South Waldo Lake

South Waldo Lake is a hike that had been bumped for the schedule the past two years for various reasons. Last year it was due to the nearby Deception Creek Fire which caused the area to be rather smokey at times. Smokey conditions were exactly what prompted us to move this hike up two weeks on our schedule and finally do it. We had originally planned on making our first visit to the Indian Heaven Wilderness in Washington but scrapped those plans when the forecast called for a shift in wind direction that would flood that area with smoke from the Cougar Creek Fire near Mt. Adams. The forecast for the Waldo Lake Wilderness looked quite a bit more appealing. It called for hazy skies but it didn’t appear that smoke from any of the numerous fires would be heading directly for that area.

It was a beautiful morning as we began our hike from the Shadow Bay Boat Launch on Waldo Lake.
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There was a little haze on the horizon but the skies were blue overhead. There was a good bit of wind blowing which made for a cold morning as we headed along the Shore Trail.
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Occasional glimpses of Waldo Lake revealed the clear blue waters of the second largest natural lake in Oregon.
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At the 1.7 mile mark we arrived at the South Waldo Shelter. It was one of the nicest and well stocked shelters we’d visited.
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Just beyond the shelter after crossing a footbridge we arrived at a junction with the South Waldo Trail. Here we left the Shore Trail and entered the Waldo Lake Wilderness.
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We followed this trail through the wilderness for 1.6 miles passing small meadows and a pond to a four way trail junction.
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The trail left the wilderness just before reaching the junction. At the junction there were signs and flagging up for a trail run that was happening that morning. We had seen the runners preparing for the race when we were driving to the trailhead and had wondered where their course was. A runner was just passing the junction as we arrived and we cheered him on before continuing. We were a little distracted by the signs and runners and wound up taking the wrong trail. We had meant to take the first trail on the right but had not seen the correct one as the race organizers had laid some branches down across it so the runners wouldn’t take a wrong turn. We were on the race course now heading in the opposite direction of the runners. We moved and offered support as they passed by. We hadn’t gone too far before we both began to get the feeling we had taken the wrong path at the junction. A quick check of the GPS confirmed our suspicions and we hustled back to the junction.
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This time we saw the partly obscured path and headed toward Black Meadows. We reentered the wilderness and climbed up and over a ridge.
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The trail led down to Black Meadows at the base of Fuji Mountain (A hike we did in October of 2013 https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/fuji-mountain/).
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On the far end of the meadows we arrived at the High Divide Trail. This trail starts at Road 381 and leads to the Shore Trail along Waldo Lake.
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We turned right on the High Divide Trail toward Waldo Lake and began to climb up toward Bingo Lake. The trail had quite a few downed trees across it but none were too difficult to go over or around.
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As we climbed we could see Fuji Mountain behind us.
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In front of us was a forest that showed signs of an old burn and was now filled with berry bushes.
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We stopped at Bingo Lake which was a peaceful little lake and a great place for a break.
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The High Divide Trail headed downhill from Bingo Lake to its junction with the Shore Trail along Waldo Lake.
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We turned right on the Shore Trail passing the shelter in .6 miles and arriving back at the trailhead after another 1.7 miles. Along the way we stopped along the lake shore to take in a view of Twin Peaks and the Middle and South Sister across the lake.
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It had turned out to be a really nice day with only a slight amount of haze on the horizon and we were really glad that we had decided on this hike. We were even happier with our choice when we arrived back in the Willamette Valley to find it inundated with smoke. Eastern winds had funneled smoke from fires as far east as Idaho down the Columbia Gorge and then into the valley. It was a stark contrast to the blue skies above the Waldo Lake Wilderness. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157655297413233

Mt. Rainier National Park – Norther Loop Trail Day 4

I had another night of poor sleep as my stomach decided to mutiny shortly after 11pm so I was happy to finally see the sky begin to lighten in the morning. After having breakfast and packing up we left Fire Creek Camp and climbed back up to the Northern Loop Trail.
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We had over 2000 feet of elevation gain ahead of us again today but we were feeling surprisingly good as we set off. We were tired but at the same time we both felt like we could do this for at least a few more days. It was encouraging since someday we’d like to do a long trip when we have the time.

