Black Butte

For the final hike of our vacation we decided to say farewell to the mountains for the year. Black Butte provided us the opportunity to get one last good view of the Cascades and a nice bit of elevation gain to boot. We had been checking the weather forecast as often as possible to see if it would be worth the effort and when we went to bed the night before our hike the forecast was for clear sunny skies all day long. They were wrong. lol

My first inkling that something was amiss was when I was loading the car in the morning and there were no stars visible in the sky. As we began our drive to the trailhead occasional sprinkles of rain were falling, but we were committed now and figured that it was early and maybe the clear skies were just a little late.

We arrived at the lower Black Butte Trailhead under cloudy skies but at least there was no rain. The trail set off through pine trees and a carpet of orange ferns.
198
We caught several glimpses of Black Butte on the lower portion of the trail and at least it was cloud free (it had not been on the drive earlier).

Black Butte from the lower trail
Black Butte from the lower trail

The lower portion of the trail passed through a variety of forest types. The ever changing makeup of the trees and plants was very interesting.
208

Cedars
Cedars

213

215

There would have been some mountain views on a clearer day along this portion as well but on this day all we could make out was the snow line at the base of Mt. Washington and Three Fingered Jack. We were still hoping that the cloud cover would burn off by the time we reached the summit so we continued to climb to the upper trailhead.

From the upper trailhead we climbed out of the forest to the more exposed upper slopes of Black Butte. Here the view was virtually unobstructed by trees but the clouds were a different story. There was a thick layer of clouds above our heads but low enough to hide the taller Cascade Peaks. Below us were smaller patches of clouds passing by and sometimes over us.

Mt. Washington
Mt. Washington
Looking down past the clouds
Looking down past the clouds

As the trail wound up and around the butte we got our first good look at the lookout tower. We also noticed that the summit appeared to be a bit snowy or at least frosty.
242

We had been overly warm as we climbed so far and had taken most of our layers off but as we entered the “white” zone we were met with much colder air. As we worked our way around the north side of the butte a slight breeze brought even colder air to us and kept this side of the butte wintry white.
264

272

283

To the north we could see the edge of the upper cloud layer as sunlight reflected off the lower clouds.
271
To the NE we spotted the top of a snowy mountain against blue sky – Mt. Hood!

Mt. Hood
Mt. Hood

Further around we found ourselves staring at the base of Mt. Jefferson. The view was strangely reminiscent of the view we’d had on Double Peaks on the opposite side of the mountain just 3 days earlier with clouds covering the upper 2/3rds of the mountain and blue sky apparently above and behind the mountain.

Mt. Jefferson hidden again
Mt. Jefferson hidden again

At the summit the snow/ice created some interesting scenes.
286

287

288

We explored the area on top of the butte where the lookout tower is not the only structure. A 1924 cupola that was the former lookout and a log cabin where the lookout staff lives were also present.

1924 cupola
1924 cupola

302

Signs on the summit listed the mountain peaks that would be visible on a clear day from Broken Top to the south to Mt. Adams to the north. We were mostly left with our imaginations. 🙂 Looking out over the log cabin we could see a good portion of Three Fingered Jack and some of Mt. Jefferson.

Three Fingered Jack
Three Fingered Jack

We hung around for a little over half an hour hoping that the clouds would break up but the lower clouds just kept coming up from behind us and the upper clouds didn’t seem to be budging. Just as we started to leave though we noticed the upper layer was breaking up to the north and there seemed to be some breaking up near Mt. Jefferson. We turned around and headed back toward the cabin but the low clouds were rising up just in front of us so we again headed back down. I kept looking back though hoping for something when we finally got a little break and the summit of Mt. Jefferson made an appearance over a ribbon of clouds.

Mt. Jefferson
Mt. Jefferson

As the upper clouds retreated south we suddenly had blue sky above us and the frosty coating quickly melted from the trees and plants.
As we came around to the south side of the butte Mt. Washington was a bit more visible.

Mt. Washington
Mt. Washington

 

The upper layer of clouds retreating south
The upper layer of clouds retreating south

Just as quickly as the blue sky had appeared one of the larger low clouds enveloped the side of Black Butte and we were once again without a view.

