Tag Archives: Wilderness

This is for trips in a wilderness area.

10/9/2021-Cottonwood Meadows Trail

Date of Hike: 10/9/2021
Location of Hike: Cottonwood Meadows Trail
Trail Number: 705
Weather during Hike: Overcast to sunny - cool
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:35 AM  End Time: 3:45 PM
Hike Distance: 7 miles  Elevation Gain: 1900 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was intended to be a relatively easy hike to get out and enjoy the fall colors and weather. The goal for the day was to hike the entire length of the Cottonwood Meadows trail all the way down to the 4635-120 spur. It turned out to be a little more challenging that I had expected.

We headed out about our normal time and got to the trailhead about 10:30. On the way in we passed a LOT of what I’m pretty sure were hunters camped along road 58. We passed a few vehicles, even up 5830. There was one car at the Shellrock lake trailhead when we passed and we even encountered one truck past that trailhead – almost to the Cottonwood meadows trailhead. It was kind of weird – I’m not used to seeing so many people up in the woods so late in the year.

We packed up and headed out. As usual, Thor was raring to go. We started down the trail and were quickly presented with lots of nice fall colors:

It wasn’t too long before we got to the first meadow, which was completely dry:

A few things that were different that I remember from my last trip (2 years ago):

  • The flags marking the entry and exit to the meadow seemed gone – I really need to make sure I have flagging in my pack to help with stuff like this. I think I’ve used all my flagging up.
  • The trail generally was in rougher shape than I remember – mostly due to downed trees
  • I always seem to forget how much elevation you gain/lose on this trail – I think it is pretty flat due to the meadows, but you go down to each meadow and then down to the spur road on the south end.

We found our way across the first meadow, found where the trail re-enters the woods and continued down. We soon got to the second “meadow, which is more of a lake. It seems to hold water pretty much all year long. Although the map doesn’t show a name, I call it Cot Lake since this feeds Cot Creek:

We made our way around the lake and continued to the third meadow which gives you a good look back north at Mt Mitchell. I played with the zoom on my phone and I’m pretty sure this is a (blurry) shot of the overlook above off the Rimrock trail:

Thor was have a good time running around in the meadow. After a bit of looking around, we continued down and soon hit the 240 spur. From here, there is really no trail – it is in an old cut area and the trail was never maintained thru it. The good news is that for the most part it isn’t too bad to walk thru. The cut is not recovering well at all and there is a lot of open space that makes walking thru it relatively easy. We made our way thru it – I think I finally found the “wash” that Donovan refers to. It appears to be a runoff “creek” that runs down the east side of the cut along the cut line. For the most part, that is relatively easy walking but there were a few rough spots. It seems like I never take the same route twice thru there. I end in the same spots in a few places but get there differently every time. I guess that is part of the adventure.

As we headed thru the cut, we came to an old skid road. The trees in this area were getting a bit tougher to get thru, so we headed up the skid road to where it meets the 260 spur and then walked down the 260 spur. On the way down the 260 spur, I saw a lot of large hoof prints. At first I thought they were from a horse, but I think they were from a large elk – some of the prints (although they weren’t fresh, they were reasonably easy to see), had a line down the middle which would indicate deer or elk hooves, not a horse:

If that was indeed an elk print, it was a VERY large elk!

When we got to the junction with the 270 spur we stopped to have lunch. After eating, I took out my drone and got some interesting video from a higher vantage point:

After putting away the drone, we continued down the road to the end and started down the lower segment of the trail. This segment is significantly rougher than I remember. The vine maple and rhodies have REALLY grown up in some areas, obscuring the tread. I didn’t bring my loppers, but I did spend a fair amount of time cutting out a few sections – one spot had a tree right in the tread, making it almost impossible to get thru. After you get back into the real old growth again it gets better, but the transition from the cut to the old growth needs some attention for sure.

Once back into the woods the trail gets better, however there were quite a few logs down. I cut the smaller stuff out but this too could use some attention. I counted approximately 25 logs (some pretty large) in the last quarter to third mile above the 4635-120 spur.

We made it down to the 4635-120 spur and found it pretty rough – no traffic here for quite some time since 4635 has been closed for over a year now:

We didn’t spend too much time here – mostly just turned around and headed back uphill. As we were going up, I took a photo of probably the largest downed logs in this lower section:

I didn’t really spend any time on the way back up doing any maintenance as we needed to get back to the truck. As we headed back up the hill, the sun actually came out! The wind kind of picked up a bit too – I think the forecast rain was blowing in. We made it back up the lower segment in about 45 minutes and then did the cross country section in another half hour or so. When we got back to the 240 spur crossing, we headed across the road back on the real trail (even though it is still kind of rough). When we were getting to the north end of that south meadow, Thor took off, bouncing thru the meadow (he looked kind of like Tigger bouncing thru the meadow) – I thought he saw an animal, but as I got closer there were 3 hunters standing in the entry to the meadow. I called him and he finally came – I put his leash on and when we got to the hunters I told them I hadn’t expected to see anyone and they replied they weren’t expecting to see a dog either. They asked if they were on the Cottonwood Meadows trail and I told them they were, but it doesn’t get much traffic so it can be kind of faint. We didn’t talk long and we continued our trip north. We made good time, getting back to the truck about 2 hours from the bottom end. We packed up and headed out.

As we were driving out the 5830 road, I saw these beautiful fall colors across the canyon and had to stop to get a photo:

Shortly before 5830 meets 58, got behind two trucks who were going VERY slowly (like 15 miles an hour). The first one kind of sped up and disappeared but the one in front of me just putted along – I had to follow him for several miles until he finally turned off on a spur road. It was pretty frustrating that someone was not considerate enough to let me pass – that is just kind of common forest road courtesy.

Once past the slowpoke, it was the typical long ride back home over Mt Hood. It was a beautiful fall day with amazing hiking weather. A great day out in the woods.

I think we need to put this trail on the “todo” list to clean up some of the rougher spots…..

9/14-9/16/2021 – Olympic National Park South Coast Trail Backpack

Date of Hike: 9/14-9/16/2021
Location of Hike: Olympic National Park
Weather during Hike: Sunny to rainy
Hiking Buddies: Carly
Hike Distance: 18.1 miles  Elevation Gain: 4100 feet
Pictures: Link
This trip was a resumption of our “mostly” annual Father/Daughter backpacking trips with Carly. Last year we were not able to do a trip due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This was our 17th annual trip in 19 years. We’ve only missed one other year besides COVID which is pretty good. Getting close to the 20th anniversary!

Due to lots of activity and general life busyness, we decided to do a less strenuous trip this year. Carly nicknamed it a “chill” trip, which was reasonably accurate. While it was reasonably easy, especially compared to some trips we did, it did have several surprises and enough challenge.

This was the plan:

  • Day 1 – Drive to the Olympics, get our permits, etc situated and stage the cars for the shuttle
  • Day 2 – Third Beach to Toleak Point – 6.8 Miles
  • Day 3 – Toleak Point to Mosquito Creek – 5.5 Miles
  • Day 4 – Mosquito Creek to Oil City Trailhead and then drive home – 5.9 Miles
Total Mileage: 18.2

Monday – 9/13/2021

This was a day of driving and getting things setup for the trip. We decided to meet in Port Angeles and then decide on what to do from there. It is about a 5 hour drive from home for both of us so it seemed a good place to meet. We met around 1:00 and then had lunch at a restaurant on the water. After a leisurely lunch (this was a “chill” trip), we drove down to the southern trailhead to leave my truck there for the shuttle. I was surprised to see quite a few vehicles at that trailhead since it was a Monday – but Carly thought maybe people were doing a long weekend. I unloaded my gear into Carly’s car and then we drove back to the campground (Bogachiel State Park) where we had a reservation for the night. After setting up camp, we drove into Forks (a small town – the only one nearby) and had pizza for dinner and then came back to the campground and went to bed since it was getting dark.

Tuesday – 9/14/2021 – 6.8 Miles

We woke up Tuesday morning, broke camp and then headed out to the northern trailhead. It was kind of a foggy day to begin with and I had seen that there was supposed to be rain (which I wasn’t looking forward to) I think we ended up starting out about 9:45. There were quite a few cars at the trailhead, even though it was a Tuesday. I later found out that many people just hike to the beach and back – they aren’t doing the whole loop like we did. This part of the trail is REALLY wide – like a road:

It wasn’t too long before we got our first look at the ocean – this was “Third beach” (there is a first and second beach farther north):

This was our first beach leg – the trail alternates between beach segments and headland segments where you have to go around spots there is no beach. The interesting thing is that there isn’t much of a trail from the beach to the headlands – you basically just go straight uphill for the most part. The good news is that these areas do have some assistance in the form of ropes and/or steps to help.

We started down the beach – at this point it was just kind of foggy – no real rain, just a slight mist from the fog:

Very quickly we came across this beach art – one thing we were amazed by was the amount of ocean garbage that washes ashore – I don’t think they have real beach cleanups here and there is literally tons of garbage that washes ashore – people have gotten creative in how they utilize it:

It wasn’t too long before we had to climb up to the headlands to continue. This was our first experience with climbing to the headlands – it is steeper than it looks – this was climbing up to the Taylor trail segment:

Here is another example – a “ladder” (which has some missing rungs):

The climb up is not too far, and not that difficult but it is rather short and intense. Once in the woods, the trails were in good shape for the most part, but I was surprised at how muddy they were:

You do get some great views from the headlands:

And this segment of coast has lots of interesting rocks offshore:

A bit farther along the Taylor trail, we came across this huge pile of ocean garbage – I don’t know if people collect it and just dump it here or if they take it out with some frequency or what – but it was a LOT of garbage, all apparently washed up from the ocean:

This trail segment wasn’t too long in the woods and then we dropped back down to the beach where it got a bit rocky:

At some point in this area Carly found a fully inflated soccer ball. It had started raining a bit and we started kicking the soccer ball down the beach. It kind of helped to keep our minds of the rain (and the wind in our faces). Since the weather had gotten increasingly tougher, I didn’t take a lot of photos for a while. We just kicked the ball down the beach, retrieving it from the ocean when it rolled into the waves.

Since this was a relatively short day, I think we got to our planned spot around 2:00 and started looking for a campsite for the night. There were a couple that were occupied but there were quite a few available. We found a nice one and setup camp. The campsite was in the trees and it helped cut down how wet we had gotten. After we got setup I think we both kind of chilled in our tents for a while.

After a while of hanging out, we decided to go find water – it was a bit of a hike, having to go all the way around Toleak Point (with its accompanying wind) to the outlet of a small creek. We filled up and while I was looking at my map it showed a shelter in that vicinity. We looked around and didn’t see anything and then I looked up and saw the shelter – it was a bit above the creek. We climbed/clawed our way up the hill and took a look. It was in pretty poor shape but was an interesting artifact:

We went back to camp and made dinner and went to be early. This is what our campsite for night 1 looked like:

Wednesday – 9/15/2021 – 5.5 Miles

It rained during the night but at some point things cleared up and the view on Wednesday morning was much nicer:

We got up – it was a bit chilly but not too windy. We made breakfast but kind of lazed around camp for a while. This was the day (we thought) we had to pay attention to the tides and hike at low tide, so we were not in a hurry to leave. I think we left camp around 10:20 or so – normally we are usually gone by 8:00 or so.

We continued south, around Toleak Point and the weather was so much nicer today – a little windy but dry and sunny:

We didn’t hike too far on the beach and then had to head up on the Goodman trail. Once up on top this was looking north from where we came:

Partway down the trail we came across this really interesting root – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a root like this:

And shortly after that strange root, we came across this “Candelabra Tree”:

About halfway on the Goodman trail, we came to a creek crossing and a small waterfall on a tributary of Goodman creek:

A bit farther we crossed Goodman Creek proper which looked pretty low:

One thing I noticed on this segment of trail was the absolutely beautiful, huge trees:

After crossing the creek we soon made our (rapid) descent back to the beach. This is what the beach looked like after coming down from Goodman Creek:

At this point we had a clear shot all long a reasonably easy beach segment to get to Mosquito creek. That was our destination for the night.

This is what Mosquito Creek looked like – more of a small pond than a creek:

We headed over Mosquito creek and back up into the trees since we didn’t really see any campsites. Once up the hill a little ways we found several campsites as well as the toilet and we decided on a campsite for the night. One thing I forgot to mention – other than the people camped at Toleak Point, we only saw two people all day – two guys coming north. They said they were alone at Mosquito creek the night before, and we were also the only ones camped there the night we were there.

This is what our campsite Wednesday night looked like:

Close by our campsite there was this tree with these very weird bumps on it – I wonder what causes those?:

After setting up camp and relaxing for a while we made dinner and then went up to a viewpoint where someone had built a little bench where you could watch the sunset. We watched the sunset, and although it wasn’t a spectacular one, it was really nice to be in this beautiful setting watching the sun go down:

After the sun set, we went back to camp and went to bed.

Thursday – 9/16/2021 – 5.9 Miles

Thursday was our last day on this trip and usually the last days are not too exciting – it is mostly about getting off the trail and getting back home. This day had a few surprises for us however.

The plan was to get going early so we could get out and get lunch in Forks and then head home – we both had 5+ hour drives ahead of us. We got up, ate breakfast and got all cleaned up and packed up and headed up by about 8:00. We only had less than 6 miles and we thought we’d easily be back to the truck by noon – you know what they say about plans….

We continued on the Hoh Head trail which had some gorgeous huge trees on it:

This segment of the trail also had some interesting boardwalks – other segments had something kind of similar but these seemed better built (or maybe they were just newer):

We also passed this HUGE uprooted tree:

And had to navigate this interesting carved staircase:

This segment of woods walking was one of the longest of the trip – these were typically harder to do because the trail was muddy, there were lots of roots to avoid and lots of up and downs – not too much clear sailing. It took us about 2 hours to navigate these 3 miles thru the woods and we thought we were home free. This segment had one of the more difficult descents:

We finally made it to the beach and it was just about high tide but we didn’t think that mattered too much. We figured worst case we’d have to wait a few minutes. We were wrong.

As we were walking down the beach we saw these prints in the sand:

After looking at them I think it might have been a fox – it certainly looked like a canine and since dogs are prohibited from the park, a fox seems like a likely probability.

At one point I looked back at Hoh Head where we had come from:

It was shortly after I took this photo that things changed quite dramatically. There is a rock outcropping just north of diamond rock that is covered at high tide. There is no beach, just large rocks. We made our way partway around the corner but got stuck. We stopped and waited for a while and the water receded enough that we could pass if we timed it correctly. We got around the corner to another spot that was the same, so we had to wait some more. While we were waiting, I was watching the waves, trying to figure out how to time them correctly. While I was looking, I saw something with a fin pop up in the water. After looking at things post hike, I think this was a harbor porpoise:

After 3 hours of waiting (about half way to low tide) this was the area we needed to get by:

The water had gotten low enough and it looked like it was just a short segment that we needed to get thru – worse case was we’d get wet feet. We tried and Carly got both feet wet and I got one foot wet, but we finally made it thru. We thought we were home free but we found out we still had more obstacles – at least these were passable:

We had to walk over rocks of various sizes almost the whole way back but at least we weren’t stopped by the tide anymore. When we finally got to the spot where the Hoh River dumps into the ocean we found literally THOUSANDS of birds (they are really hard to see in the photo – it just amazed me how many birds were there):

We kept walking and followed the river and found the trail back into the woods. As we were walking, the trail basically followed the river and I saw these interesting rock formations in the river:

We kept walking and finally made it to the truck about 3:00! Had we not had to wait 3 hours for the tides we would have been able to get back around noon as we were planning.

