Miller Woods & Trappist Abbey – 3/15/2020

We had decided to make 3/15 (Sunday) the day for our March hike to take advantage of a clear, albeit cold, forecast and to get it in before COVID-19 becomes any larger an issue. We started our day by visiting Miller Woods, a conservation area maintained by the Yamhill Soil & Water Conservation District. The 130 acre property was donated to the district in 2004 and is open from dawn to dusk for hiking (no pets). Although there is no fee, donations are welcome and can be made online (the option we used). These donations appear to be put to good use based on the amount of obvious work that has been put into the area.

As hard as it may be to believe we were the first car in the parking lot. After stopping at the information kiosk (laminated maps were available) we set off on the Outer Loop Trail planning on going counter-clockwise around the approximately 4.5 mile loop.
Miller Woods Trailhead

Miller Woods

Miller Woods trail map

Morning at Miller Woods

Part of the work being done at Miller Woods is Oak Savanna restoration, which is what most of the Willamette Valley was made up of prior to development.
Interpretive sign at Miller Woods

Miller Woods

After passing some of the restoration work the trail entered a forest of Douglas firs.
Perimiter trail at Miller Woods

Miller Woods

We had our first covering of snow at our house when we awoke on Saturday and the near freezing temperatures had our hands stinging by the time we had made it to the trees but in the forest we were reminded that Spring is on the way as we began to notice several of the early wildflower varieties.
ToothwortSlender toothwort

Trillium at Miller WoodsTrillium

Violet at Miller WoodsViolets

The trail wound around a hillside above Berry Creek before looping back toward the old farm fields.
Miller Woods

Berry CreekBerry Creek

Nest along the trail at Miller WoodsBird’s nest that Heather spotted along the trail.

Miller Woods

After briefly passing through the edge of the field the trail reentered the forest after crossing an outlet stream from a pond.
Trail at Miller Woods

Creek at Miller Woods

A shorter loop was possible here by taking the green Discovery Loop back to the parking area.
Trail sign at Miller Woods

We stuck to the Outer Loop though and began a gradual climb to the loop’s high point at the 600′ K.T. Summit. As we were climbing we spotted what we thought was a pair of deer (it turned out to be three).
Deer up on the hillside at Miller WoodsThe first deer we spotted (up near the top of the hill at center).

Deer at Miller WoodsZoomed in shot of the second deer at upper left.

Deer at Miller WoodsFirst deer again.

The trail zigzagged up the hill and wound up taking us right past the deer who seemed less than worried about us.
Deer at Miller WoodsFirst deer crossing the trail ahead of us.

Deer at Miller WoodsThe second and third deer watching us pass.

After passing the deer we also passed a memorial to the Miller’s who had donated the property.
Memorial at Miller Woods

Memorial plaques at MIller Woods

Perimiter trail at Miller Woods

The summit was marked by a sign and a bench but lacked a view.
K.T. Summit sign at Miller Woods

Beyond the summit the trail began to descend back down to the fields. The forest here was a little more mature and we spotted another early wildflower getting ready for Spring when we noticed a fairy slipper emerging from some green moss.
Perimeter trail at Miller Woods

Fairy slipper staring to open at MIller Woods

We also noticed a little dusting of snow left on a few leaves and stumps.
A slight dusting of snow left on a stump at Miller Woods

The trail wound down to a crossing of the pond’s inlet creek where some skunk cabbage was putting on a nice display.
Trail at Miller Woods

Creek at Miller Woods

Skunk cabbage

We emerged from the forest and followed the trail to the pond where the trail split. We went left passing the pond on our right and made our way back to the trailhead.
Pond at MIller Woods

Miller Woods

Blackbird at MIller WoodsThe area around the pond was popular with the birds.

Robin at Miller WoodsThere were quite a few robins about.

From Miller Woods it was just a 15-20 minute drive to Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey

Book binding, a bakery, a wine warehouse and forestry all occur at here and a gift shop sells fruitcakes and honey. Given that “social distancing” is a thing right now we opted not to enter the gift shop or any of the other buildings on this visit and walked through the courtyard to a gravel path leading between two ponds.
Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey

Pond at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist AbbeyLarger of the two ponds

Footbridge by the pondLittle footbridge by the large pond

Pond at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist AbbeySmaller pond

Beyond the ponds we turned uphill on an old roadbed.
Trail at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey

We followed the road as it climbed up a tree thined hillside gaining views to the west of the snow covered coastal range.
Monk's Trail junctionWe ignored the signed trails sticking to the road which was also signed as the “Guadalupe Loop”

More snow on the Coast Range

View from the Guadalupe Loop

There were quite a few birds in the remaing trees. We watched a pair of acorn woodpeckers for a bit and a spotted towhee was busy picking through some grass while stellars jays could be heard but seldom seen.
Acorn woodpeckerAcorn woodpecker

Acorn woodpeckerSecond acorn woodpecker

Spotted towheeSpotted towhee

We soon left the thinned area and entered a forest where we spotted more toothwort and some sort of blooming tree.
Guadalupe Loop

