overlook-I’m not sure what he was looking at:

Mt Hood was nice and clear today:

Mt Jefferson and Olallie Butte were also pretty clear:

We spent a little bit of time up there looking for the old helipad – I swore I had seen one there before but haven’t been able to find it. I think I solved the mystery – I looked around and found some yellow bits and some old plywood where I thought the helipad was. After I got home I went back and looked at some old photos I had taken and it appears as though the yellow plastic in this photo:

has disappeared – either someone took it or it blew away. You can see some old plywood in that photo, but it looks like it continues to disintegrate which is why it is hard to see the remnants of it anymore. Mystery solved.

After looking for the helipad we headed back down. On the way back to the main trail Thor started running – there was someone else coming up the trail! It really surprised me. He said he was doing a 13 mile hike from Shellrock Lake and was on mile 8. I’m guessing he must have come Shellrock Lake trail to Grouse Point, then Grouse Point south to Cache Meadow, then walked the road to the Rimrock trailhead. He said he was going to head down to 5830 and take a left after he finished at the viewpoint, so I guessed he would probably road walk back to the Shellrock Lake trailhead back to his camp (or car). That is quite a hike for November!

After briefly chatting with the solo hiker, we continued down the trail. We did a couple minor items of trail maintenance, cutting one small log off, moving another and cleaning up a bunch of branches from another downed log (it made it a lot easier to get around without the branches). We made quick time down the hill and got back to the truck just before 2:00. We headed back down the narrow and bumpy upper stretches of 4635. On the way down, I stopped at a viewpoint and snapped this photo of Fish Creek Mountain and Whalehead:

I recently realized that is the header image on the Trailadvocates page! That photo was taken at a different time of year however. All the leaves were gone today. It is still a really nice view.

I always enjoy the woods on this hike as well as the historical nature of the trail. I can always feel the history when I hike it. This was a pretty mellow hike, but it was nice to just spend some time in the moment up at the overlook and enjoy another beautiful fall day. I don’t know how many more we will have.

11/9/2019 – Whetstone Mountain Trail

Date of Hike: 11/9/2019
Location of Hike: Whetstone Mountain Trail
Trail Number: 546 3369
Weather during Hike: Sunny changing to overcast
Hiking Buddies: Nicholas, Jet and Thor
Start Time: 9:40 AM  End Time: 12:30 PM
Hike Distance: 4 miles  Elevation Gain: 1400 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was pretty low key and somewhat short – but it is that time of year – short hikes for short days. I asked Nicholas if he and Jet wanted to go and I was thrilled when he said yes. I gave him the option of a few hikes and he said this one sounded good.

We left the house a little after 8:00 so that we could get back early afternoon. We made it to the trailhead just after 9:30 and got ready and headed out. I had forgotten that you head downhill a little ways at the start of this trail. You head thru an old clearcut, down hill to the “real” trail (in the old growth). From there, you travel some mostly level spots with some uphill until you get to the junction with “some” trail (I’m not really sure what trail is what in this area – the numbering is very confusing). From there you head west for about 3/4 of a mile to the spot where the 3369 Trail (coming up from Opal Creek) joins – from there it is a pretty short ascent to the top.

The hike was pretty short – about 2 miles each way. Jet and Thor had never hiked before but they had a great time and we had no problems with them. About all we had to do was to make sure they stayed relatively close to us – same problem I have with Thor – but when we called, they always came running so it all worked out great. Here they are on the trail:

When we got to a small rockslide, there is a small, shallow pond. It was completely frozen, and Jet decided to walk out on the ice:

Amazingly enough he didn’t fall thru until the very edge, where it was a little thinner. The pond can’t be more than 18″ deep or so.

We continued up the trail and soon joined the last push to the top. It gets kind of steep, but we soon made it up. The sky was almost completely cloud free on the way up. We ended up having lunch at the old lookout site and were rewarded with really nice views. To the east there was Pansy and Silver King Mountains:

And to the south there was Mt Jefferson, which was mostly visible – just the peak was hiding in the clouds:

We ate lunch and enjoyed the view for a while. Since we needed to get back, we started back down about 11:30 I think. By the time we headed back down, the clouds had started to roll in. It looked like it might rain at some point.

The trip back down was pretty uneventful. I enjoyed hiking thru the glorious old growth and Jet and Thor were having a great time together. We made it back to the truck about 12:30 and headed home. On the way home, the dogs were tired and Jet kind of took up the whole back seat, but after a while, they figured out how to both sleep in the back seat of my truck:

It was a great day out in the woods – a fantastic fall day. Having my son and the two dogs just made it that much better.

10/11/2019 – Thunder Mountain and Skookum Lake

Date of Hike: 10/11/2019
Location of Hike: Thunder Mountain and Skookum Lake Trails
Trail Number: 542 and 543
Weather during Hike: Sunny and Cool
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 11:00 AM  End Time: 3:00 PM
Hike Distance: 6.25 miles  Elevation Gain: 2200 feet
Pictures: Link
I took today’s hike because I need to use up a bunch of vacation before the end of the year. The snow seems like it is coming early this year, so I wanted to try and do a few trails before the snow flies and they become unavailable. I haven’t hiked Thunder Mountain and Skookum Lake for about 4 years and it seemed like a good reasonbly short hike to do.

We headed out at the “usual time” (just Thor and I) and made our way down all the narrow Forest Service roads. I drove quite a bit slower than usual because I was worried I might run into log trucks on the roads. There is thinning going on and I saw one loaded truck coming out as I was driving in. Fortunately, I didn’t meet any trucks. Not sure where the active thinning is going on, but that one truck was the only one I saw all day long.

On the way in, on the 4620 road, I got a pretty good view of Olallie Butte and the tip of Mt Jefferson – you can see the beautiful fall colors as well:

Shortly before the trailhead (probably the last mile or so), the road is getting increasingly brushy – I was pleased to see someone had cut a bunch of the brush out so it wasn’t quite as bad as it could be. We got to the trailhead just before 11 and headed out. The beginning of this trail goes thru a cut area and has a few very brushy sections of Thimbleberry. Those were easier to navigate today as there has obviously been a hard freeze and many of the leaves are dying now. After getting thru those first couple of inital rough spots, we got back into the forest and soon encountered the first real snow:

Shortly after seeing the snow, I noticed this print which looks like a small bear (cub maybe?):

A little further up the trail there is a switchback that gives a nice view of Olallie Butte and Mt Jefferson:

We made it up to the top where the two trails meet and the Skookum Lake trail heads down. We decided to head down to Skookum Lake first and then do Thunder Mountain second.

On the way down to the lake, there is this cool rock grotto – I remember shortly after the fire (2005 maybe?) there was a ribbon there saying this was a “safe area” – some place the firefighters could go if the fire got out of hand:

We worked our way down to the lake – it was nice – the trail has been recently cut out and there are almost no downed logs on the trail. The last time I hiked this trail, there were several bad patches of downed logs that made hiking it difficult. Those have all been cleared.

Skookum Lake was sporting fall colors:

It was rather chilly down at the lake – the whole north side of the mountain was kind of chilly but since I was moving it wasn’t too bad.

We made our way around the lake to the nice campsite at north end of lake:

It felt good sitting in the sun at the picnic table. We ate some lunch, looked around a bit and then headed back up.

I had forgotten about some of these sections – maybe because they weren’t loaded with snow or dripping wet. But I got pretty wet and snowy going thru a few spots like this:

Good thing I have quick drying pants on! Otherwise I would have gotten pretty cold.

On the way down the hill I had noticed 3 of these huge ant hills – I didn’t take photos until the return trip. But they were pretty impressive:

The only other trail I remember seeing these on was the Fish Creek Mountain trail – but now there is another one! Those ants sure are busy! I hadn’t noticed them being active on the way down, but they were certainly active on the way back up. I’m assuming it had warmed up enough for them to get out of the hill by the time I went back up.

We made good time on the way back up – I only had to stop 2 or 3 times to catch my breath (I felt pretty good about that). We made it to the junction and then took the short spur up to the old lookout location. It was sunny and pretty warm up there, and very little wind. I had heard it was supposed to be rather windy, but I didn’t feel it up on top. There were great views in almost all directions – here is a great view of Mt Hood from the top of Thunder Mountain:

I wanted to stay longer, but Thor was restless, so we headed back down. On the way down, I did a bit of searching for potential old trail connections that would have headed up to East Mountain – unfortunately, I was not able to find any semblance of old trail connections.

We made it back down to the truck about 3 and headed home. Thor was tired (as was I) – but we both enjoyed a beautiful fall day out in the woods.

8/31/2019 – PCT – Breitenbush to Jefferson Park

Date of Hike: 8/31/2019
Location of Hike: Pacific Crest Trail
Trail Number: 2000
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 11:00 AM  End Time: 5:30 PM
Hike Distance: 12 miles  Elevation Gain: 3000 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was intended to be with Kirk and Sarah, but things didn’t quite work out as planned. Originally, Kirk was going to do a 3 day backpacking trip to the Olympics but that fell thru, so he decided to do a one-nighter with Sarah. The idea was that we would meet them at the trailhead and hike up together. Things didn’t quite work out that way – they got a later start in the morning and I decided to head up on my own and meet them on the trail.

Thor and I made the long drive to the trailhead, the Breitenbush trailhead on the PCT – it is almost a 2 hour drive and the last 5 or 6 miles are down the pretty rough 4220 road. We got to the trailhead a little before 11. There was a man and his wife getting ready but only a few cars were there (maybe 4 or 5). We quickly got ready and headed out.

A short ways down the trail, we go this really good look at Ruddy Hill, Pyramid Butte, Mt Hood and Olallie (in the trees):

Then looking northwest we got a view of all the peaks in the Bull of the Woods Wilderness (Battle Ax is the easiest to see – to the left – Schreiner Peak is the tallest peak to the right center of the photo):

We continued south on the trail, meeting a few people, including some PCT thru hikers. We went thru the first burned area and missed the junction with the trail to Pyramid Butte (we saw it on the way back). We made pretty good time and soon were almost up to Park Ridge where we got a good view of Mt Hood and Olallie Butte – you don’t see this side of Olallie too much as it shows the steep drop off on the east side of the butte:

Just below Park Ridge there was a small snow field next to the trail and Thor spent a while doing his “beaver” thing in the snow. We were in the sun a lot of the day and he had been getting hot, so I’m sure the cool snow felt good to him. I should have taken a photo.

We finally made it to Park Ridge – the high point of the hike. We stopped there for lunch, where there were quite a few people stopped. We found a spot in the shade where we ate lunch and I took a photo of Thor being Thor:

After eating lunch I walked around the ridge looking for the old sign that marked the entrance into the Willamette National Forest. We saw it back in 2012:

I had heard that it had disappeared and it certainly has. I think I found the logs that made up the frame of the sign, but no traces of the sign itself could be found. I’m wondering if the Forest Service came and got it or something as a historical artifact. Anyway, it is sad it is gone – it was a cool piece of history since it still said Skyline Trail. I’m glad I got to see it before it disappeared.

After looking for the sign for a bit, we headed down the trail into Jefferson Park. There was this great view of Mt Jefferson while we were descending into Jefferson Park:

And a little farther down the trail we started getting into Jefferson Park for real – it is very beautiful-green and lush, even in August:

It wasn’t long before we made it to the shore of Russell Lake:

There were a LOT of people milling around the area, and we saw a few tents there. We stopped in a shady spot and I wanted to just enjoy the scenery for a bit but Thor got restless. I took one last photo of Russell Lake beneath Mt Jefferson

and then we headed out. There are a LOT of user trails in Jefferson Park so we had to find our way out. As we were heading up and out, I took another photo of Mt Jefferson rising above Jefferson Park – I never get tired of that view:

We then headed back up the trail – it is rather steep farther down and gets a little more graded as you get up the hill.

We were almost back up to the top of Park Ridge when we finally met Kirk and Sarah. It was about 3:45 and we still had a ways to hike back. Ollie and Thor had fun playing for a few minutes and we all talked for a bit and then Thor and I headed up and Kirk, Sarah and Ollie headed down. They had camped before Park Ridge at one of the small tarns. Since they didn’t have too far to get back they still had a lot of time to explore before dark.

