Boulder Creek Wilderness – 09/07/2020

We woke up at Wiley Camp on Labor Day and got ready to head back to the Hummingbird Meadows Trailhead. Our plan for the day was to drive back to Salem via Highway 138 and stop at the Boulder Creek Wilderness, one of the five remaining Oregon wilderness areas we had yet to visit (post) and one of Sullivan’s featured hikes.

It was the least smokey morning of the weekend which made for a pleasant 2 mile hike back to our car.
IMG_5942Buck Canyon Trail

IMG_5957View from the Buck Canyon Trail

IMG_5960Hummingbird Meadows Trail

IMG_5960West Fork Muir Creek

We drove back to Diamond Lake (post) from the trailhead then took Highway 138 toward Roseburg to milepost 55. There we turned right onto Medicine Creek Road and made an immediate left onto Soda Springs Road following it for 1.3 miles to the Soda Springs Trailhead.
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From the trailhead we took the Soda Springs Trail which ducked beneath a large steel pipe diverting water from the North Umpqua River to a nearby power station.
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The trail began climbing immediately after passing under the pipe and quickly arrived at a signed junction where the North Umpqua Trail forked to the right.
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The trail continued to climb through previously burned woods to another junction .4 miles from the trailhead.
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This was the Bradley Trail onto which we turned left following pointers for Pine Bench.

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This trail climbed over 650′ in the next mile before leveling out along the broad plateau of Pine Bench. There was an increasing presence of poison oak along the trail which we kept our eyes out for. It was especially bad along the hillside after we entered a more recent (2017) fire scar.
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IMG_6005Bradley Trail passing below some cliffs.

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IMG_6009A lot of the poison oak was turning color which made it easier to spot.

IMG_6013Entering the 2017 fire scar.

IMG_6018Lizard

IMG_6029Bradley Trail arriving at Pine Bench.

It was a hot climb in the exposed sun so reaching the forest atop Pine Bench was a nice reprise from both the heat and the vast majority of poison oak.
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IMG_6033Rock formation visible from the Bradley Trail.

A little over a mile and a half from the Soda Springs/Bradley Trail junction we arrived at the Boulder Creek Trail.
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We turned right here looking for a side trail to a spring near a campsite.
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IMG_6040Common wood nymph

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IMG_6045Illahee Rock Lookout

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We passed the campsite after .4 miles but we didn’t take the unsigned spur trail down to the spring due to the GPS map showing the trail further off.
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IMG_6112Spur trail to the left.

We quickly realized that the trail we had seen must have been the one we wanted but decided to continue on for now. From the campsite the trail continued to Boulder Creek after 1.7 miles. We were seeing very little poison oak and it was a nice day on the bench so we opted to do Sullivan’s longer described hike to the creek. The trail made a few unexpectedly steep up and downs and it grew fainter with a few downed snags but it was passable and there were signs of recent brushing/trail maintenance.
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IMG_6058Just over half a mile from the campsite we passed the very faint Perry Butte Trail.

IMG_6060Trail maintenance and ripe blackberries.

IMG_6063Looking up the Boulder Creek Valley

IMG_6064Looking down at the trail across a side drainage.

IMG_6065Looking across the Boulder Creek valley.

IMG_6067Small fall on Boulder Creek

IMG_6069Final drop down to Boulder Creek.

IMG_6070Boulder Creek

We took a short break on the rocks along the creek before turning back.
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IMG_6076The continuation of the Boulder Creek Trail on the far side of Boulder Creek which reportedly becomes even fainter and more wild.

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After cooling off a bit we started the process of climbing back up to the campsite and the spur trail to the spring.
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When we made it back to the spur trail we turned down it for 100 yards to a wide open area with madrone trees.
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The spring was just below some rocks on the left but there wasn’t much water flowing this time of year.
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After another short break we continued back to the Bradley Trail junction. We stayed straight here following the Boulder Creek Trail downhill through the 2017 fire scar. While there had been a good deal of poison oak along the Bradley Trail this trail put that one to shame. It was all avoidable but it was thick along the trail as it switchbacked downhill. There was also one switchback near the top where we were forced to walk down a large downed tree.
IMG_6115Fern tree along the Boulder Creek Trail.

IMG_6118This log was the trail.

IMG_6120Another switchback with poison oak on all sides of the trail.

The bright side of going down this way was there was a wilderness sign, or at least most of one (we hadn’t seen one on the other side).
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After a approximately 1.5 miles we arrived at a junction with the North Umpqua Trail where we turned left on an old roadbed.
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We followed the road another tenth of a mile or so to a gate blocking the road at the Boulder Creek Trailhead.
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Not too far from the gate we came to a pair of boulders blocking the road meaning the actual trailhead is inaccessible via car although there was room to park at the boulders. We continued down the road which brought us close to the North Umpqua River near the power station.
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We stopped at the far end of the Soda Springs Day Use Area to read the interpretive signs before returning to our car.
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We headed back to Salem and when we were back in cell range began receiving alerts about a hazardous wind event. By the time we made it back to Salem strong dry winds from the east had pushed the Lionshead and Beachie Creek Fires into the valley. Later that evening/night those fires would explode along with numerous other new fires up and down the West Coast. A slightly smokey but wonderful Labor Day Weekend turned into a nightmare for thousands. The fires continue to be a huge danger to many but the winds have shifted and rain is in the forecast so hopefully some relief is coming. Happy Trails and stay safe.

Flickr: Boulder Creek Wilderness

Rattlesnake Mountain – 09/06/2020

After spending the night at Wiley Camp (post) we grabbed our day packs and crossed the West Fork Muir Creek on the Wiley Camp Trail.
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IMG_5661Smokey skies turning the Sun red.

We followed the cairn and flagging that we had found the day before and picked up the trail on the far end of the meadow.
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The Wiley Camp Trail entered the trees where we had to navigate around and over a number of downed trees.
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Despite the numerous obstacles the trail was easy enough to follow and it passed a number of huge trees.
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IMG_5671Little trees surrounding a giant.

IMG_5674A downed giant.

Three quarters of a mile from Wiley Camp the trail entered a large meadow where we finally lost the tread.
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IMG_5687Madia

IMG_5689Paintbrush

We used the GPS to relocate the trail at the upper end of the meadow in a saddle.
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The trail then dropped a tenth of a mile to the Wiley Camp Trailhead on Fish Creek Valley Road 870.
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On the far side of the road was a pointer for the Whitehorse Meadows Trail.
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This trail reentered the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness and dropped into another meadow following a small stream.
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IMG_5708Goldenrod and other flowers.

IMG_5710Arnica?

IMG_5714Columbine

20200906_082143St. John’s wort

IMG_5721Fleabane (or aster) and coneflower

Three quarters of a mile from the road we arrived at Fish Creek where the trail briefly disappeared.
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Heather found the trail on the far side of the creek where we turned left along the edge of the meadow before turning right at a tree with another trail sign.
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Just beyond the trees we came to the unsigned Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trail.
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Here we turned left following this trail a quarter of a mile where the Whitehorse Meadows Trail split off uphill to the right.
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IMG_5732The trail sign on the left wasn’t particularly descriptive.

The Whitehorse Meadows Trail climbed steadily through meadows and forest for 1.2 miles to a four-way junction at Windy Gap. The highlight of this section was an owl that flew by and landed in a nearby tree.
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IMG_5739The owl is in the center of the picture behind the branch with green needles.

IMG_5742Small stream crossing

IMG_5744Chipmunk

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IMG_5754Windy Gap

We took a break on some logs at the gap before heading up the Rattlesnake Mountain Trail (which was on the right as we arrived).
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The sometimes faint Rattlesnake Mountain Trail gained over 800′ in the next 1.2 miles as it climbed via a series of switchbacks, steeply at times to a large rock cairn. It had been a little smokier than the previous day but as we climbed we managed to get above the smoke.
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Along the way we passed an impressive rock outcropping.
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IMG_5775Near the upper end of the 1.2 mile section we entered a burn scar with views of Mt. Bailey, Mt. Thielsen and Crater Lake.

IMG_5777Mt. Thielsen

IMG_5779High points along the rim of Crater Lake above the smoke.

IMG_5781A bee photobomb with Mt. Bailey and Mt. Thielsen to it’s right.

IMG_5786Flagging in the burn scar.

IMG_5783Nuttall’s linanthus

20200906_100351Owls clover

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IMG_5792Golden-mantled ground squirrel.

IMG_5794The rock cairn.

The Rattlesnake Mountain Trail continued NE at a much smaller cairn at a switchback below the larger cairn. We missed this on the way up, it appears that it had not been maintained since the 2017 Rattlesnake Fire.
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From the large cairn we simply headed uphill through the meadow to a viewpoint on the west side of the mountain.
IMG_5798Nearing the summit.