Toothwort

Blossoms along the Guadalupe Loop

After about a mile we came to a fork in the road where the left side was gated (and posted no hiking beyond the gate). We forked right continuing uphill for a half mile to another fork. This time we went left which led a short distance to a viewpoint overlooking vineyards and Mt. Hood in the distance. (We should have taken a fork right shortly after taking the left but missed it and ended up having to backtrack a bit.)
Mt. Hood from a viewpiont at Trappist Abbey

Mt. Hood from a viewpiont at Trappist Abbey

We returned to the fork and went straight on what was still the Guadalupe Loop for just over a quarter mile to a sign for a shrine.
Snow along the Guadalupe LoopSnow along the Guadalupe Loop

Shrine at Trappist Abbey

A short spur led to the shrine and a viewpoint of the Coast Range.
Shrine at Trappist Abbey

Snowy Coast Range

Snow in the Coast Range

Snowy peak in the Coast Range

Our guidebook said to turn back here and return the way we’d come. We toyed with the idea of continuing on the Guadalupe Loop and started to do just that, but we weren’t certain if it was really in fact a loop or how long it might be. We decided not to tempt fate but then instead of going back the way we’d come we turned left at a sign for St. Juan Diego Pass and followed a grassy track downhill.
Trail at Trappist Abbey

A patch of purple caught our eyes on the hillside and it turned out to be an iris that was weighted down a bit with water.
Iris

ChipmunkThis chipmunk also caught our attention.

We followed the path for a little over half a mile before popping back out on the Guadalupe Loop near the fork with the gated road where we turned left and hiked the mile back down to the parking area.
Trappist Abbey

It turned out to be a beautiful day (once we thawed out from the initial frozen hands at Miller Woods) with a total of 8.2 miles of hiking (4.4 at Miller Woods and 3.8 at Trappist Abbey). There were very few folks out, we saw two trail runners at Miller Woods and passed a handful of groups at Trappist Abbey, had some wildlife encounters, and spotted a few Spring flowers along the way. Hopefully things will settle down sooner rather than later with the corona virus but until then stay safe and Happy Trails!

Flickr: Miller Woods and Trappist Abbey

Spencer Butte, Shotgun Creek, and Horse Rock Ridge – 2/9/2020

We jumped on a favorable forecast and headed for Eugene for our February outing. On our itinerary was a trio of stops that would allow us to check two more of Sullivan’s featured hikes off our to-do list. The three stops were short enough that even with doing them all the total mileage would remain under 10 miles.

We chose to start off with Spencer Butte (Hike #74 in the 5th edition of “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Central Oregon Cascades”). We started here in hopes to avoid crowds as we’d read that this was a popular hike. We started at the Spencer Butte Trailhead which provides the shortest routes up to the viewpoint atop Spencer Butte.
Spencer Butte Trailhead

Other trailheads and longer hikes are possible using Eugene’s Ridgeline Trail System but we stuck to Sullivan’s described hike this time.
Map for the Ridgeline Trail System

At a fork at the top of some stairs leading uphill from the trailhead we veered left following a sign for the “West (Difficult) Route to Spencer Butte Summit”.
Spencer Butte Summit West Route

This route gained nearly 800′ in less than 3/4 of a mile climbing steeply over exposed rocks and mud. There was a fair amount of fog in the forest which was helping to keep things nice and damp which made the rocks a little slick.
Spencer Butte Summit West Route

Spencer Butte Summit West Route

As we neared the summit we began to break out of the thicker fog and gain some views. A mass of clouds covered the lowlands to the West.
Cloudy, foggy view from Spencer Butte

The trail left the trees a little below the summit and a confusion of trails headed up into the rocks. To fine the recommended route keep left on the main trail to a big switchback in the trees. We turned up a bit early on one of the other, steeper trails which eventually joined the better route above the switchback.
Looking up toward Spencer Butte's summit ridge

A word of warning for this hike (in addition to it being steep) is that there is a fair amount of poison oak in the exposed grassy areas and the butte is home to some rattlesnakes. It was way too cold to be worried about any snakes on this visit but apparently in warmer weather they could be about.

At an elevation just over 2000′ the summit was above most of the clouds although there was some thin fog lifting from the thicker clouds below impacting the views a bit.
Spencer Butte's summitSpencer Butte’s summit high point.

View from Spencer ButteView north from the high point towards Mary’s Peak (post) which was above the clouds.

There is said to be a nice view of the Three Sisters from the summit, but by avoiding the crowds (we hadn’t seen another hiker yet) we were staring directly at the rising Sun which effectively stymied any hopes of a mountain view.
View east from Spencer Butte

The lack of a view was partially mitigated by a really good “glory” or Brocken spectre which is the magnified shadow of an observer cast upon clouds opposite the Sun’s direction surrounded by a rainbow-like halo.

