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Hiking Year-end wrap up

The Hikes of 2022 – A Look Back

What a strange year 2022 was for us from a hiking standpoint. We have come to the conclusion that there is no such thing as a “normal” year knowing that there will always be surprises and things that we haven’t experienced yet. This year was full of ups and downs, sometimes on the same day. We go into every year with an initial set of hikes planned out for the year knowing that by the end of the year changes will have been made, but this year may have seen the most changes to the initial plan in the 10 years we’ve been doing this. As is the case most years weather and wildfires caused the majority of the changes but in 2022 we were the cause several as well.

Our goal is to get out once a month from Jan through April and in both November and December while taking at least one hike a week from May through October. We had managed to hike a least once a month since February 2013 but the injury bug finally got one of us this year. Heather had to shut her hiking down at the end of September but did manage to get back out for the December hike. I kept to the schedule but instead of the planned hikes which would have been new to both of us I put some new twists on some old favorites. My end of the year numbers were 61 days hiking totaling just over 660 miles with a little more than 115,200′ of elevation gain. Heather’s numbers were 55 hikes, approximately 557 miles, and 97,450′ of elevation gain.

Once again we focused on hikes that were new to us (at least in part) so no day was an exact duplicate of one we’d done before. Union Creek Falls (post) was very close for me but I did manage to see one section of Union Creek that I hadn’t bushwhacked to on my first visit (post). Heather had not been with me that day due to an injury she’d sustained earlier in the day at Abbott Butte. While our Elk and Kings Mountain Loop (post) in May was a repeated hike we added a stop at Killin Wetlands to keep the day from being a repeat. Forty-four days were completely new trail for me while forty-five of Heather’s were new.

Another focus was our continuing quest to complete 100 featured hikes from each of the five William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes…” books (Feb 2022 Progress Report). We’ll go into more detail on that quest in our annual progress report next month, but we managed to make significant progress in the Southern Oregon/Northern California area and inched a little closer to our goal in Eastern Oregon. We now have an outside shot of finishing all 500 by the end of 2024.

Five days were spent hiking in Washington while twelve days were, at least in part, spent in California, our first visits since 2018. We visited four designated wilderness areas in California including our first ever visit to the Siskiyou Wilderness (post).

It’s interesting to me each year to see what hikes were the furtherst in each direction on the map. This year our most southern hike was our visit to Trail and Long Gulch Lakes (post).
IMG_0752Long Gulch Lake. The furthest south we hiked was on the trail a short distance after leaving this lake.

To the west one of the beaches along the Pacific Ocean is typically our most western hike but this year it was just inland from the ocean at Yakona Nature Preserve (post).
Yakona Nature PreserveTechnically the western most spot we hiked at was the trailhead for this hike, but the Yaquina River was a nicer picture.

Surprisingly our northernmost hike was neither our visit to Goat Marsh Lake at Mt. St. Helens (post) or Crystal Lake in the Mt. Adams Wilderness (post) but rather a hike we did just across the Columbia River from Oregon at the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-Tailed Deer (post).
Brooks SloughWe hit our northernmost point during the stretch of our hike that followed Brooks Slough.

Our one trip to Eastern Oregon produced our easternmost hike which was a visit to the Wallowa Homeland (post) in Wallowa, Oregon.
IMG_8011View of the Wallowa Mountains from our easternmost point.

While weather considerations prompted us to make a number of changes to the timing of, and sometimes destinations for, our hikes 2022 may well have been the best all-around weather conditions we’ve experienced in a year. Several hikes throughout the year had forecasts for possible rain showers yet we only experience a couple of very brief periods of precipitation. Clouds also seemed to be less of an issue this year than in years past. It seems that almost every year we have at least one “viewpoint” hike where we arrive to find ourselves in a sea of grey. This year that really didn’t happen. We did arrive at the lookouts atop Illahee Rock (post) in the clouds, but the lookouts were the goal not necessarily the view.
Cupola lookout on Illahee Rock

Furthermore, it was just the first of two stops that day and by the time we arrived at our second viewpoint of the day above Twin Lakes the views had drastically improved.
Big Twin Lake from the viewpoint above Twin Lakes

Wildfires, which there were still far too many of, also had much less of an impact on our plans than they’ve had the last couple of years. The second week of September was the only time fires forced us to get creative. Heavy smoke saw us stick close to home for a short hike at the Spring Valley Greenway (post).
IMG_1506That’s the Sun above the trees.

