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3 Stars

12/26/2022 – Alder Flat Trail

Date of Hike: 12/26/2022
Location of Hike: Alder Flat Trail
Trail Number: 574
Weather during Hike: Overcast
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:15 AM  End Time: 11:45 PM
Hike Distance: 2.4 miles  Elevation Gain: 600 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s trip was intended to be a very short hike – less than half a day – I kind of wanted to get in one more hike before the end of the year, but it was also supposed to rain quite a bit. I had the day after Christmas and the following day off and tomorrow was supposed to rain even more, so I decided to head out. I figured even if it rained it would be a pretty short hike. It turned out to be a really nice hike, and we didn’t really get any rain at all while we were hiking!

We left a little later than usual, since I figured we’d be back for a late lunch. We made it to the trailhead with no problems, although there were a few spots with snow/ice on 224 – nothing slippery but I was a bit surprised to see it after a couple days of warmer temperatures. It was almost 20 degrees colder at the trailhead than it was at home!

We started out – here is what the beginning of the Alder Flat trail looks like now – it has pretty extensive damage from the fires:

The good news is there are still green trees – many were killed but there are a fair number than were just scorched – they survived the fire. Here is one of the big logs that came down during the fire – it was sort of cut out post-fire – it wasn’t too far from the start of the trail:

A little farther down the trail a new log had come down – I cleaned up as much as I could with the loppers and hand saw I brought, so now it is just a climb over. As you go downhill down to the flat area above the river (that is very wet), you could see lots of tread work had been done. I’m guessing some of the trail slipped down the hill so they had to kind of rebuild portions of it.

As we got down to the flat area where there are several bridges, most of them were burned up – we had a bit of a challenge getting over some of the wet areas. Here is one burned out bridge:

As we were going along we saw lots of fresh deer and elk sign along the trail:

We soon came to another burned out bridge:

And soon we got to the campground along the river. We walked out onto the flood plain of the river and good a good view of it:

From there we walked upstream a bit – there is a big rock and kind of a rapids area – it was running pretty fast:

I also took a video of the river in this area:

We looked around a bit in this area and then headed back downstream. As we were walking I thought someone had been cutting up one of the trees along the flood plain but as we got closer, I realized it was a beaver who was doing it:

We saw a couple more trees with the same kind of cutting on them as we walked. We walked back to the campground (which was mostly unburned) and then headed a bit farther east on a “sort of” trail – it went up on a really interesting little spine, maybe 20 feet high. I thought it might have gone somewhere but it was just a weird little spine and then on the other side it came back down to the flat area around the river. We looked around a bit and then headed back up.

As we headed up I was looking for where an old road showed on the map intersecting the trail – I didn’t see one at all, so I think maybe it didn’t come that far. We crested the hill and took the turn by the big rock pinnacle (you couldn’t really see this before the fire unless you went off the trail):

It is at this point where there is/used to be a side trail that went over to the head of the swamp and the beaver dam. I had a hard time finding the trail at first, but eventually did – although it was pretty brushy. We followed it down to the swamp (it kind of appeared to be an old skid road or something – bigger than a trail), but it kind of disappeared into the brush. We went around and finally got a good view of the big swamp:

Right next to the head of the swamp I noticed this new bird box (I saw at least one more around the swamp too):

We got to the beaver dam and I’m assuming it must have burned since the swamp was quite a bit lower than it used to be:

This is what it looked like 2019 – you can see the water level is quite a bit higher and the dam was on the backside of that big log:

After looking at the beaver dam a bit we headed back out. On the way out I also ended up cutting out a few more small logs and brush to make passage a bit easier. We got back to the truck pretty quickly and headed out.

I drove up to the end of 224 just to see if anything there had changed (it had not), but the 4631 road gate was open. I was too chicken to drive up it, but it was curious that it was open. The gate up to Three Lynx was closed again and I also checked the gate on 4620, and it was closed as well, so my hopes that it might remain open have been dashed.

This was a quick day in the woods but it was interesting to see how this trail fared in the fires and nice to be out in the woods for a couple of hours.

11/19/2022 – Dry Ridge Trail

Date of Hike: 11/19/2022
Location of Hike: Dry Ridge Trail
Trail Number: 518
Weather during Hike: Sunny and cold
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:00 AM  End Time: 4:10 PM
Hike Distance: 6.8 miles  Elevation Gain: 2700 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was to explore some more of the burned areas. We also wanted to hike a trail we hadn’t been on recently and also due to recent snow, had to be accessible. The Dry Ridge trail seemed to fit the bill. I haven’t hiked this trail since 2008 and since it is right on 224, we knew it would be accessible.

We started at our normal time and made it to the trailhead (in the Roaring River Campground). Since the campground is closed due to the fires, we parked on the road and walked thru the remains of the campground and started looking for the trail. We found what looked like a trial going up the Roaring River and followed it a bit, but I soon realized we needed to get up on the ridge – the trail basically follows the ridge up. We headed uphill and quickly found what looked like tread. It was pretty overgrown but a lot of the weeds have died due to the recent freezes which made it a little easier to follow. This is what it looked like before we entered the powerline corridor:

Once we got into the powerline corridor, it got a lot rougher. The brush got bigger, but we did find one really interesting thing below one of the towers. It appears to be a broken powerline insulator – I’m guessing this might have broken in the fires:

After fighting our way thru the powerline corridor, we made it into the burned forest. The tread in here was still brushy, but it was a lot better than the tread under the powerlines.

As we worked a little higher, the tread got a little better – or easier to follow. We went up several switchbacks and then came to a nice viewpoint offering a good look south down the Clackamas canyon:

After the viewpoint, the trail mostly levels out for a bit, heading up the Grouse Creek drainage. This is one shot of what it looks like heading up that drainage:

The trail then takes a turn and crosses Grouse Creek, which wasn’t too bad today – an easy crossing,a although it was icy in some spots:

After crossing the creek the trail heads north and borders a large rockslide. It was getting near lunchtime and we started looking for a sun spot to eat (it was pretty cold). We tried to head out onto the rockslide into the sun, but it got increasingly difficult to navigate the rocks, so we continued up the hill. Just before the rockslide, we started to exit the burned area (we would get back into it a bit further up):

At the rockslide, the second set of switchbacks start and you head uphill rather aggressively. Somewhere along these switchbacks, Kirk found a sunny spot where we stopped for lunch. After eating, we continued the climb. At the top switchback, there is a side trail over to the 4635 road and an old sign which was partially burned:

We took the connector trail over to 4635. Up the hill a bit the trail re-enters un-burned forest and is really pretty:

Here is the trail junction from 4635 including the sign:

And here is what road 4635 looked like – probably 2-3″ of snow on it:

We turned around, headed back down the trail to the junction and since we were nearing our turnaround time (days are short this time of year), we decided to head up to where the trail flattens out again and then turn around. It wasn’t too far above the junction where the climbing stopped and we entered un-burned forest again. Seems the fire came up the canyon walls and mostly stopped once it hit the ridge. By this time it was after 3:00 and with sunset at 4:37, we needed to head back down.

The trip back down was pretty uneventful. We didn’t really pause much on the way down. We kicked some rocks off the trail, did a little more snipping here and there, but pretty much just headed downhill. We got back to the van a little after 4:00, which was good timing. As we were driving out, the sun set.

We stopped in Estacada for dinner – a great way to end a very interesting day of exploration.

10/10/2022 – Whetstone Mountain – 546

Date of Hike: 10/10/2022
Location of Hike: Whetstone Mountain Trail
Trail Number: 546
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 11:00 AM  End Time: 5:00 PM
Hike Distance: 6.25 miles  Elevation Gain: 2300 feet
Pictures: Link
Trying to take advantage of the really nice fall weather, and the fact that I had Columbus day off, I decided to head out on a hike. I didn’t want anything too taxing, but I wanted a nice day in the woods. Whetstone mountain burned in the Beachie Creek fire in 2020, and it is relatively high (almost 5000′), so I decided to head out there to see what things looked like after the fire. Kirk was able to take the day off and join me, so it was the 4 of us.

We headed out a little after 9 and had to stop twice along 224 for road work, but we still made pretty good time all the way out to the end of the 7020 road. As we were passing Bagby, we both saw and smelled smoke, and after our experience in 2020, right before the Riverside fire, we decided to stop to investigate – we didn’t see any cars around so it seemed kind of suspicious.

We parked near where we saw the smoke and walked into the woods – we came across a campsite down the hill which was occupied – they were just finishing up breakfast. We apologized for interrupting their morning and headed out. I’m glad we didn’t find anything unusual!

We made it out to the trailhead a little before 11:00:

We got suited up and headed out – the first part of the trail is pretty much as I remember it, although it did seem a bit brushier than I remember – probably because no one has been on the trail for 2 years.

We headed down the hill thru the old cut area and got into the old timber. It wasn’t too long before we got our first glimpse of the burn:

It didn’t last too long and we were back in unburned forest. Pretty soon we got to the rockslide area with the pond below it which didn’t burn:

But the area above the rockslide all burned – it just didn’t quite make it down the hill to the rockslide:

We kind of went back and forth between burned areas and unburned areas, but shortly before the junction that heads up to Whetstone Mountain, we got into what I called the “full burn”. From this point all the way to the top of Whetstone it was completely burned:

There was recent evidence of elk activity right on the trail – a pretty big elk print – I think the elk like the open areas:

We shortly got to the trail junction where we were surprised to see a brand new sign:

This was taken from roughly the same spot in 2015 – it looked VERY different:

We started up the ridge to the old lookout site. The going was somewhat difficult, especially when we came to areas like this with tons of stuff down in the middle of the tread:

As we continued up we had to really watch where we were going – there were several spots where we lost the trail. This is what it looked like below Whetstone – lots of fireweed and just weeds in general – tough to see the tread:

We did find the junction of the 3369 trail down to Opal Creek (Gold Creek trail) and right near the junction I kind of tripped on some old phone line:

We made our way up the trail, lopping here and there and throwing things off the trail trying to make it a little easier to follow. We finally made it to the top. A tiny bit survived on top on one side:

It was a pretty smoky day, so the views weren’t great. Here is looking south to Mt Jefferson in the smoke:

And another view looking down at the burn damage:

We stopped on top, gave the dogs some water and ate a late lunch. It was pretty warm up there – sunny, no shade and very little breeze.