After a short rest we started getting chilly so we began our descent. We headed down a path on the east side of the butte.
Descending Spencer Butte

This longer route was a little less steep and definitely an easier descent than trying to go down the West Route would have been. After a series of stone steps the trail reentered the foggy forest.
Fog in the forest at Spencer Butte

Descending Spencer Butte

A little over 3/4 of a mile from the summit we came to a junction with the Spencer Butte Tie Trail which connects the loop to the Ridgeline Trail.
Trail junction at Spencer Butte

We stayed right here to complete the loop back to the trailhead passing a grassy picnic area near the end.
Picnic tables near the Spencer Butte Trailhead

We passed quite a few more hikers on the way back to the trailhead. Given that we were back at the car by 8:35am we could only imagine how crowded the summit would be later, so even though the view could have been better we were happy with our choice to start here.

Our next stop was at the Shotgun Creek Recreation Site. There is a $3 fee listed on the BLM website but that appears to only be enforced during busier months although be prepared to pay the fee at any time. We began the hike from the Shotgun Creek Trailhead and immediately started up a trail next to the signboard with a pointer for the Tiki Trail.
Tikit Trail

Not far up this trail we spotted our first wildflower of the year, some little snow queen.
Snow queen

We also quickly realized that we were going the wrong way (at least for the hike Sullivan describes in Hike #76 of the 5th edition. We had only gone about a tenth of a mile so we turned around and returned to the trailhead where we crossed the parking lot and took a paved path past the recreation sites amenities.
Shotgun Creek Recreation Area

We followed paved paths to Shotgun Creek and then along the creek to the signed Upper Shotgun Trail.
Shotgun Creek

Upper Shotgun Trail

This trail followed along the creek for a mile before turning into the forest to loop back toward the recreation site.
Shotgun Creek

Upper Shotgun Trail

We spotted our second variety of wildflower as we began to loop back around, a lone skunk cabbage near a small seasonal stream.
Skunk cabbage in the forest

Skunk cabbage

After a little over 2 miles on the Upper Shotgun Trail we came to a 4-way junction.
Upper Shotgun Trail junction with the Tiki and Drury Trails

The trails straight ahead and to the right were labeled for the Tiki Trail with the right hand trail being the one that we had started out on earlier which would have allowed for a short loop of approximately 2.5 miles. Sullivan’s description of the hike would have had us go straight here on the Tiki Trail loop resulting in a nearly 3.5 mile loop. This time we decided not to stick to Sullivan’s hike and instead turned left past a pointer for the Drury Trail.
Drury Trail

This route was the suggested route in the Oregonhikers.org Field Guide. This trail climbed nearly 500′ over the next mile as it passed through the forest. The climb provided no views but simply began dropping back down after reaching its high point near a BLM road. The second mile of the trail approached a clear cut where there were views out of the forest but the view consisted of clear cut scars which are frankly just depressing to look at. That being said along the 2 mile Drury Trail there were a few nice sights include some older trees and our first yellow violet of the year bringing our wildflower variety county up to three.
Drury Trail

Big tree along the Drury TrailAn older tree along the trail.

Tree mushroomsMushrooms on a trunk near the clear cut view.

Wood violet along the Drury TrailViolet

When we arrived back at the Tiki Trail we turned left.
Drury Trail junction with the Tiki Trail

Initially we were headed back toward the clear cuts but then the trail did a 180 degree turn heading back toward the trailhead. Shortly before arriving back at the recreation site we again had a look at Shotgun Creek.
Shotgun Creek

The loop that we did came in at 5 miles. We were just under 7 miles for the day with one stop to go, Horse Rock Ridge. The Horse Rock Ridge Trailhead was only about 6 miles away but 1400′ higher in elevation than Shotgun Creek. We followed the windy narrow paved roads to find that while we’d seen no other hikers at Shotgun Creek that was not going to be the case here. There were a number of cars here so we parked on the side of the road at a pullout and walked up to the start of the trail behind some boulders and a wire fence.
Horse Rock Ridge Trailhead

The first part of the trail follows an old roadbed which is banned to OHVs and other motorized vehicles. The boulders, fence, and logs laying across the old road are unfortunately necessary because despite having miles of OHV friendly roads and trails in the area some of those folks just can’t respect the fragile habitats set aside for preservation such as Horse Rock Ridge.
Horse Rock Ridge Trail

Horse Rock Ridge Trail

After .7 miles the trail entered the first of a series of meadows along the ridge where a reportedly impressive display of late Spring wildflowers occurs in May and June. Being February we were treated to frost :).
Frosty meadow along the Horse Rock Ridge Trail

Frosty meadow

Steam rose from the wet hillsides as we followed the trail through the meadows past exposed basalt formations.
View from the Horse Rock Ridge Trail

Horse Rock Ridge Trail

About halfway through the meadows the trail passed to the north of a large rock outcrop. It had to drop beneath the rocks which proved to be the trickiest part of this hike because the outcrop shielded the north facing side from the Sun leaving the rocks icy and slick.
Frost on the backside of a rock formation along the Horse Rock Ridge Trail

Horse Rock Ridge Trail

I picked on the OHV folks earlier but they aren’t the only ones that can cause damage. Despite signs at the trailhead to remain on the trail to not damage the vegetation it was obvious many “hikers” had been walking on the grass and other vegetation, especially along this section. In a case like this if the condition of the trail is such that you feel it is not safe or possible to use it then it probably should be your turn around point. We took an inventory of the trail and decided that there were enough exposed footholds that we could carefully navigate the icy conditions and continued.
Horse Rock Ridge TrailHeather emerging from behind the outcrop.