The air was okay where we were, but the smoke was impacting the views. We were able to make out the top of Mt. McLoughlin beyond Fish Mountain.
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IMG_5802Mt. McLoughlin

IMG_5804Hillman Peak and The Watchman at Crater Lake

We tried taking a break amid the trees near the summit but we wound up attracting a number of yellow jackets (and I don’t do yellow jackets) so we decided to instead stroll around the fairly level top of Rattlesnake Mountain where we located the old lookout site.
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IMG_5811Butterfly and bees.

We did a small loop around the forested top and dropped back down through the meadow to the cairn and returned to Windy Gap.
IMG_5824For some reason this cracked us up.

20200906_114812Heather spotted this cricket on my shoulder (I always have some sort of insect on me for some reason).

At the 4-way junction at Windy Gap we went straight following a sign for the “Tie Trail to Castle Creek Trail No. 1576”. (Not a trail name that just flows off the tongue.)
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Approximately .2 miles from Windy Gap we passed a sign for a faint unnamed trail leading uphill to the right.
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The next .2 miles were interesting as the trail grew faint and then disappeared in a meadow.
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This section of trail was not shown on the GPS so we couldn’t use that to stick to where the trail was supposed to be so we wound up crossing the meadow and then heading uphill to the Castle Creek Trail which was shown on the GPS.
IMG_5835We’d lost the trail here and were just heading for the Castle Creek Trail.

IMG_5836We came across this faint tread in the trees before reaching the Castle Creek Trail and started following it.

IMG_5839Apparently it was the actual trail as it popped us out at a trail sign along the Castle Creek Trail.

We turned left on the Castle Creek Trail, which followed an old roadbed downhill for 1.1 miles to the end of Fish Creek Valley Road 877 at the Happy Camp Trailhead
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IMG_5850Rattlesnake Mountain

IMG_5855Happy Camp Trailhead

We followed the road to the left 100 yards to the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trail.
IMG_5863Rattlesnake Mountain

IMG_5864Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trail

The trail dropped into a meadow and crossed Fish Creek. We followed this trail three quarters of a mile to the junction with the Whitehorse Meadows Trail where we had turned uphill earlier in the day.
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IMG_5876Snake in Fish Creek

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IMG_5885Scarlet gilia

We then retraced our steps to the Wiley Camp Trail and the Fish Creek Crossing where we refilled our water supply.
IMG_5887Fish Creek

IMG_5889Fish in Fish Creek

IMG_5891Frog in Fish Creek

As we climbed past the meadow beyond Fish Creek we spotted several hawks and one deer who crashed off before we knew what had happened.
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We recrossed Fish Creek Valley Road 870 and returned to camp on the Wiley Camp Trail.
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No sooner had I sat down at camp when a bat flew by and landed on a nearby tree.
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I’m not sure why it was out during the day but it stayed on the tree for a minute or two then flew off across the creek. We spent the rest of the day relaxing at the creek (which was really cold).
IMG_5928Monkshood

IMG_5936This frog decided that under Heather’s pack was a nice spot to chill.

We didn’t see another person the entire day which was nice but in a way also a shame. The area is beautiful but it clearly sees little maintenance and appears to see most of it’s visitors during hunting season. The lack of visitors likely contributes to the lack of maintenance which in turn discourages visitors. It’s really a shame. We enjoyed the privacy though and had another nice evening alone with the critters. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Rattlesnake Mountain

Diamond Lake and Wiley Camp – 09/05/2020

As I write up this trip report the Diamond Lake Resort, like many other areas in Oregon, has been evacuated due to a wildfire. The tragic loss of homes and lives happening right now is truly heartbreaking. Right now the Thielsen Fire is moving away from the lake but a shift in the winds could change that in an instant.

We visited Diamond Lake to kick off our Labor Day Weekend hiking the full loop around the 3,015 acre lake. There are numerous possible starting points for the loop and we chose to park at Horse Lake where we could follow the Horse N Teal Trail to the Dellenback Trail which is the paved trail around Diamond Lake. There was quite a bit of smoke from wildfires in California in the air which limited visibility as we set off from Horse Lake on the trail.
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IMG_5373Horse Lake

IMG_5375Lesser yellowlegs

We opted not to make the short loop around Horse Lake and turned right at a junction toward Forest Road 4795 and Teal Lake.
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The trail crossed the road and then descended a short distance to Teal Lake.
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There is also a loop around Teal Lake so we had the choice of going left or right. We had planned on hiking counter-clockwise around Diamond Lake so we went right here and passed around the east side of Teal Lake where there was a hazy view of Mt. Bailey (post).
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At the north end of the lake a very short connector trail led to the paved Dellenback Trail where we again turned right.
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IMG_5398Northern flicker

A large meadow separates the trail from the lake here.
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We followed the path through the forest ignoring side trails for a mile where we arrived at the South Shore Picnic Area.
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IMG_5406Mt. Bailey beyond the meadow.

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IMG_5420Mt. Thielsen from the South Shore Picnic Area

IMG_5412Diamond Lake underneath the smoke.

IMG_5414Mt. Bailey

IMG_5425Mt. Thielsen from the boat dock.

We had expected the lake to be busy given it was Labor Day weekend and Diamond Lake is a very popular spot and we were right. We utilized our masks as we passed through the picnic area and continued past an RV park and into the Diamond Lake Campground which stretches along most of the eastern side of the lake.
IMG_5427Picnic tables in the picnic area.

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IMG_5432Short Creek (it really is short)

IMG_5433Resort buildings between the RV park and campground.

IMG_5434Sign instructing users to follow painted bike symbols through the campground.

Despite passing through the busy campground there were a number of good views of Mt. Bailey across the lake. There were also quite a few ducks in the area.
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IMG_5443Common merganser

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IMG_5458Goldeneyes

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The trail left the campground and then in a quarter mile arrived at the Diamond Lake Lodge area.
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IMG_5469Mt. Bailey again.

IMG_5471Arriving at the lodge area.

IMG_5472Seagulls

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We passed by the lodge along the grassy lake shore and then returned to the trail on the far side. We were now far enough around the lake that we could once again see Mt. Thielsen.
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This section of trail was lined with larger and more diverse trees and is also the side closest to the Thielsen Fire as of this writing.
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There were fewer people along this stretch but a steady stream of bicycle riders did pass by. More entertaining though were the birds.
IMG_5492Bald eagle

IMG_5498I’ve been spotted

IMG_5503Chickadee with a seed or nut.

IMG_5510Junco in some fireweed.

IMG_5513The junco with Mt. Bailey in the background.

IMG_5521Looking back at Mt. Thielsen

IMG_5523More goldeneyes

IMG_5526Mergansers

The trail joined FR 4795 again 1.7 miles from the lodge to avoid what appeared to be an old guard station or possibly just a private cabin near Lake Creek.
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After crossing the creek the trail continued with the Rodley Butte Trail on the opposite side of the road.
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The trail then passed a nice little sandy beach with a view of Mt. Thielsen.
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IMG_5536Osprey

We were now heading south along the western side of the lake which provided good views of Mt. Thielsen and Howlock Mountain despite the smoke.
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IMG_5546Cormorant

IMG_5548Howlock Mountain to the left and Mt. Thielsen

The mountain views would be interrupted just over a mile from Lake Creek when the Dellenback Trail veered away from the lake to avoid the Thielsen View Campground.
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We again crossed FR 4795 and continued through the trees for nearly three miles before recrossing the road.
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IMG_5554Back on the lake side of FR 4795.

We were now passing by the large meadow at the south end of the lake, only this time it was Mt. Thielsen not Mt. Bailey beyond the meadow.
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Just under a mile after recrossing FR 4795 we arrived at a scenic footbridge over Silent Creek.
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A quarter mile beyond Silent Creek we arrived back at the Horse N Teal Trail junction near Teal Lake.
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We turned up this trail and passed by Teal Lake on the opposite side from that morning thus completing that loop.
IMG_5576Canada geese at Teal Lake.

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We arrived back at Horse Lake after 11.6 miles of hiking. This managed to be a somewhat easy yet hard hike at the same time. The lack of elevation change and obstacles along the trail made for easy, quick hiking, but the paved surface is a lot harder on the feet than dirt. We hadn’t stopped much at all along the way either due to the number of other trail users and our attempting to do our best to stay properly socially distanced.

