Categories
Blue Mountains - North Hiking Oregon Trip report

Buck Creek Trail – 06/15/2021

For our third and final hike in the North Fork Umatilla Wilderness we had originally planned on a 13.9 mile loop using the Buck Creek, Lake Creek, and Buck Mountain Trails. That plan had been scrapped due to the damage caused by the February 2020 flooding in the area which left the roads and trails damaged. We parked as we had the two previous days at a gate along Bingham Springs Road (NF-32). Unlike the previous two days though it had rained overnight and the clouds were still breaking up as we set off on the 1.4 mile road walk to the Buck Creek Trailhead
IMG_7875

IMG_7878

There were no masses of swallowtails along the road this morning (post) but we did see a merganser across the Umatilla where some of the butterflies had been.
IMG_7884

IMG_7883

While the first two hikes in this wilderness had been featured hikes in Sullivan’s guidebook the Buck Creek/Buck Mountain Trails were back of the book entries. The Forest Service again had listed them both as open but the latest update (late May 2021) indicated that only the first 2 miles of the Buck Creek Trail had been cleared since the flooding and just the first 1/2 mile of the Buck Mountain Trail had received any maintenance. We were prepared to turn around when the maintenance petered out on both of these trails and we decided to start with the Buck Mountain Trail since it was said to be steep. We figured climbing first thing in the morning was better than later in the day.
IMG_7888Buck Creek Trailhead

IMG_7889Buck Creek Trail straight ahead with the Buck Mountain Trail to the right. Notice that the Buck Mountain Trail didn’t receive a nice new sign. (Not pictured is the Ninemile Ridge Trail to the left.)

IMG_7890

Just a few hundred feet down the Buck Mountain Trail we arrived at Buck Creek where there was no bridge nor any way to cross dry footed.
IMG_7891

IMG_7892

It would have been an easy enough ford but starting the morning of with soaked feet didn’t sound appealing to either of us, especially to simply climb for 1/2 a mile and turn around assuming no further maintenance had been done on the trail. Since we weren’t willing to get wet we decided to return to the trail junction and head up the Buck Creek Trail.
IMG_7893

It didn’t take long to realize that fording the creek or not we were not going to have dry feet today. The Buck Creek Trail had been maintained but not brushed out. The overnight rain transferred easily from the vegetation to our clothing and soon not only were our feet wet but so were our pants and at least the lower half of our shirts.
IMG_7896

IMG_7898Nice new wilderness sign along the trail.

IMG_7900

IMG_7902Signs of the flooding.

IMG_7904Blue sky

IMG_7907

IMG_7908Washed out section of trail.

IMG_7911Recent trail repair here.

IMG_7912Slugs didn’t mind the damp conditions.

We made it a little over 1.75 miles before stopping at a deep washout.
IMG_7923

There was no visible tread entering or leaving this deep ditch and we had spent the previous tenth of a mile or so pushing our way through the wet vegetation so we assumed the maintenance hadn’t gotten any further. We turned back and did our best to pick up any water that we’d missed on the first pass.
IMG_7925

20210615_083538Honeysuckle was everywhere in this wilderness, on all three hikes.

IMG_7932Squirrel!

We took a short detour when we reached NF-32 to check out some damage to the bridge over the South Fork Umatilla River.
IMG_7947

There were no swallowtails today, and the merganser was no longer where we’d seen it but now there was a spotted sandpiper on the rocks where the swallowtails and merganser had been.
IMG_7950

Apparently that is a popular spot for wildlife. We returned to car and drove back to Pendleton for the last time on this trip. For dinner we walked from the Rugged Country Lodge to Hal’s Hamburgers, in business since 1952. It was a nice ending to our stay in Pendleton. A brief but wet 6.5 mile hike with only a couple of hundred feet of elevation gain and a good old fashioned hamburger. Happy Trails!

