Categories
California Hiking Klamath Mountains Siskiyou mountains Trip report

Siskiyou Wilderness Day 1 – Polar Bear Gap 07/01/2022

For the Fourth of July weekend we took an extra day off and headed to the Siskiyou Wilderness in California for our first backpacking trip of the year. This would be our first visit to the 179,847 acre wilderness after having had to cancel planned trips several years in a row due to weather, fire, and smoke. All of the previously planned trips had been on the schedule for late Summer and since that didn’t seem to be working out we decided to try an earlier time of the year. Sullivan features three hikes in the wilderness: Polar Bear Gap, Raspberry Lake, and Devil’s Punchbowl and our plan was to check them all off our to-do list on this trip.

Friday morning we made the long drive back into California to the Black Butte Trailhead near the northern end of the wilderness area. The 2020 Slater Fire burned over the road to this trailhead and into the wilderness.
IMG_5047Black Butte from the Black Butte Trailhead.

There was one other vehicle at the trailhead and it had a small animal trailer with hay attached to it. Heather guessed goat and was proved correct when we ran into a couple and their three goats not a quarter mile up the trail. Those would be the only people we encountered on this first day. As for the Black Butte Trail it was in pretty good shape to start considering the fire as it led uphill toward the shoulder of Black Butte.
IMG_5051

IMG_5053Penstemon

narrowleaf blue eyed MaryNarrowleaf blue eyed Mary

IMG_5063Siskiyou mountain ragwort

IMG_5068Wedgeleaf violet

IMG_5069Sanger Peak

IMG_5079More penstemon

IMG_5080Phlox

After cresting below Black Butte the trail made a slight descent to a junction with the Black Butte Tie Trail 1.8 miles from the trailhead.
IMG_5085Youngs Peak

IMG_5096It turned out to be a beargrass year, at least in the northern part of the wilderness.

IMG_5099Clustered broomrape

IMG_5101Paintbrush

IMG_5103Lizard

IMG_5105El Capitan with the snow behind Bear Cub. Bear Mountain is the high point in the center distance with Rocky Knob to the right front of it. Youngs Peak is the high point to the far right of the frame at the end of the ridge.

IMG_5110Looking up at Black Butte.

IMG_5113Rayless arnica

IMG_5118Big deervetch

IMG_5121The junction with the tie trail.

We would be coming up the tie trail on Monday on the way back to our car but for now we forked left sticking to the Black Butte Trail. Our Forest Service Map indicated that the next 2.5 miles of trail was “infrequently maintained” but the first three quarters of a mile to Polar Bear Gap were fine.

IMG_5127Polar Bear Mountain ahead.

IMG_5129Azalea

IMG_5133A sulphur butterfly

IMG_5140Thimbleberry blossoms

IMG_5152A tortoiseshell on thimbleberry.

IMG_5155Wallflower

IMG_5156The trail steepened considerably as it made the final climb to the gap.

IMG_5158Lupine

IMG_5163Lewis flax

IMG_5169Lookout Mountain

IMG_5173Paintbrush

IMG_5177A carpet of narrowleaf blue eyed Mary at Polar Bear Gap

IMG_5180Nuttall’s sandwort surrounded by blue eyed Mary.

IMG_5181Serpentine phacelia

IMG_5182Polar Bear Gap

Polar Bear Gap sits between Lookout Mountain to the north and Polar Bear Mountain to the south and provided us our best view eastward of the entire trip.
IMG_5190Lookout Mountain

IMG_5188Polar Bear Mountain

IMG_5183Looking east toward Mt. Shasta.

IMG_5185Mt. Shasta

IMG_5193Looking west toward Sanger Peak.

Sickle-leaved OnionSickle-leaved Onion

IMG_5200There were lots of lizards in the area.

After a much needed rest at the gap (we aren’t used to carrying full backpacks) we headed down the opposite side of the gap toward Twin Valley.
IMG_5202

On this side of the gap we traded the 2020 Slater fire scar for the 2018 Natchez fire.
IMG_5205Heading down into Twin Valley

IMG_5218Paintbrush and penstemon along the trail.

IMG_5220Queen’s cup

IMG_5227Frog

As we neared the first of two meadows in the valley the infrequent maintenance became obvious. The good news was that there were a good number of cairns set up but it was slow going at times trying to locate the next one.
IMG_5232

IMG_5233

IMG_5235Larkspur

IMG_5239The yellow is a cinquefoil I believe but I don’t know what the other dark flower is.

IMG_5241Meadow in Twin Valley.

The trail passed between the smaller upper and larger lower meadows and continued a slight descent along the lower meadow where we began looking for a junction with the Poker Flat Trail.
IMG_5245Heading down to a stream crossing between the two meadows.

IMG_5259Scarlet gilia

IMG_5264Beargrass

IMG_5271Creek crossing.

IMG_5277Shooting star and marsh marigold.

IMG_5289A hairstreak butterfly

IMG_5295Columbine and cinquefoil

With the trails being faint we were also keeping an eye on our GPS units which both showed that we had gotten below and past the trail junction. Heather decided to strike off cross country first to see if she could find the trail and I soon followed. We lost sight of each other for just a moment and wound up crossing paths without realizing it. She wound up finding the trail junction and turned up the Poker Flat Trail before getting my attention. I made my way over to her and we were back on track.
IMG_5298Cut logs helped identify where the trail was supposed to be.

