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Columbia Gorge North Hiking Trip report Washington

Table Mountain

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. After our recent string of cloud obscured views I was determined to break the streak. I had been watching the weather forecast all week and decided everything was lining up perfectly for a return to the Columbia Gorge and another attempt at a view of the Cascades. The nasty weather and the poncho attack on Hamilton Mountain needed to be avenged so for this hike I picked Table Mountain.

Table Mountain is located less than 5 miles east of Hamilton Mountain. It should have been what I was looking at from the saddle when I was sucker punched by the poncho during that hike. Much of Table Mountain collapsed into the Columbia River centuries ago leaving dramatic cliffs on the south face. With an elevation of 3417′ it is nearly 1000′ taller than Hamilton Mountain so the potential for views is great.

We woke up to a beautiful sunny morning but as we approached Portland an ominous cloud hung to the east of the city. The skies all around were blue and we hoped that Table Mountain was far enough to the east to be clear of the cloud. We formulated a plan b just in case when we reached Hamilton Mountain which was once again covered in clouds, but when we arrived at the trail head behind Bonneville Hot Springs the summit of Table Mountain was cloud free. With blue skies to the north and east we decided to give it a try.

The first 2.2 miles of the trail pass through a pretty forest, first on a volunteer created trail, then following an old road up to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). This first section was nice but unremarkable although we did come across some ripe salmonberries to sample. After a short walk on the PCT we reached the sign for the loop trail to the summit of Table Mountain. The aptly named Heartbreak Ridge Trail gains 1770′ in 1.5 miles. In order to do this the trail heads up with a vengeance. After 0.6 miles (and 800′ of elevation) the trail arrived at a saddle viewpoint. To my dismay the clouds that had been to the west were now heading east obscuring much of the view and had now covered Table Mountains summit. The trail then dipped down to the base of a 500 yard long rock slide where we spotted our first beargrass bloom of the year (on a hike not from the car).

The trail appears to end at the rock slide but the rocks are the trail. Following poles we scrambled up the rocks to the continuation of the trail. This part proved to be quite fun. Just a few tenths of a mile after reaching the trails continuation we reached the meadows on the summit. An all to familiar view greeted us here. We had come all this way and couldn’t see more than a few hundred feet due to clouds. The meadows were filled with various wildflowers creating a colorful display and many plumes of beargrass stood at attention along the meadows edges.

As we headed south along the summit trail toward the viewpoint at that end a faint window opened in the clouds and there stood Mt. Hood. The clouds had begun to slowly break up and by the time we reached the viewpoint better and better views were opening up.
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We could now see Mt. Hood and the tip of Mt. Jefferson at times. Below we could see the Bonneville Dam on the Columbia River and the Heartbreak Ridge trail as it crossed the viewpoint saddle. We spent awhile here waiting for the openings and then headed back down the trail to find a spot for lunch.

We chose a spot that offered a view to the north and east in addition to Mt. Hood to the south. As we ate glimpses of Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier began to appear. We eventually traveled further north on the summit loop to a second viewpoint at that end. There we discovered a beargrass meadow and ever improving views of Mt. Adams, Mt. Rainier, and also the rim of Mt. St. Helens.

Mt. Adams
Mt. Adams

We never quite got a clear view of any of the Washington peaks due to a pesky line of little clouds but after getting our fill of the view we headed down the west ridge. This trail was almost as steep as it made its way down and contained a lot of loose rocks. In addition it traveled close enough to the edge of the ridge that anyone with a fear of heights might really have a hard time. That being said the views from this trail were great. Mt. Hood lay ahead while behind was Table Mountain and the rock slide we had scrambled up.
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The going was slow but we eventually made it down to the PCT. I had no takers when I asked if anyone wanted to go around again when we reached the Heartbreak ridge junction so we returned to our car satisfied with the days views and ready to plan our next adventure. Happy Trail.