Since we hadn’t really planned food for lunch on Thursday, we wanted to have a “goodbye” lunch – it ended up being more of “linner” (lunch and dinner). We stopped at a local place, had a nice meal, and then continued north to go get Carly’s car. By the time we got there, it was almost 5:00. I changed into my driving clothes and we said goodbye. She headed north on 101 and I headed south. I got home about 10:00 after stopping only once for gas. I think Carly got home a little later than I did.

It was an amazing trip that had a great mix of being laid back while also throwing in some unexpected experiences. It was cool we didn’t see anyone the last two days except the two guys going north – we saw not one person on Thursday at all! It is definitely a trip I’d do again.

9/6/2021-Shining Lake Trail – 510

Date of Hike: 9/6/2021
Location of Hike: Shining Lake Trail
Trail Number: 510
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:10 AM  End Time: 2:40 PM
Hike Distance: 10.2 miles  Elevation Gain: 2200 feet
Pictures: Link
I haven’t been hiking for almost a month since I’ve been helping our son with his remodel project. I thought Labor day would be a good opportunity to get out and stretch my legs in preparation for my back to back backpacking trips starting next weekend. The options are few these days due to all the closures, but I landed on a hike I have only done once, and haven’t done in 16 years! The shining lake trail. I figured I could do a longer hike since it is relatively flat. The plan was to go down to the lake and then go out and then explore the location of the old lookout.

Since it was going to be a long drive, I left a bit earlier than normal. We made it to the trailhead about 10:00 and I was surprised to see another car there. I remember the last time I did this trail (one of the first backpacking trips I did with my daughter), a truck had driven around the tank traps and drove all the way down to the old campsite above the lake. They have reinforced the deterrents to do this and I don’t believe anyone can drive down the road any longer. This is what the start of trail/road looks like now:

The old road is relatively flat and the areas where it gains/loses elevation are very well graded. A short ways down the trail, you get a nice view of Mt Hood from the Trail:

We continued down the road and about a mile in, we passed a group of 4 backpackers returning from the lake. I’m assuming that was who had the vehicle at the trailhead. A little farther, I was surprised to see this huge tank trap:

We continued down the road/trail making really good time. A short ways before the turnoff down to the lake, I saw this broken axle discarded on the side of the trail:

And soon we got to the old campsite at the top of hill – this is where a truck was last time we were here:

From that campsite, the trail takes off down to the lake. I was surprised at how good the tread was. I thought this trail got very little use, but maybe I’m wrong. It certainly looks like a reasonably well used trail – either way, it was in really good shape:

On the descent, we got a few tiny glimpses of the lake, but after about three quarters of a mile, we finally arrived at Shining Lake:

This was the first campsite, which is I think where we camped 16 years ago – although it looks a bit different now:

Here is the photo I took of our campsite in 2005:

We stopped here and had lunch and enjoyed the view. Thor took a short dip in the lake and did his usual sniffing around. After lunch, we decided to see if the trail continued around the lake – the map shows the trail stopping here, but it looked like it continued. We followed the trail (which got kind of indistinct at times) around the lake and found at least 2 more campsites – maybe 3 – I can’t remember. I took photos of at least two of them. Campsite #2:

And here is Campsite #3:

From that last campsite we continued until we got to the rockslide. I was wondering if maybe the trail continued across the rockslide but I don’t think so. I took this cool photo of the lake from the rockslide:

After taking that photo, we turned around and headed back up the hill. The trip up seemed a bit quicker than the trip down, but maybe that was just an illusion. We got back to the old road, and headed west toward the old lookout location. From this point on, the road got markedly worse. Some areas looked mostly like old road, and some were almost completely brushed in by rhodies.

It wasn’t too long before we reached the end of the road – the road takes a short loop at the very end which was interesting. There was a small fire ring at the end of the road and then a very short trail out to the site of the old lookout. It was easy to tell this is where the lookout was – there was glass on the ground and also you could see the mortared stones for the foundation:

The view isn’t as good as it was back when it was a lookout. but you can still see things. It was a bit smoky/hazy, but you could still see some peaks – looking southwest-ish:

After looking around a bit we turned around and headed back. On the way in, I remembered seeing a big pile of bear scat and thought “I should have taken a picture of that!” – well, on the way out I saw it again and took a photo this time – that is a pretty hefty pile of berries!:

We continued back and I cut a few small trees off the trail as we went to make passage easier – it is obvious this old road doesn’t get much in the way of maintenance – there was quite a few trees down over it. As we were walking back, at one point I noticed a rocky outcropping just above the road. I decided to head up there to see what we could see. We got to see the pretty smoky view of Mt Hood and surrounding hills:

It was an interesting diversion on the way back. The rest of the trip back was pretty uneventful – the easy road walking made for a pretty quick trip back. When we got to the truck, I noticed there was another vehicle at the campground but I didn’t see anyone so I’m not sure where they were.

We packed up and headed out – on the way out of the 240 spur I met another truck coming in and we had to pass on the road which was rather interesting.

When I was driving out road 58 a car was coming the other way flashing their lights and waving their hand out the window. It was a woman with her family looking for Little Crater Lake. I had gone there a few years ago just to see what it was, but couldn’t remember exactly where it was. I pulled out my maps and figured out she had taken a wrong turn. She went left instead of right. So I think I got her straightened out and she was very thankful. The only other thing of note was the traffic on the way home – 26 was REALLY busy. At times traffic came to complete halt. When we got to Zigzag where 26 turns back to 4 lanes things cleared up but it was a pretty slow trip until then.

A great day in the woods rediscovering a very interesting trail and location.

6/4-6/2021 – Eagle Creek Headwaters Backpack Trip

Date of Hike: 6/4-6/2021
Location of Hike: Douglas, Plaza, Old Baldy, Eagle Creek Cutoff, Eagle Creek trails
Trail Number: 781, 783, 502, 504, 501
Weather during Hike: Sunny to Rainy to Overcast
Hiking Buddies: Kirk and Zack
Hike Distance: 28 miles  Elevation Gain: 8200 feet
Pictures: Link
This trip was a trip dreamed up by Zack – he named it the Eagle Creek Headwaters trip and it seemed very appropriate. This was the plan:

  • Day 1 – Head down the Eagle Creek trail to the Douglas Trail and head down the Douglas Trail to its intersection with the Plaza trail. Go on the Plaza trail till we get to Coffman Camp (we were hoping it still existed).
  • Day 2 – Continue down the Plaza trail to the old Plaza guard station and 4610. Walk a short distance down 4610 to the end of the Old Baldy trail and head down Old Baldy to the Eagle Creek Cutoff trail and head down to Eagle creek – camp at the creek.
  • Day 3 – Head down the Eagle Creek trail back to our starting point.

We mostly followed the plan but day 2 was quite a bit harder than we had anticipated. More on that later.

Day 1 – Eagle Creek Trailhead to Coffman Camp – 8.75 miles

While we were driving to the Eagle Creek trailhead we encountered a dump truck which we thought rather odd, but once we got to the trailhead, we started down the road to the “new” landing (we’ve parked there before) – on the way down there was a grader – the dump truck had been dumping gravel on this road and the grader was smoothing it. We decided we should park at the top of the hill since we didn’t know what was going on. As we were getting ready, the grader came up the hill and Zack talked to the driver. It is a good thing we decided to part at the top because he said before the day was done they were going to be putting in a big pile of gravel at the top of the hill to block the road. Had we tried to park at the bottom we would have been stuck.

Due to that work, we decided to take a slightly different route to begin. We had found the that other road continued all the way up to the abandoned road that the Douglas trail drops onto, so we decided to head up that way. We went by the location of the old lookout and soon reached the Douglas Trail. From there is was pretty easy walking, uphill a lot of the way, and soon, we got to the Wildcat Quarry where we got a nice view of Old Baldy:

We saw one other hiker while we were here. It was a beautiful day and it wasn’t too warm. We rested a bit there while enjoying the view and then continued up. At this point the trail is pretty wide:

We continued up the trail and it wasn’t too long before we encountered our first real bit of snow – nothing difficult to get thru – YET:

At some point, we got a nice view of Mountains to the North (St Helens, Adams, Ranier):

Since we were doing well on time, and it is a very short side trip, we dropped our packs and headed up to the top of Wildcat Mountain. There isn’t a lot to see up there since all the trees have grown up. We didn’t spend too long up there and then came back down and re-donned our packs and continued down the trail. The Douglas trail past Wildcat Mountain gets a bit narrower and a bit brushier:

At some point we got a great picture of where we were going – Tomorrow we would be going around the head of that basin:

The trail kind of follows the ridge (more or less) and at one point there was a rocky outcropping where we got some nice views – here is Mt Hood:

And there were some pretty flowers in the rocky areas:

A little farther down the trail Zack noticed this sign – a “3” – but 3 miles from what? We all scratched our heads and even after coming home and looking at several things, I still can’t figure out what it is 3 miles from:

We continued down the trail – as we got farthe down, the trail was getting even more brushy in places:

We finally arrived at our destination for the night – Coffman Camp:

It is a pretty large, flat area but it is obvious it doesn’t get used much any longer – the ground cover was pretty healthy and the fire pit hadn’t been used in a while.

There is a sign pointing to the spring below Coffman Camp – it is a rather long trip down the hill to the spring:

We setup camp for the night, had dinner, started a fire and then went to bed. It was somewhat breezy at times but not bad. We were still hoping the weather would hold out for us.

Day 2 – Coffman Camp to Eagle Creek – 11.7 miles

We got up Saturday morning, had breakfast, got water and then packed up and headed out. We knew today was going to be a longer day, but we weren’t quite ready for how long of a day it was going to be. While we were getting packed up, it started to rain – so we had to pack up wet tents. At this point it wasn’t much rain, but it was enough to get things wet – and they would stay wet for the remainder of the weekend.

We packed up and headed out. Beyond Coffman camp, the Plaza Trail gets REALLY brushy in places – its good we all had full rain gear on because otherwise we would have been soaked:

It was starting to rain more consistently although it was still rather light – the winds had also picked up but for the most part we had been protected from them. We soon got to the junction with the Salmon Mountain trail – this goes out to the old lookout location on Salmon Mountain:

We continued along. At the point where the trail turns south, Kirk wanted to go find “Stony Camp” (it is shown on older maps) – I didn’t realize this and since I was somewhat slow due to all the uphill we were doing, I continued up. I stopped a few times and waited, thinking everyone was going to catch up but no one came. I finally dropped my pack and headed back down to see what happened. I finally found Zack who was waiting for Kirk to come back up the hill. We then continued up towards Sheepshead rock.

By this time, the rain was getting worse – it was cold, and we were intermittently getting some good winds thrown at us. It was just flat out cold. It was near this point where we saw our first significant snow – and it was tiring to get thru:

We made it thru all the snow, past Sheepshead rock, thru the wind and rain and hail (at times). We got to the point where the trail kind of levels out and it just disappeared under all the snow. At that point we just kind of headed downhill in the general direction of the trail. We got to the point where it took a hard turn, and I was thinking that had been an old road and thought it would be very recognizable – but we didn’t see it. We were able to find the old fireplace at Plaza – this was the old Guard station:

From there we started trying to follow the trail but we decided to just cut our losses and make the most direct way over to 4610. After a bit. we finally made it out to milepost 18 on the 4610 road:

And wood deck 54 on 4610 was right there – apparently they numbered each wood deck along the road – I looked at my photo from last fall at the east end of 4610 and it had a 1 on it, so the numbering appears to to east to west:

We walked up 4610 – we were all hungry and wet. We were hoping the rain would subside a bit but we didn’t have much luck with that. As we were walking we got out of some of the snow and you could see all the masticating of brush they had done on 4610 last fall – this was to be used as a secondary firebreak for the Riverside fire if needed:

We finally decided to stop at the old abandoned/decommissioned Twin Springs camp – we quickly ate some lunch under the trees trying not to get too wet. After a quick lunch, we walked down the road to the Old Baldy trailhead. We stumbled around in the snow a bit but finally found the trail and followed it. Soon we were out of the snow and following bare trail again. It was still pretty wet and windy along the trail however.

The next obstacle/challenge of the day was navigating the switchbacks up to the saddle below Squaw/Tumala Mountain. Kirk and I had been there about a month ago and turned back at about the first switchback because there was so much snow. I was hoping there would be significantly less but fearing it would still be covered. Fortunately, I was wrong – most of the snow had melted and we had a clear trail to the top except for a few small patches of snow.

We made it to the saddle pretty quickly and then headed down. The trip over to the junction with the Eagle Creek cutoff trail was pretty easy. We were now relatively protected from the wind and the rain seemed to have mostly subsided. Not having snow to navigate over helped as well. Once at the junction, Kirk checked out the car that was sitting at the access point on 4614. Zack headed off ahead of us since his knee was bothering him a bit and he was taking it slower.

Once we started down the 504, we hit a spot of snow and then a HUGE blowdown mess where we briefly lost the trail. We quickly found it and headed down – well, I mean we headed up – I had forgotten that even though this trail loses like 2000′ of elevation, it starts out GAINING elevation – you have to go back up to the ridge to follow it down – which is kind of a silly route. Once on the ridge, the trail goes up and down a bit, following the ridge. It is a pretty long slog down to Eagle Creek. When we got to the serious downhill part, I was amazed at how well the switchbacks were maintained. I likened that descent to the last bit of Corral Springs, but down there you can barely see the tread. The tread here is VERY visible and although it is steep, it is well maintained.

We finally made it down to the creek and then the search for a campsite began. Here is Eagle Creek:

Originally we were going to camp on the west side of the creek in the small campsite there, but we quickly realized that would be pretty tight for 3 tents. Zack went across the creek looking for a site but didn’t find anything too great. Kirk headed downstream and found a very old campsite that had not been used in years. The firepit was in good shape but the area had tons of small vegetation growing. We trampled it down and made camp successfully. It was a really nice site.

After dinner, Kirk and Zack were able to get a fire going even though the wood was pretty wet. The small cedar sticks and pitch wood were enough to get things dry enough to burn. Kirk and I by the campfire on Saturday night:

After not too long the fire had turned to coals and we were all tired so we all went to bed. It got dark sooner in the trees than it had the night before when it was more open.