We got back up to Park Ridge and this time there were only a few people up there. We crossed over the ridge and headed down the other side. I caught this picture just below the ridge where you can see Eastern Oregon pretty well (although it was a lot easier to see in person):

Thor played in the same snow field he did on the way up – he was getting pretty hot – being in the sun most of the day. It is tough having black fur!!!

We made good time and on the way down, I took a photo of this cool rock formation that I had seen on the way up (but neglected to photograph):

There wasn’t a whole lot that stuck out on the way down. Since it was getting late, we were just trying to make time so that we wouldn’t be getting home too late. We met a few people on the way back, but it was a lot quieter on the way back than the way in. I could tell Thor was getting really tired. I was tired too, but we still had a mile or two to go, so I had to encourage him a bit to keep going. We stopped a few times so he could rest – I checked his pads in case he wore them off like he did a couple months ago on a very rocky hike. He was fine, just tired, so we took it slow and took a few rest stops.

We finally made it back to the truck about 5:30pm – that last mile seemed to stretch on forever! We loaded up and started the long bumpy road home.

I always love Jefferson Park. It was a good day in the woods.

5/11/2019 – Memaloose Lake Explorations

Date of Hike: 5/11/2019
Location of Hike: Memaloose Lake Trail
Trail Number: 515
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 11:05 AM  End Time: 3:30 PM
Hike Distance: 3.6 miles  Elevation Gain: 1500 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was quite different than planned. The original plan was to hike an abandoned trail in the Fish Creek drainage, but we got turned back at around 3900′ with a foot or more of snow on a sheltered section of road. The snow was rather soft and slushy so it is really hard to get traction in it. We opted to look for a plan B rather than spend the day trying to get unstuck.

We decided to see if we could get up to Memaloose Lake, which is a little bit lower in elevation. Fortunately, we ran into almost no snow, and the few short spots we encountered were easily passable. We got to the trailhead and started getting ready, when another car pulled up. I was a bit surprised to see another car this far up this early in the season, but I knew we would have company. We shortly headed up the trail, which was littered with branches and detritus from the winter – it didn’t look like anyone had cleared anything yet this year, so we threw a bunch of branches off the trail as we headed up. We stopped at one of the switchbacks where the creek is near the trail and the folks from the car we saw passed up – they were a couple of trail runners, so were moving pretty quickly. We soon made it up to Memaloose Lake that still had lots of snow:

We stopped at the campsite next to the lake and had lunch. We decided to try and head up the trail up to South Fork Mountain to see how far we could get. There was patchy snow on the unmaintained trail:

When this trail finally hits the ridge up to South Fork Mountain, an old abandoned trail joined it – the South Fork Mountain trail headed west and the trail to Wanderers Peak went east. We decided to explore a bit of this abandoned trail – initially we were just going to go a little ways and then return and go up to the top of South Fork Mountain, but as we proceeded down the ridge, we finally realized we didn’t really want to go back the way we came, so we decided to continue down the ridge looking for blazes and tread and eventually come out on the 45 road and then walk back to the trailhead.

As we proceeded down the ridge, the side hill got steeper and steeper – we got concerned we were going to get cliffed out, but we continued to make progress, although it was pretty slow. Here is an example of some of the SERIOUS side hill action going out the ridge on the old Wanderers Peak trail:

At the end of one of the somewhat flat ridge lines, there was a bit of a knob. We climbed over to it and didn’t get as good of a view as we were hoping. This was a cool rock formation looking back at Memaloose Lake (hidden behind trees) from that little knob:

A little farther down the ridge, we came to this cool ridge top meadow:

And a little farther we came across a knob (it actually shows as a small knob on the map). We climbed to the top of it and found great views. Mt Hood and Mt Adams to the north:

Hard to see peak of Mt Jefferson and Olallie Butte to the south:

We climbed back down and continued traversing the steep side hill, which got slightly better as we got closer to the road. We ended up following a second ridge down to the road, which was a little easier. We finally made it back to the road and walked back to the trailhead. Unfortunately, there was almost no trail left that we could find. A few blazes here and there and a few short sections of tread were found, but large sections were without any blazes and many of the sections where there would have been tread are so steep we figured that the tread has probably slipped down the hill.

We got back to the truck about 3:30, so we decided to head farther up 45 to see what conditions looked like. When we got to the 4550 junction, it was obvious that someone had spend some serious time brushing out the road:

We decided to head down it to see how far we could get, wondering if we could make it to the waterfall at Music creek. We made it there, but just past the first campsite, the road was impassible due to snow on the road again. We walked down to the creek, and got a great view of Music Creek falls running loud and fast:

Here is a short Video – it was rather LOUD:

After watching the waterfall for a little while, we headed back up. I walked up the road a bit to see if the brushing continued – it appeared to have stopped at Music creek, but it was hard to tell. Once the road re-opens, it will be interesting to see what it looks like. We walked back to the truck and headed out. On the way home, we took a short detour so that I could show Kirk the remains of the Silvicultural research area – I’d investigated this area several years ago – it is an interesting area where they studied ways to make trees grow better/taller/faster, but it has been closed for at least 10 years I think. There isn’t much left except for some remnants of the buildings and all the fences and trees they planted.

We stopped at Fearless in Estacada for a burger and a beer. What a great way to cap off a great day of exploring!

4/13/2019 – Fish Creek

Date of Hike: 4/13/2019
Location of Hike: Fish Creek
Weather during Hike: Foggy and Rainy
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:55 AM  End Time: 2:15 PM
Hike Distance: 6.2 miles  Elevation Gain: 1600 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was interesting. The plan was to hike with the scouts – they were heading up Fish Creek to do a one night backpacking trip. While I couldn’t spend the night (I had to watch the animals while Gail and Abby were on a retreat), I could go up for the day. So I figured I could head up with them and then come home. Things didn’t work out quite that way, but it was still an interesting day.

We were going to meet on the trail about 11, so I headed up and go there a bit before 11. No one was there, so I figured I would just head up and they might catch me – or at least they would meet me at the first bridge (that was about as far as you could go due to the high water). We headed up the Calico road and then down to Fish Creek after the Rimrock creek crossing. Until that point, it was dry, but shortly after heading down to Fish Creek it started drizzling. As we headed south, the rain got stronger – never too strong, but it became a real rain rather than drizzle.

Shortly after heading down the Fish Creek, we found this bone on the trail:

Thor was REALLY interested in it, but I got him to leave it along and we continued down the trail. A bit further, someone had built a cairn right in the middle of the trail:

Thor didn’t like it – when he saw it he barked at it and went WAY around it. Funny thing was, on the way back, he didn’t even bark at it once, he just sniffed it when we passed it.

It wasn’t a very eventful hike. The route is relatively easy – easy grade, not much elevation. We soon made it to the first bridge, where we were going to turn around. It was lunch time, so we stopped there and had lunch. We ate in the little campsite near the bridge, since it was somewhat protected (we didn’t get quite as wet). After eating lunch, we headed back to the bridge and I took some pictures and videos of the raging river:

Here are a couple of videos from the bridge – looking south and north:


We watched the raging river for a while, and I was hoping that the scouts would have caught up to us, but after about 45 minutes there, we were getting really wet (and starting to get a little chilly), so we headed back. I figured either plans had changed or we would meet them on the way back. About 3/4 mile from the bridge, we met them. Apparently they got a later start than planned. We talked for a bit and then Thor and I headed north while they continued south.

It wasn’t too long and we were back at the car. By the time we got back to the car, the rain had let up again, but we were pretty wet. The heater in the car felt good on the way home. Thor was tired – he wanted to lie down, but he couldn’t fit lying down in the seat. If I had my truck, he would have laid down in the back, but I sold it last week in anticipation of my new truck, which I will be picking up tomorrow.

It was a nice day out. Very different due to the fog and rain. It is always interesting to see rivers running high and fast. Fish Creek was certainly loud today and I’m glad I got to experience it.

3/30/2019 – Cripple Creek Trail -703

Date of Hike: 3/30/2019
Location of Hike: Cripple Creek Trail
Trail Number: 703
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:0 AM  End Time: 1:00 PM
Hike Distance: 4 miles  Elevation Gain: 1500 feet
Pictures: Link
The weather was forecast to be really nice today, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a nice walk in the woods. Since options are still limited due to the snow, I decided to head back to the Cripple Creek trail. The more I hike this trail, the more I like it. You get a few views, but you pass thru some REALLY nice old growth areas and some interesting forest. I knew it would be a pretty short day since we couldn’t get too far without snowshoes, but I was hoping we could get at least as far as we had gotten last month.

We headed up the trail from the pipeline road about 10:00 – there were only a few small patches of snow on the road – I think they were remnants from plowing. There was no snow on the trail at all when we started. At the first rockslide, I got these views looking south. I’ve been wondering/trying to figure out what the peaks to the left were. Kirk (and I) thought they might be Oak Grove Butte, but looking at the map, I think Oak Grove Butte is to the left (east) farther – out of view. I think these peaks are Granite peaks:


Looking to the west, there is Fish Creek Mountain and Whalehead (I love this function on my PeakFinder app – where you can take photos and it labels the peaks):

After enjoying the sunshine and the view for a bit, we continued up the hill. This trail is pretty relentless in its uphill. Never terribly steep, but just constant uphill. The trail was completely clear of snow until about 2700′, where we saw our first real snow, shortly before the clearcut:

We cleaned up some downed branches and continued up. Interestingly enough, the beginning of the clearcut was mostly clear of snow, but soon became more consistent and deeper. By the time we got to the first of the 130 spur road crossings, it was close to a foot deep. After that crossing, we got to one of my favorite spots on the trail – the spot between the two crossings:

Just a really neat grove of beautiful trees. One interesting thing – I noticed that none of the maps show the little “butte” to the west of the trail. It isn’t huge, but it does seem like it should be large enough to show up on the contour lines.

We continued up to the second crossing, where there was probably 18″ of snow on the road. This is one of MANY deer prints we saw on the way up:

Thor played on the road for a bit and for some reason, he was REALLY interested in this one deer print:

He kept shoving his nose in it and then digging and rubbing on it. It was really interesting to watch.

After a while, we headed back down to the little grove and found a spot in the sun on a log. We stopped and had some lunch. Then we headed back downhill.

As we were passing thru the clearcut on the way down, We came across something that was VERY fresh and I’m very sure it was not there on the way up:

I’m guessing it was from a bobcat or a lnyx – it seemed too small for a cougar. Those kitties are out there….

We continued down the hill, making really good time – soon we were out of the snow again. It was a pretty uneventful and short trip down (except for the scat sighting). We got back to the truck about 1:00 and then headed home.

A great day in the woods – the only thing that could have made it better would have been to have shared it with friends.

2/18/2019 – Cripple Creek Trail – 703

Date of Hike: 2/18/2019
Location of Hike: Cripple Creek Trail
Trail Number: 703
Weather during Hike: overcast with sunbreaks
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:35 AM  End Time: 2:45 PM
Hike Distance: 4.1 miles  Elevation Gain: 1700 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was a “get out in the woods” hike. Between being sick most of January and issues with my mom, I haven’t been able to do much hiking this year. Today was president’s day and the weather was supposed to be pretty good. I decided head up a wintertime favorite – the Cripple Creek trail. Today’s hike was anything extraordinary, but it was really nice to get out in the woods and experience some of the new snow.

This is what the Trailhead looked like – more snow that I was expecting:

We headed up the hill, and the trail was covered with snow right from the beginning. There were a couple spots where it was bare, but not many. It didn’t take too long before the snow got pretty deep. I really should have brought my snowshoes. It was tough going. We made it to the hillside meadow:

Thor played around in the snow a bit – it was probably a foot deep up the hill. We then continued up the hill. The snow kept getting deeper. I was about to turn around, but I really wanted to get to the area below the 4635-120 spur road – it is one of my favorites on this trail. Although it was hard, I kept going – taking frequent breaks. There was lots of snow up higher:

At one point, the sun came out and broke thru the trees. It was really beautiful (the picture doesn’t do it justice):

We then slowly continued up the trail and finally made it to the spot between the two spur roads. We stopped and had lunch there and rested a bit and then headed up to the 4635-120 crossing, which had over 2′ of fluffy snow on it. Thor at one point just sat down on the road:

He was running thru the snow a lot but I didn’t get a good video of him in the snow this time. But I know he had a lot of fun! He made lots of tracks in the snow.