facebook photos: https://www.facebook.com/deryl.yunck/media_set?set=a.10201335132527489.1073741836.1448521051&type=3
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Hiking Oakridge Area Old Cascades Oregon Trip report

Mount June

Ah the elusive view. One of my favorite rewards on a hike is reaching that spot where the view simply takes your breath away. It could be the sudden appearance of a giant snow covered mountain that looks so close that you could reach out and touch it or a wildflower meadow that seems to have been painted by the Creator himself or a panoramic view that is so immense that you can barely take it all in. We’re lucky enough to live in an area where there are plenty of places to hike where these types of views are possible. Possible but not guaranteed. We were reminded of that once again on our recent hike up Mount June.

There are a number of things that can end your chances to have the view you had hoped for. Hazy skies, forest fires, fog and clouds can all conspire against you. Unfortunately it was fog and clouds that proved our nemesis on Mount June. We had heard that the area is known for it’s fog but had also heard that often the rocky summit of Mount June rises above it to offer a view of a string of Cascade peaks. The forecast had called for a partly cloudy/mostly sunny morning with clear skies starting around 1:00pm.

We were the first to arrive at the trail head on this morning and were immediately struck by the darkness of the forest as soon as we stepped on the trail. Within a short distance we entered the fog which we had heard about.
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We noticed a number of the same Spring flowers we had seen over a month earlier at lower elevations blooming here now. Trillium, sourgrass, and wood violets add color to the forest along with a good number of fawn lilies. Once again we were too early for the rhododendron & beargrass displays even though these were in bloom along the road at the trail head.

It appeared to be raining most of the time we were in the forest but upon reaching a series of meadows near Sawtooth rock we realized it was not in fact raining. The fog was so damp that the condensation was falling from the trees creating the rainy affect. The meadows here were filled with wildflowers glistening with water droplets. The foggy conditions meant no views and even made it hard to make out large Sawtooth rock at the far end of the meadows. We skipped a short side trail to it’s base hoping that on our way back the skies might be clearer.

We continued on the Sawtooth trail toward Hardesty Mountain. Our plan was to make a short loop on it’s summit and visit the sight of a former lookout tower. As we reached our furthest point a hint of blue sky seemed to be just a little further to the North just out of our reach. We had a snack at the former lookout site and then completed the loop and headed back hoping that blue sky might be waiting for us on Mount June.

This time we took the trail to the base of Sawtooth rock where the conditions were slightly improved. Many birds were now flying around the meadows and we spotted one with some bright yellow coloring. It turned out to be a yellow-rumped warbler.
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The fog had lifted some and there was even a short lived opening giving us a view of the forest below, but Mount June was still hidden in the clouds.

We took the .5 mile climb to Mount June’s rocky summit which was for some reason particularly tough on this day. I don’t know if it was due to it being toward the end of the hike or the cumulative effect of a week of hiking but it was a trudge. Much to our disappointment the we found the same clouds and fog on the summit as we had been in all day. We decided to have some lunch and hope that the sunny skies that had been forecast would materialize since it was just now 1:00pm. The clouds kept rolling past us and all we managed were a couple of very short glimpses of Mt. Bailey and the ghostly outline of Mt. Thielsen to the SE.
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The view had eluded us once again, simply teasing us with a small brief sample of what could have been.

It was a good example of just why the elusive view is one of the most rewarding things for me on a hike. The mountains and forests don’t move but there is never a guarantee that they will be there to be seen. The view must be pursued and caught to be enjoyed.

After lunch we returned to the car where fluffy white clouds floated by in the blue sky. As we drove away there was no missing Mount June, it was the only peak with a cloud draped over it’s summit. We have many more hikes planned where we will have a chance to capture the elusive view, and after Mount June it will be even sweeter when we finally do. Happy Trails

foggy photos on facebook:https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201288913212035.1073741835.1448521051&type=1
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Coastal Range Hiking Oregon Trip report

Saddle Mountain

I am not sure we had completely dried out after our Hamilton Mountain hike (I know ours shoes hadn’t) but we were back in the “saddle” yesterday for another hike. Saddle Mountain state park was our destination, located in the NW corner of Oregon just 20 miles from the coastal city of Seaside. Saddle Mountain is known for it’s wildflowers and rare plants as well as being the highest point in northwest Oregon.