Day 3 – Eagle Creek back to Trailhead – 7.2 miles

We got up a bit earlier this morning and made breakfast and then packed up. The goal was to be back at the truck before noon – Zack had to drive to Klamath Falls that night, so didn’t want to be driving all night long. Once we got packed up, rather than wading the creek, we found a log to cross on – Here is a picture Zack took of me crossing the log:

Once on the trail, we wasted no time – the trip was pretty uneventful and we didn’t stop too many times. Since it is mostly a gradual downhill, it was pretty easy to maintain a good pace. As we progressed, my ankle started bothering me more and more, so I had to slow down a bit.

One of the few pictures I took while we were heading out on Sunday morning – the lush rainforest of Eagle Creek:

Near where the trail heads uphill, we encountered two women hikers. They were very friendly and said they were surprised to see 6 vehicles at the trailhead. When we got to the trailhead, we were surprised to only see one other vehicle there, so I’m not sure what they were talking about. One thing I am glad is that we didn’t park at the landing on Friday because at the top of the road, there was a large pile of gravel with some VERY large stones in it. Had we parked down at the landing we probably would have been trapped.

We made it back to the truck ahead of schedule and packed up and headed out. It was quite the epic trip – very challenging, but seeing a lot of country that I’d never seen before.

3/27/2021 – Eagle Creek Loop

Date of Hike: 3/27/2021
Location of Hike: Eagle Creek and Douglas Trails
Trail Number: 501, 781
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Zack, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:00 AM  End Time: 2:20 PM
Hike Distance: 5.3 miles  Elevation Gain: 1500 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was another attempt to find the old location of the Eagle Creek Lookout. It was a lookout that was not in operation for too long, about 20 years or so and has been gone for over 60 years now. The different maps have it located in different areas. A couple of weeks ago we looked at one spot on the map and didn’t find any evidence of a lookout. Today, the plan was to do a loop hike and search the other area and also see if we could follow down the quad path we found last time. The plan was to head down the Eagle Creek trail for a while and then head uphill at a ridge where a couple of old maps showed a trail heading up. We would meet the Douglas trail and then head west to find the new location of the lookout.

We headed out at our “normal” time, and got to the trailhead. There were already 5 or 6 cars there which is unusual, but with so many trails closed due to the fires, it is kind of expected. We headed down the road and pretty quickly got onto the “real” trail where it enters the old growth. This trail is so lush and has some gorgeous old growth on it. The constant sound of Eagle creek is pleasant as well.

We got down a couple of miles and the decided to head uphill. We spread out as we were going uphill, looking for signs of trail. We did find a few spots that kind of looked like tread, but it didn’t last very long. We looked for blazes, cut logs and insulators. The only thing we found was the one cut log:

Not too far away from this we found this old campground:

We continued up the hill and eventually joined with the Douglas trail a little east of where it hits the old 255 spur road. We hit tiny spots of snow on the way up the hill and when we got to the top, there was patchy snow. There was a couple of inches on the road – the dogs enjoyed that quite a bit.

We headed west down the road until the spot where the trail takes off again. We weighed our options and decided to go up the trail a bit and then basically follow the ridge. A little ways up the hill, we found what looked like tread – as we proceeded along it was definitely tread and it seemed to kind of come and go, but basically followed the ridge. There is a lot of salal up there which made it tougher in spots. We didn’t go too far, when Kirk found the remains – right on this tread:



We looked around a bit and then decided to have lunch. After lunch, we decided to continue following the tread we had found. It kind of continued to come and go, but we mostly followed tread along the ridge. We got to one open spot where there were these HUGE, ancient vine maples – they looked like huge spiders or something:

As we continued trying to follow the tread, we did end up finding one cut log:

It was shortly after this that we lost the trail completely, but we were very close to the old road, so we walked over there and then continued west. We walked past the end of the road down what we figued was an old quad track. When we were here a few weeks ago, we followed it down to the point where it took a steep turn down the hill. Today we continued down the hill – we were assuming this would eventually bring us out onto an old road that we could walk back to the van. That turned out to be a completely correct assumption. The track continued down the hill, soon getting into a cut area (15-20 year old cut probably) and then down onto an old road. The road has been bermed for a few years so no one has driven up that far, but we did see recent evidence of cutting back some brush.

It wasn’t long before we were back at the van. By this time there were probably 10 vehicles at the trailhead. We loaded up and headed out. It was a great day of exploring on an absolutely beautiful spring day.

3/6/2021-Douglas Trail

Date of Hike: 3/6/2021
Location of Hike: Douglas Trail
Trail Number: 781
Weather during Hike: Partly Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 9:45 AM  End Time: 3:30 PM
Hike Distance: 9.1 miles  Elevation Gain: 2300 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was to explore a portion of trail I’ve not been on before. It was to explore the west end of the Douglas trail. Last year, Kirk and I did a bit off an adventure to head up to Wildcat Mountain. We essentially did the east end of this trail up to Wildcat Mountain. Today the intention was to explore the west end of the trail, from the Eagle Creek trailhead to as far east as we could go. Another objective was to go explore the location of an old lookout on Eagle Creek ridge.

We started out at the normal time and headed up to the “other” Eagle Creek trailhead (Harvey Road Trailhead). We decided to park at the new landing since I had driven down there last week. It takes a little bit off the hike. We weren’t sure exactly how far we were going to go – it depended upon our energy and how the day progressed.

We set off down the old road from the new landing and very quickly got to the Douglas trail junction. From this point, we started our uphill climb. We started at just under 2000 feet and got up to almost 3000′, kind of going up and down in the process.

After several switchbacks and going thru old growth and cut areas, we popped out on the old 3626-255 spur road which has been closed. At this point, we decided to head west to the site of the old lookout to see what we could find. It was rather challenging, since the road to the west was all ripped up. This is what it looked like:

The section that the trail heads down (east) was left intact thankfully. We made our way west on the ripped up road, navigating the rather deep snow and the big piles on the road. At one point we thought about heading up to the ridge, wondering if it might be easier walking thru the trees than down the road, but there was a pretty significant cut bank and by the time the cut bank disappeared the road evened out and got easier to traverse (they stopped the decommissioning).

Partway up to the site of the old lookout, the sun made an appearance and I captured this cool sunray effect thru the trees:

It wasn’t too long after that and we got to the literal end of the road – somewhere in this neighborhood was where the lookout used to be (it was abandoned in 1957-64 years is a LONG time in the woods).

We looked around in the brush and groundcover for a while trying to find some remnants of the lookout, but we couldn’t find anything. It is pretty well grown over and the groundcover is pretty thick.

After looking around for a while, we decided to head down the “continuation” of the road – we were guessing that it was an old quad track, probably coming up from one of the roads down below:

We walked down the quad track to the Forest Boundary – about this point it started taking a steep turn downhill and we didn’t really feel like losing a bunch of elevation, so we decided to turn around. It we getting near lunchtime, so we went and found the best view we could (which wasn’t great) and had lunch.

After eating lunch, we headed back to the quad track/trail and then the road and headed east, back down the ripped up road. After a short section, the trail heads off the road again and we continued east. It was shortly after this that the trail started getting snow on it – we kept gaining elevation. This is what the trail looked like in the area – east of the 3626-255 spur:

The goal for the day was to get to at least the place where we came down and met the trail last year, so we can say we hiked the whole trail. We soon got to the place we joined the trail last year and then decided to turn around.

While we were coming up the trail, we noticed a spot where it looked like the trail used to continue straight ahead. The trail now took a sharp turn. On the way back, we decided to follow this “old alignment” and did indeed find it was the old alignment and went across a wet area/old spring. It almost looked like there might have been a bridge over the we area but it was hard to be certain. We followed it a bit further and saw where it rejoined the trail. We both remembered seeing this on the last trip and guessing the trail had been rerouted but we weren’t sure why. The old alignment was much straighter but maybe that wet crossing was too problematic or something. This segment was only one of several re-alignments we found (or think we found) during the day.

We soon made it back to the 255 spur road and continued west. We saw quite a few deer and possibly elk tracks in the snow on the road as well as what looked to be a small kitty (Lynx? Coyote?) We quickly made it back to where the trail heads off from the road. We let the dogs play in the last of the snow and then headed down.

As we were headed down this segment of trail, we had a bunch of different precipitation events. It sleeted for a bit, it rained, and there was rain mixed with snow. None of it was heavy or long lasting but it made for an interesting trip down.

It wasn’t too long before we were back at the junction with the Eagle creek trail. We headed up the road to the landing. The last thing we were going to look for was the quad track coming down. The maps show the Douglas trail hitting the Eagle Creek trail quite a bit farther west than it actually does – we were thinking maybe that was where the quad track was. After looking for it for a bit, our guess is that the quad track probably comes down somewhere on the road above the trailhead. Something to look for some day.

A stop at Fearless on the way home for an early dinner was a great way to end the day. Fearless was REALLY busy – I guess there is a lot of pent up demand for eating out since covid restrictions have loosened up a bit.

3/2/2021 – Eagle Creek

Date of Hike: 3/2/2021
Location of Hike: Eagle Creek Trail (Clackamas)
Trail Number: 501
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Thor and Jet
Start Time: 10:10 AM  End Time: 1:20 PM
Hike Distance: 7.4 miles  Elevation Gain: 1600 feet
Pictures: Link
I was supposed to help my father in law with cleanup from the recent ice storms, but that fell thru. I had already arranged for the day off and the weather was beautiful, so I decided to do a hike. Since last weekend was a bust due to the snow, I decided to hike Eagle Creek which I was pretty sure would be snow free.

Since Tuesdays are the normal “Granddaughter/Granddog babysitting”, I decided I would take the “Granddog” on the hike too. It worked out pretty well. It was a beautiful day – one I couldn’t pass up.

We got to the trailhead about 10:00. I had heard that the new trailhead was down at the landing a bit down the hill, but there were two vehicles at the old trailhead. I decided to park there and walk down the road. The new landing/trailhead is about a third of a mile down from the old trailhead – it has a great view looking over to Old Baldy:

Once past the landing you continue down the old road for a ways – probably another three quarters of a mile or so and then you get into the good part of the trail – some real old growth – this is kind of a typical section of the trail:

We made good time, even though I had both dogs on leashes – since there were two cars at the trailhead, I assumed there were people ahead of me on the trail, and since Thor isn’t great around dogs he doesn’t know, it is safer to just keep him on a leash.

A little farther down the trail, we encountered something rather odd – it is hard to see in this photo but there are two cedar trees that got cut down – one right next to the trail (it might have been over the trail) – the other about 30′ uphill from the trail. And they weren’t cut like you’d be cutting a log off the trail, they were cut like you were cutting down a tree. I’m not sure what the deal was with these:

A little farther down the trail we got a good view of Eagle Creek from the trail – we had been able to hear if for quite some time but this was our first good look at it:

I had intended this to be a relatively short day, and we had covered almost 3 miles and it was getting near lunchtime, so I started looking for a good spot to eat. I came across a campsite down near the creek which would have been perfect, but as we started heading down, we encountered a hunter with a dog down in the campsite, so we went back up and continued down the trail for a bit. A bit further up the trail we had to cross the biggest side creek crossing of the day – it was running pretty fast:

Shortly after that crossing, we were at almost 4 miles and I found a good log to sit on. We sat a bit off the trail (in case someone else came by) and ate lunch – the dogs got their normal lunchtime treats. This was Thor at lunchtime:

We ate lunch and then turned around and headed back up. We didn’t see any other people on the way back in, and by the time we got to the truck, both other vehicles that were there earlier had left. I got the dogs loaded up and decided to try and drive down to the new landing – it is certainly doable – the entry is a bit narrow, but not too bad – there are still some pretty big water diverters in the road as well, but as long as you go slow it is fine. We drove down to the landing and turned around and headed out.

I think I did a good job of exercising the dogs. They were pretty tired after the hike:

I stopped in Estacada to see if Fearless was open (to get some fries) but they were still closed. So we ended up just coming home.

It was an excellent, unexpected day in the woods on a beautiful spring day (even though spring is a couple weeks away still).

1/23/2021 – Devils Peak Lookout

Date of Hike: 1/23/2021
Location of Hike: Cool Creek Trail to Devils Peak Lookout
Trail Number: 793 and 794
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 7:20 AM  End Time: 1:35 PM
Hike Distance: 7.3 miles  Elevation Gain: 3500 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s trip we had talked about for a while. Originally we were thinking about doing this as the 1/1 trip, however the weather that day was terrible, so we changed plans. I’m glad we did, because today was just about perfect for this hike. It is a pretty challenging hike due to the elevation gain and distance, and throw in having to have snowshoes would make it that much tougher.

We started out very early since Kirk had to get back for a dinner party in the evening. So, we left the house a little after 6 in the dark. By the time we got to the trailhead, it was getting light enough to hike without headlamps. The traffic on 26 was pretty heavy – we were guessing lots of people headed up to the mountain to go skiing.

When we got to the trailhead there was no one else parked there. We got all suited up and loaded our snowshoes and headed up the trail. The beginning of the trail is a pretty steep ascent. The route gains over 3000′ of elevation in about 3.5 miles. The lower portion of the trail is pretty “rooty” as well, with lots of roots protruding into the tread. The tread is well worn (this trail gets a fair amount of traffic), but it can be tough on the feet with all the roots in the tread.

We made pretty good time given how much elevation we were gaining. We kept looking for a view of Mt Hood – it took quite a while, but we finally got a view – it was thru the trees, but we got a pretty good view of Mt Hood in the early morning light:

A little farther up the trail, I took this photo of the sun rising on the trail:

We continued up – it was tough due to the elevation, but we slowly made our way up. Probably about halfway up, we got our first clear view of Mt Hood – which was gleaming white:

As we continued up, I was amazed that we weren’t seeing ANY snow whatsoever. The first time we saw any real snow, it was pretty light, but it was well over 4000′ – this photo appears to be taken about 4400′ and it was pretty much a dusting of snow:

A little farther up the trail there was a large rock outcropping above the trail – we headed up to it and were rewarded with this great view of Hood:

A picture of the outcropping we were standing on:

After enjoying the view for a bit, we continued on, climbing up and up and up. At one point, I remarked that this trail reminded me a bit of the Bull of the Woods trail – the approach to the lookout felt very similar – there was a sharp knife ridge and below it the trail headed up to the lookout.

At some point, we ran into 4 guys coming down the trail. I was surprised to see them – fortunately they didn’t have any dogs with them since Thor was offleash. I was behind Kirk a bit and I heard dogs barking. At first, it sounded like Ollie, which isn’t surprising since he frequently goes off into the wood to chase a smell. I soon realized it was BOTH dogs and was worried there were other hikers with dogs. I caught up and saw the 4 backpackers coming down from the lookout. They had spent the night in the lookout and camped at the campground near the trailhead (which is why we didn’t see their vehicle at the trailhead).