After a bit we packed up and headed down. In some spots, coming down was harder than going up – the tread was hard to follow in places. Here is what some of the tread coming down looked like:

When we got down to the junction again, we decided to head east a bit. Originally I was kind of hoping we could go all the way over to the Bagby trail and head up to Silver King Lake, but given how difficult the trail was to navigate, we didn’t make very good time up to the top. So Silver King lake was out, but we decided to head east for a while. I kind of expected it to be burned pretty much the whole way, but it was intermittent burn and it seemed less intense than the burn around Whetstone. Many areas had a ground fire but the canopy was mostly intact.

We made it to the junction with the trail down to Battle Ax Creek where we found another new sign:

We stopped here for a bit and decided it was a good turn around point. We headed back west and then to the truck. The trip back was pretty uneventful, however I did snap a picture of the vibrant vine maple at the rockslide – I’m not sure how I missed it coming in:

We got back to the truck about 5:00 and headed out.

While I was saddened by all the damage from the fire, it was good to see that portions of it survived – it also opens up a lot of new views that you just couldn’t see before the fires which is kind of interesting. A beautiful fall day in the woods!

1/22/2022 – Mosier Creek

Date of Hike: 1/22/2022
Location of Hike: Mosier Creek
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 2:00 PM  End Time: 3:05 PM
Hike Distance: 2.44 miles  Elevation Gain: 600 feet
Pictures: Link
This was kind of a last minute quick trip just to get out on a beautiful winter day and can only be characterized as “hiking light”. This BLM land off Ridge road (Mosier Creek flows thru it) is pretty close, so I thought I’d just take Thor out for a quick jaunt. It was a bit tougher than I expected due to all the downed trees:

I took that one photo and also took a quick video of Mosier Creek:

It was a very quick day, but it was nice to get out in the woods for a bit.

1/1/2022 – Highland Butte

Date of Hike: 1/1/2022
Location of Hike: Highland Butte
Weather during Hike: Sunny and cold
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 9:40 AM  End Time: 12:30 PM
Hike Distance: 3 miles  Elevation Gain: 850 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was the annual “first hike of the year” event. I’ve done a hike on 1/1 on 9 of the last 11 years – and one year I missed it due to weather. We’ve had some low elevation snow, and so we needed something relatively close and low in elevation. I’ve been wanting to explore Highland Butte since it is a small patch of BLM land – I figured it would make a good wintertime hike since it isn’t too high (about 1600′ according to the map).

Kirk had to get back for something in the early afternoon, so this worked out really well. It wasn’t a long hike but it was really interesting and an area I’d like to go back to again. It is pretty handy, only being about 15 minutes from home.

We made it to the bottom of the gated road up to the top of Highland Butte. We got ready and headed up the road. We saw footprints from probably the day before but they didn’t go too far up the road. Mostly we were the only ones that had been up there. The road gets a bit steep in places but is only about a half mile to the top where there is a cell tower:

We looked around a bit and I attempted to fly my drone – it was a PERFECT day for it – clear with no wind – but I found out that the app that controls the drone broke with a recent update – since I had cell service I attempted to fix it up there but had no luck, so I put away the drone for the day – too bad because I think I could have captured some really good footage from above the trees.

I thought we would be able to see something from the top, but it is all treed in (the tower extends above the trees). Maybe another day.

Once the drone was done, we decided to head down a side trail that Kirk found – it headed kind of downhill to the southeast, so we thought we’d see where it goes. We didn’t really want to go on anyone else’s land (since this is surrounded by private land), so we tried to be careful to stay on the BLM property. We headed downhill and soon came to a really cool viewpoint to the east, where got a glimpse of Mt Hood Thru the trees:

We looked around a while – we thought we saw the new radio tower on Whalehead but it was a long ways away. After looking at the viewpoint for a few minutes we continued on the path – it took a turn to the north and we found a couple of short side trails, but they all appeared to head onto private property. The trail was relatively flat in this area – it soon took a westerly turn and kind of followed a fenceline of property to the north. At the last of these properties, the trail kind of stopped – I think this trail is basically an access point for these various landowners to access the BLM land.

When we got to the end of the trail, we decided to turn around and head back. We weaved our way back up the trail to the top. By that time, it was close to lunch time, so we stopped and had some lunch next to the cell tower. I caught some pictures of Thor playing in the snow (the dogs were having a great time in the snow):

After lunch, we headed back down the hill and pretty quickly got to the truck. We found what might be a trail that hit the road down lower, but that will be for another day of exploring.

A great way to start 2022!

11/28/2020 – Wildcat Mountain

Date of Hike: 11/28/2020
Location of Hike: Wildcat Mountain
Trail Number: 781
Weather during Hike: Overcast and foggy
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 9:10 AM  End Time: 2:25 PM
Hike Distance: 9.1 miles  Elevation Gain: 2500 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was an idea that Kirk had. Since pretty much the entire Clackamas district is inaccessible due to the Riverside fire, he had the idea to head up to Wildcat Mountain. Initially, the idea was to go from the Eagle Creek (501) trailhead, but that seemed too far to attempt on a short winter day (getting dark before 5:00 right now). So, we decided to start from a decommissioned spur road (the 3626-255 spur) which intersects the Douglas trail but do a bit of cross country to reduce the distance. It promised to be an interesting day.

We started out a bit early since we expected to do 9-10 miles. We were right on with the estimate – we did just over 9 miles total for the day. We actually made pretty good time, getting done well before it got dark. I guess we can cover a lot more ground when we aren’t doing trail maintenance!

We got to the 255 spur about 9:00, quickly suited up and headed out. It was misting a good bit at this point, so we put on rain gear. We headed down the REALLY bad, ripped up asphalt road. A little ways down the road there appeared to be a side trail, so we tried that for a bit. It didn’t last long and we were back to the road. It got a little better after the initial aggressive ripping up, but it was still pretty tough going. It would be REALLY easy to sprain an ankle on that stuff.

We got to a point where it seemed to make sense to go cross country, trying to find the trail. This shortcut cut about 1.5 miles (maybe a bit more) off the trip since the road headed west a ways and then the trail came back east. After tromping thru the woods for a bit we found the trail – it was a pretty easy cross country trip.

Once on the trail we headed east/southeast and started making pretty good time. Soon, we came to this crossing of an un-named creek, which someone had thoughtfully placed rocks to make it an easy rock hop:

We continued thru the second growth and soon got into the old growth and into the original Wilderness area. The forest in this area is pretty impressive. Although it was foggy and misty, it was still beautiful. I think it was in this area that we encountered a bow hunter coming down.

It wasn’t too long before we arrived at the old start of this trail, the Wildcat Quarry – which is a BIG quarry:

And in the past it has had a LOT of “bad activity” – like this completely shot up sign:

The moved the trailhead north about a half mile, decommissioning the road to the quarry, but as you can see by the tracks in the snow, people still get around it. We didn’t see a lot of evidence of recent shooting in the quarry however.

We couldn’t see anything due to the fog, so we headed around the rim of the quarry and found the trail continuing east. A little farther up the trail is what appears to be a great viewpoint in better weather, but there was not much of a view today:

We continued east, and the snow continued to get deeper although there had been enough footprints in the snow that it was easy to follow. A ways up the trail we saw an opening and headed over to take a look. What we found was another unmapped road that appears to have been decommissioned – it appears to have been an undocumented spur off the 105 spur – it was a LONG road:

After investigating that road, we continued east. We soon got to the McIntyre Ridge/Douglas trail junction:

And just beyond that, I saw some wire hanging down on a tree next to the trail, and looked up and saw an insulator:

It was at about this point that the trail route became unclear – there was a definite split – most of the footprints headed on the right path, but a few headed to the left. Kirk headed up to the left and I headed to the right. It appears the tread to the left was the “old” alignment – it is a bit steeper but is more scenic on a day you had a view as it followed the edge of the cliff looking down into the Boulder Creek drainage. We finally met up where the trails re-converged and made the final push to the top of Wildcat Mountain.

It wasn’t long before we popped out on top of Wildcat Mountain. There was probably 18″ of snow on the ground and there were no views – it has grown up – it is similar to Fish Creek Mountain or Old Baldy – trees mostly ring the perimeter. I think if you headed out to the south end of the top you might have been able to see something – it appeared there was a small opening there. Here is a picture of Thor and Kirk on top of Wildcat Mountain:

We bundled up and ate lunch at the top of the mountain. But not moving, we quickly started to get cold. So, it was a pretty quick lunch. We then packed up and headed back down.

When we got to the junction of the old/new alignments, we headed down the old alignment – I hadn’t seen it and it was quite a bit shorter. In good weather, that would definitely be the preferred route I think.

We made really good time coming down. At one point, I wanted to take a photo of the forest and trail:

We soon got back to the quarry and things had cleared up a bit, so we got a tiny bit of a view looking south – down below is Eagle Creek and somewhere across in the fog would be Old Baldy:

We continued down from the quarry and headed down. On the way up, we had seen what appeared to be another undocumented road and a side trail that appeared to head up to it. We decided to take that route back, thinking it might be easier than the way we came in. That side trail was REALLY short, and put us onto that undocumented road, which we soon discovered was the extension of the 155 spur. We headed north on this spur and it was in pretty good shape – not ripped up or anything:

We walked this very nice road back up to almost the junction with the 3626 road where we had our last adventure of the day. As we were walking we heard gunshots. As we got closer I was concerned they were shooting down the spur road – fortunately, they were not shooting down the road – they were shooting off onto a “sort of” backstop – but we yelled and they heard us and stopped shooting long enough for us to get back up to the 3626 road. We walked this road back to the truck. Along the way we encountered quite a few vehicles. It appears most of them were looking for Christmas trees.

We made it back to the truck just before 2:30. The dogs were tired and so were we. We started packing up and someone asked if we were leaving – I guess they wanted to park where we were. It was kind of a weird experience to be out in the woods and feel like you were at the mall – with someone waiting for your parking spot.

All in all, it was a great day out, even with the weather and no views. I’d like to come back and do this trail again, maybe a mid week (to escape most of the crowds) hike on a nice day – where there are views.

