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Hiking Year-end wrap up

The Hikes of 2019 – A Look Back

2019 turned out very differently than we’d originally planned. Not long after our first planned long trip to Joseph, OR one our cats, Buddy, had some health issues. After some time at the veterinarians he was doing better but he needed to be prescribed 3 daily medications (two twice a day). We decided that being there for our friend of 17 years was more important than our remaining plans so we cancelled nearly all of our overnight trips and spent the rest of the year doing day hikes from Salem. Buddy is still with us and seems to be doing well although he sleeps more than ever and has taken to wearing sweaters for warmth.
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With us only doing the one long distance trip we didn’t make it to as many new areas as we have been in recent years. On that trip we stopped at the Umatilla Wildlife Refuge near Hermiston (post), OR and hiked in the Hells Canyon (post) and Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness areas (post).
McCormack SloughMCormack Slough in the Umatilla Wildlife Refuge.

Looking into Hells Canyon from the Summit Ridge TrailLooking towards Hells Canyon from Freezout Saddle.

Wenaha River CanyonWenaha River Canyon

Thanks to my parents willingness to take care of the cats we also managed to take an overnight trip up to Seattle in September to watch a Seattle Seahawks game stopping on the way up at Mt. Rainier National Park (post).

Cancelling the majority of our overnight trips had a couple of effects. First it reduced the number of days of hiking from an original 60 to 54. These would have been shorter hikes back to the car after backpacking or on the drive home from wherever we’d been. It also compressed the area in which we were able to hike keeping it under a 3 hour drive from Salem.
2019 HIkes

One thing that wasn’t affected was our tendency not to repeat hikes. Of our 54 days hiking only two days were repeats. For the first time we were able to hike with my brother and his family from Missouri taking them to Jawbone Flats and the Little North Fork Santiam River (post).
Little North Santiam River

The second repeat was to the old lookout site atop Maxwell Butte (post) to get the view that eluded us on our first hike there (post).
Mt. Jefferson, Santiam Lake, and Three Fingered Jack from Maxwell Butte

A visit to Four-In-One Cone, also to get a view that had previously eluded us, (post) was nearly a repeat but we started from a different trailhead making the first (and final) .4 miles new to us.
View from Four-in-one Cone

Thirteen other days did include some trail that we’d previously hiked and three more outings had turn around points that we’d previously been to but from an entirely different route. That left 35 days with entirely new trails to us. To put those figures in miles we hiked a total of 627.7 miles (according to my GPS). Only 70.6 of those miles, or just over 11%, were on portions of trails that we had hiked on in previous years.

I say “trails” but in reality not all the miles we hiked were on actual trails. Some of it was spent on paved roads, decommissioned roads, and some was entirely off trail/road.
Scoggins Creek Recreation AreaRoad walk at Henry Haag Lake

Baty ButteDecommissioned road to Baty Butte.

North Sister and the headwaters of Soap CreekCross country to Thayer Glacial Lake.

2019 was a really good year weather wise. Aside from some rain/snow showers on our Freezout Saddle hike in June and a brief stint of rain at Cascade Head and in the Mollala River Recreation Area precipitation was almost non-existent during our outings.
Marks Cabin Trail a bit below usSnow falling on our Freezout Saddle hike.

Salmon River through the fogRain shower approaching at Cascade Head.

Huckleberry TrailTaking cover under a tree in the Mollala River Recreation Area as a rain shower passes overhead.

Even on those three hikes with measurable precipitation there were breaks allowing for some sort of views.
Rainbow Framing the Wallowa MountainsRainbow framing the Wallowa Mountains from the Feezout Saddle Trail.

View from the Cascade Head TrailView from Cascade Head after the shower.

Veiw from Amanda's TrailView from the morning across the Mollala River Canyon.