We then headed back down. The trip down was a LOT faster than the trip up! It was easier to step down thru the steps that had already been made, plus you were going downhill. We made GREAT time back to the truck and then headed home. Both Thor and I were pretty tired after the trip- but it was REALLY nice to get out in the woods and see the forest in its blanket of snow.

1/25/2019 – Alder Flat

Date of Hike: 1/25/2019
Location of Hike: Alder Flat Trail
Trail Number: 574
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 1:15 PM  End Time: 2:30 PM
Hike Distance: 2.5 miles  Elevation Gain: 500 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was really more “hiking lite”. It was a short, easy trip just to get a little exercise and get out in the woods. After my last trip (the snowshoe outing on 1/1), I came down with the flu, and right when I was feeling better from that, I came down with a cold. So, I was pretty much sick for 3 weeks. I was recovering from my cold, and thought a quick trip down Alder Flat would be a great trip. It is short, with little elevation. I knew Thor would have fun in the river too, so it seemed like a good plan.

We headed out late, after lunch (since I knew it was going to be a short trip). We got to the trailhead a little after 1:00 and headed down. It only took us about 30 minutes to get to the river. This is the view looking downstream from the campsites:

Once at the river, we looked for a sunny spot since it was a little cool. We walked upstream until we found a sunny spot. I sat down and just enjoyed the view and had some water. Thor was restless, so we continued walking upstream as far as we could easily walk. On the way, Thor had to play in the river:

A little farther upstream there was some pretty fast whitewater rapids:

We continued upstream until we couldn’t easily go farther – it was a nice view – one I had never seen before:

We walked back to where I’d left my backpack and then headed back up the trail. On the way back, we made the side trip over to the “lake” (it is kind of swampy) – we walked around the south side of the lake to where the beaver dam is (it is under the big log):

While we were heading over to the side trail, Thor perked up and I wasn’t sure if he sensed some animals or what. A little farther up the trail I thought I heard voices and a little farther I saw two guys up on a rock outcropping just off the trail. Thor sensed/heard them long before I did!

Anyway, it was a pretty uneventful trip back to the truck. Just a nice quiet walk in the beautiful old growth down near the river. Even though it was a short trip, it seemed to be enough to tire Thor out. He slept all the way home.

This trip was just what the doctor ordered – a beautiful day out in the woods. Hopefully my next trip this year will be more adventurous!

1/1/2019 – Squaw Mountain Snowshoe

Date of Hike: 1/1/2019
Location of Hike: Fanton and Old Baldy Trails
Trail Number: 505 and 502
Weather during Hike: Sunny and cold
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 9:40 AM  End Time: 2:30 PM
Hike Distance: 5.4 miles  Elevation Gain: 1900 feet
Pictures: Link
This hike was the continuation of a pretty consistent tradition, however if I had know what was coming for me, I would have probably not gone on the hike. I’m really glad I did because it was just about a perfect day. Sunny, almost no clouds, not too cold and we had pristine snow the entire way. It was GORGEOUS.

We tried to do this same trip in 2016, but the snow was much deeper and we had to turn around about 3/4 mile from the top so that we had enough time to get back before it got dark. Since the snow was much deeper it was a lot rougher going too. Having to break trail thru the deep snow was very tiring. For this trip, the plan was to drive up 4614 as far as we could, since the Fanton trail mostly follows it for a few miles. Then we would park and head up the trail to the old Lookout spot.

We decided to stop near the 167 spur – about a mile farther than we were able to get to in 2016 – I was hoping that would be enough to get us to the top:

We parked, and then headed up the road looking for where the trail crosses the spur road. At this point in the day, it was all untouched snow – this is the Fanton trail continuing south from the 167 spur:

We took off to the north, heading up towards the Old Baldy trail. The snow was probably 4-6″ deep here, but we really didn’t need snowshoes while we were in the woods. At this point, we really only needed them in open areas where the snow was deeper.

Not too far down the trail, Kirk saw this cool shadow of a cross, I thought I’d take a picture:

Very quickly we arrived at the landing just off the 4614 road – the last point where you can hit the Fanton trail from 4614. After seeing what we saw, we probably could have driven up this far with little effort – but we were confident we had enough time to make it to the top. The landing was beautiful in the morning light – with all the fresh snow:

Kirk took this picture of Ollie being a goof in the snow:

After enjoying the view from that landing for a bit we headed back to the trail and continued up. It didn’t take too long to get up to the junction with the Old Baldy trail. The sign that used to mark the junction is gone – not sure if it is laying on the ground or what – you can see where it used to be though:

Anyway, we continued up towards the lookout, with the snow continuing to get deeper. It wasn’t long before we got to the road up to the lookout and finally popped out on top. It is hard to know where the lookout was – the snow had to be a couple feet deep at least. We stopped here and pulled out our stoves and made some hot beverages and ate some lunch. We tried to get a good view of Mt Jefferson, but it seemed to be hiding in the clouds. We did get a great shot of Mt Hood:

While Kirk and I were eating, Thor and Ollie were playing around:

After we ate lunch, we explored the peak a bit. Kirk found these cool designs in the snow:

And you could see part of Squaw Meadows to the east (it wraps around the back of the ridge to the south – this was just the north end of it):

After exploring the peak a bit we went down to where the old garage used to be but we couldn’t quite figure out where the foundation was – I think there was too much snow. We started our descent back down. I think the dogs were glad we were headed down – they were both having some issues with their feet and ice getting between their pads on their feet. As we got down farther and the snow wasn’t as deep, the problem seemed to go away. I could tell Thor was getting tired – between the foot thing and just being tired, he stopped a bunch of times on the way down.

We made good time on the way down – nothing much of note happened until we got almost back to the 167 spur – maybe 100 yards or so from the spur road, there were tracks on the trail – we weren’t sure if it was a jeep or what – but it was a 4 wheeled vehicle for sure. As we got back to the spur road, you could see they just drove up the spur road and then headed up the trail. I think there was a large enough log that they turned around.

Once we got back to the truck, we saw lots of new tracks – there was snowmobile tracks – not exactly sure where they went – and new tracks farther up 4614. As we were getting ready to leave, a side by side came up 4614 and went down the spur – I think that is the vehicle we saw tracks for – I hope they weren’t going to try and head farther up the trail…

We headed out and got stuck behind a caravan of 3 trucks – not sure if they were together or not, but the lead truck just stopped and talked to someone for like 5 minutes – we couldn’t really go around them due to the snow on the road, so we had to wait. This part of the forest seems to get very busy in the wintertime…. There were LOTS of people up here now with families.

An absolutely beautiful bluebird day in the snow – a perfect way to start 2019.

Post Hike note: While doing this hike I had a bit of a runny nose. I thought I was just getting a cold, but after I got back home, it really hit me. I got hit with a pretty severe flu bug. That is why this posting is so late – I was so tired I didn’t even look at my computer for like 3 days. Had I known what was coming, I definitely would not have gone on this hike, however I’m very glad I went. These are the kinds of hikes that are special. You don’t get too many beautiful winter days like this with undisturbed snow.

12/15/2018 – Dickey Creek Trail

Date of Hike: 12/15/2018
Location of Hike: Dickey Creek Trail
Trail Number: 553
Weather during Hike: Overcast with a few sunbreaks
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:20 AM  End Time: 2:00 PM
Hike Distance: 6.6 miles  
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was kind of spur of the moment. The weather was supposed to be pretty good (for December) so I thought we would head down Dickey Creek to the creek crossing, have lunch and then head back. I was hoping we would see a little bit of snow, and we did, however it was really crunchy since it appears to have melted and re-frozen. The road up to the trailhead was completely frozen in a few spots.

We got to the trailhead a little after 10 and headed out. Shortly after we started down the old road, I heard a vehicle at the trailhead – we were far enough away that I couldn’t see it, but I definitely heard it. On the way in on the old decom road there was an inch or so of crunchy snow:

We quickly made it to the old trailhead and continued down the old road. Shortly before the first un-named creek crossing (where there is still the remnants of the old bridge), I noticed these odd artifacts – I’ve never noticed them before and I’m not sure what they are:


We crossed the creek on the log (Thor even followed me on the log!) and soon got to the steep downhill part of the trail. One one of the really steep sections that didn’t get stairs (like a few others), someone put a rope to help go up and down:

I didn’t use it going down, but I did use it going back up and it was very helpful. We soon got to the flat, swampy area which was mostly frozen over:

We continued down the trail, enjoying the beautiful old trees and the verdant green understory – many places the entire forest floor is just a carpet of green moss. We sawed a couple of downed trees to either remove them or make them easier to get over/under, and soon got to the Dickey creek crossing:

We stopped here for a while and had lunch. Thor was playing around in the creek (he loves running water) while I ate. After I finished lunch, we headed back up the hill. Shortly after we left the creek crossing, we met another hiker and his dog. We talked a bit and then continued up the hill. As we were heading back up, the sun poked out thru the trees a couple of times, and it was really pretty:


All in all a low key day, but a great way to spend a few hours on a cold December day.

11/17/2018 – Rimrock and Cottonwood Meadows

Date of Hike: 11/17/2018
Location of Hike: Rimrock and Cottonwood Meadows Trails
Trail Number: 704 and 705
Weather during Hike: Sunny, cold and windy
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 11:30 AM  End Time: 3:45 PM
Hike Distance: 6.5 miles  
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was unexpected. We have had quite a few days of very nice November weather – last weekend, and this weekend both have been beautiful fall days. Cold at night, but sunny during the day. I had to work Friday night so I wasn’t sure if I could make it work, but things worked out great.

We got a bit of a late start due to my sleeping in a bit. We got to the east end of the Rimrock trail about 11:30 and headed up. The dogs were ready to go (as usual). While we were getting ready, they were running back and forth down the 5830 road like maniacs. They probably hiked 2 or 3 times as far as we did….

Anyway, we headed up the east side – the hill is pretty steep in places, so we quickly got our hearts racing. The trail was relatively clear (this side doesn’t get a lot of traffic). Part way up the hill, we encountered a little bit of snow:

When we got to the top, at the rockslide, we got a pretty good view of the Shellrock creek drainage:

From there, we continued up the hill to the overlook trail junction, and then headed up to the overlook. I think the last time I was here was in the middle of winter when you could barely see the trail junction sign! This was almost 7 months prior:

We headed up the overlook trail and shortly got to the overlook where it was very windy. We headed out to the point, where we got some good views. This is looking south towards Mt. Jefferson and Olallie:

This is looking north towards Mt Hood:

This is looking southwest to Oak Grove Work center:

Here is a short video – It was really windy on the North/East side of the overlook – make sure to turn the volume down:


We kind of sheltered on the west side of the overlook where the wind wasn’t too bad – we ate lunch there and then headed back down. Just to make things interesting, we decided to head back along the bluff. It was quite a bit shorter and it looked pretty open and was a straight shot back to the trail (instead of going down and then back up). It turned out to be relatively easy walking, other than going over a bunch of downed logs. We soon made it back to the trail near the rocklide and then continued down. On the way back down, we saw several of these blazes – two on bottom and one on top – but weren’t sure what they meant:

We quickly got back to the truck (around 2:00) and then headed across the road to the Cottonwood Meadows trail. This is what greeted us near the beginning of the trail:

We went around the frozen spot (it wasn’t thick enough to walk on I don’t think). We continued down the trail and then explored a short alternate for the trail that ended up pretty much heading back up to the road. Not sure if it was an old alignment or what. As we continued down the trail, we soon got to the first meadow – we obviously had to go around – even the dogs didn’t want to go thru it – not sure how deep it was, but it was more than ankle deep for sure:

We continued around that meadow/swamp and soon came to the big swamp/lake – Cottonwood Meadow Lake? (not sure what it is called). We took the route on the west side of the lake, continued south and had to route around another wet area, finally coming to the large meadow north of the 5830-240 spur road. This is essentially the end of the trail until you get down to the 265 spur, where the beautiful south end of the trail exists. We didn’t go that far since we didn’t have enough time. We headed cross country a bit to explore the area – we went down the road a bit and then headed south where it seemed more open. It was for the most part, but was still rough going. We were running out of daylight, so we headed back up the hill – we didn’t really want to hike in the dark – we knew it would get cold really quickly once the sun went down.