2/9/2020 – Helion Creek Rescue Attempt

Date of Hike: 2/9/2020
Location of Hike: Helion Creek
Weather during Hike: Partly Cloudy and cool
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Zack, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 1:30 PM  End Time: 4:30 PM
Hike Distance: 2 miles  Elevation Gain: 700 feet
Pictures: Link
After the disaster last week where I lost my new drone, I had been thinking about it and I couldn’t let it go. The weather for the following Sunday was supposed to be rather nice, and I thought it was worth a shot to see if we could find and recover my drone. We had looked for a while last week, but after thinking about it some more, it seemed like it should be relatively easy to find. Kirk had the idea of using endoscopes to try and search underwater, which was a really good idea. I brought my fishing waders so I could wade the creek and look by hand as well.

I knew it would be a short day, so we headed out after lunch and arrived at the gravel area a little after 1:00. We headed out, down the horrible side hill, with tons of downed logs. We had realized that staying high was a better option that going low, as hugging the cliffs was usually a little easier.

As we went, we passed a couple of small creeks. One of them had a cool waterfall:

After about an hour, we made it to the creek and started searching. Kirk used his endoscope and I used mine and Zack was using his pole to poke around. Here is Kirk using his endoscope, attempting to find the drone (with the dogs supervising him):

And here is a great photo of the Helion Creek Waterfall:

Along with a video:

After a while with no success with the endoscope, I decided to put on my waders and wade the creek and use my hands to search the pools. That worked really well, although the water was REALLY cold. After about an hour of searching, we finally gave up. I thought we searched the target area pretty well, but there are a LOT of nooks and crannies it could have gotten stuck in, or it could have been washed way down the creek. Either way, we decided to call the search and head back.

The trip back seemed slightly better than the trip back the prior week (maybe we were getting better at finding a good route, or maybe we were just worn down by the rough trip). It took us about another hour to get out and back to the van. We were all tired and a little disappointed we didn’t find it. Even if we HAD found it, who knows what shape it would have been in. I guess I just wasn’t meant to have a drone. If/when I get another one, I will make sure I have one with obstacle avoidance, and I will make sure I’ve practiced flying it a LOT more before I try and fly it in a tight canyon.

Even though it was a disappointing day, it was nice to get out for a few hours.

2/1/2020 – Helion Creek Explorations

Date of Hike: 2/1/2020
Location of Hike: Helion Creek
Weather during Hike: Rainy
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:00 AM  End Time: 2:15 PM
Hike Distance: 3.75 miles  Elevation Gain: 1100 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was something I’ve had on my hiking todo list for a number of years. Brian had posted photos of the waterfall on Helion creek and what might have been a blasted trail bench on it. I wanted to see for myself to see what it really looked like. Nearby, there was also the old road grade where highway 224 used to go (a long time ago) which I thought might be an interesting short exploration.

The weather forecast for the day was wet – very wet. I was determined to go anyway – one plus was that it was supposed to be warmer most of the day – so as Kirk said “at least it is a warm rain”. The weather forecast was pretty correct. It rained most of the day a few times pretty heavily – but we also had a few spots of no rain at all which was nice.

We parked at the Armstrong campground:

We got all suited up for the rain and then headed back up the road to the bridge. One the way, Kirk wanted to look at something we’ve seen being built, but we never knew what it was. It is just south of one of the bridge crossings – just before the Lockaby campground. It appears to be an overlook, and maybe will have some interpretive signs. We got a good view of the Clackamas, which was rather angry – running high and fast:

We then headed across the road and then up the hill a bit – we had to go a little over a half mile on this steep hill to get to Helion creek. The first part wasn’t too bad, as there was kind of a Fisherman’s trail, but the hillside continued to get steeper and the going going tougher and tougher due to the steepness of the hill, the brush and a bunch of downed logs we had to negotiate over, under or around – all without falling into the river below us.

It was VERY slow going – It took us almost an hour and a half to get to the creek I think – and then took us a bit to actually get to where we could see it. The wash the creek was in was pretty steep and narrow. This was our first view of Helion Creek falls:

We carefully worked our way down to the creek and got a much better view of the waterfall. This is what it looked like from the bottom:

While we were there, I took this video of the waterfall:

It was at this point the trip took a decidedly bad turn. I got my drone for Christmas and thought this would be the perfect place to get a video of the waterfall from a perfect vantage point. It was crowded in the creek canyon so I knew it would be difficult. I unpacked the drone and fired it up. Kirk had to hold it to take off since there was no place to take off from. I had no sooner taken off than it started moving backwards (I still don’t know exactly what I did wrong – I’m very new at being a drone pilot) – but it moved backwards, hit a small tree branch and dropped straight into the creek. I watched all this in slow motion in my head. The creek was running really fast and there was a hole it fell into – we poked around trying to find it but the water was too fast and deep to really do much there. We looked for it downstream but didn’t find anything. Our best guess is that it fell into that hole and one or more of the arms got stuck in the rocks. Even if we had been able to find it, I’m sure it would have been ruined by the water. So my really cool Christmas present, which had probably only 4 of 5 flights (all but 2 at home in the backyard), was gone. It was about at this point when it started raining REALLY hard. We decided to head down the creek to a spot where it seemed easier to get out of the creek canyon. We headed downstream, looking for any evidence of my drone, but found nothing.

We made it down to a spot that was a lot easier to get up out of, and then started heading back. By this time it was getting close to 1:00, so we found a big log that was somewhat sheltered and had some lunch. We ate pretty quickly and were starting to get a bit cold, so we packed up continued on. We took a different path back. I’m not sure if it was any easier than the path we took in, but it had quite a few tough spots to get thru – a few that I had to help Thor get thru too. He kind of struggled with the more difficult log crossings due to the steepness of the hill.

We finally made it back to the parking area near the bridge -we were back on easy walking again. For the second piece of the day, we headed across the bridge and then over to the Carter Bridge campground where we headed up the hill to the old road grade. I’m not sure when the road was re-aligned but it had to have been a long time ago. The bridges don’t have dates on them, but they are riveted, so I’m guessing they are pre 1960’s at least. It kind of made sense the road went where it did because it eliminated the need for two bridges. The bad thing was that the route was pretty windy and they probably had some significant problems with rocks falling on the road.

Anyway, we headed down the road, and soon saw this aftermath from the 36 pit fire – it was laying right in the road – interesting it was upright:

A little farther the dogs (who were off leash – we didn’t expect to see anyone up here) started barking so we called them back and a couple passed us. They told us there was a shack a bit further up the road. And sure enough, a bit farther up the road we found this old shack – it appeared that it might have been water for the Carter Bridge campground at some point in the past – there appeared to be a spring or something directly behind it – it was obviously non functional:

After looking at the old shack for a bit, we continued down the road – at one point we got a pretty good view of the Clackamas:

We continued down the road – this is kind of what a “normal” section of it looked like:

We decided we would head down the old road to where it used to meet the current road. It wasn’t too long before we met highway 224. We then headed across the bridge and back to the truck. Fortunately for us, it wasn’t raining when we got back to the truck so we were able to change our shoes without getting soaked. The dogs were more than ready to get in the truck. We were all tired! Even though it wasn’t a lot of mileage, it was pretty tough mileage.

An interesting day of exploring with one bummer. A trip to Fearless for a beer and some fries (since we were too early for dinner) made for a great way to end the day.

1/1/2020 – Lower Cottonwood Meadows – 705

Date of Hike: 1/1/2020
Location of Hike: Lower Cottonwood Meadows Trail
Trail Number: 705
Weather during Hike: Overcast to partly sunny with rain, snow and sleet
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Zack, Ollie, Thor
Start Time: 10:15 AM  End Time: 2:20 PM
Hike Distance: 5.5miles  Elevation Gain: 1500 feet
Pictures: Link
This was my (mostly) annual new years day hike – I’ve done this 8 out of the last 10 years now. One year there was just too much snow to go ANYWHERE (2017), and I’m not sure what happened the other year (2012). Anyway, Kirk and I dreamed up this idea of seeing if we could get to the lower Cottonwood Meadows trail and then either hiking or snowshoeing up to Cottonwood meadows. It seemed like a great plan. On New Year’s eve, the National Weather Service posted a Winter Storm Warning for the Cottonwood Meadows area with lots of rain, high winds and snow later in the day at the higher elevations. Undaunted, we decided to see how the day went. While we brought our snowshoes, we decided to leave them in the truck thinking we would be able to get around fine without them. I think that was a good decision as the snow was rarely very deep.

Due to the warmer than normal weather we’ve been having, we were able to easily make it to the lower trailhead at almost 3000′. It wasn’t really raining when we got there, so we quickly suited up for extreme weather and headed up the trail. The trail basically follows the ridge up to an old clearcut below Cottonwood Meadows. The lower portion of this trail is in some magnificent old growth with tread in really good shape:

We did encounter quite a few downed logs and a few messes on the beginning of the trail, but we cleaned up what we could and went over/around what we couldn’t. It wasn’t too long before we popped up onto the 5830-265 road where we saw just a little bit of snow:

We walked up the road and then went cross country thru the clearcut (the trail thru the clearcut was wiped out). After a few attempts at making sure we were going the right direction, we got up tp the 240 spur crossing where there was more snow. Beyond this crossing the real trail continues north:

Right after that crossing, we got to the first, lower Meadow, which looked mostly frozen over:

And then continued north thru a couple of small little meadows towards Cottonwood Lake:

And shortly arrived at a mostly frozen Cottonwood Lake (although none of us wanted to try it out to see how frozen it really was!):

We ate lunch there and looked around a bit and then headed out. When we got to the 240 spur, we decided to walk back the road rather than going cross country, since it was rather difficult – there was a lot of melting snow water runoff which added to the difficulty of getting thru the clearcut. The plan was to head west until the road turned and then head uphill to the upper road – this would cut quite a bit of time off the trip – almost a mile of road walking it looks like.

We made it up to the road turn and then up the hill – from there we went uphill and soon found the upper road that had been bermed at an old gate location. It was in this section I took some photos of Thor having fun in the snow:

He had lots of fun with Ollie – running around and doing his beaver thing in the snow and even doing some frapping at one point.