Between the cooperative weather and a lack of significant wildfires in the area made 2019 a great year for viewpoints. In fact there was only one hike, our second to the summit of Huckleberry Mountain (post) where we felt skunked on views. That hike began in the Wildwood Recreation area and the interpretive trails along the Salmon River made up for the lack of views up top.
3d Model of Mt. Hood along the Cascade Streamwatch TrailNeat 3D display at Wildwood Recreation Area.

Viewpoint on Huckleberry MountainView atop Huckleberry Mountain.

Even on that day blue sky made an appearance before the end of our hike.
Mt. Hood behind some clouds

We also never got much of a view (but we did see blue sky) on our visit to Silver Star Mountain (post) but the point of that hike was to see the flower display.
Wildflowers along the Silver Star Trail

As always our hikes included a variety of landscapes, natural features, and some man-made ones. A sample of which follows. (We will cover wildflowers and wildlife in separate posts later.)
Gales CreekGales Creek – Coast Range

Dry Creek FallsDry Creek Falls – Columbia River Gorge, OR

Camassia Natural AreaCamassia Natural Area – West Linn

The Two Chiefs and Table MountainTwo Chiefs and Table Mountain – Columbia River Gorge, WA

Nature Trial at Oak IslandOak Island – Columbia River

B.C. Creek FallsB.C. Creek Falls – Wallowa Mountains

Wallowa Mountains including Hurricaine Point and Ruby PeakWallowa Mountains

Harins ButteHarsin Butte – Zumwalt Prairie

Sardine MountainSardine Mountain – Willamette National Forest

Gorton FallsGorton Creek Falls – Columbia River Gorge, OR

Mt. Hood from Lost LakeMt. Hood from Lost Lake

Mt. Hood from the Vista Ridge TrailMt. Hood from Vista Ridge

Sand Mountain LookoutSand Mountain Lookout – Willamette National Forest

Cape Kiwanda and Haystack RockCape Kiwanda and Haystack Rock from Sitka Sedge Beach

High LakeHigh Lake – Mt. Hood National Forest

Tidbits MountainTidbits Mountain – Willamette National Forest

Bunchgrass MeadowBunchgrass Meadow – Willamette National Forest

Top tier of the Breitenbush CascadesBreitenbush Cascades – Willamette National Forest

Mt. St. HelensMt. St. Helens from Cinnamon Ridge – Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

View from Bear PointMt. Jefferson from Bear Point – Mt. Jefferson Wilderness

Sawmill FallsSawmill Falls – Little North Fork Santiam River

Three Fingered Jack with Three Sisters and Mt. Washington beyond Red ButteThree Fingered Jack, The Three Sisters, and Mt. Washington

Scramble route up Baty ButteScramble route to Baty Butte – Mt. Hood National Forest

Boulder LakeBoulder Lake – Mt. Hood National Forest

Drift CreekDrift Creek – Drift Creek Wilderness

Thayer Glacial LakeNorth Sister and Thayer Glacial Lake – Three Sisters Wilderness

View from Four-in-one ConeNorth Sister, Middle Sister, and The Husband from Four-In-One Cone – Three Sisters Wilderness

Mt. Hood from Tumala MountainMt. Hood from Tumala Mountain – Mt. Hood National Forest

Bull of the Woods LookoutBull of the Woods Lookout – Bull of the Woods Wilderness

Mt. Hood and Barret Spur from Elk CoveMt. Hood from Elk Cove – Mt. Hood Wilderness

Mt. Jefferson and Hunts CoveMt. Jefferson and Hunts Cove – Mt. Jefferson Wilderness

Mt. Jefferson with Monon, Olallie and Timber LakesView from Olallie Butte – Warm Springs Indian Reservation

Lillian FallsLillian Falls – Waldo Lake Wilderness

Olallie Mountain lookoutOlallie Mountain Lookout – Three Sisters Wilderness

King TutKing Tut – Crabtree Valley

View from Ruddy HillMt. Jefferson from Ruddy Hill – Mt. Hood National Forest

Henry Haag LakeHenry Haag Lake – Scoggins Valley

View from the north summit of The TwinsWaldo Lake and the Cascade Mountains from The Twins – Deschutes National Forest