We headed back up to the road, then back up thru the meadow. Just before the big lake, we saw some branches piled in the trail with a flag – it kind of looked like a trail, so we followed it around to a campsite on the south end of the lake. There was a boat there (I had seen it a few years ago on the west side of the lake). There was about an inch thick of ice on the south end of the lake (the dogs were walking all over the ice – we didn’t go too far out):

And here is Cottonwood Meadows Lake from this south end campsite – you can see the ice part way out – I don’t think this end of the lake gets any sun this time of year:

After exploring this campsite for a few minutes, we continued back up the hill. We made good time and got back to the truck just before 4:00. We loaded up and headed out. As we drove out, we decided to explore the 210 spur – I took this photo part way down the spur road. This was where we were earlier in the day – the overlook is to the left, Mount Mitchell proper is to the right:

We went down the spur pretty much to the end. We were hoping there might be some sort of view, but things have grown up too much. It was interesting – part way down, the road went thru some uncut area that was really pretty. It had a campsite next to the road. We turned around and headed back. As we were driving, the sun went down – by the time we got back to Estacada, it was pretty much dark. We stopped at Fearless for a burger and a beer. The perfect way to end a good day of exploration!

8/28/2019 – Minotaur Lake

Date of Hike: 8/28/2018
Location of Hike: Minotaur Lake
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm
Hiking Buddies: Carly and Thor
Start Time: 10:00 AM  End Time: 1:30 PM
Hike Distance: 4 miles  
Pictures: Link
This hike was a completely unplanned hike. We went up to Leavenworth to spend a few days with Carly, and we had originally planned to visit the Gran Coulee dam, however we did so much driving the day before, no one wanted to drive another two hours each way to see the dam. So, Carly and I took this short hike while Abby and Gail went shopping in Leavenworth.

Carly told me that this was a short, but steep hike. She was not kidding. The trail gains about 1400′ of elevation in about 3/4 mile. After that, it gains still more elevation, but it is much less steep. I wasn’t sure I was up for it, and I was not really prepared to hike – but since it was short and relatively close, and she had all her hiking gear with her, we decided to go. (I borrowed a water bottle and one hiking stick from her) We found a couple of cars at the trailhead when we got there, and quickly headed up the trail. The trail is steep from almost the first step you take, and just goes up, and up and up and up. Here is an example of one section of trail (this was looking downhill at a steep section):

It is more climbing than hiking, but the trail is in reasonably good shape. We trudged up the trail, resting a few times along the way, but we really made pretty good time. Before too long, the grade eased and then we found ourselves at a couple of cool meadows:

These were relatively small and soon, we crested a hill and we got our first glimpse of the lake:

When we got there it was pretty calm, but the wind picked up a little bit as the day progressed. We walked on the south side of the lake to a nice spot to have lunch. Carly was kind enough to carry my lunch in her backpack (since I didn’t have mine). The water in the lake was really clear and a beautiful deep blue/turquoise color:

We ate lunch by the lake and then started looking up the hill above us – we saw a rough “goat path” that looked like it went up to the ridge. Carly had said that there was some sort of climbers trail over to Labrynth Mountain (another mile or so). While we didn’t have enough time to go all the way to Labyrynth Mountain, I thought we could try to see if we could get up on the ridge. Here is a shot of the “goat path” (taken on the way down) showing how steep it was:

It wasn’t too hard to get up to the ridge – soon we had views in pretty much every direction. The wildfire smoke that had been stuck in the area for the last several weeks had cleared quite a bit, so we had pretty good views. This was looking kind of northwest – I think the peaks in the distance (the ones with snow on them) might be Black Mountain in the center, and Monte Cristo and Columbia peaks towards the left:

Looking east you could see some smoke rising over one of the distant ridges, as well as a tiny sliver of Lake Wenatchee:

Here is Carly pointing out the smoke – with Labrynth Mountain behind her:

We enjoyed a few minutes on the ridge looking around, but knew we needed to get back, so we headed back down the goat path. On the way back down, I noticed these really interesting flowers. I asked Carly if she knew what they were and she said her friend called them “Dr Seuss flowers”:

After we got back I did a little googling and found out they are white pasqueflowers that have gone to seed. I can certainly see why they could be nicknamed Dr Seuss flowers though!

We made it down off the ridge and then headed to the north side of the lake to the ridge separating Minotaur and Theseus Lakes. Apparently there is a trail down to Theseus lake, but we didn’t have time to explore it, so we just hiked up to the ridge and looked at Theseus Lake from the ridge – another beautiful deep blue lake:

After a few minutes, we headed back down – before we left, Thor had to cool off in Minotaur Lake (for the second time). He gets hot easily and loves to lay down in shallow water to cool himself off:

We then headed back down the trail – the hiking pole came in really handy on the steep downhill, but that steep downhill is tough on the knees. In places I think it was easier to go uphill than it was to go downhill! We made good time on the trip down and shortly got back to Carly’s car.

We headed back into Leavenworth where Carly treated me to a bratwurst and a beer at a good sausage place in Leavenworth. A very nice end to a nice surprise hike!

6/22/2018 – Bull of the Woods Trail – 550

Date of Hike: 6/22/2018
Location of Hike: Bull of the Woods Trail
Trail Number: 550
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 11:15 AM  End Time: 3:00 PM
Hike Distance: 6.7 miles  
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was a bit of a spur of the moment. I decided on Thursday to take Friday off work and head out on a hike (so I could do stuff around the house over the weekend, but still get in a hike). I had wanted to go explore the old water source for the Bull of the Woods lookout after seeing references in a “What it was like to man a lookout” document.

I was hoping it would be quiet since it was during the week, however it was not to be. It wasn’t too busy – I met 7 people on the trail – 5 backpackers and 2 hikers.

We headed out a bit later than normal – I slept in a bit and got a few other things done before we left. We got to the trailhead a little after 11:00 – it is a long drive. There was one car in the parking lot when we got there. We got ready and headed down the trail. The beginning of the trail almost looked like someone had taken a weed wacker to both edges of it. It was kind of weird. Nicely groomed, but weird for a trail. A short ways up the trail, we encountered this log that had been cut out recently. The odd part was that it had been cut with a chainsaw, which is supposed to be illegal in the wilderness:

Then there was this log, that was not 50 feet from it that they didn’t cut. I think technically both logs were in the wilderness, but maybe the wilderness sign on this log scared them from cutting it:

We continued down the trail until we got to Terrace Spring – I’m not sure I ever noticed this before – not a terribly active spring, but it did have some water flowing:

We continued down the trail and soon got near the objective for the day – the water source for the lookout. I had two different descriptions of where it was – one from one of the old “trail notes” that I had found at the ranger station, and one from a posting on trailadvocate.org. I had created a waypoint for the point from the trail notes, and printed out the description from the posting. Both were exactly as described. 0.1 miles from the section line crossing and in a small saddle right before the last push up to the lookout – a small trail to the left that went downhill (steeply) to an old cave:

It wasn’t much to look at, and I didn’t really see any water in there, but based on the notes, I’m not sure it had a spring – it sounded like it “collected” water – they had dug it out. It was all filled in. A little bonus was finding some old phone wire next to the cave – it was going up/downhill (east/west):

I had tried to find insulators on the trail – the old maps show it having a phone line, but either the trail has been re-routed, or the phone line didn’t follow the trail.

We went back up to the trail and met a group of three backpackers heading up to the lookout. Very quickly we were at the lookout and we sat down and had some lunch. I talked a bit with them and they were going to head east but they weren’t sure where they were going to spend the night.

The views were pretty good, although some of the mountains were hiding in the clouds. Here is Jefferson and Olallie Butte – with Jefferson hiding in the clouds:

And of course, no trip report to the lookout would be complete without a picture of the lookout:

It is weathering OK, but every time I come up here it seems to be in a little worse shape. It does look like someone might have painted the east side of the lookout though. It is a shame that the Forest Service is OK with just letting it rot in place rather than preserve such an important piece of history – wilderness area or not.

Thor was getting really hot in the sun, so he laid under the lookout for a while. It was amazing how much of a temperature difference there was in the shade and in the sun. We stayed up there for a while, enjoying the view. We then headed back down – we met two more backpackers just below the lookout – they were headed on a big loop down to Elk Lake Creek.

We continued down the trail, making really good time (since it was mostly all downhill). I had thought about heading up to the top of one of the Dickey Peaks, but Thor was pretty tired and it looked rather brushy, so I decided to leave that for another day.

On the way up we found a few snow patches, and Thor played in them a bit, but on the way back we headed over to the small meadow/swamp near the start of the trail and Thor played on this rather large snowbank that was a couple feet deep still:

It was a rather short day in the woods, but a really nice one.

4/28/2018 – MP3 Trail to Rimrock Overlook Snowshoe

Date of Hike: 4/28/2018
Location of Hike: Milepost 3 and Rimrock Trails
Trail Number: 704
Weather during Hike: A few sprinkles, overcast and a few sunbreaks
Hiking Buddies: Kirk and Thor
Start Time: 10:15 AM  End Time: 5:00 PM
Hike Distance: 7.6 miles  
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was going to be quite an adventure. Based on the weather reports, we were planning on getting rather wet, however things turned out quite different than we expected. The plan was to hike the MP3 trail to the Rimrock trail and then head east on the Rimrock trail to the overlook. We brought our snowshoes, and at some point, we figured we would need them.

It rained a bit on the way to the trailhead, but by the time we got there, the rain had stopped. Interestingly enough, back in January, I hiked this trail. It was oddly warm in January, and there was very little snow anywhere. The bad news was that the beginning of the trail was rather difficult to get to due to a tree that came down recently. Today, the good news was that someone had cleaned that all up, and the ramp leading up to the trail from the road was all clear!

We headed up the trail, and had a couple short periods of light rain, but they didn’t last long. The trail gains a fair amount of elevation relatively quickly, so it was tough going – but we didn’t encounter any snow on the lower portion of the trail. At the first rockslide, we found that while we could see a bit, the views weren’t great – lots of clouds:

We continued up the trail, doing minor trail maintenance – soon, we arrived at the junction with the Rimrock trail at about 4200′. This was the first real snow we saw. We stopped and had lunch:

While eating lunch, Thor played around in the snow, and Kirk and I talked about what our next objective was – we figured it was around 2 miles to the overlook, and decided we should have enough time (and hopefully energy) to do it. We headed out, down the trail heading east. The snow quickly began to get deeper. It wasn’t too hard at first without snowshoes, but soon it was easier to put them on – it is still harder to snowshoe than to hike, but it is easier than postholing.

For the most part, we followed the trail, but I think there were short sections where we missed it. The trail is very well blazed and that helped us to know we were on the actual trail.

Snowshoeing is very hard work as you have to lift your legs up a lot higher than you do when hiking. You also have to make your own trail in the snow which takes a lot more effort. After several rest breaks, we finally got to the overlook trail junction, and were surprised to see how deep the snow was:

Compare that to a picture taken when there was no snow:

After a short time of amazement at the snow depth, we then proceeded up the overlook trail, which is about a half mile to the viewpoint. Shortly after the junction, Kirk noticed this blaze that had almost disappeared into the snow – pretty amazing:

The snow continued to get deeper as we headed up to the overlook:

And right before the entrance to the overlook, the snow had really large drifts – Guessing they were 6 feet or more:

We made it up and out to the point, which was clear of snow (amazingly enough). The views from the point were not terrible, but none of the mountains were visible:

There was still a lot of snow on the north facing slopes too:

And there was a LOT of snow at the overlook:

While were out on the point, we could see dark clouds all around us. The weather forecast said there was supposed to be thunder storms about 2pm, which was right about the time we were there. We saw some dark clouds moving towards us, so we decided we should get back in the trees before it started raining. Just as we were getting ready to leave, the rain came in – in the form of snow! It wasn’t heavy, but it was definitely snowing. We decided it was a good time to head back down the hill. Once we were back in the trees we didn’t feel or see any of the rain/snow.