We finally came back to the 265 spur and things had cleared up a bit from what they were in the morning – we still got gusts of wind occasionally but there was even a few small spots of blue sky at times – You can sort of see Mt Mitchell in the background (in the clouds behind the trees):

We headed down the road and onto the old trail and quickly made it back to the truck, doing a little bit of trail maintenance along the way – cutting out some smaller trees.

Since it was still somewhat early, we decided to drive down to the end of the road and check out the collapsed bridge over Cot Creek:

It is really growing in – it was interesting to see how much work went into building that bridge too – there was a LOT of cribbing on each approach.

After checking out the bridge we headed back to town – we wanted to stop at Fearless but they were closed for New Years Day. We headed over to the Wagon Wheel Saloon (I had been there once with Don) for a beer and some appetizers.

It was a very interesting day on a beautiful old trail in a very interesting area. The winter weather warning didn’t really seem to come to pass – other than a few gusts of wind and a little bit of rain, sleet and snow at times, it really wasn’t that bad up there. I was expecting to get a LOT wetter than we did. I wasn’t even sure we would be able to make it up all the way due to the wind. It turned out to be a pretty good middle of winter day in the woods. A good start to the new year.

12/14/2019 – Elk Lake Creek – 559

Date of Hike: 12/14/2019
Location of Hike: Elk Lake Creek/Welcome Lakes Trail
Trail Number: 519, 554
Weather during Hike: Overcast with a few sunbreaks
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:45 AM  End Time: 3:40 PM
Hike Distance: 7.8 miles  Elevation Gain: 2300 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was just to get outside and enjoy a fall/winter day. The higher elevation trailheads are inaccessible now, so I had to choose something a bit lower. The Elk Lake Creek trailhead is relatively low (2400′) and didn’t appear to have to go too high to get there, so I chose this trail. I wasn’t sure if we would be able to cross Elk Lake Creek, but I figured we would figure something out – which we did.

We headed out about 9:00 and made it to the trailhead about 10:30 or so. I was surprised to see another vehicle there. We suited up – it was rather chilly (34 degrees or so) and headed up the trail. The trail starts out in an old clearcut and shortly opens out into the burned area from the 2008/2010 (I’m not sure which was where) fire. Here is a map showing the three different fires that have affected the Bull of the Woods Wilderness recently:

And this is what the beginning of the trail looks like thru the fire damaged area – lots of burned out trees but a few survivors, especially down by the creek:

A short ways in, you come to a really cool area – the creek takes more than a 90 degree bend and there is a nice waterfall – it was flowing very fast and loud today:

And here is a short video of the waterfall – you can hear how loud it was:

As we were hiking thru this area, I noticed quite a few young trees popping up all over the place – they are somewhat hard to see in this photo (all my photos were kind of washed out on this trip – maybe because it was so overcast and foggy) – here are some of the new sprouts:

We continued up the trail, doing a little bit of trail maintenance as we went – trying to make passage over some of the logs easier. Soon, we got to the Pine Cone Creek Crossing, which is where the Bull of the Woods Wilderness boundary is:

We continued up the trail and soon got got an unmarked side trail which we believe is the old trail over to Janus Butte. I had gone down this trail a few years ago and explored a bit – we decided to go down and to have lunch by the creek. This is what it looked like:

When looking at it, we wondered if this was a ford spot – it doesn’t look quite natural and somewhere they would have had to ford the creek to continue up the other side. That exploration would have to wait for another day, however. The water was too fast and deep to cross today.

We ate lunch next to the creek, did a little more exploring of the campsite there and then headed back up to the trail. We continued a bit farther to the Knob Rock Creek Crossing-this was a little challenging due to the volume of water coming thru here:

Right above the crossing there is a very nice waterfall:

And here is a short video of the waterfall – it was running pretty fast and loud:

We expected there to be some distance between the Knob Rock Creek and Welcome Creek crossings, but they are almost next to each other. The maps are not quite correct. I don’t know if winter storms have changed their courses or what, but they are VERY close to each other now. This is the much easier Welcome creek crossing:

After crossing these two creeks we very quickly came to the Welcome Lakes junction. We decided to go down to the Elk Lake Creek crossing just to see what it looked like. It is not very far from the Welcome Lakes junction. We headed down there and quickly got to the first crossing point:

I’ve crossed here at least twice – but always in the summer when the water is much lower. Even then, it is at least 6″ deep. I’d guess the water was 18″+ deep and it was pretty cold. We opted not to attempt crossing it. So, we turned around back to the Welcome Lakes junction and headed up that to see how far we could get.

The first half mile or so of the trail is in un-burned territory but is getting rather brushy in places. It goes uphill at a pretty good rate, so it was somewhat challenging. After the first half mile of wooded terrain, we started to break out into the burned area. From here is got even more challenging due to all the downed logs and washed out tread sections. Part way up, Kirk noticed Janus Butte to our southeast:

The one thing that the fire did is to open up a lot more views on this trail. Although there are a LOT of snags, you can see out across the valley – pre-fire this section of trail would have been in heavy forest cover.

There are a few VERY messy sections in this area like this (yes, there is tread under all those trees):

We headed up a little farther and got a pretty good look at Schreiner and Knob Peaks too:

And looking east, we could see a bit of Rho Ridge:

We continued up, seeing just a hint of snow here and there and doing a little bit of trail maintenance where we could, although most of it was not work for a handsaw. We made it up to about 3500′ and decided we should turn around – I was hoping we might be able to get to Welcome Lakes but the days are short and I didn’t want to hike in the dark. This trail is quite a workout between the elevation gain and all the downed logs. I wouldn’t be surprised if we encountered 100 downed logs in the mile of the trail we hiked.

The trip down was pretty uneventful – we did a little more work up high on Welcome Lakes, but soon decided we needed to just push to get out before dark. We made it back to the truck a little before 4:00 – it was already starting to get dark. When we got back to the truck, the vehicle that was there when we arrived was gone. We never saw anyone else all day long so I’m not sure where we crossed. Maybe they were farther up the trail, or maybe they came back while we were down at the creek or up Welcome Lakes or something. It was nice having the trail to ourselves all day long, however.

A stop at Fearless on the way home was a great way to finish a nice day of exploring an interesting area.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

8/12/2017 – 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!

4/22/2017 – Cripple Creek Trail – 703

Date of Hike: 4/23/2017
Location of Hike: Cripple Creek Trail
Trail Number: 703
Weather during Hike: Varied - Misty/Rainy to sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bob, Robert, Carly, Buddy and Thor
Start Time: 9:50 AM  End Time: 4:45 PM
Hike Distance: 5.75 miles  
Pictures: Link
This hike was originally intended to be a waterfall exploration hike, but since our guide got injured, we had to come up with an alternative. The alternatives this time of year are minimal due to the snow levels. The choice was to hike Cripple Creek to snow and then return. The weather was very interesting – it rained really hard on the way to the trailhead, then by the time we got there, it stopped. It showered off and on all day, interspersed with sunny periods. Welcome to springtime in Oregon!

This hike had two new hiking friends – Bob and Robert. I hope they had fun on the hike. It was a good day for Carly, Thor and I!

We headed up the trail, cleaning up some of the wintertime messes as we went. Shortly, we got to the “grotto”, the small waterfall below the hillside meadow:

We continued up into the hillside meadow and beyond. I was amazed we were not seeing any evidence of snow at all. Based on the snotel data, I was expecting to see at least a little bit. We continued up the trail and got to the campsite at the 4635-130 spur road. We ate lunch and then decided to see if there was a view on the small hill just south of the campsite:

We hiked over and unfortunately there wasn’t much of a view since the whole hillside was covered in trees. We did see this campsite further down that spur road, however. I never knew it existed:

We went back to the campsite at the spur road crossing and finished lunch. This is the best photo I could get of Carly and Thor near the spur road Campsite (Thor kept moving):

We continued climbing the hill and shortly got to the rockslide below the 4635 road, which had a great view – the clouds parted for a bit on the way back down for a better view:

As we made our way thru the clearcuts and rock fields, we did some trimming of the ever encroaching brush – hopefully it helps keep the trail clear. Shortly, we then made it to the 4635 road crossing, which was approximately 3800′ where we found a bit of snow (there was a bit on the trail below as well) – I wonder if you could drive this far up on 4635 now?:

We stayed on the road for a bit – Robert got a cell signal and was looking for potential geocaches, but the signal was not good enough to really determine where they were. We discussed going up to the end at the Cache Meadow trail junction, but decided we should probably head back down. That turned out to be a good call, as shortly after we got back to the car, it started raining pretty heavily.

It was a fun day in the woods with new hiking friends.

3/11/2017 – McIver State Park

Date of Hike: 3/11/2017
Location of Hike: McIver State Park
Weather during Hike: Rainy
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 12:50 PM  End Time: 1:30 PM
Hike Distance: 1.4 miles  
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was “hiking lite” – a very short hike on well groomed trails at McIver state park. It is close to home, and since it is raining hard, and Thor tends to get carsick easily, I thought it would be good to stay relatively close to home and try and see how he did on a short hike.

We left after noon (late since I had to work late last night) and shortly made it to the park. That is a BIG park! I think it took almost as long to find the parking area as it did to drive to the park! The plan was to hike up and down the river a bit – I didn’t want to go too far since Thor is only 19 weeks old and I wasn’t sure how much stamina he had. I figured these trails would be easy and we could walk as far as we wanted and then turn around.

We started at the River Mill Dam:

The water was flowing fast over the dam due to all the rain and it was pretty loud. He got a bit scared when we got closer to the viewpoint, but he did OK. We then continued west along the river. I had to take a picture of him exploring the muddy trail – he was sniffing all over the place – so many new smells:

We went down to the river at one point where it was less turbulent (but still moving pretty quick):

We walked a little farther – to the road crossing. Thor looked like he was getting tired, so we turned around and headed back. When we got back to the road and we saw the truck, he started pulling on the leash like he was saying “C’mon Dad! Hurry up! We are almost back to the truck!”

We ended up hiking around a mile and a half – probably good enough for today. We piled back into the truck and headed home. One tired puppy:

We’ve had some trouble with him getting carsick. The good news is that he didn’t get carsick this time. I think it is due to nerves and hopefully some more trips to fun places will cure him of getting sick.

A very nice, but short day in the woods.