We continued up the trail and soon got to the junction with the Hunchback trail, which headed up to the lookout. From the junction it was a very short trip to the lookout – this is what it looked like as we were heading up to it:

We headed up the stairs and Kirk opened up the protective panels. The inside of the lookout is mostly what it would have looked like when it was being used (except the Osborne Fire Finder isn’t in the middle of the lookout anymore):

You got a beautiful view of Mt Hood from inside the lookout – looking out the door:

We ate lunch in the lookout and then headed down to take a look around. The ridge to the south went downhill – I was wondering if the outhouse was still around (like it is at Bull of the Woods), but we didn’t find one. I did get a pretty good view of Olallie and Mt Jefferson from this sport just below the lookout:

And looking back up towards the lookout, you can see there was a fair amount of snow up there (but it was all frozen and hard):

After looking around a bit, I decided it was time to put my drone up in the air to get some videos. At that point, the wind was very calm. I’m still not great at getting videos with the drone, but here is a 360 panorama from about 50′ above the lookout:

And here is another one where I get more of a closeup of the lookout:

While we were there another guy came up – he was worried we were going to stay in the lookout (it is a first come, first served place). Since he was staying we didn’t need to close it up. A little later, two ladies popped out of the woods. They had come up a different trail – I believe it was from the Green Canyon campground up to the Hunchback trail to the lookout.

After eating lunch, exploring a bit and flying the drone a bit, we decided it was time to head back down. There is the note of a “spring” not too far from the lookout, so we decided to see if we could find it. We headed down the Hunchback trail, and found a sign saying “water” – we found a small, narrow side trail, however we didn’t go too far as the hillside was VERY steep and the trail was covered in snow. We turned around and came back up and when heading back up the Hunchback trail, we found this very old water sign (it was pretty cool):

After that exploration, we headed back up to the junction and then back down the cool springs trail. Going down was a lot easier on the lungs, but still pretty tough as the trail was still just a hunk of ice. We went slowly and finally made it out of the ice and snow. After we got back to solid ground, it was still rough going as many spots are rather steep (which is hard on the knees).

Along the way down, we probably encountered 5 or 6 groups of people who were headed up. All in all, we probably encountered 20 people all day long.

We made it back to the truck about 1:30, packed up and since we were a little earlier than expected we decided to do a little exploring – we drove up 2612 a little ways, then drove on some other roads. We got turned back a few times as bridges over creeks were closed (not sure why – maybe they were unsafe for vehicles?). We stopped and looked at the east end of the Flag Mountain trail – it looked somewhat interesting – there were no cars at the trailhead at the east end, so we thought we’d go around to the west end and see if there were any cars – maybe this is not popular trail we could hike? Anyway, we kept getting blocked from the west end – we ended up turning east on 26, but the traffic coming west was so bad we weren’t sure we would be able to turn left. So, we opted to skip it for the day. We turned around and finally get in line with the traffic. It was a solid line of cars coming west – and that was only at like 2:30! I can’t imagine what it would have been like later in the day!

We made it back home a little after 3 – plenty of time for Kirk to make it to his evening affair. Days like this don’t get much better – it was an absolute Bluebird day – FANTASTIC weather – not too many people and incredible views.

12/23/2020 – White Iris Trail

Date of Hike: 12/23/2020
Location of Hike: White Iris Trail
Trail Number: 502-A
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 9:55 AM  End Time: 1:55 PM
Hike Distance: 4 miles  Elevation Gain: 1400 feet
Pictures: Link
With most of the Clackamas district still closed due to after effects from the Riverside and Lionshead fire, options are extremely limited. The weather was supposed to be nice today and so I decided to head up the lower portion of the White Iris trail. I wasn’t quite sure how far I would go, but I was pretty sure it wouldn’t be a problem to get to the trailhead.

When I looked at the modeled snow depth maps, it didn’t show any snow at all at the trailhead. The modeling was obviously wrong – this is what it looked like driving to the trailhead:

The modeled snow depths did seem to get updated – I checked them after I got home and they seemed pretty accurate. I’m guessing most/all of this snow came down yesterday. This is what it looked like parked at the trailhead:

No one had been that far down 4615 recently – you could see old tracks but nothing in the last day or two. We parked and got ready and headed up – it was really easy to see the trail heading up in the snow. When Carly and I looked for this trail in the spring it was hard to see where it was. Today it was really easy.

We headed up the trail and soon I got annoyed with some of the brushiness and hanging branches, so I got out my loppers and started lopping the worst of the hanging branches. Soon, I got out the saw and I started sawing thru some small logs to clear the path. I spent a while on some of the spots since there were multiple logs I had to cut. Once we got a little higher, Thor was complaining about not moving too fast so I stopped doing so much cleanup. Here is a picture of part of that lower segment – it had a lot more snow than I was expecting:

When I was working on the hanging branches and logs, I had to be very careful with loppers and saw – the snow would eat them up REALLY easily:

Once we got up a ways, I stopped lopping completely – when we got to the big uprooted tree where the trail heads north, the tread got a lot better. It was near this point where we stopped to have lunch. I had hoped to have a little bit of sunlight but it quickly moved. We ate a quick lunch because it was kind of cold.

Past the uprooted tree, this section of forest is quite impressive. Beautiful old growth. In the fresh snow it was just incredible. There were a few sunbreaks in the forest and it was absolutely spectacular. We continued up the trail and it wasn’t long before we got to the 4614 Crossing. It was kind of interesting -someone had been there very recently:

I kind of pondered what we should do and I decided to keep going. Since I hadn’t brought my snowshoes the going was getting tougher, but we didn’t have too far before we’d hit the junction with Old Baldy, so I decided to press on.

We kept going and the snow continued to get a bit deeper as we got higher. It was tough going, post holing (I’d guess the snow was getting to about a foot deep), but I took it slow. We finally made it to the junction with the Old Baldy trail – Here is the very beginning of the north fork of Eagle creek – where Old Baldy crosses it:

And the Old Baldy trail sign – this was our turnaournd point:

As we headed down, I noticed that someone is showing this trail some love – this is a new sign it appears:

The trip down took quite a bit less time than the trip up. Partially because it was pretty much all downhill and partially because we weren’t doing any maintenance on the way down. As we came down, I had to take a picture of this section of tread – although it doesn’t even begin to do it justice. There was a sunbreak down the trail and the sun coupled with the was just beautiful.

It wasn’t long before we got back to the 4614 crossing and then it seemed REALLY quick when we got back into the cut area. We continued down and got back to the truck just before 2:00. Days are very short this time of year, so between it being quite a workout and the fact sunset was in another couple of hours, I was happy with how the day progressed.

A fantastic day out in the woods! Nothing better than fresh new snow and no one else around.

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.

11/7/2020 – Shellrock Lake to Cache Meadow to Cripple Creek Trails

Date of Hike: 11/7/2020
Location of Hike: Shellrock Lake to Cache Meadow to Cripple Creek Trail
Trail Number: 700, 702, 703
Weather during Hike: overcast and snowy
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:105 AM  End Time: 4:20 PM
Hike Distance: 10.5 miles  Elevation Gain: 2800 feet
Pictures: Link
The goal for today’s hike was to get down to the Cripple creek trail to see how it fared in the recent Riverside fire. I knew it was going to be a tough day and I knew it was going to be tough to get as far as I wanted to get – I wanted to get about another half mile down the trail, but I ran out of time.

The days are short right now and I had to take the long way around over Mt Hood to get here – it takes about 2 hours to get to the trailhead, so I started early – I left the house at 8:00. The weather report said it would be cold, but it also said it would be “partly sunny” – that turned out to be a lie. I got off 26 and started down 42, soon getting to road 58. It climbs quite a bit and I was soon into a fair amount of snow. It kind of looked like someone had plowed the road (two tracks – it didn’t look like just driving). But it was deeper than I was expecting:

We soon made it to the junction with 4610 and I decided to drive up a bit to see what the east end of the road closure looked like – I don’t think anyone will be getting around that gate:

There was also a pretty large log deck there:

After quickly checking this out, we headed back down to 58, then down to the 5830 road and out to the Shellrock lake trailhead. As I expected, I saw no one else, nor any evidence of anyone driving out this way at all. This is what my truck looked like parked in the Shellrock Lake trailhead parking area in the morning (about 10:15):

And this is what it looked like when I returned about 4:15 – It had been snowing a lot of the day and I was concerned it would have been a lot more snow – and I would have a difficult time getting home – fortunately things were OK – I think we got about a half inch of snow during the day:

We suited up for the cold and quickly headed out. A little bit up the trail we got a really beautiful view from the trail – looking east ish:

It didn’t take Thor long to start REALLY enjoying the snow – doing his “beaver” thing in the snow – you can hardly even tell he is there – he kind of buried himself in the snow! There was probably 4-6″ of snow at this point on the trail:

We continued down the trail and soon got into the woods. It is at this point that the abandoned trail takes off to the west. There used to be a post that was a good jumping off spot – the trail going up the hill seems to have mostly disappeared but once you are up the hill a bit, it re-appears. I couldn’t find the post so we took a shot and headed up the hill – it was kind of tough going, with the snow, but we eventually found the trail and continued west. Pretty soon, we got to this junction with another abandoned trail that heads down to 5830 – I had not seen this before – but I’ve only been on this segment a couple of times:

We followed the trail thru the snow and soon came to this small lake around cache meadow:

Shortly after this small lake, we hit the junction with the Grouse Point Trail (517). Just past the junction we saw Cache Meadow proper:

And near this is a campsite where Cripple Creek Trail comes in and where there used to be a cabin – it burned in the early 2000s:

We stumbled around in the snow a bit, struggling to find the trail, but eventually found the cripple creek trail and headed south, and then took a westerly turn. At that point, we came to this lake – I’m not sure what it is called – Cripple Creek Lake? – Cripple creek feeds it and is the outlet from it, so that would make sense, but it is not labelled on any of the maps I have:

We continued down the trail, fighting a LOT of downed logs such as this – I’m guessing these might have been casualties from the Labor Day windstorm:

Soon after that tree, I found this Bear print in the snow:

And soon after, Thor found what looked to be a “deer nest” – there was deer fur all over the place – or maybe that is where a deer got eaten – I’m not sure – it sure looked like a good “den” – It sure interested Thor:

We continued down the trail – I kept looking for the trail heading north (I didn’t want to have to road walk around) – I found it and we soon got to the spot where where all the trail junctions come together with a few signs – it is very confusing:

We actually headed off in the wrong direction – heading back up the Cache Meadow trail – I soon realized my mistake and we headed back and found the correct trail – which was probably 20′ from those signs. We soon got out to the 4635 road where the Cache Meadow trail starts:

We headed a bit down the road where Cripple creek continues downhill and continued down. It wasn’t too long before we got to the spot where the trail crosses the 4635 road farther down:

Shortly after the road crossing, the trail gets into a big rockslide. It was here that we got our first look into the burned areas farther below:

We continued down the trail, thru the cut area, and soon saw the first evidence of burn damage. It started out relatively limited, and soon got worse. This is one of the more severe burn damaged areas – lots of trees downed across the trail – you can see a cut log where the trail went in the distance:

Some of it wasn’t too bad to follow, but some got tough. In many spots, the tread burned out, like this section -a big hole that was one tread:

I saw this interesting section as well – it burned on both sides of the tread but the tread itself is completely intact – It seems like in this area it was mostly a ground fire:

We continued down the trail – it kept getting harder and harder to make progress – there was a lot of stuff on the trail, a lot of downed trees (some green). I used my loppers and a bit of hand saw work to get thru some of it, but it was getting increasingly difficult. This was another example of a heavily damaged area:

It was getting close/past my turn around time (1:30) and we still had not eaten lunch. I decided that we would turn around and find a spot to eat lunch. We had been pushing hard all day long. We found a small unburned section not too far from where we turned around. We quickly ate lunch and then headed back up.

On the way up, it started to snow, even at the lower elevation where there really wasn’t any snow. I started to get worried about how much snow was falling and whether or not I’d be able to get out. We hurried our pace (as much as I could, since the beginning was mostly uphill – heading back up to Cache Meadow). It continued to snow off and on. When we got back to the confusing junction (with the signs), I decided to go back on the Cache Meadow trail instead of going back the way we came in. I wasn’t sure if it was any shorter, but it didn’t seem like it was any longer and since it has been a LONG time (2008?) since I’ve been here, I thought it would be good to have different scenery. We made it around the north side of Cache Meadow and soon got back to the Grouse Point trail near the old campsite. We went a little bit on Grouse Point to the cutoff trail – on this end it is VERY apparent – so apparent it would be easy to take the wrong turn. We headed east on the cutoff trail, heading uphill – struggling a bit to follow the trail in the snow, but keeping with it. We did well until we got to the top of the hill. There was a big downed tree, and we kind of lost the trail at that point. We went downhill, navigating a BUNCH of downed logs and finally hit the Shellrock lake trail. From there, it was easy sailing back to the truck. I had set a target of being back at the truck by 4:30 – we beat it by about 15 minutes. We quickly loaded up and headed out. I didn’t want to drive too far on the forest service roads in the dark. Fortunately, it didn’t get really dark until we got close to 26. The drive over 26 was rather interesting. It was snowing pretty hard and it was icy – the thermometer on the truck said 27 degrees and there were signs that said watch out for ice. At some point, there were trucks and what looked like some cars spun out. We successfully navigated all that, and got home safely. I think it took us almost 2.5 hours to get home, though.

It was a challenging, beautiful, COLD day. I’m glad I was able to get as far as I did. I think this is the last opportinty to get into the high country this year. It is forecast to be cold and snowy all week long – unless we get a big warm spell, I think these areas area all closed for the year now.

10/3/2020 – Eagle Creek (Clackamas) – 501

Date of Hike: 10/3/2020
Location of Hike: Eagle Creek Trail
Trail Number: 501
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:10 AM  End Time: 5:20 PM
Hike Distance: 15.5 miles  Elevation Gain: 3700 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was very interesting, and VERY different than what was originally planned. Originally, we had planned to do a little “civil disobedience” and technically violate the forest closure order. We were hoping we could get up to the White Iris trailhead and hike up to the Old Baldy trail and then up the Squaw Mountain to get a better look at the recent damage from the Riverside fire.

Unfortunately, there was a security guard posted at the border of the forest and he was not letting anyone pass. So, we had to move to plan B. Plan B was to hike the Eagle Creek trail (501) which was not in any kind of closed area. It took a little time, but we made it to the trailhead and it looked a bit different than we remembered. There appeared to have been recent work done there. We were greeted by this sign at the start of the trail, informing of us the closures, etc (which seemed odd, since this trail and the whole Salmon-Huckleberry wilderness was open.):

We started down the road which has been widened considerably. Soon we got to a new landing area, which had been worked quite extensively. They took a huge chunk of the hillside off to make the landing:

After that, the old road reverts to what it used to be – a very narrow old logging road that is pretty overgrown:

We hiked down the road and soon took a hard left onto real trail. From there we got down to the creek, which the trail follows the rest of the way. It goes up and down a bit, but is relatively level. We were making really good time as we were not doing any real trail maintenance – just hiking. Since the tread was pretty level, we were able to make really good time.