We made very good time going down the overlook trail (they way up seemed like the longest half mile I’ve ever done), and soon were back on the main Rimrock trail. As we were heading down, eagle eyed Kirk spotted one of these old insulators – it was so low due to the snow pack that we could almost touch it:

We continued down and soon came to the junction with the MP3 trail where we had lunch. We took off our snowshoes at this point and then continued down the trail. We made really good time on the way down – it is a lot easier going down than up!

As we were heading down, I noticed this beautiful scene – old trail thru an old moss covered rockslide:

I’ve seen it many times, but for some reason today it really moved me. What a beautiful scene.

We made it back to the truck about 5pm, all very tired from the days adventure. Just about the time we got there, it started raining. We were most fortunate with the day’s weather.

On the way down the 4635 road we spotted three deer that ran across the road!

We decided to stop at Fearless for a burger and a beer – a wonderful way to end a great day of adventuring in the woods!

4/14/2018 – Cripple Creek Trail to snow

Date of Hike: 4/14/2018
Location of Hike: Cripple Creek Trail
Trail Number: 703
Weather during Hike: overcast with a few sun breaks
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 9:00 AM  End Time: 2:30 PM
Hike Distance: 7 miles  
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was a welcome trip back into the woods. This spring has been somewhat difficult for hiking due to the all the late snow. I was on call for two weeks, so I couldn’t get out at all, and I wasn’t really in the mood for a wet hike. The weather forecast for today was supposed to be reasonably dry in the morning and rain by evening. We decided to start a little earlier than normal so we could be done earlier – hopefully to avoid the rain.

We got to the trailhead a little after 9 and got the dogs out of the truck and got ready to head out. They were raring to go, but since there is a fair amount of traffic on the pipeline road, we wanted to keep them on leash so they didn’t get run over. Kirk took this photo of Ollie, Thor and I getting ready at the trailhead:

We headed up the trail in reasonably warm temperatures. A sharp contrast to this same trip Thor and I did just 3 weeks ago when it was below freezing and there was a couple of inches of snow on the trail at the start (and got deeper as we headed up).

We soon got to the base of the unique hillside meadow where “The grotto” is – this is a tiny waterfall from a small creek that flows down from the meadow. It seems like I always have to take a picture of this – it is a unique place:

We headed thru the hillside meadow and continued up. This trail gains a fair amount of elevation – the grade is almost always going up. It starts about 1650′ and tops out at about 4100′ in about 3.5 miles. It is a lot of elevation but it never feels too bad, except for a few short spots where the grade gets rather steep.

Enough complaining about the elevation gain – back to the trip. We continued up, crossing the old 4635-020 spur and then shortly the 130 spur. When we were here 3 weeks ago, this road crossing had about two feet of snow on it. Today it was bare except for a tiny bit of snow on the edge of the road. This is about where the snow began on this trip:

We continued across the road, and up the hill. The snow started to slowly accumulate on the trail, but it was still easy to walk on. The snow today was pretty wet. Three weeks ago it was all very fluffy and dry. We soon made it to the rockslide below the 4635 crossing – there was a pretty decent view today:

It was in this rockslide that Thor complained about getting thru the rocks. I had to help him navigate thru some of the larger rocks (it must have had some slide at some point because most of it was easy walking – just a short section where the tread had been disturbed):

Shortly, we got to the 4635 Road crossing, where there was about a foot of snow on the road:

The dogs played in the snow for a bit and then we decided to continue on up. Kirk captured a Video of Ollie and Thor playing in the snow (did I mention I forgot to bring my phone on this trip?):

We were only about 2 hours in at this point and I thought we might be able to get up to the lake/water at the start of the Cache Meadow trail.

We continued up and the snow was not deep at all in the woods, but we soon got to another cut area where the snow really started piling up. We were able to follow the trail for a while, but the snow just kept getting deeper and deeper. We got to what appeared to be an old road of some sort and it looked like that was the shortest way to the 4635-140 spur, so we headed off that way – we later determined that was the point where we got off the trail – but it probably didn’t really matter as the snow was so deep it was tough going either way – especially without snowshoes.

We finally got up to the 4635-140 Road – a little west of the Cache Meadow trailhead:

Kirk decided to bury his hiking poles to see how deep the snow was on the 4635-140 road – we guessed it was well over three feet deep:

We went over into the larger trees and decided to have lunch on a downed log. It was just too much snow without snowshoes to go any farther. I was thinking of going up the road to see if we could find the trailhead, but breaking trail in this deep snow was just too tiring. So we ate lunch and decided to head back down the same way we came – which was a bit easier since we had already made a trail. We were sinking about a foot deep in the snow:

We made really good time on the way down and soon made it out of the snow again. We cleaned up a few areas and this area in particular where a lot of green was littering the trail, obscuring it. Kirk took an “after” photo of it with Ollie posing in the foreground (didn’t get a before photo unfortunately):

We continued down the trail, making excellent time – it is much easier going downhill! We got back to the truck about 2:30, just in time for some sprinkles to start. I think we timed this trip just about right. It was interesting because a few times during the day we actually saw some short sun breaks. Mostly the day was overcast, and except for the areas with the deep snow, it was actually pretty warm – probably in the mid 50’s. When we got higher into the deep snow, it was definitely colder.

A very good day in the woods.

3/24/2018 – Cripple Creek Trail – 703

Date of Hike: 3/24/2018
Location of Hike: Cripple Creek Trail
Trail Number: 703
Weather during Hike: Cool - started kind of sunny but changed to rain
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 9:40 AM  End Time: 1:15 PM
Hike Distance: 4.7 miles  
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was one to get me back in the woods. It has only been 3 weeks since I’ve been out, but it feels much longer. We’ve been doing our big flooring job at the house and it has pretty much consumed all my free time. It is now done, so I wanted to get out and enjoy the woods again.

The weather forecast for the weekend was changing wildly, but I decided I was going to go regardless of the weather. It got even weirder when we started having SNOW (at the end of March) very close to home. I was hopeful I would be able to get to the trailhead since 224 is plowed and the pipeline road is also plowed – PGE uses it to service the big pipeline from Timothy Lake to Three Lynx.

I asked if anyone else wanted to come, but all were busy, so Thor and I headed out at the “usual time”. We saw a little bit of snow just after we left home, and as we left Estacada and started climbing over the hill into the Clackamas Canyon, the snow got deeper – but the roads were clear. I knew it was going to be a good day when we crested the hill:

We headed out 224 thru the snow and soon arrived in the little town of Three Lynx and headed up the Pipeline Road to the trailhead. We were the first ones to drive the road since the snow:

As the road heads uphill, the snow continued to get deeper, but it wasn’t too bad. By the time we got to the trailhead, the snow was probably 3-4″ deep on the road:

I got suited up and we headed up the trail – there were only a few spots of bare trail on the way up:

Soon we got to the first rockslides where we got a decent view. This is the view looking south – to un-named hills – Bull of the Woods is to the right a bit but is kind of hidden in the clouds:

We continued up the trail (it gains elevation pretty quickly) – just before rounding a corner, The sun started beaming thru the trees – it was really beautiful and I tried to capture it in a photo, but it doesn’t even begin to capture the beauty of it:

We continued up and soon got to “the grotto”, which was covered in snow:

And soon after that is the unique hillside meadow, which was covered in probably 6-8″ of fresh snow. Thor decided he wanted to play in the deep snow::

And here is a photo of the hillside meadow looking back to Whalehead – it is back in the distance hiding in the clouds:

After leaving the hillside meadow, we continued up the hill. Shortly, after crossing a very old spur road (it is almost unrecognizable as a road anymore), you get to one of my favorite spots on this trail – walking up thru a grove in a saddle – I’m not sure why I like this spot so much – it just has a neat feeling to it:

Shortly after we got into this saddle, you cross the spur road again – although this part of the road is still recognizeable as a road. There is a small camp at the crossing point, so we stopped for a few minutes to eat a bit and drink some water. The snow on the road was about 2 feet deep and Thor did some of his “frapping”. He was having a good time! Here is a short video of him having fun in the snow:

After sitting there not exerting myself, it wasn’t too long before I started getting cold – so we packed up and continued up the hill. Shortly after crossing the road, we got to another one of the rockslides. I took a picture looking up this rockslide – the snow is getting much deeper now:

We continued up the trail, with the snow getting deeper and deeper – even in the trees. I was thinking we could turn around at the last clearcut before the 4635 road crossing, but soon we ran into a very large tree across the trail and since the snow was getting pretty deep for not having snowshoes, we decided to make that our turnaround point.

On the way back down, I happened to notice how all the cut logs help to define the trail in the snow – making knowing where to go a lot easier:

And here is an old trail sign that is still hanging in there – not sure what the tuna can is about though:

We made very good time coming back down – not really stopping at all. As we descended, you could tell that things were melting – the trail was bare in spots and as we got closer to the truck, it started raining on us (both real rain, and melting snow from the trees). By the time we got back to the truck, the pipeline road had several people come up it, and it too was melting with bare pavement in spots. When we got back to 224, all the snow we had seen in the morning was all gone. That is fine with me – it IS the end of March, after all!

A great day, hiking a venerable old trail that was decked out in a beautiful new coat of snow. It doesn’t get much better than that….

3/3/2018 – Calico Road and Fish Creek

Date of Hike: 3/3/2018
Location of Hike: Calico Road and Fish Creek
Weather during Hike: Cool with intermittent sunshine
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 9:50 AM  End Time: 1:25 PM
Hike Distance: 7 miles  
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was kind of a roller coaster. Originally, I was supposed to be working on the house this weekend (getting ready for our flooring installation), but I’ve made good progress during the week, so decided I could get out for a quick hike. Kirk was going to come, but had to cancel due to needing to go to the doctor. So, Thor and I headed up to Calico Road (the second time this year), and headed up.

I was surprised at how much snow there was. Just a few weeks ago there was pretty much no snow anywhere, but today, there was snow at the crest of the hill outside of Estacada, and remnants of snow along 224. Once we turned off to go up Fish Creek road, the snow started getting heavier – it wasn’t ON the road, but right up to it.

We started out on the old road with snow almost covering the “tread”:

We continued down the road, making good time and watching the snow get deeper and deeper. We got to a turn where the sunlight was poking thru and illuminating the trees (this photo doesn’t do it justice):

We continued down the road, gaining elevation until we got to the 120 spur junction. At that point, we started heading down and found some fresh deer prints in the snow:

We continued down the road to its end and then did a short cross country jaunt back to the 54 road. From there, we decided to head upstream to the first bridge. We had lunch there and rested for a few minutes. Here is Fish Creek from first bridge:


Thor was kind of restless, so we shortly headed back. On the way back, I looked back at one point and saw this view of what I think is Wanderers Peak, with snow on it:

We made good time going back and got back to the car about 1:30 and then headed home.

Nothing terribly exciting or earth shaking happened on this hike, but it was nice to experience the snow and get out and enjoy the woods for a few hours.

2/3/2018 – Calico Road and Fish Creek

Date of Hike: 2/3/2018
Location of Hike: Down Calico road and Back Fish Creek
Weather during Hike: Misty to Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Zack and Thor
Start Time: 9:45 AM  End Time: 3:00 PM
Hike Distance: 4.8 miles  
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was a “Get out in the woods” hike. I’d been working on the kitchen remodel and hadn’t hiked for several weekends, and I really wanted to get out. Thor needed some exercise too – especially since Jet was coming over for the Super Bowl the next day. I wanted to expend some of his pent up energy. I also took the opportunity to test out a theory we had – how much farther the dogs go than we do. I put my old GPS in Thor’s pack and then compared the raw data from the GPS to the raw data on my phone. I used the raw data since I figured a bunch of Thor’s running around would get filtered out by the “fix” program I use (which turned out to be true). The track from my Phone showed we hiked 5.11 miles – the GPS showed Thor hiked 9.17 miles! So even though Thor was by himself (no other dog), he still hiked close to twice as far as we did! It will be interesting to repeat the experiment when Ollie comes along – I will be it wills MORE than twice as far!

Zack joined us on this hike and he wanted to do some clearing up the old Calico road – the plan was to try and clear that and then head down to Fish Creek and clear that road on the way back – we didn’t have enough time to get the whole Calico road cleared, but we got close. We didn’t do much on Fish Creek since we ran out of time. I didn’t take too many photos since it was kind of a short day, but we did cut quite a few logs off the old road. I didn’t count, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it were 40 or 50 logs. We used my saw, but Zack did all the cutting since I wasn’t sure how Thor would respond to the the noise of the chainsaw. Amazingly enough, it didn’t seem to bother him. I did a bunch of lopping and clearing of the cut logs.