Wolley-head cloverWolley-head clover

IMG_5305Oregon violet

IMG_5306Polar Bear Gap from the Poker Flat Trail.

Sullivan describes the climb out of Twin Valley as being “as graceless as a bobsled run in a quarry”. That was an apt description and making the climb with full packs didn’t help. We were very relieved when the trail crested a ridge end after three quarters of a mile.
IMG_5316Looking up toward the ridge end.

IMG_5317Iris at the ridge end.

IMG_5319Red Buttes (post) to the NE.

IMG_5320Red Buttes

IMG_5322Lookout Mountain from the ridge end.

IMG_5329Bee visiting penstemon.

After another break at the ridge end we sallied forth. The trail descended for approximately a mile before climbing fairly steeply again for half a mile to Private Lake. We took a short side trail down to the small lake where we again rested.
IMG_5336The Lieutenants and El Capitain

IMG_5343Clustered broomrape

20220701_131140We were starting to see a lot of bear sign.

IMG_5354An as-of-yet unidentified flower.

IMG_5360This may be sticky blue eyed Mary.

IMG_5378Mariposa lily

IMG_5385More faint trail.

IMG_5393

IMG_5395Time to climb.

IMG_5400Anemone

IMG_5405Meadow along the Poker Flat Trail.

IMG_5413Approaching Private Lake.

IMG_5418Siskiyou lewisia

IMG_5423Private Lake below The Lieutenants.

IMG_5427

IMG_5430

After we’d eaten and rested we resumed our trek and climbed steeply for a half mile to a pass between The Lieutenants and Bear Cub.
IMG_5446

IMG_5450Scarlet gilia and penstemon

IMG_5459Heather heading for the pass.

IMG_5467Arnica

IMG_5470Nearing the pass.

IMG_5475Bear Cub

IMG_5478Youngs Peak just to the left of the snag.

The trail descended to a small snow melt tarn then continued down a rocky ridge.
IMG_5498

IMG_5509Bear Cub on the right.

IMG_5530Youngs Peak behind the tree.

Approximately 1.4 miles from the pass we arrived at an old road bed that is now the Raspberry Lake Trail.
IMG_5534Finally out of the fire scars.

IMG_5540Snow plant

IMG_5543

We should have turned right here for two tenths of a mile then taken a left onto another old road bed but after the long drive and challenging hike we weren’t thinking all that clearly and mistook this junction for the next and turned left. We realized our mistake after a little more than 100 yards and backtracked past the junction to the correct left hand turn onto the road bed that doubles as the Clear Creek National Recreation Trail near a large meadow in Youngs Valley.
IMG_5549Sign for Raspberry Lake at the Raspberry Lake Trail/Clear Creek National Recreation Trail junction where we correctly turned left.

At the southern end of the meadow the Clear Creek Trail leaves the road bed and continues south following Clear Creek ending almost 20 miles later at No Mans Trailhead. We stayed on the road bed as it continued around the meadow. After crossing a branch of Clear Creek we started looking for a campsite.
IMG_5552Footbridge over the creek.

IMG_5553Bear Cub from Youngs Valley.

IMG_5583Camp

There were plenty of open sites as we appeared to be the only people around. There were other creatures about though.
IMG_5559Dragon fly

IMG_5567El Capitan

IMG_5570Bucks in the meadow.

IMG_5571

IMG_5584Caterpillar

We did a little exploring to check out the wildflowers in and around the meadow.
IMG_5562Spotted coralroot

IMG_5566Wedgeleaf violets

20220701_195317Maybe a cinquefoil

20220701_195608Bistort

20220701_195653Shooting star

IMG_5581Monkeyflower

IMG_5565There were quite a few of these tiny flowers. I haven’t been able to identify this one yet.

After getting water, eating dinner, and setting up the tent we were plenty tired so we turned in early. The hike had been a little over 9 miles with approximately 3000′ of elevation gain spread out over several steep climbs.

Day 1 Track in light blue

It had been a great start from a scenery standpoint but we were not used to carrying the larger packs so before bed we decided that we were going to tweak our plans just a bit and instead of packing up camp in the morning and moving 5+ miles to the south just to pack up again and come back to Youngs Valley for the last night this would be our base for the entire trip. We were looking forward to seeing what else this wilderness had in store over the next three days. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Polar Bear Gap

Categories
Badger Creek Area Hiking Oregon Trip report

Fret Creek to Flag Point and Lookout Mountain – 10/16/2021

For the second weekend in a row we abandoned plans for a night in the tent in favor of day hike. Similar to the weekend before the forecast for was for a mostly sunny and warm Saturday followed by rain and/or snow moving in Saturday night through the end of the weekend. We decided on the Fret Creek Trail in the Badger Creek Wilderness. Our plan was to take that trail to the Divide Trail and visit the Flag Point Lookout to the east followed by Lookout Mountain to the west. While we had been to Lookout Mountain twice before (2014, 2019) we had not visited the Flag Point Lookout nor had we hiked the lower portion of the Fret Creek Trail. We were hoping to get some good views and see some of the areas Western Larch trees as they began to turn color.

The Fret Creek Trail starts between Fifteen Mile Campground (post) and Fret Creek along Forest Road 2730 across from a trailhead sign at a pullout on the left.
IMG_6185

IMG_6187A few larches along Road 2730

IMG_6188Fret Creek Trail across from the pullout.