More sunny meadows awaited (as did another little climb) and we passed a small pool of water and the only wildflowers we would see here today on some manzanita.
Small pool along the Horse Rock Ridge Trail

Manzanita

Near the top of the meadows the trail approached a basalt dike which we are taking to be Horse Rock although we couldn’t confirm that.
Horse Rock Ridge Trail

From this area the view extended to the snowy Cascade Mountains although the clouds that had been covering the valleys from Spencer Butte had lifted and moved east enough to now be interfering a bit with those views. We still managed to get nice looks at Mt. Jefferson and North & Middle Sister.
View from the Horse Rock Ridge Trail

Mt. Jefferson

North and Middle Sister from the Horse Rock Ridge Trail

Three Fingered Jack was also somewhat visible above the clouds.
Three Fingered Jack

At the end of the dike was a rock overhang.
Small overhang at the end of Horse Rock

The trail continued on into the trees ending near some towers. We went ahead and followed it finding a reminder that despite the sunny green hillsides it was still Winter for a bit longer.
A little snow near the top of Horse Rock Ridge

A little snow near the top of Horse Rock Ridge

We returned the way we’d come ending this hike just under 3 miles giving us 9.8 total miles for the day. While there were quite a few hikers on Horse Rock Ridge it didn’t seem like as many as the cars at the trailhead suggested. All three of the hikes were relatively short but Spencer Butte was not an “easy” hike. The slick rocks on Horse Rock Ridge made that a little tricky although we saw a child around six and another hiker that was easily in their 80’s on the other side of that tricky section. For kids though the Shotgun Creek Recreation Area would probably be the best with the creek and other amenities. We will probably look at getting to Horse Rock Ridge during wildflower season somewhere down the line, but for now it’s another hike checked off our to-do list and we couldn’t have really asked for a much nicer day. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Spencer Butte, Shotgun Creek, and Horse Rock Ridge

Goodbye to our Friend – Buddy (8/1/02- 1/27/20

This is a rare non-hiking related post for us but we wanted to share the story of the wonderful gift that Buddy was to our lives. For the last 17 years he brightened our lives and while that seems like a long time in years it felt way too short.

Shortly after we moved into our first house in 2002 we decided to add a cat to our family. In December we visited the Humane Society where Buddy made it clear that we would be taking him home with us. (He never did stop telling us what to do and when to do it.) When we had made our choice (given in to his demands) the folks at the Humane Society gave us a note that had come to the shelter with Buddy, a note that we’ve kept to this day.
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Dominque was 7 so we had the little boy covered.
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Grace also mentioned that Buddy liked having his belly rubbed, something cats often do not care for. He loved a good belly rub though and would curl up around your hand.
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Things got off to a rocky start for us, Buddy was so excited to have a home that he wasn’t bothering to eat. We took him to the vet and tried several things eventually having to leave him there overnight so that they could feed him intravenously and get his stomach used to food again. They explained to us that if cats don’t eat for a while they will stop feeling the need to, some sort of defense mechanism to ease the pain of starving. The stay at the vet worked and after he came back home eating was a favorite of his.
SCAN0072Buddy shortly after coming home with us.

A year after Buddy joined us we brought Hazelnut home. Buddy did his best to welcome her and we would often find them curled up together in the early days.
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Buddy loved to jump up on things to get as high in the house as he could and getting into any drawer or cupboard that he could.
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His jumping days were cut short by arthritis in his hip which required medication but his love of opening drawers and cupboards never faded. Often we would come home from a trip to find half the cupboards and drawers wide open.

He also loved to curl in the sink when he could still get up on the bathroom counter (and fit) and he never met a sack or box (he especially loved boxes) that he didn’t need to get into.
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Buddy’s one vice was that he loved to chew on things. We had a no plant rule in the house (other than grass that he could eat) because he would make a b-line straight for anything green, including the fake Christmas tree which he gnawed ends off. Toys that were attached to strings were largely ignored so that he could simply chew on the string. There was also a strange obsession with pipe cleaners. Dominique had used them at one time for a school project and for years after that Buddy would (if he got into Dominique’s room) somehow manage to find one and drag it out to chew on. None of us, including Dominique, could figure out where he was getting them but he had a stash hidden somewhere. The only time string didn’t temp him was when it was the yarn Heather was using for her crochet. Somehow he knew that was off-limits.
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From day one Buddy was a lap cat.
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He spent all of his 17 years with us by our sides when we were home. On weekends, before work, and in the evenings he was either on one of our laps or laying right next to us. Until his arthritis got bad he had a routine of getting on the bed when I got home and waiting for me to come over so he could stand on his hind paws with his front paws on my chest and nuzzle under my chin. I called it our hugs. When he was a kitten he would sit in one of our laps and bat popcorn out of our hands as we tried to eat it. After growing out of that phase he just tried to lick the olive oil as he loved olive oil and green olive juice.