Our day wasn’t done after the lake loop though. We were planning on spending the weekend in the area with Sunday’s hike being to Rattlesnake Mountain in the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness. We left Diamond Lake and took Highway 230 toward Medford to the Hummingbird Meadows Trailhead which was devoid of other vehicles.
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We had brought our backpacking gear with thoughts of setting up camp somewhere between the trailhead and Wiley Camp.
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We had been to Hummingbrid Meadows before (post) but on that hike we had come in on the Buck Canyon Trail. On that trip we had also not visited Wiley Camp. For this trip we were planning on spending the night in our tent then using the Wiley Camp Trail to hike up to the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trail and complete the Rattlesnake Mountain hike described in Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Southern Oregon & Northern California” guidebook. The status of Wiley Camp and the Wiley Camp Trail was a little confusing. The Forest Service websites mention the trail but in almost every instance “area not available” followed the reference. A 2018 trip report from vanmarmot.org though showed that just two years before the trail was still there and passable.

We followed the Hummingbird Meadows Trail into the wilderness where we were quickly met with some downed trees.
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The trail then passed through a meadow and dropped to a crossing of the West Fork Muir Creek where we thought we might find a campsite but there really wasn’t anything that caught our eye.
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IMG_5596hedgenettle and aster.

IMG_5597Monkeyflower

The trail climbed away from the creek and in 100 yards arrived at the Buck Canyon Trail junction (approx .4 miles from the trailhead).
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We turned right onto the Buck Canyon Trail which passed through Hummingbird Meadows before arriving at the Wiley Camp Trail junction in 1.6 miles. There were quite a few downed logs as trail maintenance in the area appears to be way down the Forest Service’s list of priorities but nothing was unmanageable. We had been watching for any campsites but nothing stood out so we decided to just go to Wiley Camp since it was only a little over 2 miles from the Hummingbird Meadows Trailhead.
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IMG_5605Wiley Camp Trail on the right.

We turned down the Wiley Camp Trail which was in no worse/better shape than the Buck Canyon Trail arriving at Wiley Camp after a quarter of a mile.
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IMG_5611Wiley Camp sign

Unlike the busy Diamond Lake area there was no one else to be seen in this area. We picked a tent site and set up camp on the hillside above the West Fork Muir Creek.
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We spent the rest of the afternoon/evening down at the creek and doing a quick survey of the Wiley Camp Trail for the next day. Clear tread led up from the creek into the meadow on the far side where it quickly vanished. After heading too far left (west) into some trees we located a small cairn and some pink flagging leading the way out of the meadow.
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IMG_5615Grass of parnassus

IMG_5623Frog

IMG_5616Trail leading up from the creek into the meadow.

IMG_5630Big cedar at the edge of the meadow.

IMG_5635Cairn and pink flagging (small tree to the right) marking the Wiley Camp Trail.

IMG_5644Elder berry

IMG_5648Twisted stalk

No one else ever showed up to Wiley Camp, at least no people. A bright Moon helped light the area where we could see many bats darting about.
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Hopefully the forest and features in this trip report will look similar for years to come and this isn’t a memorial of what once was. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Diamond Lake Loop

Erma Bell Lakes and the Shale Ridge Trail – 08/29/2020

With our recent backpacking trip around Diamond Peak (post) leaving us with just one more featured hike yet to do from William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Central Oregon Cascades” (4th edition) the only logical thing to do the following weekend was that last remaining hike. That hike was to the Erma Bell Lakes and as luck would have it late August was a pretty good time to visit, the berries were ripening and the mosquitoes weren’t too much of a nuisance. With a drive time of almost three hours the loop around the 8.5-9 mile loop around the lakes wouldn’t take long enough for us not to break our self imposed rule of the driving time being longer than our time spent hiking so we added a second stop to the day at the Shale Ridge Trail.

We started the morning by driving to the Skookum Creek Campground where the Erma Bell Trail begins.
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The trail crosses Skookum Creek on a footbridge.
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Soon after crossing the creek the trail enters the Three Sisters Wilderness.
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The trail traverses a forested hillside where we found a few ripe thimbleberries to snack on.
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A little over half a mile from the trailhead the Irish Mountain Trail splits off to the left toward Otter Lake allowing for a loop past that and several other lakes.
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We stayed right choosing to follow Sullivan’s suggestion to complete the loop counter-clockwise. The trail continued along the forested hillside for another mile before crossing a small stream on a bridge near Lower Erma Bell Lake.
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Just beyond the bridge we took a short spur trail to the left to visit the lake.
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The lake was a pretty blue color and quite deep.
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Despite the beauty of the lake our attention had been diverted by the familiar “meep” of pikas, our favorite trail critters. We quickly spotted one of the little fur balls collecting greens along the rocky lake shore.
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We watched the pika go back and forth with its greens several times before resuming our hike. We continued on the trail around the lake taking another detour after crossing the lake’s main outlet creek to check out a small cascade.
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Beyond the outlet the trail began a .4 mile climb up toward the Middle Erma Bell Lake.
IMG_5142Lower Erma Bell Lake from the climb.

A short but steep trail to the left just before the high point of the trail led to a viewpoint of a waterfall between the lower and middle lakes.
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IMG_5162Above the falls.

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After checking out the waterfall we continued up to Middle Erma Bell Lake.
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IMG_5175Ouzel

IMG_5178Ducks

We continued beyond Middle Erma Bell Lake passing a small pond on the right before arriving at Upper Erma Bell Lake .7 miles from the waterfall, also on the right.
IMG_5186Pond along the trail.

IMG_5189Spur trail on the right to Upper Erma Bell Lakes.

IMG_5192Paintbrush and aster along the lake shore.

IMG_5193Upper Erma Bell Lake

IMG_5197Lupine and paintrbush

In addition to a few flowers there were lots of ripe berries near the lake which we sampled before continuing. The trail climbed gradually for half a mile to a junction with the Judy Lake Trail which passes Mud and Edna Lakes (but no Judy Lake) before ending at the Taylor Burn Guard Station.
IMG_5202Judy Lake Trail on the right.

We stayed left passing above Mud Lake which was barely visible through the trees below.
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Just under a mile from the Judy Lake Trail junction we arrived at another junction, this time with the Williams Lake Trail.
IMG_5207Williams Lake Trail joining from the right.

Again we stayed left continuing for another .4 miles to Williams Lake. Before reaching the lake we encountered a grouse that was less than pleased with our presence.
IMG_5217Grouse giving us the what for from a tree.

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IMG_5220Williams Lake

IMG_5227Dry creek bed near Williams Lake.

The trail began to descend beyond Williams Lake passing through some damper meadows where berries were plentiful and some flowers remained (and so did some mosquitoes).
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IMG_5234Pearly everlasting

IMG_5237Fleabane

IMG_5243Prince’s pine

IMG_5244Mushroom

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IMG_5254Aster

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IMG_5258Coneflower

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IMG_5272Paintbrush

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IMG_5277Paintbrush

A little over two and a quarter miles beyond Williams Lake we arrived at a junction with the Irish Mountain Trail which headed uphill to the right.
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A short distance from the junction we came to Otter Lake.
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IMG_5294Curious dragonfly

The trail descended for another half mile to the Erma Bell Lakes Trail completing the loop.
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We turned right and returned the .6 miles to the now busy trailhead. Sullivan lists the hike at 8.4 miles but we both came up with a little over 9 miles, most likely due to the various side trips tp the waterfalls and along the lake shores. We left the trailhead and headed back toward Oakridge on Forest Road 19 stopping at the Shale Ridge Trailhead on the left (south) near milepost 30.

This trailhead serves as the start of the Shale Ridge Trail and the upper terminus of the North Fork Trail (segment 5). We had spent time on the North Fork Trail earlier in the year hiking segment 1 out of Westfir and another short section to Buffalo Rock in May (post).
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We weren’t here for that trail today and instead headed south on the Shale Ridge Trail, which according to a note written on the signboard had been partially logged out in June.
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The trail quickly entered the Waldo Lake Wilderness.
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We followed the trail through old growth forest. The North Fork Middle Fork Willamette River could be heard at time off to our right but not seen.
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IMG_5317Ghost Pipe aka Indian Pipe

We were below the ridge that we had been on during the Erma Bell Lakes hike and at the 1.8 mile mark we came to Skookum Creek which was flowing through multiple channels through the forest. This area was the highlight of the hike along the Shale Ridge Trail.
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We continued beyond Skookum Creek just over a mile to the North Fork Middle Fork River at Cedar Bog. This was as far as we had planned on going and as far as the trail had been cleared to. In theory the trail continues up to the Blair Lake Trail (post) on the far side of the river but the condition beyond Cedar Bog is mostly likely very rough.
IMG_5349Arriving at Cedar Bog.

IMG_5350One of a couple dry channels.

IMG_5353North Fork Middle Fork

IMG_5358Flagging on a downed tree marking the continuation of the Shale Ridge Trail.

IMG_5360North Fork Middle Fork at Cedar Bog

IMG_5363Orange flagging on the far side of the river.

