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High Cascades Hiking Oregon Three Sisters Area Trip report

Tumalo Mountain – Attempted Sunrise Hike

I am bit behind in our trip reports. We were recently on vacation to take Dominique to college in Bend, OR and while we were there we worked in several hikes. Our first hike was an attempt to watch the sunrise from the top of 7775′ Tumalo Mountain. From the summit we hoped to have a view of Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, and South Sister while the Sun rose over Central Oregon to the East. The forecast called for some clouds but we hopped that they would stay higher in the air and provide additional colors for the sunrise. The trail sets off from Dutchman Flat sno-park and climbs to the former lookout site on Tumalo Mountain in 2 miles.
Tumalo Mountain Trailhead

We began our hike shortly before 5:30am and we could see the stars above our heads which gave us hope. The trail was fairly steep in places which combined with the elevation made it quite a workout. As we made our way up and around the south side of the mountain we could see a little light begin to show on the horizon to the East. We could also see some patchy clouds moving across our line of sight but looking up toward the summit we could see it was still cloud free.
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That quickly changed though and soon we were surrounded by clouds.
Trees near the summit of Tumalo Mountain

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It was cold and windy at the summit but we hung around from about 20 minutes hopping for a break in the clouds but one never materialized. We started back down at 7am and got back down below the clouds. Our best view of the day came at this point looking to the SE.
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We didn’t get the sunrise views we were shooting for so we will have to try this hike again some other time. We still had 5 more hikes planned so we would have plenty of opportunities for views later. Happy Trails!

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Bend/Redmond Central Oregon Hiking Oregon Trip report

Dillon & Benham Falls

Thunderbolts and lightning, very, very frightening. We were driving up the Cascade Lakes Highway through an impressive thunderstorm attempting to reach the Green Lakes trail head at Fall Creek when we came to our senses. The second round of hail and the increasing display of lighting prompted a retreat back down toward the city of Bend, OR. We had known this was a possibility the day before when the lighting and thunder had started so we invoked our backup plan and headed south of Bend to the Benham Falls picnic area on the Deschutes River near the Lava Lands Visitor Center.

We parked on the east side of the river at the picnic area and waited for a rain shower to pass and some sunlight before setting out. We promptly crossed the river on a footbridge and remained on the west side for the remainder of the hike. The river was calm and peaceful above Benham Falls as we walked along watching the sun rise through the clouds to the east while the thunder and lighting continued to the west.
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After approximately .7 miles the river became louder as it approached Benham Falls. The falls are not a classic waterfall but rather a series of turbulent rapids as the Deschutes flows through a lava canyon.
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We headed up to the parking area here to make use of the facilities and had a deer bolt away as we came around a corner. Then a forest service vehicle pulled up and we spoke briefly with the driver who confirmed we made the right choice when we turned around. He said it was a mess up in the Cascades with many small lightning fires having been spotted. Indeed we heard (and saw) the helicopters and planes throughout the day flying over on their way assist with the fires.

The river calmed again after Benham Falls passing forest on the west bank and a lava flow on the east. The sun made a couple of brief appearances, once creating a faint rainbow in front of us, and then disappeared. We were heading toward the Slough Day Use area and the hike was quickly turning into a wildlife spotting bonanza. We saw douglas squirrels, golden mantled squirrels, chipmunks, and scores of birds. Heather also spotted a paper wasp nest near the trail which was not the kind of wildlife I was interested in seeing.

When we reached a small slough pond we started noticing little Pacific Tree Frogs hopping along the trail.

A pair of Pacific Tree Frogs
A pair of Pacific Tree Frogs

The further we walked the more frogs we spotted and soon our progress was slowed as we tip-toed along trying to avoid all the little frogs.

We made it to the day use area and went down to the river for a closer look when I noticed something staring at us from across the water. At first we thought it was another deer, but then I spotted a second one and we noticed that their heads were darker than that of a deer. We broke out the binoculars and while we were watching a couple more came into view and we confirmed that they were indeed elk. The first we have seen while actually hiking :). They headed on down the river and out of sight so we continued on as well. We didn’t have to go far when we spotted them again on the opposite bank. There was now close to 20 elk including a small bull and several calves.
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The trail then swung around a 10 acre slough lake where the number of frogs somehow increased. There were now dozens of frogs hopping in all directions. There were also several families of ducks who left the reeds and headed for the center of the water as we approached.
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Next we passed through a short forested section of the trail and came to the edge of a large meadow. Looking across the meadow we could see Mt. Bachelor beneath the clouds in the distance. Here we were greeted by mosquitoes which quickly became a nuisance. The thunder and lightning had not quit and as we hurried across the meadow a heavy rain began to fall. It was both a blessing and a curse as the rain helped keep the mosquitoes at bay, but drenched us in the process.
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Shortly after leaving the meadow we reached the parking area for Dillon Falls. Like Benham Falls, Dillon Falls was a series of rapids in a lava canyon. We spotted an Osprey clenching a fish that it had snatched from the river as we descended down toward the calmer waters below the falls.
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A series of log steps brought us down into the canyon and to the river’s bank where we passed through some different types of vegetation including a section of trail lined with ferns.

Over the next three miles we passed Aspen (where whitewater rafters put in), Big Eddy Rapids (where the rafters scream), and Lava Island (where they get out). Near Big Eddy there were several Osprey across the river including one perched on its nest.
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A smaller bird was circling the river, occasionally diving into the water hunting for something. Just past the Lava Island Day Use area we came to our turn around point a small rock shelter used long ago by hunters.
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The thunderstorms had ended and the trail became increasingly crowded on our way back, but the wildlife remained abundant. The birds and golden mantled squirrels kept us entertained as we returned to the car. We had started the morning expecting mountains and lakes, but instead found a river and wildlife which proved to be a more than adequate replacement.
Happy Trails 🙂
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