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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
Hiking

Forest Park – Stone House and Pittock Mansion – 01/01/2022

Weather permitting we like to get our January hike in on New Years Day. A series of Winter storms had passed over the Willamette Valley starting Christmas night but while temperatures had remained cold the precipitation had ceased and the forecast for New Years Day was for another dry day with a potential for sunny skies. The only issue presented by the forecast were the temperatures which promised to be in the low 20’s for our morning start. We had our sights set on Forest Park in Portland as it didn’t require us driving over any mountain passes and allowed us to sleep in a bit since it is only an hours drive from Salem. This would be our fourth hike in the park but our first time starting from an upper trailhead in the Tualatin Mountains. One of our goals was to visit the stone ruins, sometimes referred to as the Witch’s Castle, along Balch Creek which was one of two options for Sullivan’s Balch Creek featured hike. We had chosen to do his longer option in 2020 (post) which we used to check that featured hike off our to-do list but we wanted to tie up the loose end.

We decided to begin our hike at the NW 53rd Trailhead in order to add some distance and to check out some of the trails that we had not hiked on in 2020. While the snow had left the valley floor at 800′ some still remained and the 21 degree temperature had frozen everything.
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From the trailhead we immediately turned right on the Keil Trail, one of the trails we had not been on before.
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The trail ended in under a quarter mile at the Dogwood Trail where we turned left.
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We followed this trail downhill for a little over half a mile to a junction with the Wildwood Trail.
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IMG_7710A bank of clouds was sitting directly over Portland but we could see the edge in the distance. We hopped that the clouds would either burn off or move along.

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We turned right on the Wildwood Trail. The next 0.6 miles to a junction with the Wild Cherry Trail was a section of trail that we had been on in 2020.
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We stayed straight on the Wildwood Trail ignoring all side trails for 2.5 miles to the stone ruins along Balch Creek.
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IMG_7732Junction with the Birch Trail.

IMG_7740A wren busy pecking at a log.

IMG_7746Junction with the Aspen Trail. As we descended we left most of the snow, and the icy conditions, behind.

IMG_7758Holman Lane Junction.

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IMG_7767Balch Creek and the Lower Macleay Trail (Currently closed due to construction.)

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IMG_7783Icicles over Balch Creek.

We continued beyond the Witch’s Castle another half a mile to the Macleay Park Trailhead crossing Balch Creek and climbing up a rather slick hill along the way.
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IMG_7809Going uphill before it got really slick.

IMG_7811Wilwood Trail at Macleay Park Trailhead.

We left the Wildwood Trail at the trailhead turning right past some picnic tables and taking a path along NW Cornell Road to the Portland Audubon Wildlife Sanctuary.
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A network of trails loop around the sanctuary.
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We began our tour here by walking past the Wildlife Care Center where we think we witnessed an escape attempt.
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Aristophanes, a common raven and long time resident at the sanctuary, was being visited by another pair of ravens with questionable intent :).
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IMG_7817We took this raven to be the “lookout”.

Beyond the ravens the trail descended to Balch Creek where we took the short Creek Trail to a turnaround at a bench before returning to the Jay Trail.
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IMG_7831Bench at the end of the Creek Trail.

We left the Jay Trail by taking a right on the Woodpecker Trail keeping right at junctions to meet up with the other end of the Jay Trail which we then returned on making a 0.7 mile loop.
IMG_7833Pond along the Jay Trail,

IMG_7834Junction with the Woodpecker Trail.

IMG_7840Big Douglas fir.

IMG_7851I continue to struggle to get a clear photo of a varied thrush.

IMG_7853Jay Trail junction with the Wren Trail.

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IMG_7856Nearing the pond from the other side.

After completing this short loop we crossed NW Cornell Road and headed up the Al Miller Founders Trail.
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The Founders Trail climbed up into increasingly snowy forest before traversing around a hillside to a junction with the North and South Collins Trails in 0.6 miles.
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IMG_7871Stairs up to the trail junction.

The South Collins Trial offered a slightly shorter loop but we turned left on the North Collins Trail which climbed a little more before winding downhill and rejoining the South Collins Trail near NW Cornell Road.
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IMG_7880Baseball sized jelly fungus, the largest we’ve seen.

IMG_7881Descending to the South Collins Trail.

IMG_7883More ice formations.

