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Bull of the Woods/Opal Creek Hiking Old Cascades Oregon Trip report

Henline Falls and Henline Mountain – 06/14/2020

While 2010 is the year we consider the year we started hiking there were a few outings prior to 2009 that prompted our desire to become hikers. It took us a while to find our groove and 2009 was a good example of this. We were interested in hiking but didn’t really know what we were doing. We had a single guidebook (printed in 2004) that contained 280 hikes throughout the state but was light on the details of each hike. The book did have a very helpful 10 page section on hiking tips though that we took to heart. We had hoped to hike more regularly in 2009 but had a hard time deciding on where to go, often leaving it up to the day before of even the day we were thinking of hiking to decide where to go. That often resulted in a deferral to “next weekend” leaving us with only a couple of outings.

The only 2009 outing that we have photos from was our hike to Henline Falls in the Opal Creek Wilderness. Ironically this hike wasn’t in our guidebook but was suggested by a co-worker. At 2 miles round trip this was a hike we knew we could do, but being new to hiking it didn’t occur to us at the time that a July 27th outing was a little late in the year to see Henline Falls with anywhere near peak water volume.
Henline Falls

We were less than impressed with the waterfall that day and decided to also try the nearby Henline Mountain Trail which was also mentioned by my co-worker. We didn’t get far up that trail at all before the climb took it’s toll on certain members of our group (I won’t name names but you know who you are. :)) balked at the difficulty and we turned around.

Ten years and 10 1/2 months later it was finally time go back and finish the Henline Mountain Trail and revisit Henline Falls when there would be more water. The forecast called for a 30% chance of showers early, but later in the day for mostly sunny skies. Since starting early is what we do we were ready for some potentially wet conditions but it didn’t seem too bad as we drove through Elkhorn and to the junction of FR 2209 & 2207. The trailheads for Henline Falls and Henline Mountain are on FR 2209 but we had planned on making a quick stop at Sullivan Creek Falls along FR 2207 before starting our hikes.

We turned onto FR 2207 and followed it for 3.8 rough and wet miles to a pullout opposite Sullivan Creek Falls.
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There were scramble trails on either side of the cascade with the one on the right hand side leading to a view part way up the falls.
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IMG_5468The scramble trail.

It may have been possible to continue higher but it was really wet and slick so back down to the car I went. Heather was putting on her rain gear which I also did before driving back to FR 2209 and continuing to the Henline Falls Trailhead.
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We set off on the Henline Falls Trails which quickly entered the Opal Creek Wilderness.
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We were watching for the Ogle Mountain Trail which was approximately a half mile along the Henline Falls Trail. We were thinking of exploring this trail a bit after visiting the falls so we wanted to make sure we knew where it was. After passing a small trail that led into the brush we spotted the obvious Ogle Mountain Trail marked by an orange-red sign with an “X” on it.
IMG_5487Not the Ogle Mountain Trail.

IMG_5488The Ogle Mountain Trail on the right.

For now we kept left and continued another relatively level half mile to Henline Falls.
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This time we could see why the falls were popular. The water was blasting down into the splash pool generating a lot of wind and mist. We skipped visiting the old mine shaft that is near the fall this time due to the slick rocks.
Abandoned mine shaft

After enjoying the falls we started back, briefly turning uphill on a steep trail that we thought might connect the Henline Falls and Ogle Mountain Trails, but we quickly turned around after consulting our GPS and seeing how much higher up the Ogle Mountain Trail was from where we were. We went back down to the Henline Falls Trail and followed it back to the junction with the Ogle Mountain Trail which we then turned up.
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The Ogle Mountain Trail used to extend all the way to the Ogle Mountain, but the mine is on private property and the trail now effectively ends at the forest boundary. We were wanting to scout it out for a possible hike some other time to attempt to visit some of the “Family of Falls” located above Henline Falls on Henline Creek. The trail climbed much more steeply than we had anticipated but we seemed to be starting to level out a bit after .2 miles which is when I spotted a fair amount of poison oak encroaching on the trail. That combined with the climb convinced us to let the Ogle Mountain Trail remain a mystery, at least for now. We retreated to the Henline Falls Trail and returned to our car which we then drove to the Henline Mountain Trailhead.
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It was still foggy but the rain had pretty much stopped as we started our climb up the Henline Mountain Trail. While there was some poison oak along the lower half of this trail it wasn’t crowding the trail like it had been on the Ogle Mountain Trial.
IMG_5559Penstemon with poison oak in the background along the trail near the trailhead.