3/18/2016 – Cripple Creek Trail – 703

Date of Hike: 3/18/2016
Location of Hike: Cripple Creek Trail
Trail Number: 703
Weather during Hike: sunny and windy at times
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:15 AM  End Time: 1:00 PM
Hike Distance: 4.4 miles  
Pictures: Link
Hike description
The hike today was just a chance to get out and take Bodie out while he is still able. Based on trail difficulty and snow levels, the choices were limited, but I decided to hike the Cripple Creek trail again, since it would be snow free for a while, and it had few downed trees on it (Bodie has a harder and harder time with downed logs). The plan was to have a relatively easy day and to go as far as we could.

We set down the trail a little later than usual – I knew it would be a short day, so wasn’t concerned about getting out of the house early. When we got to the first rockslide, I stopped for a bit and tried to get my bearings – I need to figure out what peaks these are. Looking southeast:

Looking southwest:

After looking a bit, we continued on – no new logs were down that I could see and the trail was in good shape. I was REALLY surprised to see snow at hillside meadow, though:

Not much, but even a little was surprising to me – that was only about 2200′!!!! We continued down the trail (or up the trail I guess since we were heading up) and the snow started to get deeper and deeper. When we got to the 4635-130 spur crossing, it was pretty deep:

We continued up the hill a little farther – I was kind of hoping to get to the big rockslide, but the snow just kept getting deeper What a change from a month ago, when there was NO snow at this level. That big rockslide was almost completely clear of snow. I was hoping to eat lunch in the sun, but due to the snow, we decided to turn around about a quarter of a mile before the rockslide. I found a small section of trail that was in the sun and didn’t have too much snow on it, so we stopped there, had lunch and then headed down.

The trip down was uneventful and pretty quick. Once back at the truck since it was so early I decided to drive up the pipeline road to see what it looked like. I’ve never driven that road. It was interesting, as it basically follows the pipeline. It took us past Frog Lake:

And then past the old Oak Grove Work Center, where someone was doing something (not sure what, but they drove in thru the locked gate on the 4631 side. We drove down into Ripplebrook and I drove around a couple of the roads there – Rondy’s daughter and first wife had talked about what Ripplebrook looked like earlier so I thought I’d drive around it while it was still fresh in my mind.

After driving around Ripplebook, we got back to 224 and headed back home. A quick, but nice day in the woods. Bodie had fun I think and did really well.

2/16/2016 – Fish Creek

Date of Hike: 2/16/2016
Location of Hike: Fish Creek
Weather during Hike: partly sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:45 AM  End Time: 1:30 PM
Hike Distance: 6.5 miles  
Pictures: Link
Hike description
This hike was a rather quick hike just to get out and enjoy a nice winter day. I had the day off of work (President’s Day), and the weather was supposed to be pretty good (not raining). It turned out to be much nicer than I thought – it was somewhat warm and partly sunny. A very enjoyable day in the woods.

The one thing this hike had was lots of water. Due to the recent rains, all the side creeks were running high and fast. Fish Creek was very loud all day long and so was the Clackamas River. The North Fork reservoir was very turbid, which you don’t see too often.

We started at the Calico road “trailhead” – it goes a quarter of a mile or so and then there is a side trail that the old quadders made down to the Fish Creek road. The Rimrock creek crossing was the first challenging crossing (although not too bad):

After crossing the creek and heading down to the Fish Creek road, we arrived at this campsite near the river, which I had never really explored before:

We explored a bit and then continued down the road, soon finding yet another campsite near the creek:

After exploring this campsite for a bit we continued down the “road” which is looking more and more like a trail and less like a road:

At one point there is a good viewpoint of the creek – well, it used to be better, but now the alders are growing up and obscuring the view somewhat. I took a video of how loud and fast the creek was:

We also came across this large log which someone spent a great deal of time removing – glad to see someone is keeping this accessible:

We continued down the trail until we got to the approach to the first bridge. The approach is growing in rapidly – I hardly recognized it:

We got to the first bridge and had lunch and enjoyed the sunshine. After eating lunch, I took this video of the creek – both upstream and downstream:

After enjoying the views for a while, we headed back down the trail. We explored another side trail that I’ve never explored before – what had to have been an old trail which was used by quads more recently, but is now just a beautiful mossy grove of trees:

After walking around that short loop and back down to the trail, we continued down the trail and soon came to yet another cool side trail (another one I had never explored) – it was a neat “narrows” part of the creek with a big log over it:

After enjoying that view for a bit we headed back and shortly arrived at the truck and headed home. A short day in the woods, but it was very nice.

2/10/2016 – Cripple Creek Trail – 703

Date of Hike: 2/16/2016
Location of Hike: Cripple Creek Trail
Trail Number: 703
Weather during Hike: overcast with a couple of sunbreaks
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 9:30 AM  End Time: 2:00 PM
Hike Distance: 5.9 miles  
Pictures: Link
Hike description
Bodie and I took a trip up to the Cripple Creek trail today, starting from the pipeline road. I keep thinking each trip I take him on might be his last, but he keeps hanging in there. He did great and had fun I think-I know he was tired when we got done.

The hike was nothing particularly unusual or flashy, but it was a very pleasant day. I had forgotten how beautiful parts of this trail are. It goes thru some magnificent uncut forest and has some very unique features.

The trail ascends relentlessly, sometimes somewhat steeply. It has a few flat spots, but they are pretty few and far between. We ascended about 2100′ in less than 3 miles (to the 4635 road crossing). The ascent is pretty gentle at first. After crossing a couple of rockslides, you get to what many people refer to a “The Grotto”:

Shortly after this is one of the most unique features on the trail. A hillside meadow:

The trail heads right thru the middle of the meadow. The meadow has been a favorite spot of deer and elk. There were signs EVERYHWERE and you could tell that they had not only been using the trail, but heading up and down hill as well.

Once we got a bit further down the trail, the weird (and kind of un-nerving) thing happened. We found a bunch of stuff from someone on a rockslide. It looked like stuff from someone’s pack – a leather coat, a paring knife (in a plastic bottle), bandaid, toothpaste, a sweater among other things. There was also some kind of bag thing with a metal buckle – I couldn’t tell what it was. The whole thing was kind of spooky and weird.

After looking at that stuff for a while, we continued down the trail. I did some trail maintenance as we went. It started as just throwing branches off the trail, but I ended up cleaning up a few messy spots too:

We continued down the trail, cleaning up what we could until we got to the big rockslide – the best view of the day (Fish Creek Mountain and Whalehead I believe):

As we got across the rockslide, the snow started to get deep in spots – it was really the first snow we had seen. There were deer prints in the snow too:

We finally ghot up to the 4635 road crossing, which had 6-12″ of snow on it:

We stopped, had lunch and then headed up the trail about 100 yards or so just to see if there was more snow up there – the trail in the trees was clear! We headed back down, making great time since it was all downhill.

Trail was in great shape, with evidence of recent work (logs cut and maybe even some tread work!). There were about 12 trees down over the trail – all except that big one at the start were easy stepovers/walk arounds – that one is going to be difficult to remove – it was probably 36″ plus in diameter:

We made it back to the truck and then headed home. We got stopped on 224 around milepost 35 – they are doing work to help with the rockfall – I’m guessing it is part of the big rockfall prevention project that ODOT had planned. Here is a photo where you can see guys up the hillside a ways – not sure what they are doing – drilling holes for dynamite? It was interesting to see anyway:

Another great day out in the woods.

12/5/2015 – Fanton Trail – 505

Date of Hike: 12/5/2015
Location of Hike: Fanton Trail
Trail Number: 505
Weather during Hike: Cloudy, snowy, rainy and windy
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:45 AM  End Time: 2:00 PM
Hike Distance: ~5.5 miles (GPS flaked out)  
Pictures: Link
Hike description

Today’s hike had two parameters:

  1. It had to be accessible (snow)
  2. It had to be easy enough for Bodie

In looking at snow levels and trail elevations, I thought the Fanton trail might fill the bill. It seemed low enough and it seemed relatively level – we could also turn around at any point. It has also been quite a while since I’ve hiked this trail.

So, off we went – got a bit of a late start, but that was OK since this was going to be a pretty short hike anyway. We got to the trailhead about 10:30 or so. We just hit snow about 2800′ – right before we got to the trailhead. As I was getting ready, I noticed what appeared to be a continuation of the trail on the west side of 4613. After getting ready, we headed across the road and sure enough, there was a BEAUTIFUL trail there! Easy to follow and nice tread:

We followed it for about a quarter of a mile until the edge of the FS property where it abruptly ended:

There was a recent clearcut on that property which obliterated whatever was left of the trail thru there. Too bad – looking at the old maps, it looks like it went west until it hit an old road in the area called Fanton (I’m guessing that is where the trail got its name). There used to be a school and guard station there and what looked to be a small community.

Well, enough old trail exploring. We turned around and headed back to 4613 – it had some slushy snow on it:

And then I took a photo of the trailhead – not much signage – I guess this trail missed out on the stimulus money a few years ago where all the trailheads got new signs:

Bodie was raring to go – he was ahead of me all day long! I was surprised how well he did. Even jumping over logs!

This trail, although not spectacular is very pleasant to hike. It is basically a ridge walk thru some very nice forest and a variety of ecosystems. Not a ton of views, but there are a few. When we started out, there was really no snow on the trail (just a tiny bit on the road), but as we got higher, snow started appearing, especially in the more open areas of the trail. It was quite the winter wonderland farther down the trail:

When we got up to the old road along a clearcut (don’t know what the number was, it doesn’t show on my maps), there are some good views looking south. I was surprised we could see much on this day. I’m not sure, but I think this might be Fish Creek Mountain and Whalehead in the distance:

The snow was getting pretty deep on that old road:

We continued down the trail, fighting the wind (it actually blew off my hat at one point) and the snow bombs off the trees as the snow melted and the wind gusts came thru and blew it off. Not too much farther down the trail, we decided to turn around. It was getting a bit much and the snow was getting deeper and deeper – And the wind seemed to be getting stronger. I kind of wanted to get to the junction with the parking area that most people take – the one that goes up the Squaw/Tumala Mountain. But we had gone far enough.