For the first third of a mile the trail climbed fairly steeply above Fret Creek.
IMG_6193Entering the Badger Creek Wilderness.

IMG_6198

The trail eventually leveled off crossing Fret Creek several times before once again launching steeply uphill before arriving at Oval Lake just under 2 miles from the trailhead.
IMG_6206

IMG_6207

IMG_6212

IMG_6219

IMG_6221Starting to climb again.

IMG_6240Sign for Oval Lake.

The small lake is just off the trail but has several campsites in the surrounding forest.
IMG_6224

IMG_6235

We’d visited the lake briefly in 2014 during our first ever backpacking trip and it looked quite a bit like we’d remember but with less water given the time of year.
Oval LakeJune 28, 2014

IMG_6228

After checking out the lake we continued climbing on the Fret Creek Trail for 0.2 more miles to its end at the Divide Trail.
IMG_6243A bit of snow left from the recent snowfall.

IMG_6245The Divide Trail.

We turned left on the Divide Trail and climbed for 0.3 miles to a ridge crest where we took a side trail out to Palisade Point. This rock outcrop has a nice view south across the Badger Creek Wilderness to Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters.
IMG_6249

IMG_6250Some snow near a switchback along the trail.

IMG_6255Mt. Adams starting to peak over a ridge to the north.

IMG_6263Mt. Adams with some larch trees in the foreground.

IMG_6269Lookout Mountain from the Divide Trail (The bare peak in between the two bare snags. Just to the right of the left snag.)

IMG_6272Side trail to Palisade Point.

IMG_6281Broken Top, The Three Sisters, Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack (just the very top), Mt. Jefferson, and Olallie Butte (post) were visible in the distance.

IMG_6283Mt. Jefferson with the tip of Three Fingered Jack to the left and Olallie Butte to the right.

IMG_6275Mt. Hood peaking up over the rocks.

IMG_6288_stitchPanoramic view with Badger Creeks valley below.

IMG_6302Rocks below Palisade Point.

After the stop at Palisade Point we continued east along the ridge for 1.2 miles losing a little over 300′ to Flag Point Lookout Road (NF 200). Occasional views opened up along the way.
IMG_6317We ran into this jumble of downed trees shortly after leaving Palisade Point but fortunately it was the worst of the obstacles.

IMG_6323Flag Point Lookout from the trail.

IMG_6328A small meadow that was full of flowers a couple of months ago.

IMG_6332A stand of larches.

IMG_6337A better view of Mt. Hood.

IMG_6343Zoomed in.

IMG_6351Looking back through larches at a Badger Creek Wilderness sign near Road 200.

IMG_6354Looking back at the Divide Trail.

We had been to this junction on our 2014 backpacking trip where we turned off the Divide Trail here onto the Badger Creek Cutoff Trail to hike down to Badger Creek. This time we took Road 200 which led to the Flag Point Lookout in 0.8 miles.
IMG_6355Road 200

IMG_6358

IMG_6360Chipmunk

IMG_6361Nearing the lookout.

The lookout is staffed in the Summer and used to be available as a rental during the Winter but the Forest Service discontinued that a few years ago.
IMG_6363

IMG_6366

A gate blocks access to the platform and tower but climbing the stairs below the gate provided for some more excellent views.
IMG_6368Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams to the north.

IMG_6369Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams

IMG_6376

IMG_6381

IMG_6384Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Jefferson, and Olallie Butte

IMG_6389View east to the hills above the Columbia River.

We spent quite a while admiring the views and then more time attempting to spot one of the pikas that we could hear in the rock field below the lookout. Alas none of the little rock rabbits wanted to make an appearance but several robins did.
IMG_6403

We headed back to the Divide Trail and stayed straight at the junction with the Fret Creek Trail. It was just 1.6 miles to Lookout Mountain and on such a beautiful day we couldn’t pass up the chance of another spectacular view.
IMG_6434Passing the Fret Creek Trail.

IMG_6438We did need to gain almost 800′ of elevation to reach Lookout Mountain which at times was a fairly steep climb.

IMG_6440_stitchAnother viewpoint along the way where Badger Lake was visible.

IMG_6447Badger Lake

We had seen our first fellow hikers on our return from Flag Point and now we were seeing more of them as well as a little more snow.
IMG_6467

IMG_6472

IMG_6474The final pitch to the summit, there is at least one hiker visible up top.

IMG_6476

IMG_6480

IMG_6483Looking back to Flag Point.

IMG_6484Looking NE toward The Dalles and the Columbia River.

IMG_6486Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Adams

IMG_6494View south past Badger Lake to Mt. Jefferson.

IMG_6509

After another nice break we headed back, but just under half a mile from the summit we turned right on a side path to what Sullivan labels the Helispot. Several campsites were located here and yet another amazing view.
IMG_6515Flag Point from the Helispot.

IMG_6516

IMG_6518And of course Mt. Hood again.

After exploring the Helispot area we hopped back onto the Divide Trail and returned to the Fret Creek Trail. We made a final quick stop at Oval Lake before returning to our car and heading home.
IMG_6528

IMG_6533

IMG_6542Fret Creek from the road near the trailhead.

The hike was just over 13 miles with approximately 2800′ of elevation gain. A number of shorter options could be done and longer trips are also possible with the numerous trails in the Badger Creek Wilderness.