Once again we were we greeted at the trail head by a layer of low clouds which made for a damp morning. The good news was that there was no wind or rain this time. The trail started out amid salmon and thimble berry bushes in a forest of alders. The trail climbs 1603 feet in just 2.5 miles so the forest and plants changed often. A quick .2 climb to the Humbug Mountain viewpoint provided a view up toward Saddle Mountain’s cloud covered summit.
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We returned to the summit trail and headed up through the fog passing multiple meadows full of wildflowers and lush forests. Much like our previous hike, visibility was limited to a couple hundred feet due to the low clouds but the variety of plants and flowers we were encountering kept us entertained. The trail itself was fairly steep and much of it consisted of wire enclosed rocks which looked like it could be slick but we didn’t have any real problems. Several picnic tables were placed along the trail at switchbacks which allowed for breaks from the climb if needed.

As we approached the summit we noticed some very slight breaks in the clouds which gave us hope. We decided to have some lunch and spend some time at the summit hoping that some views would open up. The clouds were actually moving from east to west toward the Ocean which we could now occasionally see through the clouds. We spent over an hour watching the clouds pass by us as better and better views opened up on all sides. Many swallows zoomed about as we waited and a Junco and a crow also stopped by to check us out. As the view opened up to the west was the Pacific, north the city of Astoria, OR and the Columbia River flowing into the Ocean
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and to the south the coastal mountains. The only disappointment was that on a clear day the Cascade mountains from Mt. Rainier to Mt. Jefferson would have been visible to the East.

We headed back down now able to see the forest below. The wildflowers became even prettier as the increased light made their colors more intense. We took the side trail to the Humbug Mountain viewpoint again to get the cloudless view of Saddle Mountain before returning to the car.
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If you are a wildflower or plant enthusiast this is a great hike, especially from May-July when the flowers are on display. If you can find a clear day (which isn’t easy near the Oregon Coast) the view is a great bonus. Next up is Mount June and yet another attempt at a view of the Cascades. Until then-Happy Trails.

For more info on Saddle Mountain visit: http://www.oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=140
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Columbia Gorge North Columbia River Gorge South Hiking Trip report Washington

Hamilton Mountain

As the saying goes “You can’t win them all”. Today Heather and I tried our luck on the Washington side of the Columbia Gorge. We traveled to Beacon Rock State Park to tackle Hamilton Mountain. The forecast called for light showers in the morning and a 40 to 50% chance of rain later in the day. As my brother would have said when he was young, “Beep wrong!” It turned out to be the wettest, windiest, cloudiest hike we’ve encountered to date. Despite the poor weather there were still plenty of bright spots on the hike and could tell that on a nicer day this hike would have been spectacular.

The Hamilton Mountain trail first travels to views of a pair of waterfalls. Hardy Falls is the first you can see but the views are partly obscured. Just a little further up the trail is Rodney Falls and it’s Pool of Wind. A side path to the left leads to this a railed viewpoint at the base of the pool in a rock-walled bowl. Rodney Falls crashes down into this pool creating a mist filled wind that blows out of the bowl with good force. The Hamilton Mountain trail crosses Hardy Creek below Rodney Falls on a log bridge and continues on.
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About a quarter mile from Rodney Falls the trail splits creating a loop option for Hamilton Mountain. We took the right hand fork and started our climb. The trail passed through several openings with wildflower filled meadows. We spotted many different flowers offering a colorful display. The open spaces should have made for some excellent views too but all we could see was the white of clouds all around. Soon the wind picked up and at times nearly blew us over. For almost 2 miles we traversed the wildflower meadows through the wind and rain over the mountain. We finally reached the summit and were greeted with a wall of white so we sallied forth and continued the loop.