A little over 4 miles down the trail, we explored a side trail that Zack and I had found almost 5 years ago. It is an old “cattle camp”. We found the side trail (it was more overgrown than I remember, although we were there in January when all the ground cover was dormant). We headed up and looked around and found several old relics. One of the coolest is an old watering trough which Thor just thought was the coolest thing ever:

Here is one of the old hitching posts:

We searched around a bit and then headed down the trail looking for a lunch spot. We found a somewhat sunny spot next to the creek. Ollie took advantage of it to cool off – he spent most of the time in the creek:

We ate lunch and then headed back up to the trail and continued east. Soon, we found this really interesting tree on nurse log that had toppled over and raised up the nurse log out of the dirt:

We continued down the trail – although it still gets traffic this far up, you could tell it gets less traffic. The areas that were more open were rather overgrown although you could clearly see the tread. There were a few spots where the brush was still really wet – we were guessing it must have had a heavy dew the night before.

We continued down and finally got to the crossing point – from the other side of the creek the trail transitions to the 504 – Eagle Creek cutoff trail – it heads up to the Old Baldy trail. The crossing point is very calm and pretty:

We rested a few minutes at the campsite on the south side of the creek and then headed back. It was about 2:30 and we had quite a ways to get back to the truck. And a lot of it was still uphill – especially at the very end. We tried to make good time and we didn’t stop a lot – we took a few water breaks, but they were pretty short. The trip back was pretty uneventful – we got back to the truck about 5:15. We loaded up and headed out.

We decided to have dinner at Fearless but before we did that we decided to head up 224 to the crest to see if we could see what the Clackamas Canyon looked like. We couldn’t see a ton, but this is what it looked like from the crest of 224:

A fair amount of burned area with some green areas and also some mosaic burning as well. Time will tell what it really looks like. It is kind of doubtful we will be able to drive 224 this year I think.

Dinner at Fearless was great as usual, and to top off the day, Zack and his family stopped in after doing some exploring on the east side of the mountain.

It was a great day out.

8/19/2020-Bull of the Woods Trail – 550

Date of Hike: 8/19/2020
Location of Hike: Bull of the Woods Trai
Trail Number: 550
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Thor
Start Time: 10:15 AM  End Time: 2:00 PM
Hike Distance: 7 miles  Elevation Gain: 1500 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was my birthday hike. I have the week off and today was my birthday, so I decided to take a hike (no pun intended). I decided to hike the Bull of the Woods trail up to the lookout since I was doing a mid week hike. I was hoping I wouldn’t encounter any people. It can get rather busy at times.

We headed out and made good time up to the trailhead. We got there just after 10:00 and found no cars there (whew!). We suited up and headed up the trail. The hike up was pretty uneventful, but I did get some nice views of Mt Hood from the trail:

We probably stopped once or twice to drink some water, and I stopped a few times to eat some huckleberries – they were all over the place right next to the trail, but it didn’t seem like anyone was eating them! Thor even ate a few – they were small, but REALLY good.

Just before noon we made it to the lookout. I could tell Thor was tired. He laid down under the lookout and I went up to look around. I had an experience I’ve never had up here before – I was actually able to go inside the lookout! Someone had replaced windows and had one of the storm shutters propped open. This is what it looks like inside the lookout:

Nothing hugely special – pretty much typical of what you’d see in a lookout. There were lots of tools in there – a few years ago I remembered seeing shingles inside the lookout – I couldn’t tell if they had used them on the roof or not, but they were gone. Someone had replaced some of the windows in the lookout however, so it does appear to be getting a little bit of attention.

From the catwalk on the lookout it gives you great views of the surrounding mountains and peaks. Looking northeast, there was a great view of Mt Hood and Big Slide Mountain:

And to the south there was Mt Jefferson and Three Sisters:

I was enjoying the view from up there, but Thor was whining because I was up there, so after taking a few photos I came down. We ate lunch in the shade under the lookout where Thor laid down for a bit. I just enjoyed the view and the solitude for a while and then we decided to head back down. As we started down, I realized I hadn’t taken a photo of the lookout, so I snapped a quick one from the trail below as we were leaving:

As we headed down, I was stopping to eat some of the huckleberries and encountered a couple that was backpacking. They must have come up from Dickey Lake because when I got back there were still no cars in the trailhead lot. We passed each other quickly (in a covid world) and I continued down. As we got partway down, I decided to start looking for insulators – I’d never been able to find any, but today I found two – here is one I found:

We made good time going down, and the last thing I wanted to do was to try and find the old alignment of this trail. I had made a waypoint at some point marking “old trail”. When coming up, I realized it was where a post was. There was no tread apparent right at the junction, but going just offtrail, the old tread was quite evident. Here is a photo looking back up to the existing trail and the post. The tread is all there, just overgrown with huckleberries:

Here is another section not quite so overgrown:

It was pretty easy to follow all the way down to where it ended at an old spur road – I’m guessing the old trailhead must have been here at one point:

We walked back this road to the truck. Here is a view of Pasola Mountain from the 6340-033 spur – the original trail used to go to the left of Pasola and would have met up with this alignmnent I’m pretty sure – but that was a long time ago:

We soon made it back to the truck and headed out.

The last memorable thing about the day was on the way out a fox trotted across the road in front of me. He didn’t seem too concerned about me – he wasn’t running or anything. First time I’ve ever seen a fox in the woods!

It was a great way to spend my birthday.

6/20/2020 – White Iris Trail

Date of Hike: 6/20/2020
Location of Hike: White Iris Trail
Trail Number: 502a
Weather during Hike: Rainy
Hiking Buddies: Carly, Otis and Thor
Start Time: 9:45 AM  End Time: 12:00 PM
Hike Distance: 1.7 miles  Elevation Gain: 900 feet
Pictures: Link
Today’s hike was a quick run up to the White Iris trail. Carly had come down for Father’s Day and we had until early afternoon so we did a quick hike to see if the white iris were in full bloom yet.

We started off early to make sure we had enough time to do the hike and get back home in time. We left about 8:00 and headed up 4614. It has been several years since I’ve been up this way and I made a wrong turn. I thought the 4615 junction was farther up 4614, but I was wrong. We made it all the wy to the current end of 4614 – it was bermed a few years ago:

After reviewing maps to figure out where I made the wrong turn we headed back. We finally made it to the real western trailhead on 4615. We looked for the trail for a few mins (it is an abandoned trail and is rather brushy) – I finally found it and we headed up. As we went up, there was a lot of small tree blowdown from the winter as well as a LOT of brush – since it had rained, it made for a very wet hike. We cut and lopped several trees off the trail as we went up.

As we continued up the hill, what started as a light mist started getting heavier. It went on and off, but since the trail is so brushy, we did some maintenance and everything was drenched, we both got VERY wet. We continued up the hill, losing the trail a few times along the way, but mostly following it. We soon got to the beginning of the bloom:

And here is probably the best bloom photo of the day – it might not have been in full bloom but it was blooming pretty good:

We continued up and got to the downed log where we had to turn north (left) and continue up the hill. There were several large logs that have come down in the cut area so it made travel tougher. We got back into the old growth and headed up a ways. I checked the time and it was a little after 11:00. I figured we should turn around to make sure we got home in time. We were both really wet anyway, and there wasn’t anything terribly different that we would see if we made it up to the 4614 road anyway. So we turned around and headed down.

We made good time on the way down and got back to the truck right at noon. We headed out and then called home to see if we had enough time to stop at Fearless for lunch. We were both hungry. We had enough time so we had a nice lunch at Fearless and then headed home.

It was great to hike with Carly and to see the white iris in bloom, even though it was a very wet 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.

11/16/2019 – Pansy Lake and BOTW Lookout

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

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

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

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

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



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

Here is a video of waterfall in action:


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11/11/2019 – Rimrock Trail – 704

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

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

Mt Hood was nice and clear today:

Mt Jefferson and Olallie Butte were also pretty clear:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7/13-7/18/2019 – Three Sisters Loop Backpack

Date of Hike: 7/13-7/18/2019
Location of Hike: Three Sisters Wilderness
Weather during Hike: Varied from sunny and warm to cold and windy with some rain
Hiking Buddies: Carly, Kirk, Sarah, Jeff
Hike Distance: 68.6 miles  Elevation Gain: 16,000 feet
Pictures: Link
This was the “big” backpack trip for 2019. It was the annual Father/Daughter trip with Kirk and Sarah and Carly and I, along with Jeff, a member of our scout troop.

Originally we were thinking about going to Glacier National Park in Montana, but we realized that we needed permits (kind of like when we did the enchantments) and it was too late this year to get them. We decided to do the Three Sisters loop because next year this entire wilderness will be permits only (like the Enchantments and Glacier) and will be more difficult to get into. I knew before even starting that this was going to be a challenging trip (due to the length and elevation). This was the longest backpacking trip I have ever taken, both in duration and mileage. The initial plan was this:

  • Day 1 – Lava Camp Trailhead to Alder Creek – About 6.5 miles
  • Day 2 – Alder Creek to Camp Lake – About 9 miles
  • Day 3 – Camp Lake to the summit of Middle Sister and then back out to Park Meadow – About 12 miles
  • Day 4 – Park Meadow to Mesa Creek – About 11.5 miles
  • Day 5 – Mesa Creek to Minnie Scott Springs – About 12 miles
  • Day 6 – Minnie Scott Springs to Lava Camp Trailhead – About 6 miles
  • Total Mileage: About 57 miles

What we actually did was significantly different than the plan, and considerably more mileage than estimated. We added a side trip up to Broken top and some of the distances I calculated were a bit off. This is what we actually did, with actual mileages:

  • Day 1 – Lava Camp Trailhead to Alder Creek – 7.5 miles
  • Day 2 – Alder Creek to Camp Lake – 10 miles
  • Day 3 – Camp Lake to the summit of Middle Sister and then to an un-named lake – 12 miles
  • Day 4 – Un-Named Lake to Moraine Lake with a side trip to the top of Broken Top – About 13.5 miles
  • Day 5 – Moraine Lake to Sawyer Bar – just short of Opie Dildock Pass (what a name!) – About 17.5 miles
  • Day 6 – Sawyer Bar to Lava Camp Trailhead – About 7.5 miles
  • Total Mileage: About 68 miles

Day 1 – Lava Camp Trailhead to Alder Creek

The “Blue Adventure Bus” (Kirk’s van) came and picked Carly and I up about 8:30 on Saturday morning. Kirk had already picked up Jeff. The plan was to head out, have lunch on the way, and then get on the trail shortly after 1:00 or so which is why day 1 was shorter mileage (same for the last day).

We ended up stopping for lunch in Detroit since that was really the last slice of civilization with a decent restaurant before the trailhead (even though it was like an hour and a half away). We had lunch at a restaurant called Cedars – It was good to have one last “real” meal before heading out into the wilderness. We ate an early lunch and then continued to the trailhead at the Lava Camp Trailhead on highway 242 near McKenzie Pass. We passed the Dee Wright Observatory which would be an interesting place to explore some day. It is in the middle of a HUGE lava field. I had never realized how much lava there is in this area. We would be seeing more of it as the week progressed.

The other really interesting/weird thing that happened on the way to the trailhead was there were TONS of butterflies on the road. There was literally a swarm of them in places – there were so many we kept hearing “splat” when one would hit the windshield or the front of the van. It was really kind of strange to see SO many butterflies.

After the butterfly massacre, we shortly got to the trailhead and got all our gear on for the start of our 6 days in the wilderness.

We headed down the Millican Crater Trail (4066) – originally I thought we were going to go down the PCT for the first part of the trail, but we found this would make the trip a true loop – we wouldn’t be repeating any part of the trail with the exception of the trip in and out of Camp Lake. We headed down the trail and very quickly came into the burn area. This has been the site of at least a couple of rather large fires – I think one of the latest ones was the Pole Creek fire in 2012 and burned about 26,000 acres. The last one was just last year and was over 101,000 acres! We saw lots of this (and worse) all day long (and into the following day too):

When we got to to the Trout Creek Tie Trail (4067) we took a turn south and headed to Trout Creek. We had a snack there and got water and then continued on the Green Lakes Trail (17). Shortly before Alder Creek (our destination for the night), we got this view of Millican Crater in the foreground with Black Crater behind it:

And a little farther we also caught our first glimpse of North Sister:

Soon we made it to Alder creek and started looking for a campsite. We found one just up the hill from the creek. We were expecting to see some other people but didn’t see anyone camped there at all. Here was our campsite for night 1:

After setting up camp, we cooked dinner, cleaned up and then went to bed.

Day 2 – Alder Creek to Camp Lake

We got up and got going about 8:30 on Day 2, heading to Camp Lake. Shortly after leaving camp, we got a much better look at North Sister:

A little farther down the trail, we got a pretty good look at Mt Washington:

A little farther we got our first real look at South Sister thru the burned trees:

We continued down the trail until we got to the Camp Lake Trail junction and headed west. It was somewhere in this vicinity where I started noticing the mosquitoes more – maybe it was where we came out of the burned area into woods, I’m not sure. I just know that at some point, the bugs started becoming quite annoying, especially when you weren’t moving.

We continued down the Camp Lake trail and we originally thought this creek was Squaw/Whychus creek, but it turned out to be an un-named creek crossing – but it was a great source of cool, clear water:

Shortly after the un-named creek crossing we came to the actual North Fork of Squaw/Whychus creek – here is our group starting to cross it:

A little bit down the trail we got our first really good look at North Sister as well:

Shortly after that view, we started to hit significant snow, which obscured the trail in many spots. We were able to find our way thru (there were little to no footprints to guide us), and soon made it to Camp Lake – which still had quite a bit of snow and was rather un-inviting, windy and cold:

We looked around and set up our tents about the only place we could find to camp – and turned out to be probably the worst place since the wind came from the south across the lake and funneled thru the small opening on the north end of the lake:

We also got a good look at Middle sister above Camp Lake, which would be our objective for the following morning:

We setup camp but as we were setting up camp, one of the poles on Carly’s tent broke. We made a “fix” using some duct tape and were hoping it would hold up in the wind (more on that in a minute). After getting our tents setup we made dinner crouched behind the hills next to our tents – we found enough space to cook out of most of the wind.

We also noticed the huge slabs of snow that were calving off into the lake on the south side of the lake. We would regularly hear one of them crash into the water.

The most significant thing that happened on Day 2 was probably at night. After we cleaned up after dinner we went to bed. It had started to mist a bit and the wind had picked up. We were also planning to get up at 5 to get going up to Middle Sister early – so we would still have enough time to make it to Park Meadow. Shortly after we went to bed, the wind REALLY picked up and was blowing our tent in about a foot when it gusted hard. Some of the gusts were REALLY strong (like 40 MPH+ I think) and we were worried that our cheap tent pole fix would collapse during the night. Fortunately, it held up just fine, but no one got a lot of sleep that night due to the wind. It was the stormiest night I’ve ever spent in a tent.