It was great to see the mountains with fresh snow and nice to have some snow on the ground after the dry Spring and Summer. They are calling for a La Nina Winter which could mean plenty of precipitation. After this year we would welcome it. Hopefully it will be in the form of snow for the mountains and not rain though. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Fret Creek to Flag Point

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

Walton Lake & Round Mountain – 06/18/2021

After spending three nights in Pendleton and two John Day it was time for us to head back to Salem on Friday. We planned on stopping at Walton Lake in the Ochoco National Forest along the way to visit the man made lake where I had spent some time in my childhood. We also planned to hike from the lake to the summit of Round Mountain which we had done from the opposite side back in 2017 (post). After our hike we were meeting Heather’s parents for a late lunch/early dinner in Redmond at Madeline’s before continuing home to Salem.

We left John Day a little before 5am and arrived at Walton Lake shortly after 6:30am. There were already several folks our fishing and we were met by the camp greeters.
IMG_8615

IMG_8617

IMG_8621

IMG_8635

A paved/gravel 0.8 mile trail encircles the lake with the Walton Lake Trail splitting off on the south side of Walton Lake. We decided to hike around the lake clockwise passing the small dam that created the lake and a number of campsites before arriving at the unsigned Walton Lake Trail after 0.6 miles. Along with the people fishing there were a number of ducks (including ducklings), geese and coots around the lake.
IMG_8625American coot and a duck family.

IMG_8627

IMG_8638Spotted sandpiper

IMG_8640

IMG_8645Pied billed grebe

IMG_8647

IMG_8648

IMG_8652

IMG_8654Mountain bluebird

IMG_8656The spur of the Walton Lake Trail that leads to the Round Mountain Trail.

We turned up the spur trail which climbed through a meadow where several families of geese were hanging out.
IMG_8661

After 0.2 miles the spur trail crosses the campground road.
IMG_8665

It was about this time that we realized that we hadn’t put our NW Forest Pass out. We headed back down to the lake and completed to the 0.8 mile loop to put our pass out. We later realized that it wasn’t good at Walton Lake anyway and paid the $5 day use fee.
IMG_8672

IMG_8674

IMG_8677

20210618_072716

IMG_8676A saxifrage.

This is also a good time mention that a 0.3 mile segment of the spur trail between Forest Road 2220 and Forest Road 22 is by Forest Order 06-07-01-21-02 closed from 5/18/21 to 10/31/21 (or until rescinded). There were no signs present at the start of the spur trail nor at the crossing of FR 2220, the notice was however posted at the FR 22 crossing (along with a warning about sheep dogs).
IMG_8696The order also states that the closure area will be signed along with pink flagging along all boundaries on the ground (we didn’t see any pink flagging at FR 2220).

Fortunately the Round Mountain North Trailhead is just on the other side of FR 22 from the Walton Lake entrance if you don’t want to road walk around the closure. Assuming you are coming from the FR 22 crossing though the Walton Lake Trail continues 1/2 mile to its end at the Round Mountain Trail (0.2 miles from the North Trailhead).
IMG_8698

IMG_8700

IMG_8702Larkspur

Approximately 0.4 miles from FR 22 the trail passes a snow survey site in a small meadow where we spotted several does.
IMG_8727

IMG_8726

IMG_8728

A short distance beyond the meadow we arrived at the Round Mountain Trail where we turned left. (Ignore the sign, it was the only one present and it was facing the wrong way.)
IMG_8733

The trail climbed to a dry, rocky plateau but not before first passing a nice display of lupine.
IMG_8734

IMG_8741

IMG_8746

20210618_080749Chocolate lily

IMG_8749The rocky plateau with Round Mountain to the right.

IMG_8750Death camas

IMG_8752A wild onion

IMG_8757Yarrow

The trail dipped off the plateau and lost a little elevation on its way to a saddle below Round Mountain. Just over 2 miles from the Walton Lake Trail we passed Scissors Spring in a meadow on our right.
IMG_8762Paintbrush

IMG_8768Valerian along the trail.

IMG_8767California tortoiseshell on valerian.

IMG_8772Mt. Jefferson from the trail.

IMG_8777

20210618_083047Maybe a miterwort?

IMG_8779Milbert’s tortoiseshell

IMG_8786

IMG_8790Scissors Spring

IMG_8791A fleabane

20210618_085307Geranium

Beyond the spring the trail began to climb through a series of hellebore filled meadows.
IMG_8797

IMG_8808

IMG_8813Woodpecker

IMG_8817

IMG_8818Another doe

IMG_8823A comma butterfly of some sort.

IMG_8831Possibly some sort of phlox?

IMG_8834

IMG_8836Another wild onion

IMG_8837Mountain bluebells

IMG_8841

Threeleaf lewisiaThreeleaf lewisia

IMG_8859

IMG_8854Butterfly on Jessica stickseed

IMG_8865A larkspur, Jessica stickseed, and hyssop

IMG_8867Robin

IMG_8863Mountain view from a meadow.

IMG_8862Mt. Jefferson

IMG_8864Mt. Hood

Just over a mile from the spring the trail made a switchback at which point it steepened noticeably. The next 1/3 of a mile consisted of steep switchbacks through a hellebore meadow to Round Mountain Road 0.2 miles from the summit.
IMG_8875

IMG_8882Viewpoint at one of the switchbacks. Cascade Mountains from Diamond Peak to Mt. Jefferson.
IMG_8884Diamond Peak

IMG_8886Mt. Bachelor

IMG_8887Ball Butte and Broken Top

IMG_8888Three Sisters

IMG_8889Mt. Washington

IMG_8890Three Fingered Jack

IMG_8891Mt. Jefferson

IMG_8893The trail sign along Round Mountain Road up the hill.