This trail also quickly entered the Opal Creek Wilderness as it climbed relentlessly for 3 miles to the site of a former lookout.
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At the lower elevations we spotted a couple of flowers that we had yet to see this year.
IMG_5563Little prince’s pine

IMG_5567Twinflower

After a little over three quarters of a mile we came to short spur trail that led to a viewpoint above a talus slope which we had crossed earlier.
IMG_5584Looking up at the viewpoint from the talus slope.

IMG_5606Spur trail to the viewpoint.

We still weren’t anywhere near the mostly sunny segment of the day so there was a very limited view from the rocky outcrop.
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IMG_5611The trail passing through the talus slope below.

A quarter mile later we came to a second, larger viewpoint.
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IMG_5624Penstemon at the viewpoint.

IMG_5628Oregon sunshine

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IMG_5634I believe that is Rocky Top behind the clouds.

IMG_5639Blue sky to the west.

We continued climbing from this second viewpoint trading the occasional poison oak in for the more enjoyable beargrass and rhododendron blooms.
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Despite the Sun making an occasional appearance we remained mostly in fog as we climbed. We kept our eyes out for different flowers along the way.
Neottia banksiana - Northwestern twaybladeNorthwestern twayblade

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IMG_5667Penstemon

IMG_5679Paintbrush

IMG_5682Bunchberry

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IMG_5692Trillium

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IMG_5705Penstemon (cliff beardtongue)

IMG_5708Oregon sunshine

At a switchback at the three mile mark we took a spur trail to the right to the former lookout site.
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Instead of sitting at the summit of Henline Mountain the lookout was near a ridge end a mile from the summit and over 400′ lower.
IMG_5730The ridge end beyond where the lookout was.

IMG_5731Looking back toward the summit of Henline Mountain (it is beyond and above the visible trees).

There had been increasing breaks in the clouds, enough to give us some good looks at the seasonal Elkhorn Mountain Falls across the valley.
IMG_5734The falls are obsucred here by the clouds to the lower left.

Elkhorn Mountain FallsElkhorn Mountain Falls

IMG_5738Sub-alpine mariposa lily

IMG_5740Mountain Ash

With no immediate end to the clouds in sight we returned to the Henline Mountain Trail. The official trail ends at the lookout but a volunteer maintained trail continues 1.1 mile to the actual summit so we turned right onto this trail and continued on. This section of trail finally had some downhill sections, which only meant uphill on the way back but we welcomed the change.
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The reason for the ups and downs was that the trail followed a narrow ridge for a half mile. A section of the ridge was open offering views although we were still dealing with the clouds.
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IMG_5749Oregon sunshine and cat’s ear lilies

IMG_5753Phlox

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raceme pussytoesRaceme pussytoes

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IMG_5768Paintbrush

The trail crossed from the east side of the ridge to the forested west side before crossing again to the east into a little meadow with a fair amount of phlox.
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The trail steepened again for a bit before dropping one final time to a saddle before making its final ascent to the summit.
IMG_5802Heading uphill after the little meadow.

IMG_5806Snow in a basin below the trail.

IMG_5810Fawn lily

IMG_5814Jelly fungus

IMG_5816Heading down to the saddle below the summit.

The actual summit of Henline Mountain was a little rocky opening with lots of huckleberry bushes.
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The trail continued an additional two hundred feet before petering out.
IMG_5824The end of the trail.

IMG_5822Bleeding heart near the end of the trail.

We took a decent break at the summit and had a snack. As we were just starting to leave a bit of a view broke out. It wasn’t much but it was something.
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The cloud situation began to improve quite a bit as we headed back to the lookout site. By the time we arrived at the open section of ridge there was a good deal of blue sky overhead.
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IMG_5847Looking west down the Little North Santiam River.

