Categories
Central Oregon Hiking Ochoco Mountains Oregon Trip report

Rock Creek to Spanish Peak – 07/20/2021

After spending the night camped near First Creek along the Rock Creek/Ochoco Mountain Trail we got an early (6:30am) start to hopefully climb up the 2000 plus feet to the summit of Spanish Peak before the day got too hot. According to Sullivan’s map (which matched the Forest Service’s map) it was 5.3 miles to the summit.

Forest Service Map

Just 0.2 miles from where we had made our makeshift campsite we came to an established campsite in a saddle near where the Ochoco Mountain Trail supposedly turned uphill to start the climb.
IMG_0375Continuing along the Waterman Ditch.

IMG_0376If this trail sign was marking a junction it wasn’t clear where the other trail was.

IMG_0380Campsite at the saddle.

There was no clear tread other than the continuation of the Rock Creek Trail to the north where it ends at the National Forest Boundary in another mile. There was however a sign for the “Rim Trail” on a tree uphill from the trail.
IMG_0378The Rim Trail sign on a tree trunk.

We headed uphill to the sign and picked up what appeared to be a rough trail but it also looked like it could have been an elk trail.
IMG_0381

We tried our best to follow it uphill but there were no blazes, flagging, or cut logs to indicate that it really was an actual trail and in less than a half mile we lost it in brush.
IMG_0383

IMG_0384

IMG_0386

IMG_0388

The hike had suddenly become an off-trail adventure. Between the Sullivan’s and the Forest Service map we knew the general route that the trail supposedly took so we did our best to recreate it at first. That meant a series of switchbacks up a steep hillside through a sagebrush meadow above First Creek.
IMG_0390

IMG_0391

IMG_0392

IMG_0395

IMG_0397

The trail then supposedly wrapped around the ridge between First and Second Creeks arriving at a rock cairn along a rim 2.5 miles from the saddle. We thought that we might rediscover the tread as we switchbacked up, but we did not. As we compared the maps with our GPS we noticed that we weren’t that far below the top of the ridge and that it might be possible to simply climb over the ridge taking a more direct route to the rim cairn. We decided that was our safest bet as we weren’t sure if we would find the trail wrapping around the ridge and even if we did a large downed tree in the wrong spot could make it impassable. We followed game trails through a small stand of trees into more sagebrush on top of the ridge.
IMG_0400

IMG_0402Rock Creek Lake

IMG_0403Gaining the ridge.

We found the trail again on top of the ridge and were soon following rock cairns to the rim.
IMG_0404

IMG_0405

IMG_0407View from the rim.

IMG_0408Spanish Peak

IMG_0419A local

The trail was easy to follow along the rim but soon it came into some trees (and past a few wildflowers) where it appeared maintenance hadn’t been performed for a bit.
IMG_0430Astter

IMG_0431Some sort of delphinium I think.

IMG_0433Downed trees across the trail ahead.

IMG_0434Interestingly camouflaged beetle on the upper onion.

IMG_0438Lupine

20210720_084339A checkermallow

IMG_0439Some more downed trees that we had to go around.

We briefly left the trees and were back to cairns in the sagebrush but soon reentered the trees and encountered more obstacles.
IMG_0442

IMG_0445

IMG_0448

After passing through a couple of meadows we came to a rocky hillside below Spanish Peak where we left the trail and headed uphill following a few scattered cairns along what was shown on the GPS as the “Mascall Jeep Track”.
IMG_0449

IMG_0452

IMG_0456We left the trail here, note the small cairn on the left.

IMG_0457Heading uphill.

IMG_0453Scarlet gilia

IMG_0458Paintbrush

After a third of a mile we came to Spanish Peak Road, a dirt track to the radio tower and former lookout site atop Spanish Peak.
IMG_0460//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

We turned left on the road and followed it another 0.3 miles up to the summit.
IMG_0465

IMG_0467The site of the former lookout.

The view was impacted by the “widespread haze” that had been forecasted but we could still make out quite a bit (and at least it didn’t smell smokey).
IMG_0469 Looking out toward the John Day River valley.

IMG_0470SE to Windy Point.

IMG_0472West to Rock Creek Lake and on the horizon the flat topped Lookout Mountain (post) and pointier Round Mountain (post) in the Ochocos.

IMG_0474NE to the John Day River Valley.

IMG_0477Lookout and Round Mountain and the rim that we had hiked up below Spanish Peak.

IMG_0480The Pisgah Lookout on the far side of the Bridge Creek Wilderness (post).

IMG_0484A hazy Mount Hood to the NW.

After taking a break at the summit we returned down the road to the jeep track and followed it back down to the Ochoco Mountain Trail where we turned left into some trees.
IMG_0486

IMG_0487

We passed through a meadow filled with fritiallry butterflies who were loving the remaining hyssop blossoms.
IMG_0490

IMG_0495

After 0.3 miles back on the Ochoco Mountain Trail we came to a signed junction with the Mascall Corral Trail.
IMG_0499

Here we made a hard right and headed steeply downhill along the Baldy Creek drainage.
IMG_0498

This trail was in a little better shape having seen some maintenance.
IMG_0502

IMG_0503

IMG_0504Baldy Creek was on our left.

The trail soon followed old roadbeds, including another section of the Mascall Jeep Track and just under three miles from the junction arrived at the Mascall Corrals Trailhead
IMG_0511

IMG_0506Red-tailed hawk

IMG_0514

IMG_0519Western tanager

IMG_0527Arriving at the trailhead.

IMG_0529Signage at the trailhead.

From this trailhead we turned right and followed Forest Road 3820 one and a quarter miles (some of which was disappointingly uphill) to Arvid Nelson Road where we turned right for another 0.8 miles to the Rock Creek Trailhead and our waiting car.
IMG_0532Baldy Creek below FR 3820.

IMG_0535A sulphur butterfly of some sort.

IMG_0543

IMG_0546A watermellon or June bug as we called them growing up.

IMG_0549FR 3820 meeting Arvid Nelson Road.

IMG_0550Spanish Peak from Arvid Nelson Road.

This was an 11.5 mile hike with almost 2500′ of elevation gain. The off-trail scramble above First Creek had made the hike a lot more difficult than planned, made more so by having our full backpacks instead of a lighter day pack, but it had been fun (mostly) and despite the haze we had decent views on the day.

Our track in orange

From the Rock Creek Trailhead we drove to Highway 26 then headed east to John Day where we checked into the Dreamers Lodge then had a nice dinner at the Outpost Pizza Pub & Grill before turning in for the night. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Spanish Peak

Categories
Central Oregon Hiking Ochoco Mountains Oregon Trip report

Black Canyon Wilderness and Rock Creek – 07/19/2021

Every year we pick our vacation time in January/February (due to work) so we never know what the conditions will be when we choose. We had a week scheduled in July for a trip to the John Day area in hopes to make further headway on the 100 featured hikes in Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Eastern Oregon” (post) and to complete our goal of visiting all of Oregon’s designated wilderness areas (minus the two that are closed to human visitors) (post).

With severe drought conditions present all of the West and multiple wildfires burning in Oregon we kept an eye on the forecast and made daily checks with the relevant National Forests to make sure the hikes that we had planned remained open. While all of the trails were open a red flag warning for possible scattered thunderstorms Monday and Tuesday for the Blue Mountains had us a little concerned. The forecast also called for “wide spread haze” every day but fortunately not for “smoke” which meant we’d probably not have much in the way of views on the trip. We could deal with the haze, it was the possibility of new lightning caused fires that could quickly end our trip and our two days of hiking (Monday & Tuesday) involved our first overnight backpacking trip of the year.

Monday we left Salem and drove to the Boeing Field Trailhead, the first of two stops in the eastern portion of the Ochoco Mountains.
IMG_0114

This trailhead, named in honor of a B-18 bomber that crashed nearby during a WWII training flight killing all four crew members, provides access to the Black Canyon Wilderness via the Owl Creek Trail.
IMG_0117

We headed down the Owl Creek Trail and quickly entered our 45th Oregon wilderness area.
IMG_0120

IMG_0123

We descended to the nearly dry bed of Owl Creek in the scar of a 2008 wildfire and in a half mile reached the Black Canyon Trail.
IMG_0124

IMG_0129Aster, paintbrush, and fireweed.

IMG_0134Fireweed, aster, and pearly everlasting.

IMG_0144

IMG_0150Clouds and smoke mixing in the sky made it hard to tell if any thunderstorms might be developing.

IMG_0147We never heard any thunder but we did briefly get sprinkled on.

IMG_0151Ground squirrel.

IMG_0156Columbine

IMG_0158Fritillary butterfly

IMG_0159Black Canyon Trail junction.

We turned left onto the Black Canyon Trail and followed it down into Black Canyon along Owl Creek soon leaving the fire scar behind.
IMG_0162

IMG_0167

IMG_0169

IMG_0172Owl Creek crossing approximately 1.5 miles from the junction.

In another half mile we arrived at Black Canyon Creek which we easily crossed on small logs.
IMG_0180

IMG_0179

IMG_0184

IMG_0185Fish in Black Canyon Creek

We were seeing a lot of mountain lady slipper orchids but unfortunately they were all past.
IMG_0217

Three quarters of a mile after crossing Black Canyon Creek we passed the Coffee Pot Trail and soon entered another fire scar, this one from 2002.
IMG_0189

IMG_0190

IMG_0196

IMG_0201Western Tanager

IMG_0203

Just under 4 miles into the hike we came to the second crossing of Black Canyon Creek and our turnaround point for the day.
IMG_0210

IMG_0214California tortioseshell

Western Jacob's ladderWestern Jacob’s ladder

IMG_0211Black Canyon Creek

After a short break on a log spanning the creek we headed back to the car stopping occasionally along the way to watch pollinators busy at work.
IMG_0237

IMG_0244

IMG_0253

This was an eight mile out and back with almost 1600′ of elevation gain, mostly on the way back.

Black Canyon Track

From Boeing Field we drove back the way we’d come 4.3 miles to the Rock Creek Trailhead.
IMG_0264

Here we threw on our full backpacks as our plan was to camp somewhere along Rock Creek and then return on a loop the next day by hiking up to Spanish Peak the next day following the route of the Ochoco Mountain Trail and Mascall Corral Trail.

Forest Service Map

IMG_0266

From the trailhead the trail descended to Rock Creek crossing it on a nice footbridge.
IMG_0267

IMG_0273

IMG_0277

IMG_0282

IMG_0286

IMG_0288The number of insects on the blossoms and their size differences were fascinating.

The trail then followed along Rock Creek for a bit before the creek began descending more steeply than the trail. At the 2.4 mile mark we arrived at a sign announcing the Waterman Ditch.
IMG_0291

IMG_0301Snacks

IMG_0305

IMG_0308

IMG_0310Lorquin’s adrmiral

IMG_0313

IMG_0320

IMG_0321A little light on the tread in this section.

IMG_0322

IMG_0323

The trail then followed the old ditch passing the remains of a cabin next to Fir Tree Creek in 1.4 miles.
IMG_0327

IMG_0328

IMG_0335

IMG_0348Fir Tree Creek

IMG_0349Butterflies on coneflower

IMG_0351The cabin ruins.

