The Hikes of 2014 – A Look Back

It’s hard to believe that it is time for our year end entry, but the calendar doesn’t lie. It was a busy year for us in which Dominique graduated from high school, we trained for and ran several races including the Vernonia Marathon, and of course we did some hiking.

We were able to get 52 days’ worth of hiking in this year. We stared off slow while we trained for the marathon having completed only 5 hikes before the end of April. We did however take a map reading and route finding class through the Chemeketans, a local hiking/climbing club which was extremely helpful and a lot of fun. We cranked up the hiking in May and only slowed down at the end of October when the weather began to turn ugly. We managed to expand the area we’ve hiked in by taking hikes further to the North (Goat Rocks Wilderness, WA), South (Mt. Scott), and East (Lookout Mountain in the Ochoco Mountains) than we had before. Below is a map showing all the locations for the trailheads we visited as well as a link to an interactive version.
2014 Trailheads

http://www.mapquest.com/embed?icid=mqdist_mb_tools&c=wfXA&maptype=hyb&zm=7&cr=44.53663017410884,-120.11096309346236&projection=sm&showScale=false

Here is a quick look at some of the statistics for the year:
Total Miles – 617.8
Shortest Hike – 2.2 miles (tie McDowell Creek Falls & Ankeny Wildlife Refuge)
Longest Hike – 21.4 miles (Fall Creek trailhead to Linton Meadows with a lot of extra exploring)
Average Moving Speed – 2.171 mph
Lowest Elevation – Sea level (Short Sand Beach, Neahkahnie Mt. Hike)
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Highest Elevation – 8926′ (Mt. Scott summit)
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My favorite statistic though has to be that 65% of our hikes (15 out of 23) during summer involved us either walking on or next to snow. The rest of the year only 10% (3 out of 29) of our hikes involved a close encounter with snow.

As much as I am a numbers junkie they are just quantitative data without a story, and the story is the reason we head out. We tried really hard this year to time our hikes to maximize the sights each area had to offer. Having learned from our past experiences and keeping an eye on trip reports from other hikers (A big thank you to the folks at Portlandhikers.org) we were better able to plan when to go where. We visited a wildlife refuge, 2 county parks, 3 state parks, 1 memorial forest, 1 state forest, and 11 different national forests. In the national forests were 14 different designated wilderness areas, a national volcanic monument, a national scenic area, and a national park.

We started and ended our year at the Oregon Coast as has become our tradition. Rivers, creeks, and waterfalls dominated the early part of the year followed by wildflowers and mountains and finally lakes. The variety of vegetation, terrain and natural features we were lucky enough to visit was amazing.
We passed over rock fields
Bench Lake

pumice plains
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lava flows
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and snowfields
Pacific Crest Trail

We hiked through high desert sagebrush
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alpine meadows filled with wildflowers
Goat Rocks Wilderness

and a variety of forest types

Whetstone Mountain Trail
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Forest on Mary's Peak East Ridge Trail
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Balsamroot in the Freemont National Forest
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We visited waterfalls

Marion & Gatch Falls
Chush Falls
Phoenix Falls

caves
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springs
Springs
Linton Springs

frozen lakes

Goat Lake
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and a steaming volcano
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One of the new things we did this year was backpacking. We took five overnight trips. The first few were single night excursions to get used to our packs and equipment followed by two longer trips. The first of which was a 4 day/3 night stay in the Goat Rocks Wilderness. It quickly became the favorite place that we have visited.
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Mt. Adams from the PCT
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Camp site for the first night
Mt. Adams at sunrise
Wildflowers along the PCT
Old Snowy
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The second extended trip was a 3 day/2 night loop around the South Sister. We had originally planned on an extra day/night but wound up cutting it short when smoke suddenly filled the area. It turned out to be from a fire over 40 miles away but not knowing that at the time we packed up camp and experienced our first night hike.
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Eileen Lake
South Sister and the climbers trail
South Sister from Camp Lake
South Fork Wychus Creek
Central Oregon before sunrise
Small fall on the North Fork Wychus Creek
Golden Lake and the Three Sisters
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Broken Top and the tarn
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Hands down the most exciting thing that happened this year was our first bear encounter on our way down the Zig Zag Mountain trail. It sure got the adrenaline pumping even though it didn’t threaten us at all and in fact turned and ran as fast as it could in the other direction. I failed to get a picture of it but here are some of the other critters I did manage to get photos of.
Woolly Bear Caterpillar
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Rabbit near Swale Creek
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Deer coming up from Swale Creek
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Harlequin Duck
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Woodpeckers
Barrow's Goldeneye
Newt in Donaca Lake
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Grouse
Sentinel standing guard
Grey Jay
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Hawk
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Hummingird in the meadow near Harts Cove
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Sagebrush lizard

Looking ahead to next year we hope to continue to add to the areas we’ve visited. There are still a number of destinations we have yet to make it to including the Wallowas, Mt. Rainier, the Olympic Peninsula, Steens Mountain and the Indian Heaven Wilderness. Someday we’ll also get down to northern California. One thing is for sure, we won’t run out of new options any time soon. Happy Trails!