IMG_5852The high point to the left is Whetstone Mountain (post), the flat topped mountain straight ahead is Battle Ax Mountian (post), and to the right the double humps are the Marten Buttes (post)

IMG_5854Closer look at Battle Ax Mountain.

We stopped at the lookout site again and took another short break now that we could see a little more of the surroundings.
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IMG_5861Rocky Top still with a little cloud and Elkhorn Mountain in the foreground.

IMG_5865Looking back at Henline Mountain’s summit.

IMG_5868Whetstone Mountain (center high point) with Bull-of-the Woods (post), Schreiner Peak, and North and South Dickey Peaks over its shoulder to the left.

IMG_5871Looking west

IMG_5875Yellow rumped warbler at the lookout site.

We continued down under increasingly blue skies.
IMG_5883Looking up at the ridge end of the former lookout site from below.

IMG_5889Chipmunk drying out on the rocks.

We also stopped again briefly at the larger viewpoint to see the difference there now.
IMG_5896Looking east

IMG_5902Looking south

IMG_5899Looking west

Rusty saxifrageRusty saxifrage at the viewpoint.

We had encountered three people between the Henline Falls Hike and the summit of Henline Mountain. It was a different story on our way down as we passed a number of hikers coming up. When we got back to the trailhead we noticed several cars illegally parked outside of the designated area along FR 2209 and it was the same at Henline Falls despite the presence of posted signs. It’s disappointing to see how many people are willing to ignore the rules. Please don’t be one of those people, either arrive at your hikes early or have backup plans if things don’t work out at your first choice. Disregarding the rules (even if you think they’re dumb) sets a bad example. Let’s do better. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Henline Falls and Henline Mountain

Categories
California Hiking Klamath Mountains Marble Mountains Trip report

Marble Mountains Wilderness Day 3 – Paradise Lake to Sky High Lakes

After being serenaded all night by the frogs around Paradise Lake we woke to the sounds of happy birds singing at the morning’s first light. I got out the tent and wandered around for a bit spotting a doe near the meadow full of shooting star flowers. It was still too dark to get a picture so I just watched her nibble at the plants as she walked north along the PCT.

As the sun light began to reach Kings Castle we heard a loud bird calling from behind our campsite. It turned out to be a mountain quail, a bird I had only seen in pictures. It was still too dark to get a clear picture of him.
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We had originally planned on continuing north along the PCT then going down to either Bear or Tuck Lake but after hiking over 15 miles on the previous day and being pretty wiped out by the heat and cumulative elevation gain we decided we were going to see enough lakes during our trip. After breakfast we packed up and headed south on the PCT retracing our steps back to the Marble Valley Shelter. It was shaping up to be a hot day and we were already feeling the effects of the heat when we reached Box Rock Camp. We took a break there before continuing. At the shelter we took yet another break then set off on the Canyon Creek Trail before following a pointer for the Sky High Lakes.
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We continued toward the Sky High Lakes for almost 2 miles passing small Gate Lake and entering the meadows of Sky High Valley.
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We spotted the Sky High Shelter along the way which we would visit later after finding a camp site.
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It was humid in the meadows which added to the heat from being exposed to the Sun and we were anxious to get our packs off. The first lake we arrived at was Lower Sky High Lake.
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We followed the trail along the lake passing one possible camp site and another that was occupied.
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Next up was Upper Sky High Lake. There weren’t any sites along this lake but there were some nice trout, some newts, and a duck in the lake.
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The final lake in the valley was Frying Pan Lake (named after its shape).
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The smallest of the lakes this one was swarming with dragon flies.
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We found a spot for our tent on a small hill east of the lake.
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We had camp set up before 11:30am and spent the rest of the day relaxing and exploring the area around the lakes. There weren’t many mosquitoes to speak of except for in the thicker stands of trees so we were able to really enjoy the scenery and wildlife.
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Yellow-rumped warbler
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Grand collomia
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Mariposa lilies
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Western tanager
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Sky High Shelter
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Black Marble Mountain from the Sky High Shelter
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Fish in the outlet creek of Lower Sky High Lake
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Newts in the outlet creek
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Bog orchids
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Dragon flies near Frying Pan Lake
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Junco
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Shooting stars along Frying Pan Lake
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The afternoon turned out to be the cloudiest it would be during our whole trip.
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We turned in that night well rested and looking forward to a day of hiking without our full packs on Thursday. It was quiet that night and we were awoken by the sound of something running nearby our campsite and a little later I heard something splash into Frying Pan Lake and move around in the water for a bit. Finally a frog began to croak and a few others joined in helping me fall back asleep. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157670427784056