We continued on heading for Second Creek which was just over 1.5 miles beyond Fir Tree Creek where we hoped we might find a spot to camp or at least refill our water supply.
IMG_0355

IMG_0358Coming around a ridge end toward Second Creek.

IMG_0363Monkshood at Second Creek

IMG_0365This little guy oversaw our water pumping.

There wasn’t a lot of water in Second Creek and the crossing where the most obvious spot to get water was had a whole lot of yellow jackets flying around. We had to do a little hunting up and down the creek in thick vegetation to find a pool deep enough for our pump but finally managed to. What we couldn’t find was a place for our tent or a spot to cook dinner away from the yellow jackets and mosquitos so after getting water we reluctantly continued hiking. After nearly 1.5 more miles we arrived at First Creek where there was almost no water but there was a suitable spot for a tent.
IMG_0367

IMG_0368

It had been a long day with this hike coming in a little over 7 miles making it a 15+ mile day for us.

Rock Creek Track (orange)

It was also a warm evening and we had the rainfly on due to the slight chance of rain which made it even warmer. It did finally cool off enough overnight to warrant pulling our sleeping bag/quilt over us and we managed to get some sleep. I woke up once when something fairly big cracked it’s way through the trees below our camp and a couple more times when a pair of nearby owls were trading hoots. It was a more difficult start to our trip then we had anticipated but a good day none the less. Happy Trails!

Categories
Hiking Year-end wrap up

The Hikes of 2020 – A Look Back

Well 2020 is officially over and I think nearly everyone is glad to see it go. It was a rough year for so many between COVID-19 costing lives and jobs and wildfires claiming homes and businesses. We were fortunate in that we were able to keep working throughout the year, stayed healthy, and were just slightly inconvenienced by the fires that impacted so many after Labor Day. The most traumatic event that we personally experienced was the loss of our eldest cat, Buddy (post) in January.

With all that going on during the year, hiking became a way to try and escape and yet it seemed nearly impossible not to feel the cloud that was 2020 hanging over everything. It certainly made for a “different” year of hiking. I made more changes to our planned hikes in 2020 than in any previous year. It wasn’t just COVID and fires that triggered changes either, flooding in the Blue Mountains east of Pendleton in February damaged Forest Service Roads and trails forcing us to cancel a planned June trip. We originally had 58 days of hiking planned (as of January 1, 2020) but we cancelled a September backpacking trip in the Sky Lakes Wilderness due to heavy wildfire smoke which left us ending the year with 52 days of hiking. Of those only 19 days consisted of hikes that were on the list on January 1, and just 9 wound up happening on the day originally scheduled (an additional two happened within a day of the original plan).

During those 52 days we spent 10 nights backpacking, stopped at 70 trails/trailheads, and 3 roadside waterfalls.
2020 hikesHiker symbol = Trails/trailheads, yellow houses = campsites, purple binoculars = roadside waterfalls

This year saw no repeated hikes and just 18 days where we were on the same part of a trail that we had hiked in a previous year, roughly 34.5 out of the 586.7 miles that hiked. That meant a lot of new trails and sights for us. Two of the hikes, Gearhart Mountain (post), and Boulder Creek (post) were in wilderness areas that we had yet to make it to.
Gearhart Mountain WildernessGearhart Mountain

Boulder CreekBoulder Creek

Here are just a few highlights from the places we visited over the year. (* denotes at least some of the area burned in a 2020 fire.)

January
Cobblestones along the beach at Cape Lookout State ParkNetarts Spit

February

View from Spencer ButteSpencer Butte

Shotgun CreekShotgun Creek

Horse Rock Ridge TrailHorse Rock Ridge

March
Morning at Miller WoodsMiller Woods

Trappist AbbeyTrappist Abbey

April

CamasBush Pasture Park

May
Baskett ButteBasket Slough Wildlife Refuge

North Fork Willamette RiverNorth Fork Willamette River

Little Luckiamute RiverLittle Luckiamute River

Old growth at Valley of the GiantsValley of the Giants

Indigo SpringsIndigo Springs

Rigdon MeadowsRigdon Meadows

Pigeon Butte TrailheadPigeon Butte

June
East Fork South Fork McKenzie RiverEast Fork South Fork McKenzie River

Sullivan Creek FallsSullivan Creek Falls*

Henline FallsHenline Falls*

Bull-of-the Woods and Whetstone Mountain from the lookout siteHenline Mountain*

Spirit FallsSpirit Falls

Pinard FallsPinard Falls

Moon FallsMoon Falls

Memaloose LakeMemaloose Lake*

Echo Basin TrailEcho Basin

Hall HouseFish Lake

View from the Green Ridge TrailGreen Ridge*

High Ridge TrailTable Rock Wilderness* (The Riverside fire burned at least the access road and may have encroached into the SW portion of the wilderness.)

Mt. Adams from the Monte Carlo TrailMonte Carlo Trail

July
Hunchback TrailHunchback Mountain

Meadow along the Pyramids TrailMeadow below the Three Pyramids

North Pyramid from Daly LakeDaly Lake

View from Winter RidgeWinter Ridge

Light Peak from Fence PassFence Pass

Beatys Butte from Flook LakeFlook Lake

Barnhardy RoadHart Mountain Antelope Refuge

Petroglyphs around Petroglyph LakePetroglyphs along Petroglyph Lake

Waterfall on DeGarmo CreekDeGarmo Canyon

The Palisades in the Gearhart Mountain WildernessThe Palisades in the Gearhart Mountain Wilderness (This was probably our favorite area of the year amid these rock formations.)

August
View from Sleeping BeautySleeping Beauty

Red Butte and Mt. Adams from the Highline TrailHighline Trail

Cottonwood Creek FallsCottonwood Creek Falls (This was probably the sketchiest hike we’ve done.)

Mt. ThielsenMt. Thielsen* (The Thielsen Creek fire burned a small part of the trails in the area.)

The old Bohemia Post OfficeBohemia Post Office

Diamond Peak from Diamond View LakeDiamond View Lake

Climbers trail to Diamond PeakDiamond Peak (The sketchiest hike we didn’t do.)

Diamond Peak from Karen Lake at sunsetKaren Lake

Middle Erma Bell LakeMiddle Erma Bell Lake

September
Mt. Bailey from the Dellenback TrailDiamond Lake

Rattlesnake Mountain from the Rogue-Umpqua Divide TrailRattlesnake Mountain

View from the Spruce Run Creek TrailSpruce Run Creek Trail

October

Deep Lake TrailIndian Heaven Wilderness

Deschutes River with Grizzly Mountain in the distanceWildcat Canyon

National Creek FallsNational Creek Falls

Takelma GorgeTakelma Gorge

Hershberger Mountian LookoutHershberger Mountain

Rabbit EarsRabbit Ears

Rogue River at Natural BridgeNatural Bridge

Old lookout tower on Abbott ButteAbbott Butte Lookout

Wild Cherry TrailForest Park

Upper Latourell FallsUpper Latourell Falls

Larch Mountain from Multnomah BasinLarch Mountain

November
McKenzie RiverMcKenzie River

December

Sun rays through the treesYachats

Not all of the trails were in the greatest of shape, an issue that is unfortunately becoming more common as the agencies that manage them often lack the funding to maintain them.
Blowdown over the Swordfern TrailSwordfern Trail

East Fork Trail under blowdownEast Fork Trail

Blowdown over the Riggs Lake TrailRiggs Lake Trail

Hackleman Old Growth TrailHackleman Old Growth Loop

Howlock Mountain TrailHowlock Mountain Trail

Shale Ridge Trail continuing on the far side of the North Fork Middle Fork Willamette RiverShale Ridge Trail

Acker Divide Trail covered by blowdownAcker Divide Trail

Union Creek Trail (it is straight ahead, really)Union Creek Trail

While we haven’t run out of new trails and areas to explore we are finding it harder to see wildflowers and wildlife that we haven’t already seen at some point but there always seems to be some. We spotted a bobcat for the first time (from the car) on our way to Winter Ridge (post). Lake Abert and Summer Lake hosted a few species of birds that we hadn’t run across before. (post) We plan on posting wildflower and wildlife galleries soon but for now here are those that were new to us this year.
Castilleja levisecta - Golden PaintbrushCastilleja levisecta – Golden Paintbrush at Basket Slough Wildlife Refuge (post)

Musk thistleMusk Thistle at Winter Ridge (Unfortunately it’s an invasive but they were impressive.)

Pandora moth catapillerPandora moth caterpillar at Green Ridge (post)

Horned larkHorned Lark at Flook Lake (post)

Gulls and American avocets at Lake Abert Watchable Wildlife AreaGulls and American avocets at Lake Abert

Various birds including a white faced ibis and a black necked stiltBlack necked stilt at Summer Lake

Frog under Heather's daypackPossibly a coastal tailed frog at Wiley Camp in the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness (post)

The most interesting thing that happened this year though was stumbling on a human mandible. It was a little unsettling but it was clearly fairly old. We left it alone and marked the coordinates the GPS and reported it to the agency in charge of the land. The agency was nice enough to keep us in the loop when archeologists were called in to confirm that it was Native American at which point they contacted the appropriate Tribe(s) so that they could decide what to do with it. We were asked no to share the location for obvious reasons. It was very interesting getting to see how that process worked.

We also hit a couple of milestones this year, our last hike at Yachats (post) was our 500th day of hiking and we reached our long term goal of hiking all 100 featured hikes in William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Central Oregon Cascades” (4th edition). We will talk a little more about that in a progress report on our goal to finish the 100 featured hikes in all five of his guide books covered areas.

Despite all its troubles 2020 will at least be memorable. Here is to a better 2021 with more new trail, new discoveries, and hopefully some happier stories. Happy Trails!

Categories
Hiking Indian Heaven Trip report Washington Washington Cascades

Junction and Cultus Lakes – Indian Heaven Wilderness – 10/03 & 10/04/2020

With a September backpacking trip to the Sky Lakes Wilderness having been canceled due to the wide spread wildfires on the West Coast it seemed like our Labor Day trip (post) may have been the last nights in our tent. Fortunately the weather and smoke both cooperated over the first weekend in October and we spent one final night in our tent in the Indian Heaven Wilderness. It appeared that nearly everyone else had that same idea making this trip by far the busiest over night trip we’ve experienced.

We had visited this wilderness on two previous occasions – a 2015 day hike starting at the Thomas Lake Trailhead, and a 2018 day hike to Indian Racetrack via the Pacific Crest Trail. We began this trip on the eastern side of the wilderness at the East Crater Trailhead.
IMG_6371

Our plan was to take the East Crater Trail 2.5 miles to Junction Lake and set up camp then make a big loop (with a few side trips) around Bird Mountain using the Pacific Crest Trail, Cultus Creek Trail, Indian Heaven Trail, and finally the Lemi Lake Trail. We started up the East Crater Trail through a mountain hemlock forest with splashes of Fall colors.
IMG_6376

The trail climbed gradually entering the Indian Heaven Wilderness.
IMG_6380

A little less than a mile and a half from the trailhead we passed the first of several small ponds and the scar of the 2017 East Crater Fire.
IMG_6385

IMG_6392Still some fireweed blooming in the fire scar.