In addition to the arthritis in his back hip Buddy lost a couple of teeth along the way which earned him the nickname snarls.
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He did have one tooth though that would often stab into us when he fell asleep with his head on our hand/arm as he was wont to do.

He also lost his hearing, but that didn’t stop him from telling us when it was time to get up, time to feed him, or time to go to bed and it didn’t stop us from talking to him.
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He let me know every night when it was time for bed. He would wait for me near the bed and as soon as I got in he would come up to snuggle in.
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He enjoyed being carried around the house so he could get a close up view of everything that was out of his reach. He also liked to take a few minuts after dinner to play, his favorite game was chasing that crazy red dot that he could never quite catch. His other loves were trying to sneak out into the garage, sitting on the heating vents, and of course cat naps.
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It seemed like no matter what we were doing he was there with us. He would wake us up, wait on the toilet seat or vent while we showered (sometimes he would pry open the door and get in only to remember that he didn’t care for water) and sit with us until it was time for work. In the evening he sat on the lap of whoever was sitting down and when it was time for bed he’d let me know. He usually split his time in bed snuggling with each of us during the night. In other words he was a constant companion and his absence is felt in everything we do now. Even in typing up this post he would have been on my lap forcing me to put my arms in awkward positions to try and type.

In June 2019 he started showing signs of difficulty breathing. He was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and a pound of fluid was removed from his lungs. He was placed on medication and responded fairly well. He was slowed down and began losing weight but otherwise seemed like himself for a few months. He took to wearing sweaters to help keep him warm but time finally caught up to him and the fluid returned, worse than before.
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He started showing signs of increased difficulty breathing after Christmas and slowed down noticeably.
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We moved up a follow up appointment at the vet fearing the worst but hoping for the best. That morning before work he laid his head on my forearm and purred while I petted him as that one tooth dug into my skin for the last time.

The vet confirmed our fears, the fluid was back and worse than before. Another procedure to remove the fluid would likely have been to much for him. It was the hardest goodbye either of us had ever experienced. Buddy brought us so much joy and happiness over those 17 years. We couldn’t have asked for a better furry friend. Heather’s friend gifted us with a wonderful framed picture of our Budder-ball which captured his personality perfectly.
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He will always have a special place in our hearts, we miss you Buddy!
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Netarts Spit – 1/25/2020

We were down to the last weekend of the month so in order to get our monthly hike in we were going to have to deal with whatever weather we were dealt. Heading into Saturday the forecast was for rain everywhere I checked so we decided to stick to our original plan which was to visit a series of lakes in the coastal range. That plan was scrapped on Friday night when I checked the trail conditions and discovered that one of the ones that we’d be on had been closed this month due to heavy storm damage. Plan B had been a nearly 3 hour drive to Reedsport, but a 100% chance of rain didn’t warrant that long of a drive. I looked to our 2021 hikes and decided on Netarts Spit at Cape Lookout State Park which was a more reasonable hour and a half drive away.

We set off just before 6am with all our rain gear and drove to the Cape Lookout Day Use Trailhead where we purchased a $5 parking pass and noted that it was in fact not raining here.
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We suspected it was just a matter of time and put our rain gear on before starting off. One of the issues with last minute hike swaps is that it limits the amount of time we have to read up on the hike. The Netarts Spit hike is featured in two of our books by Matt Reeder (“Off the Beaten Trail” and “PDX Hiking 365”) as well as in the Oregonhikers.org field guide. I had looked at both and noted that while Reeder’s description indicated to hike along the beach the field guide mentioned an inland route for the first portion. After walking down to the beach near a picnic shelter we walked back up to the shelter and followed a path north through some trees.
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The view south from this path was dominated by Cape Lookout jutting out into the Pacific. Several waterfalls could be seen on it’s flanks.
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When we came to another beach access point just before a gated section of the campground we decided to head down to the beach.
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Had I studied the entry in the field guide more thoroughly I would have known that it recommends following the road through the campground to avoid the cobblestones along the beach here.
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The tide was just high enough that in order to stay out of the Ocean we were forced to walk on these rocks and they are not fun. Ankles were rolling and twisting in all sorts of directions as we stumbled along.
IMG_2136Ocean coming right up to the rocks.

When we got our next chance we popped back up off the beach into the campground following a gravel track past some group tent sites.
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We’d already seen one bald eagle fly overhead and here we spotted another one sitting in a tree ahead.
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While watching the eagle a great blue heron flew over.
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Beyond the group tent sites the road was gated and turned into a grassy path with Netarts Bay to the right and dunes to the left.
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The grassy roadbed soon ended at a stand of trees where a clear trail continued.
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IMG_2154Trail at lower right with a little standing water.

