Categories
Hiking Trapper Creek Trip report Washington Washington Cascades

Siouxon Creek & Peak

It was finally time for our first overnight trip this year. We picked the Siouxon Trail for the trip which would be our test run for our backpacking season. Our plan was to hike up the Siouxon Trail approximately four miles, find a campsite to set up in then hike up to Siouxon Peak on a loop using the Wildcat, Chinook, and Huffman Peak Trails.

The trail is located in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest and is accessed via forest road 5071 which is east of Chelatchie, WA. Although the roads are mostly paved, washouts and pot holes made it interesting on the way to the trailhead.
Siouxon Trailhead

There were already quite a few cars in the parking area when we arrived shortly after 7am. Since this was our first hike here we weren’t sure what to expect for campsites and hoped that we would be able to find an open one in the area we had planned on. We slung our packs on and set off downhill toward Siouxon Creek.

We crossed West Creek on a nice footbridge and continued along in a cool, green forest.
Siouxon Trail

West Creek

Siouxon Trail

Cool was going to be important as the forecast called for temperatures in the mid-90s for some nearby areas.

It wasn’t long before Siouxon Creek came into view with crystal clear water and colorful pools. It reminded us a lot of our previous hike along the Lewis River.
Siouxon Creek

Siouxon Creek

The trail then bent back away from Siouxon Creek as it crossed Horseshoe Creek above Horseshoe Creek Falls on another footbridge.
Horseshoe Creek Falls

Horseshoe Creek Falls

Just over a mile and a half from the trailhead Siouxon Falls came into view. Here Siouxon Creek drops in an S-shaped chute into a green pool.
Siouxon Falls

Siouxon Falls

Beyond Siouxon Falls the trail continued along the creek offering views of a few smaller cascades and more green pools.
Siouxon Creek

Small fall along Siouxon Creek

Pool below small waterfall along Siouxon Creek

We passed a trail sign for the Wildcat Trail around the 3 mile mark which would wind up being our return route the following day. Shortly after the Wildcat Trail sign was another junction, this time with the Horseshoe Ridge Trail.
Siouxon Trail junction with the Horseshoe Ridge Trail

We continued on the Siouxon Trail another 3/4 of a mile to a footbridge over Siouxon Creek.
Unnamed creek and the bridge across Siouxon Creek to Chinook Falls

We had begun keeping an eye out for a good campsite following the Horseshoe Ridge Trail junction but  most were already taken and the few that remained were near other groups of backpackers. We crossed on the footbridge and found the sites on the opposite side occupied as well.

We had left the Siouxon Creek Trail and were now following Chinook Creek. In 0.2 miles we came to 50′ Chinook Falls.
Chinook Falls

Chinook Falls

To continue we would need to cross Chinook Creek which did not have a bridge. Logs provided a dry crossing and we were quickly across heading toward yet another trail junction.
Chinook Falls

Junction with the Chinook Trail

If we had been able to find a campsite before reaching this point we would have headed up the Chinook Trail at this point. Since we were still searching we decided to take the connector trail between this junction and the Wildcat Trail. Even though the sign here didn’t point left for a trail there was a clear one there. It climbed a bit at first then dropped down closer to Siouxon Creek again in a much denser forest than on the Siouxon Trail side. We were focused on finding a suitable campsite but instead all we found was a lot of elk sign. As we neared Wildcat Creek we decided that if we hadn’t found a spot by the time we reached the Wildcat Trail we would loop back on the Siouxon Trail and take one of the few spots we’d seen near other groups. Luckily we didn’t need to implement that plan as we found a small secluded spot near Wildcat Creek with just enough room for a tent.
Campsite near Wildcat Creek

After getting settled we switched to our little daypacks and crossed Wildcat Creek on some more logs.
Wildcat Creek

Just on the other side of the creek was the junction with the trail coming from the Siouxon Trail
Wildcat Trail junction

We headed uphill on the Wildcat Trail. The trail stayed a bit above the creek but we spotted a couple of small cascades that warranted checking out on short scramble trails.
Wildcat Trail

Cascades along Wildcat Creek

Slide falls along Wildcat Creek

The best fall of the day came a half mile up the Wildcat Trail. The 225′ Wildcat Falls drops 3 times with the final drop being 124′.
Wildcat Falls