When we got down past the upper trailhead we finally got back out of the cloud and could once again see out to where the mountains would be. Even though the upper layer of clouds had mostly retreated the lower clouds were quickly replacing it and many of them clung to the taller peaks. We did manage to get a good view of several small peaks and buttes though.

Belknap Crater and Little Belknap
Belknap Crater and Little Belknap
Black Crater
Black Crater
Hayrick Butte & Hoodoo
Hayrick Butte & Hoodoo

We even got a brief glimpse of North Sisters summit.
363

This time on the lower trail we spotted a decent amount of wildlife including chipmunks, douglas squirrels, golden-mantled squirrels, and various birds. Some were more willing to have their pictures taken than others.
351

368

369

376

We were supposed to meet my parents at the trailhead at 2:00 so they could drop off Dominique (who had chosen not to accompany us on the hike). A series of mishaps led to a bit of an adventure but while we were waiting a group of deer came by the parking area.
384

We eventually met up with my parents and reclaimed Nique and headed home. With that the bulk of our 2013 hikes were behind us. We’ll hopefully get out a couple more times this year, but our activities have now shifted to running for the next several months. It’s the beginning of our race season and we are all starting to train for a 15 mile trail run in a couple of months. Happy Trails.

Facebook photos:https://www.facebook.com/deryl.yunck/media_set?set=a.10202390873000341.1073741863.1448521051&type=1
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157636523907403/

Advertisements

Central Deschutes River

We headed over to Central Oregon for the last part of our vacation to visit our families and get a couple more hikes in on the east side of the Cascades. Originally we had planned on combining two hikes in one day for our first hike. Tipsoo Peak in the Mt. Thielsen Wilderness followed by Mount Scott on the rim of Crater Lake. We had to abandon those plans for good when the Government Shutdown closed Crater Lake so we turned to a standby hike along the Deschutes River between Trout Creek Campground and Mecca Flats.

With a trail head at each end of this 7.6 mile segment it allowed us to set up a shuttle with Deryl’s parents where they would start at Mecca Flats with Nique while we started at the Trout Creek Campground. The idea was we would do the whole trail both ways while the went from their car to ours, then we would drive them back to Mecca Flats to pick up their vehicle. With the plan set Heather and I headed to Trout Creek and set off along the Deschutes through the rivers canyon.
007

The trail follows an old railroad grade along the river surrounded by the scenic canyon walls. The river cut a colorful ribbon through the sagebrush desert. We spotted a heron standing on the river bank apparently watching for small fish.

Heron
Heron
Splashes of color in the sagebrush
Splashes of color in the sagebrush

We spotted quite a few birds along the way as well as some deer making their way up the canyon side.

Pair of ducks on the river
Pair of ducks on the river

060

Deer near the top of the canyon
Deer near the top of the canyon
Kingfisher near Mecca Flats
Kingfisher near Mecca Flats
Finch
Finch
Hidden heron on the rocks
Hidden heron on the rocks
Merganser
Merganser

There was also still a number of flowers in bloom along the river.
085

094

099

102

104

166

193

We met Dominique and my parents on the trail earlier than we had expected. They were moving a lot faster than they thought they would be. They gave us some info on what to expect on the trail ahead including to be watching for Scorpion Rock on the Warm Springs Reservation side of the river and a waterfall on our side of the river near a small creek.

Waterfall from an irrigation pipe way in the distance
Waterfall from an irrigation pipe way in the distance
Grassy creekside
Grassy creekside
Scorpion Rock
Scorpion Rock

Heather and I eventually made it to Mecca Flats where I accused my parents of hitching a boat ride with some of the many fishermen we’d seen. It was the only explanation of how they managed to make it that far that fast ;). We turned around at Mecca Flats and headed back toward our car and my family. Along the way we noticed a scenic red tree growing in the midst of a rock slide and several rock climbers high on the canyon cliffs.

The view from Mecca Flats
The view from Mecca Flats
Red tree
Red tree
Rock climbers on the canyon cliffs
Rock climbers on the canyon cliffs

It was a nice relaxing hike and a good time of year for it since the area is known for rattlesnakes in warmer weather. It was also nice to do a hike in the sagebrush landscape of Central Oregon. Ironically enough we were almost due east of our previous hike on the Red Lake Trail in the Mt. Hood National Forest and less than 50 miles as the crow flies. What a difference location and elevation makes. Happy Trails!