20200829_132354Monkeyflower at Cedar Bog

IMG_5366Candy flower

We turned back here and returned to our car completing a 5.8 mile out and back. While this hike was short on views there were some impressively large trees along the way and it was fairly level with only a 400′ cumulative elevation gain. The two hikes combined for nearly 15 miles of hiking which ensured that our hiking time was indeed longer than our driving time. More importantly we’d seen some nice lakes, all of which had their own distinct differences and had been gotten to watch a pika doing its thing. On top of it all we could finally say that we had done at least part of all 100 featured hikes in one of Sullivan’s guidebooks. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Erma Bell Lakes and the Shale Ridge Trail

Diamond Peak Loop Days 3 & 4 – 08/24 & 8/25/2020

Morning of day three was a little less smoky and we were eager to get an early start to try and avoid doing the long climb from Notch Lake to the divide above the Pacific Crest Trail in the afternoon heat. We were up with the sunrise and after coffee and some granola we were back on the Diamond Peak Trail heading north.
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IMG_4678Some blue sky again.

The trail lost 500′ of elevation over the next mile including some steeper drops before arriving at a junction with the Happy Lake Trail.
IMG_4679Happy Lake Trail junction.

We detoured left here for the half mile hike down to Happy Lake.
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Unlike the Blue Lake Trail the Happy Lake Trail was fairly level losing less than 100′ of elevation before passing by a large meadow and arriving at the lake.
IMG_4687Just a small part of the meadow.

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We set our packs down and then followed a path to a hard to see waterfall along the lakes outlet creek.
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It might have been hard to see the whole thing but it sounded wonderful. There were also a lot of wonderfully ripe berries in the area.
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A viewpoint along the cliffs gave us a look at the rocky pillar of Mt. Yoran which we would be passing on the way to the divide later in the day.
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After enjoying the lake and waterfall (and consuming quite a few berries) we returned to the Diamond Peak Trail and continued on. It was a mile and a half to our next trail junction and we were pleasantly surprise to find that this stretch of the trail had seen some recent maintenance which made the going that much easier.
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IMG_4725We think this was Bear Creek. Other than the outlet of Happy Creek no other creek beds had flowing water on this side of the mountain.

IMG_4727Diamond Peak from the trail.

At the junction we left the Diamond Peak Trail and turned right onto the Diamond Peak Tie Trail.
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This trail had also recently been cleared and was lined with huckleberries. It was also apparent that this was a much wetter area than we’d been in so far along the loop which meant mosquitoes which kept us from stopping for long.
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IMG_4740One of several damp meadows.

IMG_4746The creeks were still dry though.

IMG_4749An unnamed lake.

After two miles on the Diamond Peak Tie Trail we arrived at the Vivian Lake Trail. We had been on the other end of this trail when we visited Vivian Lake in 2013 (post).
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We turned right onto this trail and in a quarter mile arrived at rock rimmed Notch Lake.
IMG_4759Small unnamed lake just before Notch Lake.

IMG_4760Another little lake/pond near Notch Lake.

IMG_4761Notch Lake

This was a really neat lake and we would have loved to stick around a bit but all the standing water in the area made for a lot of pesky mosquitoes so we unfortunately had to move on pretty quickly.
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IMG_4775Beargrass

Approximately .2 miles beyond Notch Lake the Vivian Lake Trail veered left and the Mt. Yoran Trail split to the right.
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The Mt. Yoran Trail climbed at an increasingly steep grade over the next 1.7 miles before gaining a ridge and leveling out.
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IMG_4786Diamond Peak from the trail; the smoke was back.

IMG_4791Textured mushroom

IMG_4795On the ridge.

The trail followed the ridge with some small ups and downs for a mile before dropping to Divide Lake at the base of Mt. Yoran.
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IMG_4803Diamond Peak

IMG_4804Lousewort

IMG_4808Mt. Yoran from the trail.

IMG_4814Diamond Peak again.

IMG_4815Mt. Yoran on the left and the divide on the right.

IMG_4820Passing under Mt. Yoran.

IMG_4823Please tell me that’s a seed and not that the ground squirrels have taken up smoking.

IMG_4824Divide Lake

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The mosquitoes weren’t nearly as bad here so we were able to take a nice long break before resuming our trek.
IMG_4846Blue sky making a comeback.

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IMG_4835Diamond Peak from Divide Lake

IMG_4851Climbers trail to Mt. Yoran.

IMG_4853Thank goodness it was a seed.

When it was time to continue we followed the Mt. Yoran Trail around Divide Lake and past two smaller unnamed lakes before making the steep 300′ climb to the divide.
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IMG_4857Beardtongue

IMG_4862Mt. Yoran from Divide Lake

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IMG_4866One of the unnamed lakes.

IMG_4872Starting up to the divide.

After crossing the divide the trail dropped down to the Pacific Crest Trail.
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We turned left here and followed the PCT downhill for 2 miles.
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Along the way we bumped into another backpacker who was doing the same loop in the other direction. We were able to let him know about the trail conditions ahead and he let us know that the Yoran Lake Trail now continued past Yoran Lake all the way to the Pacific Crest Trail. When we had done our Yoran Lake hike in 2014 (post) we had bushwacked from Yoran Lake to Lils Lake and the PCT so this was welcome news.
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IMG_4887Diamond Peak from the PCT.

IMG_4888Lakeview Mountain

IMG_4890New looking sign at the newly extended Yoran Lake Trail.

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IMG_4893Huge tree mushroom at the junction.

The Yoran Lake Trail passed by Lils Lake and arrived at Yoran Lake in .4 miles.
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IMG_4903Diamond Peak from Yoran Lake.

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We had originally intended to set up camp here but there were already a number of people at this lake and we weren’t (I wasn’t) feeling all that sociable so we decided to press on to Karen Lake which was less than a quarter mile away. I don’t have a lot of patience to begin with and my Garmin had quite working at Divide Lake due to the memory being too full (at least that’s what I hoped it was, and it was) and that had put me on edge.
IMG_4912Dry creek bed (this feeds Trapper Creek).

IMG_4913Right hand fork to Karen Lake.

Things were much more solitary at Karen Lake aside from a lone duck patrolling the waters.
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We had camp set up by 3pm and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening enjoying the lake (and the decreasingly smoky skies).
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IMG_4922Dragon fly visit.

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IMG_4950A little bird joining the duck on the rocks.

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IMG_4963Is this a tadpole? We first thought it was a newt then a fish but it’s got feet.

While the smoke was clearing there were more clouds coming and going, but we had kept a close eye on the forecast before leaving and there hadn’t even an inkling of a chance for precipitation for the trip or the next couple of days.
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IMG_4968The moon was really showing up well over the mountain.

We had just gotten settled in the tent for the night when the light outside turned orange. I threw my clothes back on to try and catch the sunset which was spectacular.
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After a whole lot of picture taking I got back into the tent and we tried to sleep. It didn’t come easy though. I don’t know if knowing we had less than 5 miles the next day before heading home had us excited or if our spot just wasn’t all that comfy but we had a hard time falling asleep. Then just after 4am we both woke up for some reason. Heather was the first to realize why when she asked why her quilt was wet. It took a moment to register but it was raining! Luckily we always carry our rain fly even if there isn’t any rain in the forecast for just such an occasion. We hopped out of the tent and threw it on before it really started to come down which kept everything pretty dry. We heard a couple of rumbles of thunder in the distance and I never could fall back asleep. The showers had mostly stopped by 5:30 am when we decided to start packing up.
IMG_5017Rainfly deployed

IMG_5015Diamond Peak a little after 6am.

IMG_5019Another light shower passing over as we were leaving.

After some coffee we were on our way. It was before 6:30 so it wasn’t very light but it was plenty light for hiking.
IMG_5025Some funny looking beargrass along the trail.

A half mile from Karen Lake we crossed the dry bed of Karen and Yoran Lakes outlets.
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In another half mile we passed a small unnamed lake.
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We encountered a little blowdown along this trail but nothing too bad.
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Two miles from the little unnamed lake we were passing a large meadow on the left when we noticed another lake at it’s end. I decided to go check it out and left the trail. As I neared the meadow a deer jumped up and splashed off into the grasses.
IMG_5049The lake doesn’t show a name on the map but West Bay Creek flows out of it (of course it too was dry at this time of year).