Bobby LakeBobby Lake – Deschutes National Forest

Patrol Cabin at Indian Henry's Hunting GroundIndian Henry’s Hunting Ground – Mt. Rainier National Park

Fog over the valley from Trail 17 (Theodore Trail)Fog over the valley from Mt. Pisgah – Eugene, OR

Twin Peaks and Gifford LakeTwin Peaks and Gifford Lake – Olallie Lake Scenic Area

Mt. Adams from Lookout MountainMt. Adams from Lookout Mountain – Badger Creek Wilderness Area

Huckleberry TrailMollala River Recreation Area

View from the PCT and Indian Mountain Trail junctionView toward Washington from the Pacific Crest Trail near Indian Mountain – Mt. Hood National Forest

Clackamas River at Alder FlatClackamas River – Mt. Hood National Forest

Maple TrailForest Park – Portland, OR

Tilikum CrossingTilikum Crossing – Portland, OR

There were many more great places and sights that we visited but they can’t all be included here. It was another amazing year of discovering God’s creation and we are looking forward to seeing what next year brings. For the first time I have two sets of planned hikes going into next year, one is in the hopes that Buddy continues to do well on his medications leading us to stick to day hikes through the year and the other includes long distance trips in the unfortunate event that we have to say goodbye to our furry friend.

Either way we know that we will be blown away yet again by whatever we see on those hikes. Happy Trails and Happy New Year to all!

Flickr: Album List

Categories
Hiking Oregon Trip report Wallowas

Zumwalt Prairie Preserve

For our last day of hiking on our Memorial Day weekend trip to NE Oregon we planned on visiting Zumwalt Prairie. Managed by the Nature Conservancy there are four trails open to hikers totaling approximately 9.5 miles combined. We had originally planned on doing all four but for reasons to be explained later we wound up skipping the Canyon Vista Trail this trip.

We had had a mix of weather so far during the trip with a snow shower on Friday (post) and nearly 80 degree temperatures on Saturday (post). Sunday was again up in the air as the forecast called for a 50% chance of showers and possible thunder storms after 11am. We got our typically early morning start and made the 45 minute drive from Wallowa Lake to the the preserve.

As we left Wallow Lake we were surprised to see that the Wallowas were mostly cloud free so on the way to the hikes we decided to start with the viewpoint hikes first in hopes of getting some nice looks at both the Wallowas and the Seven Devils in Idaho. Based on the trailhead locations we thought we might start with the Canyon Vista Trail but as we turned onto Duckett Road and passed Duckett Barn and the information kiosk there we noted how rough and wet the dirt road was. The map of the preserve mentioned that between the turn off for the Harsin Butte Trail and the Canyon Vista Trailhead “high clearance /4wd vehicles are recommended….This road may be impassable at times during the winter or when wet”. We decided that there was no reason to risk getting stuck, especially since there seemed to be quite a bit of fog toward the area where the trail looked to be. When we reached the spur road for the Harsin Butte Trail we turned down it and started our day there.
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Described as sort of a scramble route the Harsin Butte Trail gains just under 700′ in .8 miles to the summit viewpoint. Even before we started climbing though the views were good.
IMG_8266Looking toward the Seven Devils in Idaho

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IMG_8272Findley Buttes (You can see some of the standing water on Duckett Road on the right hand side.)

From a distance and especially while driving it’s a bit difficult to notice all the flowers but once we got onto the trail we realized there were a whole lot of different flowers present.
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IMG_8283Old man’s whiskers

IMG_8286Phlox with larkspur in the background

IMG_8279Cusick’s paintbrush

IMG_8295White-stem frasera

IMG_8290Paintbrush

IMG_8297A wild onion

IMG_8298Larkspur

IMG_8304Milk vetch

IMG_8312Chickweed

IMG_8314Woodland stars

IMG_8311An assortment of flowers

We were following a clear path and could see the continuation of the path going up the side of Harsin Butte so we were a little confused when we passed a couple of rock cairns about a quarter mile from the trailhead.
IMG_8322One of the carins and the trail going up Harsin Butte in the background.