The field guide had mentioned that sections of this trail may have standing water but we weren’t quite prepared for long stretches of calf deep ponds. Heather was smart enough to find a deer path a little higher up on the left side (Which was something the field guide said you might have to do but in my quick reading I hadn’t picked up on that.) I tried sticking to the trail for a bit, but after a while in the water my feet starting getting cold so I joined her. We made the decision to try and follow one of these paths up and over to the beach which we managed to do.
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Then it was just a matter of finding the best spot to drop back down onto the beach, and more cobblestones, yay.
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Luckily it wasn’t long before we were able to drop onto the sand.
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There was a lot more blue sky than we’d been expecting which was a pleasant surprise. To the north we could see the Three Arch Rocks although a perpetual fog seemed to be hanging over them.
IMG_2172Three Arch Rocks – one of two wilderness areas in Oregon off limits to visitors.

We were able to spend the next 4 miles to the end of the spit on the beach. There were no other people in sight (until the fishing boats in the bay). There were a few seagulls here and there and we saw at least 8 different Bald Eagles counting at least 6 congregated in a short stretch of trees.
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A final eagle awaited near the end of the spit.
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We were hoping that by the time we got to the turn around point we’d have a better look at Three Arch Rocks but the view wasn’t much clearer than it had been all morning.
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We had stubbornly kept our rain gear on waiting for the forecast to come to fruition, but we stopped here to remove it since we were way too warm. We then made a short loop around the tip of the spit to look at the bay before starting back.
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One thing that both Reeder and the field guide agreed on was that it was impossible to travel along the bay due to marshy conditions so we started back down the beach.
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The tide was coming in and we noticed that waves were starting to cover the entire beach and forced us up into the dunes a bit where we followed some deer tracks for awhile.
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We spent the majority of the next three and a half miles staying up as high on the dunes as possible which made for some more difficult travel. The grass on the dunes is surprisingly sharp tipped and it was all pointing north so we were walking directly into the points. The thickness of the grass also meant that you couldn’t really tell what the terrain underneath was like so there were plenty of awkward steps, although no falls. I had done that on the beach when I tripped over a small piece of driftwood.
IMG_2233Looking back north from the dune crest.

IMG_2235Looking north at what was to come.

IMG_2230Thick forest between the bay and the dune.

IMG_2236One of several semi-circles created by grass going back and forth.

Being up on the dune did allow for some views of the bay where we spotted birds including surf scooters and great blue herons.
IMG_2238

IMG_2240

IMG_2242

We were forced down onto the backside of the dune as we neared the point where we had crossed over the beach that morning. Here a maze of game trails led in all directions. The trick was attempting to avoid the thorny rose stalks and blackberry bushes as well as thickets of nearly impassable salal.
IMG_2245

We eventually made it back to the submerged trail and grassy track from earlier which we followed back to the campground and then stuck to the paved road as we returned to trail leading between the campground and picnic shelter.
IMG_2255Cape Lookout from the trail to the picnic shelter.

IMG_2257Seagull atop the shelter.

Our GPS put our hike at 11.1 miles which was in line with the field guides 11.2 and a little longer than Reeder’s 10 miles. We both agreed that it may have been the hardest hike we’d done along the coast due to the tricky terrain, although part of it might also be that it had been over a month since our previous hike and we’re a bit out of hiking shape. In any event it felt like an adventure which was nice and the fact that the rainy forecast turned into just a mostly cloudy day with a couple of sun breaks made for a great start to 2020’s hikes. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Netarts Spit

Progress Report – Oregon Wilderness Areas – January, 2020 Update

At the start of 2019 we posted about our goal of visiting each or Oregon’s legally accessible designated wilderness areas. Since that post we added two areas to our list of visited wildernesses and had one added to the list to visit.

In May we took a trip to Joseph, OR for some hikes including one that briefly entered the Hells Canyon Wilderness. Our brief time in the wilderness consisted of low visibility and some rain/snow mix, but we could at least check it off the list for now and hopefully the weather will better on our next visit.
Summit Ridge Trail

The weather and amount of lingering snow at higher elevations on that hike convinced us change our plans for the next day opting to skip a planned hike at Hat Point with it’s 7000′ elevation. Instead we decided to check off another wilderness area by driving to Troy, OR (at an elevation of 1720′) to hike the Lower Wenaha Rive Trail into the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness .
Wenaha River Trail

A bit of good news in 2019 was the creation of the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness in the Oregon Coast Range east of Reedsport. There are no official trails in this wilderness so whenever we get to visit it should be quite the adventure.

The new wilderness gives Oregon 48 designated wilderness areas (only 46 can be visited). With Hells Canyon and Wenaha-Tucannon crossed off that list it leaves us with a half dozen that we haven’t made it to yet. We had hoped to have visited them all by the end of this year, but changes to our plans in 2019 have pushed completion back to at least 2021. As our plans currently stand we hope to visit 5 of the 6 this year: Boulder Creek, Black Canyon,North Fork Umatilla, Gearhart Mountain, and Devil’s Staircase.

That will leave just the Monument Rock Wilderness for 2021. Happy Trails!

 

 

Progress Report – 500 “Featured” Hikes – January, 2020 Update

Last year we posted about our goal to complete 500 “featured” hikes from William L. Sullivan’s “100 hikes” guidebook series. We made some decent headway in 2019 especially with the NW Oregon/SW Washington area. We picked the newest version of the 4th edition of that book in Spring and completed a 13 more featured hikes from that book during the year.