This side of the trail proved less windy at first. After three quarters of a mile we came to the edge of a saddle and could see signs on the other end marking our trail junction. We could also see the wind fiercely driving clouds and rain up and over the saddle crossing.
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There was no turning back now so we headed across. At first I thought it wasn’t going to be as bad as it looked, then I got knocked off balance. By using my poles and leaning into the wind I managed to get the upper hand, but that moment was short lived. My rain poncho decided at this point to launch a surprise attack and I was suddenly engulfed by green waterproof fabric. After some artful flailing (Despite her laughter I am sure that’s how Heather would describe it) I got the poncho off my face and was able to complete the crossing with the thing now on backwards and completely unbuttoned.

At the junction we took an old road and headed down to Hardy Creek and the trail that would finish the loop. On the way down the road we ran into a pair of Black Tailed deer.
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The two bucks were apparently attempting to climb the road and we all stood staring at each other for some time. They finally turned back down the road and disappeared into the forest and we went on to the creek.

It finally cleared up just a bit as we came within a mile of our car and the Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge made an appearance. The rain also let up long enough for us to change out of our wet clothing and into something more comfortable. We both agreed that we will be trying this one again someday when the weather is better because we could tell it would be worth the return trip. On a clear day Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams would have been visible and the wildflower covered slopes were pretty even in these conditions. Happy Trails (wet or dry).

Soggy pictures on facebook:https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201263541497758.1073741833.1448521051&type=3
Flickr:http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157633796175026/

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Hiking McKenzie River Old Cascades Oregon Trip report

Tamolitch Pool

Amazing! That is a good start in describing Tamolitch Pool which was the highlight of our most recent hike. Beautiful, gorgeous, and spectacular would also be fitting. We were looking for a good rainy day hike and decided on a section of the McKenzie River Trail in the Willamette National Forest. We had hiked a different section of the trail in September that passed Sahalie & Koosah Falls. This time we would start further down the McKenzie River with Koosah Falls being our turn around point.

We arrived armed with our rain gear and set off through a lush, damp forest. The trail quickly descended to the river, crossed two creeks on bridges, and traveled next to the McKenzie for awhile. It then climbed above the river as it crossed an old lava flow with moss covered rocks and numerous views to the roaring river below.
McKeznie River

Our first view of Tamolitch Pool came just after the 2 mile mark. It was one of those “take your breath away” moments. The pool sits in a small bowl below a dry waterfall. The crystal clear water offers a view to the bottom and is a blue that is truly stunning.
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We spent some time exploring the rim of the bowl watching the McKenzie River flow full speed ahead from this still pool’s outlet.
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After a snack we continued up the trail following the now dry riverbed toward Koosah Falls. Somewhere below us the McKenzie River flowed underground, buried by a lava flow, on it’s way to Tamolitch Pool. The forest along this portion of the trail changed often as we crossed the old riverbed on a series of log bridges. After another 3 miles we reached Carmen Reservoir (and most importantly bathrooms) where the McKenzie was once again visible above ground. Another 0.4 mile stretch brought us to Koosah Falls and our turn around point.

On our way back we stopped again at the pool which was just as stunning now as it was in the morning. Round trip to the pool from the trail head at Trailbridge is only 4.2 miles. Koosah Falls is a little over 11 but can be visited from the nearby Sahalie Falls parking area on a 2 mile loop. The McKenzie River Trail runs a total distance of 26.5 miles with numerous access points making it easy to do the entire trail in shorter sections. Until next time – Happy Trails 🙂

Photos from the hike on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201255605619366.1073741832.1448521051&type=3
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157633751250296/

Categories
Columbia River Gorge South Hiking Oregon Trip report

Angel’s Rest & Wahkeena Falls

The weather threw us a curve ball this last week. After enjoying a couple of weeks of summer like weather snow returned to some of the lower elevations. A fact we discovered on the way to our most recent hike. After seeing the amount of snow on the road to the Wildcat Mountain trail head we decided to alter our plans a bit and headed to the Columbia Gorge instead.