Categories
Hiking Oakridge Area Old Cascades Oregon Trip report

Mount June

Ah the elusive view. One of my favorite rewards on a hike is reaching that spot where the view simply takes your breath away. It could be the sudden appearance of a giant snow covered mountain that looks so close that you could reach out and touch it or a wildflower meadow that seems to have been painted by the Creator himself or a panoramic view that is so immense that you can barely take it all in. We’re lucky enough to live in an area where there are plenty of places to hike where these types of views are possible. Possible but not guaranteed. We were reminded of that once again on our recent hike up Mount June.

There are a number of things that can end your chances to have the view you had hoped for. Hazy skies, forest fires, fog and clouds can all conspire against you. Unfortunately it was fog and clouds that proved our nemesis on Mount June. We had heard that the area is known for it’s fog but had also heard that often the rocky summit of Mount June rises above it to offer a view of a string of Cascade peaks. The forecast had called for a partly cloudy/mostly sunny morning with clear skies starting around 1:00pm.

We were the first to arrive at the trail head on this morning and were immediately struck by the darkness of the forest as soon as we stepped on the trail. Within a short distance we entered the fog which we had heard about.
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We noticed a number of the same Spring flowers we had seen over a month earlier at lower elevations blooming here now. Trillium, sourgrass, and wood violets add color to the forest along with a good number of fawn lilies. Once again we were too early for the rhododendron & beargrass displays even though these were in bloom along the road at the trail head.

It appeared to be raining most of the time we were in the forest but upon reaching a series of meadows near Sawtooth rock we realized it was not in fact raining. The fog was so damp that the condensation was falling from the trees creating the rainy affect. The meadows here were filled with wildflowers glistening with water droplets. The foggy conditions meant no views and even made it hard to make out large Sawtooth rock at the far end of the meadows. We skipped a short side trail to it’s base hoping that on our way back the skies might be clearer.

We continued on the Sawtooth trail toward Hardesty Mountain. Our plan was to make a short loop on it’s summit and visit the sight of a former lookout tower. As we reached our furthest point a hint of blue sky seemed to be just a little further to the North just out of our reach. We had a snack at the former lookout site and then completed the loop and headed back hoping that blue sky might be waiting for us on Mount June.

This time we took the trail to the base of Sawtooth rock where the conditions were slightly improved. Many birds were now flying around the meadows and we spotted one with some bright yellow coloring. It turned out to be a yellow-rumped warbler.
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The fog had lifted some and there was even a short lived opening giving us a view of the forest below, but Mount June was still hidden in the clouds.

We took the .5 mile climb to Mount June’s rocky summit which was for some reason particularly tough on this day. I don’t know if it was due to it being toward the end of the hike or the cumulative effect of a week of hiking but it was a trudge. Much to our disappointment the we found the same clouds and fog on the summit as we had been in all day. We decided to have some lunch and hope that the sunny skies that had been forecast would materialize since it was just now 1:00pm. The clouds kept rolling past us and all we managed were a couple of very short glimpses of Mt. Bailey and the ghostly outline of Mt. Thielsen to the SE.
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The view had eluded us once again, simply teasing us with a small brief sample of what could have been.

It was a good example of just why the elusive view is one of the most rewarding things for me on a hike. The mountains and forests don’t move but there is never a guarantee that they will be there to be seen. The view must be pursued and caught to be enjoyed.

After lunch we returned to the car where fluffy white clouds floated by in the blue sky. As we drove away there was no missing Mount June, it was the only peak with a cloud draped over it’s summit. We have many more hikes planned where we will have a chance to capture the elusive view, and after Mount June it will be even sweeter when we finally do. Happy Trails

foggy photos on facebook:https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10201288913212035.1073741835.1448521051&type=1
flickr:http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157633890026592/