IMG_6396East Crater beyond a pond.

IMG_6397

Just before the 2.5 miles we arrived at the Pacific Crest Trail and the end of the East Crater Trail near Junction Lake.
IMG_6404

IMG_6406Junction Lake

We didn’t want to set up our tent on the vegetation in the meadows around the lake so we looked to the opposite side of the PCT where we found a nice little spot tucked back in the trees.
IMG_6411

IMG_6407This crab spider offered to watch our tent for us while we were away.

After getting everything set up we headed north along the PCT past Junction Lake to a junction with the Lemi Lake Trail.
IMG_6413

We stayed left on the PCT and reentered the trees on a forested hillside.
IMG_6418

A mile from the Lemi Lake Trail junction we came to another junction with the Elk Lake Trail near Bear Lake.
IMG_6423

This was our first detour as we turned left and descended to the shore of Bear Lake where numerous tents were set up.
IMG_6424

The Indian Heaven Wilderness is famous for its huckleberries but this late in the year most of them were well past edible but along the lake shore there were a few left which had caught the attention of the locals.
IMG_6433

We opted not to go the third of a mile further to Elk Lake and after a short break we returned to the PCT and continued north another .4 miles before making another short side trip downhill to Deer Lake.
IMG_6442

We continued past Deer Lake meeting the Indian Heaven Trail on the far side where a right turn onto it would have allowed for a shorter loop. We had done that loop on our first visit to the wilderness though so we stuck to the PCT this time. We could hear pikas “meeping” from a talus slope near the junction so when we got closer to the rocks we started scanning for the little guys. We were quickly rewarded as one darted in and out of the rocks pausing long enough for a couple of photos.
IMG_6452

IMG_6455

The PCT continued to climb gradually along the western side of Bird Mountain passing the Placid Lake Trail approximately a mile from the Indian Heaven Trail before arriving at a 4-way junction after another mile.
IMG_6466Placid Lake Trail on the left.

IMG_6481No pikas in these rocks, that we saw.

At the junction the PCT continued straight while the Wood Lake Trail headed downhill to the left.
IMG_6485

IMG_6486PCT at the 4-way junction.

We took the right had path, the Cultus Creek Trail which crossed over a pass.
IMG_6483Cultus Creek Trail heading uphill to the right.

On the far side of the pass we took a use trail out to a rocky viewpoint with a great view of Mt. Adams.
IMG_6488

IMG_6491

In front of Mt. Adams we recognized Sleeping Beauty which we had hiked up earlier in the year (post).
IMG_6496

We took another break on some rocks here and soaked in the view. The forecast for the weekend had been for widespread haze so the blue sky and clear view was a nice surprise. After the break we returned to the Cultus Creek Trail which headed steeply downhill. We were starting to see more and more hikers as it seemed a lot of people had the same idea that we’d had as far as it being a good weekend for a visit. As the trail dropped to the east we briefly got a glimpse of the Goat Rocks and Mt. Rainier beyond Sawtooth Mountain.
IMG_6516

IMG_6509Goat Rocks with Mt. Adams hiding behind trees.

IMG_6511Mt. Rainier behind Sawtooth Mountain (and Steamboat Mountain to the right)

IMG_6513Mt. Rainier

After a mile and a half on the Cultus Creek Trail we arrived at the Cultus Creek Forest Camp.
IMG_6528

IMG_6530

IMG_6533

We walked to the right through the camp following signs to the Indian Heaven Trailhead.
IMG_6538

We followed this relatively steep trail back into the wilderness and up to an even better viewpoint just over a mile from the trailhead.
IMG_6547

IMG_6551_stitch

Mt. Rainier had swapped sides with Sawtooth Mountain and was fully visible as were the Goat Rocks and Mt. Adams.
IMG_6560

IMG_6561

IMG_6563

Beyond the viewpoint the trail continued to climb but much more gradually arriving at a junction with the Deep Lake Trail after 1.2 miles.
IMG_6576The Labor Day wind storm had knocked a number of trees down but the trails we took had mostly been cleared already.

IMG_6574

IMG_6596

There was a bit of a traffic jam at the Deep Lake Trail junction and we wound up on that trail even though we had not planned on this side trip.
IMG_6580Cultus Lake from the Deep Lake Trail.

IMG_6582

It was only about a quarter mile to Deep Lake and well worth the trip as it turned out. The top of Mt. Adams was visible across the lake.
IMG_6583

We took another break along the shore of this lake (which was also very busy with hikers and backpackers).
IMG_6587

We returned to the Indian Heaven Trail and followed it to the far side of Cultus Lake where we turned left on the Lemi Trail.
IMG_6598Lemi Rock beyond Cultus Lake

IMG_6601Cultus Lake from the Lemi Trail.

Beyond Cultus Lake the Lemi Trail passed through a series of meadows with bright red and yellow huckleberry leaves.
IMG_6610

IMG_6613

After a mile of fairly level hiking the Lemi Trail steepened gaining a little over 200′ in .3 miles.
IMG_6621The climb was up a forested hillside.

The climb offered us the only view of the day of Mt. St. Helens.
IMG_6622Mt. St. Helens

IMG_6624

The trail leveled out again on the east side of Lemi Rock at a junction with what appeared to be possibly be a climbers trail on the right.
IMG_6637

We continued on the Lemi Trail another quarter mile to a viewpoint above Lake Wapiki where we now had a view of Mt. Hood (and a little more haze).
IMG_6642Mt. Adams as we approached the viewpoint.

IMG_6644Lake Wapiki

IMG_6665Mt. Hood

IMG_6654_stitch

The Lemi Trail continued another 1.1 miles down to the lake but the climb up to the viewpoint from Cultus Lake was enough to convince us that we weren’t up for the 400′ climb back up from Lake Wapiki so after resting at the viewpoint we started back. Curiosity got the best of us at the trail near Lemi Rock though as it appeared fairly level so we turned left onto it and began following it to see where it might lead.
IMG_6667

We followed this trail past more spectacular Fall colors for .2 miles where it suddenly disappeared in some small trees.
IMG_6674

20201003_145455_HDR

IMG_6675

We maneuvered our way through the trees picking up another mylar balloon (we have come to hate these).

IMG_6676

We popped out at a small meadow where we declared victory at headed back toward Lemi Rock.
IMG_6677

IMG_6683

As we passed a small pool with a clear reflection Heather spotted the second pika of the day.
IMG_6684

IMG_6685

IMG_6687

After watching the pika for a moment returned to the Lemi Trail and took it back to Cultus Lake and the Indian Heaven Trail.
IMG_6696

We turned left onto the Indian Heaven Trail and followed it for another .3 miles to a junction with the Lemi Lake Trail.
IMG_6699

We turned left onto this trail passing through a series of meadows before arriving at Lemi Lake after a little over half a mile.
IMG_6705

IMG_6707

IMG_6711Lemi Lake

We had brought our camp stove and dinner and stopped at the lake to get water and eat.
IMG_6713

IMG_6715

After dinner we followed the Lemi Lake Trail for another 1.5 miles back to Junction Lake and the Pacific Crest Trail.
IMG_6719

IMG_6721Pearly everlasting

IMG_6737Lemi Rock from the Lemi Lake Trail.

IMG_6745

IMG_6746

IMG_6747Junction Lake

IMG_6748Back to the PCT.

IMG_6751Junction Lake from the PCT/Lemi Lake Trail junction.

Things had gotten very crowded at Junction Lake and there were tents all over the grass around the lake shore. We retreated to our little spot in the trees away from the madness and took our camp chairs in the opposite direction and sat for awhile at the edge of a meadow.
IMG_6753

We decided that we’d get up no later than 5am and beat the crowds by hiking out in the dark the next morning. We’ve been spoiled with nearly none of our backpacking trips involving many other people at all so this was a bit of an adjustment for us. We wound up waking up at 4:30am and set off under a full moon toward our car.
IMG_6759

We had only hiked in the dark one other time, when we thought there might be a fire in the Three Sisters Wilderness, but it was actually 40 miles away (post). That had been quite the adventure as it seemed like we were constantly seeing eyes in the forest or toads in the trail. We were hoping we might have a similar experience here but the 2.5 mile hike back to the car was quick and uneventful. We were back home in Salem a little after 9am though which gave us plenty of time to unpack, do laundry and watch the Seahawks game. Aside from not being used to that many people on an overnighter it had been a good trip. The weather was great as were the views and the Fall colors. Somehow we managed to turn what we expected to be a 14.6 mile hike into 18.2 miles (those side trips will get you every time) but it was worth every step. Happy Trails (and Go Hawks)!

Flickr: Junction and Cultus Lakes

Categories
Hiking Old Cascades Oregon Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trip report

Rattlesnake Mountain – 09/06/2020

After spending the night at Wiley Camp (post) we grabbed our day packs and crossed the West Fork Muir Creek on the Wiley Camp Trail.
IMG_5660

IMG_5661Smokey skies turning the Sun red.

We followed the cairn and flagging that we had found the day before and picked up the trail on the far end of the meadow.
IMG_5663

IMG_5665

The Wiley Camp Trail entered the trees where we had to navigate around and over a number of downed trees.
IMG_5666

IMG_5667

IMG_5678

Despite the numerous obstacles the trail was easy enough to follow and it passed a number of huge trees.
IMG_5670

IMG_5671Little trees surrounding a giant.

IMG_5674A downed giant.

Three quarters of a mile from Wiley Camp the trail entered a large meadow where we finally lost the tread.
IMG_5680

IMG_5682

IMG_5684

IMG_5687Madia

IMG_5689Paintbrush

We used the GPS to relocate the trail at the upper end of the meadow in a saddle.
IMG_5693

The trail then dropped a tenth of a mile to the Wiley Camp Trailhead on Fish Creek Valley Road 870.
IMG_5694

On the far side of the road was a pointer for the Whitehorse Meadows Trail.
IMG_5696

This trail reentered the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness and dropped into another meadow following a small stream.
IMG_5700

IMG_5704

IMG_5705

IMG_5708Goldenrod and other flowers.

IMG_5710Arnica?

IMG_5714Columbine

20200906_082143St. John’s wort

IMG_5721Fleabane (or aster) and coneflower

Three quarters of a mile from the road we arrived at Fish Creek where the trail briefly disappeared.
IMG_5723

IMG_5724

Heather found the trail on the far side of the creek where we turned left along the edge of the meadow before turning right at a tree with another trail sign.
IMG_5728

IMG_5729

Just beyond the trees we came to the unsigned Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trail.
IMG_5730

Here we turned left following this trail a quarter of a mile where the Whitehorse Meadows Trail split off uphill to the right.
IMG_5731

IMG_5732The trail sign on the left wasn’t particularly descriptive.

The Whitehorse Meadows Trail climbed steadily through meadows and forest for 1.2 miles to a four-way junction at Windy Gap. The highlight of this section was an owl that flew by and landed in a nearby tree.
IMG_5736

IMG_5738

IMG_5739The owl is in the center of the picture behind the branch with green needles.

