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Hiking Year-end wrap up

The Hikes of 2018 – A Look Back

It’s hard to believe that it’s time for another year end wrap up. This will be our 6th such post since we started this blog in 2013. It’s even harder to believe that we still have so many hikes yet to do before we are finished with our long term hiking goal of completing at least some portion of all 500 of the featured hikes in William L. Sullivan’s five “100 Hikes…” guidebooks.

A goal we are closing in on is visiting all 45 of the accessible designated wilderness areas in Oregon. (Three Arch Rocks and Oregon Islands, both off the Oregon Coast, are off limits to visitors,) We now have just seven wilderness areas left to visit after spending time in the Rogue-Umpqua Divide (post), Steens Mountain (post), Strawberry Mountain (post), and Copper-Salmon (post) wildernesses this year.

With so many different hikes available we were once again able to spend most of our year exploring new trails and areas. We took hikes on 61 different days, 51 of those days were spent on trails (or sections of trails) that were new to us this year. Six additional days were partially on new sections of trail while just four days were repeated hikes.

Many of our hiking days consisted of multiple stops this year which resulted in a nice round 100 separate “hikes” varying in length from a quarter mile at the Pillars of Rome (post) to 20.3 miles in the Waldo Lake Wilderness (post).

Of those 100 hikes 89 were brand new, 6 were partially new, and 5 were repeated. The number of repeated hikes is 5 and not 4 because Saddle Mountain was done on the same day as three new hikes (post). Below is a map showing all of our stops.

2018 Trailheads
Hikers=Trailheads, Houses=Tent Sites, Binoculars=Short Walk/Viewpoint

Although the majority of our hikes were done in Oregon we did manage to spend one day each in Washington (Falls Creek Falls), California (Lava Beds National Monument), and for the first time Idaho (Jump Creek Falls).Falls Creek Falls

Falls Creek Falls

View from the Schonchin Butte Trail

Lava Beds National Monument

Jump Creek Falls

Jump Creek Falls

We did spend more time east of the Cascade Crest this year compared to years past including trips to SE Oregon in June (amazing scenery/horrible roads), the Strawberry Mountains in July (beautiful but HOT), the Elkhorns in August (mountain goats galore), and Klamath Falls in October (lots of wildlife). Our other vacation was a trip to the Oregon Coast in September (Bandon = new favorite coast town). Hiking in so many different areas once again provided us with a wide variety of scenery.Cape Meares Lighthouse