We ignored the cairns and stayed on the clear path.
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After another quarter mile of walking we realized that this was not the trail to the butte, it was heading around the west side of the butte to what looked like a corral instead. We backtracked to the cairns and followed them to find the continuation of the correct path.
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It seemed the higher up we went the more flowers we were spotting.
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One exciting find for us were the monument plants which we don’t get to see all that often.
IMG_8329Monument plant

IMG_8332Top of the monument plant

IMG_8343Shooting star

As we were climbing we noticed that the low clouds behind us seemed to be moving our way fairly quickly. I decided to try and double time it up to the summit in an attempt to avoid being over taken by clouds before getting to see the view. Apparently 3 days of hiking had taken more of a toll on me than I had realized and I was quickly sucking wind. The 5000′ elevation probably wasn’t helping me any and I regretted my decision every time I had to stop to try and catch my breath.
IMG_8347Here comes the clouds.

One of the times that I found myself gasping for air I noticed this rockcress.
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The path led briefly into a stand of pines where game trails crisscrossed and elk sign abounded.
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A few different flowers showed up in this area.
IMG_8353Bluebells

IMG_8426Yellow bell

IMG_8410Violets

IMG_8397Ball-head waterleaf

After a brief disappointment upon realizing there was a false summit I made it up to the actual summit with its solar powered antenna.
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The cloud scare proved to be a false alarm, at least for the moment as they passed to the north of Harsin Butte between it an one of the Findley Buttes.
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There were a few clouds over the Wallowas to the southwest but also some sun shining on the northern end.
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To the southeast the Seven Devils had a similar look.
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After a nice rest (I needed it) at the summit we headed back down. The clouds over the northern end of the Seven Devils lifted a little reveling a little more of the mountains.
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By the time we were finished, with what turned into a 2.1 mile hike, our shoes were pretty well soaked from the dew on the grass but the flowers seemed to love it.
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We didn’t see any elk but we did spot a Belding’s ground squirrel who had popped up to check us out.
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We hopped back in the car and drove back to the Duckett Barn and parked at the information kiosk there.
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Those clouds we’d been watching were starting to move overhead as we set off on Patti’s Trail, a short lollipop loop which began on the opposite side of Duckett Road from the kiosk.
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There weren’t as many flowers along this trail as we had seen on Harsin Butte but there were still quite a few and some that we had not seen during the first hike.
IMG_8481Camas

IMG_8490Old man’s whiskers and white-stem frasera

We followed blue posts and pointers to a fence.
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This area was a bit rockier and had quite a bit of phlox and large head clover.
IMG_8496Lots of phlox

20190526_075112Phlox

IMG_8506Large head clover, larkspur, and wild onion

20190526_075335Large head clover

IMG_8500Wild onion

The trail descended slightly as it approached Camp Creek. Although we still had some clouds passing overhead we had a clear view of the prairie and the flowers we were passing by.
IMG_8513Duckett Barn starting to disappears as we descended.

IMG_8510Possibly hoary balsamroot

IMG_8514Hoary balsamroot?

IMG_8515Phlox

20190526_081858Diffuseflower evening-primrose

IMG_8526Camp Creek

Patti’s Trail followed along Camp Creek to a small pond where red-winged black birds were hanging out.
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Beyond the pond the trail continued following the creek passing more flowers and blackbirds along the way.
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IMG_8529Possibly a mustard

IMG_8536White-stem frasera blooming

20190526_080638Violets

20190526_081638Hairy clematis

IMG_8549Old man’s whiskers

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20190526_082540Cusick’s paintbrush