IMG_5742Small stream crossing

IMG_5744Chipmunk

IMG_5746

IMG_5749

IMG_5753

IMG_5754Windy Gap

We took a break on some logs at the gap before heading up the Rattlesnake Mountain Trail (which was on the right as we arrived).
IMG_5755

The sometimes faint Rattlesnake Mountain Trail gained over 800′ in the next 1.2 miles as it climbed via a series of switchbacks, steeply at times to a large rock cairn. It had been a little smokier than the previous day but as we climbed we managed to get above the smoke.
IMG_5759

IMG_5758

IMG_5761

IMG_5765

IMG_5766

IMG_5768

Along the way we passed an impressive rock outcropping.
IMG_5770

IMG_5771

IMG_5775Near the upper end of the 1.2 mile section we entered a burn scar with views of Mt. Bailey, Mt. Thielsen and Crater Lake.

IMG_5777Mt. Thielsen

IMG_5779High points along the rim of Crater Lake above the smoke.

IMG_5781A bee photobomb with Mt. Bailey and Mt. Thielsen to it’s right.

IMG_5786Flagging in the burn scar.

IMG_5783Nuttall’s linanthus

20200906_100351Owls clover

IMG_5791

IMG_5792Golden-mantled ground squirrel.

IMG_5794The rock cairn.

The Rattlesnake Mountain Trail continued NE at a much smaller cairn at a switchback below the larger cairn. We missed this on the way up, it appears that it had not been maintained since the 2017 Rattlesnake Fire.
IMG_5821

From the large cairn we simply headed uphill through the meadow to a viewpoint on the west side of the mountain.
IMG_5798Nearing the summit.

The air was okay where we were, but the smoke was impacting the views. We were able to make out the top of Mt. McLoughlin beyond Fish Mountain.
IMG_5803

IMG_5802Mt. McLoughlin

IMG_5804Hillman Peak and The Watchman at Crater Lake

We tried taking a break amid the trees near the summit but we wound up attracting a number of yellow jackets (and I don’t do yellow jackets) so we decided to instead stroll around the fairly level top of Rattlesnake Mountain where we located the old lookout site.
IMG_5808

IMG_5811Butterfly and bees.

We did a small loop around the forested top and dropped back down through the meadow to the cairn and returned to Windy Gap.
IMG_5824For some reason this cracked us up.

20200906_114812Heather spotted this cricket on my shoulder (I always have some sort of insect on me for some reason).

At the 4-way junction at Windy Gap we went straight following a sign for the “Tie Trail to Castle Creek Trail No. 1576”. (Not a trail name that just flows off the tongue.)
IMG_5828

Approximately .2 miles from Windy Gap we passed a sign for a faint unnamed trail leading uphill to the right.
IMG_5832

The next .2 miles were interesting as the trail grew faint and then disappeared in a meadow.
IMG_5833

IMG_5834

This section of trail was not shown on the GPS so we couldn’t use that to stick to where the trail was supposed to be so we wound up crossing the meadow and then heading uphill to the Castle Creek Trail which was shown on the GPS.
IMG_5835We’d lost the trail here and were just heading for the Castle Creek Trail.

IMG_5836We came across this faint tread in the trees before reaching the Castle Creek Trail and started following it.

IMG_5839Apparently it was the actual trail as it popped us out at a trail sign along the Castle Creek Trail.

We turned left on the Castle Creek Trail, which followed an old roadbed downhill for 1.1 miles to the end of Fish Creek Valley Road 877 at the Happy Camp Trailhead
IMG_5841

IMG_5845

IMG_5850Rattlesnake Mountain

IMG_5855Happy Camp Trailhead

We followed the road to the left 100 yards to the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trail.
IMG_5863Rattlesnake Mountain

IMG_5864Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trail

The trail dropped into a meadow and crossed Fish Creek. We followed this trail three quarters of a mile to the junction with the Whitehorse Meadows Trail where we had turned uphill earlier in the day.
IMG_5872

IMG_5876Snake in Fish Creek

IMG_5882

IMG_5885Scarlet gilia

We then retraced our steps to the Wiley Camp Trail and the Fish Creek Crossing where we refilled our water supply.
IMG_5887Fish Creek

IMG_5889Fish in Fish Creek

IMG_5891Frog in Fish Creek

As we climbed past the meadow beyond Fish Creek we spotted several hawks and one deer who crashed off before we knew what had happened.
IMG_5898

IMG_5894

We recrossed Fish Creek Valley Road 870 and returned to camp on the Wiley Camp Trail.
IMG_5905

No sooner had I sat down at camp when a bat flew by and landed on a nearby tree.
IMG_5925

I’m not sure why it was out during the day but it stayed on the tree for a minute or two then flew off across the creek. We spent the rest of the day relaxing at the creek (which was really cold).
IMG_5928Monkshood

IMG_5936This frog decided that under Heather’s pack was a nice spot to chill.

We didn’t see another person the entire day which was nice but in a way also a shame. The area is beautiful but it clearly sees little maintenance and appears to see most of it’s visitors during hunting season. The lack of visitors likely contributes to the lack of maintenance which in turn discourages visitors. It’s really a shame. We enjoyed the privacy though and had another nice evening alone with the critters. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Rattlesnake Mountain

Categories
Hiking

Diamond Peak Loop Days 3 & 4 – 08/24 & 8/25/2020

Morning of day three was a little less smoky and we were eager to get an early start to try and avoid doing the long climb from Notch Lake to the divide above the Pacific Crest Trail in the afternoon heat. We were up with the sunrise and after coffee and some granola we were back on the Diamond Peak Trail heading north.
IMG_4667

IMG_4676

IMG_4678Some blue sky again.

The trail lost 500′ of elevation over the next mile including some steeper drops before arriving at a junction with the Happy Lake Trail.
IMG_4679Happy Lake Trail junction.

We detoured left here for the half mile hike down to Happy Lake.
IMG_4680

Unlike the Blue Lake Trail the Happy Lake Trail was fairly level losing less than 100′ of elevation before passing by a large meadow and arriving at the lake.
IMG_4687Just a small part of the meadow.

IMG_4692

IMG_4693

We set our packs down and then followed a path to a hard to see waterfall along the lakes outlet creek.
IMG_4698

IMG_4699

It might have been hard to see the whole thing but it sounded wonderful. There were also a lot of wonderfully ripe berries in the area.
IMG_4710

A viewpoint along the cliffs gave us a look at the rocky pillar of Mt. Yoran which we would be passing on the way to the divide later in the day.
IMG_4713

After enjoying the lake and waterfall (and consuming quite a few berries) we returned to the Diamond Peak Trail and continued on. It was a mile and a half to our next trail junction and we were pleasantly surprise to find that this stretch of the trail had seen some recent maintenance which made the going that much easier.
IMG_4717

IMG_4721

IMG_4725We think this was Bear Creek. Other than the outlet of Happy Creek no other creek beds had flowing water on this side of the mountain.

IMG_4727Diamond Peak from the trail.

At the junction we left the Diamond Peak Trail and turned right onto the Diamond Peak Tie Trail.
IMG_4730

IMG_4731

This trail had also recently been cleared and was lined with huckleberries. It was also apparent that this was a much wetter area than we’d been in so far along the loop which meant mosquitoes which kept us from stopping for long.
IMG_4735

IMG_4734

IMG_4736

IMG_4740One of several damp meadows.

IMG_4746The creeks were still dry though.

IMG_4749An unnamed lake.

After two miles on the Diamond Peak Tie Trail we arrived at the Vivian Lake Trail. We had been on the other end of this trail when we visited Vivian Lake in 2013 (post).
IMG_4753

IMG_4755

We turned right onto this trail and in a quarter mile arrived at rock rimmed Notch Lake.
IMG_4759Small unnamed lake just before Notch Lake.

IMG_4760Another little lake/pond near Notch Lake.

IMG_4761Notch Lake

This was a really neat lake and we would have loved to stick around a bit but all the standing water in the area made for a lot of pesky mosquitoes so we unfortunately had to move on pretty quickly.
IMG_4766

IMG_4769_stitch

IMG_4775Beargrass

Approximately .2 miles beyond Notch Lake the Vivian Lake Trail veered left and the Mt. Yoran Trail split to the right.
IMG_4776

IMG_4778

The Mt. Yoran Trail climbed at an increasingly steep grade over the next 1.7 miles before gaining a ridge and leveling out.
IMG_4780

IMG_4784

IMG_4786Diamond Peak from the trail; the smoke was back.

IMG_4791Textured mushroom

IMG_4795On the ridge.

The trail followed the ridge with some small ups and downs for a mile before dropping to Divide Lake at the base of Mt. Yoran.
IMG_4801

IMG_4803Diamond Peak

IMG_4804Lousewort

IMG_4808Mt. Yoran from the trail.

IMG_4814Diamond Peak again.

IMG_4815Mt. Yoran on the left and the divide on the right.

IMG_4820Passing under Mt. Yoran.

IMG_4823Please tell me that’s a seed and not that the ground squirrels have taken up smoking.

IMG_4824Divide Lake

IMG_4828

IMG_4829

The mosquitoes weren’t nearly as bad here so we were able to take a nice long break before resuming our trek.
IMG_4846Blue sky making a comeback.

IMG_4831

IMG_4835Diamond Peak from Divide Lake

IMG_4851Climbers trail to Mt. Yoran.

IMG_4853Thank goodness it was a seed.

When it was time to continue we followed the Mt. Yoran Trail around Divide Lake and past two smaller unnamed lakes before making the steep 300′ climb to the divide.
IMG_4855

IMG_4857Beardtongue

IMG_4862Mt. Yoran from Divide Lake

IMG_4865

IMG_4866One of the unnamed lakes.

IMG_4872Starting up to the divide.

After crossing the divide the trail dropped down to the Pacific Crest Trail.
IMG_4876

We turned left here and followed the PCT downhill for 2 miles.
IMG_4879

Along the way we bumped into another backpacker who was doing the same loop in the other direction. We were able to let him know about the trail conditions ahead and he let us know that the Yoran Lake Trail now continued past Yoran Lake all the way to the Pacific Crest Trail. When we had done our Yoran Lake hike in 2014 (post) we had bushwacked from Yoran Lake to Lils Lake and the PCT so this was welcome news.
IMG_4882PCT

IMG_4887Diamond Peak from the PCT.

IMG_4888Lakeview Mountain

IMG_4890New looking sign at the newly extended Yoran Lake Trail.

IMG_4891

IMG_4893Huge tree mushroom at the junction.

The Yoran Lake Trail passed by Lils Lake and arrived at Yoran Lake in .4 miles.
IMG_4896

IMG_4903Diamond Peak from Yoran Lake.

IMG_4906

IMG_4910

We had originally intended to set up camp here but there were already a number of people at this lake and we weren’t (I wasn’t) feeling all that sociable so we decided to press on to Karen Lake which was less than a quarter mile away. I don’t have a lot of patience to begin with and my Garmin had quite working at Divide Lake due to the memory being too full (at least that’s what I hoped it was, and it was) and that had put me on edge.
IMG_4912Dry creek bed (this feeds Trapper Creek).