In all we were able to check off an additional 24 featured hikes which included the 13 from NW Oregon, 6 from the Central Cascades, 3 from the Oregon coast, and 2 from Eastern Oregon. The one book that we didn’t make any headway with was Southern Oregon due to sticking mostly with day hikes in 2019.

At the end of 2019 we had been on 359 of the 500 featured hikes which broken down by book looks like this:
92/100 – “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregon Coast & Coast Range” 4th Edition 2016

87/100 – “100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades” 4th Edition 2012

85/100 – “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington” 4th Edition 2018

53/100 – “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Eastern Oregon” 3rd Edition 2015

42/100 – “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Southern Oregon & Northern California” 4th Edition 2017

We’re hoping to have the NW, Central, and Coast books completed by the end of 2022 (the coast book hinges on the Salmonberry Railroad reopening). Despite lagging behind at only 42% completed, the Southern book would be next with a tentative completion the following year. In last year’s post I had us taking until 2027 to finish the Eastern Oregon book but after some fiddling with our future plans we have a chance to complete those hikes by the end of 2025.

I’m sure there will be some twists and turns along the way, but eventually we hope to reach our goal. Even if we don’t it should be a lot of fun trying. Happy Trails!

2019 Wildflower Gallery

One of the most challenging things about our hiking trips is attempting to identify the numerous different wildflowers that we see (and knowing if it’s an invasive like foxglove or if it’s native). We love seeing the flowers and spend much of our hikes looking for them but we’re just a couple of amateurs when it comes to knowing much about them. We rely heavily on the Wildflower Search website and more knowledgeable folks in wildflower groups for ids. Asters and fleabanes as well as many yellow wildflowers tend to give us the most trouble. On our own we probably get as many wrong as right. Even when we have a good idea we tend to use a general common name such as “penstemon” or “lupine” instead of attempting to identify the specific variety.

We saw somewhere in the vicinity of 200 different varieties of flowers. We have labeled them on Flickr with our best guesses, but in most cases the id is uncertain so any corrections/suggestions are greatly appreciated.

With that here is a fairly comprehensive gallery of the different flowers that we saw during our 2019 hikes. I’m posting these in the date order in which the photos were taken (with the exception of the first and last) but this is not necessarily the order in which we first saw them during the year.

In February we encountered our first flowers of the year.
Snow queenSnow queen

Red flowering currantRed flowering currant

ToothwortToothwort

Fairy slipperFairy slipper

Glacier liliesGlacier lilies

Chickweed monkeyflowerChickweed monkeyflower

Giant white wakerobinGiant white wakerobin

Giant fawn liliesGiant fawn lilies

Camas and plectritisCamas and plectritis

FringecupFringecup

Bleeding heartBleeding heart

BluebellsBluebells?

DogwoodDogwood

Large solomonsealLarge solomonseal

Vine mapleVine maple

Something in the pea family

Chocolate liliesChocolate lilies

ColtsfootColtsfoot

Wild roseWild rose

Wildflower at Warrior Point

Ball-head waterleafBall-head waterleaf

ArnicaArnica

ManzanitaManzanita

CurrantA currant

Jacob's ladderShowy jacob’s ladder

Oregon anemoneOregon anemone

LupineLupine

Vanilla LeafVanilla leaf

LarkspurLarkspur

Woodland starsWoodland stars

Popcorn flowerPopcorn flower

SalsifySalsify

Deadly nightshadeDeadly nightshade

Rock clematisRock clematis

TwinberryTwinberry?

BluebellsBluebells

CinqufoilCinquefoil

MeadowrueMeadowrue

VioletA violet

Shooting starShooting star

Old man's whiskersOld man’s whiskers

Western stoneseedWestern stoneseed

Blue dicksBlue dicks

BalsamrootBalsamroot

Slender phloxSlender phlox

Cutleaf daisyCutleaf daisy

Large head cloverLarge head clover

KittentailsKittentails

Hariy clematisHairy clematis

Yellow bellYellow bell

Browns peonyBrown’s peony (blossoms hadn’t opened yet)

Small flower miterwortSmall flower miterwort

VetchVetch

YarrowYarrow

HoundstongueHoundstongue

CatchflyA catchfly

Branched hareleafBranched hareleaf

WatercressWatercress

FiddleneckFiddleneck

Rough eyelashweedRough eyelashweed

PenstemonPenstemon

PhloxPhlox

Spreading dogbaneSpreading dogbane

BuckwheatBuckwheat

Scab penstemonScab penstemon

Wildflower along the Wenaha River Trail

Oregon sunshineOregon sunshine?

False sunflowerFalse sunflower?

Sticky purple geraniumSticky purple geranium

Threadleaf phaceliaThreadleaf phacelia

SkullcapSkullcap

Stream globe mallowStream globe mallow

Blue mustardBlue mustard?