Over the next three quarters of a mile we encountered two little girls hats laying in the trail. We picked them up and left them at the junction with the Whitefish Creek Trail not knowing if the owners were still at one of the lakes and if so which way they’d come from.
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We turned left at this junction following the pointer for the Trapper Creek Trailhead. It was just under half a mile to the closed bridge over Trapper Creek.
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While the bridge didn’t appear to be in that bad of shape we honored the posted closure signs and made our way down to the ford.
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The water was cold but it was an easy ford and with only .2 miles left to get back to the car we didn’t have to deal with wet feet for long. We completed our loop having covered 13.1 miles on the third day and 4.7 on the final day for a grand total of 48.4 miles. The trip allowed us to cross the Diamond View Lake, Marie Lake and Diamond Peak, Corrigan and Blue Lakes, and Divide Lake hikes off of our featured hikes to-do list leaving us with just the Erma Bell Lakes hike to complete the 100 featured hikes in Sullivan’s Central Cascades book. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Diamond Peak Loop Day 3 & Day 4

Diamond Peak Loop Day 2 – 08/23/2020

We woke up early on the second day of our loop around Diamond Peak and as the Sun was coming up we realized that it had gotten a little hazy overnight.
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IMG_4404Diamond Peak in the morning.

Our plan for the day was to leave camp and hike to the summit of Diamond Peak then come back, pack up, and continue on our loop. We hoped to make it as far as Blue Lake but were also ready to stop at Corrigan Lake if necessary. We took breakfast with us as we set off to the north on the Pacific Crest Trail.
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We followed the PCT for approximately 1.2 miles to a rocky viewpoint where we stopped to cook breakfast.
IMG_4410The viewpoint from below on the PCT.

We should have been able to see Summit Lake and Mt. Thielsen to the south from the viewpoint but after a smoke free hike the day before our luck ran out.
IMG_4412Summit Lake and a lot of smoke.

At least the sky above Diamond Peak was still fairly blue.
IMG_4420The north flank and route up Diamond Peak.

After eating we continued 50 feet up the trail to a bunch of cairns marking the summit path.
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IMG_4419Fireweed catching the morning sunlight.

IMG_4422Cairns on the left side of the trail marking the route.

IMG_4427Chipmunk inspecting some bleeding heart.

We turned up the well worn path and began to climb steeply through the trees and then onto rocks.
IMG_4431Summit Lake and the route up through the trees.

IMG_4433Here come the rocks.

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The path soon split into multiple user routes with cairns, flagging, and green paint marking the way.
IMG_4444Cairn on top of the big rock on the right.

IMG_4446A carin and paint on a rock along the route and some pink flagging on the tree down to the left.

It was approximately a mile between the PCT and the false summit of Diamond Peak and over 1800′ of elevation gain. After leaving the trees the climb got even steeper. Through the loose rocks a few flowers could be found.
IMG_4452Looking up at the false summit.

IMG_4447Paintbrush

IMG_4449Buckwheat

IMG_4455Patches of penstemon.

IMG_4459Seed heads of Drummond’s anemone

As we climbed we passed a couple of small snow patches and gained more views which were all dominated by smoke.
IMG_4461Dark smoke to the SW

IMG_4462A snow patch below the false summit.

IMG_4467Final pitch to the false summit, still pretty blue.

At the false summit we were at 8421′ and could finally see Mt. Thielsen, at least the very top of it’s spire at least.
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We had been backpacking there just two weeks prior (post) and were thankful that it hadn’t been this weekend. Looking around, it wasn’t just smoky to the south.
IMG_4487Looking west to a wall of smoke.

IMG_4477Smoke to the east.

IMG_4478Smoke to the NE too.

IMG_4479NW also equals smoke.

20200823_090207Smoke starting to drift in from the east.

We were still .4 miles and 350′ from the 8777′ true summit of the mountain and to reach it we would need to pass three gendarmes that block the ridge between the summit and false summit. Sullivan describes having to use your hands and “lots of caution” to work around them to the clear path on the other side. We started out and got to the first gendarme where I got up too high following a path. I had to back track and work my way down to Heather who had taken a different track but we still seemed too high. By this point the uncertainty of the best line to take had given us time to really think about where we were and the nerves kicked in. We wound up listening to them and headed back to the false summit deciding that it wasn’t worth the risk on such a smoky day where we wouldn’t get much in the way of views. We expected the view north that we would have had from the summit to be just as smoky given the fact that from the false summit we could see the top of the South Sister which was also appeared to be surrounded by wildfire smoke.
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After making the decision to turn back we were able to relax and enjoy the jaunt back down to the PCT focusing on flowers and critters along the way.
IMG_4492One of several Clark’s nutcrackers.

IMG_4496Buckwheat

IMG_4499Paintbrush

IMG_4500Penstemon

IMG_4502Basin with a number of flowers.

IMG_4503Mountain heather

IMG_4510Partridge foot

IMG_4509Another paintbrush

It was slow going but we made it back to the PCT where we noticed the smoke a little more than we had earlier that morning.
IMG_4511A little smoke in the trees.

When we got back to camp we packed up and realized that we’d consumed quite a bit of our water already so we decided to stop by Rockpile Lake again to refill our reservoirs before continuing on our loop.
IMG_4521Slightly smokier Rockpile Lake.

After refilling our water supply we continued to the junction with the spur trail to Marie Lake (.5 miles from the PCT) where we turned left to stay on the Rockpile Trail (at a pointer for the Diamond Peak Trail) and climbed steeply up the side of Diamond Rockpile.
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It wasn’t as much of a rockpile as the named implied as it was mostly forested with a single viewpoint near the high point along this portion of trail.
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IMG_4526Summit Lake out there in the smoke.

The trail then dropped a bit on the west side of Diamond Rockpile to a 4-way junction with the Diamond Peak Trail 1.2 miles from the Marie Lake junction.
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While there were plenty of signs along the trails they often didn’t identify the trail itself but rather pointed you in the direction of other trails or features. This junction was a good example as one sign identified the Rockpile Trail while another directed you to Rockpile Lake and Road 2160.
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There were no signs naming the Diamond Peak Trail but there was a pointer to the south for Ruth Lake and a pointer to the north for the Pioneer Gulch Trail (which we thought was the name of this trail at first).
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We need to go north so we followed the pointer for the Pioneer Gulch Trail and headed north.
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The Diamond Peak Trail rolled up an down for nearly 1.5 miles before arriving at a junction with the actual Pioneer Gulch Trail on the left.
IMG_4542One of the uphill sections.

IMG_4546Note again that the sign is letting you know what is in the different directions but not identifying the trail name.

We stayed on the Diamond Peak Trail heading for the Corrigan Lake Trail which was just over 2 miles further along. These two miles had not been maintained so there were a few obstacles to get around but nothing too difficult. We also regained a view of Diamond Peak along this stretch which was now behind a thin layer of smoke.
IMG_4548Typical obstacle for this stretch.

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We turned left down the Corrigan Lake Trail when we arrived at the junction.
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It was a little over half a mile and 300′ down to the lake which had a nice view of Diamond Peak.
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IMG_4565Lots of insect husks on the plants along the lake.

We took a nice long break at the lake where another couple of groups of backpackers appeared to be planning to spend the night. Our plan was to push on and try and find a spot for our tent near the Diamond Peak Trail junction with the Blue Lake Trail. We were hoping to get down to that lake in the evening but didn’t want to haul our full packs up and down the steep 400′ of elevation change.

We left Corrigan Lake to the other backpackers and climbed back up to the Diamond Peak Trail and continued on our clockwise loop around the mountain. This next section of trail was clearer and in just under a mile we came to the Bear Mountain Trail junction.
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IMG_4574Fleabane

IMG_4575Bear Mountain Trail junction.

IMG_4576Look a named trail!

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From the junction the Diamond Peak Trail climbed a ridge before leveling off above Blue Lake which was hidden in the trees.
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The Blue Lake Trail was .8 miles from the Bear Mountain junction and just before reaching it we spotted what we had been hoping for, an open flat spot for our tent. We set up camp between the Diamond Peak and Blue Lake Trails and then headed down to the lake for dinner and to get more water.
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There was a decent amount of blowdown along the upper portion of the .9 mile stretch to the lake which followed a ridge crest (with a view NW down to Happy Lake) before dropping steeply down the opposite side of the ridge via a series of switchbacks. The hillsides had quite a few wet areas and several flowers were still in bloom.
IMG_4590Starting to drop off the ridge.