Cape Meares Lighthouse

Footbridge along the Old Growth Trail

McDonald-Dunn Forest

Lower South Falls

Lower South Falls – Silver Falls State Park

Balsamroot

Balsamroot at Memaloose Hills

Lone Wolf Meadow

Perham Creek

Perham Creek – Columbia River Gorge

White River Falls

White River Falls

Deschutes River

Deschutes River near Macks Canyon

Upper meadow of Buck Canyon

Buck Canyon – Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness

Mt. Thielsen

Mt. Thielsen

Cupola lookout on Black Butte

Cascade Mountains from Black Butte

Salmon River

Salmon River

Frustration Falls

Frustration Falls – Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness

Malheur Wildlife Refuge

Malheur Wildlife Refuge

Peter French Round Barn

Peter French Round Barn

Coffee Pot Crater

Coffee Pot Crater – Jordan Craters

Timber Gulch

Timber Gulch

Waterfall at Three Forks Hot Springs

Owyhee River

Pillars of Rome

Pillars of Rome – Rome, Oregon

Chalk Basin

Chalk Basin

Borax Lake

Borax Lake

Borax Hot Springs

Borax Hot Springs

Alvord Desert and Steens Mountain

Steens Mountain and the Alvord Desert

The Island and Lake Billy Chinook

The Island and Lake Billy Chinook

Emerald Pool

Emerald Pool – Bull of the Woods Wilderness

Horsepasture Mountain Trail

Horsepasture Mountain Trail

Footbridge over the Hot Springs Fork

Bagby Springs Trail

Boyd Cave

Boyd Cave

Pine Creek Trail

Pine Creek Trail – Strawberry Mountain Wilderness

Volcanic ash along the Pine Creek Traii

Volcanic ash – Strawberry Mountain Wilderness

Strawberry Mountain

Strawberry Mountain Wilderness

Slide Lake

Slide Lake – Strawberry Mountain Wilderness

Mt. Jefferson and the Pacific Crest Trail

Jefferson Park – Mt. Jefferson Wilderness

Elkhorn Crest Trail

Elkhorn Crest Trail

Summit Lake

Summit Lake – Elkhorns

Rock Creek Lake

Rock Creek Lake – Elkhorns

Diamond Peak and Fuji Mountain from Waldo Lake

Waldo Lake

Rigdon Butte from Lake Kiwa

Rigdon Butte

Broken Top, The Three Sisters, Mt. Washington and Three Fingered Jack

Broken Top, The Three Sisters, Mt. Washington and Three Fingered Jack from South Pyramid Peak in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness

Carl Lake at sunrise

Carl Lake – Mt. Jefferson Wilderness

Hole-in-the-Wall Park and Mt. Jefferson

Hole-in-the-Wall Park – Mt. Jefferson Wilderness

Mt. Jefferson and Goat Peak

Mt. Jefferson & Goat Peak – Mt. Jefferson Wilderness

Umpqua Dunes

Umpqua Dunes

Bandon Islands

Bandon Islands

Barklow Mountain Trail entering the Copper-Salmon Wilderness

Copper-Salmon Wilderness

Tahkenitch Creek

Tahkenitch Creek

Huckleberry Bushes

Huckleberry bushes – Diamond Peak Wilderness

Mt. Hood

Mt. Hood

Devil's Garden

Devil’s Garden

Sprague River

Sprague River

Tule Lake

Tule Lake

Petroglyph Point

Petroglyph Point

Mt. McLoughlin from Great Meadow

Mt. McLoughlin

Salmon Creek Falls

Salmon Creek Falls

Footbridge over Falls Creek

Footbridge over Falls Creek

View from the Red Mountain Lookout

Washington Cascades from Red Mountain

Klamath Falls

Klamath Falls on the Link River

Spouting Horn

Spouting Horn – Cape Perpetua

Wildwood Trail

Forest Park – Portland, Oregon

Waxmyrtle Marsh

Waxmyrtle Marsh

Sunbeams in the Siuslaw National Forest

Siuslaw National Forest

In addition to the great scenery we saw a wide variety of wildlife and a fair number of wildflowers despite it not being the best year for them. Instead of including some of those pictures here we hope to post a separate 2018 wildlife and wildflower galleries soon.

We’re already looking forward to another year of hiking. If everything works out we will be checking off three more Oregon wilderness areas and a whole bunch of new hikes in 2019. We’ll be doing one or maybe two hikes a month from now until mid-Spring. Since we won’t have a lot of trips to report on during that time we’re hoping to do a few other hiking related posts including a more in depth look at our goals of visiting all the wilderness areas and checking off the 500 “featured hikes”.

We hope everyone has a great New Year and as always – Happy Trails!