Despite the side trip we arrived at the Angel’s Rest trail head (Bridal Veil exit 28 off I-84) before 7:30am. There was only one car in the parking area which we knew would change by the time we hiked back out given the popularity of the Gorge trails. The weather was typical of our experience hiking in the area, low clouds and mild temps. The trail set off in a damp green forest and made it’s way on a steady climb up to Angel’s Rest, a rocky bluff overlooking the Columbia River. The trail was lined with flowers along the way, mostly larkspur and columbine but many different varieties were present. After passing Coopey Falls views begin to open of the Columbia River to the west especially as you reach a rock field crossing.

We were surprised by the width of Angel’s Rest when we arrived at the bluff. It was much wider than we had expected and we spent some time exploring around the area and because we arrived early we had it all to ourselves.
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When we first arrived here we were in the midst of some very low clouds which obstructed our views but they eventually moved on allowing us to see across the river to Washington.

The round trip to Angel’s Rest is about 4.6 miles so we had planned on combining this hike with the Wahkeena Falls trail a couple of miles to the east via the Foxglove trail. This trail obviously doesn’t see much traffic and was fairly overgrown but usable. By the time we had completed this 1.3 mile segment we were pretty soaked from the damp leaves that we brushed against. We then continued on the Angel’s Rest trail passing pretty Wahkeena Spring to the junction with the Wahkeena trail.

The Wahkeena Trail followed Wahkeena creek down through the forest with a brief side trip to Fairy Falls.
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After passing below the falls the trail rejoins Wahkeena Creek crossing it twice before joining a paved path that switchbacks down to Wahkeena Falls.

The closer we got to the falls the more crowded the trail became but we eventually picked our way down to the double cascade of Wahkeena Falls.
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Next came the most dangerous portion of the hike, crossing the historic Columbia River Highway and the seemingly endless stream of cars creeping along trying to get a glimpse of the waterfalls along the way. After a successful game of Frogger and a brief pit stop we headed back up the Wahkeena Trail to begin the 6.7 mile trek back to our car.

By now the trails had become even more crowded but once we reached the junction we lost the crowds for awhile. The advantage of an early start was clear upon arriving back at Angel’s Rest. At least two dozen people, likely more were mulling around on the bluff that we had had to ourselves just 6 hours earlier. When we reached the now full parking area cars were lined along the shoulders of the highway and more were cruising around looking for a free spot. The gorge has some amazing waterfalls, beautiful forests and amazing views which explains the crowds. Our advice is to avoid the weekends, get there early, and don’t stop at the most popular spots. With a vast network of trails many of the real popular falls can be reached from less crowded trail heads if you’re willing to do a little extra hiking and really when is that such a bad thing :). Happy Trails ~

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Flickr:http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157633713648095/

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Hiking Middle Santiam Old Cascades Oregon Trip report

Stahlman Point

Sometimes the weather makes you an offer you just can’t refuse. This was supposed to be an off weekend so Heather could rest after last weekends Eugene marathon, but the prospect of clear skies and 80 degree weather proved to be too enticing. We decided to sneak in a short hike to take advantage of the summer like conditions and chose Stahlman Point near Detroit Lake. We had started this hike a couple of times in years past but due to time constraints had never had made it to the summit viewpoint. The trail gains just over 1300 feet in 2.3 miles to the site of a former lookout tower.

The morning got off to a rocky start when I woke up 45 minutes after the alarm was to have gone off. Anyone familiar with the Sienfeld episode with the marathon runner should know it was the volume. Luckily we always get everything we can ready the night before a hike so after a bit of scrambling we were off at our normal time and were hiking by 6:30am.