Our short hike up Buck Creek

Flickr: Buck Creek Trail

Categories
Blue Mountains - North Hiking Oregon Trip report

North Fork Umatilla Trail – 06/14/2021

For the second hike in the North Fork Umatilla Wilderness we chose the North Fork Umatilla River Trail (Hike #40 in Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Eastern Oregon” 3rd edition). We began our hike as we had the prior days for Ninemile Ridge (post) by hiking up the closed portion of Bingham Springs Road but this time after 0.3 miles we noticed a sign post for what apparently is the Lick Creek Trail which connects to the North Fork Umatilla Trail in 0.6 miles near the North Fork Umatilla Trailhead located at the Umatilla Forks Day-Use Area.
IMG_7622Closed portion of Bingham Springs Road (NF 32).

IMG_7626We had completely missed this trail along NF-32 the day before having been distracted by the large number of butterflies in the area.

IMG_7629

Slugs were everywhere on this trail and became a theme for the day.
IMG_7627

The trail climbed up from the road and traversed the hillside above the Umatilla River before dropping down to the North Fork Umatilla Trail.
IMG_7638

IMG_7640We stayed right at this junction to head down to the North Fork Umatilla Trail.

IMG_7645

IMG_7646Spreading dogbane

IMG_7650Evidence of the February 2020 flooding covering the North Fork Umatilla Trail, also there is a squirrel on the base of the tree at center.

There was a warning on the trail sign regarding the flood damage. The Forest Service website had been updated in late May to say that the trail had been maintained as far as Coyote Creek (approx 2.7 miles from the trailhead) though so we figured that we would be able to get at least that far. The Ninemile Ridge Trail had received more maintenance than the Forest Service page had said so we thought there might be a chance that more of this trail had been cleared since the last update too.
IMG_7657Some signs of recent maintenance.

IMG_7659North Fork Umatilla River

We were excited to see that there was an actual wilderness sign on this trail. We hadn’t seen one along the Ninemile Ridge Trail, just a small metal sign plate.
IMG_7661

It was evident that a lot of work had been put into restoring the trail given the number of slides we crossed and cut trees we encountered.
IMG_7663

IMG_7667

IMG_7671Debris from the flood in what appeared to be a new route for the river.

IMG_7676This big slide was across the river.

IMG_7682Some of the trail side was also lost.

IMG_7684Lorquin’s admiral

IMG_7686A section of trail that survived intact.

IMG_7687Looking down another small slide.

IMG_7691Paintbrush

IMG_7694More maintenance along another washout.

IMG_7696Arnica

IMG_7696Queen’s cup

IMG_7700A number of slugs on the trail, Heather counted at least two dozen in just a few feet.

IMG_7702Clover

IMG_7706Monkeyflower

IMG_7707Alpine pennycress

IMG_7712Bog orchid

IMG_7716Stonecrop along an exposed section.

IMG_7717Ragged robin in the exposed area.

IMG_7721

IMG_7722At one point this guy was hitching a ride on my pant leg.

IMG_7730View from the trail.

IMG_7732This section was a little overgrown.

IMG_7737I believe this is Sabin’s lupine.

IMG_7739Spur trail to a large campsite near Coyote Creek and the North Fork Umatilla River.

The footbridge at Coyote Creek was washed out in the flood and now lay broken on the far side of the creek. I crossed over on some nearby downed trees to scout out the trail ahead. Sullivan had shown a rough 0.9 mile scramble route leading up to the left on the far side of the creek while the North Fork Umatilla Trail continued 1.6 miles up river to more campsites before turning away and begin a climb up Coyote Ridge. In 1.2 miles the trail met the scramble route at a viewpoint then climbs another 1.6 miles to a fork at the tip of Coyote Ridge. Originally our plan had been to hike to that fork for an 11 mile out and back (from the Umatilla Forks Day-Use Area). Having to park at the gate would have made it closer to a 13 mile hike but after crossing the creek it was apparent that the Forest Service website was still up to date and the trail had only been cleared to Coyote Creek. Pink flagging marked both the scramble route and official trail but it appeared that was as far as anyone had gotten.
IMG_7740Missing a footbridge.

IMG_7742I crossed on that log.

IMG_7746Found the footbridge.

IMG_7744Flagging for the scramble route.

IMG_7745Flagging for the North Fork Umatilla Trail

We took a short break at Coyote Creek then explored the nearby campsites before heading back.
IMG_7755Butterfly on a cinquefoil?

IMG_7761Confluence of Coyote Creek and the North Fork Umatilla River.