IMG_8896Fritillary butterfly

IMG_8899

IMG_8901Silky phacelia

IMG_8904Prairie smoke

IMG_8915

IMG_8917Balsamroot

IMG_8924Butterfly on an onion

20210618_100034Ladybug on lupine

IMG_8925Round Mountain summit

We sat on the cool concrete in the shade cast by the radio tower while we watched butterflies swirl through the air.
IMG_8945

IMG_8948And occasionally land.

IMG_8950Big Summit Prairie

IMG_8929Lookout Mountain (post)

IMG_8959Mt. Hood

IMG_8961Mt. Adams

After the break we returned the way we’d come with a slight delay caused by a Sara’s orangetip butterfly that refused to land despite repeatedly looking like it was going to as it flew in the same loop over and over again.
IMG_8976

IMG_8971Not too horrible of a photo of the orangetip on one of its many passes.

We retrieved our car from the now packed Walton Lake but not before checking out some of the wildlife one more time.
IMG_8997

IMG_9003

IMG_9005A coot, a spotted sandpiper and ducks.

IMG_9001Osprey with a recently caught fish (we got to see the dive)

IMG_9010Ducklings

From Walton Lake we drove to Redmond where we were a bit early so we stopped at the Spud Bowl and watched some dogs playing in the sprinklers before meeting up with Heather’s parents at Madelines. We had a great meal then continued home to Salem. When a section of the trail isn’t closed (and you don’t have to go back to your car to after starting your hike) this would be about a 12 mile hike with approximately 1900′ of elevation gain while the 0.8 mile loop around Walton Lake would be great for kids. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Walton Lake and Round Mountian

Categories
Badger Creek Area Hiking Oregon Trip report

Lookout Mountain and Gunsight Butte – 10/14/2019

With a day off and a mostly sunny forecast we looking for a viewpoint hike for our 50th outing of the year. There were two hikes left on our 2019 schedule that fit the bill and it came down to which one kept us out of Portland’s traffic (since it was a weekday) and that was the hike to Lookout Mountain and Gunsight Butte east of Mt. Hood. We had been to the top of Lookout Mountain in the Badger Creek Wilderness Area during our inaugural backpacking trip (post) but there had been no view that day.

On that previous visit we had started from High Prairie which is less than a half mile from the summit of Lookout Mountain, but this day we chose to start from Highway 35 at the Gumjuwac Trailhead.
IMG_0819Gumjuwac Trail at Highway 35.

From Highway 35 the Gumjuwac Trail wasted no time in heading up hill toward Gumjuwac Saddle.
IMG_0826

The lower portion of the trail climbed via a series of switchbacks before straightening out a bit gaining almost 1900′ in just over two and a half miles to the saddle. There were brief glimpses of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Rainier through the trees which improved as we climbed.
IMG_0836

IMG_0839Mt. Hood in the morning Sun.

IMG_0845

IMG_0847

IMG_0849

IMG_0860

IMG_0871Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams

IMG_0866Mt. Adams

IMG_0879

IMG_0884Finally an unobstructed view of Mt. Hood.

IMG_0891

IMG_0896Gumjuwac Saddle

From Gumjuwac Saddle we turned left onto the Divide Trail which briefly paralleled Bennett Pass Road.
IMG_0897

IMG_0898

The Divide Trail soon entered the Badger Creek Wilderness.
IMG_0899

We had been on this stretch of trail while returning to our car during the backpacking trip so it was a little familiar, but that trip had been in late June so much of the vegetation looked different as we passed from forest into a series of meadows.
IMG_0900

IMG_0901

IMG_0902

The wildflowers were long gone but we did get a view of Mt. Hood that hadn’t been there on the previous visit.
IMG_0905

A pair of raucous ravens provided a bit of entertainment as they harassed an unwelcome hawk.
IMG_0911The hawk.

IMG_0913A less than thrilled raven.

There was another thing that we were hoping to see and that was larch trees turning color. Larches are a deciduous conifer whose needles turn a yellow/gold in the Fall. We were hoping that the recent cold temperatures had helped start the process early and there were a few larches scattered about on the distant hillsides in the process of turning.
IMG_0912Light green to yellow larches on the hillside behind the raven.

The trail left the meadows and began a series of switchbacks on the forested flank of Lookout Mountain where we ran into a little snow left over from the week before.
IMG_0916

As we climbed we got another good look at Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens as well as a number of Cascade peaks to the south.
IMG_0921

IMG_0930Mt. St. Helens

IMG_0922View south.

IMG_0923From L to R: Broken Top, The Three Sisters, Mt. Washington, and Mt. Jefferson.

We had expected to run into the High Prairie Loop Trail about 2 miles from the Gumjuwac Saddle but we missed the final switchback and ended up following a deer trail uphill to rejoin the official trail. We came to a rocky viewpoint where we could see the summit to the east and had a great view south.
IMG_0941

IMG_0940

IMG_0946Mt. Jefferson

Beyond the viewpoint the trail passed over to the north side of the ridge into the trees where a little more snow remained.
IMG_0950

IMG_0952

There were a number of birds in the area, many of them varied thrushes which you might know are a nemesis of mine. We see them a lot but rarely can I get even a semi-decent picture. On this hike though I lucked out and one landed on a limb that I was already focused on and I was able to get an only slightly blurry photo.
IMG_0960

As we neared the summit we came to the other end of the High Prairie Loop.
IMG_0961

We stayed right on the Divide Trail which passes just below the summit where a short spur trail brought us the rest of the way.
IMG_0964Approaching the summit.