To reach the base of the falls a steep trail headed downhill. The assistance of a rope which we found waiting was almost a necessity here.
Rope down to Wildcat Falls

Wildcat Falls

We’d timed it well both for the day and the time of year. According to the information on the falls from the Northwest Waterfall Survey the falls become “substantially less impressive as summer progresses”. There was plenty of water now and there was no one else at the falls when we arrived. We sat on some rocks at the edge of the splash pool letting the misty wind from the falls cool us off.
Splash pool of Wildcat Falls

When other hikers began to arrive we climbed back up using the rope and continued our loop. We started to climb looking back after about a hundred feet to see the upper tiers of the falls.
Wildcat Falls

The Wildcat Trail switchbacked uphill to a viewpoint above Wildcat Falls allowing us to see the upper tier even beter.
Wildcat Falls

Upper tier of Wildcat Falls

From the falls the trail gained approximately 2000′ in 2 miles to a junction with the Huffman Peak Trail. It was starting to get really warm and we were forced to take quite a few more breaks than usual along the way. Fortunately there was a bit of an off-and-on breeze that helped to cool us off a little as we took in the scenery.
Wildcat Trail

Little prince’s pine
Little prince's pine

Tiger lily
Tiger lily

Penstemon
Penstemon

We turned right when we reached the Huffman Peak Trail which promptly began descending to a saddle.
Wildcat Trail junction with the Huffman Peak Trail

It eventually leveled out and then began climbing again as it headed up the side of Siouxon Peak. Wildflowers along this section included beargrass, avalanche lilies and pioneer violets.
Beargrass

Avalanche lily

Violets

We hadn’t seen any other hikers since we’d left Wildcat Falls but just before we reached the spur trail to the summit of Siouxon Peak we met another pair of hikers that had just come down. We had seen them earlier at Chinook Falls but they had headed up that trail doing the loop the way we’d originally planned on. They said it was beautiful up at the summit and they weren’t kidding. We had been seeing glimpses of several mountains through the trees from the Huffman Peak Trail but no clear views. As we began up the summit spur trail though that all changed.
Mt. Rainier, Goat Rocks, and Mt. Adams

An exposed ridge led up to the former site of a lookout tower on top of Siouxon Peak. Snowy peaks dominated the horizon while numerous butterflies flitted among the various wildflowers.
Mt. Hood heading to the summit of Siouxon Peak

Mt. Hood
Mt. Hood

Mt. Adams
Mt. Adams

Goat Rocks
Goat Rocks

Mt. Rainier
Mt. Rainier

Phlox
Phlox

Swallowtail above the meadow
Swallowtail butterfly flying over wildflowers on Siouxon Peak

Butterflies above the meadow with Goat Rocks and Mt. Adams in the distance.
Goat Rocks and Mt. Adams from Siouxon Peak

Penstemon
Penstemon

Mt. Rainier, Goat Rocks, Mt. Adams and Swift Reservoir from the summit of Siouxon Peak

Goat Rocks and MT. Adams from the summit of Siouxon Peak

Butterfly on bistort
Hairstreak butterfly on bistort

Swallowtail on phlox
Swallowtail on phlox

Swallowtail overhead
Swallowtail soaring overhead

We sat for awhile at the summit. There was just enough breeze to keep it from being too warm and it was just too beautiful to not spend some time appreciating it. Ironically the closest mountain to us was Mt. St. Helens which we couldn’t see due to trees lining the west side of the peak.

After pulling ourselves away and returning to the Huffman Peak Trail we spotted a little spur trail on the opposite side. This one led to a viewpoint that included Mt. St. Helens.
Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier from a viewpoint below Siouxon Peak

We continued on our loop passing beneath Siouxon Peak in a meadow of strawberry blossoms and phlox.
Strawberries and phlox

After a few switchbacks the trail leveled out some as it began following an old roadbed.
Huffman Peak Trail

The trail entered a section of young trees where the penstemon display was amazing. There was also quite a bit of paintbrush and some lupine mixed in.
Penstemon

Penstemon and paintbrush along the Huffman Peak Trail

Penstemon and paintbrush along the Huffman Peak Trail

Paintbrush

Lupine

There was a bit of a washout in this section but it was not too difficult to cross.
Washout along the Huffman Peak Trail

Slide along the Huffman Peak Trail from the other side of the valley

We turned onto the Chinook Trail at a signed junction.
Huffman Peak Trail junction with the Chinook Trail

The Chinook Trail began as an old narrow jeep track which eventually turned to a true trail.
Chinook Trail

As we were coming down the Chinook Trail we met our neighbor from across Siouxon Creek. She had set up camp Friday night and was now doing the Siouxon Peak loop in the opposite direction. After a nice conversation she introduced herself as Nicole and we shared our names before continuing on. It turns out she is a fellow member of the //embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js“>PortlandHikers Facebook group. It’s always nice to put faces to names and have these chance meetings out on the trails.