IMG_7765Deep hole below the campsites along the North Fork Umatilla
River.

IMG_7766Campsite near Coyote Creek.

IMG_7767Heading back on the trail.

IMG_7773Checkerspot on honeysuckle

IMG_7774

20210614_093532Twisted stalk

20210614_093947Spotted coralroot

20210614_094143Phantom orchid

20210614_100104Houndstongue

IMG_7810

As we neared the junction with the tie trail to the Lick Creek Trail we met a three person trail crew heading for Coyote Creek. They were going to be working on the trail beyond and added that a larger crew was coming in to camp at Coyote Creek and continue restoring the trail. We thanked them for their efforts and briefly discussed the Ninemile Ridge Trail which they were happy to hear was passable to the cairn at the high point. Instead of taking the tie trail back we hiked out via the day-use area and followed NF-32 back to the car.
IMG_7816Signboard at the trailhead.

IMG_7817Sign for the Blues Crew at the trailhead. These volunteer organizations are so vital to keeping the trails open.

We were delayed twice along the way by swarms of swallowtail butterflies.
IMG_7823Not swallowtails but these lorquin’s admirals sure liked this scat.

IMG_7826The first mass of swallowtails was on the far side of the river along this stretch.
IMG_7830

IMG_7839The second and larger group was at this wet spot along the road.

IMG_7852

20210614_111743~2

IMG_7871

IMG_7873

In addition to all of them on the ground dozens more were swirling around our heads. It was one of those moments on the trail (even if it was a road) that we wont forget.

Our hike came in at a reasonable 8.5 miles round trip with a little under 500′ of elevation gain. A much more manageable day than the one before. While it was a bit disappointing not to reach Coyote Ridge it was probably for the best for our bodies in the long run. It helped that we had gotten plenty of views of the area on Ninemile Ridge too so we didn’t feel like we missed out much there.

Tack for the North Fork Umatilla Trail

We drove back to Pendleton and after cleaning up had dinner at Moe Pho before turning in for the night. Happy Trails!

Flickr: North Fork Umatilla Trail

Categories
California Hiking Klamath Mountains Trinity Divide Trip report

Mount Eddy and the Deadfall Lakes

The chance of thunderstorms didn’t seem to be going away anytime soon so we decided to take a chance on our third day of vacation and try Mount Eddy, the highest point in the Klamath Mountains.  We set off early in the morning and drove to the Parks Creek Trailhead located at the Pacific Crest Trail crossing of Forest Road 42N17.

IMG_5328

We headed south on the PCT toward the Deadfall Lakes.

IMG_5331

We could see our goal as we hiked the PCT.

IMG_5336

Further to the south were the snowy Trinity Alps.

IMG_5348

Below were meadows surrounding Deadfall Creek.

IMG_5363

As we neared the Deadfall Lakes Basin we began passing some good wildflower displays.

IMG_5372

IMG_5375

IMG_5378

IMG_5383

IMG_5385

IMG_5388

IMG_5391

IMG_5417

IMG_5418

IMG_5419

A little under 3 miles from the trailhead we arrived at a junction with the Deadfall Lakes Trail.

IMG_5427

We turned left heading for Mount Eddy. The weather was looking good and we wanted to get up to the summit before any thunderstorms might develop. As we passed by we made a brief stop at Middle Deadfall Lake before continuing on.

IMG_5431

The trail climbed gradually past a series of meadows where we spotted some California pitcher plants.

IMG_5439

IMG_5438

IMG_5440

The trail steepened as it climbed toward Upper Deadfall Lake.

IMG_5444

As we crested the rim of this upper portion of the basin we arrived at a small lake with a big view of Mount Eddy.

IMG_5450

Due to the time the sun wasn’t in the best position to appreciate the view but as we passed by the lake it had a nice reflection.

IMG_5461

Just a little further along the trail (and a mile from the junction) we came to Upper Deadfall Lake.

IMG_5473

IMG_5482

IMG_5484

The trail then climbed .4 miles to a pass where the Mount Eddy Summit Trail forked to the left from the Siskiyou-Callahan Trail.

IMG_5504

IMG_5507

IMG_5508

A quick glance at the map showed us that we had about a mile and a half left to the 9025′ summit and another 1000′ to climb. Up we went.