We had just over a mile and a half climb to reach Grand Park. Along the way we a couple of viewpoints offered great views of Mt. Rainier.
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Grand Park lived up to its name. Despite the dry weather it was still an impressive sight and the views of Mt. Rainier were spectacular.
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As we were passing through one of the smaller meadows we noticed that there was frost on some of the plants. It was funny how excited we got seeing the frost. It has been such a hot and dry year that the sight of the frost was a welcome sight.
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After leaving Grand Park the trail headed down a ridge.
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We had been able to see the trail far up the valley climbing out of Berkeley Park and here we were heading downhill.
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The trail eventually stopped dropping and began climbing again below Mt. Freemont. Lodi Creek was on the opposite side of the trail between Mt. Freemont and Skyscraper Mountain. We passed through several small meadows with views of Skyscraper Mountain where we spotted a mountain goat.
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We spotted a second mountain goat on the cliffs of the mountain a little further along the trail.
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As we passed Berkeley Park Camp we found more frost covered plants and even saw a small pool with a thin layer of ice.
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The trail continued to climb up the valley along the increasingly scenic Lodi Creek. We popped out of the shadow of Mt. Freemont into sunlight filled meadows and quickly warmed up.
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As we neared the top of the valley we spotted a pair of marmots on the hillside. They were hilarious to watch especially when one of them plopped itself down on a rock and spread out its legs.
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When we arrived at the Wonderland Trail I realized that I had forgotten that there would still be more climbing to do. I had been thinking we would be heading downhill from that point on and was disappointed when I realized my mistake. The .7 mile climb to Frozen Lake was probably the hardest for me because I had planned on coasting downhill at that point, but once we had reached the lake I was over my mistake and back to enjoying the scenery.
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Near the lake I happened to say the word “goat” and two girls nearby freaked out. They thought I had spotted one and they really wanted to see one. They were disappointed to learn that I hadn’t really seen one and even more disappointed to learn that we had seen two on Skyscraper Mountain from Berkeley Park because that was where they had come from. We left them by the lake and turned up the Sourdough Ridge Trial. Shortly after doing so we did spot another goat. Three to be exact, a nannie and two kids.
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We looked back to see if they were following but they hadn’t come around the bend yet. Heather considered running back to tell them about the goats but there was no guarantee that she could reach them before the goats disappeared.

We stopped a couple of times along the trail to take in the view to the north. This was the furthest north we’d been while hiking and were seeing Cascade peaks that we had never seen before including the snowy Glacier Peak.
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After getting some pictures of the new mountains we began our final descent. The trail was full of hikers huffing uphill from Sunrise. We couldn’t believe how many people there were and we were becoming anxious to reach the car, get cleaned up, and escape the crowds. It was such a stark contrast to the peacefulness of the Northern Loop Trail.
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We dropped our packs off at the car and then stepped into the snack bar to get a cold drink and a souvenir. We had discussed chocolate milk on the trail after some muddy water had reminded us of the drink and it had sounded really good. We wound up leaving the snack bar with the most expensive chocolate milk we’ve ever had. Mine was gone before we even got back to the car.

I don’t know when we’ll get back up to Mt. Rainier but I have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of that National Park. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157655104282083

Mt. Rainier National Park – Northern Loop Day 3

Day 3 started with the sound of water dropping onto the rainfly for our tent. We guessed by the sound that the rain had finally relented and what we were hearing was the water falling from the surrounding trees. We had managed to stay relatively dry inside the tent save for a small amount of condensation that had built up during the night. I ventured out to use the toilet and retrieve our bear bag and discovered we had guessed right. We decided to have a bar for breakfast instead of trying to cook under the dripping trees and then began packing up. There was another couple at camp who had arrived after the rain had started. We learned that they had gotten pretty soaked and it sounded like it had been a pretty miserable night.