IMG_0965Lookout on Lookout Mountain.

IMG_0968Flag Point Lookout in the distance.

IMG_0969Flag Point Lookout

As we came around to the summit we could see that the larches further east in the wilderness were a bit further along than those we’d seen so far.
IMG_0971

IMG_0973

IMG_1017

IMG_1023

The view was excellent, making up for the clouds on our first visit. A total of 10 Cascade peaks were visible with Mt. Hood being front and center.
IMG_0980Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Rainier

IMG_0988Mt. St. Helens

IMG_0985Mt. Rainier

IMG_0983Mt. Adams

IMG_0993Mt. Hood

IMG_0997Mt. Jefferson followed by Mt. Washington, The Three Sisters, and Broken Top

IMG_1001The Three Sisters

After a long break we started to get a little chilly just sitting up on the summit so we started back down. This time we stayed on the official trail and found the end of the High Prairie Loop that we’d missed on the way up.
IMG_1033

We had stopped briefly near a small talus field as we descended the switchbacks and Heather spotted a pika that was gathering tree bits, presumably getting ready to spend the winter underground.
IMG_1041

The pika wasn’t the only critter running around on the rocks.
IMG_1044

We made our way back through the still frosty meadows and returned to Gumjuwac Saddle.
IMG_1046

The saddle can be a bit confusing as several trails converge at Bennett Pass Road here. The Gumjuwac Trail coming up from Highway 35 crosses the road and continues down the other side to the Badger Creek Trail, the Divide Trail crosses the Gumjuwac Trail and descends to Badger Lake (we came up this way on the backpacking trip). We nearly started back down that trail this time before realizing that the trail to Gunsight Butte (the aptly named Gunsight Butte Trail) was on the other side of Bennett Pass Road.
IMG_1048

We headed up this trail which began a gradual climb through trees which included a few larches.
IMG_1053

IMG_1054

IMG_1093

IMG_1099

The trail emerged from the forest into a burn scar along a rocky ridge with a view.
IMG_1057

IMG_1058_stitch

IMG_1088Lookout Mountain from the Gunsight Butte Trail.

IMG_1062Clark’s nutcracker

After a mile and a half we found ourselves crossing over the forested summit of Gunsight Butte. Another .1 miles, slightly downhill, brought us to a rock pile with yet another view of Mt. Hood.
IMG_1068

IMG_1069

IMG_1074

It wasn’t quite as impressive a view as Lookout Mountain but it was still pretty good. We returned to Gumjuwac Saddle and then turned down the Gumjuwac Trail for the final 2.5 miles of the day.
IMG_1102

We took our last looks at Mt. Hood from the trail then enjoyed the signs of Fall as we descended.
IMG_1107

IMG_1111

IMG_1112

IMG_1119

This was a 13.2 mile hike with around 3600′ of elevation gain making it a pretty good workout. This may have been our last viewpoint hike for the year, and if it is, it was a great one to end on. Happy Trails!

Flirck: Lookout Mountain and Gunsight Butte

Categories
Badger Creek Area Hiking Oregon Trip report

Badger Creek Wilderness Backpack

One of our biggest goals this year was to finally take some overnight backpacking trips. We spent much of the past Winter researching and acquiring the various gear we needed and then penciled in a few 2 day/1 night test outings. The first of those test runs occurred this past weekend in the Badger Creek Wilderness. Our first visit to this wilderness area happened back in late May when we hiked the Badger Creek Trail as a scouting trip for camp sites in anticipation of this trip. https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2014/05/26/badger-creek/

Our planned route was to start at High Prairie which is located 8.5 miles from Highway 35 on the east side of Mt. Hood. From the parking area we planned on heading up to the summit of Lookout Mountain on the High Prairie Trail, taking the Divide Trail east toward Flag Point, then dropping down to the Badger Creek Trail on the Badger Creek Cutoff Trail. On our previous visit we had pegged Post Camp as our intended camp site which we would get to by heading just over a mile east from the junction with the Badger Creek Trail. For our return trip we would follow the Badger Creek Trail to Badger Lake where we could once again pickup the Divide Trail and follow it back up out of the valley to Gumjuwac Saddle and then on to the High Prairie Loop at Lookout Mountain.