On the way back, I found this cool old blaze and sign after a road crossing:

The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. We quickly arrived back at the truck. By that time, 4613 was pretty much melted out. Since it was still early, I decided to drive up 4613 and hit 4610 and see how far up I could get. I encountered a lot of traffic on 4610, mostly mudders who had been up higher. I made it to about 3500′, and decided to turn around. It wasn’t too bad, but I was by myself and I really didn’t want to get stuck. I got to within about .75 miles of Lookout Springs I think. We turned around and headed back down and headed home.

A short hike for a short day. But it was nice to get out and I’m glad Bodie had fun.

10/17/2015 – Cottonwood Meadows – 705

Date of Hike: 10/17/2015
Location of Hike: Cottonwood Meadows Trail
Trail Number: 705
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:00 AM  End Time: 2:15 PM
Hike Distance: 6 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This hike was another short day to get Bodie out hiking while he still can. Don’t know how many more hikes he will be able to do.

I decided on Cottonwood Meadows since it seemed like a relatively flat and easy trail to do, and it wasn’t too long. The cross country part was a little tough on him, but he did really good all the way. In addition, this is the perfect time to visit this trail, since the meadows are all dried up and the bugs are all gone. I had not been here in several years (looks like it has been 7 years!!!!), and wanted to go back.

The hike was pretty low key – nothing terribly exiting happened. Shortly after we started down the trail, we arrived at the first meadow:

We looked around a bit, headed across the meadow and soon came to the second, largest meadow that has a “lake”:

And then we found something completely unexpected – A boat!!!:

I can’t believe that someone drug a boat all the way into this lake. I can’t imagine there are any fish in this lake – it is very shallow.

We wandered down the trail to the end of the official trail at the 5830-240 spur road. From here, you must go cross country through an old clearcut (that isn’t recovering well) to get to the lower section of trail. Basically, you need to go from the 5830-240 spur to the 5830-260 spur road thru the old clearcut. About in the middle of the clearcut, right at the edge, we found this tree that had something painted/written on it, but we couldn’t make it out. What does this tree say?

We then made it down to the 5830-260 spur and took it to the end where the lower trail starts again. The very beginning is a little rough, but once you get into the uncut area, it is a beautiful trail:

Had to get a shot of Bodie next to a big old tree with a blaze:

We continued down to the 6345-120 spur where the trail ends. We thought about heading down to the Cot Creek bridge that is washed out, but Bodie seemed to be getting tired, so we turned around and headed back up. On the way back up, I took a picture of this rough spot:

There were only about 10-12 trees down on the lower section – less than the upper section. The tread down there is REALLY good!

We continued back up the trail – I’m sure I took a different route thru the clearcut on the way back, but ended up close to where we were started. Got back up to the truck pretty quickly and then headed home.

A very nice, peaceful, pleasant day in the woods.

9/26/2015 – Baty Butte – 545

Date of Hike: 9/26/2015
Location of Hike: Baty Butte Trail
Trail Number: 545
Weather during Hike: Foggy in the morning, Partly Sunny later
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:55 AM  End Time: 3:00 PM
Hike Distance: 5.7 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
With all the turmoil the last week (coming back to work after vacation, and Carly leaving for Mozambique), a hike sounded like just what the doctor ordered. It has been over 5 months since Bodie’s diagnosis of a brain tumor and he is still doing pretty good. I thought today would be a good day to take him out hiking – I don’t know how much longer he will be able to go, and he loves it, so I took a look at trails I’ve wanted to hike (or re-hike) and came up with hiking Baty Butte with the possibility of hiking to the top of the Butte to check out the location of the old lookout. This seemed like a good choice since there isn’t a ton of elevation and we could make it as long (or short) as he needed to, turning around at any point.

We headed out a little later than normal – it was kind of foggy and looked like rain – but that was supposed to clear up and be partly sunny in the afternoon.
It has been several years since I’ve been here, and on the way up the 7010 road, it was obvious that thinning has been going on for a while. The forest looked really good where they had thinned. The road up to the point where the thinning stops was in great shape (obviously because of the thinning projects). Beyond that, the road deteriorated a bit – got narrower and a little rougher, but wasn’t bad.

We were driving thru the clouds on the way up to the trailhead – I was hoping that the clouds would burn off so we could have some views later in the day. We passed the Culvert replacement on 7010 at Blister/Stroupe creek that stopped us the last time I was here in 2011. That project is long complete now. We finally hit the 7010-160 spur road that takes you up to the trailhead. One the way up, we ran into a BUNCH of new, DEEP waterbars in the road:

You have to take these VERY slowly as some of them are VERY deep. I’m not sure a passenger car could navigate some of these.

We arrived at the trailhead and headed down the trail. Very quickly, we found some VERY recent trail maintenance!

A big thank you to whoever did this work. Both logging and brushing were done VERY recently.

As we proceeded down the trail, we came to the first rockslide and found brilliant fluorescent fall colors – this photo doesn’t even begin to do it justice – the colors were so vibrant – it was amazing!

We came to the junction and headed north/east – the goal was to get to the top of Baty Butte and have lunch there. On the way, I met a bow hunter (he was VERY quiet-didn’t even know he was there until we were right on top of him) and later we met another couple – the husband had a bow but said he really wasn’t hunting.

As we progressed east, we went under the “white spot” of Baty Butte, and it looked like the east ridge might be a viable way to get up to the top. At an opportune place, we started up the east ridge – we found what appeared to be old tread heading up, but shortly got cliffed out (it got VERY steep and narrow – didn’t want Bodie to trip and fall), so decided to come back down. On the way down, we found what appears to be an old water bar in the tread:

Definitely didn’t look natural – I’m very sure this was some sort of trail at one time. We headed back down the trail to the west side ridge – to a switchback with an obviously homemade sign that said “Bracket Mountain” and pointed north. Figured maybe there was some sort of user trail, so we headed that way. The “tread” didn’t last long, so we ended up basically just walking more or less east – essentially straight uphill – near the top of the hill we found old tread and figured this must go to the top. Well, after going back and forth on the tread, and finding the spot on the east side where we had been earlier, it was obvious that there was no recognizable (at least I didn’t see it) tread to the top – we were VERY close, so we just headed uphill a bit and finally made it to the top of Baty Butte. It was a little bit of a letdown – since it was an old lookout location, I was hoping to find some remnants of the lookout – at least something. We found nothing – it is a very small area with steep dropoffs on all sides, so we had to be careful. Some nice views, however:

Looking west to the Molalla drainage:

Looking south/southwest back to where we started:

Looking south:

Looking north:

And there was a geocache at the very top:

We ate lunch and headed back down the west ridge – we followed the trail down – it wasn’t much of a trail, heading pretty much straight down the hill (it was REALLY steep). On the way down the hill, I literally tripped over this piece of old phone line:

We finally found the real trail again and headed southwest down the trail. When we got to the southern part of the trail, it was obvious it hadn’t had much activity. It was VERY brushy in places and had quite a bit of blowdown. We ended up hiking about a mile south of the junction, and in that mile, we counted about 40 trees down – and some spots in the trail are almost completely grown over with brush. This portion of the trail needs a bit of love.

Just south of the junction, there was this neat view of Baty Butte and Mt Hood (which had emerged from the clouds finally):

And a little farther, one of the cool side hill meadows (the first one as you head south):

And the neat ridge walking in the trees – this is just really cool to me:

We walked down the trail for about a mile and I could tell Bodie was getting tired. We were nearing our turnaround time anyway, so I decided to turn around and come back. I think it was just about the perfect length for Bodie. Had we not expended so much time and energy trying to climb to the top of Baty Butte, we could have gone farther south, but I was glad I finally got to see the top of the Butte.
A very nice and pleasant day in the woods.

3/27/2015 – Indian Heaven Backpack Trip

Date of Hike: 3/27/2015
Location of Hike: Thomas Lake Trail
Trail Number: 111
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Carly
Start Time: 10:45 AM  End Time: 2:10 PM
Hike Distance: 6 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This was to be a quick backpack trip into the Indian Heaven Wilderness. In a normal year, this would not have been accessible at all in March, but due to the extreme low snow this year and recent trip reports from the area, we were hopeful we would be able to make it.

We knew going in it was going to be a little iffy due to the snow that was received the prior week – it was the first snow at 4000-5000′ in a couple of months probably. We decided to chance it anyway. I recorded GPS routes of the trail, so we could follow even if it was covered in snow.

We got to the trailhead about 10:30 – there was almost no snow at the trailhead – just a few small patches. There were 3 other vehicles there, so we knew someone was hiking the trail. We headed out, up the trail to Thomas Lake. This lake was completely melted out, with really no snow:

We poked around the lake for a bit and then headed up the trail. From here, the trail headed uphill rather steeply. Fortunately, it was a short steep section. We shortly popped out onto a flat meadow, which had a fair bit of snow, and was REALLY wet and muddy:

We headed up a bit more, and got to Naha Lake, which was still frozen over:

Although the trail wasn’t too bad at this point:

We went past Naha Lake, and up to this point had a really good track from others. It was at this point the track kind of fell apart – there were footprints everywhere:

And the snow was getting quite a bit deeper (and it was all really soft):

It is hard to tell from the photos, but the sky was getting dark as well. The forecast called for 100% chance of rain on Friday night, and the clouds looked like it was starting to roll in. I wanted to make sure we had setup camp before the rain started. We talked a bit, and decided that it would be too difficult without snowshoes to do the loop we wanted to do. Since we were unable to get to much farther down the trail, we decided it really wasn’t worth camping – we would just camp out, then pack up and head out in the morning. So, we decided to hike back out and come home. No overnight on this trip.

On the way back, we stopped at Eunice Lake to eat lunch.

We also explored a few campsites (in this area you can only camp in designated sites) – they were WAY off the trail, and a good ways from the lake – they like to keep 200′ from water.

After exploring the campsites, we headed back down to the truck and drove home. Not quite the trip we were expecting, but it was still interesting to see this new wilderness area. I think this would be a great place to go later in the summer when it has all dried out.