Categories
California Hiking Trip report

Lava Beds National Monument

We spent the second day of our Klamath Falls trip in California visiting the Lava Beds National Monument. It had started raining Friday afternoon and continued overnight, but by morning the clouds were beginning to break up leaving scattered showers to make their way across the landscape. This made for some dramatic scenery on our drive from Klamath Falls to the National Monument, especially along Tule Lake. We took advantage of a couple of the numerous pullouts that are part of the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge to admire the colorful sky and numerous waterfowl on the lake.
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The fee booth (currently $20/per car) was closed at the north entrance of the Monument so we had to drive to the Visitor Center to obtain a pass which was 9.7 miles away.
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It was a little before 8am and the Visitor Center didn’t open until 9am but we were able to pay with a fee envelope. What we couldn’t do was obtain a cave permit though, which are required to visit any of the area caves. The threat of White Nose Syndrome has made screening by Park Rangers necessary. We’d need to come back for that but in the meantime we headed back north to the Black Crater Trailhead.
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From this trailhead there were two destinations, Black Crater and an overlook of the Thomas-Wright battlefield.
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Each destination shares the first tenth of a mile of trail. The overnight rain had brought out the sweet smell of sagebrush to which Heather pointed out that smell is one thing that you can’t capture in photos.
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We decided to visit Black Crater first and took the right hand fork when the trail split.
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This trail passed over a lava flow arriving at the start of a short .3 mile loop that climbed up and around part of the splatter cone. We took notice of a peak to the NW that appeared to have a cloud stuck to its summit. It turned out to be Mount Dome, and for much of the rest of the day we kept watch on this peak to see if it would ever be cloud free.
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IMG_3575Tule Lake

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Although not nearly as large, Black Crater did remind us a little of Coffee Pot Crater which we’d visited in June (post).

After completing the loop we headed for the battlefield. It was just over a mile from the fork to the viewpoint and the trail spent this time passing volcanic formations and a few lingering wildflowers.
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The Thomas-Wright battle took place on April 26, 1873 when an Army patrol was defeated by the Modocs.
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After reading up on the battle we headed back to the trailhead and drove back to the now open Visitor Center. We spent some time looking at the displays inside before obtaining our cave permit. We hung the permit in our car and headed for Mushpot Cave. After initially starting to drive Cave Loop Road we realized that Mushpot Cave was actually right next to the Visitor Center so we turned around and parked back once again at the center.

At the far end of the center we spotted the sign for the cave.
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A .2 mile paved path led to the entrance of the lava tube.
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This is the only lighted cave in the Monument and also featured a paved path lined with interpretive signs.
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The lava tube is 770′ in length and does have a spot or two where we needed to duck under the low ceiling. We exited the cave and returned to our car. Since we were only there for the day we skipped the rest of the caves along the loop (a few were closed for bat mating season). Instead we drove north, once again, from the Visitor Center to a sign for Skull Cave where we turned right. After a mile we pulled into a small trailhead parking area for Symbol Bridge and Big Painted Cave.
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The short trail here passes several collapsed sections of a lava tube and offers a good view of Schonchin Butte.
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We turned left at a sign for Big Painted Cave.
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The signed cave entrance was only about 100′ along the spur trail.
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More of an overhang than a cave, a path led down to the entrance.
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We honestly couldn’t make out any of the pictographs, the colored rocks made it difficult to tell what was natural and what wasn’t. It’s been a common theme for us when visiting pictograph sites.

We returned to the main trail and continued the short distance to Symbol Bridge.
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Again a short path led down to the cave entrance, but this time the pictographs were clearly evident.
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We headed back to the car happy to have finally been able to make out some drawings. After completing the two mile hike we continued driving north to a sign for Merrill Cave where we turned left for almost a mile to the shared Whitney Butte and Merrill Cave Trailhead.
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Up until this point we had been following the recommended hikes in William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Eastern Oregon” 3rd edition, but these were from Bubba Suess’s “Hiking Northern California” book.
We started with the short path to Merrill Cave. An interpretive sign at the entrance told a familiar story, warming temperatures have led to the loss of ice in this cave like many others. 😦
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We descended the metal staircase and followed a metal walkway through the cave.
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Near its end there was a metal ladder dropping down into an opening.
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The rails actually did have a little ice on them as we climbed down into the lower chamber where the path quickly ended.
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We climbed back out of the cave and then started down the Whitney Butte Trail. One exciting prospect of the Whitney Butte Trail was that it would take us into the Lava Beds Wilderness.
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This was by far the longest hike we’d tackle on the day but was still just a little under 7 miles round trip. The Whitney Butte Trail began by passing through open sagebrush then skirted around an old lava flow.
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For much of the hike out, Mount Dome lay almost straight ahead and it was still holding onto its cloud cover. The trails namesake, Whitney Butte, stayed hidden for the first mile and a half before revealing itself to the left of the trail.
IMG_3740Whitney Butte to the left and Mount Dome to the right.

