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Hiking Mt. Adams Trip report Washington Washington Cascades

Labor Day Weekend – Mt. Adams Wilderness Day 1

We are in the midst of a horrible wildfire season which only seems to be getting worse. Our original Labor Day plans literately went up in smoke due to the Separation and Nash Fires burning in the Three Sisters Wilderness among others. Our next plan was to spend the weekend in the Olallie Lake Scenic Area but the air quality in that area due to the aforementioned fires as well as the Whitewater, Scorpion, and Devil’s Fires (and so many more) made attempting to camp in that area unappealing so we kept looking.

After consulting several fire maps we determined that either the Indian Heaven Wilderness or the Mt. Adams Wilderness were our best chances for relatively smoke free hiking. The closest fires to those areas were the Indian Creek Fire burning along Eagle Creek in the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness to the south and the Norse Peak Fire in the Norse Peak Wilderness to the north.

We settled on the Mt. Adams Wilderness. Our plan was to hike north on the Pacific Crest Trail from the Williams Mine Trailhead to Horseshoe Meadow where we hoped to set up camp. From there we would take the Round-the-Mountain Trail SE to the South Climb Trail and also visit Lookingglass Lake at some point along the way.

We set off on the PCT a little before 8 o’clock on Saturday morning.

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After crossing Swampy Creek on a footbridge the PCT entered the Mt. Adams Wilderness.

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It was a warm morning but more importantly it was smoke free. We were greeted by blue sky as the trail entered the fire scar from the 2012 Cascade Creek Fire.

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A few wildflowers remained and lots of ripe huckleberries were available for picking as we went.

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It was just about six miles from the trailhead to Horseshoe Meadow most of which was in the burnt area. Along the way we passed a some nice meadows, a few green trees and had views of Mt. Adams, Mt. St. Helens, and a smokey Mt. Hood.

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At the junction with the Round-the-Mountain Trail we turned and promptly arrived at Horseshoe Meadow.

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Cascade Creek flows through the meadow but was a little too silty filter so we debated on weather to set up camp there or continue on, possibly as far as Lookingglass Lake. After a little more consideration though we decided the location and view from Horseshoe Meadow was too good to pass up so we selected a tent site in some trees.

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We had each started the day with 3 liters of water in our Osprey reservoirs and had brought full 18oz. Hydro Flasks. We also had an extra 96oz. Naglene Canteen and another small collapsible container that we decided to take with us on our afternoon excursion and fill them up on the way back to camp.

After getting camp situated we headed toward the South Climb Trail on the Round-the-Mountain Trail.

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We’d made the South Climb Trail our turnaround point because our first and only other visit to the Mt. Adams Wilderness was a 2014 hike to Iceberg Lake via the South Climb and Round-the-Mountain Trails.

The trail continued through the Cascade Creek burn with views south to Mt. Hood which remained mostly hidden by smoke.

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Before long we began to find some forest that had been spared from the fire.

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About a mile from Horseshoe Meadow we came to a small stream with some little pools just big enough to filter water from.

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Just beyond the stream we passed the Lookingglass Lake Trail.

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We decided to make that side trip on the way back and then we could fill our extra canteens on the way back to camp from the little stream.

There were a number of creeks and streams with flowing water beyond the Lookingglass Lake Trail junction. The first set all eventually flowed into Cascade Creek further down the mountain.

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Much of the area we were now passing through contained debris flows from massive avalanches from the Avalanche Glacier. In fact there had been a warning at the trailhead that a crack in the glacier could trigger an avalanche at any time. The Round-the-Mountain Trail was shown as just outside the danger area but it was obvious from our surroundings that the location of the trail had been in the danger zone in the past.

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The next set of creeks were all tributaries of Salt Creek, most of which flowed from large glacial moraines.

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Others came from springs, one of them just below the trail.

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Two and a half miles from the Lookingglass Trail we came to a junction with the Shorthorn Trail.

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We passed more creeks including one with a nice little waterfall surrounded by lush green vegetation.

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It was just over another 2.5 miles to the South Climb Trail from the Shorthorn Trail which made it about 6 miles from Horseshoe Meadow, a little longer than my initial calculation had been.

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After a break at the junction we headed back and turned down the Lookingglass Lake Trail.

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It was about a mile downhill to the lake. The trail passed through more forest affected by fire and crossed several creeks including one with a number of frogs.

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We made our way around the lake and sat on a little hill facing Mt. Adams where we ate dinner.

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It was a little after 6pm when we finally left the lake and headed back up to the Round-the-Mountain Trail. As we climbed we were looking back at the lake when we noticed a smoke plume that we had not seen on the way down to the lake.

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Based on its location in relation to Mt. Hood we wondered if the Indian Creek Fire had exploded or if this was some new fire in the Columbia River Gorge.

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On Monday we learned from a northbound PCT hiker who had been evacuated from Cascade Locks that what we had seen was the new Eagle Creek Fire apparently started by teenager playing with illegal fireworks. What an idiot. As I write this trip report much of the gorge west of the Ruckle Creek Trail including Multnomah Falls has been affected.