IMG_4913Right hand fork to Karen Lake.

Things were much more solitary at Karen Lake aside from a lone duck patrolling the waters.
IMG_4916

IMG_4917

We had camp set up by 3pm and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening enjoying the lake (and the decreasingly smoky skies).
IMG_4919

IMG_4921

IMG_4922Dragon fly visit.

IMG_4944

IMG_4950A little bird joining the duck on the rocks.

IMG_4957

IMG_4963Is this a tadpole? We first thought it was a newt then a fish but it’s got feet.

While the smoke was clearing there were more clouds coming and going, but we had kept a close eye on the forecast before leaving and there hadn’t even an inkling of a chance for precipitation for the trip or the next couple of days.
IMG_4965

IMG_4968The moon was really showing up well over the mountain.

We had just gotten settled in the tent for the night when the light outside turned orange. I threw my clothes back on to try and catch the sunset which was spectacular.
IMG_4976

IMG_4983_stitch

IMG_4990

IMG_5006_stitch

IMG_5010

After a whole lot of picture taking I got back into the tent and we tried to sleep. It didn’t come easy though. I don’t know if knowing we had less than 5 miles the next day before heading home had us excited or if our spot just wasn’t all that comfy but we had a hard time falling asleep. Then just after 4am we both woke up for some reason. Heather was the first to realize why when she asked why her quilt was wet. It took a moment to register but it was raining! Luckily we always carry our rain fly even if there isn’t any rain in the forecast for just such an occasion. We hopped out of the tent and threw it on before it really started to come down which kept everything pretty dry. We heard a couple of rumbles of thunder in the distance and I never could fall back asleep. The showers had mostly stopped by 5:30 am when we decided to start packing up.
IMG_5017Rainfly deployed

IMG_5015Diamond Peak a little after 6am.

IMG_5019Another light shower passing over as we were leaving.

After some coffee we were on our way. It was before 6:30 so it wasn’t very light but it was plenty light for hiking.
IMG_5025Some funny looking beargrass along the trail.

A half mile from Karen Lake we crossed the dry bed of Karen and Yoran Lakes outlets.
IMG_5029

In another half mile we passed a small unnamed lake.
IMG_5035

We encountered a little blowdown along this trail but nothing too bad.
IMG_5045

Two miles from the little unnamed lake we were passing a large meadow on the left when we noticed another lake at it’s end. I decided to go check it out and left the trail. As I neared the meadow a deer jumped up and splashed off into the grasses.
IMG_5049The lake doesn’t show a name on the map but West Bay Creek flows out of it (of course it too was dry at this time of year).

Over the next three quarters of a mile we encountered two little girls hats laying in the trail. We picked them up and left them at the junction with the Whitefish Creek Trail not knowing if the owners were still at one of the lakes and if so which way they’d come from.
IMG_5066

We turned left at this junction following the pointer for the Trapper Creek Trailhead. It was just under half a mile to the closed bridge over Trapper Creek.
IMG_5071

While the bridge didn’t appear to be in that bad of shape we honored the posted closure signs and made our way down to the ford.
IMG_5072

IMG_5077

IMG_5079

The water was cold but it was an easy ford and with only .2 miles left to get back to the car we didn’t have to deal with wet feet for long. We completed our loop having covered 13.1 miles on the third day and 4.7 on the final day for a grand total of 48.4 miles. The trip allowed us to cross the Diamond View Lake, Marie Lake and Diamond Peak, Corrigan and Blue Lakes, and Divide Lake hikes off of our featured hikes to-do list leaving us with just the Erma Bell Lakes hike to complete the 100 featured hikes in Sullivan’s Central Cascades book. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Diamond Peak Loop Day 3 & Day 4

Categories
Hiking

Diamond Peak Loop Day 2 – 08/23/2020

We woke up early on the second day of our loop around Diamond Peak and as the Sun was coming up we realized that it had gotten a little hazy overnight.
IMG_4401

IMG_4404Diamond Peak in the morning.

Our plan for the day was to leave camp and hike to the summit of Diamond Peak then come back, pack up, and continue on our loop. We hoped to make it as far as Blue Lake but were also ready to stop at Corrigan Lake if necessary. We took breakfast with us as we set off to the north on the Pacific Crest Trail.
IMG_4405

We followed the PCT for approximately 1.2 miles to a rocky viewpoint where we stopped to cook breakfast.
IMG_4410The viewpoint from below on the PCT.

We should have been able to see Summit Lake and Mt. Thielsen to the south from the viewpoint but after a smoke free hike the day before our luck ran out.
IMG_4412Summit Lake and a lot of smoke.

At least the sky above Diamond Peak was still fairly blue.
IMG_4420The north flank and route up Diamond Peak.

After eating we continued 50 feet up the trail to a bunch of cairns marking the summit path.
IMG_4417

IMG_4419Fireweed catching the morning sunlight.

IMG_4422Cairns on the left side of the trail marking the route.

IMG_4427Chipmunk inspecting some bleeding heart.

We turned up the well worn path and began to climb steeply through the trees and then onto rocks.
IMG_4431Summit Lake and the route up through the trees.

IMG_4433Here come the rocks.

IMG_4437

The path soon split into multiple user routes with cairns, flagging, and green paint marking the way.
IMG_4444Cairn on top of the big rock on the right.

IMG_4446A carin and paint on a rock along the route and some pink flagging on the tree down to the left.

It was approximately a mile between the PCT and the false summit of Diamond Peak and over 1800′ of elevation gain. After leaving the trees the climb got even steeper. Through the loose rocks a few flowers could be found.
IMG_4452Looking up at the false summit.

IMG_4447Paintbrush

IMG_4449Buckwheat

IMG_4455Patches of penstemon.

IMG_4459Seed heads of Drummond’s anemone

As we climbed we passed a couple of small snow patches and gained more views which were all dominated by smoke.
IMG_4461Dark smoke to the SW

IMG_4462A snow patch below the false summit.

IMG_4467Final pitch to the false summit, still pretty blue.

At the false summit we were at 8421′ and could finally see Mt. Thielsen, at least the very top of it’s spire at least.
IMG_4469

IMG_4470

We had been backpacking there just two weeks prior (post) and were thankful that it hadn’t been this weekend. Looking around, it wasn’t just smoky to the south.
IMG_4487Looking west to a wall of smoke.

IMG_4477Smoke to the east.

IMG_4478Smoke to the NE too.

IMG_4479NW also equals smoke.

20200823_090207Smoke starting to drift in from the east.

We were still .4 miles and 350′ from the 8777′ true summit of the mountain and to reach it we would need to pass three gendarmes that block the ridge between the summit and false summit. Sullivan describes having to use your hands and “lots of caution” to work around them to the clear path on the other side. We started out and got to the first gendarme where I got up too high following a path. I had to back track and work my way down to Heather who had taken a different track but we still seemed too high. By this point the uncertainty of the best line to take had given us time to really think about where we were and the nerves kicked in. We wound up listening to them and headed back to the false summit deciding that it wasn’t worth the risk on such a smoky day where we wouldn’t get much in the way of views. We expected the view north that we would have had from the summit to be just as smoky given the fact that from the false summit we could see the top of the South Sister which was also appeared to be surrounded by wildfire smoke.
IMG_4485

After making the decision to turn back we were able to relax and enjoy the jaunt back down to the PCT focusing on flowers and critters along the way.
IMG_4492One of several Clark’s nutcrackers.

IMG_4496Buckwheat

IMG_4499Paintbrush

IMG_4500Penstemon

IMG_4502Basin with a number of flowers.

IMG_4503Mountain heather

IMG_4510Partridge foot

IMG_4509Another paintbrush

It was slow going but we made it back to the PCT where we noticed the smoke a little more than we had earlier that morning.
IMG_4511A little smoke in the trees.

When we got back to camp we packed up and realized that we’d consumed quite a bit of our water already so we decided to stop by Rockpile Lake again to refill our reservoirs before continuing on our loop.
IMG_4521Slightly smokier Rockpile Lake.

After refilling our water supply we continued to the junction with the spur trail to Marie Lake (.5 miles from the PCT) where we turned left to stay on the Rockpile Trail (at a pointer for the Diamond Peak Trail) and climbed steeply up the side of Diamond Rockpile.
IMG_4522

IMG_4524

It wasn’t as much of a rockpile as the named implied as it was mostly forested with a single viewpoint near the high point along this portion of trail.
IMG_4525

IMG_4526Summit Lake out there in the smoke.

The trail then dropped a bit on the west side of Diamond Rockpile to a 4-way junction with the Diamond Peak Trail 1.2 miles from the Marie Lake junction.
IMG_4534

While there were plenty of signs along the trails they often didn’t identify the trail itself but rather pointed you in the direction of other trails or features. This junction was a good example as one sign identified the Rockpile Trail while another directed you to Rockpile Lake and Road 2160.
IMG_4535

There were no signs naming the Diamond Peak Trail but there was a pointer to the south for Ruth Lake and a pointer to the north for the Pioneer Gulch Trail (which we thought was the name of this trail at first).
IMG_4536

We need to go north so we followed the pointer for the Pioneer Gulch Trail and headed north.
IMG_4537

The Diamond Peak Trail rolled up an down for nearly 1.5 miles before arriving at a junction with the actual Pioneer Gulch Trail on the left.
IMG_4542One of the uphill sections.

IMG_4546Note again that the sign is letting you know what is in the different directions but not identifying the trail name.

We stayed on the Diamond Peak Trail heading for the Corrigan Lake Trail which was just over 2 miles further along. These two miles had not been maintained so there were a few obstacles to get around but nothing too difficult. We also regained a view of Diamond Peak along this stretch which was now behind a thin layer of smoke.
IMG_4548Typical obstacle for this stretch.

IMG_4550

We turned left down the Corrigan Lake Trail when we arrived at the junction.
IMG_4557

It was a little over half a mile and 300′ down to the lake which had a nice view of Diamond Peak.
IMG_4558

IMG_4560

IMG_4564

IMG_4565Lots of insect husks on the plants along the lake.

We took a nice long break at the lake where another couple of groups of backpackers appeared to be planning to spend the night. Our plan was to push on and try and find a spot for our tent near the Diamond Peak Trail junction with the Blue Lake Trail. We were hoping to get down to that lake in the evening but didn’t want to haul our full packs up and down the steep 400′ of elevation change.

We left Corrigan Lake to the other backpackers and climbed back up to the Diamond Peak Trail and continued on our clockwise loop around the mountain. This next section of trail was clearer and in just under a mile we came to the Bear Mountain Trail junction.
IMG_4573

IMG_4574Fleabane

IMG_4575Bear Mountain Trail junction.

IMG_4576Look a named trail!

IMG_4578

From the junction the Diamond Peak Trail climbed a ridge before leveling off above Blue Lake which was hidden in the trees.
IMG_4583

The Blue Lake Trail was .8 miles from the Bear Mountain junction and just before reaching it we spotted what we had been hoping for, an open flat spot for our tent. We set up camp between the Diamond Peak and Blue Lake Trails and then headed down to the lake for dinner and to get more water.
IMG_4588

IMG_4586

There was a decent amount of blowdown along the upper portion of the .9 mile stretch to the lake which followed a ridge crest (with a view NW down to Happy Lake) before dropping steeply down the opposite side of the ridge via a series of switchbacks. The hillsides had quite a few wet areas and several flowers were still in bloom.
IMG_4590Starting to drop off the ridge.