We spotted a variety of interesting plants in the forest along this trail including yellow coralroot, indian pipe, and some candysticks.
Yellow coralroot

Indian Pipe

Candystick

Candysticks

Before returning to our campsite we detoured back to Chinook Falls to see how it looked in the afternoon sunlight and to cool off by the splash pool.
Chinook Falls

While we were enjoying the falls we noticed a few tadpoles nearby.
Tadpole

We returned to camp and got ready for dinner. We were excited to try out our new Alite Mayfly chairs. I had been a bit reluctant to add any extra weight to my pack but at 1lbs 4oz the chairs aren’t that heavy. I was still thinking I might only bring mine on shorter trips or trips where we establish a base camp for multiple days, but after eating dinner and relaxing next to Wildcat Creek in the chair it will be coming with me from now on.

The next morning we woke a little before 5am and began packing up. Heather had a baby shower that afternoon and we were hoping to be home in time for her to attend. While we were working on breakfast we were thoroughly entertained by a slug that had passed over a strap on my pack then set to scaling a mossy boulder.
Slug on my backpack strap

Slug on a boulder

Instead of going back to the bridge across Siouxon Creek at the Chinook Trail we decided to shorten the morning hike by fording Siouxon Creek at the Wildcat Trail. The ford is not recommended in high water but it wasn’t running too swiftly so we plunged in. At it’s deepest the water came up just a bit past our knees but we had no problems reaching the trail on the other bank.
Siouxon Creek ford between the Wildcat and Siouxon Trails

We returned to the Siouxon Trailhead a just before 8am and Heather was back in plenty of time to go to the baby shower. All in all it was a pretty successful first over night for the year. We thought we had forgotten a couple of items only to discover that they had been in our packs the whole time and our new chairs worked out great. We’re looking forward to several more backpacking trips in the next few months. Until next time, happy trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157666763253394

Categories
High Cascades Hiking Oregon Three Sisters Area Trip report

South Sister Loop – Day 1

After kicking off our vacation with a visit to Broken Tops no name lake we took a day off and got ready for what we originally planned to be a 4 day backpacking trip around the South Sister in the Three Sisters Wilderness. We wound up finishing the loop in 3 days instead of 4 hiking two 20+ mile days, our first ever over that number. Given the mileage and the amount of places we visited we are going to break this report up into three entries instead of trying to fit it all into one.

The route we were going to take would start and end at the Green Lakes/Soda Creek Trailhead. http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/deschutes/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=38870&actid=50
We decided to take a less direct route around the mountain in order to visit some of the places we had yet to see in the wilderness. Below is our GPS track from the trip (The hike to the no name lake is also on the map to the right).

South Sister Loop

We were excited for this hike for a number of reasons. We had tried to visit the Green Lakes on four previous occasions including our first attempted hike together over 20 years earlier. Snow had turned us back that day and again in 2011, in 2012 it was a forest fire, and in 2013 thunderstorms stymied our plans. The forecast was good this time around and there were no fires in the immediate area as we set off from the trailhead. The sky was blue except for above each of the mountains which were each covered in white clouds.
DSC05072
DSC05073
DSC05074

In 1994 we managed to hike up Fall Creek a little over a mile before being turned back. We both remembered being impressed with the creek and the scenery but couldn’t remember exactly what we had seen. We were quickly reminded of why Fall Creek left such an impression on us. In the first two miles Fall Creek lived up to its name with over a half dozen cascades of varying sizes.
DSC05083
DSC05088
DSC05091
DSC05097
DSC05099
DSC05101
DSC05110
DSC05116

At the two mile mark we took the Moraine Lake Trail to the left and veered away from the creek. After crossing a lava flow and climbing over a ridge we arrived at Moraine Lake. We had been at the lake the year before after climbing the South Sister. It was just as pretty this time around nestled beneath a moraine with a front row view of the South Sister.
Moraine Lake
DSC05142