This was a 1.5 mile “almost loop” which required a 500′ road walk to return to the Founders Trail and the Wildlife Sanctuary.
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We then made our way back to the Macleay Park Trailhead and the Wildwood Trail which we followed across NW Cornell Road.
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Due to tunnel construction the road was closed just beyond the trailhead so we didn’t have to worry about traffic as we crossed. On the other side of the road we continued on the Wildwood Trail but soon found ourselves facing the slickest section of trail we’d encountered yet. Luckily we had brought our Kathoola micro spikes which we put on in order to get down the little hill.
IMG_7892We planned on returning via the Upper Macleay Trail.

IMG_7893Heather descending the slick section with a trail runner behind that had attempted to get up the hill but was turning back.

The trail runner had come up the Cumberland Trail which she said had been fine but above that trail things got slick fast.
IMG_7904Cumberland Trail junction.

The Wildwood Trail turned uphill at a junction with the Macleay Trail which is where things started to get really interesting.
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Other than the one hill where we’d put on our spikes there had always been enough clear trail to find descent footing but now the trails were pretty much ice.
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We held off putting the spikes back on though until the three way junction with the Upper Macleay Trail. We watched another trail runner slip and slide as they carefully made their way downhill and decided it was time to put the spikes back on.
IMG_7909The trail runner in blue.

With the spikes on we were able to confidently walk uphill, marching past a number of folks struggling to come down. We saw a few falls but luckily we didn’t see anyone get injured which was a real possibility. Besides us we only came across 4 other hikers with some sort of traction devices for their shoes.
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IMG_7914Heather coming up behind me.

IMG_7916Arriving at the Pittock Mansion parking lot.

We had visited the mansion in 2018 (post) having come up from the other side on the Wildwood Trail and had hoped that this time we might get a view but alas the cloud cover had not moved on.
IMG_7919Pittock Mansion

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IMG_7926A line of blue sky beyond the cloud cover.

IMG_7930Portland from Pittock Mansion.

IMG_7932Snowy foothills in the sunlight beyond the Columbia River.

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Deprived of a mountain view we headed back to the Wildwood Trail where we put our microspikes back on and headed downhill.
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With the spikes on we had no issues reaching the junction with the Upper Macleay Trail where we turned left.
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The spikes stayed on until we had descended to Macleay Park and Heather re-donned hers again to descend to the Witch’s Castle.
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IMG_7947Entering the Macleay Park Trailhead.

IMG_7953One last look at the Witch’s Castle.

When we reached Holman Lane we turned left and headed uphill. We followed Holman Lane just over three quarters of a mile to NW 53 Dr. where we turned right walking a short distance along the road to the Birch Trailhead. Here we picked up the Birch Trail which descended a quarter mile back to the Wildwood Trail. Going back this way not only let us experience a new trail but it cut a half mile off the distance to the Wildwood/Birch Trail junction.
IMG_7956Holman Lane started out snow and ice free.

IMG_7960Back to the snow and ice higher up.

IMG_7964NW 53rd Drive

IMG_7965Birch Trailhead

IMG_7966The microspikes went back on before descending the Birch Trail and stayed on for the remainder of the hike.

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IMG_7969Sparrow foraging on the Birch Trail.

IMG_7971Back to the Wildwood Trail.

We turned left on the Wildwood Trail for 0.4 to the Wild Cherry Trail where we again turned uphill. This was another new section of trail for us and it was an additional three quarters of a mile shorter than returning via the Wildwood Trail.
IMG_7974Wild Cherry Trail junction.

20220101_141903Little snowman near the junction.

IMG_7979Is that a bit of blue in the sky finally?

IMG_7978Snowy mushrooms

The Wild Cherry Trail ended at the Dogwood Trail where we turned right for a short distance before reaching its junction with the Keil Trail.
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IMG_7983A break in the clouds provided some blue sky above the Keil/Dogwood Trail junction.

We turned left on the Keil Trail retracing our steps from the morning to the NW 53rd Trailhead.
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IMG_7988Woodpecker that wasn’t a bit concerned about my presence.

IMG_7993The Subaru waiting for us at the trailhead.

According to the GPS this was a 13 mile hike with around 2500′ of elevation gain.

Portland Audubon trails in orange.

Aside from not getting the views we’d hoped for this was a wonderful way to kick off the new year. There was good scenery, historical structures and a good deal of wildlife (even if most of it wouldn’t stay still long enough for photos). We hope everyone had a great holiday season and here is to a great 2022. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Forest Park – Stone House and Pittock Mansion