Facebook photos: https://www.facebook.com/deryl.yunck/media_set?set=a.10202388684345626.1073741862.1448521051&type=1
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157636480343143/

Red Lake Trail

I am a bit behind on our trip reports but that’s because we were busy getting a few more hikes in on our final week of vacation. After our hike on the coast at Pacific City we headed back toward the mountains on Thursday. We had been debating on whether or not to attempt the hike we had planned due to the early snow that had been falling in the Cascades. The planned hike had us starting on the west end of the Red Lake Trail, climbing Potato Butte, continuing on to Top Lake, and then making a small loop past Cigar Lake where we would attempt to climb Double Peaks before returning to the Red Lake Trail and our car.

It was a nice morning as we set off and there were some good Fall colors on display. We climbed for a mile and a half before reaching the trails namesake – Red Lake.
017

Water on the Red Lake Trail
Water on the Red Lake Trail
Red Lake
Red Lake

After passing Red Lake the trail then visits three more lakes in the next 1.3 miles. Avrill Lake was up first with a great reflection of Olallie Butte and Twin Peaks.
059

Next up was Wall Lake where we got our first good glimpse of Potato Butte.
072

Finally we came to Sheep Lake where a pair of ducks paddled beneath the reflection of Double Peaks.
086

We took a trail on the eastern end of Sheep Lake that led up to Potato Butte. There were several swollen ponds along this trail and in places standing water obscured the path. We wound up losing the trail at the base of the butte and decided to scramble to the top and hope to pick up the correct trail at the summit.

One of the many swollen ponds along the Potato Butte Trail
One of the many swollen ponds along the Potato Butte Trail

We arrived at the summit and easily picked up the official trail. We had a fairly good view of Mt. Hood despite the presence of some clouds and a great view of Olallie Butte.

Mt. Hood from Potato Butte
Mt. Hood from Potato Butte
Olallie Butte from Potato Butte
Olallie Butte from Potato Butte

On the way down on the real trail we got a good look toward Mt. Jefferson which was hiding in the clouds and at Double Peaks. At 5280′ Potato Butte had only small amounts of scattered snow but Double Peaks was clearly snow-covered at its height of 5998′.

Looking toward Mt. Jefferson from Potato Butte
Looking toward Mt. Jefferson from Potato Butte
Twin Peaks on the left and Double Peaks on the right from Potato Butte
Twin Peaks on the left and Double Peaks on the right from Potato Butte

When we got to the base of the butte we saw the reason for our having lost the trail on the way up. One of the ponds had enveloped the actual trail making it impossible to see. We made our way around the edge of the pond and back to the Red Lake Trail and continued east toward the Pacific Crest Trail which we would use for part of our small loop to Cigar Lake.

The trail passed Fork Lake and several other unnamed ponds/lakes as it slowly climbed toward the PCT. We also began encountering more and more snow as we went.

Pond below Twin Peaks
Pond below Twin Peaks
Increasing amounts of snow
Increasing amounts of snow

The snow made it possible to see a variety of animal tracks showing us just how many different species that we never see walk these same trails. At the PCT junction we continued on the Red Lake Trail heading down now to Top Lake.

Some of the tracks in the snow
Some of the tracks in the snow
Top Lake
Top Lake
Fall on the shore of Top Lake
Fall on the shore of Top Lake

At Top Lake we left the Red Lake Trail and skirted the overflowing lake to its south end and climbed back up to the PCT near Cigar Lake.

Double Peaks from Cigar Lake
Double Peaks from Cigar Lake

There was a good amount of snow at Cigar Lake but we decided to see how far up Double Peaks we could make it. We found the marker for the trail easily enough, but between the snow and the extra water around Cigar Lake we were having a hard time determining just where the trail actually was. Luckily for us a deer had left us a set of tracks that we were able to follow that led us across and around the edge of Cigar Lake and to the continuation of the Double Peaks Trail which was just barely identifiable by a slight indentation in the snow.

Snow and water near Cigar Lake
Snow and water near Cigar Lake
Double Peaks Trail
Double Peaks Trail

Once we found the trail it was like walking through a winter wonderland. The snow was anywhere from a half-inch deep to mid-shin. The snow-covered trees looked ready for Christmas making this one of the most enjoyable stretches of hikes we’d had.