1/21/2015 – Harris Ranch Trail – 1347

Date of Hike: 1/21/2015
Location of Hike: Harris Ranch Trail (Siuslaw Forest - Drift Creek Wilderness)
Trail Number: 1347
Weather during Hike: Alternated between foggy, Sunny and misty
Hiking Buddies: Carly and Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 12:15 PM  End Time: 3:20 PM
Hike Distance: 5.6 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:

This is a hike that has been on my list for a while. I saw it in my backpacker magazine a few years ago – the part that intrigued me was the comments about lots of wildlife and big trees.It was an interesting day to say the least. Since it is down near Eugene, I asked Carly if she would like to join me, so we met in Corvallis and headed out. My planning said it was 3.5 hours to the trailhead from home (a lot of driving!). We met in Corvallis at 8:30 and proceeded to the beach to find the trailhead. I had printed out a couple different sheets on the trail and brought them along. We had to make a stop along the way, and took a picture of the ocean – although it was sunny, the waves were pretty big (bigger than they look in this photo):

We continued on to the trailhead, got out of the truck and started getting ready. When I looked at the trail name, I realized we were at the wrong trailhead! Apparently, I had downloaded a similar trail (it still ends up near the creek), but it was different than what I had originally planned. So, back in the truck we went, and off to the other trailhead. The first trailhead was the Horse Creek North trailhead – we had originally intended to hike the Harris Ranch trail – Horse Creek North comes in from the north, Harris Ranch comes in from the south, but both end up next to Drift Creek. I guess we could have hiked the first trailhead and ended up in almost the same spot!
Once we arrived at the other trailhead, we quickly got ready and headed down the trail. The trail starts off on an old road, going thru an older cut area, and after a half mile or so, enters the Drift Creek Wilderness:

At this point, the trail changes into a different trail – old growth coastal forest. You are accompanied by large spruce, hemlock, fir and a variety of deciduous trees. The forest floor is covered in ferns, salal, oregon grape and mosses of all kinds. A lot of the trail looks similar to this:

or this:

I didn’t get many other photos of the trail, but soon were were down near Drift Creek, which was running high and fast due to all the rain we recently received (almost 3″ over the weekend at home, probably almost double that here in the coastal forest):

And a really nice campsite – one of several down by the creek:

We explored down near the creek for a bit and then had some lunch. Another hiker and her dogs came down and we almost had an “incident” with Bodie, since he wasn’t on a leash – we had passed the only hikers that were on the trail when we started, and I thought it was safe to have him off leash. Fortunately, it all worked out OK – we got him on the leash and all was well.

Bodie being a doofus down by the river:

We had a very brief misty shower after lunch. It was odd because it was sunny and you could see blue sky, but there was a small cloud above us that was misting. It just kind of added the variety of weather we experienced. After lunch, we started back up the trail. On the way back up, we came to this beautiful sight:

Sun poking thru the fog in the big trees. Very pretty. The rest of the hike out was pretty uneventful. We got back to the truck about 3:30, and headed back down the mountain. On the drive down from the trailhead, Carly took this very interesting photo with the sun gleaming through the clouds:

We decided to take a different route home – highway 34 back to Corvallis. I had had never driven that road before, and it seemed like it might be faster. It is a very pretty drive, although parts of that road are pretty curvy.

On the way back to Corvallis, it started raining, and we saw several rainbows – very bright rainbows!

We made it back to Corvallis just before 5 and went to Woodstock’s Pizza (a hometown favorite) for dinner. I dropped Carly off at her car, and we both headed home. It was a very long day, with LOTS of driving (I think I drove about 350 miles), but it was a great way to spend Martin Luther King Day.

11/11/2014 – Battle Creek Shelter – East

Date of Hike: 11/11/2014
Location of Hike: Old Trail East of the Battle Creek Shelter
Weather during Hike: Sunny, but cold and windy
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:00 AM  End Time: 2:10 PM
Hike Distance: 4.4 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
The goal for this hike (doesn’t every hike need to have some sort of goal or point?) was to hike an old trail reported on trailadvocate.org. The trail headed east from the old Battle Creek Shelter site on the Elk Lake Creek trail. The trail intrigued me since it was in the Bull of the Woods wilderness area, and I had not seen this trail before. It sounded like a great way to to get to the middle of the Elk Lake Creek trail without a long hike.

So I had the day off (Veteran’s Day) and went up and hiked this trail. Thanks to the wonderful description, and a copy of the track, we were able to follow most of the trail. It gets pretty iffy in the middle – LOTS of blowdown and the tread gets less discernible along with LOTSs of rhodies. It is obvious this trail has not seen real work in a long time – and no hikers for a long time either. The tread is covered in moss, but most of the route does have intact tread. It is actually pretty amazing that it is still hikeable (although with a fair bit of difficulty). A day or two of lopping/brushing and maybe a bit more flagging in a few spots would make this trail relatively easy to hike.

We headed up the old road to find the cairn that marked the start of the trail. The directions I was given were very good, and we had no problem finding it. We headed through a rhodie thicket (on old downed logs to minimize the fighting the rhodies) and soon came to the other side of the rhodie meadow – we found tread! And flags! We followed these for quite a ways pretty easily. In the middle the trail starts to get rather vague – I think we pretty much kept to the tread (there are blazes all along the way). We continued down the trail until we found a flat spot with an old old sign:

We continued on down to the creek – at the creek there are a LOT of REALLY BIG logs down, which were a challenge to navigate around. We decided not to cross the creek – it was pretty cold and the creek runs pretty high. We stopped to have lunch, enjoy the sights and sounds of the creek, and then headed back up the hill.

Going back up was a little tougher than coming down. We lost the trail a couple of times at difficult points, but picked it back up after getting our bearings and looking around a bit. On the way back up we found a few interesting things. One was a section marker cut into a tree – this was very close to a section line – kind of cool:

This tree looked like it was the location of old sign maybe?

This next photo might have been an old junction – it was just about at the halfway mark on the trail. You can’t really see much tread to the right (the trail heads to the left – you can see a flag). But the tree to the right looks double blazed and it looks just like an old junction would look – and there is a bit of tread heading down to the right – it just doesn’t go too far:

And lastly, on the way home I took this very sad photo of Detroit Lake – I don’t know if is it always this low this time of year or not. Wondering if they drain it down really low to allow water to accumulate over the winter? It looks like the water level is at least 50′ below where it should be. All those docks are sitting WAY high and dry.

When we got back to the truck, I realized it was colder than I thought – my boot laces were FROZEN! But we left feeling good that we could find this very old trail. A bit chilly (the heater in the truck felt REALLY good), but satisfied at successfully hiking another old abandoned trail.

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

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

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

And soaked in the views of the huge Olallie Meadow:

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

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

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

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

We also found a blaze:

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

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

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

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

8/19/2014 – Three Lynx Way Trail Exploration

Date of Hike: 8/19/2014
Location of Hike: Three Lynx Way Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 10:00 AM  End Time: 3:30 PM
Hike Distance: 9.6 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This was my birthday hike – in figuring out where I wanted to go, a trip report on the trailadvocate.org site intrigued me. It was a report about someone finding a trail I stumbled across reference to in some old hiking books/maps. It was referred to as the Three Lynx Trail (maybe because it went all the way down to Three Lynx at some point?). Anyway, he found it and I thought it might be fun to follow his findings. I always love to find/follow abandoned trails. While I’m not as good at finding them as many others, the more I look, the better I become. I don’t think I’ll ever be as good as some of the seasoned veterans I know.

Anyway, the route was intended to be going up the Shellrock Lake trail to the “shortcut” trail (another old abandoned trail) over to the Grouse Point trail and then head up this trail to the junction with this abandoned trail. I started out on the “shortcut” trail which has blazes all over the place:

Made it up the shortcut trail, and then to Cache Meadow – I never get tired of looking at it:

Heading past the meadows and up Grouse Point, we came to the helispot overlook above Serene Lake – It is a beautiful spot with a great view of Serene Lake and Indian Ridge:

Proceeding a little further, we came to the junction with the Three Lynx Way trail – the tread is recognizable for much of the trail:

We continued southeast on this tread until we got to a clearcut, where the trail essentially disappears. We headed around the edge of the cut, looking for where another old abandoned trail intersected it. Unfortunately, we did not find any evidence of this other trail. We did, however pick up the trail on the southeast corner of the clearcut, and followed it out to the 4635 road. We headed across the road to see if we could find any evidence of the trail on the west side of the road, but the only thing we found was this (whichI really don’t think was tread):

While exploring this area, I found this cute little tiny frog hopping about – he was hard to get a photo of:

After searching for a while and finding nothing, we headed back up to the road to go back to the Cache Meadow trailhead. We then followed the Cache Meadow trail to the meadows:

And then back to the shortcut trail and down the Shellrock Lake trail back to the truck.

Although I didn’t find the continuation of the trail, it was neat to hike a short section of a historical trail. On the way out, I took a picture of this unusual thing:

I’m guessing this is some sort of water “cache” for fighting fires. It kind of looks like a small swimming pool. It was on the 5380 road on the way to the Shellrock Lake trailhead.

This was a wonderful way to spend the beginning of my birthday! Weather was just about perfect for hiking – not too hot and not too sunny.

2/1/2014 – Newell Creek Canyon

Date of Hike: 2/1/2014
Location of Hike: Newell Creek Canyon
Weather during Hike: Sunny but cool
Hiking Buddies: Gail
Start Time: 10:30 AM  End Time: 12:30 PM
Hike Distance: 1.25 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This was not a big hike, but it was fun, and it was technically a hike. It was a “walk” led by a Metro Naturalist down into Newell Creek Canyon in Oregon City. This land was purchased by Metro in 1995, but it was just left to be. Last year, a bond was passed to allow them to do some maintenance/improvement to it, so they are beginning the process of determining exactly what that will mean. They have started to remove invasive species and will be doing re-planting of native plants soon.