There were several types of wildflowers in bloom including trillium, sourgrass, yellow wood violets, and our first encounter with fairyslippers.
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It was still too early for the rhododendron and beargrass blooms but they were both starting to show buds and in a few weeks should be putting on quite a display. The trail offered a few glimpses of Detroit Lake and the ridges of the Willamette Forest beyond. A small spring trickles across the trail near the 2 mile mark. It then ends at a rocky viewpoint that was once home to a fire lookout. Here among the rocks were several other types of flower including a single penstemon that we nearly missed hiding at the base of an outcropping.

The viewpoint provided a clear view of Mt. Jefferson to the northeast. A lone cloud hovered over it’s summit and seemed to refuse to budge from it’s perch.
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Several birds joined us while we had a quick snack and took in the view before heading back down to the car for our drive home.

Photos from the hike http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157633411223157/
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Hiking Northern Coast Oregon Oregon Coast Trip report

Bayocean Spit

Before I dive into a description of our most recent hike I wanted to mention that last night we had a chance to listen to a presentation by William L. Sullivan, the author of the hiking books we use to plan our hikes. He presented a number of new hikes that are included in his updated guide to the Central Oregon Cascades. He travels around Oregon giving presentations throughout the year and you can check his calendar of events at http://www.oregonhiking.com/ if you are interested in attending one.

Now on to our hike. We traveled to Tillamook on the Oregon Coast for a hike around Bayocean Spit which protects Tillamook Bay. I’d picked this hike due to the lack of elevation gain given both Heather and I have races in two weeks (a full marathon for her and a half for me).

This turned out to be another interesting hike with the Pacific Ocean on one side and the bay on the other. Between the two the spit is a mix of grassy dunes and a small forest. We decided on hiking in a figure 8 pattern in order to cover both sides of the spit as well as explore the forest via a .5mile connector trail. We left the parking area and headed West across some grassy dunes toward the beach sporting some less than attractive ponchos. It was a cloudy day with intermittent rain. We must have been a sight because it wasn’t long before we noticed a doe watching us from behind a dune.
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We found the beach which was empty aside from a few seagulls and turned north. There were numerous shells and sand dollars in the sand. To the south was Cape Meares along with Pillar & Pyramid rocks, and to the north was Cape Falcon. As we approached the forested section of the spit we quickly spotted several Bald Eagles perched in the tree tops. We also noticed a large gathering of seagulls on the beach. Curious about the attraction Dominique and I set off for a closer look while Heather searched for the connector trail to the bay side. As we got closer to the birds we noticed that they were huddled around the end of a log that had washed up on the beach. That end of the log appeared to be covered with some type of clam. 081

After satisfying our curiosity we headed back to the now located connector trail. This sandy half mile trail led through a small but varied forest to an old dike road along Tillamook Bay. The water level was low due to it being a low tide and the number of birds was less than we had hoped, but we did spot a Great Blue Heron, several ducks, Canadian Geese, and another Bald Eagle. We continued north along the road to an abandoned campground across the bay from the city of Garibaldi. Shortly after the campground we spotted some flagging leading back across the spit toward the ocean.

The flags marked a path across another set of grassy dunes. We spotted three more deer before reaching the beach where we turned south and began our return trip. We stopped to take a closer look at what I was now calling the “seagull log”
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and the took the connector trail back through the forest to the road. This time we turned right (south) and headed back toward the parking area. It wasn’t until this last leg that we saw any other people which made for a very peaceful day.