IMG_4598Arnica

IMG_4600Fleabane

IMG_4602

IMG_4612Pearly everlasting and fringed grass of parnassus

IMG_4613Aster and fringed grass of parnassus

IMG_4659Scouler’s bluebells

The trail brought us to an open hillside on the east side of Blue Lake where a landslide left a large meadow.
IMG_4615

IMG_4618

IMG_4620

IMG_4621Lots of coneflower

IMG_4625

IMG_4626Fireweed and coneflower

IMG_4622Owl’s clover

We appeared to be the only humans at this lake but we were greatly outnumbered by a legion of little frogs.
20200823_182113

IMG_4643

IMG_4648

IMG_4649Dragon fly and a bunch of frogs

IMG_4637Chatty squirrel

We spent most the evening at the lake before heading back to the tent when the Sun started dropping.
IMG_4634

IMG_4654

Despite not making it up to the summit of Diamond Peak, and it being too smoky to get any views even lower, it had been a good day. It had also been a long day. We had been planning on it being somewhere in the 14.5 to 15 mile range assuming that we made it all the way to the summit but our GPS units put us just over 16 miles for the day without the extra .8 out and back between the false summit and summit. We slept well apart from me waking up for a moment when I heard some coyotes followed by a couple of hoots from owls. They weren’t bothering me I just stayed up to listen to them for a bit until they stopped. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Diamond Peak Loop Day 2

Categories
Diamond Peak Area Hiking Trip report

Diamond Peak Loop Day 1 – 08/22/2020

Four of the five remaining featured hikes from William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Central Cascades” (4th edition) were scattered around Diamond Peak in the Diamond Peak Wilderness. To check these off our to-do list we decided to hike a four day loop around the mountain visiting most of the highlights of those four hikes. We started our trip at the Trapper Creek Trailhead, a trailhead that we were familiar with having started our Yoran Lake hike there in 2014 (post). After crossing some railroad tracks we arrived at the actual trail and set off into the Diamond Peak Wilderness.
IMG_4152

IMG_4155The writing on the sign made us chuckle, it says “If you need a map you should stay home”. All kidding aside you should always carry a map and refer to it as often as necessary.

IMG_4157

20200822_073035

IMG_4159

Two tenths of a mile from the railroad tracks we arrived at the Yoran Lake/Whitefish Trail junction where we had turned right in 2014. Posted on this sign (as well as before the railroad tracks and on the signboards at the start of the trail) was a notice that the Trapper Creek Bridge was closed due to damage. That was our return route for the final day but we knew there was an established ford so we weren’t too concerned about it.
IMG_4160

We stayed left on the Whitefish Creek Trail which climbed gradually following Trapper Creek.
IMG_4164

IMG_4179

IMG_4190Breakfast time.

IMG_4192

While several lakes including Yoran, Karen, and Diamond View drain into Trapper Creek they are seasonal flows yet Trapper Creek was flowing nicely. The main source of water for the creek is a spring between those lakes. As we continued up the Whitefish Trail the sound of running water faded and the forest shifted to dustier lodgepole pine.
IMG_4195

IMG_4198

IMG_4199

IMG_4203Unnamed lake along the Whitefish Trail

Just under 5 miles from the trailhead we arrived at Diamond View Lake. It had been overcast when we began our hike but the clouds were burning off fast and as we sat at the lake taking a break the clouds lifted and gave us a full view of the east side of Diamond Peak.
IMG_4209Arriving at Diamond View Lake

IMG_4214

IMG_4221Diamond Peak with Mt. Yoran to the right.

IMG_4234

IMG_4240Sharing our break spot with a butterfly

IMG_4252Crossbill near Diamond View Lake

We continued past Diamond View Lake passing a couple small lakes and ponds before arriving at a 4-way junction with the Crater Butte Trail a total of 5.7 miles from the trailhead.
IMG_4254

IMG_4256

IMG_4257

IMG_4260

From the junction the Whitefish Trail continues for 3.9 miles to Crescent Lake. The 13.7 mile Crater Butte Trail starts at the Crater Butte Trailhead on the east side of Odell Lake and passes Fawn and Saddle Lake (post) prior to the junction and then continues on to the Pacific Crest Trail. That was where we were headed so we turned right on the Crater Butte Trail which promptly crossed a mostly dry bed of Whitefish Creek.
IMG_4265

There were some markers along the trail, possibly mile markers and after two miles on this trail we passed the signed junction for the Snell Lake Trail.
IMG_4273Mile marker?

IMG_4277A lone lupine

IMG_4284Nice looking sign for the Snell Lake Trail.

IMG_4285It didn’t look like the Snell Lake Trail sees much use, at least at this end.

Beyond the Snell Lake Trail junction the scenery became a little more green with heather filled alpine meadows and an unnamed lake with a great view of Diamond Peak.
IMG_4287

IMG_4294The heather was all done blooming but there was a lot of dried blossoms.

IMG_4301

IMG_4305

IMG_4307The summit of Diamond Peak.

IMG_4313

One and a quarter miles from the Snell Lake junction we crossed the small but pretty Mountain Creek before a short steep climb.
IMG_4317

After the climb the trail returned to its gradual grade with a few ups and downs.
IMG_4327

IMG_4330

Just over 5 miles after turning onto the Crater Butte Trail we arrived at the PCT.
IMG_4340

Our plan was to set up camp near the junction as we hoped to summit Diamond Peak the next morning from the PCT before continuing on our loop. With COVID-19 significantly lowering the number of thru hikers we weren’t too concerned about taking spots from them so we picked one a bit off the trail and set up our tent.
IMG_4345

As it wasn’t quite 1:00 yet we could do some exploring after getting camp situated. We briefly contemplated attempting to summit that afternoon but decided against it due to heat and needing water so instead we headed for Rockpile and Marie Lakes by taking the Rockpile Trail which continued across the PCT from the Crater Butte Trail.
IMG_4344

We would be going this way when we continued on our loop but both of the lakes are a bit off the trail and visiting them now gave us the opportunity to relax by the water before turning in for the night. A half mile down the Rockpile Trail on the left we found the signed .1 mile spur trail to Rockpile Lake.
IMG_4350Diamond Peak from the Rockpile Trail

IMG_4352

IMG_4353

IMG_4355Rockpile Lake

There were a few camps set up along the south side of the little lake. We decided not to stay long here as kids throwing rocks into the lake might be fun but it isn’t exactly relaxing so after checking it out we returned to the Rockpile Trail and turned left toward Marie Lake. After 110 yards we came to a junction with the Rockpile Trail continuing to the left while a spur trail continued .2 miles to Marie Lake.
IMG_4359

IMG_4361

We followed a trail along the south side of the lake to a view of Diamond Peak. While there were people camped here too the lake was bigger and we found a spot along the lake shore to sit and relax.
IMG_4366

IMG_4378

From our spot we could see the false summit of Diamond Peak and the route that we would be taking the next morning.
IMG_4372

IMG_4383Hikers on the trail to the right coming down from the false summit.

As the afternoon turned to evening more people showed up including some bathers, some floaters and a couple of skinny dippers. We kept the photos to the non-humans at the lake though.
IMG_4387

IMG_4391Dragon fly

IMG_4394

We had dinner by the lake then pumped water before heading back to our tent. We spent a little time exploring the area around camp and picked some huckleberries before turning in for the night. We had planned on hiking somewhere in the area of 12 miles but we wound up showing 14.3 on our GPS units (they actually agreed this time). It had been a beautiful day, not too warm and pleasantly smokeless given the number of wildfires in California and Oregon. We were hoping that the rest of the trip would be equally nice and turned in looking forward to the next days adventures. Happy trails!

Flickr: Diamond Peak Loop Day 1

Categories
High Cascades Hiking Mt. Theilsen/Mt. Bailey Area Oregon

Thielsen Creek and Cottonwood Creek Falls Overnight – 08/08 & 09/2020

For the second weekend in a row we were off to a wilderness area for an overnight trip. The goal this time was an off-trail waterfall in the Mt. Thielsen Wilderness which was inspired by a 2016 trip report posted by Bruce at Boots on the Trail. Not only would this trip take us to Cottonwood Creek Falls but it also allowed us to check off one of Sullivan’s featured hikes, Thielsen Creek, from his “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Southern Oregon & Northern California” guidebook.

As an added bonus we were joined by a couple of Heather’s running buddies, Nan and Peggy, who we apparently had not scared off earlier in the year when they joined us for a pair of hikes to Memaloose Lake and Milo McIver State Park back in June (post).

We began our adventure from the Howlock Mountain Trailhead near Diamond Lake.
IMG_3246

IMG_3247Little bee landing on fireweed at the trailhead.

The trail began at a fork. Following the guidebook we took the left hand fork which arrived at a tunnel passing under Highway 138 after .2 miles.
IMG_3252

There had been a number of logs down along the section and when we saw that the right hand fork also led to the tunnel we decided that we would try that on the way back but for now we hiked through the tunnel.
IMG_3253

The trail was wide and dusty from horse use as we climbed gradually for 1.1 miles, ignoring horse trails to the left, to a junction with the Spruce Ridge Trail on the right.
IMG_3264

IMG_3268

We remained on the Howlock Mountain Trail which was increasingly littered with blowdown. None of it was particularly difficult to navigate but it makes for more work than necessary. A short distance beyond the Spruce Ridge junction we paused to make some adjustments and I took my leave of the group temporarily. Sullivan’s offers two options in the guidebook, an 11.4 mile out and back to Thielsen Meadow or a 15.7 mile “lollipop” loop visiting Howlock Meadows. Since we were backpacking those distances would be less, but the hike to visit Cottonwood Creek Falls promised to add 3 or 4 miles to the days total. I figured that visiting Howlock Meadows would put the day in the 13-15 mile range which I felt up for, but that was pushing it for others. I hiked on passing over, under and around downed logs until I arrived at Thielsen Creek, 3.5 miles from the trailhead.
IMG_3288Sample of the blowdown.

Along the way the trail spent some time above Timothy Meadows which Thielsen Creek flowed through and it entered the Mt. Thielsen Wilderness.
IMG_3293

IMG_3297

IMG_3304Fittingly a downed log welcomed us to the wilderness.

IMG_3315Thielsen Creek at the head of Timothy Meadows

IMG_3316

20200808_103506flower at Timothy Meadows

20200808_103846Musk monkeyflower?