Day 3 – Camp Lake to the summit of Middle Sister and then to an un-named lake

We got up early (5am), made breakfast and headed out to summit middle sister. There isn’t a trail up to the summit, but Kirk had climbed this peak at least a couple of times before. We kind of picked our path up the hill, choosing what looked like the easiest route. Here is a shot looking back at Camp Lake after we had climbed a bit:

A little bit further up the mountain we started to get into real snow (and the clouds) – we would mostly be in the clouds the rest of the climb – that hill is a lot steeper than it looks in the picture:

We kept climbing and when we got about half way up this was our view – it didn’t look like we had too far to go, but it got harder as we got higher – it was very deceiving:

As we were ascending, someone noticed that South Sister briefly peeked thru the clouds:

After a long, slow climb, we finally made it to the top of Middle Sister, but we were entirely in the clouds. Amazingly it wasn’t very windy when we were up there. We had no views whatsoever:

We spent a few minutes sheltered behind a big rock up on top and looked around a bit and then headed down. As we headed down, it started to really rain. Prior to that it was just misty due to the clouds. The rain was coming down sideways and was really cold. I was kind of expecting some snow, but we didn’t see any.

As we got farther down the hill, I got to experience a new skill – Glissading – this makes it really fast to come down the hill! (this picture was Kirk, but we all did it 3 or 4 times as we hit different snow fields):

We made it back down to camp a little after noon I think. We ate lunch and then packed up and headed out. Just before heading out, I decided to go look at the outlet to Camp Lake. I found this cool little snow tunnel made by the outlet – notice how much snow there is still on the hill:

And then there was this rock with some weird inscriptions at the outlet – I have no idea what it means:

I think we started our journey out about 2pm – we had a ways to go. We weren’t sure if we would be able to make it to Park Meadow, but we figured we would see how the day went.

As we were hiking out, I noticed some neat cliffs that I had not noticed on the way in:

The trip out was pretty uneventful. We made it back to the Green Lakes trail and then headed south. We got back into burned areas and kept hiking south. We were all getting tired and were ready to find a place to camp. We came across a pair of small, un-named lakes, and decided this would be a good spot to camp for the night – it was at least partially unburned, which was nice:

When we first arrived it seemed like there weren’t many bugs, but I think it was just that they hadn’t noticed us yet, as they arrived after we had been there for a bit. The bugs on this trip were pretty much unavoidable – the only things that mitigated them was having a breeze, keeping moving or bug spray.

We setup camp, cooked dinner and went to bed. We were planning on getting another early start as we added a summit of Broken top to our itinerary for the following day.

Day 4 – Un-Named Lake to Moraine Lake with a side trip to the top of Broken Top

We got up early again to get an early start. The plan was to hike to the junction with the climbers trail to the top of Broken Top, drop our packs and then head up. Once we summitted Broken Top, we would come back down and then head south to camp for the night. We were thinking maybe Moraine Lake would be a good spot because the next water was quite a ways from Moraine Lake and we didn’t think we would be able to do an additional 4 miles to get to the next water source.

We got going a little after 7am and continued south on the Green Lakes trail. We finally got to Park Meadow (glad we didn’t try and make it here the night before). The maps were conflicting about trails. Apparently there has been some re-routes and some trails are no longer active, so it made for some confusion about where to go. Park Meadow was a nice place, though (even though the bugs were pretty bad):

We didn’t stay there long – we continued south on the Green Lakes trail. A little further down the trail, we got a good view of Broken Top – our objective for later in the day:

We continued south and soon saw the big Green Lake (there are at least 3 of them):

We stopped here for some water and a rest – we saw a few more people here than we had the rest of the trip. Green Lakes is one of the more popular places it seems.

We got a different view of South Sister from Green Lakes – a perspective you don’t see from the south:

We got to where we thought the climbers trail was (near campsite 10) and dropped our packs in the woods up the hill a bit and then headed up the trail about 10:30. This was the beginning of the trail – it was VERY steep – but it only got worse as we got up higher:

After what seemed like forever (at least for me) climbing up some VERY steep grades (some were literally straight uphill), we got to the saddle, where the trail transitioned to climbing the ridge on the northwest side of the mountain all the way to the top:

On the way up the ridge, we started seeing wave after wave of thousands of butterflies. Here is a video where you can get an idea – the butterflies are hard to see, but you can see some of them. (they are the black spots in the video) It was pretty amazing:

A little further up the hill there was a view to the northeast of this amazing hillside. I wish this picture had turned out better – the colors were VERY vibrant – I still don’t know what it is:

After a LOT of breaks, and huffing and puffing (at least by me) we finally made it to a small ledge near the top of Broken Top. There really wasn’t a safe way to go any farther without ropes – it was steep and narrow ledges with cliffs with small cracks you’d have to climb to get higher. Some cool views from the ledge – The big lava flow south of Green Lakes:

And a reasonably un-obscured view of the three sisters:

Here is a 360 photo from the top of Broken Top.

While the rest of us rested on the ledge and enjoyed the view, Kirk poked around and found a rather dangerous way to the top of the mountain:

Although he required some spotting assistance on the way back down – he couldn’t see his feet to climb back down the crack he went up on. I’m very glad he made it back down safely.

We stayed on the ledge for a half hour or so (waiting for Kirk to come down) and then headed back down the way we came. On the way down, I took a photo of this interesting rock we had noticed on the way up. Kirk thought it looked like a Chinese cat – I think it kind of looks like Garfield the cat:

As usual, the trip down was quite a bit faster than the trip up. We got back down about 3:30 (about a 5 hour trip up and down the mountain) and rested at the bottom for a few minutes before loading up our packs and heading south. We continued south on the Green Lakes trail. We started following one of the lava flows along Fall Creek (I think one is called the Newberry Lava Flow):

We continued south to the junction with another trail which then took us west over to Moraine Lake. This trail gained a few hundred feet of elevation and after the ascent of Broken Top, and all the other hiking, I was pretty tired. It took me longer than everyone else to get to the lake.

We finally got there and looked for a campsite (a post) to use. We ended up finding two since the sites were small. This was our site we shared with Jeff:

It was somewhat windy at Moraine Lake, but nothing like it had been at Camp Lake. Kirk decided to go for a quick swim, although he could only stand it for like 3 minutes it was so cold. He had to try and warm up once back at camp and there were no campfires allowed.

We made dinner and went to bed early again, as the next day was going to be a long one. We needed to make up some time that we had lost due to the extra side trip up Broken Top. We had 25 miles to get back to the van and we figured we would need to do 17 or 18 miles in order to make the last day reasonable enough to get home by dinner time. We had another very full day planned.

Day 5 – Moraine Lake to Sawyer Bar

We started day 5 very early like many of our other days. This day would be all about racking up mileage – no big highlights on this day, but a few interesting things did happen.

We got going about 8:00 and headed west on the confusing array of trails around Moraine Lake. On the way, we noticed this cool Lenticular cloud over South Sister:

It was a bit chilly to hike, but that just makes you sweat less. We continued west, trying to figure out all the confusing trail junctions (we were successful and didn’t have to turn around or anything) About a mile or so from the junction with the PCT, there was this bug that just buried himself half way in the trail – have no idea what kind of bug or why – it was just weird:

We continued on the trail and it starts looping north. Soon, it joins the PCT. As the trails were getting closer, we saw 3 hikers on the PCT. We met them almost exactly where the two trails joined. They stopped and we chatted for a bit. There were two guys and a woman. One man was from New Zealand, the other from Alabama, and we never did quite get where the woman was from. They were thru hiking the PCT and taking their time. They had been out for I think 115 days and he said they were expecting to be out another 115 days. He made it quite clear they were there for the experience. It was an interesting conversation.

After chatting with the PCTers for a bit, we continued on while they rested some more at the junction. We would see them one more time and then we passed them up. A little further up the trail, we hiked along side the Rock Mesa (Lava flow) to our right – it was another HUGE lava flow:

A little further north we came to a neat Meadow near Mesa Springs. This was our original campsite on the 4th night. It is too bad the flowers don’t pop in this photo, they were really gorgeous and colorful:

We stopped at this meadow and filled up with water and rested a bit. The PCT hikers we met earlier passed us as this point. After a little while, we headed out, continuing our journey north. A little further down the trail, we passed them again – that was the last time we saw them.

Nothing terribly exciting happened for a while – we were just trying to rack up some mileage (I kind of felt like a “real” PCT hiker who has to keep moving in order to complete the trail).

We stopped for lunch at Hinton Creek – at first, we were the only ones there, but soon, 3 new PCT hikers showed up. Two women and an older man. One woman was from Germany, one was from Austraiia and the man was from Tampa. Interesting mix. We chatted a bit. They were expecting to be complete with the trail in about a month. Much faster than the other 3 we met. We had lunch, got some more water and then headed out.

A few miles up the trail we got a great view of The Husband (I don’t think we could see The Wife from the trail):

We continued north and soon found ourselves entering the Obsidian Limited use area (Kirk had a permit for us). We didn’t see anyone else there, however and no one checked our permit. About a mile or so into the area, we came to Obsidian Falls, which was really interesting. The waterfall was all set on layers of black obsidian:

Here is a video of the falls in action:

We didn’t stay there too long as the bugs were especially bad. We quickly headed up over the falls into a flat area that had some really neat cliffs:

We continued north and in about a mile, we saw one of the special memorial Plaques up on a hillside (it is almost impossible to see in this photo):

I believe this is the one for Harley H. Prouty – there are 3 of them and all appear to be related to the Mazamas somehow. We couldn’t read this one – it was too far away and we didn’t want to stop to try and read it.

We continued heading north thinking we would stop somewhere before Opie Dildock pass – we thought we would camp in the first place after the Obsidian Limited use area we could find. The first place that was really anywhere we could camp was called Sawyer Bar, which is just Below Opie Dildock Pass – this was our campsite:

Soon after we got the tents setup, the clouds moved in and it started lightly misting. We made dinner and went to bed early again. We wanted to get another early start to make sure we got out on time. This would be our last night in the wilderness.

Day 6 – Sawyer Bar to Lava Camp Trailhead

We woke up early again on day 6 to get an early start. The last morning was a lot tougher than the prior ones. Overnight it went from a light mist to real rain. It rained rather hard at times but by morning, it was mostly just misting (mostly). But our tents were all soaking wet and had to be packed up wet. The good news was that we wouldn’t need them again, so other than some additional weight it wasn’t too bad. Well, that and eating in the rain.

We made breakfast as best we could and got packed up. We then headed up the trail in the rain and wind thru the lava up to Opie Dildock Pass (what a name!? I wonder who it was named after?):

It is a very steep trail that zigs and zags thru the lava flow up to the pass where the trail flattens out for a bit and then starts heading down the other side. It isn’t too far before you get to Minnie Scott Springs (our original target for night 5):

It was wet – really wet but it looked like there were nice campsites there. But I’m glad we camped where we did. After hiking almost 18 miles the day before, doing this pass would have been very difficult. It was a lot easier to do it in the morning after a good nights sleep. We made it thru the pass and then started our slow downhill (mostly) to the van. We had a very steep uphill section near the Yapoah Crater, but we couldn’t see much. I thought the trail routing was really weird. We went up just to come right back down. Anyway, there was lots and lots of this stuff that we went thru – but this was where the weather finally started clearing up a bit:

And shortly after exiting all the lava, we came to South Matthieu Lake (we also passed North Matthiew Lake but we only saw it from high above):

Kirk decided to take the “low road” going down to North Matthiew Lake while we took the PCT (the “high road”). We had thought we might have to gain back a bunch of elevation if we went down to the lake, but apparently not. That route was slightly shorter and Kirk was there waiting for us when we got to the junction. Apparently the downhill was just mostly all at the start.

Shortly after that junction, we got to the last short connector trail to the Lava Creek trailhead and back to the van. We got to the van about 10:30am, so we made good time. It took us just under 3 hours to do about 7.5 miles. After cleaning up a bit and packing up all of our stuff, we headed to Three Creeks Brewing in Sisters for a well deserved post trip meal before our drive home.

A truly epic adventure!

5/11/2019 – Memaloose Lake Explorations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is a short Video – it was rather LOUD:

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

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

3/30/2019 – Cripple Creek Trail -703

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

12/15/2018 – Dickey Creek Trail

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

11/17/2018 – Rimrock and Cottonwood Meadows

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is looking north towards Mt Hood:

This is looking southwest to Oak Grove Work center:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9/16-9/19/2018 – Eagle Cap Backpacking

Date of Hike: 9/16-9/19/2018
Location of Hike: Eagle Cap Wilderness
Weather during Hike: Sunny but cold at night
Hiking Buddies: Carly
Hike Distance: 44 miles  
Pictures: Link
This was our annual father/daughter backpacking trip. I wasn’t sure it was going to happen this year – the summer just kind of got away from both of us, but Carly was able to get a few days off and we hastily arranged this trip. I calculated this was the 16th annual trip I’ve taken with Carly, although one we had to bail out – we tried, but there was just too much snow as we climbed higher. We’ve done a trip every year since 2002 except for 2003 and 2011.

We were very fortunate with the weather on this trip – it was beautiful fall weather. Sunny and warm (but not too warm) during the day, and below freezing at night. We had an ambitious plan:

  • Day 1 – Drive to the Wallowa Lake trailhead and hike to Aneroid Lake – about 8 miles
  • Day 2 – Aneroid Lake to Glacier Lake – about 11 miles
  • Day 3 – Glacier Lake to Moccasin Lake – drop our packs and do a side trip up to Eagle Cap, then return and pick up our packs and go to Horseshoe lake – about 11 miles
  • Day 4 – Horseshoe Lake to Wallowa Lake trailhead and then drive home – about 8 miles

We stayed to the plan, however we found out the mileages we had planned were a little low. Day 1 was almost a mile short, day 2 was about 2.5 miles short, day 3 was about a mile short and day 4 was about a mile short. Even with the underestimated mileage, it was still a great trip. On to the trip report.

Day 1 – Wallowa Lake to Aneroid Lake – 8.5 miles

We both left our houses around 6am – the goal was to meet for lunch in Enterprise and then head out to the trail shortly after noon. It all worked out really well. Even though she woke up late, Carly actually caught up to me a few miles outside of Enterprise. We ate lunch at Terminal Gravity brewing and then headed to the Wallowa lake trailhead. There wasn’t a lot of parking there, so we had to park quite a ways from the trailhead. We got all our gear together and headed up the trail. We took the 1804 – East Fork Wallowa River trail – it heads south and gains elevation almost its whole way. Shortly after we left the trailhead, we got a really nice view of Wallowa Lake:

A little farther down the trail, the map showed a “Royal Purple Mine” and a side trail which sounded interesting, so we headed up the side trail and saw this pipeline:

I found out later this pipeline is the supply to an electric generator down near the Trailhead. I’m assuming it must supply the Wallowa lake area – maybe even Joseph. It is operated by Pacific Power.

There was also a road there that headed uphill, so we followed it, thinking it would take us to the mine. Instead, it took us to a diversion dam with an old cabin:


We followed the road past the cabin, however it kind of died out in a tangle of brush. While we possibly could have made our way thru all of it, neither of us really wanted to navigate the heavy brush, so we turned around and went back to the trail.