IMG_4598Arnica

IMG_4600Fleabane

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IMG_4612Pearly everlasting and fringed grass of parnassus

IMG_4613Aster and fringed grass of parnassus

IMG_4659Scouler’s bluebells

The trail brought us to an open hillside on the east side of Blue Lake where a landslide left a large meadow.
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IMG_4621Lots of coneflower

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IMG_4626Fireweed and coneflower

IMG_4622Owl’s clover

We appeared to be the only humans at this lake but we were greatly outnumbered by a legion of little frogs.
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IMG_4649Dragon fly and a bunch of frogs

IMG_4637Chatty squirrel

We spent most the evening at the lake before heading back to the tent when the Sun started dropping.
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Despite not making it up to the summit of Diamond Peak, and it being too smoky to get any views even lower, it had been a good day. It had also been a long day. We had been planning on it being somewhere in the 14.5 to 15 mile range assuming that we made it all the way to the summit but our GPS units put us just over 16 miles for the day without the extra .8 out and back between the false summit and summit. We slept well apart from me waking up for a moment when I heard some coyotes followed by a couple of hoots from owls. They weren’t bothering me I just stayed up to listen to them for a bit until they stopped. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Diamond Peak Loop Day 2

Diamond Peak Loop Day 1 – 08/22/2020

Four of the five remaining featured hikes from William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Central Cascades” (4th edition) were scattered around Diamond Peak in the Diamond Peak Wilderness. To check these off our to-do list we decided to hike a four day loop around the mountain visiting most of the highlights of those four hikes. We started our trip at the Trapper Creek Trailhead, a trailhead that we were familiar with having started our Yoran Lake hike there in 2014 (post). After crossing some railroad tracks we arrived at the actual trail and set off into the Diamond Peak Wilderness.
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IMG_4155The writing on the sign made us chuckle, it says “If you need a map you should stay home”. All kidding aside you should always carry a map and refer to it as often as necessary.

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Two tenths of a mile from the railroad tracks we arrived at the Yoran Lake/Whitefish Trail junction where we had turned right in 2014. Posted on this sign (as well as before the railroad tracks and on the signboards at the start of the trail) was a notice that the Trapper Creek Bridge was closed due to damage. That was our return route for the final day but we knew there was an established ford so we weren’t too concerned about it.
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We stayed left on the Whitefish Creek Trail which climbed gradually following Trapper Creek.
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IMG_4190Breakfast time.

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While several lakes including Yoran, Karen, and Diamond View drain into Trapper Creek they are seasonal flows yet Trapper Creek was flowing nicely. The main source of water for the creek is a spring between those lakes. As we continued up the Whitefish Trail the sound of running water faded and the forest shifted to dustier lodgepole pine.
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IMG_4203Unnamed lake along the Whitefish Trail

Just under 5 miles from the trailhead we arrived at Diamond View Lake. It had been overcast when we began our hike but the clouds were burning off fast and as we sat at the lake taking a break the clouds lifted and gave us a full view of the east side of Diamond Peak.
IMG_4209Arriving at Diamond View Lake

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IMG_4221Diamond Peak with Mt. Yoran to the right.

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IMG_4240Sharing our break spot with a butterfly

IMG_4252Crossbill near Diamond View Lake

We continued past Diamond View Lake passing a couple small lakes and ponds before arriving at a 4-way junction with the Crater Butte Trail a total of 5.7 miles from the trailhead.
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From the junction the Whitefish Trail continues for 3.9 miles to Crescent Lake. The 13.7 mile Crater Butte Trail starts at the Crater Butte Trailhead on the east side of Odell Lake and passes Fawn and Saddle Lake (post) prior to the junction and then continues on to the Pacific Crest Trail. That was where we were headed so we turned right on the Crater Butte Trail which promptly crossed a mostly dry bed of Whitefish Creek.
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There were some markers along the trail, possibly mile markers and after two miles on this trail we passed the signed junction for the Snell Lake Trail.
IMG_4273Mile marker?

IMG_4277A lone lupine

IMG_4284Nice looking sign for the Snell Lake Trail.

IMG_4285It didn’t look like the Snell Lake Trail sees much use, at least at this end.

Beyond the Snell Lake Trail junction the scenery became a little more green with heather filled alpine meadows and an unnamed lake with a great view of Diamond Peak.
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IMG_4294The heather was all done blooming but there was a lot of dried blossoms.

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IMG_4307The summit of Diamond Peak.

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One and a quarter miles from the Snell Lake junction we crossed the small but pretty Mountain Creek before a short steep climb.
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After the climb the trail returned to its gradual grade with a few ups and downs.
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Just over 5 miles after turning onto the Crater Butte Trail we arrived at the PCT.
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Our plan was to set up camp near the junction as we hoped to summit Diamond Peak the next morning from the PCT before continuing on our loop. With COVID-19 significantly lowering the number of thru hikers we weren’t too concerned about taking spots from them so we picked one a bit off the trail and set up our tent.
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As it wasn’t quite 1:00 yet we could do some exploring after getting camp situated. We briefly contemplated attempting to summit that afternoon but decided against it due to heat and needing water so instead we headed for Rockpile and Marie Lakes by taking the Rockpile Trail which continued across the PCT from the Crater Butte Trail.
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We would be going this way when we continued on our loop but both of the lakes are a bit off the trail and visiting them now gave us the opportunity to relax by the water before turning in for the night. A half mile down the Rockpile Trail on the left we found the signed .1 mile spur trail to Rockpile Lake.
IMG_4350Diamond Peak from the Rockpile Trail

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IMG_4355Rockpile Lake

There were a few camps set up along the south side of the little lake. We decided not to stay long here as kids throwing rocks into the lake might be fun but it isn’t exactly relaxing so after checking it out we returned to the Rockpile Trail and turned left toward Marie Lake. After 110 yards we came to a junction with the Rockpile Trail continuing to the left while a spur trail continued .2 miles to Marie Lake.
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We followed a trail along the south side of the lake to a view of Diamond Peak. While there were people camped here too the lake was bigger and we found a spot along the lake shore to sit and relax.
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From our spot we could see the false summit of Diamond Peak and the route that we would be taking the next morning.
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IMG_4383Hikers on the trail to the right coming down from the false summit.

As the afternoon turned to evening more people showed up including some bathers, some floaters and a couple of skinny dippers. We kept the photos to the non-humans at the lake though.
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IMG_4391Dragon fly

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We had dinner by the lake then pumped water before heading back to our tent. We spent a little time exploring the area around camp and picked some huckleberries before turning in for the night. We had planned on hiking somewhere in the area of 12 miles but we wound up showing 14.3 on our GPS units (they actually agreed this time). It had been a beautiful day, not too warm and pleasantly smokeless given the number of wildfires in California and Oregon. We were hoping that the rest of the trip would be equally nice and turned in looking forward to the next days adventures. Happy trails!

Flickr: Diamond Peak Loop Day 1

Bohemia Mountain – 8/15/2020

A busy weekend provided us with a good excuse to cross the short hike to Bohemia Mountain off our to-do list of featured hikes.  We had been putting this one off due to the 2:30 hour drive time just to reach the trailhead for what was listed in Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide in the Central Oregon Cascades” as a 1.6 mile hike. For a hike that short we would typically look for a longer option or additional hikes in the area to do the same day. This weekend a short hike was perfect though, in particular one south of Salem. We were going to be celebrating our nephew Tyler’s second birthday that afternoon in Lebanon so a quick hike in the morning was perfect. It was also supposed to hit triple digits in many areas so a long hike would have been hot even in the mountains.

We were still looking at 1.6 miles being a little too short so we decided to park approximately three quarters of a mile from the trailhead at a small pullout below the Musick Guard Station just before a fork in Road 2460.
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We chose to park here so that we could hike down the road to the left to the ghost town of Bohemia City, once the center of the Bohemia Mining District, which formed after the discovery of gold in the area in 1858. A nearly level .6 mile walk down the rough (and private) road led to the old post office.
IMG_3942Bohemia Mountain from the road.

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While the old post office is on federal land the road is private (no unauthorized vehicles) and so is much of the surrounding land where some mining still occurs so exploration here should be kept to a minimum.
IMG_3975Old mining structure from the road near the post office.

IMG_3979No miners were seen but I did spot a pika nearby.

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We returned the way we’d come after visiting the post office keeping our eyes out for wildflowers. Despite it being mid-August we spotted quite a few different varieties even though most were well past peak.
IMG_3931Fireweed

IMG_3937Beardtongue

IMG_3925Paintbrush, pearly everlasting, and some type of fleabane

IMG_3969Large boykinia

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Nuttall’s linanthus

IMG_3950Spreading dogbane

IMG_3953Blue head gilia

IMG_3970Bistort

IMG_3983False hellebore

IMG_3986Owl’s clover

After getting back to the road junction we started up Road 2460 (Sharps Creek Road) and took a quick look at the Musick Guard Station. Although not posted anywhere at the site the Umpqua National Forest Website still lists the Guard Station as closed due to COVID-19.
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We then continued up Sharps Creek Road .7 miles to Bohemia Saddle and the official Bohemia Mountain Trailhead.
IMG_4005Mountain parnassian butterfly on pearly everlasting.

IMG_4009A lone lupine still in bloom.

IMG_4010Skipper

IMG_4012Scarlet gilia

IMG_4014Bohemia Saddle

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IMG_4016Signage at Bohemia Saddle

The trail itself starts approximately 100 yards up the road to the left on the right hand side.
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IMG_4021Sign marking the start of the trail.