On the other side of the creek was a fork. The Howlock Mountain Trail continued on the left with the Thielsen Creek Trail on the right following (at a distance) the creek up to Thielsen Meadow.
IMG_3320Thielsen Creek Trail

IMG_3323Howlock Mountain Trail

I kept on the Howlock Mountain Trail which climbed for 3.5 miles to the Pacific Crest Trail near Howlock Meadows, a pumice barren that had more character than I had expected. Oddly after a few early obstacles this stretch of the trail was virtually clear of downed trees which made for some easy hiking.
IMG_3332

IMG_3339Pinesap

IMG_3350As the trail climbed around a ridge end the forest thinned enough to get some views of both Mt. Thielsen and Mt. Bailey (post)

IMG_3351Mt. Bailey

IMG_3359Mt. Thielsen

IMG_3368After rounding the ridge the trail remained mostly in the trees until it neared Howlock Meadows and then Howlock Mountain started to come into view.

IMG_3380

IMG_3377Orange agoseris

As I mentioned the pumice barren of Howlock Meadows had quite a bit of character. There was more green than I had expected and gentle rolling hills gave it a nice aesthetic. The view of both Howlock Mountain and Mt. Thielsen was also pretty darn nice.
IMG_3389_stitch

I turned right (south) on the Pacific Crest Trail following a pointer for the North Crater Trailhead.
IMG_3406

IMG_3407

IMG_3408Butterfly on pumice

As is usually the case the PCT was in good shape as it contoured along the hillside in a series of ups and downs.
IMG_3419PCT leaving Howlock Meadows.

IMG_3422Mt. Bailey from the PCT.

IMG_3429Talus slope above the PCT.

IMG_3431Lots of rocks along the hillside.

The trail popped out of the trees after rounding a ridge end where there was a nice view of both Mt. Thielsen and Mt. Bailey.
IMG_3438_stitch

After 3 miles on the PCT I arrived at the junction with the Thielsen Creek Trail.
IMG_3467

When I had left the group we decided that they would set up camp in the area and I would attempt to find them and if that didn’t work we would meet at the junction at 2:30pm. I was almost 2 hours early, I had given myself a little extra time in case I got slowed down but instead the gradual grade of the climb and the good condition of the trails had allowed me to make excellent time. I walked beyond the junction a few hundred feet to Thielsen Creek.
IMG_3475PCT crossing Thielsen Creek

While there were a couple of tents set up nearby neither was ours. Two use trails led up along the creek on either side and I chose to try the trail on the right (south) side of the creek.
IMG_3478Use trails on the left and right hand side of Thielsen Creek.

This trail led me to a snow patch in a boulder field.
IMG_3480

I continued on though hoping to reach a high point where I could see across the creek. When I finally managed that I could see where my group was so I dropped down and crossed the dry creek bed above where Thielsen Creek began.
IMG_3486

IMG_3487Found our tent.

There was a large area with a number of suitable tent sites on the little hill here. There were several other tents set up off in the trees but no one was really very close to anyone else. After getting my stuff set up in the tent I joined the others in a relaxing break looking across the boulder field at Mt. Thielsen.
IMG_3485

IMG_3488I was also looking at the saddle between Mt. Thielsen and Sawtooth Ridge which we needed to climb over in order to reach the falls.

When it was time to make our attempt at Cottonwood Creek Falls Peggy opted to enjoy the relaxing sound of the creek and great views of the mountain and Heather, Nan, and I set off.
I was doing my best to try and remember which side of the creek Bruce had gone up on his hike but couldn’t exactly recall so we opted to go down to the creek and try the trail that I had started up when I was looking for camp. Whether it was the way Bruce had gone or not didn’t really matter and this way provided a great view over our shoulders of Diamond Peak and an up close look at Mt. Thielsen.
IMG_3496

IMG_3502

IMG_3503

IMG_3505

The drawback to boulders is that the going can be slow, but on the plus side sometimes they hide some pretty surprises.
IMG_3510

IMG_3515

With all the flowers we had seen the week before in the Mt. Adams Wilderness (post) the one that we had looked for and not seen had been pink monkey flowers. There hadn’t been much in the way of flowers so far on this trip but the profusion of pink monkey flowers among the boulders was spectacular.
IMG_3519

IMG_3532

IMG_3535Pink and white blossoms

IMG_3537Some yellow monkeyflower too.

As we got higher into the boulder field we could see a clear use trail on the opposite hillside heading up to the saddle so we crossed over and picked it up.
IMG_3543Maybe “clear” use trail isn’t exactly the correct term.

IMG_3549

IMG_3551It’s clearer here.

From the saddle we could see the patch of open space in the trees below where camp was and on the horizon were Diamond Peak, Sawtooth Mountain (post), and Cowhorn Mountian (post).
IMG_3562

IMG_3561Mt. Thielsen

IMG_3566Sawtooth Ridge

IMG_3559East side of Mt. Thielsen

IMG_3567Cottonwood Falls was on the far side of the pumice plain.

IMG_3578Paintbrush, penstemon, and buckwheat near the saddle.

Now Bruce had said in his report that the slope was steep but I think the concept of “steep” is a lot like “spicy” food, it is somewhat subjective. His route down had been to traverse northerly along the slope bending down toward the tree line toward the end of a boulder field that lined part of the pumice plain. A use trail (or game trail, it’s hard to say) headed more directly down from the saddle though. I opted to try the northerly traverse while Heather and Nan opted for the faint trail.
IMG_3581I had to drop below this neat rock feature which I got too close to and had a difficult time finding my footing to get around.

IMG_3582Looking up the hillside.

IMG_3584Looking back at the rock formation.

For us this was a really tough descent. The hillside didn’t have a lot of give to it and the loose pumice made it feel like you could easily slip. My route had taken me quite a bit away from Heather and Nan but I am sure I could hear them calling me names. I finally made it down to a tree where I felt like I could take a break.
IMG_3585

I could see Heather and Nan working their way along the tree line now and I headed in their direction before heading steeply downhill through the trees.
IMG_3586

Game trails and elk beds were all over in the trees and I followed these when I could using them to get down to a flatter area. That flatter area was the edge of the boulder field that we had not managed to make it around.
IMG_3595

IMG_3591_stitch

IMG_3590Impressively large cave on the face of Mt. Thielsen.

We didn’t mind the boulders, at least the ground was relatively level.
IMG_3601

IMG_3598Penstemon

IMG_3606The saddle doesn’t look too bad from this angle.

We crossed the boulder field and walked out onto the pumice plain.
IMG_3624

IMG_3625_stitch

We then dropped into a dry channel by a large boulder.
IMG_3629

IMG_3628

We followed this channel to the spring feeding Cottonwood Creek.
20200808_155843

We were a bit surprised to find a memorial plaque near the spring.
IMG_3638

We followed the creek downstream a few hundred feet to the top of Cottonwood Creek Falls.
IMG_3640

IMG_3643

IMG_3644

We scrambled down the north side of the falls to get a look at them.
IMG_3646

IMG_3674

IMG_3655

After taking the in the falls we went back to the spring and refilled our water supply before heading back to camp. On the way back we avoided the boulder field then climbed up through the trees to our earlier route. From there we launched uphill as best we could aiming for the saddle which was now in Mt. Thielsen’s shadow.
IMG_3703

IMG_3712We got onto the use/game trail as soon as we could going back up.

IMG_3713The “trail” leading up to the saddle.

I spotted this spider when I got to the saddle. I think it may be a wolf spider carrying babies?
IMG_3710

The wind was howling now at the saddle but we needed a bit of a breather plus the views were just so good.
IMG_3721Mt. Thielsen with the Sun behind.

IMG_3733Howlock Mountain

IMG_3749Unfortunately the lighting wasn’t all that great due to the position of the Sun so we never really could capture all the colorful rocks on the mountain.

IMG_3748

To get back to camp we avoided the boulders and stuck to the south side of the creek bed which was easier going for the most part.
IMG_3758

Nan who is an experienced rock climber said that the hike over the saddle and back may have been the sketchiest thing she’d ever done. It was right up there for us too and not something that we will probably repeat, but it was beautiful and we were glad to have experienced it. Back at camp we had dinner and just stared at Mt. Thielsen as the Sun went down.
IMG_3785Junco near camp.

20200808_194340Mt. Thielsen

The light turned a crazy purple shade just before dark which we hadn’t remembers experiencing before.
20200808_203800

I woke up the next morning just after 5am and sat out watching Mt. Thielsen as the Sun rose.
IMG_3817Anyone know what the celestial body to the right of the Moon is?

IMG_3823

IMG_3831

IMG_3834

We had been hearing the distinctive “MEEPS” of pikas the night before and I was hearing them again in the rocks on the other side of the creek while I sat there so after breakfast and packing up I set off to see if I couldn’t locate one. It didn’t take long.
IMG_3839_stitchSearching for pikas in the rocks.

IMG_3850Jackpot

I sat down by the creek until the rest of the group was ready to set off.
IMG_3875Mountain heather

IMG_3868Monkeyflower

IMG_3878Partridge foot

IMG_3883Golden-mantled ground squirrel

IMG_3885Lupine

IMG_3890Merten’s rush

When it was time to go we took the PCT to the Thielsen Creek Trail and followed it 2.2 miles to Timothy Meadows having to go around a massive tree fall along the way.
IMG_3902

IMG_3904Another angle of the tree fall.

It was a fairly unremarkable hike back along the Howlock Mountain Trail. There were a few butterflies out and I missed a picture of a good sized buck near the Spurce Ridge Trail junction.
IMG_3895

IMG_3911

IMG_3913Just picture a good sized buck in the trees, I snapped this hoping to get lucky but I don’t see him at all.

After passing through the tunnel we took the other fork back to the trailhead. It was slightly shorter and there were no trees down but it was the horse route so it was dusty, deep, and full of road (trail?) apples. Not sure it was a good trade. Regardless we all made it back in (relatively) one piece. There were a few blisters, some mosquito bites, and perhaps even a little blood shed but we had all survived. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Thielsen Creek Overnight

Categories
Hiking Mt. Adams Trip report Washington Washington Cascades

Sleeping Beauty & Foggy Flat Backpack Day One- 08/01/2020

Our first backpacking trip of the year was over Memorial Day weekend (post) but since then we hadn’t had an opportunity to break out our tent. Sleeping Beauty, a 3 mile featured hike in Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington” (4th edition), gave us a reason to put the tent to use again.

It wasn’t because the hike to the top of Sleeping Beauty was backpackable, but rather the 2:45 drive time to the trailhead was too long for this to be a stand alone hike for us. To make the trip worth the drive we decided to continued to nearby Mt. Adams and do a hike to Foggy Flat from Matt Reeder’s “PDX Hiking 365” guidebook.

We began our trip by driving to Trout Lake, WA then continued on to the Sleeping Beauty Trailhead.
IMG_2359

The trail climbed steeply up through a green forest for a mile to a forested saddle. Most of the flowers had passed but a few lingered and the pearly everlasting was getting started. Thimbleberries weren’t quite ripe but we did find a few strawberries to snack on.
IMG_2374

IMG_2376Beardstongue

IMG_2377Pearly everlasting next to thimbleberry bushes.

IMG_2371Not quite ready yet.

IMG_2381

Near the saddle we got our first look at the rock feature that is Sleeping Beauty from the trail (it is visible on the drive).
IMG_2392

The trail bends to the right (ignore a fainter trail heading left) at the saddle continuing through the trees.
IMG_2394

Another bit of climbing brought us beneath the rocks.
IMG_2411

The trail switchbacked its way up amid the rocks up stonework ramps gaining views of the surrounding Cascade mountains along the way.
IMG_2414Mt. Adams

IMG_2415Goat Rocks (post) to the left beyond Mt. Adams

IMG_2417Looking down at some of the switchbacks.