We had been watching the weather forecast intently as a series of rain showers had been threatening to carry into the weekend, but by Friday night it looked promising enough to give us the green light. The drive to High Prairie was wet but as we made our way around Mt. Hood we managed to find a pocket of blue sky. We had lost the pocket by the time we arrived at the trail head though and found High Prairie to be in the cloud bank.
DSC09748
DSC09745
The 1.3 mile climb to Lookout Mountain was cold and cloudy but we didn’t have to deal with any rain. What we did have to contend with though was a decent amount of snow still covering parts of the trail.
DSC09778
DSC09779

As we neared the junction with the Divide Trail we ran into a large patch of snow. At first we thought the trail was underneath the snow and we’d have to climb up the ridge on top of it, but as we climbed up onto the snow we could see the snow free trail on the other side.
DSC09780
DSC09781

After turning east on the Divide Trail we made a brief visit to the former lookout site atop Lookout Mountain. There were no views to be had so we didn’t stay long and quickly returned to the Divide Trail to continue east toward Flag Point. The trail on this side of Lookout Mountain was buried under the snow.
DSC09790
DSC09793

We didn’t have to go far before the trail reappeared along with some trail side flowers.
DSC09795
DSC09800

A mile and a half from Lookout Mountain the Fret Creek Trail joined up on the left. We took a quick detour here to check out Oval Lake.
DSC09825
DSC09827

Just over a quarter mile from the Fret Creek Trail junction we reached Palisade Point and finally found some blue skies and views.
Palisade Point:
DSC09845
Flag Point lookout in the distance on the ridge:
DSC09841
Lookout Mountain still in the clouds:
DSC09835
Looking SE toward Central Oregon:
DSC09849

After enjoying the blue skies at Palisade Point we continued another 1.2 miles to dirt road 200 where we found the Badger Creek Cutoff Trail (sans signage).
DSC09885

This was an interesting trail as it passed through various types of vegetation on it’s way down to Badger Creek over 3 miles and 2000′ below. We spotted a number of flower types and quite a bit of wildlife on this section.
Bluebells
DSC09893
Balsamroot
DSC09899
Paintbrush
DSC09900
Vetch
DSC09903
Scarlet gila
DSC09904
Lupine
DSC09907
Penstemon
DSC09919
Queen Anne’s Cup
DSC09930
Arnica
DSC09931
Columbine
DSC09946
Cascade Lily
DSC09970
Tent worms
DSC09888
Black-headed Grossbeak
Black Headed Grossbeak
Western Tanager
Western Tanager
Douglas Squirrel
DSC09963
Unidentified bird
DSC09972
Unidentified bug
DSC09975

When we reached the Badger Creek Trail we turned left and made our way to Post Camp. We arrived to find it empty so we had our pick of spots. 🙂
DSC09987
DSC00028

After we had gotten all set up we did a little exploring on the Post Camp Trail and then spent some time sitting by Badger Creek. We only saw a couple of groups of hikers the rest of the afternoon and no one else stopped so we wound up having the whole area to ourselves. We set about testing out all our gear which, with the exception of the matches that wouldn’t light, worked out well. By 7pm the sound of the creek and the early morning had just about put us to sleep so we ended up turning in early.

I wound up waking up to that annoying feeling that I might need to use the bathroom but wasn’t really wanting to have to deal with finding my headlamp and getting out of my cozy sleeping bag. I lay there for awhile debating whether or not I could tough it out and go back to sleep. I finally grabbed my phone to see if I could make it until morning. When I checked the time it said 10:42pm – I wasn’t going to be able to hold out that long. lol I got my light and shoes and headed out to do my business and then returned to the tent to try and go back to sleep. Just a few minutes after getting back into my bag I heard a loud snapping of wood coming from the direction of the food bag that we’d hung. My heart was pounding as I listened for any other sounds but all I could hear was the creek. I started trying to figure out what might have made that noise. A tree or branch falling would have ended with a thump as it hit the ground so I ruled that out which left me with some sort of good sized animal. I never heard another sound and the food bag appeared untouched in the morning and there was no sign of any visitors so we’ll never know what it had been.

Due to the early bedtime we wound up awake at 5am and with no way to light our stove we at some Cliff bars and got ourselves packed back up. We were back on the trail by 6:15am and headed toward Badger Lake. We passed a few tents on the way but no one else appeared to be awake. We arrived at Badger Lake with some blue sky above but there were still clouds hanging around.
DSC00058
We walked along the lake and across the dam that created it to a trail junction. Here the Badger Lake Trail led along the shore while the Badger Creek Trail paralleled it further back in the forest. All the maps we had, including the Garmin, showed that the Divide Trail intersected both of these trails so we opted to take the lake trail and stay closer to the water. That turned out to be a big mistake. The trail quickly petered out and was covered with blow down. According to the Garmin we were really close to the Divide Trail so we started picking our way over, under, and around the downed logs in an attempt to find it. The next time I checked the Garmin it showed we had passed the intersection so we turned back and uphill to try and pick it up a little higher on the hillside. We couldn’t find it or any flagging or tree blazes (they were probably all lying on the ground) so we had to make our way back to the fork with the Badger Creek Trail and try that way.

That was the correct way and we easily found the clearly marked Divide Trail.
DSC00077
There was still some blow down on this trail but not anywhere near as bad.
DSC00081

The Divide Trail climbed along the hillside for 2.5 miles to Gumjuwac Saddle where we had a choice. We could follow road 3550 back to High Prairie or stick to the Divide Trail and do some extra climbing.
DSC00098
We chose the Divide Trail which proved to be a good choice. We passed through a number of meadows filled with wildflowers and views as we climbed.
DSC00109
DSC00108
DSC00112
DSC00136

The views weren’t bad either.
DSC00139
DSC00158
DSC00162

As we neared the junction with the High Prairie Loop Trail we began to get glimpses of Mt. Hood. The lower portion anyway as a pesky band of clouds veiled the top.
DSC00175
DSC00179

We reached the junction but continued on the Divide Trail a few hundred feet more to a viewpoint where we took a little break and took in the surrounding view.
DSC00188
DSC00190
DSC00194