IMG_5515

As we climbed the views of the Deadfall Lakes gradually improved.

IMG_5513

IMG_5522

2017-07-25 08.27.50_stitch

The views and the presence of a number of wildflowers helped keep our minds off the climb. So did the numerous golden-mantled ground squirrels scurrying about.

IMG_5528

Rockfringe willowherb

IMG_5552

IMG_5525

Mt. Shasta greeted us as we crested the summit of Mount Eddy.

IMG_5559

IMG_5570

Looking north we could see that there was definitely some active weather happening but the sky was cloudless above us.

IMG_5568

We explored the broad summit and took a seat overlooking the Deadfall Lakes where we enjoyed a much needed break.

IMG_5577

IMG_5583

IMG_5598

We eventually pulled ourselves away and headed back down toward the lakes.

IMG_5633

By the time we made it back down to the small lake a few clouds had moved in overhead.

IMG_5656

IMG_5659

We stopped at Middle Deadfall Lake and walked along its shore toward Lower Deadfall Lake.

IMG_5664

We followed the outlet creek down to the lower lake.

IMG_5676

IMG_5675

IMG_5678

The lower lake was lovely so we took another break here. As we ate another snack, Heather spotted a doe grazing along the shore.

IMG_5685

IMG_5682

IMG_5693

She took a seat under a tree and we wondered how many times we’ve missed deer or other animals, if we hadn’t been watching her we probably would have never seen her sitting there.

IMG_5700

IMG_5696

We left the lake and returned to the junction with the PCT and followed it back to our car. Our GPS showed an 11.9 mile trip in all with a little over 2000′ of elevation gain. It had been another exceptional hike in the Klamath Mountains. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Mount Eddy

Categories
Hiking Oregon Roseburg Area Trip report Willamette Valley

North Bank Habitat

We recently headed down to Ashland, OR on vacation for a few hikes and to catch a play at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  On our way down south we stopped at the BLM managed North Bank Habitat just north of Roseburg for a quick hike to break up the drive.  The primary goal of the habitat is to  provide secure habitat for the Columbia white-tailed deer and other special status species.

The 10-mile square area has several access points and trail possibilities, although some access points are only open during certain days/hours so check ahead.  We started our hike at the West Access and headed up the Blacktail Ridge Road Trail.
002

005

The area which had been a farm/ranch? was very different than any of the places we have visited.  Rolling hills of grass and oak trees along with valleys filled with forest.
004

054

056

There were also a lot of flowers, many that were unfamiliar to us.  The only issue was having to watch out for the poison oak that seemed to be everywhere along the way.
010

Yellow Glandweed
016

031

036

042

051

Poison Oak lining the old road
044

Elegant Brodiaea
064

Blessed Milk Thistle
070

Despite it being a cloudy day there were views all along the ridge.  We kept our eyes open for deer on the surrounding hillsides but weren’t having any luck. The only signs of wildlife so far were some blackbirds at the trailhead and lots of birdsong from the trees.
077

096

We followed the Blacktail Ridge Road Trail to a junction with Middle Ridge Trail to a second junction the Thistle Ridge Trail.  Some of the best views were along the Middle Ridge Trail (which we were now on) just after the Thistle Ridge junction. It was here that we began spotting wildlife.  First a hawk
106

Then a small blue bird
114

and finally some deer.
126

They were a ways off but there appeared to be a pair of black-tailed deer not the Columbian white-tailed but they were deer none the less. We continued to spot new flowers as well including several Henderson’s stars which were really unique.
139

Eventually we reached a junction with the Chasm Creek Road Trail. Here we turned left and headed steeply down the old muddy road.
169

The trail eventually leveled off and we strolled through mores open grassland to the border of the Jackson Ranch where we turned left on  the Jackson Ranch access road.  This area was filled with birds including this beautiful western bluebird.
235

202

229

Just before reaching North Bank Road at the gated Jackson Ranch access road we turned left again along a short path lined with daisies and purple self-heal to return to the West Access Parking area.
257

258

Granted it was a Monday morning but we didn’t see another person during the 6.2 mile loop.  It was a perfect way to kick off a week of vacation. Happy Trails!

flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157653672903899