We got our first good look at Yellowstone Cliffs as we headed back toward the Northern Loop Trail.
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The clouds were breaking up and it looked like it might be a pretty nice day. The forecast had called for a slight chance of showers in the morning followed by a mostly sunny afternoon. We were treated to more great views as we passed through the meadows below the cliffs.
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As we neared the end of the meadows we noticed a doe and fawn staring down at us. A third deer briefly appeared further up the hillside before disappearing back into the trees.
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As we climbed higher Mt. Rainier began to peak out from behind Crescent Mountain. The summit of the mountain was a pristine white having been coated in a fresh layer of snow overnight.
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We had been climbing gradually toward Windy Gap where we planned on taking a .7 mile side trail to visit Natural Bridge, a rock arch high above Lakes Ethel & James. The scenery along this section of the trail was magnificent even without the flowers being in bloom.
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We took the trail toward Natural Bridge which wrapped around an unnamed butte before descending to a viewpoint of the arch. The view included both Lake James and Lake Ethel as well as the West Fork White River which we would be crossing later in the day.
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After returning to the junction at Windy Gap we began descending down the Northern Loop Trail to Van Horn Creek which feeds into Lake James. The alpine meadows gave way to a beautiful forest as we neared the lake.
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We headed for Lake James to cook our breakfast which had now become brunch.
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It was a little chilly at the lake but it was also very peaceful. The area is notorious for mosquitoes but we didn’t see any signs of them as we enjoyed our Mountain House Biscuits and Gravy.
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After breakfast we sallied forth dropping from the lake and passing beneath the fireweed covered Redstone Peak.
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We were in a lush forest with mushrooms and birds.
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We were heading for the crossing of the West Fork White River. The footbridge over the river had been washed out and we would be crossing on a log that was acting as the temporary bridge.
We had met a couple of ladies who were hiking the Northern Loop in the opposite direction and they told us they had chosen to scoot across the log instead of walking across it. That had been my plan as well having once done that to get across the Muddy Fork River on Mt. Hood. When we arrived at the log I briefly reconsidered and started to walk across but quickly reverted to the original plan as soon as I looked down at the muddy water.
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Heather scooted across after me and we were ready to continue. Looking back across the river we got a glimpse of the lowest portion of Van Horn Falls. Like Garda Falls on the first day the only decent view was from across the river. Looking at the falls on Google Earth it’s clear that there is much more to it than is visible from the trail but it was still a pretty waterfall.
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We met another pair of hikers shortly after crossing the river. They had come up the primitive West Fork Trail and asked us what animals we’d seen so far. We told them about the mountain goats and deer as well as the pikas, marmots, and chipmunks. The asked about any elk or bears and we said we hadn’t seen either of those yet. We took our leave and continued on passing the junction with the West Fork Trail.
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Not long after passing the West Fork Trail junction something off to my left caught my attention. I turned just in time to see a large black bear emerge from some huckleberry bushes and race off into the forest. He had only been about 20 yards away and when his paws hit the ground they made a loud thumping noise. He was only visible for a matter of seconds and Heather had missed seeing it. It was amazing how quickly something that big could disappear into the forest.

We had another big climb ahead of us to reach our next camp. Fire Creek Camp was located in a quiet valley part way along the trail up to Grand Park.
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We took the .4 mile trail down to the quiet camp which was the most private of all the camps we’d seen thus far. A small stream draining from Grand Park above supplied a water source. We chose site #2 partly because we had chosen site #2 at both of our previous camps as well but it was also the nicest of the spots here.
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We set up our tent and spread out anything that was still damp from the day before to dry.
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It was a chilly evening and we wound up using our rain gear as a windproof layer to keep us warm. It was certainly a more peaceful evening than the rain filled one the day before. It had been a great trip so far and we were eagerly anticipating what the final day would have in store for us as we turned in for the night. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157657420370715

Mt. Rainier National Park – Northern Loop Day 2

The possible thunderstorms forecast for our first night had never really materialized. We heard a few rumbles in the distance but nothing had seemed close and we didn’t experience any rain overnight. The sky was a little cloudy as we packed up our tent but they seemed to be breaking up. We stopped at Mystic Lake to eat breakfast and enjoy the beautiful morning that was developing around us.
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From Mystic Lake the Wonderland Trail climbed through gentian filled meadows to a saddle between the mountain and Old Desolate.
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We were hiking with the animals this morning passing birds, frogs, chipmunks, and an owl who silently flew over our heads and down into a lower meadow.
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The owl flying low over the meadow just before disappearing down the hillside.
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Mt. Rainier was visible beneath the ever shifting clouds as we crested the saddle. The Carbon Glacier filled the valley before us and beyond that was Echo Cliffs and Mother Mountain.
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Further down the glacial valley a mass of clouds covered the terrain. We were heading down toward those clouds and we remembered the rain that had been in the forecast for the day.
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We followed the trail down to the meadows surrounding Moraine Creek. Along the way we spotted several pikas and had great views of a huge waterfall below Observation and Echo Rocks.
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As we continued along Moraine Creek we entered the clouds.
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About four and a half miles from Mystic Lake we came to the junction where the Northern Loop Trail split from the Wonderland Trail. The Wonderland Trail crossed the Carbon River on a suspension bridge while the Northern Loop Trail continued to follow the river down the valley. We took a short break here and took a peek at the bridge.
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We continued on the Northern Loop Trail for another mile passing through a damp forest to another trail junction.
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This junction was located near the lowest elevation point of our whole trip. From the junction the Northern Loop Trail turned uphill for a steep climb to Yellowstone Cliffs. We would be gaining some 2200′ in less than 3 miles to reach the spur trail to Yellowstone Cliffs Camp where we were to camp for the night. The park ranger who had given me our permits said the climb consisted of 38 switchbacks so we began counting them as we climbed. As we trudged up the hillside we were thankful for the clouds since they were keeping the temperature down. We were pleasantly surprised when we ended the switchbacks after about two dozen, well short of the 38 we had expected.
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Heather coming up the switchbacks.
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The trail became less steep after the swtichbacks before entering the meadows below Yellowstone Cliffs. The cliffs were shrouded in clouds as we started down the spur trail to camp.
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By the time we arrived at the tent sites we were soaked due to the moisture on the plants. We quickly picked out our site and set up our tent.
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Shortly after getting set up the rain began. It was early afternoon when it started and it wouldn’t let up until sometime during the night. This was our first experience with backpacking in the rain and we were a little concerned about our ability to stay dry. This became more of a concern when I noticed water pooling up outside of the tent near our heads. The ground was so dry and hard that the water wasn’t being absorbed at all. I quickly grabbed our trowel and attempted to drain and steer the water away from the tent. We’d also managed to forget to keep any food out for dinner. When it had started raining I ran the bear bag down to the bear pole and hung it without pulling anything out for dinner. We were left with some peanut m&ms, a small package of green olives, and a meat and cheese stick package apiece.