Approximately 2.2 miles into the hike we passed a trail signed for Gold Digger Road.
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The clouds had actually increased a bit during the day and we were feeling occasional rain drops which weren’t a big deal, but the cloud cover did put a hamper on the views. Many lower buttes were visible but the higher peaks were hidden.
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As we passed by Whitney Butte we began scouting out a route down. Our plan was to follow a suggested off trail visit to the top of the butte described in the guidebook. The most gently sloping ridge appeared to come down the eastern side of the butte.
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We stayed on the Whitney Butte Trail until it ended at the Callahan Lava Flow.
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From the lava we turned left and headed up Whitney Butte.
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It was a relatively easy scramble which provided some nice views despite not being able to see Mt. Shasta or Mt. McLoughlin due to the cloud cover. On the other hand Mount Dome finally broke free of the last of its clouds.
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In addition to the views we spotted some wildlife.
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On top of the butte we stayed left around a pair of craters and attempted to descend on the ridge we’d picked out on the way by.
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We actually overshot it a bit but still had no problem coming down the old cinder cone and reconnecting with the Whitney Butte Trail. The clouds were now breaking up again as we headed back to the trailhead. Our next destination, Schonchin Butte, was visible for most of the hike back.
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After finishing the hike we once again drove a short distance north to a signed gravel road for Schonchin Butte. After a mile of good gravel we parked at the trailhead and started up the Schonchin Butte Trail.
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The trail was well graded and the views were great making the climb feel fairly easy.
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IMG_3805Whitney Butte and Mount Dome

After .6 miles the trail split allowing for a loop around the crater and past the Schonchin Butte Lookout.
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As we made our way around the loop we got a view down to the Symbol Bridge Trail.
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The lookout tower was perched on lava rocks that looked like bricks.
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Along the deck were identifiers for the area landmarks, some visible and some not.
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After identifying the landmarks that were visible we completed the loop and returned to our car. From Schonchin Butte we drove back to the fee booth at the northern park entrance and turned right onto Rim Road for 3.2 miles to a signed pullout for Captain Jack’s Stronghold.
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Here two loops (short and long) explore the area where a small force of Modoc held out against the U.S. Army in 1872-73.
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We unfortunately did not grab a trail guide for the interpretive trail which we greatly regretted. After climbing a small hill a trail sign pointed out the shared beginning of both loops.
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The trail led through lava formations with narrow passages and small caves. Numbered signs along the way marked items that we could have read about if we had grabbed a guide.
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At the .3 mile mark the loops split with the shorter return route to the right and the longer loop to the left. We went left.
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The long loop was a mile and a half versus a half mile for the short loop option. The extra mile was well worth it even without the companion trail guide. Near the end of the loop we spotted a pair of deer munching on some leaves.
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We had one final stop planned before leaving the Monument for good so when we got back to our car we continued east on what became County Road 120 following signs for Petroglyph Point. Along the way we briefly reentered the Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge where we wound up stopping again to gawk at the wildlife.
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We left County Road 120 when prompted by the signage and soon found ourselves pulling into a large parking area near the base of Petroglyph Point.
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Here we walked along a fence (to protect the thousands of petroglyphs)for .3 miles marveling at all the designs.
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The cliffs above were fairly impressive on their own.
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After spending quite a while contemplating the art we headed back to Klamath Falls. It was a full day for sure having spent over 10 hours in the Monument and logging around 16.5 miles but well worth the time and effort. Even with all of that there is still much left there to explore on our next visit. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Lava Beds National Monument