From the junction with the High Prairie Loop Trail it was just under a mile back to the parking area. In that time we crossed a cinder covered hillside, passed a scenic rock outcropping, walked through a treed forest and finally a meadow just starting to bloom with flowers.
DSC00197
DSC00198
DSC00199
DSC00206
DSC00204
DSC00210

The scene was quite different at High Prairie when we returned from that of the day before. We were the only car present when we had set off but now the parking area was nearly full and the clouds had lifted giving us a better view of the wildflower meadow filled with shooting star and marsh marigolds.
DSC00216
DSC00216

We felt like it went really well for our first attempt at backpacking and are looking forward to some more trips in the future. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157645426012612/
Facebook: Day 1-https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10204356396217193.1073741889.1448521051&type=1
Day 2-https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10204360526800455.1073741890.1448521051&type=1

Categories
Central Oregon Hiking Ochoco Mountains Oregon Trip report

Lookout Mountain – Ochoco National Forest

We recently returned from a long weekend in Central Oregon. We had a few hikes that we were wanting to try in June in that area starting with Lookout Mountain in the Ochoco National Forest. Roughly 26 miles east of Prineville, OR the summit of Lookout Mountain is the 2nd highest point in the Ochoco Mountains. The summit is part of a broad plateau of sagebrush and wildflowers which also offers a 360 degree view.

There are a couple of options for reaching the plateau. For our visit we decided to start at the Round Mountain Trailhead on road 4205 just after turning off of road 42. We could have shaved nearly 2 miles form the hike by continuing up road 4205 to the Independent Mine Trailhead but the road is quite rough and I would rather be hiking than bouncing around in a car. The 0.9 mile path between the trailheads was pleasant enough with a number of wildflowers and a deer sighting.
DSC07761
DSC07763
DSC07774

We accidently left the trail and wound up on road 4205 across from signs for the Independent Mine and the Baneberry Trailhead.
DSC07784
Our version (2008, 2nd edition) of 100 Hikes in Eastern Oregon didn’t give any information about this trail but a sign at the Round Mountain Trailhead made mention of extensive trail work and renaming starting in 2010. Our book did show an old road leading down to the mine though so we decided to check it out. We reached the Baneberry Trail before getting to the mine and saw that it was an interpretive nature loop. Thinking it would loop us around to the mine we turned on the trail and began the loop. It was evident why the trail was named Baneberry as the forest was full of the plant.
DSC07804
Many benches and interpretive signs were located around the trail telling of the mining activity, forest, and wildlife.
DSC07805
As we continued on the loop it became evident that we were not going to loop to the mine site but instead were heading around in the opposite direction. When we had almost completed the loop a trail shot off uphill to the left which we took thinking it might take us up to the Independent Mine Trailhead. We lost the tread in a small meadow but we could tell the trailhead was just on the other side so we followed what looked like it might be the trail through the meadow and popped out at the trailhead.
DSC07806

From the trailhead we had more options. Straight ahead up the shorter steeper trail 808A, right on what was now named trail 804 or left on trail 808. We chose 808 based on the suggested route in the book. The trail passed through several meadows full of hellbore with views nice views to the north with Mt. Jefferson visible on the horizon.
DSC07814
DSC07817

The trail then turned south and we climbed up onto the sloped plateau. From here the trail climbed through open ground covered with wildflowers and sagebrush and the occasional stand of trees.
DSC07837
Big-headed Clover
DSC07841
Brown’s Peony
DSC07860
Looking ahead from the lower plateau
DSC07884

We crossed Brush Creek
DSC07920
and found some leftover of snow
DSC07940

There were some small lilies in this area as well as a few shooting star and mountain bluebells.
DSC07934
DSC07937
DSC07925
DSC07948

We came out of a clump of trees into another sagebrush covered meadow where we could see the summit of Lookout Mountain.
DSC07963
There were more flowers as we climbed through the sagebrush toward the summit. Balsamroot, paint, larkspur, and columbine dotted the landscape. There were other flowers both known and unknown to us as well.
DSC07984
Old Man’s Whiskers
DSC07996
DSC07995
The lupine was yet to bloom.
DSC08022

A sign stood at a trail crossroads giving directions.
DSC08024

From the summit we could see Cascade Peaks from Diamond Peak in the south to Mt. Hood in the North.
Mt. Bachelor and the Three Sisters in the distance:
DSC08023

We also spotted a very strange plant on the summit which thanks to some detective work form the folks at portlandhikers we identified as balloon-pod milk-vetch.
DSC08036

On our way down we stopped by a snow shelter built by the Oregon National Guard and U.S. Forest Service in 1989.
DSC08040
DSC08042

We spotted another deer on the way down and the butterflies started coming out as the day wore on.
DSC08051
DSC08067
DSC08070
DSC08074
DSC08082

Just before reaching the Independent Mine Trailhead on trail 804 we passed a left over mining building and an abandoned mine shaft.
DSC08088
DSC08097

We saw what must have been the same doe on the way down as we saw on the way up. She came out of the exact same group of trees and we wondered if she might not have a young fawn bedded down in them. We didn’t want to disturb it if there was so we continued on back to the Round Mountain Trailhead and our car. Day one had provided a great 10.3 mile hike and we had three more days to go. Happy Trails!

flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157644735166968/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10204236394617228.1073741883.1448521051&type=1