After leaving Moraine Lake we headed toward the Wickiup Plains on our way to the Pacific Crest Trail. The clouds were starting to burn off of the mountains as we passed through the plains. Broken Top was behind us with the South Sister on our right and the Wife ahead.
DSC05152
DSC05160
DSC05163

The plains offered an interesting landscape with open views all around.
DSC05166
DSC05175 Stitch

As we headed North toward the PCT on the Le Conte Trail we were able to see a couple of peaks that are often overlooked due to their proximity to the larger Three Sisters, The Wife at 7054′ and The Husband at 7524′.
DSC05182

We met the PCT and turned right passing the Rock Mesa lava flow and views of the South Sister.
DSC05190

The PCT eventually left the plains and entered more forested terrain crossing several branches of Mesa Creek amid meadows and wildflowers.
DSC05201
DSC05203
DSC05217
DSC05232

We left the PCT when we reached the James Creek Trail. We had planned on camping at Linton Meadows the first night and this trail would eventually lead us there and take us past some other interesting sights. The first of these was the James Creek Shelter which sat at the edge of a meadow made green by James Creek.
DSC05247
DSC05249

Next we passed a small pond where Heather spotted a tadpole.
DSC05255
DSC05260

Flower lined Hinton Creek was next.
DSC05264

Followed by Separation Creek. We may have found some of the tadpoles relatives there.
DSC05267
DSC05270
DSC05271

At a five way trail junction we stayed straight continuing on toward Linton Meadows. The clouds had finally lifted from the mountain tops and here we got our first good look at the Middle Sister.
DSC05279
DSC05280

Another junction awaited just .3 miles later. We had originally planned on staying straight and going directly to Linton Meadows but we were enjoying the scenery so much we decided to take a longer route to the meadows and go past Husband and Eileen Lakes first. The 2.4 mile trail would lead us beneath The Husband, past the two lakes, and back to the far end of Linton Meadows. It was interesting to see The Husband up close. The shape reminded us a lot of Broken Top.
DSC05295

The first lake we reached was Husband Lake. It was a nice lake with views of both the Middle and South Sister.
DSC05297
DSC05299
DSC05311

After a nice break at Husband Lake we continued on toward Eileen Lake. The trail passed a rock slide at the base of The Husband where we were surprised to see some Columbine in bloom.
DSC05328
DSC05331

There was also the cutest little tree attempting to grow out of the side of a boulder.
DSC05336

The North Sister made its first appearance of the day as we continued North.
DSC05337

Eileen Lake was a gem with green shores and great views. There had been several people camped near Husband Lake but for some reason no one was at Eileen Lake. As we made our way around the lake we encountered a large number of tiny frogs. We had to walk very carefully so we didn’t step on any since they were all over on the trail.
DSC05345

We eventually made our way around to the best views from the lake.
Eileen Lake
DSC05358

We left the lake and the frogs behind and in another .8 miles reached the junction with the James Creek Trail at the edge of Linton Meadows.
DSC05376
DSC05377

Several branches of Linton Creek flow through the meadows creating a large swath of green with the Middle & South Sister providing the backdrop. There were not many flowers left but a couple of patches remained and the sound of the streams roaring down hillside on the far side of the meadows completed the experience.
DSC05379
DSC05381
DSC05382
DSC05388

We headed back South here and found a campsite at the edge of the meadows. We seemed to be the only ones camped in the area which suited us just fine.
DSC05435
DSC05436

After getting camp set up we had one more thing to visit – Linton Springs. There is no official trail to the springs but I had a feeling there might be a way up to them so we set off looking for any signs of a trail that might lead us to them. We managed to find some faint trails and picked our way up the main stream being careful to avoid damaging the plants. As we neared the springs we found a more established path and followed it up to an amazing view.
DSC05411

The springs were truly impressive cascading down from all around the rim of a small bowl.
DSC05417

It was a perfect way to cap off our first day. We had already visited so many diverse and beautiful places we couldn’t wait to see what day 2 had in store when we would return to the PCT and head to the Chambers Lakes between the Middle and South Sister and finally past Camp Lake to Demaris Lake for our second night.

Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157646955382382/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10204860263453559.1073741903.1448521051&type=1