Heather on the Double Peaks Trail
Heather on the Double Peaks Trail
Christmas Trees in October
Christmas Trees in October

The trail was fairly steep and we almost lost it near the top when it veered up between some boulders but we managed to follow it all the way to the summit.

The base of Mt. Jefferson from Double Peaks
The base of Mt. Jefferson from Double Peaks
Evidence of wind and ice
Evidence of wind and ice
Potato Butte from Double Peaks
Potato Butte from Double Peaks
Olallie Butte
Olallie Butte
Timber, Olallie, Long, and Monon Lake from Double Peaks
Timber, Olallie, Long, and Monon Lake from Double Peaks

We didn’t get the view of Mt. Jefferson we’d hoped for but the snow more than made up for that. As we started down Double Peaks the day began to warm up and the snow was melting quickly. We did a lot of sliding down the slushy trail before reaching the PCT again and heading back to the Red Lake Trail. We returned the way we’d come only now we had some blue skies and sunlight as we passed the lakes and arrived back at our car. Happy Trails!

Sunlight mushroom
Sunlight mushroom
Twin Peaks from Sheep Lake in the afternoon
Twin Peaks from Sheep Lake in the afternoon

Facebook photos: https://www.facebook.com/deryl.yunck/media_set?set=a.10202367670300288.1073741861.1448521051&type=3
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157636413874236/

Pacific City

It had been several months since we’d taken a hike along the Oregon Coast so for a change of pace we headed to Pacific City to check out Cape Kiwanda and Bob Straub State Park. We parked at the lot for Cape Kiwanda near the Dory Boat Launch and started our hike by heading over to the cape. Haystack Rock rose from the ocean just beyond the cape while seagulls patrolled the beach.
012

After a little exploration on Cape Kiwanda we retraced our steps and headed out to the tide pools next to the cape. The tide was out far enough to reveal several starfish and anemones.
038
We then headed south along the beach toward the Nestucca Spit and Bob Straub State Park. Vehicles are allowed on certain parts of this beach but only a couple came down and none stayed long. Several flocks of seagulls were gathered along the beach as well as a handful of other ocean birds.

Seagulls on the beach
Seagulls on the beach

Sandpipers
Sandpipers
Pelicans
Pelicans

When we reached the end of the spit we turned along Nestucca Bay to make a loop around the spit through Bob Straub State Park. More birds awaited us in the bay including some ducks and a heron.

Heron
Heron

Ducks
Ducks

We also saw many clam shells and a couple of nearly complete crabs. We enjoyed watching the seagulls pick up the clams, fly them into the air, and then drop them.

Seagull with a clam
Seagull with a clam

Clam shell
Clam shell
Crab
Crab

We originally missed the trail that would take us from the bay shore across the spit to a forested trail network. When we reached an impassable estuary we turned around and located the correct path. We found a surprisingly dense and scenic forest waiting for us in the middle of the spit. Moss covered the ground and many trees while bright colored mushrooms dotted the green carpet. A few flowers remained in bloom even as many of the leaves showed their fall colors.
168

169

178

There was a confusion of trails in the forest and absolutely no signs indicating where any of them went or which was the correct one to reach the park. We eventually found ourselves in a meadow along the Nestucca River. The trail we were on went down to a nice little beach along the river where it promptly ended. We turned back around and took a different path only to wind up arriving at the same meadow from a different direction. At that point we had already been on a couple of overgrown paths and I was getting a little irritated at the lack of signs. It was time for drastic measures so we turned to the gps and struck off on a faint game trail in the direction of the park. This worked out fairly well as we wound up popping out of a thicket of scotch broom on an old road less than 50 yards from the parks entrance road.

Scotch Broom where we emerged onto the old road
Scotch Broom where we emerged onto the old road

We walked to the parks parking lot and then followed a short trail back to the beach and headed back toward Cape Kiwanda. One the way back we encountered the largest flock of seagulls we’d seen all day. They took to the air as we passed by making for a scene straight out of the movie The Birds. As I was busy taking pictures I realized I was a sitting duck and should probably move before I was hit by a seagull bomb.
214

224
Despite the constant presence of gray clouds we had only had a couple of short bouts of rain until now. We escaped the seagulls only to be met with a sudden uptick in wind followed by a heavy sideways blowing rain. The rain let up just before we reached the Dory Boat Launch and our car where we dried off a bit and then walked across the parking lot to the Pelican Pub & Brewery for some lunch. http://www.yourlittlebeachtown.com/pelican
The food was great and the view out to Cape Kiwanda and Haystack Rock made for a perfect end to an interesting beach hike.
Happy Trails.