We started down the old Calico road, and short came to a huge messy blowdown. We cleared that, and then crossed Rimrock creek. After that crossing, I normally head down to Fish Creek (there is an old quad trail down), but today we continued up the Calico road. We cleared logs as we went, and while clearing one log, Zack saw this Pacific Giant Salamander- I didn’t get a good picture of him – once we saw him, he quickly scampered back under some brush – I was trying to get my boot in the photo for scale, but was too slow. His body was probably 6-8″ long and his tail was at least that long, if not longer:

We continued down Calico road to a point where the 120 spur met it. We had lunch there and the sun came out for a few minutes. After a quick lunch, we continued south on the 120 spur and quickly came to First Creek – this is what it looks like a little higher up the canyon wall (a little smaller than down by fish creek):

We continued down the spur road and a litlte farther Zack told me about this cool little waterfall below the road:

While he continued to cut logs off the road, Thor and I went down to check it out. A little farther down the road, we encountered this very large tree that had come down – one we did not cut:

We continued to the end of the 120 spur and then headed cross country down to the old road 54. We came in just north of Second creek. Once we hit the old road 54, we quickened our pace since we were running a bit late. We didn’t really do any cutting or lopping on the way back except for a couple of small trees. We made it back to the truck a little after 3.

A great day out in the woods in February. Nothing earth shaking happened, but cutting out a bunch of logs felt good and the weather really couldn’t have been better.

1/1/2018 – Fish Creek Epic

Date of Hike: 1/1/2018
Weather during Hike: Sunny and cold
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Robert, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 9:00 AM  End Time: 4:30 PM
Hike Distance: 10.1 miles  
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was something that has become somewhat of a tradition – hiking on New Years Day. Six out of the last eight years, I’ve done a hike on New Years Day. Last year I had planned to, but the weather was too bad (Road conditions were very poor at home) so it had to be postponed. I asked a bunch of friends if anyone wanted to come, and Kirk and Robert both said they wanted to. I had given a list of what I thought as possibilities, and Kirk wanted to do the “epic” option. Robert wasn’t sure he could do it, but decided to try it. The plan was to hike the old road 54 down Fish Creek to the confluence of Fish and Wash Creeks and then head down Wash Creek to Pick Creek. I figured that would put the day at 12-13 miles.

We ended up starting a little earlier than normal, which was good, because the days are short so we would have limited daylight hours. We made it to the trailhead a little before 9am and quickly headed out. It was pretty cold – the roads were frosty and nothing was dripping – it was all frozen. We headed down the calico road trail/road and at the Rimrock creek crossing, Kirk and Robert noticed this really interesting “hair” fungus – I’ve never seen it before:

We took some photos and then headed down the old quad track back down to the old 54 road. The beginning of the trail is in decent shape – not too many trees down, but there are sections that are getting VERY brushy. We didn’t do any brushing on the way in really, because we were trying to make time. The new cedar and fir trees that are now growing on the old road are really starting to encroach on the trail track. I’m hopeful that as those grow up and shade the old roadbed that it will be easier to maintain, but I guess time will tell how it all plays out.

We continued south on the trail and made really good time – we got to the first bridge about 10:30. We stopped there, drank some water and took a few photos. Here is an un-named creek coming in just north of the first bridge:

We then continued south to the first real challenge of the day – the third creek crossing – I knew this might be a challenge since we’ve had all the snowmelt and runoff, but it was wider and deeper/faster than I’ve ever seen it:

We headed upstream and found a way to cross without getting wet. It was rather challenging navigating on the south side of the creek, and we found this interesting “cave” while going back to the “trail”:

We made it back to the trail and continued south, fighting our way thru the brush and eventually making it to the second bridge about noon. We ate lunch there and pondered on what to do.

I got this really cool shot looking south from Second bridge towards the Fish/Wash creek confluence – the sun and mist was really neat looking, although as usual, the camera doesn’t pick up the beauty of it very well:

After eating and enjoying the view for a bit, we needed to decide how to proceed. We were a ways from the trailhead and when we calculated our return time, we figured we only had 30 minutes or so before we needed to head back (or hike in the dark, which none of us wanted to do). We decided to see how far up Wash Creek we could get – We figured we wouldn’t have time to get to Pick Creek today. We didn’t get very far before we hit the Music Creek crossing of old road 54:

The water there was running even higher and faster than third creek. We decided that this would need to be our turnaround point since it would take quite some time to cross this raging creek safely.

I made a short video of the raging Music Creek:

While we were looking around, I found this neat “chute” just north of where Music Creek empties into Fish Creek:

And a short video of this “chute”:

This was the closest we got to the confluence – Kirk found a good little viewpoint of the confluence. You can see Fish and Wash Creeks in the background with Music Creek in the foreground:

And another short video of this shot:

We then turned around and headed back. Since Kirk had the loppers and I had the saw, we did a little more lopping on the way back, cutting back the worst of the brush – although it needs a LOT more work to make it easily passable.

One thing I had skipped taking a photo of on the way in was this weird area of blowdown – probably a section 50′ wide and a couple hundred feet long – all the trees were all snapped off. We were thinking it was probably some sort of micro climate wind gust that knocked them all down:

At the Third creek crossing we put away the loppers and saw and checked the time. We figured we were cutting it pretty close so we decided to stop doing any more lopping on the way back. We ended up crossing Third creek in a different spot than we did coming in. Robert and I made it just getting our feet slightly wet, but Kirk ended up getting pretty wet. He slipped on a rock and was up to his knees in water. But we all made it safely across the creek. After that crossing, we tried to hasten our pace to get back to the van by dark. We made it just before sunset I think – good timing.

A great way to start 2018!

12/9/2017 – Switch Creek Trail

Date of Hike: 12/9/2017
Location of Hike: Switch Creek Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny and Cold
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Zack, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:30 AM  End Time: 3:50 PM
Hike Distance: 6.8 miles  
Pictures: Link
This hike was a wintertime hike to take advantage of the beautiful break in the weather we’ve been having – 10 days of clear, cold weather in the middle of December! The plan was to hike up the old Switch Creek trail up to the ridge trail (I’m not sure what that trail was called) and then do a bit of road hiking to connect to the ridge trail farther east and if we had enough time, head up to the old lookout on Oak Grove Butte. We also brought along showshoes in case the snow got too deep to walk in.

It had been something like 5 years since I’d been on the trail, so I had to try and remember some of the more obscure parts. Fortunately, I had a track from my last visit that helped us to stay (mostly) on the trail. We headed up from the parking area on road 46 where it was somewhat windy – down by the reservoir it was REALLY windy, but all up and down the Clackamas Gorge it was windy. The wind made the air temperature feel even colder – it was below freezing and there was frozen frost on road 46 in quite a few places, so driving was a bit tricky.

After getting ready (quickly due to the cold temps), we headed up the old spur road which is the beginning of the trail. It is still reasonably easy to follow, however the small trees are growing in in spots. We shortly got to the creek crossing and picked up the trail on the other side. That was not very easy, since there were quite a few rather large logs that had fallen, many right in the tread. We made our way thru that mess, and a better trail emerged after that (at least for a while). It wasn’t too long after the creek crossing where we ran across the first grisly/gross/interesting find of the day – a dead blacktail deer – and a pretty large one at that – Zack said it was a “4×5” – a 4 point buck with a smaller point near the head which was the “5”. He said that was a REALLY large deer for the Clackamas area. Something had eaten a large portion of it, but it was still pretty fresh. We couldn’t tell if this was a bad shot by a hunter, or if it was a cougar kill. Warning – gross picture ahead:

After checking out that find for a bit, we continued up the steep hillside – sometimes VERY steep – losing the trail for a bit here and there – but someone has flagged most of it reasonably well – so we were able to re-find the trail easily. When you get near the top of the hill, you intersect a better, more established trail. This trail takes you up to the 4640 road. At the trail junction, eagle eyed Kirk found an insulator (the old map shows this trail heading back up to Oak Grove Work Center with the phone line):

We shortly got to the newly decommissioned 4640-157 spur – the one that took you to a hunter camp at the top of the hill. The section out to the 4640 road is very short and soon we were on the 4640 road, attempting to follow the road and a bit of cross country to head east:

After doing a short cross country route thru an old gravel pit, we soon crossed Switch Creek again:

And then headed up to a rather swampy little lake area where we had lunch. There were a few of these “birdhouses” – but I’m not sure what is supposed to nest in them. The hole is HUGE:

After eating lunch in the sun on the north side of the swamp/lake, we made another cross country route – pretty much directly east to the 163 spur road, where we passed another swampy/lake area and then attempted to find the old trail that headed east. We walked up the ridge, and thought we were in the right area, but ended up going too far north and came back down and finally found the old tread. It was on a VERY steep, unstable hillside, but it had good views to the south in a couple of spots. This was looking southeast towards Burnt Granite with Olallie Butte just to the left of it – Olallie was all white, although it didn’t show up too well in the photo:

We headed up a little higher, following the trail relatively easily, with a few spots that had kind of fallen away. This is what some of the better trail looked like up higher:

At some point, we talked about what our turnaround time should be, and we decided it should be 2:00 (since the days are pretty short). We got to a particularly indistinct area on the trail, and we weren’t quite sure where it went. At that point, it was 1:57, so we made that our turnaround spot. We headed back the way we came – I got another shot looking south/southeast with a cool shot of the fog/clouds hanging over the hills:

We went back the same way we came except for one section where we walked back the road instead of going cross country – it was all downhill and we figured it would be faster. Looking at our route, I don’t think it cut much distance off anyway. We pretty quickly got back down the hill and got to the van a little before 4:00. It was starting to get chilly again, so it was good we got there when we did.

We finished the day with dinner and a beer at Fearless. An awesome winter day in the woods! Oh, and we never put on our snowshoes – we got to almost 4000′ but the snow was never deeper than 3-4″. so it turned out we didn’t need them after all!

11/24/2017 – South Fork Mountain and Memaloose Lake

Date of Hike: 11/24/2017
Location of Hike: South Fork Mountain Trail
Weather during Hike: Varied - Foggy to Sunny and cool
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 11:50 AM  End Time: 3:50 PM
Hike Distance: 5.12 miles  
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was a “Plan A/Plan B” kind of hike. With all the recent warm weather, I was hopeful we could reach a different trailhead – a LOT of snow has melted, and I thought we might be able to sneak in one more high elevation hike. Things looked really good – no snow at all until almost 4000′, and then just little bits. That changed on a northeast facing slope, where the snow got to be 6-8″ deep probably – and more importantly it was VERY sloppy. I was just sliding around, even in 4WD. So we put the chains on to see if that helped any. It didn’t help a lot – but we got thru the first section of deep, sloppy snow. But shortly, there was another section just like what we had come thru – we opted to move to Plan B out of caution – we really didn’t want to get stuck up there.

Originally, we were going to hike the Memaloose trail (from the bottom). Kirk had a better idea – hike it from the top down – we were almost already there, so we hiked up an old segment of the South Fork Mountain trail up to the old lookout site and then down to the lake and back. To top it all off, I realized I had forgotten my phone – fortunately, Kirk had his, so he was the track recorder and photographer for this trip.

On the way in, the sun came out and we got this great view from one of the old clearcuts along the 4540 road – looking east to Fish Creek Mountain and Whalehead:

After our snowy escapades, we turned around and headed back to the 017 spur, where we parked and headed up (the snow was deeper than it looks in this photo):

Once up at the landing at the end of the 017 Spur, we started up the real trail:

On the way up, we got a peek of where Mt Hood was hiding in the clouds:

We got up to the old lookout pretty quickly and looked around a bit. We found the old foundations of the lookout and then headed down the “un-maintained” trail to Memaloose Lake – although I think it is strange there is a 515 trail sign on the “un-maintained” portion of the trail:

For an un-maintained trail, it was pretty well maintained. We didn’t have ANY trouble following it except for one very short section in a rooty/rocky section. One interesting thing was that we found a bunch of these orange flags on this portion of the trail – they were all placed VERY low and had “SOL” written on them – looks like they were placed this year:

We made quick time down the trail and shortly got to the beginning of the “un-maintained” section with this old sign that is clearly showing its age – I wonder how much longer it will survive?