We continued down the trail, gaining elevation. In a while, we came to a rockslide where we heard a pika, who then ran across the rocks. I tried to get a photo, but he got lost in the rockslide. After seeing the pika, we continued down the trail, soon crossing the river on a footbridge and at that point the trail slope lessened a bit. We came to several meadows:

We headed thru the meadows and made our final push up to Aneroid Lake, our destination for the night. It was getting somewhat late – the sun had started to go down and it was getting cooler. Carly had worn shorts and she was getting cold. I was huffing and puffing and needed a breather break. We were only about a quarter mile from the lake, so Carly said she would meet me there. She didn’t want to stop and get colder. So I rested and she went ahead. I continued up the trail and soon saw a sign for campsites, but didn’t see the lake so I continued up the trail. At the next campsite sign I looked for Carly but couldn’t find her. I went down the trail farther and saw nothing. I finally went down to ask a few people if they had seen her and they said no. I went back up to the trail and dropped my pack and went back and forth on the trail – I also sat on a bench along the trail for a while, wondering where she could be. After wandering around for a while I went to a different group of backpackers down by the lake and asked if they had seen her and they said no. I went back up and wandered around a bit and then as I was walking back down the trail, I saw a blue puffy down near those campsites. It looked like Carly’s coat, so I headed down there and sure enough, it was her. We had gotten our signals crossed a bit – she had taken that first turn (which I should have done). Anyway, we made it back to where she had dropped her stuff and it was a nice campsite so we setup and did a late dinner. It was getting cold as the sun went down so we turned in early (as we did each night since we didn’t do any campfires – we were tired anyway).

Day 2 – Aneroid Lake to Glacier Lake – 13.5 miles

We started day 2 after the sun started coming up. It looked like it had frozen overnight so we waited to get up until the sun started warming things up a bit. This was the view from just below our campsite – looking up at the un-named peaks above Aneroid Lake:

We started the day by exploring “Camp Halton”, which is apparently privately owned by the Halton company. There are at least a half dozen cabins there, a couple of rowboats on the lake and a whole water system. Here are a few of the cabins:

After looking around (we didn’t see anyone there – all the cabins appeared to be locked up), we headed back to the trail junction and headed up towards Tenderfoot pass. Tenderfoot pass was the fist and lower pass we would go over today. This was the view from Tenderfoot pass (about 8500′):

We went over the pass, lost about 400′ of elevation and then started climbing again. We were now climbing up to Polaris pass. Part way up, we decided to stop and have some lunch. This was our view for lunch – looking down the North Fork of the Imnaha river:

We ate lunch and then continued up towards Polaris Pass (about 8900′). This was the view to the other side:

And a couple of interesting photos I got with my “Peak Finder” app – this is looking west:

And this is looking kind of north/northwest:

This is a neat 360 Photo from Polaris Pass.

We rested a bit at the top and then proceeded to head down approximately 45 switchbacks to the West Fork Wallowa River – about 8900′ down to 6800′. We couldn’t tell where the trail went farther down the hill – we kept wondering because the hill was so steep – but they weaved the trail in and out of the cliffy areas. Here is what the top looked like where the switchbacks were built on pretty loose scree:

We would eventually end up down at the bottom of the canyon:

We finally got down there and followed the West Fork Wallowa river upstream to its headwaters. Here we are following the river:

We got up the trail a bit, rounded a corner and finally saw Frazier Lake:

We continued up the river – the map I had was older and had an older alignment of he trail which criss-crossed the river several times. The new alignment is much better. It follows the east side of the river up to Glacier Lake. As we got close to the lake, we got passed by a group of 4 guys who we would see several times over the next couple days.

This picture is looking from almost Glacier lake – you can see the trail to the left of the photo:

Carly picked out a great campsite at the east end of the lake – it looked like it had been a horse camp previously, but it had a WONDERFUL view of the lake and Glacier Peak and Eagle Cap behind it:

We setup camp, cooked dinner and as soon as the sun started going down, we went to bed as it got very cold very quickly.

Day 3 – Glacier Lake to Horseshoe lake with a side trip up Eagle Cap – 12 miles

The view from our tent on Tuesday morning:

A neat 360 photo from near our campsite on Tuesday morning.

We woke up on Tuesday, made breakfast and broke camp. We got going a little earlier since we thought this was going to be a long day – we were planning to go up to the top of Eagle Cap. We headed up to Glacier pass – it was not too far above Glacier Lake. We went over the pass –

And I got an interesting photo using my “Peak Finder” app – looking north:

And then down to Moccasin lake passing thru some interesting meadows – The Lakes basin “look” was way different than the Glacier lake side, More trees, less starkness. But both have their own kind of beauty. On the way down, I saw these two trees – interesting comparison – Both were very similar looking, but the one on the left was dead, while the one on the right was alive:

Here is what those meadows above Moccasin lake looked like:

Moccasin lake was beautiful – and big:

We dropped our packs near the trail junction and then headed up to Eagle Cap. We Passed Mirror lake (another big lake):

A a little farther up we passed Upper lake which was much smaller.

As we climbed higher we got an interesting view of Upper lake – it has a “delta” going thru it – kind of like Delta lake from last year in the Tetons:

We continued up the hill to Eagle cap. The trail is pretty good although steep in places. We went ALMOST to Horton pass but the summit trail took off a bit before the pass. We then continued up. this is a good shot of the trail heading up. If you look really closely, you can see the trail way up above Carly:

We met a bunch of people coming down in a few groups. As we approached the top the 4 guys we met the night before were right behind us – I almost let them pass, but I pushed myself hard enough to make it up before them (just barely). The views from the top of Eagle Cap are impressive – you can see all the lakes in the lakes basin as well as down parts of three drainages (the photo doesn’t even begin to do it justice):

Here is a 360 Photo from the top of Eagle Cap.

It is really interesting that there are actually trees at the top of Eagle cap. The trees are not large, but they are up there. We spent a while enjoying the view and had a late lunch. It was starting to get kind of cold with the wind and our lack of activity, so we headed back down. On the way, we went over to the south side of Eagle Cap to take a look a those views. While impressive, they aren’t quite as dramatic since the peak isn’t so precipitous on the back side of the mountain.

The trip down was pretty uneventful, although the wind was rather cold. At one point, I thought I could take off my jacket, but a few minutes later I put it back on because the wind was so cold and persistent.

On the way down, I noticed this red rock that I had not noticed before. I thought it was really interesting – most all of the rocks were either white or gray – this was very reddish:

It took us about 2 hours to get back down and back to our packs. We picked them up and headed down to Horseshoe lake passing Douglas:

and Lea lake (which I neglected to get a picture of) on the way. It wasn’t too long and we were at Horseshoe lake:

Where Carly picked out another great campsite – it overlooked the lake and had easy access to the water. We setup camp, cooked dinner, cleaned up and went to bed. We were both really tired from the big day.

Day 4 – Horseshoe Lake to Wallowa Lake trailhead and then drive home – 9 miles

Day 4 was kind of anti-climatic due to all the cool things we had seen the prior 3 days, but it was still an interesting day. We woke up early to get an early start as we had to hike out and then make the 6 hour drive home and both of us wanted to get home before dark. The night was VERY cold – the coldest night we had I think. We had frost on the tent and some other things that were outside. Steam was rising from the lake due to the cold which was kind of a cool sight:

We made breakfast, cleaned up and packed up (it was tough because it was so cold). We headed out about 7:30 – our earliest start. It was pretty cold hiking. We were hoping the sun would shine on us to warm things up, but because the ridge to the east of us was pretty high, it took several hours for the sun to actually get down to us. I think it was almost 11:00 before the sun finally shined on us. On the way down, we passed thru what looked like an old avalanche area. Tons of downed trees:

After that we mostly stayed close to the river until we got close to the trailhead:

When we got close to the trailhead, there was this cool old sign – old school:

We then made it to the trailhead, completing our trip. We got cleaned up a bit, changed clothes for the long drive home, and then headed back to Terminal Gravity brewing in Enterprise for a final lunch. Another great meal, and then we said goodbye and both headed home.

This was probably my favorite father/daughter backpack trip to date. Lots of beautiful country and interesting destinations.

8/28/2019 – Minotaur Lake

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7/18-7/21/2018 – Redwoods Backpacking

Date of Hike: 7/18-7/21/2018
Location of Hike: Redwoods
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk and Sarah
Hike Distance: 31.5 miles  
Pictures: Link
This was the “big” backpacking trip for 2018. This year it was decided to go down to the California Redwoods and see the big trees up close. We also wanted to spend a little time on the beach. Both objectives were accomplished.

Unlike prior trips, we had kind of a loose itinerary. We had a difficult time finding accurate/current information and maps of the area, so we decided to have a rough plan and then adjust as we went along based on info we got at the ranger station(s). This turned out to be a good call. We found out that the whole Redwood park system is kind of a hybrid – being managed by state and federal (national parks and forest service). It made our trip to the ranger station rather interesting since he had to make a couple of phone calls to verify things for our various stops.

The rough plan was this:

  • Wednesday – Drive to the Ranger station to get permits and then stage vehicles for the shuttle hike – hike down Dolason Prairie trail to Redwood Creek and camp on the gravel bar (dispersed camping)
  • Thursday – Hike up Redwood creek to Tall Trees Grove – do the Tall Trees loop and then hike as far as we could up the creek and camp again on the gravel bar
  • Friday – Hike up Redwood creek to the trailhead – then do some road walking over to the Skunk Cabbage Creek section of the Coastal trail and hike up the beach to the Gold Bluffs campground
  • Saturday – Hike back to the Elk Prairie visitor center to get one of the cars – pick up second car and then visit Lyons Ranch, and some other highlights before starting the trip back home. Find someplace to do dispersed camping that is on the way home
  • Sunday – drive the rest of the way home

Our actual plan was pretty close, however we didn’t head down the Dolason Prairie trail – we went down the Tall Trees trail (saving us about 3-4 miles of downhill hiking). Other than that, things went pretty much according to the rough plan. Our hiking mileage looked like this:

  • Wednesday – 2 miles
  • Thursday – 10 miles
  • Friday – 11.5 miles
  • Saturday – 5 miles backpacking plus 3 miles of day hiking
  • Total Mileage: – 31.5 miles

Day 1 – Home to Redwood Creek

We headed out from Oregon City early on Wednesday morning (6:00am) – we had a long drive – google said it would take about 7 hours to get to the visitors center and that was with no stops at all – we figured it would take us at least 8 hours, which turned out to be just about right. We had to get the permits, stage the cars for the shuttle hike, and then hike down to the creek and find a good campsite. We weren’t sure how long all that would take and make sure we had enough time to find a campsite before dark. Fortunately, we planned well, and the elimination of a few miles of hiking helped a bit as well. When we got to the ranger station, he advised us to park at the Tall Trees trailhead instead of Dolason Prairie – it was safer. We got all the permits, staged the cars, went to a different ranger station to get bear canisters and then headed down the Tall Trees trail and almost immediately came to the junction with the Emerald Ridge trail – since we removed a few miles at the start, we figured we could add a little more mileage and see more of Redwood Creek. We took the junction and headed south down to Redwood Creek. Very quickly we got our first glimpse of what was to come over the next few days – Big Redwoods!:

It didn’t take us very long and we were at the creek – at that point the goal was to find a campsite along the gravel bar. In this section, we could camp anywhere along the gravel bar (which was very wide this time of year). When we got to the creek, we waded over to the other side to investigate potential sites. We would be wading the creek many more times over the next two days:

We pretty quickly found a really nice campsite a little south of where we arrived at the creek – nice and sandy with a fire ring and a nice sitting bench:

We were tired from a long day of driving and hiking, so we went to bed early.

Day 2 – Redwood Creek to Redwood Creek (farther north)

We got up early on Thursday, packed up and headed north up Redwood creek. We crossed Redwood creek and found this beautiful deep pool:

As we headed north, we got near the Tall Trees Grove (which was a highlight of the day) – it was at the end of this straight section of creek:

We crossed the creek again, and then popped right into the Tall Trees Grove. Here was the first tree we saw in the tall trees grove which was pretty impressive:

There was a bench in the middle of a bunch of large trees where we changed back into our boots (we had been wearing wading shoes since we had been going back and forth across the creek). We then took the short loop around the tall trees grove. This is one example of the scale of what we saw – and I’m sure this was not the largest tree we saw:

The scale of these trees is just incredible. I saw hundreds of trees over the course of our trip, and they never stopped inspiring a sense of awe.

Another very interesting thing was seeing how tough these trees are. They have a real will to survive. Fire is a part of their existence (the interpretive signs said fire was naturally occurring every 250-500 years). We saw many trees like this – severely burned out from the inside, but somehow still alive and apparently thriving:

We learned that when redwoods are stressed, they release “children” – shoots with the same genetic material – in some spots where trees had been logged, you saw an entire ring of trees around the logged stump – sometimes it is called a “fairy ring” or “family circle”. It just shows how persistent and tough these trees are. They said some trees are over 2000 years old!

Since the Redwoods were the highlight of the trip, here are some more photos for scale:


And this photo is pretty cool I thought – looking straight up from a cluster of trees:

And here is a 360 photo from the Tall Trees grove

After doing the Tall Trees loop, we continued north up Redwood creek, crossing the first seasonal bridge over to the west side of the creek:

From there we continued up to an old road (which was hardly recognizable as a road in most places). We headed north on this old road, a bit above the creek. We got to the Bond creek crossing and found the “bridge” was gone. Most of the bridges were in pretty rough shape. Some with missing handrails, most with missing or partially missing boards:

As we headed north on this trail, there were some pretty large trees here too:

The other unexpected thing was that while we were there for the redwoods, we also saw the largest maple tree I’ve ever seen – it was absolutely huge:

A little bit further down the trail we encountered this cut log that said it was 750 years old and we easily saw trees twice that size still alive:

We had to camp before the last seasonal bridge at McArthur Creek, so we spent a while looking for candidate campsites. We knew the next day was going to be rather long, so we wanted to get as far north as possible to reduce our mileage on Friday. We preferred a shady spot in a sandy area rather than camping on the gravel itself (that would be kind of hard). We dropped our packs and looked around – we crossed the creek and headed north – all the way to McArthur creek. We found what we thought was a pretty good spot a little south of the creek:

And looking upstream from our campsite:

We were tired again and went to bed early (after struggling to get out our messages from our SPOT and Garmin units – apparently even though it had a clear shot of the southern sky, we had to go all the way over to the east side of the creek to get the messages to send).