The trail climbs steeply up Jackass Ridge just over three quarters of a mile to the broad, flat rocky top of Bohemia Mountain. It was already in the mid 70’s as we made the climb which fortunately was at least mostly shaded as it stuck to the west side of the ridge.
IMG_4024Starting up Jackass Ridge

IMG_4028Rainiera

IMG_4030Paintbrush and fleabane

IMG_4036The rocky ridge provided shade during the climb.

IMG_4039A lingering anemone.

There were a couple of openings to the east where views could be had of the Cascade Mountains. Between haze and the position of the Sun we didn’t get the clearest views.
IMG_4045The Fairview Peak lookout tower to the left with the Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mt. Bachelor in the distance.

IMG_4043Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mt. Bachelor in the distance.

IMG_4050Nearing the summit.

IMG_4052Mt. Bailey and Mt. Scott in the distance.

IMG_4055Mt. Bailey and Mt. Scott

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20200815_091026_HDRBohemia Mountain summit

There was a lot of space to explore up on the summit and despite the conditions we were able to identify Cascade peaks from Mt. Jefferson in the north to Mt. McLoughlin (barely and only with the naked eye) to the south.
IMG_4093Mt. Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack

IMG_4082Mt. Washington and the North & Middle Sisters

IMG_4074Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mt. Bachelor

IMG_4070Mount Yoran and Diamond Peak

IMG_4066Tipsoo Peak, Howlock Mountain, Mt. Thielsen, Mt. Bailey, Mt. Scott, Hillman Peak and The Watchman.

We could also see Bohemia City’s post office below between the mountain and Fairview Peak.
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IMG_4079Fairview Peak lookout

We returned the way we’d come, stopping to eat a few ripe huckleberries along the way.
IMG_4122A lot more yet to ripen.

20200815_094548We also found a few ripe thimbleberries.

We kept our eyes out for more pikas and while we didn’t see any others we did spot an alligator lizard and a lot of butterflies.
IMG_4129Alligator lizard

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We were right on schedule for the birthday party when we started our drive to Lebanon but then things went off the rails. During the drive to the trailhead FR 2212 crossed two saddles, Helena Saddle (7.5 miles from FR 22) and Champion Saddle (8.3 miles from FR 22). At Helena Saddle we had forked right and Champion Saddle left but as we drove back we mistook Champion Saddle for the earlier saddle and forked left onto Champion Creek Road (BLM Road 2473). It took us a bit to realize we were on the wrong road. It became apparent when the road conditions became far worse than anything we remembered on the drive up and we also passed a sign that this road was not maintained. That sign at least gave us a fair amount of certainty that we knew which road we were on because we had passed the other end of the road on FR 22. It was signed for the Bohemia Mines but also warned that the road was not maintained and to use FR 2212. Call it stubbornness or stupidity but we were far enough along on the road that we just kept going and it kept getting worse. We did pass a couple of other vehicles parked at pullouts so at least in theory it was passable. Our Subaru Outback managed to make it through in one piece (which is more than I can say for our nerves) but it was not fun. It certainly isn’t a road that I’d take unless I was specifically looking to do some 4wd driving. Our little wrong way expedition added about 40 minutes to our drive so we were fashionably late to the party. Luckily Tyler didn’t seem to mind and we had nice visit before continuing home. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Bohemia Mountain

Thielsen Creek and Cottonwood Creek Falls Overnight – 08/08 & 09/2020

For the second weekend in a row we were off to a wilderness area for an overnight trip. The goal this time was an off-trail waterfall in the Mt. Thielsen Wilderness which was inspired by a 2016 trip report posted by Bruce at Boots on the Trail. Not only would this trip take us to Cottonwood Creek Falls but it also allowed us to check off one of Sullivan’s featured hikes, Thielsen Creek, from his “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Southern Oregon & Northern California” guidebook.

As an added bonus we were joined by a couple of Heather’s running buddies, Nan and Peggy, who we apparently had not scared off earlier in the year when they joined us for a pair of hikes to Memaloose Lake and Milo McIver State Park back in June (post).

We began our adventure from the Howlock Mountain Trailhead near Diamond Lake.
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IMG_3247Little bee landing on fireweed at the trailhead.

The trail began at a fork. Following the guidebook we took the left hand fork which arrived at a tunnel passing under Highway 138 after .2 miles.
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There had been a number of logs down along the section and when we saw that the right hand fork also led to the tunnel we decided that we would try that on the way back but for now we hiked through the tunnel.
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The trail was wide and dusty from horse use as we climbed gradually for 1.1 miles, ignoring horse trails to the left, to a junction with the Spruce Ridge Trail on the right.
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We remained on the Howlock Mountain Trail which was increasingly littered with blowdown. None of it was particularly difficult to navigate but it makes for more work than necessary. A short distance beyond the Spruce Ridge junction we paused to make some adjustments and I took my leave of the group temporarily. Sullivan’s offers two options in the guidebook, an 11.4 mile out and back to Thielsen Meadow or a 15.7 mile “lollipop” loop visiting Howlock Meadows. Since we were backpacking those distances would be less, but the hike to visit Cottonwood Creek Falls promised to add 3 or 4 miles to the days total. I figured that visiting Howlock Meadows would put the day in the 13-15 mile range which I felt up for, but that was pushing it for others. I hiked on passing over, under and around downed logs until I arrived at Thielsen Creek, 3.5 miles from the trailhead.
IMG_3288Sample of the blowdown.

Along the way the trail spent some time above Timothy Meadows which Thielsen Creek flowed through and it entered the Mt. Thielsen Wilderness.
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IMG_3304Fittingly a downed log welcomed us to the wilderness.

IMG_3315Thielsen Creek at the head of Timothy Meadows

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20200808_103506flower at Timothy Meadows

20200808_103846Musk monkeyflower?

On the other side of the creek was a fork. The Howlock Mountain Trail continued on the left with the Thielsen Creek Trail on the right following (at a distance) the creek up to Thielsen Meadow.
IMG_3320Thielsen Creek Trail

IMG_3323Howlock Mountain Trail

I kept on the Howlock Mountain Trail which climbed for 3.5 miles to the Pacific Crest Trail near Howlock Meadows, a pumice barren that had more character than I had expected. Oddly after a few early obstacles this stretch of the trail was virtually clear of downed trees which made for some easy hiking.
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IMG_3339Pinesap

IMG_3350As the trail climbed around a ridge end the forest thinned enough to get some views of both Mt. Thielsen and Mt. Bailey (post)

IMG_3351Mt. Bailey

IMG_3359Mt. Thielsen

IMG_3368After rounding the ridge the trail remained mostly in the trees until it neared Howlock Meadows and then Howlock Mountain started to come into view.

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IMG_3377Orange agoseris

As I mentioned the pumice barren of Howlock Meadows had quite a bit of character. There was more green than I had expected and gentle rolling hills gave it a nice aesthetic. The view of both Howlock Mountain and Mt. Thielsen was also pretty darn nice.
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I turned right (south) on the Pacific Crest Trail following a pointer for the North Crater Trailhead.
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IMG_3408Butterfly on pumice

As is usually the case the PCT was in good shape as it contoured along the hillside in a series of ups and downs.
IMG_3419PCT leaving Howlock Meadows.

IMG_3422Mt. Bailey from the PCT.

IMG_3429Talus slope above the PCT.

IMG_3431Lots of rocks along the hillside.

The trail popped out of the trees after rounding a ridge end where there was a nice view of both Mt. Thielsen and Mt. Bailey.
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After 3 miles on the PCT I arrived at the junction with the Thielsen Creek Trail.
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When I had left the group we decided that they would set up camp in the area and I would attempt to find them and if that didn’t work we would meet at the junction at 2:30pm. I was almost 2 hours early, I had given myself a little extra time in case I got slowed down but instead the gradual grade of the climb and the good condition of the trails had allowed me to make excellent time. I walked beyond the junction a few hundred feet to Thielsen Creek.
IMG_3475PCT crossing Thielsen Creek

While there were a couple of tents set up nearby neither was ours. Two use trails led up along the creek on either side and I chose to try the trail on the right (south) side of the creek.
IMG_3478Use trails on the left and right hand side of Thielsen Creek.

This trail led me to a snow patch in a boulder field.
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I continued on though hoping to reach a high point where I could see across the creek. When I finally managed that I could see where my group was so I dropped down and crossed the dry creek bed above where Thielsen Creek began.
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IMG_3487Found our tent.

There was a large area with a number of suitable tent sites on the little hill here. There were several other tents set up off in the trees but no one was really very close to anyone else. After getting my stuff set up in the tent I joined the others in a relaxing break looking across the boulder field at Mt. Thielsen.
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IMG_3488I was also looking at the saddle between Mt. Thielsen and Sawtooth Ridge which we needed to climb over in order to reach the falls.