We quickly made it to Memaloose lake and looked around the campsites there. The dogs were expending even more energy at the lake:

We ate some lunch and walked around a bit and then headed down the trail to the Memaloose trailhead. Memaloose Creek was flowing fast and furious – the crossing wasn’t bad, but you had to choose your steps carefully to stay dry (although Thor just wanted to play in the water):

A little farther down the trail, I recalled this tree that was down in 2014:

Now it is all cut out and easy to traverse:

A little ways further down the trail, we encountered a couple heading up the trail. We were a bit surprised to see someone else there – it is a LONG drive to the trailhead now. The dogs barked at them, so we leashed them up and let them pass. They asked if it was worth the trip up to the top, and we said yes, but we didn’t see them again the rest of the day. I’m thinking that we passed them when we took the alternate route up the lake.

After leashing up the dogs, we shortly made it down to the trailhead and walked around a bit on the road – Memaloose creek was flowing heavy under the road – ALL the creeks were flowing quickly due to all the snowmelt and rain we’ve had. After exploring the trailhead a bit, we headed back up to the lake:

A little ways up the trail, Kirk noticed these interesting trees – we figured they must have been from when they cut the hillside north of here:

A little farther, Kirk noticed an old sign – I never noticed it before – wonder what it said?:

As we headed up the trail, there was a junction that we noticed on the way down – we decided to see where it went – we think it was the old alignment of the trail:

And sure enough, it put us out a little bit north of the current trail alignment. You can see on the track where it put us out at the lake just north of where we came in.

Since we were a little farther north on the lakeshore, we explored some of the campsites up the east side of the lake and found this poem tacked to a tree near the lake – an “in memory of” poem:

We then headed back up towards South Fork Mountain, and Kirk noticed this odd artifact. We never did decide what this really was – fire pit or old outhouse? Or something else?

We continued up the switchbacks towards South Fork Mountain. Just below the point where you attain the ridge up to South Fork Mountain, we saw this beautiful sunbeam coming thru the trees. The pictures are pretty good, but don’t do it justice:

Once up on the ridge, Kirk found a great rocky outcropping just below the summit that had great views to the south. We got this great view of Mt Jefferson from there:

As we stood there enjoying the views, we realized that it was getting pretty cold. The sun was still up, but the temperature was dropping quickly. We made it down to the truck and quickly got in and fired up the heater which felt good. The truck had frost on it and the puddles on the road were starting to ice over, so it was definitely below freezing when we made it back. We left the chains on the truck until we got thru all of the deep snow and then stopped and took them off.

On the way back, we encountered a half dozen or more vehicles that were all gathering Christmas trees. They all seemed to be having a good time.

Although we didn’t achieve our initial objective, it was still an excellent adventure in the woods exploring some beautiful old forest, and some beautiful old abandoned trail.

11/11/2017 – Fanton Trail to Squaw Mountain Snowshoe

Date of Hike: 11/11/2017
Location of Hike: Fanton Trail to Squaw Mountain
Trail Number: 505, 502
Weather during Hike: Overcast with a few sunbreaks
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:30 AM  End Time: 12:45 PM
Hike Distance: 3.5 miles  
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was almost cancelled. I had thought about this for a couple of weeks, hoping I could complete a trek we had done almost 2 years ago (although a bit shorter). No one else wanted (or could) go, and I had debated a LOT about doing it myself. I ended up leaving later than normal, which was OK since it is a pretty short drive to the trailhead. I’m really glad I decided to go, even though it was a short day. (The beginning of the track is a little messed up – I forgot to disable power saving mode)

The plan was to head up the 4614 road as far as possible (the Fanton trail pretty much follows the road – more or less), and then head up the trail to its junction with Old Baldy and then up to Squaw Mountain. When we did this trip on New Years Day in 2016, we ran out of time and energy to get to Squaw Mountain – but we started quite a ways back down 4614. I was hoping to get to the point we did, and possibly a bit farther. I was able to get to the easternmost point of the road, where an old spur road heads to an old landing. When we got to the trailhead, I was surprised to see two other cars parked there:

We got ready and shortly headed out. I saw boot prints and dog prints, so knew one of the cars had headed up the trail and had a dog, so I made sure Thor was leashed.

There was not much snow at the start of the trail:

Shortly, not too far up the trail, we met the lone hiker with his dog. I Asked how far he got up the trail and he said not very far – maybe 1/4 mile or so. It wasn’t loo long before we passed their turnaround point and the trail ahead was clear of any new tracks – we were breaking new trail in the snow! As we were hiking, I saw lots of other tracks in the snow. Some were clearly deer, but there were a bunch of these tracks, which were hard to see detail since they were partially melted, but they were LARGE. I’m thinking this had to be a bear print:

The farther we headed up the trail, the deeper the snow got, but it was still pretty easy to walk – no major postholing. By the time we got to the Old Baldy Trail jct, the snow was getting rather deep:


Looks much different than it did back in January 2016:

At this point, Thor decided he needed to “frap” a bit – it went on for quite some time (wow- you can really hear me breathing hard!) – he must have gone back and for 10 or 15 times at least:

Shortly after this point, I ended up putting on my showshoes since the snow was getting too deep to easily walk in. It kept getting deeper and deeper. It was really deep in the open areas approaching Squaw Mountain:

As we were headed up, Thor was having lots of fun playing in the snow (it was up to his chest! – But he didn’t seem to mind):

We soon made it up to the old road, and found that someone had recently walked up the road to the old lookout:

We finally got up to the top where it was almost sunny (almost), but a bit windy.
The view to Mt Hood from Squaw Mountain (Mt Hood was hiding):

We spent a little bit of time up on top looking around, but it was pretty cold in the wind, so we headed back down to the old garage foundation where it is a bit sheltered. We ate some lunch there and drank some water. Thor was having a great time running around in the snow, but even out of the wind, it was getting a bit cool for both of us, so we headed back down the hill. As we headed down, the sun was kind of coming in and out and at one point, there was this really cool Sunbreak thru the trees – although this photo doesn’t begin to capture it. It was really pretty:

We continued down the trail and at some point I removed my snowshoes since the snow wasn’t very deep and it was easier to walk in boots. Thor typically stayed near me, but at one point, I thought he had gotten the scent of something and ran uphill (a LONG ways uphill). I saw a black rear end running up the hill in the snow. I assumed it was Thor and I started walking uphill, calling him. I was getting VERY upset since he wasn’t coming – I had visions of him disappearing. I kept calling, and walking up the steep hillside, and pretty soon, I see him coming up the hill from below. I think what I saw was the rear end of a bear running away from me! After that, I kept his leash on so he stayed closer to me. It was kind of scary and cool all at the same time.

We quickly made it back to the old spur road, and we ended up walking out to the old landing. You can’t drive out there anymore, as the small bridge over Fanton Creek has failed (that is the creek running under that snow):

We enjoyed the views from the landing for a bit and then headed back to the truck and then home.

It was a very short day (I was really surprised how quickly we were able to do this trip), but it was a beautiful winter trip.

11/04/2017 – Hillockburn Trail

Date of Hike: 11/4/2017
Location of Hike: Hillockburn Trail
Trail Number: 516
Weather during Hike: Overcast and cool
Hiking Buddies: Carly and Thor
Start Time: 10:40 AM  End Time: 12:50 PM
Hike Distance: 2.75 miles  
Pictures: Link
Todays hike was intended to be a higher hike – I was hoping I could sneak in one last higher elevation hike before winter set in for good. It was not to be. We started seeing snow on the side of the road below 3000′ and we got up to about 3600′ before turning around. We could have kept going, but the snow was quickly getting deeper and I knew there was no way we would be able to make it, so we turned around at a wide spot where it was easy to turn around. This is what the road ahead looked like – it was quite the winter wonderland:

We stopped and let Thor play in the snow for a bit:

We then turned around and so as not to not make the day a total bust, we decided to hike the Hillockburn trail down to the South Fork of the Clackamas River. It is a pretty short hike, but it is really pretty down by the river. Unfortunately, when we got to the trailhead, we found a bunch of damage from shooters at the trailhead:

We counted at least 6 trees killed by shooters now. That was kind of a sad start to the hike, but we headed down the short trail and pretty soon got to the campsite near the river:

Thor played in the river a bit and we decided we would opt for a late lunch at Fearless in Estacada rather than eating the lunch we brought, so we soon headed back uphill. On the way, we did a little trail maintenance, cutting off a few smaller trees off the trail.

On the way back up the trail, we encountered another group of hikers – which was good – we were a little concerned about shooters shooting down the trail, but we obviously didn’t have to worry since they had come down.

It was a very short, but somewhat disappointing day (since we couldn’t get to our original objective) – but it was really nice to share a hike with Carly – I don’t get to do that too often.

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.

10/24/2017 – Bull of the Woods Lookout

Date of Hike: 10/24/2017
Location of Hike: Bull of the Woods Trail
Trail Number: 550
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:15 AM  End Time: 2:40 PM
Hike Distance: 6.7 miles  
Pictures: Link
Todays hike was a “burn a vacation day” hike. I need to use up some vacation before the end of the year, and it was supposed to be a beautiful fall day, so a hike with views was in order.

I hadn’t been up to the lookout in probably 5 years now, so I decided this was a worthy destination for the day. We headed out at the normal time and I was surprised at how much thinning was going on up the 6340 road. I hiked the Dickey Creek trail back in May and it was all uncut. Today, this is what the junction with the 6340/140 spur road looked like:

It was looking a bit rough, but in a few years time, that forest is going to look much better – it was really thick in there.

We made pretty good time up to the trailhead, stopping along the 6340 road for a nice view of the Pansy Drainage:

We got to the trailhead about 10:00 and I was surprised to see two vehicles there. It looked like they had come in the night before. I wasn’t expecting to see anyone on a Tuesday in October! There was a bit of snow at the trailhead – interestingly enough there seemed to be more snow down lower than there was up higher:

We got ready and headed up the trail. The beginning goes thru a cut area with some new blowdown, but shortly you get into timber and the trail is very pleasant to hike. Part way up, there is a good viewpoint north. The mountains were all out today – the views were spectacular. They are hard to see in the photo, but were easy to see in person. 4 mountains all in a row – Mt St Helens, Mt Ranier, Mt Adams and Mt Hood:

In a couple of hours, we got to the lookout. I had Thor on his leash, but he was dragging it most of the way. We got near to the lookout and he got ahead of me – I started hearing voices and thought “Oh no! he is going to go bug someone!”. Sure enough, I rounded the corner and there were three people with backpacks – one of them, a young woman was sitting on the ground and Thor was licking her, saying hi. I apologized and she said she loved dogs so I guess all was well. We chatted for a little bit and then they headed off down towards Pansy lake to complete their trip. Thor and I sat by the lookout and had some lunch.

After lunch, we headed up onto the catwalk around the lookout (Thor wasn’t so sure about that, but he went up there). The views were incredible – much better than most of the summer when we had lots of smoke. Looking south to Olallie Butte, Mt Jefferson, Three Sisters and Broken Top – they were all out:

And I got this cool photo of Mt Hood from the lookout – looking north:

The lookout is faring OK, but is suffering from neglect. There is a broken window on the lookout – it has been broken for a few years – but at least someone has tried to limit the damage – they put boards behind the open window:

After enjoying the views for a bit, we headed back down the stairs. I got kind of the iconic photo of the the lookout:

I was really surprised at how warm it was – especially at the lookout – it wasn’t very windy at all and the sun felt really good – but not hot. I was in short sleeves and very comfortable.

We headed back down the trail, back the way we came. We enjoyed all the viewpoints on the way back down. I noticed a few things on the way down that I had not noticed on the way up. Like this wilderness sign propped up against a downed tree – I guess when this tree went down it broke the sign:

As we got closer to the trailhead, the snow increased, but it was melting quickly. In a few days, I think most of it will be gone. We made it back to the truck a little after 2:30 and then headed back down the mountain and home.

What a beautiful fall day of hiking! The weather really was almost perfect – not too hot, not too cold, not too windy. And visibility was excellent.