Day 3 – Redwood Creek to Gold Bluffs

We got up Friday morning and continued north along the old road, shortly getting to the second seasonal bridge on Redwood creek:

After crossing the bridge, the trail became much more “manicured” – I’m guessing that is because in the winter that bridge crossing point is the farthest you can go down the trail without wading the creek (which would probably be pretty tough, since it flows pretty high in the winter):

We soon got to the Redwood Creek trailhead with picnic tables and a bathroom. We took advantage of both, spending a little while there snacking. We then headed up the road – this was the short road walking section we weren’t too thrilled about. But as we were heading up the short trailhead road, Sarah noticed a bear on the side of the road! He was quite a ways away (150-200 feet), and rather small – he took off for the trees as soon as he saw us. He was so fast I was not able to get a photo.

We made it up to highway 101, which had a fair amount of traffic on it – this was the section we were most dreading. We started off facing traffic (as you are supposed to do when walking on a road), however there wasn’t much of a berm to walk on and there was a semi-blind corner. Kirk went across the road where there was a guardrail, and there was a nice concrete path along the outside of the guard rail – much safer than where we were walking so we headed back across the road and hiked behind the guardrail until we got to the road to the Skunk Cabbage Creek trailhead. We headed up that road – no traffic at all. We got to the trailhead and there were no cars there either, which surprised us.

We headed down the trail and soon we were into the lush coastal trail forest with more spruce and fewer redwoods:

And saw some huge skunk cabbage (which gives the creek/trail segment its name):

We continued to the “overlook”, which was rather disappointing since it was rather brushed in. We stopped there for lunch and then headed down to the beach. There were several areas in this section where we were walking in a literal tunnel of vegetation – and some spots were rather dark:

And this shows how lush the understory is – a carpet of sword ferns 5-6′ high in places:

We finally got down to the beach and rested a bit. This is where I made a mistake – I should have left my boots on, but I took off my boots and walked barefoot for a while – later I put on my crocs to try and protect my feet (I had a few hot spots and minor blisters that were getting abraded by the sand). Wearing crocs in the sand isn’t a good idea – it gets trapped in the croc and rubs on your skin anyway. This section of trail along with the sand made kind of a mess of my feet – a bad decision I would pay for the rest of the trip.

This is a shot looking up the beach from where we came down. We would be heading up this way – about 3 miles up the beach to the campground:

After a bit, we got to the beginning of the Gold Bluffs, which were not named for their color, but named for the gold they contained. Early in the late 1800’s/early 1900’s these cliffs were mined for gold using a variety of techniques. It sounded like the location of our campground might have been a mining camp too. Here is a photo of the beginning of the Gold Bluffs:

As we were walking up the beach, we found this almost perfectly intact jellyfish that had washed up on the beach – it was quite interesting:

After what seemed like forever (walking in the sand with a backpack is harder than it sounds), we finally arrived at the campground. We saw not a soul on the trail nor on the beach until we were almost to the campground. The campground was pretty full of car campers, but we had a reservation in the “Hiker/Biker” section. This was our campsite for Friday night – a nice place with picnic tables and fire rings:

They also had water along with real flush toilets and showers. I hadn’t brought soap, but I used some of the hand soap from the bathroom to take some sort of a shower – I felt a lot better after I washed some of the trail funk off me.

While we were at the camp, I was enthralled watching some sort of large bird (vulture?) circle around the cliffs. I took a short video of him/her:

And while I didn’t stay up for the “real” sunset, I did take this photo of the sun setting on Friday night:

I went to bed early, while Kirk stayed up for a while and explored the area a bit.

Day 4 – Gold Bluffs to Elk Prairie, then dispersed camping

We all got up early on Saturday and got ready to head out. Overnight, another pair of hikers had arrived in camp. We talked with them for a bit – We found out They were from Washington and Colorado and had been making rounds around the west to different national parks. They had apparently come in the Miner’s Ridge Trail (the one we were taking to head out) the night before and were surprised at all the cars in the campground – they thought it was a backcountry campground only.

We headed down the road – down the “Tsunami evacuation route” to the Miner’s Ridge trailhead. It starts as a gated road – we were thinking the road was so that people could drive up to safety from a Tsunami. The road ended at a bridge over Squashan creek. On the way up the road, we met a state ranger who was testing the water source for the campground. They pipe water from the creek into a couple of large tanks which feed the campground – but someone comes up every day to test the water to make sure it is safe. We had a nice conversation with him and then headed up the trail:

Of all the trails we were on during this trip, I think this was my favorite one – it had quite a variety of ecosystems and had a lot of Redwood trees on it:





We continued down the trail, encountering no one until we were about 2 miles from the Elk Prairie visitor center. We continued down the trail, encountering more and more people the closer we got to the visitor center. Near the visitor center we encountered a large group of elderly people who were from all over the US. They were taking a short loop trip near the visitor center. We quickly made it to the visitor center and then back to our car. At that point, we needed to return the bear canisters we had “rented”, so we needed to go get the other car since we had left the “covers” for the canisters in that car. It was a bit out of our way, but we made the trip and returned the canisters without incident. While there, we asked about the condition of the Bald Hills Road all the way down to Martins Ferry and Weitchpec – the ranger said it was passable but thought it was a scary road – we just needed to go slow. We decided to try it – we have lots of experience driving narrow, windy gravel roads. It turned out fine. I’m not sure what she thought was so bad about the road – we’ve driven roads that are a LOT worse than that one was.

Anyway, on the way down, we decided to take a look at a couple of other items. Due to my feet, I wasn’t up to explore the old Lyons Ranch (which would have been about a 5 mile hike) – I don’t think we had time enough for that either. But we decided we could go see the Dolason Barn – part of the Dolason Prairie trail that we didn’t end up taking. Plus we got to look at the lookout on Schoolhouse Peak.

Here are some photos of the Dolason Barn – the Dolason family raised sheep on this property for several generations:



And this is a photo of some of the hillside Dolason Prairie:

Although the signs said the barn was only .75 miles from the trailhead, it was more like 1.25 miles – not terrible, but we were kind of in a hurry, wanting to find a campsite for the night before it got dark. There was only one car at this trailhead and we encountered the person partway down the hill. When we got back to the car, ours were the only cars left in the lot. Not a very highly used trail for sure. It is tough in that you go downhill on the way in, having to make up all the elevation on the way out. Maybe that is why it doesn’t seem too popular. It was interesting to see the barn and the prairies though.

Once back at the car, we continued down the road to the Schoolhouse lookout. We weren’t sure what to expect, but found a gated, locked road which led up to an active lookout. We walked up the road and when we got to the lookout the guy manning the lookout popped out on the catwalk and asked if we wanted to come up – of course we said yes! He came down and then led us up the stairs up to the lookout. It was apparently built in the 40’s and then partially burned at some point and then rebuilt/renovated. It appeared to be mostly steel, but looked a lot more modern that the lookouts I’ve seen. It had a big propane tank, a big water tank for fire fighting, and a non potable water tank for washing dishes, showers and the toilet (it must have had a complete septic system too). It was pretty neat to see. The cupola looked a lot like what I’ve seen in many photos – one side had the “kitchen” with a sink, refrigerator and stove and then the other side with a bed. And of course the Osborne Fire Finder in the middle:

We spent a few minutes talking with him (I wish we had gotten his name) – it was great. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see much of a view due to all the smoke from nearby fires. But getting to see the inside of a real lookout was pretty special. Here is what it looked like from the outside:

We Left the lookout and then continued down Bald Hills road, which was very windy and did go on for a while, but it really wasn’t that bad. At some point it turned back to pavement and was pretty good all the way down to Martins Ferry. We were expecting to find some place to eat dinner before we found our campsite for the night – we found one place – the “Burger Barn”, but when we got there, it had either closed for the day, or was not open at all – we couldn’t tell. We didn’t really see ANY other place to eat, so we stopped at the local gas station/convenience store and got some sort of dinner – it wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible.

We headed north on highway 96, which took us into the Six Rivers national forest. We found what appeared to be an old abandoned campground, although all the signage was still in place – it was a little odd, but since we just wanted a place to sleep for the night, it worked out fine. We camped at the Aikens Creek Campground – which does appear on the FS Website, but there are no services (no water, no bathrooms) – that was OK with us. I ended up sleeping in the car – hoping the car seat would be a little better on my back than my pad had been – it was slightly better, but not a lot better.

Day 5 – Dispersed camping (Aikens Creek Campground) to Home

We woke up early on Sunday and then headed out. The plan was to find a restaurant for breakfast as close as possible. We were really out on the fringe, for we saw no restaurant at all until we got to Ashland, which was almost 150 miles away. So, we ended up eating a very late breakfast. We stopped at the Waffle Barn in Ashland – had a great breakfast and then got back on the road.
There was a lot of smoke all over the place, but it seemed like Medford was maybe the worst – it looked like smog it was so thick:

We stopped in Roseburg for gas and then headed the rest of the way home. We ran into some pretty bad traffic in Albany and ended up getting off I-5 at Brooks – it sounded like there were multiple accidents on I-5 – we had already been delayed at least a half hour and we all wanted to get home.

This trip wasn’t quite as flashy or spectacular as some trips we’ve done, but the huge Redwoods continue to amaze me – I never tire of looking at them. It was great to sleep among the Redwoods and to see a lot of the variety of the northern California back country.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And there was a LOT of snow at the overlook:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now it is all cut out and easy to traverse:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10/28/2017 – Plaza and Salmon Mountain Trails

Date of Hike: 10/28/2017
Location of Hike: Plaza and Salmon Mountain Trails
Trail Number: 783, 787
Weather during Hike: Sunny
Hiking Buddies: Kirk, Ollie and Thor
Start Time: 10:20 PM  End Time: 5:05 PM
Hike Distance: 10.25 miles  
Pictures: Link
The plan for Today’s hike was to hike up the Plaza trail to the old plane crash site, then see how we felt and maybe press on to the old lookout on Salmon Mountain. The weather report was supposed to be just about perfect weather for hiking.

We headed up a little earlier than usual, and made our way down the pothole laden 4610 road to the east end of the Old Baldy trail. The Plaza trail actually starts here – you take off from the trailhead and in about 50 feet the Plaza trail heads east for a bit (to the old Plaza Guard station) and Old Baldy heads west.

We parked, got ready and headed out. I remembered to bring Thor’s backpack so he could carry his own water, etc. Here he is all ready to start the day:

We headed out, heading pretty much east until we got to the old Plaza Guard station location. About the only thing noticeable now is the old fireplace:

We looked around a bit and then headed up the trail. At this point the trail turns north, heading up to Sheepshead Rock and beyond. We got to Sheepshead Rock pretty quickly, and found a side trail that headed up to the small, rocky area on top of the rock. We got probably the best views of the day from this point, however I neglected to take a photo of the rock itself. It was a pretty unique looking rock. Here is a picture of Mt Hood from the top of Sheepshead rock:

And here is a 360 Photo from the top of Sheepshead Rock that Kirk took (mine got messed up somehow).

After soaking in the views for a bit, we headed back down and then continued north until we got to the junction with the Salmon Mountain trail (the marker sign has obviously seen better days):

And on the way up we saw a half dozen or so old phone line insulators along the trail that went up to the old lookout:

Shortly after the junction, we headed offtrail to get to the plane crash site which occurred in 1966. Here is part of the debris field of the crash – the debris field was actually much larger than I thought:

We explored the debris field a bit and then realized it might not have been a great idea to let the dogs run around – there was LOTS of gnarled metal on the ground – we were concerned that one of the dogs was going to cut their paws. We walked back out of the main debris field to make sure the dogs didn’t get hurt, and then headed back up the hill to the trail. It was still pretty early, and it didn’t look like it was too far to the lookout, so we continued east up the trail. Partway up, we saw these remains – we couldn’t figure out what it could have been. It was kind of small for an outhouse – we thought maybe the phone line terminated here, but we saw insulators farther up the trail, so what it was remains a mystery – some sort of box probably about 30″-36″ square:

Here is kind of typical tread on the Salmon Mountain trail-the trail guide says the tread disappears, but it seemed to be pretty good the whole way – but maybe I’m just used to hiking abandoned trails and this wasn’t as bad as those are:

And a bit farther up the trail, we found a ribbon from the recent hiker search in the area (just last week-thankfully he was found alive and well):

After some odd junctions on the trail, we finally made it up to the old lookout site on Salmon Mountain:

We found out that the trail location on the map is wrong. The trail actually goes below the summit, over to the east, and then switchbacks to the west to get to the summit. Apparently there is a cliff on the east side that is pretty much impassable. It was rather small up on top, and only had two footings there. Kirk took this photo of me and the dogs at the lookout (I was sitting on one of the footings):

And I took this photo of Mt Hood:

We ate lunch at the lookout site and enjoyed the sunshine and the views for a while. After a while, we decided we should head back and then went back down the way we came. When we got to the switchback at the bottom of the hill (where it switchbacked back west up to the lookout), Kirk wanted to see if there were views on the second peak – the switchback was kind of in a saddle between the two peaks. There was a faint trail that headed up, so we followed it up to the high point, but there was really no views, just a small meadowy place where the faint trail seemed to kind of die. So, we headed back and then headed down the trail. We still had a long ways to go back and by this time it was almost 3:00.

On the way out, I had forgotten how up and down this trail was – or maybe I was just tired. It seemed like there was a LOT more UP on the way back than I remember.

We got back to the trailhead a little after 5:00 and found another vehicle parked there – we were guessing they must have been hiking the Old Baldy trail. We packed up and headed out.

On the way out, driving the 4614 road, a lone hunter was along side the road with a deer. He flagged us down and asked if we could help him load it into the back of his minivan. We did, although Kirk got some blood on him while we were loading it. It was kind of an interesting way to end the day!

We capped off an almost perfect day of hiking with dinner at Fearless.

10/24/2017 – Bull of the Woods Lookout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10/14/2017 – Pechuck Lookout

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8/26/2017 – Oneonta Gorge and Oneonta Creek

Date of Hike: 8/26/2017
Location of Hike: Oneonta Gorge and Oneonta Creek Trail
Weather during Hike: Sunny and warm
Hiking Buddies: Cass, Jeff, Torren and Kirk
Start Time: 8:15 AM  End Time: 11:50 AM
Hike Distance: 4.5 miles  
Pictures: Link
This was a hike with the Boy Scouts – unfortunately, we only had one scout, and 4 adults, but it was still a GREAT outing. The idea was to hike the Oneonta gorge to the waterfall (which I had never done before) and then do a hike up to one of the other waterfalls, time permitting. We opted to leave very early to help beat the worst of the crowds – I’ve been told this place can be absolutely PACKED on a Saturday – so we left the school at a little after 7am on Saturday, getting to the gorge/creek a little after 8am. We could tell it was already somewhat busy. We parked, then headed down the road to the creek for the beginning of our adventure. Note that all of the photos of the gorge were kind of washed out – I think due to the poor lighting conditions of our early morning trip. The photos absolutely don’t do the place justice.When we got to the creek, we were greeted by these somewhat ominous stairs, that led down to the creek:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Edit – Later – this was a uniquely sad hike in that about a week after we did this hike the Eagle Creek Fire started and this whole area burned significantly – I’m glad I had the opportunity to see this area before it burned

8/19/2017 – Corral Springs Trail – 507

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So many downed trees:

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

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

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

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

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