I believe the destinations for our 2022 hikes were the most diverse in terms of the type of managing agency/entity. We visited trails located on private timberland (obtaining permits ahead of time when required), in city, county, state and national parks, and privately owned nature preserves (again with permits where required). We took hikes on BLM managed lands, state and federal wildlife refuges, state and national forests, wilderness areas, and a National Volcanic Monument. Our hikes also took place on a variety of trail types and surfaces.
Wildwood TrailIced over snow in Portland’s Forest Park.

CZ TrailThe Crown-Zellerbach Trail, a converted logging road.

Klickitat TrailThe Klickitat Trail, a converted railroad.

Hood RIver from the end of the Hood River Pipeline TrailThe Hood River Pipeline Trail.

Rock Creek Trail along NE WilkinsSidewalk, Rock Creek Trail.

Kings Mountain TrailRope section of the Kings Mountain Trail.

Mt. McLoughlin from Touville RoadGravel Road at Denman Wildlife Area.

Brooks Slough RoadPaved Brooks Slough Road, Julia Hansen Butler Wildlife Refuge (it is open to cars).

FR 20Dirt road at Siskiyou Gap.

Ridge to Observation PeakCross-country to Observation Peak.

IMG_5881Crossing over granite to reach the Devil’s Punchbowl in the Siskiyou Wilderness.

IMG_6794Water covered trail at Catherine Creek Meadows.

IMG_9702Sandy dirt Mt. Shasta.

IMG_1610Rock field, Union Peak.

IMG_2350The remains of the Union Creek Trail.

IMG_4667Frozen tunnel on the Eagle Creek Trail.

As far as our destinations go waterfalls and lakes were the top two goals for the hikes this past year, and we are always on the lookout for wildlife and flowers. There were also a few unique features, both natural and man-made, that we visited.
Witch's CastleWitch’s Castle – Forest Park, Portland, OR

Maryann's Wind Telephone at Yakona Nature PreserveWind Telephone, Yakona Nature Preserve – Newport, OR

Erratic RockErratic Rock (post)

Bunker 3 at Ken Denman Wildlife RefugeOne of several military bunkers at Ken Denman Wildlife Area – Medford, OR

Umpqua Hot SpringsUmpqua Hot Springs – Umpqua National Forest, OR

Illahee Rock LookoutIllahee Rock Lookout – Umpqua National Forest, OR

Twin Lakes ShelterTwin Lakes Shelter – Umpqua National Forest, OR

Donomore CabinDonomore Cabin – Donomore Meadows, CA

IMG_6551Mt. Ireland Lookout – Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, OR

IMG_6819Cabin at Catherine Creek Meadows – Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, OR

IMG_7029Reds Horse Ranch – Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, OR

IMG_7609Lodge ruins – Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, OR

IMG_7869Bear Creek Guard Station – Wallowa-Whitman National Forest, OR

IMG_8007Gazebo on Tick Hill – Wallowa, OR

IMG_9834Spring above Southgate Meadows – Mount Shasta Wilderness, CA

IMG_9915Panther Spring – Mount Shasta Wilderness, CA

IMG_3722Remnants of the OSU Dean’s house – McDonald Forest, Corvallis, OR

IMG_4991Talking Water Gardens – Water treatment wetlands, Albany, OR

I will save the flowers, wildlife, waterfalls, and lakes for their own 2022 galleries. We’re looking forward to 2023 and hoping that Heather makes a full recovery. We’ve done a bit of shuffling for the first part of 2023 to help ease her back into things. While 2022 was a good year we hope 2023 has a few less bumps along the way. Happy Trails!