10/14/2017 – Pechuck Lookout

Date of Hike: 10/14/2017
Location of Hike: Pechuck Lookout
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Robert and Thor
Start Time: 10:40 AM  End Time: 3:30 PM
Hike Distance: 5 miles  
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was going to be a lookout hike. The weather was supposed to be PERFECT (blue skies, clear and cool). I wanted to go to a lookout and was wavering between going to Bull of the Woods or the Pechuck Lookout. I had never been to the Pechuck Lookout and have always been fascinated by its stone design, so I opted to go there. It was supposed to be about a 5 mile round trip with about 1500′ of elevation gain.I’m not very familiar with the trails in the Molalla drainage, so this was a new adventure. I’ve hiked a couple of the trails, but not many. I looked back to when I hiked Table rock back in 2008 and I saw this note at the bottom of the trip report:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10/9/2017 – Rho Ridge to Hawk Mountain

Date of Hike: 10/9/2017
Location of Hike: Rho Ridge Trail to Hawk Mountain
Trail Number: 564 and 564-A
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 11:00 AM  End Time: 1:40 PM
Hike Distance: 4.2 miles  
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was kind of last minute. I had wanted to do a hike today, but after Saturday’s hike when Thor was limping around after we got home, I wasn’t sure he was up to doing another hike. To be honest, I wasn’t sure I was either. I kind of decided last minute to go do this short hike – one of my favorites.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9/2/2017 – Old Buck Lake Trail Explorations

Date of Hike: 9/2/2017
Location of Hike: Old Buck Lake Trail
Trail Number: 701
Weather during Hike: Sunny and Hot
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 9:25 AM  End Time: 1:00 PM
Hike Distance: 5 miles  
Pictures: Link
The hike today was a continuation of a hike I took with Zack last fall. We had explored from Buck Lake north up the old Buck Lake trail. Last trip it was November and some snow had fallen, so we had a hard time following anything that looked like tread. We finally bailed out after hitting a cut area and walked back a road. Today’s trip was to try and expand on what we found last fall.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take many photos on this trip. The forecast was for it to be almost 100 degrees and we started early to try and beat the worst of the heat. We left home about 7:45am and got to the trailhead a little after 9. We had a bit of a surprise – Road 5810, which takes you to Buck Lake was closed due to logging activities. Even though nothing was happening today, the road was still closed completely, right after you got onto 5810. So, we looked for an alternate route. We decided to head up the road we bailed out on last time – the 58-160 spur – and kind of start where we left off last time. We weren’t exactly sure how the day would progress – we thought maybe we would go back to Buck Lake if we had time.

We quickly found what looked to be something like tread. I think it was what we were following last year, however it looked very different since there was no snow on the ground. We continued north thru the clearcut, following (at times) what looked like it could be tread, and other times just taking the easiest route. We got thru the first clearcut and spread out, looking for signs of tread and/or blazes. We found intermittent sections of tread – in some spots it wasn’t too bad – well blazed and somewhat distinct tread. But it never lasted too long. Either the blazes and/or tread dried up, or we hit another clearcut, where any signs of tread completely disappeared. I think we went thru 4 or 5 cut areas. A good shot of one of the good sections:

We continued north, looking for tread and blazes in the uncut areas, and just tried to get thru the cut areas as best we could – usually going along the east edge of the cut – it usually seemed there was a somewhat open area there. In one of the cut areas, we got this cool shot of a hazy Mt Hood (I thought it would be worse due to all the fires):

It was beginning to get rather warm (especially in the cut areas) and the dogs were getting hot so we stopped in the shade and all drank some water. Kirk snapped this great picture of Thor and Olle cooling off in the shade – they really have fun together:

After heading north and not finding a lot of recognizable tread, we knew we were getting close to the Anvil Lake trail. We spotted a flag, and found some tread. And then another flag, and some more tread. We didn’t backtrack to find the trail, but we did find out where the trail appears to have met the Anvil Lake trail – right at the post with the Blackwolf Meadow sign. This is the Anvil Lake trail as it heads thru Blackwolf Meadows:

We stopped in the shade there and decided what to do. Neither of us wanted to go back the way we came, so we decided to head back down the Anvil Lake trail to the 160 spur and walk back to the truck that way. It looked to be about 2 miles or so back to the truck, so that seemed like a good option, as it was starting to get really hot. We wanted to get done by noon or 1 and it was already noon. We made good time back to the truck and then packed up and headed out.

On the way out, we had been talking about Cot Creek (I’m not exactly sure why), but I thought we could drive up to see the old collapsed bridge. It wasn’t too far out of our way, so we headed up. Interestingly enough, the 4635-120 spur road that heads up to the bridge has had a lot of roadwork done on it. New gravel, grading, and a bunch of trees cut off the edges of the road. Looks like the are prepping for doing some more thinning work up that road.

Here is a photo of the old Washed out cot creek bridge as we saw it today:

Contrast this to 2008 – it has grown in quite a lot since then:

A wonderful day in the woods – it was good to get out and escape most of the heat. Even though we didn’t find a lot of that old trail up high, it was still neat to try and find it.

8/19/2017 – Corral Springs Trail – 507

Date of Hike: 8/18/2017
Location of Hike: Corral Springs Trail
Trail Number: 507
Weather during Hike: Misty at first then sunny
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:00 AM  End Time: 3:30 PM
Hike Distance: 5.75 miles  
Pictures: Link
This was kind of my birthday hike. I decided to do it with just Thor and me. I had wanted to head down Corral Springs for a while – 1, because I haven’t hiked it in quite a while and 2, to see if I could see any evidence of old trail on the east side of the Roaring River. Old maps show the trail continuing on across to the 511 which goes down the South Fork Roaring River.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So many downed trees:

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

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

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

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

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

8/16/2017- St Perpetua Trail – Yachats

Date of Hike: 8/16/2017
Location of Hike: St Perpetua Trail - Yachats
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Gail, Abby and Thor
Start Time: 9:30 AM  End Time: 4:00 PM
Hike Distance: 6.5  
Pictures: Link
This hike was really cool. It was actually several hikes we did on our family vacation. We went to the Cape Perpetua Scenic area, and hiked several trails:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thor was enjoying himself while exploring around the tree:

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

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

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

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

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

8/12/2017 – Plaza Lake Trail

Date of Hike: 8/12/2017
Location of Hike: Plaza Lake Trail
Weather during Hike: Foggy to Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Robert and Thor
Start Time: 9:30 AM  End Time: 1:50 PM
Hike Distance: 2.0 miles  
Pictures: Link
This was a rather short hike since I had to get back early to do some work at home. Charles was camped out at the big slide on the 4610 road, exploring sections of the old Clackamas Lake Trail, so I decided to go visit him. On the way, I thought I’d go see Plaza Lake – a trail I’d never been on before.

We started out earlier than normal, leaving the house a bit before 8:00. We got to the Plaza Lake trailhead about 9:30 and headed down the hill. The drive in on the 4610 road was bad – it keeps getting worse and worse. We ended up coming in from 4614/4613 which saves 7 or 8 miles of 4610 road driving, but those last 10-12 miles on 4610 are just horrible. LOTS of potholes and the road is continuing to have worse washout damage each year.

The trail down to Plaza Lake is pretty short (about a half mile or so), on a really good tread, and really well graded. Here is a segment of trail up higher where the trees are smaller. The trees get quite a bit larger as you head down the hill:

For a lightly used trail, it was actually in really good shape. Tread was great, and not too brushy most of the way. Partway down the trail, there is a large rockslide that the trail edges up to – kind of some cool rock formations up the slide:

I wish I had taken photos of some of the large trees on the way down. There are some REALLY huge trees down this trail! – Some of the largest I’ve seen in the Clackamas drainage. Very shortly we got down to beautiful Plaza Lake:

The lake is pretty brushy around it, but we found a small opening to get to the lake. We rested there for a bit. Here is picture of Thor being Thor – I had a hard time getting a good picture of him. I think Robert got a really good closeup shot of him, though:

Thor was restless, and ended up finding the continuation of the trail, which continued around the lake. It was really brushy right where he found it which is why we didn’t see it at first. I took him and we followed the trail to what seemed like the end, at the outlet of the lake. We came back and ate a few snacks, drank some water, and then headed back up.

Soon, we were back at the truck and we loaded up and headed farther up the 4610 road-the road gets continually worse as you get closer to the slide. The plan was to get to the big slide area and find Charles. We finally found the slide area and made our way down, finding Charles on the old Clackamas Lake trail. We visited for a bit, and since our time was getting short, decided that we would head west on the old Clackamas Lake trail for a bit and then head back up.

While we were on the trail, we encountered this very colorful garter snake:

Once Thor saw it, he started barking at it. He has gotten garter snakes in the back yard, but they were much smaller than this one!

Time was getting short, so we quickly headed back to the truck and then back down the horrible 4610 road and home. Fortunately, we got home a bit early, so things worked out very nicely.

Although this was a pretty short day, both in terms of distance and in terms of time, it was nice to see a few places I had not seen before.

7/21/2017 – Fish Creek Mountain

Date of Hike: 7/21/2017
Location of Hike: Fish Creek Mountain Trail
Trail Number: 541
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:45 AM  End Time: 4:30 PM
Hike Distance: 7.25 miles  
Pictures: Link
This hike was intended to be a quick day hike in preparation for my annual backpacking trip with Carly. I wanted something with elevation gain to do a little conditioning for the trip the following day. Fish Creek Mountain seemed like a good option since it is relatively close and has about 2000′ of elevation gain.

We got started a little late since I wasn’t sure if we would do this or not. I needed to get ready for the big trip (packing, shopping, etc), and wasn’t sure if I would have enough time to do a hike as well. After finishing up a few tasks at home, we headed out and got to the trailhead about 10:45 and quickly started the ascent. I love the beginning of this trail since it is a remnant of the old Cold Springs trail and goes thru some magnificent old growth. The trip up was pretty uneventful – reaching the old decommissioned road on the ridge pretty quickly and heading up to the original trailhead. We then headed up the original trail. Here is the “traditional” view from partway up the trail:

It was a BEAUTIFUL day and not too hot. We continued up the trail to the high lake junction where there is a HUGE blowdown that obscures the trail. I did some cutting and clearing so that at least now you can see where the trail goes:

After cleaning that mess up a bit, we continued down to high lake. I was wondering if we might see some snow down there since it is in a pretty protected bowl. We didn’t see any at the lake, but just before it, we saw this bit of snow remnant on the trail:

We shortly got down to High Lake – here is High Lake with Fish Creek Mountain in the background:

We ate some lunch and I took this short video of Thor playing in High Lake – he just kind of splashed around a bit – enough to get wet up to his chest:

Since he loves water, I wondered if he would go in for a swim, but he just got wet and then came out.

We then headed up to the lookout. On the way up, we met another hiker, which kind of surprised me since there had been no other cars at the trailhead. He had come up after us and headed straight for the lookout. He was going to to High Lake on his way down. We chatted for quite a while – he was from Camas and had been coming down to the Clackamas to get away from the crowds in the gorge.

We made it up to the old Lookout spot – not much has changed here in many years:

After spending a few minutes up there, we headed back down, making really good time. We got back to the truck about 4:30 and headed home.

A good conditioning hike and a great day in the woods. I think I might have made a new hiking friend as well!

6/17/2017 – Burnt Granite

Date of Hike: 6/17/2017
Location of Hike: Burnt Granite Trail
Trail Number: 595
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Charles, Robert and Thor
Start Time: 10:50 AM  End Time: 6:10 PM
Hike Distance: 6 miles  
Pictures: Link
The hike today was originally supposed to be a different one, but we found out that we couldn’t get to the trailhead due to lingering snow. So, we decided to hike the old Burnt Granite trail – a segment of the Skyline Trail back in the day.

We had not really planned on doing much in the way of maintenance but we did more than we planned to, moving and cutting small logs off the trail – since the trees in the lower section of this trail are pretty small, it isn’t too hard to do with a handsaw. One thing we noticed on one of the cut trees – VERY small growth rings – although this tree is only 5″ or so in diameter, it looks to be 30-40 years old! (Edit-later – Kirk counted the rings and counted 53 rings!!!):

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A great early summer day in the woods!