The trail veered left at a stock pond.
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We paused at the pond and Heather spotted a deer running up a nearby hillside.
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The trail continued to bend back around to the left following what was described as the swale of a dry creek but again with the recent precipitation there was water flowing creating a nice little stream.
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The trail eventually left the creek and was headed straight for Harsin Butte in the distance.
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We’d lost sight of the posts at one point and were just sticking to what appeared to be the main track and ended up veering left of the butte and coming to a small watering hole where the track petered out.
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Looking back from this higher vantage point we could see the next post we should have been aiming for so we backtracked and found another fainter track that put us back on the right course.
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The clouds were breaking up nicely as we ended this hike and the butterflies were coming out.
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After completing the loop and returning to our car we headed back toward Zumwalt-Buckhorn Road and our final hike of the day and trip on the Horned Lark Trail. While we were still on Duckett Road though we spotted a pair of elk running up the Findley Butte near the barn and stopped to get a picture.
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Shortly after turning right onto Zumwalt-Buckhorn Rd we stopped again to get a picture of a Wilson’s snipe. One had flown up from the grass while we were on Patti’s Trail but we hadn’t been able to get a picture of that one.
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When we were finally done with stopping for wildlife we parked at the Horned Lark Trailhead just over 3 miles from Duckett Road.
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This trail was described as an “easy 1.9 mile loop which sounded like a perfect way to end our trip. We began by following a clear double track through the prairie. Lupine was blooming nicely in this area and there was a view of the Wallowa Mountains beyond the Findley Buttes.
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As with Patti’s Trail the route of the Horned Lark Trail was marked by blue posts.
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The trail descended toward a pond near Pine Creek.
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Once again flowers were good supply.
IMG_8642Paintbrush and biscuitroot

IMG_8643A ragwort or groundsel (I think)

IMG_8646False sunflower?

IMG_8648Old man’s whiskers and milk vetch

20190526_094353Western stoneseed

We spotted another ground squirrel ahead in the path.
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He may have been on high alert due to the presence of a merlin nearby.
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IMG_8664I had to dip into the digital zoom to get this photo so it’s a bit blurry.

We followed the path and posts to the fenced pond but the path disappeared near a post a bit beyond the pond.
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We consulted the map that we’d printed out and it appeared to show the trail following a fenceline near Pine Creek so that’s what we did until we were able to spot another post in the distance.
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The fence was popular with the birds.
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We picked up a faint path and followed it toward the post.
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We followed the posts up a draw where the tread was often indiscernible.
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Even now we were still seeing different flowers.
IMG_8707Dwarf yellow fleabane

IMG_8711Blue dicks

Maybe it was simply due to the fact that this was our fourth staight day of hiking and it was early in our hiking season but this loop despite being only 2 miles long didn’t feel easy. The deer that we spotted bounding up and over the hill ahead of use didn’t seem to think it was too difficult though.
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IMG_8717Looking back down the draw.

Back on top we were headed ESE and could see the Seven Devils and Harsin Butte on the horizon.
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The Wallowas were still visible too behind Harsin Butte and the two Findley Buttes (from left to right).
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With the completion of the Horned Lake Trail our total milage for the three hikes came to 6.9 miles. It would have been a bit less had we not followed a couple of wrong paths. Harsin Butte was the most difficult with the 700′ elevation gain followed by the Horned Lark Trail with the easiest being Patti’s Trail. The Canyon Vista Trail which we skipped would have been about 3.6 miles round trip and possibly around 500′ of elevation gain. It was a beautiful place to visit and I guess we have a good reason to go back with one trail left undone.

As we were driving back toward Enterprise we encountered a vehicle stopped in the road. They flagged us down and let us know that they thought there was a golden eagle sitting on a rock on the hillside. Between the distance and the angle of the sun it was hard to tell but then the bird flew and it looked awfully small for a golden eagle. It landed on a telephone pole allowing us to see that it was indeed only a hawk, but it was a nice scene regardless.
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We said goodbye to the Wallowas and drove into Pendleton for the night where, after having been threatened by their possibility all weekend we finally got a thunderstorm. Luckily we had already walked back from our dinner at OMG! Burgers and Brew where we had another excellent meal. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Zumwalt Prairie