We were still planning on getting water on the way back to Horseshoe Meadow at the little stream but we had forgotten how close it was to the Lookingglass Lake Trail and walked right past it. We didn’t realize our mistake until we’d reached the edge of Horseshoe Meadow. We decided that we would make due for the night with what we had left over in our packs (which wasn’t much) and our Hydro Flasks which we’d left at camp. In the morning we’d get water at either Sheep Lake or Riley Creek if no other sources could be found before then along the PCT.

The shadows were growing long back at Horseshoe Meadow.

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We were pretty tired and ready to crash but then we spotted a waterfall across the meadow and just had to check it out. We also thought there might be another water source that wasn’t so silty around. There wasn’t. The waterfall was nice though but it was the color of chocolate milk.

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We wound up moving our camp further from the trail due to a large group that had arrived and were a little louder than we preferred. After reestablishing camp we watched the last light hit Mt. Adams and turned in for the night.

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Happy Trails!

Flickr: Mt. Adams Day 1

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Diamond Peak Area High Cascades Hiking Oregon Trip report

Salt Creek Falls

It’s July and that means mosquito season in the Cascades. We had our first real run in with the pests on our 4th of July hike at Salt Creek Falls. Through June I had seen only one mosquito which managed to get me on top of Salmon Butte. For the next month or so we will be faced with a dilemma, brave the hoards of bloodsuckers in order to see some of the best wildflower displays of the year, or play it safe and wait them out missing the best of the flowers.

We chose to brave the danger (annoyance at the very least) for this waterfall hike. At 286′ Salt Creek Falls is Oregon’s second tallest and is conviniently close to Hwy 58 making it easy to make a quick stop. We tend to avoid quick and easy but trails leading past Salt Creek Falls head up into the Diamond Peak Wilderness passing a couple of lakes and two additional waterfalls giving us a good excuse for a visit.

We were the first car in the parking lot and apparently the mosquitoes were waiting because I had one land on me almost immediately after I got out of the car. Luckily we had come prepared. We were all wearing long pants/sleeves and sported less than fashionable bug net hats. After a good dousing in DEET (a necessary evil) we headed down the short path to the Salt Creek Falls viewpoint.
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After viewing the falls we headed for the Vivian Lake which was 4 3/4mi away and our turnaround point. Shortly after crossing Salt Creek the trail split making a loop to Diamond Creek Falls possible. We headed right and soon came to Too Much Bear Lake. Despite the name we saw no sign of bears but the pretty lake was lined with blooming rhododendrons and reflecting the surrounding trees.
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As we continued toward Diamond Creek Falls several signs announced viewpoints. Perhaps we had been spoiled by the views on our last few hikes, but the view from these viewpoints was a bit of a let down. Diamond Creek Falls on the other hand was lovely. A short side path led down into a narrow canyon and across Diamond Creek on a footbridge. Not long after the crossing Diamond Creek Falls came into view through the trees. It was an impressively sized 100′ cascade that fanned out over the rocks as it fell into a cozy grotto.
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We returned to the main trail and continued past an upper viewpoint of Diamond Creek Falls to a second fork in the trail. The left fork would take us back to the parking area while the right continued on toward the wilderness and Vivian Lake. Before we made it to the wilderness we crossed Diamond Creek on a road bridge and passed over the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks. When we reached the sign board announcing the start of the Diamond Peak Wilderness we found that there were no self-serve entry permits left in the box, but there were plenty of mosquitoes buzzing around. The forest was full of white flowers, bunchberry, anemone, and queens-cup with an occasional beargrass thrown in. Many of the rhododendron were in bloom as well. The trail followed Fall Creek up to a viewpoint of Fall Creek Falls, a smaller 40′ cascade lined at the top with pink rhododendron blooms. The viewpoint proved a good place for a brief rest as it was an exposed rocky outcrop and almost devoid of mosquitoes.

Another mile of climbing brought us to Vivian Lake but before we would reach the lake shore we had to cross a “meadow”. The meadow was still quite damp from recent snow melt but we did our best to stay on the driest part of the trail. Shooting star and heather blooms dotted the green meadow while frogs hopped toward the water where they joined tadpoles that had not yet emerged. Unfortunately it was also a perfect spot for mosquitoes and a large number of them swarmed the air just waiting for us to stop so we quickly made our way across to drier ground and followed the trail to the shore of Vivian Lake. We worked our way around the shore until we got a good view of the top of Mt. Yoran which reflected in the water. This would have been a wonderful spot for lunch if we hadn’t been on the menu. We stayed long enough to snap a couple pictures then headed back to the viewpoint above Fall Creek Falls where we had a better chance of a mosquito free lunch.
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We made great time on the way back to the car as we tried to stave off the skeeters but we did stop when we spotted a golden mantled squirrel and later a cascade frog. We saw only one other hiker on the trail but the parking area was full of people and cars when we got back. Heather got the worst of the bites but still only about a half dozen, Dominique had a couple and I miraculously escaped with only one. Hopefully our next few hikes will have less mosquito activity, but we’ll be ready for the little buggers if need be. Happy Trails

Facebook photos: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201511921867112.1073741840.1448521051&type=1
Flickr photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157634489510254/