When it was time to make our attempt at Cottonwood Creek Falls Peggy opted to enjoy the relaxing sound of the creek and great views of the mountain and Heather, Nan, and I set off.
I was doing my best to try and remember which side of the creek Bruce had gone up on his hike but couldn’t exactly recall so we opted to go down to the creek and try the trail that I had started up when I was looking for camp. Whether it was the way Bruce had gone or not didn’t really matter and this way provided a great view over our shoulders of Diamond Peak and an up close look at Mt. Thielsen.
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The drawback to boulders is that the going can be slow, but on the plus side sometimes they hide some pretty surprises.
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With all the flowers we had seen the week before in the Mt. Adams Wilderness (post) the one that we had looked for and not seen had been pink monkey flowers. There hadn’t been much in the way of flowers so far on this trip but the profusion of pink monkey flowers among the boulders was spectacular.
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IMG_3535Pink and white blossoms

IMG_3537Some yellow monkeyflower too.

As we got higher into the boulder field we could see a clear use trail on the opposite hillside heading up to the saddle so we crossed over and picked it up.
IMG_3543Maybe “clear” use trail isn’t exactly the correct term.

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IMG_3551It’s clearer here.

From the saddle we could see the patch of open space in the trees below where camp was and on the horizon were Diamond Peak, Sawtooth Mountain (post), and Cowhorn Mountian (post).
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IMG_3561Mt. Thielsen

IMG_3566Sawtooth Ridge

IMG_3559East side of Mt. Thielsen

IMG_3567Cottonwood Falls was on the far side of the pumice plain.

IMG_3578Paintbrush, penstemon, and buckwheat near the saddle.

Now Bruce had said in his report that the slope was steep but I think the concept of “steep” is a lot like “spicy” food, it is somewhat subjective. His route down had been to traverse northerly along the slope bending down toward the tree line toward the end of a boulder field that lined part of the pumice plain. A use trail (or game trail, it’s hard to say) headed more directly down from the saddle though. I opted to try the northerly traverse while Heather and Nan opted for the faint trail.
IMG_3581I had to drop below this neat rock feature which I got too close to and had a difficult time finding my footing to get around.

IMG_3582Looking up the hillside.

IMG_3584Looking back at the rock formation.

For us this was a really tough descent. The hillside didn’t have a lot of give to it and the loose pumice made it feel like you could easily slip. My route had taken me quite a bit away from Heather and Nan but I am sure I could hear them calling me names. I finally made it down to a tree where I felt like I could take a break.
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I could see Heather and Nan working their way along the tree line now and I headed in their direction before heading steeply downhill through the trees.
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Game trails and elk beds were all over in the trees and I followed these when I could using them to get down to a flatter area. That flatter area was the edge of the boulder field that we had not managed to make it around.
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IMG_3590Impressively large cave on the face of Mt. Thielsen.

We didn’t mind the boulders, at least the ground was relatively level.
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IMG_3598Penstemon

IMG_3606The saddle doesn’t look too bad from this angle.

We crossed the boulder field and walked out onto the pumice plain.
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We then dropped into a dry channel by a large boulder.
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We followed this channel to the spring feeding Cottonwood Creek.
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We were a bit surprised to find a memorial plaque near the spring.
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We followed the creek downstream a few hundred feet to the top of Cottonwood Creek Falls.
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We scrambled down the north side of the falls to get a look at them.
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After taking the in the falls we went back to the spring and refilled our water supply before heading back to camp. On the way back we avoided the boulder field then climbed up through the trees to our earlier route. From there we launched uphill as best we could aiming for the saddle which was now in Mt. Thielsen’s shadow.
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IMG_3712We got onto the use/game trail as soon as we could going back up.

IMG_3713The “trail” leading up to the saddle.

I spotted this spider when I got to the saddle. I think it may be a wolf spider carrying babies?
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The wind was howling now at the saddle but we needed a bit of a breather plus the views were just so good.
IMG_3721Mt. Thielsen with the Sun behind.

IMG_3733Howlock Mountain

IMG_3749Unfortunately the lighting wasn’t all that great due to the position of the Sun so we never really could capture all the colorful rocks on the mountain.

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To get back to camp we avoided the boulders and stuck to the south side of the creek bed which was easier going for the most part.
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Nan who is an experienced rock climber said that the hike over the saddle and back may have been the sketchiest thing she’d ever done. It was right up there for us too and not something that we will probably repeat, but it was beautiful and we were glad to have experienced it. Back at camp we had dinner and just stared at Mt. Thielsen as the Sun went down.
IMG_3785Junco near camp.

20200808_194340Mt. Thielsen

The light turned a crazy purple shade just before dark which we hadn’t remembers experiencing before.
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I woke up the next morning just after 5am and sat out watching Mt. Thielsen as the Sun rose.
IMG_3817Anyone know what the celestial body to the right of the Moon is?

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We had been hearing the distinctive “MEEPS” of pikas the night before and I was hearing them again in the rocks on the other side of the creek while I sat there so after breakfast and packing up I set off to see if I couldn’t locate one. It didn’t take long.
IMG_3839_stitchSearching for pikas in the rocks.

IMG_3850Jackpot

I sat down by the creek until the rest of the group was ready to set off.
IMG_3875Mountain heather

IMG_3868Monkeyflower

IMG_3878Partridge foot

IMG_3883Golden-mantled ground squirrel

IMG_3885Lupine

IMG_3890Merten’s rush

When it was time to go we took the PCT to the Thielsen Creek Trail and followed it 2.2 miles to Timothy Meadows having to go around a massive tree fall along the way.
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IMG_3904Another angle of the tree fall.

It was a fairly unremarkable hike back along the Howlock Mountain Trail. There were a few butterflies out and I missed a picture of a good sized buck near the Spurce Ridge Trail junction.
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IMG_3913Just picture a good sized buck in the trees, I snapped this hoping to get lucky but I don’t see him at all.

After passing through the tunnel we took the other fork back to the trailhead. It was slightly shorter and there were no trees down but it was the horse route so it was dusty, deep, and full of road (trail?) apples. Not sure it was a good trade. Regardless we all made it back in (relatively) one piece. There were a few blisters, some mosquito bites, and perhaps even a little blood shed but we had all survived. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Thielsen Creek Overnight

Foggy Flat Backpack Day 2 – 08/02/2020

Normally when we are just hiking back to a trailhead the same way we got to a campsite it wouldn’t warrant a separate trip report, but our hike from Foggy Flat back to the Killen Creek Trailhead did. After spending the night at Foggy Flat(post) we woke just after 5am to find clear skies and a nice sunrise.
IMG_3076Goat Rocks in the morning

Even before the Sun was up it was light enough to get a good look at Mt. Adams.
IMG_3081Mt. Adams

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Morning had brought out the mosquitoes so we decided to pack up and stop for breakfast somewhere along the return hike hoping for a less buggy spot. After a mile we stopped at the Muddy Meadows Trail junction where a log made for a prefect bench to have breakfast on.
IMG_3100Looking down the Muddy Meadows Trail from the log.

After breakfast we continued on the Highline Trail which offered good views of Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks in this direction. When we weren’t looking at the mountains or the flowers various birds caught our attention.
IMG_3091Small hawk

IMG_3120Gray jay

Going in this direction gave us some good looks ahead toward Mt. Rainier.
IMG_3110Mt. Rainier and some of the Goat Rocks.

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IMG_3128Northern flicker

The unnamed lake near the Pacific Crest Trail had an excellent reflection of the forest and Mt. Adams.
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IMG_3145Little bird near the PCT junction.

When we reached Killen Creek (.2 miles beyond the PCT junction) we crossed on the footbridge then removed our packs to take the steep use trail down below the waterfall as we’d planned the day before.
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IMG_3158Killen Creek below the waterfall.

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IMG_3171Mt. Adams from the waterfall.

After exploring the area below the falls we climbed back up and continued through Killen Creek Meadows, stopping to check on the pollywogs along the way.
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The blue sky made for a different look than we’d had the day before and we kept pausing along the way to marvel at the scenery.
IMG_3195Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks from the PCT.

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IMG_3209Breakfast time (possibly second breakfast)

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IMG_3214Zooming in on Mt. Rainier

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We were almost surprised when we arrived at the junction with the Killen Creek Trail. The miles go by pretty quick when you’re distracted. We turned down that trail putting Mt. Adams to our backs.
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IMG_3231Killen Creek Trail heading away from Mt. Adams.

We turned to look back several times seeing less and less of the mountain before we lost sight of it for good.
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It had been wonderful trip. The Mt. Adams Wilderness has yet to let us down and we’re already looking forward to our next visit down the road. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Foggy Flat Backpack Day 2

 

Exploring the Pacific NW one step at a time.