Categories
Blue Mountains - South Hiking Oregon Trip report

Baldy Lake

At the beginning of our vacation the forecast had called for Tuesday to be the coldest and wettest day of the week and then Wednesday and Thursday were expected to be a bit warmer with decreasing chances of precipitation and by Thursday afternoon partly sunny skies. By Tuesday that had all changed and a second weather system was following up the first. Wednesday morning was expected to be a little warmer than Tuesday  meaning less chance of snow on our drive to the trailhead but as the second system moved in that day more precipitation was expected and now there was a chance of isolated thunderstorms.

The good news in that forecast was we had no issues getting to the Baldy Creek Trailhead in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. The Baldy Creek Trail set off from a small campground and promptly crossed the North Fork John Day River on a log footbridge.
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We then entered the North Fork John Day Wilderness.
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The 121,099 acre wilderness is made up of four separate areas with this being the third we’d visited during our vacation but the first in the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest. The other two, Olive Lake and the North Fork John Day River, were in the Umatilla National Forest.

The trail passed through a nice, albeit wet, forest for just over a mile before reaching the first of several crossings of Baldy Creek.
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After crossing Baldy Creek the trail almost immediately crossed Bull Creek before entering a small section of forest recovering from a fire.
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We had enough of a view from the area of the fire to get an idea of where the snow line was. We knew going in that we would be hitting snow at some point on the hike since Baldy Lake sat at an elevation just over 7000′ plus the forecast called for 2-4 inches of snow during the day.
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Not long after crossing Bull Creek we recrossed Baldy Creek on a footbridge where we noticed a small amount of snow between the logs.
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As we made our way uphill along the creek the amount of snow on the ground slowly increased.
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In the next three miles the trail crossed Baldy Creek four more times. There were footbridges at all of the crossings but several of them were in such a state that it was easier to find a different way across the water.
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Beyond the final bridge the trail veered away from Baldy Creek and began climbing a bit more. As we climbed we found more and more snow on the trail and the trees.
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At the 5 mile mark we passed a trail sign at a junction.
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We were loving the winter scenery, it was such a welcome sight after a summer full of wildfires. On top of the snow on the ground and in the trees it had started snowing a bit. I mentioned that the only thing that could make it better would be to see a deer or even better an elk in the snow. Not five minutes later I looked up the trail and saw an elk cow staring back at me.
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She disappeared into the trees but then a second cow and two calves stepped onto the trail.
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The trail was now winding around a hillside with several small streams which seemed to be attracting the wildlife. The elk had been at one of these streams and not too much further at another stream was a varied thrush and some grouse.
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Our hike the day before along the North Fork John Day River had felt like fall but now we were in a winter wonderland.
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We crossed a greatly diminished Baldy Creek then came to a junction with a trail coming from Silver Creek Road.
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Baldy Lake was approximately a quarter mile from the junction.
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It was just a bit foggy when we arrived at the lake making it impossible to see the cliffs beyond the lake including Mt. Ireland.
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We found a log and brushed off the snow so we could take a seat and enjoy the lake. The wind was really blowing along the ridge above the lake but it was calm along the water and not particularly cold.
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We hadn’t been sitting there long when the clouds started to lift revealing the lookout tower atop the 8321′ Mt. Ireland.
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Our original plans had called for us to hike up to the lookout on Mt. Ireland at some point during the week but given the conditions we had decided to save that hike for another trip, so for now getting to see it from the lake would have to suffice.

We finally started to get chilly just sitting there so we tore ourselves away from the lake and headed back. It was snowing pretty hard as we made our way back down and we could see the difference along the trail.
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We eventually left the snow behind which ironically made me colder. My feet and hands had stayed relatively dry in the snow but now they were starting to get wet. My hands, without gloves (I’m a slow learner), froze when a brief round of hail passed over. We picked up our pace eager to get to a heated car.

As we passed by the old fire area a little blue sky was visible.
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By the time we’d reached the trailhead there was quite a bit more blue allowing us to bask in a little warm sunshine.
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It had been a 14 mile hike that took us a few months into the future when winter snows will be here to stay. Getting to see the elk had been a big bonus to what was a great hike and fun adventure. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Baldy Lake