We’ll be taking a few weeks off from hiking now due to the upcoming races, but then our hiking season will kick into high gear. Hopefully the weather will continue to cooperate and most of the snow will have melted from the lower elevations by then. In the meantime thanks to the Salem Audobon Society and William Sullivan I have some new hikes to read about and trips to plan. Until next time – Happy Trails 🙂

Pictures from the hike on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200995758203343.1073741827.1448521051&type=3
or Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157633242847785/

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Hiking Oakridge Area Old Cascades Oregon Trip report

Larison Creek

It’s been a few weeks since our last hike. We usually do several races between February and May and the training for those leaves us a little less time for hiking. Really it is nice to have the running because a lot of the trails are still snowed under and the weather isn’t always conducive to hiking. We are trying to fit a hike in every few weeks though to get prepared for our peak hiking season. Our most recent hike was up Larison Creek which is just East of Oakridge, OR. Larison Creek

We had not done any hiking near Eugene or along Hwy 58 yet and were looking forward to exploring a new area. The weather cooperated and we had a dry and mostly sunny day. It was a chilly 31 degrees when we set out, but (Aside from some chilly fingers which was our fault for not bringing the proper gloves.) it didn’t seem that cold. The hike starts next to Larison Cove which is a milky green color. This is partly due to Blue-Green Algae.

The trail slowly climbs along the creek through a moss covered forest. At times the forest floor seemed as if a layer of green snow had fallen covering everything. Small Snow Queen flowers bloomed along the first portion of the trail adding a splash of purple to the greens and browns. Larison Creek flowed within earshot, and was often in view. A couple of short paths led to clear pools below small slides or chutes that were worth the slight detour. As we gained elevation beargrass and rhododendrons became more common, but it was too early for them to be in bloom. We eventually ran into some patches of snow displaying the transition from Winter to Spring.

Wildlife was limited to birds, most notably the first Varied Thrush we had seen. Despite his posing for some pictures I was able to get a very clear shot as you can see here. Varied Thrush

Facebook album (selected photos) http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200791264571130.1073741825.1448521051&type=3

Flickr album (all photos) http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157632972427272/

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Central Coast Hiking Oregon Oregon Coast Trip report

Gwynn Creek & Cape Perpetua shelter

Our first hikes of 2013 are officially in the books. We headed to Cape Perpetua just South of Yachats on the Oregon coast to visit two trails. One of the things we are always on the lookout for on our hikes is wildlife. We see plenty of birds, chipmunks, and squirrels and a fair number of deer but are always hoping to see something different. On this day we would wind up spotting an owl, a small herd of elk, a deer, and an eagle eating a recently caught fish. The only problem was these were all seen from the car.

The first hike was a loop along the ridges surrounding Gwynn Creek which is located about a mile South of Cape Perpetua in the Siuslaw National Forest. We set out shortly after Sunrise on what turned out to be a nice day. Although there were some clouds and a couple of very brief very light showers, temperatures stayed around 40F for the day. Many of the plants along the trails were showing buds and a few early flowers were starting to bloom. We were also fortunate enough to be able to see the Ocean from the view points along this mostly forested trail.

View from a viewpoint along the Gwynn Creek loop.
View from a viewpoint along the Gwynn Creek loop.

Anyone familiar with the Oregon coast knows there is often a layer of low clouds hanging just at the shore line which have hidden the Ocean from us on several hikes in the past.

After finishing the Gwynn Creek loop we stopped in at the Cape Perpetua Visitor Center to take the short trail up to the stone shelter constructed in 1933 at the top of the cape.

shelter on Cape Perpetua
shelter on Cape Perpetua

We had been to the area in 2011 visiting the tidepools and Devils Churn along the beach, but we hadn’t been up to the shelter before. On our way up the 1.3mi trail we could tell we hadn’t been doing much hiking. The 700ft elevation gain felt a lot worse than it should have. 🙂 The view from the top was worth it though. On a clear day the view extends 37 miles to sea and a good 70 miles to the South and to Cape Foulweather to the North. The only drawback on this day was that the position of the Sun to the South limited the view, but did provide some nice effects as it reflected off the Ocean.

The view South from the shelter on Cape Perpetua
The view South from the shelter on Cape Perpetua

More pictures from the trails have been posted on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10200643581919156.200254.1448521051&type=3