IMG_2419Mt. St. Helens in the distance.

IMG_2424The top of Mt. Rainier.

IMG_2426Mt. Hood to the South.

IMG_2431_stitchMt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Goat Rocks and Mt. Adams.

IMG_2448Indian Heaven Wilderness

It was fairly windy up on the rocks, just windy enough to make us a little nervous when we got to the saddle near the top as we had to push back a bit against it. Luckily the top is fairly wide and there was a least one place behind a rock where the wind was non-existent.
IMG_2430Looking east over the top of Sleeping Beauty.

20200801_084405_HDRLooking west to the true summit where a lookout once stood.

We were hoping to see a mountain goat as they do live here but alas we only saw some fur on a rock and a couple of bushes. The views would have to do and they did just fine. I scrambled over to the former lookout site after deciding it looked safe enough while Heather waited at the saddle.
IMG_2443

IMG_2455Mt. Hood from the foundation of the former lookout.

After a good long time exploring the area and enjoying the views we headed back down. We passed several groups of hikers heading up (just about everyone had a mask) so we were once again glad we’d gotten the early start to have the top to ourselves.

From the trailhead we drove back to Trout Lake and turned left onto Mount Adams Road aka Forest Road 23. (Google would have had us continue on the forest road we had been on to reach the Killen Creek Trailhead, but Google doesn’t always know the condition of the Forest Roads and I don’t either so we played it safe.)

We then followed Reeder’s direction to the Killen Creek Trailhead stopping along the way when Heather spotted a nice waterfall on Big Spring Creek.
IMG_2469Sign at a pullout along FR 23.

IMG_2471These were huge yellow monkeyflowers.

IMG_2476Big Spring Creek

After the brief stop we drove on. The final 9 miles on FR 23 was gravel but wide and not too bad. We turned off of the gravel onto the narrow, paved FR 2329 which was a nice break, but beyond the turn for Takhalakh Lake Campground this road also turned to gravel. It was not in the best condition and was fairly narrow and busy which made for a bit of a tedious final 6 miles to the Killen Creek Trailhead.
IMG_2479

IMG_2478

After attempting some gear repair (a hole in some clothing) we set off and quickly entered the Mt. Adams Wilderness.
IMG_2485

This was only our third visit to the wilderness with our first having been a hike from the South Climb Trailhead to Iceberg Lake in 2014 (post) and the second an overnight stay at Horseshoe Meadows in 2017 (post). (Apparently this is an every three year thing.)

The Killen Creek Trail climbed through the forest where we were pleased to find quite a few flowers were blooming. Little did we know what was coming.
IMG_2493Lupine along the trail.

IMG_2500

IMG_2501Arnica

IMG_2504Lousewort

IMG_2505More lupine along the trail.

IMG_2506Partridge foot and lupine.

IMG_2514Lupine, paintbrush and valerian.

IMG_2523Lupine along the trail which sees a good amount of equestrian use.

IMG_2526Mountain heather.

IMG_2529

As we continued to climb the number and types of flowers we were seeing kept increasing.
IMG_2536Yellow buttercups mixed in with the lupine, paintbrush and valerian.

IMG_2542Beardstongue, arnica and lupine.

IMG_2544Beargrass

Approximately 2.5 miles up the trail the flowers really started to explode as the trail began to level out a bit.
IMG_2553

IMG_2555

Over the next mile we gained views of Mt. Adams and crossed a small alpine stream all while being mesmerized by the flowers.
IMG_2563

IMG_2571

IMG_2582Lousewort

IMG_2586

IMG_2591

IMG_2595Elephants head near the stream.

IMG_2604Elephants head and a shooting star.

IMG_2601

IMG_2608

IMG_2612

20200801_125034Mountain heather

IMG_2620Phlox

As we gained elevation we also began to get glimpses of Mt. Rainier to the NW.
IMG_2626

IMG_2631

The views and flowers just kept getting better as we went.
IMG_2646

IMG_2652False hellebore amid the lupine.

20200801_130422

IMG_2665Paintbrush framed by trees.

IMG_2675Woolly pussytoes

After a little over 3.25 miles the Killen Creek Trail ended at the Pacific Crest Trail.
IMG_2685

We had been to this junction in 2017 when we had hiked the PCT north from Horseshoe Meadows. We had continued a few hundred feet before realizing that Killen Creek was still almost a mile away. This time we would be hiking beyond Killen Creek and so we turned left on the PCT and continued on.
IMG_2689

Where the Killen Creek Trail was heading for Mt. Adams the PCT was bending around the mountain. This made for more up and down hiking as opposed to steady climbing. Mt. Adams occasionally made an appearance over our right shoulders and the flowers continued to be amazing.
IMG_2692

IMG_2696

20200801_131817Cinquefoil

IMG_2702White and pink mountain heather, paintbrush and lupine above the PCT.

IMG_2706Shooting star

IMG_2733Violets

IMG_2737Coming in for a landing on groundsel.

IMG_2731

IMG_2739Aster

The Goat Rocks was soon fully visible between us and Mt. Rainier.
IMG_2744

IMG_2746_stitchGoat Rocks

A little under a mile from the Killen Creek Trail junction the PCT began a descent to Killen Creek Meadows.
IMG_2756

IMG_2761Aster and white seed heads

There were a couple of small ponds still holding water in the meadows and we noticed a lot of ripples in the water as we approached.
IMG_2764

It turned out to be pollywogs, and a lot of them.
IMG_2768

IMG_2772

IMG_2775Spirea

The PCT crossed Killen Creek on a footbridge just above a waterfall.
IMG_2781

IMG_2782Killen Creek and Mt. Adams.

There was a steep path down on this side of the falls but it looked like the PCT might have a good view of it on the other side of the creek so we opted not to head down. We figured the worst case scenario was that there wouldn’t be a view and we could just go down on the way back out.
IMG_2780

As we started to cross the bridge we noticed something in the creek nearby, it was an ouzel.
IMG_2785

There wasn’t a great view of the waterfall on the other side.
IMG_2791The waterfall from the PCT.

The PCT descended to a lower meadow where a trail led out to a campsite and another possible vantage point for the waterfall but the view was obscured so we put it on the to do list for the next day.
IMG_2792

From Killen Creek it was .2 flower filled miles to a junction with the Highline Trail.
IMG_2800Highline Trail ahead.

IMG_2801

Here we left the PCT as it continued on its way to Goat Rocks and beyond and turned up the Highline Trail. Not far from the junction we arrived at an unnamed lake with a reflection of Mt. Adams.
IMG_2804

IMG_2805

The wildflowers had been impressive thus far but the Highline Trail took it up a notch.
IMG_2809

IMG_2812Yellow arnica along the trail.

IMG_2813Beargrass in full bloom.

IMG_2818

IMG_2830

IMG_2836Subalpine mariposa lily

After a total of 1.7 miles on this trail we arrived at another junction. This time it was the Muddy Meadows Trail.
IMG_2838

IMG_2840Look more lupine that way.

We continued on the Highline Trail another mile before reaching Foggy Flat, a wet meadow near an unnamed creek.
IMG_2844Still tons of flowers.

IMG_2856Frog near Foggy Flat

IMG_2862Mt. Adams from Foggy Flat

IMG_2869Frog in a little stream at Foggy Flat.

IMG_2868Zoomed in

We walked along the meadow to the far end where the creek was located looking for tent sites. There was one occuppied site along the trail across from the meadow but that was about all we saw at first.
IMG_2874

The Highline Trail crossed the creek on a footbridge but then launched steeply uphill so we turned around and decided to check around the meadow more thoroughly for a suitable site.
IMG_2875

IMG_2881

IMG_2878Gentian

IMG_2884Elephants Head

We are fairly picky about our campsites. We do not like to camp on any vegetation, especially in meadows and we do our best to maintain a proper distance from water and trails. Unfortunately we are in the minority and it was obvious from the fire rings and smashed grasses that many others aren’t as selective (not to mention the TP – come on people). We finally managed to find an acceptable spot tucked into some trees.
IMG_2889

With camp established we took our daypacks out put our essentials plus dinner and the stove into them and set off across the creek on the Highline Trail. Reeder described the trail beyond Foggy Flat as having “incredible views” but also “difficult creek crossings”. Our plan was to go as far as the Muddy Fork crossing and unless it looked really easy turn back there.
IMG_2897Monkeyflower and willowherb along the creek.

The climb up from the creek was indeed steep and we were happy to just have our daypacks on.
IMG_2902Mt. Rainier behind us.

20200801_161001_HDR

IMG_2911The trail dropping steeply behind us on one of the steeper sections.

We passed several nice campsites as the terrain became more level at the edge of a lava flow. A couple of the sites were occupied. Despite the rockier conditions due to the lava flow the flower show continued.
IMG_2914Can you spot the yellow paintbrush?

Shortly after crossing another little creek we found ourselves in the lava field with an excellent view of Mt. Adams. We had been waiting for the clouds to break up all day and now they were starting to oblige.
IMG_2923

IMG_2926

IMG_2933

IMG_2934Buckwheat

We continued to follow the Highline Trail through the lava and past snow fields.
IMG_2942

IMG_2946

The lava also provided great views of Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks.
IMG_2944

IMG_2949Goat Creek falling from Goat Lake.

IMG_2955_stitchRed Butte and Mt. Adams

IMG_2961Red Butte, a neat looking cinder cone.

IMG_2959Flower amid the rocks.

We did indeed stop at Muddy Fork. It was a little more of a crossing than we wanted to tackle at that point.
IMG_2969

IMG_2970

IMG_2978

We backed track a bit to rise where we had seen a great looking spot for dinner (or a tent). We cooked our dinner there and then explored a bit on the ridge above the spot where we found a few flowers amid the rocks and more amazing views.
IMG_2984Paintbrush

IMG_2993Cutleaf daisy

IMG_2999Dwarf alpinegold

IMG_2992?

IMG_3003_stitch

20200801_175828

We eventually headed back to Foggy Flat under the watchful eyes of the locals.
IMG_3024

We were momentarily distracted below one of the snow fields as we watched a stream forming in front of our eyes.
IMG_3028Water in the upper portions of the snowmelt stream.

IMG_3030The same stream 3 minutes later.

When the water reached a large hole that would take some time to fill we managed to pull ourselves away and continue back to our campsite. We stopped at the creek to get water for the next day and turned in fairly quickly. There were just enough mosquitoes about to be a nuisance making the confines of the tent that much more appealing.

Combining this hike with our previous two visits we’ve managed to cover quite a bit of the trails that wrap around the mountain. The east side of Mt. Adams is on part of the Yakima Indian Reservation and is largely trail less. Special permits are required to enter the Reservation with the exception of Bird Creek Meadows on the SE side of the mountain.
Mt. Adams Tracks

From every angle that we’ve seen it Mt. Adams continues to impress us. It’s truly a special place. Happy Trails!
20200801_191051_HDR