The walk started at Nelson’s Nautilus and followed the power line corridor for a bit down to a gate in the fence that surrounds the area. The gate is apparently an old logging road that took you down into the canyon. The naturalist that led the hike said the area was logged in the 40’s and 50’s. It has recovered pretty well. The road was pretty narrow and very muddy, but still a very recognizable road until we got close to the bottom. One the way down she stopped and showed us some native plants, invasive plants and several tracks in the mud. It was an interesting, although very slow walk down. As we descended into the canyon, the trees got larger, and we saw several areas where there had been homeless people camping. We stopped at a creek that they named Tumble Creek (also called Red Soils Creek):

The road kind of stopped there, but there is what looks like a user trail that continues north past the creek. After spending a bit of time down at the creek, we turned around and headed back up the hill, back to the starting point. It was a short walk through an interesting area. I think I will be returning (with others) to explore more in the future.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The old outhouse:

The old burned out building footprint:

Some of the rusty relics:

Some of the tags on the trees:

The fenced off area:

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

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

Here is the 242 spur road:

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

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

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

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

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

9/27/2013 – Pansy Lake, Motherlode, Schreiner Peak Trails – 551, 558, 555

Date of Hike: 9/27/2013
Location of Hike: Pansy Lake, Motherlode, Schreiner Peak Trails - 551, 558, 555
Trail Number: 551, 558, 555
Weather during Hike: Mostly Overcast in the morning, drizzle in the afternoon
Hiking Buddies: Bodie (my dog)
Start Time: 8:45 AM  End Time: 2:00 PM
Hike Distance: 10.3 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
This hike is one I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time. In fact, I had tried to do it with Kirk last summer, but we missed the junction of the Motherlode and Schreiner trails, and kept going. By the time we figured out our mistake, we decided to do a tour of the Welcome Lakes basin instead. Anyway, this was on my list to do as it was one of the few trails that I didn’t have a complete track for. And, as it turns out, this was the LAST trail that I needed to complete in order to have a full inventory of GPS tracks for all official trails in the Clackamas district!

Anyway, on to the trip report – I got an early start for this trip because there were impending reports of serious weather coming in early Friday afternoon. Heavy rain and high winds – I don’t mind a little rain, but this was supposed to be a big storm. The forecast said the rain would start around 11am, so I was hoping I could get done by early afternoon so I would be out of the worst of the storm. I left the house about 7:20am and got to the trailhead around 8:30am. A little before the trailhead, I stopped on the road to capture this photo:

I was amazed that we had sunshine! Maybe it was a good omen for the day? I wasn’t expecting to see anyone else crazy enough to be out in weather like that (especially on a Friday), but a woman who had been camping just up the road from the Pansy trailhead kind of popped out of the brush. Since I didn’t see any cars at the trailhead, I assumed no one else was around, and I had Bodie off leash. Fortunately he didn’t cause a scene, and came right to me when I called him. Once we started up the trail, I let him off leash again (he likes that so much better).

Once I got suited up for the wet weather, we started up the trail, keeping a pretty brisk pace. I knew if we were going to beat that storm, we wouldn’t have a lot of time to waste. We made it up to Pansy Lake pretty quickly and kept going. This is where the incline starts getting a little steeper. On the way up, I took a few pictures of the Pansy creek drainage from one of the rockslides above the lake:

One we made it to the junction with the Motherlode trail (the end of the Pansy Lake trail), I was getting pretty hot, so I took off my thermals so I wouldn’t sweat as much. It wasn’t terribly warm, but keeping a brisk pace on the trail kept me pretty warm. I didn’t want to get too wet from exertion, otherwise I might get chilled. Anyway, after a short stop at the junction, we headed off down the Motherlode trail (someone had been really creative fashioning an arrow directing people on the Motherlode trail – it takes a sharp right at this junction):

This trail continues the upward climb, although at a gentler pace. We continued up the trail until we got to the junction with the Bull of the Woods trail and continued just a bit further to the Schreiner junction. This was the junction we passed last time – it was my mistake – I thought the Schreiner junction was farther down the trail. Anyway, this time, we headed north at the junction. This section of trail goes downhill at a pretty good pace, and then steepens with a series of short switchbacks down the side of the hill. It then levels out and joins the Dickey Creek trail right where there is a seasonal creek. I was surprised the creek was not flowing. Every other time I’ve been through there it has been flowing – but not today – It was dry as a bone. Once through the flat area, you start heading up the hill to Big Slide Mountain, passing several rock fields with expansive views of the Welcome Lakes/West Lake basin:

You can really see the fire damage done in the recent fire (2011). We got a good look at the Welcome Lakes basin, especially the lower Welcome Lake (the larger one) and all the burned area. You can see some green starting to come back, however, which is great! We continued up the hill until we reached the saddle between Big Slide mountain and the hill next to it where the trail down to Lake Lenore starts. I’ve been down this trail one time before, in 2006 with Carly on a backpacking trip to Big Slide Lake. The beginning of the trail was unaffected by the fire, but very quickly, you clearly see the fire line:

From there the trail quickly degrades to the point it is very difficult to follow due to all the debris on the ground – bark, branches and burned out logs litter the ground and obscure a large portion of the route of the trail. It was never a well used trail, and the fire really took a toll on it. After watching carefully and making our way down the hill, we finally arrive at Lake Lenore:

Compare that to our trip in 2006 – taken from a similar location:

But the good news is that nature is regenerating itself! Without any help from man – we saw LOTS of these little seedlings popping up everywhere:

It was also interesting to see the burned trees with the old blazes on them (which will probably soon fall down and disappear since they are all dead now):

After looking around the lake a bit, it was time to head back – It was just beginning to rain a bit, so we hurried back up the hill (well, as fast as we could, huffing and puffing) and quickly made our way back. On the way back down, we caught a glimpse of the lookout on Bull of the Woods:

And I stopped to enjoy the vine maple turning colors one one of the rockslides:

The rest of the trip back was a bit of a blur – we were trying to make time to get back to the truck before the worst of the storm hit. It was supposed to be a real doozy of a storm, and I didn’t want to get stuck in high wind and heavy rain. We made really good time on the way down, stopping only a couple of times for a quick drink of water or snack. I had to make one quick stop at the rockfield above Pansy Lake though – I wanted to capture the difference in weather between the morning and the afternoon. In the morning, it had been sunny, but by early afternoon the rain had moved in (I don’t think this picture really shows how misty and gloomy it was):

We got back to the truck right at 2:00 – a pretty good pace – the GPS showed about 10.3 miles in just over 5 hours with almost 4000′ of elevation gain. Not too shabby….. Although it was a rather rushed day, it was good to get out into the woods and seeing Lake Lenore post fire was an interesting excursion. The woods around Pansy and in Bull of the Woods are absolutely gorgeous, too. Beautiful old growth timber with some spectacular views (even in the rain). We were both tired, but we had a great day in the woods.

7/13/2013 – Huxley Lake – 521 and Vicinity

Date of Hike: 7/13/2013
Location of Hike: Huxley Lake Trail (and vicinty)
Trail Number: 521
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk and Bandit (Kirks dog)
Start Time: 10:15 AM  End Time: 6:00 PM
Hike Distance: 11.1 miles  
Pictures: Link
Description of Hike:
Today’s goal was to capture a good track of the Huxley Lake trail and to do a little exploring around the area. It was a beautiful day, not too hot, not too cold and sunny. What a great day for a hike!

We started out at Lookout Springs about 10:00, and headed down the trail to Huxley Lake, passing the old corral (which I assume is what Corral springs was named for). At the junction, we started our steep downhill down to the lake. The trail is pretty steep (I should have gotten a few photos of it) due to it being abused by ATVs over the years. We believe we found remnants of the original trail that switchbacked down the hill a lot more than the existing trail does. The existing trail just heads straight downhill in a lot of places. After enduring what seemed an endless series of steep downhill sections of trail, we finally came to the old road described in the trail guide. The trail to the lake takes off to the left, however we kept walking down the old road – I was trying to remember where I had gone the first time I hiked the trail. We made it all the way out to the 4612 road, which now has a huge “tank trap” on it to keep people off the old road. Once we found the old road, we headed back to the Huxley Lake side trail, which we followed down to the lake.

Here was our first view of Huxley Lake:

We looked around a bit and had lunch at the lake. One interesting thing – there was a fire at the lake, and it appears as though it was caused by the campfire. It looks like a “root fire” that smoldered underground and killed several of the trees, which subsequently fell over into the lake.

Here are some of the trees – they were kind of stacked like lincoln logs on top of each other:

Here is a nice panorama shot of Huxley Lake:

It is a small and shallow lake, but it is pretty. I remember the last time I was there, there was a lot of damage from ATV riders around the lake. It appears as though some of that damage has been reduced over time, but you can still see the scars left by the ATV riders.

After eating lunch and investigating the burned area for a while, we decided to head back up to the trail and take it all the way down to the 4611 road. (so we could get a complete track of the trail). We headed back up to the trail, until we got to a strange intersection – we opted to go downhill, which was the right decision. After a while, we ended up at the 4611 road. The map showed the “real” Huxley Lake trail starting up the 4611 road a ways, so we walked up the road thinking maybe we had followed an ATV trail instead of the real Huxley Lake trail. After walking up the road a ways past where the map showed the trail, we decided the map must be wrong – but on the way back, we decided to go cross country to see if we could see any other trail. We were unsuccessful, however we did see this interesting marsh/meadow area:

We ended up right at the junction of the two trails. Just to see where it went, we decided to go back up the other trail. We were thinking this was the “real” Huxley Lake trail – all we had to do was to read the description on Trailadvocate.org and we would have known what this trail was:

If you start at the 4611 end, keep right at the first trail junction about a half mile up the trail. The route to the left is an old trail which leads back towards Winslow Pit. You can come in from this direction on this unofficial trail (a re-use of a segment of an old trail) if you like. It starts on the left at the crest just before the end of the 4611-136 spur in a recently harvested area, about a mile off the 4611 road before Winslow Pit. The 4611 road gets rough beyond Winslow Pit. The alternate access is good road but will add a mile and a quarter to your hike.

We walked a ways until we realized the trail was not going in the correct direction – after a bit of discussion and a brief attempt at off trail cross country travel, we decided to turn around and head back up the trail (back the way we came). We needed to water up before our big ascent back up the hill, so we stopped at this pretty little creek crossing and filled up:

After filling up, we headed on our way, doing some trail maintenance as we headed up the hill (cut a couple of logs, did a lot of brushing of the trail, and kicked branches and rocks off the trail). After what seemed an eternity of steep uphills, (similar to the downhill section), we finally ended up on top. We made it back to the truck without incident – a little tired, but having a great day in the woods.

We stopped at Fearless for burgers (we were both hungry!) – a great way to end the day!