ClarkiaRagged robin

Blanket flowerBlanket flower

Cusick's paintbrushCusick’s paintbrush

Wild onionWild onion

Monument plantMonument plant

RockcressRockcress

Hoary balsamrootHoary balsamroot

CamasCamas

White-stem fraseraWhite-stem frasera

Milk vetchMilk vetch

CloverA clover

Dwarf yellow fleabaneDwarf yellow fleabane

IrisIris

Wild irisIris

PaintbrushPaintbrush

Blue-eyed maryBlue-eyed mary

Cats ear liliesCat’s ear lilies

CandyflowerCandy flower

ThimbleberryThimbleberry

StonecropStonecrop

Youth-on-ageYouth-on-age

Wildflower along the Cascade Streamwatch Trail

False lily of the valleyFalse lily of the valley

CoralrootCoralroot

FairybellsFairybells

Scoutler's cordyalisScouler’s cordyalis

CoralrootCoralroot

OokowOokow

AnemoneAnemone

Bunch berryBunchberry

Rhododendron blossomsRhododendron

Wild bugbaneWild bugbane

Avalanche liliesAvalanche lilies

PaintbrushPaintbrush

Western pasque flowerWestern pasque flower

ValerianValerian

Mountain heatherMountain heather

PenstemonPenstemon

ManzanitaManzanita

Dwarf lupineDwarf lupine

PussypawsPussypaws

White dwarf lupineWhite dwarf lupine

Sagebrush false dandelionSagebrush false dandelion?

DaisiesDaisies

FoxgloveFoxglove

Self-healSelf-heal

Tailed kittentailsTailed kittentails

Wildflowers along the Grouse Vista TrailGoldenbanner?

VetchVetch?

LarkspurLarkspur

PhloxPhlox

PaintbrushPaintbrush

LupineLupine

VioletsViolets

LousewortLousewort

Marsh marigoldMarsh marigold

SalalSalal

ThistleThistle

MonkeyflowerMonkeyflower

Probably cultivated radishCultivated radish?

CloverA clover

Beach morning gloryBeach morning glory

GroundconeGroundcone

Wild roseSome sort of rose

Striped coralrootStriped coralroot

PenstemonPenstemon

Arrowleaf buckwheatArrowleaf buckwheat

Star-flower solomonsealStar-flower solomonseal

Raceme pussytoesRaceme pussytoes

BeargrassBeargrass

CoralrootCoralroot

Blue-head giliaBlue-head gilia

PenstemonPenstemon

GroundselGroundsel?

Insideout flowerInside-out flower

StarflowerStarflower

CandysticksCandysticks

Wild strawberryWild strawberry

ColumbineColumbine

Showy phloxShowy phlox

TrilliumTrillium

Bladder campionBladder campion?

CatchflyCatchfly

AsterAster or fleabane

CurrantA currant

Wood violetWood violet

PussytoesPussytoes

LousewortLousewort

Jacob's ladderJacob’s ladder?

WallflowerWallflower

Wild gingerWild ginger

Giant blue-eyed maryGiant blue-eyed mary

ConeflowerConeflower

Cow parsnipCow parsnip

tall bluebellsTall mountain bluebells

Scarlet giliaScarlet gilia

Orange agoserisOrange agoseris

Owls cloverOwls clover

A phaceliaSome sort of phacelia?

HoneysuckleHoneysuckler

Wild onionWild onion

Twin flowerTwin flower

PenstemonPenstemon

PaintbrushTwo types of paintbrush

Stream orchidStream orchid?

Tiger lilyTiger lily

Wildflowers along the Grassy Knoll Trail

PenstemonPenstemon

Field chickweedField chickweed

Wildflowers along the Grassy Knoll Trail

LupineLupine

Wildflowers along the Grassy Knoll Trail

Wildflowers along the Grassy Knoll Trail

Spotted coralrootSpotted coralroot

LupineLupine

AvensAvens?

Farewll to springFarewell to spring

PenstemonPenstemon

Washington lilyWashington lily

WintergreenWintergreen

PinesapPinesap

PinedropPinedrop

PaintbrushPaintbrush

Mock orangeMock orange

Prince's pinePrince’s pine

Bachelor buttonBachelor button

A pyrolaPyrola

Queen's cupQueen’s cup

AsterAster (or a fleabane)?

Bog orchidBog orchid

Elephants headElephant’s head

RainieraRainiera

Ghost pipeGhost pipe

Scouler's bluebellsScouler’s bluebells

MonkshoodMonkshood

MonkeyflowerPink monkeyflower

Creeping wire lettuceCreeping wire lettuce

FireweedFireweed

PenstemonPenstemon

AsterAster (or a fleabane)

SpireaSpirea

Wildflower along the Olallie Mountain Trail

HedgenettleHedgenettle

Scouler's St. Johns wort and pearly everlastingScouler’s St. Johns wort

Wildflowers along the trail to Crabtree Valley

GentianGentian

PennyroyalPennyroal

ChicoryChicory

PeaA pea?

ThistleThistle

The last wildflowers for us this year (we aren’t counting the invasive herb robert seen at Forest Park in December) was some fading pearly everlasting in mid-October.
Pearly everlastingThis pearly is in better shape from an August hike.

Hopefully we aren’t too far off on these. Names aside they are all a delight to see out on our hikes. Happy Trails!

Exploring the Pacific NW one step at a time.