Facebook photos: https://www.facebook.com/deryl.yunck/media_set?set=a.10202353684630655.1073741860.1448521051&type=3
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157636339936434/

Fuji Mountain

After a (well timed) scheduled week off we were back on the trails this past weekend. A highly unusual storm had rolled through as September gave way to October. Not only had this storm brought record amounts of precipitation but some of that precipitation fell as snow as low as 4000′. The hike we had planned, Fuji Mountain, topped out at 7144′ so we weren’t sure if it was going to be doable but some warmer weather moved in and we decided to give it a go. If we managed to make it up to the summit we knew the views should be great, and worst case scenario we could just choose a different lower trail in the area.

Fuji Mountain is located in the Waldo Lake Wilderness near Highway 58. A pair of trail heads lead to the summit. From the SW a 1.5 mile option starts on road 5883 making for a nice short hike. We chose to start from road 5897 (Waldo Lake road) to lengthen the hike a bit and visit some of the areas many lakes.

The trail begins just below 5000′ and started out snow free, but that didn’t last for long. We quickly began seeing snow along the trail and then on the trail itself. We followed a single set of hikers prints as we climbed up toward the first of the lakes.
006
They weren’t the only set of prints in the snow. 🙂

Black bear print
Black bear print

It wasn’t long before there was more snow covered trail than not but the snow wasn’t very deep, only on occasion measuring 6″. The trail climbed for about a mile then gently rolled along a plateau dotted with ponds and lakes for another 2.5 miles. Many of these were at least partly frozen making for some pretty scenery.

Half frozen pond
Half frozen pond
Mushrooms under ice
Mushrooms under ice
Birthday Lake
Birthday Lake
Reflections on Birthday Lake
Reflections on Birthday Lake

Shortly after crossing the South Waldo Trail the Fuji Mountain Trail began climbing again. In another mile we met up with the trail coming from road 5883 and began the final 1.2 mile climb to the summit. Here there were more hiker tracks in the snow but we only saw one other couple who were on their way down after spending the night on the summit.

As we climbed we began to have views of snowy Diamond Peak and Mt. Thielsen to the south, but these views paled in comparison to what awaited at the summit. When we arrived at the summit a 360 degree view awaited with Waldo Lake and a string of snowy peaks to the north and more mountains to the south. To the east lay Wickiup Reservoir and Odell Lake with distant Paulina Peak and nearby Maiden Peak in between. To the west were the foothills leading to the Willamette Valley.

Waldo Lake and the Cascades
Waldo Lake and the Cascades
Cowhorn Mountain, Mt. Thielsen, Hillman Peak and Diamond Peak
Cowhorn Mountain, Mt. Thielsen, Hillman Peak and Diamond Peak
Looking west along the summit ridge of Fuji Mountain
Looking west along the summit ridge of Fuji Mountain

It was a beautiful day at the summit, sunny and warm with no wind. We took our time eating lunch and enjoying the tranquility before heading back down. On the way out Heather and I decided to take a brief side trip along the South Waldo Trail to the Island Lakes. It was around half a mile to Lower Island Lake with it’s green water and tiny rock island. Just up and across the trail from Lower Island Lake was Upper Island Lake which also had a small rocky island.

Lower Island Lake's island
Lower Island Lake’s island
Lower Island Lake
Lower Island Lake
Upper Island Lake
Upper Island Lake

The warm weather made the return trip pretty slushy as the snow was melting fairly quickly. When we arrived back at the half frozen pond the scene had changed quite a bit.

The no longer half frozen pond
The no longer half frozen pond

We all really enjoyed being able to take a hike through the snow and it made for a nice change of pace. I don’t know if the early snow is a sign of things to come or just a fluke but it was enjoyable. Happy Trails!

Facebook phots:https://www.facebook.com/deryl.yunck/media_set?set=a.10202338061520087.1073741859.1448521051&type=1
Flickr:http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157636271711054/