Harts Cove & Drift Creek Falls

It has become a tradition to finish off our hiking year either on the Oregon Coast or in the coast range. This year we targeted a pair of shorter hikes to keep the tradition alive. For the first of these two hikes we traveled to Cascade Head just north of Lincoln City in order to visit Harts Cove where a waterfall spills into the Pacific Ocean. We parked at the Cascade Head Upper Trailhead along road 1861 at a sign post for the Nature Conservancy Trail. A trail here led off for a mile to Cascade Head’s upper viewpoint which we had visited before. In order to find the Harts Cove Trailhead we walked another .9miles down road 1861 where a large parking area with plenty of signs marked the start of the trail. We could have driven here but were contemplating hiking to the upper viewpoint later if the sky cleared so we decided to park at the upper trailhead.
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One of the signs warned of difficult hiking conditions on the trail which piqued our interest.
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The trail started out by diving fairly steeply downhill through the forest for the first half mile then descended more gradually to a bridge across Cliff Creek.
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Cliff Creek

After crossing the creek the trail turned back toward the ocean along a ridge. We could hear a number of sea lions on the rocks below but could only get small glimpses of them across the water through the trees.
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As the trail wound around the ridge end there was a bench that offered an obstructed view across Harts Cove to a meadow which was where the trail would end. The trail then bent back leading us around the cove. We crossed Chitwood Creek which appeared to have once had a bridge but it was now in pieces further down the creek.
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We had been in clouds and fog for most of the hike but as we came out of the forest into the meadow we could see clearer skies out over the ocean. The trail was steep here also and muddy making it a bit slick.
Looking down the trail:
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Looking up from below:
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North toward Cape Lookout:
Cape Lookout from the meadow near Harts Cove

South toward Cascade Head:
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The sea lions could still be heard across the way below Cascade Head, and now we could see them better.
Sea Lions and Seagulls

We followed the trail down and around to the left toward Harts Cove so that we could get a view of Chitwood Creek’s waterfall. We were surprised to find a handful of flowers in bloom including a number of Salal bushes.
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The waterfall turned out to be very picturesque as it fell down into the surging ocean.
Harts Cove and Chitwood Creeks waterfall

Chitwood Creek waterfall

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There was a nice open spot below a tree where we stopped for a snack and to remove some of the unnecessary layers of clothes we had on. While we were resting there Heather spotted a hummingbird that was interested in my orange jacket. It was zipping about, landing occasionally and then darting back into the air. I was snapping pictures frantically trying to get some sort of picture before the hummingbird disappeared. I wasn’t sure if I’d managed to get anything until we got home, but I wound up getting lucky with a single shot.
Hummingird in the meadow near Harts Cove

As we headed back up the steep trail we noticed that Haystack Rock near Pacific City was shinning in full sunlight.
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We returned the way we’d come and decided to skip the upper viewpoint because it still appeared to be enveloped in the clouds. This hike had been 7.6 miles which included the unnecessary 1.8 miles due to parking at the upper trailhead.

Our next stop was Drift Creek Falls which is located in the Siuslaw National Forest between Hwy 18 & Hwy 101 along Drift Creek Camp Road (Road 17). There was a good sized parking area and restrooms at the trailhead.
Drift Creek Falls Trailhead

The trail leads down through the forest crossing two creeks on footbridges.
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At the .7 mile mark the trail forks at a sign for the North Loop, a longer loop option which we planned to take on the way back from the falls. A third of a mile later we came to the other end of the North Loop.
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Just a short distance later we arrived at the suspension bridge over Drift Creek.
Suspension Bridge over Drift Creek

The bridge passes over the creek very close to the falls allowing for some nice views.
Drift Creek Falls

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The trail continues on the far side of the bridge down to Drift Creek where we could get a different perspective.
Drift Creek Falls

After enjoying the falls for a bit we headed back, this time taking the North Loop which would add about .7 miles to the return trip. This 1 mile section of trail climbed up and wound back through the forest. Aside from the trees and a few mushrooms there wasn’t much to see, but the trail was nice and good for a little extra exercise if wanted.
North Loop - Drift Creek Falls Trail

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By taking the North Loop back we wound up with a total of 3.9 miles showing on the Garmin. These two trails were close enough (30 minute drive) and short enough to do in a day but they were also nice enough to stand on their own. As far as the cautions at the Harts Cove Trail we didn’t experience anything that we found too hard or scary but some of that is subjective and the trial was steep in places and the wet conditions caused a lot of mud which was slick at times. We will most likely be back to the coast sometime next month to kick off our 2015 hikes, but until then Happy Trails!

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