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
Smoke

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!

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