We stayed in the tent except for a quick trip the bathroom before attempting to sleep. Heather didn’t seem to have any trouble but I had a difficult time. The rain kept coming and I couldn’t stop wondering if we would stay dry and on top of that there was an occasional sound of large rocks falling from the cliffs. The camp was far enough away that I wasn’t worried about them at the time, but I wondered what would happen if they were still falling while we were on the trail in them morning. To top it all off my stomach decided that it really would have enjoyed dinner and that made it just a little harder to get any sleep. I managed to get a couple of hours of broken sleep waiting for morning to arrive. Happy (dry) Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157657416432875

Mt. Rainier National Park – Northern Loop Day 1

At the beginning of the year Mt. Rainier National Park was near the top of our list of places we still needed to visit. On our initial hiking schedule I put down four days at Mt. Rainier and began researching possible hikes. The Northern Loop Trail looked to be the perfect choice coming in at close to 40 miles. We decided to submit a request for the necessary wilderness permits in hopes that we would be lucky enough to acquire them. In order to camp in the parks wilderness we needed to have permits and the number of permits are limited due to the limited number of designated camp sites available. The park began accepting permit applications on March 15th and ours was in the mail that day. All requests submitted between 3/15 and 3/31 were collected and on April 1st they began to process them. We found out on May 1st that our application had been accepted and our planned itinerary approved. We had requested Thursday 8/13/15 thru Sunday 8/17/15 with our camp sites being Mystic Camp, Yellowstone Cliffs Camp, and Fire Creek Camp.

We had been excited about the possibility of this trip even before finding out that we got our permits and that excitement only grew when we got the good news. As the date of our trip approached we kept a close eye on wildfire and weather information. Although it has been a bad year for fires none were affecting the park which was good news. The weather news was a little less exciting. The forecast called for a chance of showers or thunderstorms Thursday afternoon and evening and rain on Friday, possibly up to half an inch. There was also a slight chance of showers Saturday morning before becoming sunny for the rest of the weekend. We had our reservations though so we made sure we had plenty of waterproof gear before heading to the park.

The weather was beautiful when we arrived at the Sunrise Visitors Center on Thursday morning. Mt. Rainier was as massive as we’d been led to believe and we couldn’t wait to get started.
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We took the Sourdough Ridge Trail up toward the Wonderland Trail (the 93 mile trail that loops the entire mountain) marveling at the views along the way.
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In a typical year the flower displays would have been near their peak but just like the rest of the Pacific Northwest they had bloomed at least a month earlier than normal. It didn’t matter though because the scenery and views were spectacular and the few flowers that remained gave us an idea of what it might look like in full bloom.
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We met the Wonderland Trail near Frozen Lake. This lake acts as a domestic water supply and was roped off.
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Two other trails met at the junction, the Mt. Freemont Trail and the Burroughs Mountain Trail. Both of these looked interesting but would have to wait for another day.
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We took the Wonderland Trail which passed below Burroughs Mountain where we spotted over two dozen mountain goats lounging in the shade of the cliffs.
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We continued down to another junction, this one with the Northern Loop Trail. This would be our return route to complete the loop on Sunday.
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From the Wonderland Trail we had a good view of the climb that awaited us on that final day.
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The Wonderland Trail then climbed to a pass on a ridge below Skyscraper Mountain where we took our first snack break where we were joined by a marmot.
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From the pass the trail then headed downhill into a forest passing Granite Creek Camp.
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We were on our way down to the Winthrop Glacier and to a crossing of Winthrop Creek. The sky had become rather hazy by the time we made it down to the glacier making it difficult to see the mountain. The glacier was much larger than any we’d been around on other mountains in the Cascades.
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We passed under Garda Falls which was hidden from the trail, but after crossing Winthrop Creek on a foot bridge and climbing a bit we could look back and see the falls in the forest.
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We climbed out of the glacial outwash plain and back into the forest.
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Shortly after reentering the forest we arrived at a sign announcing Mystic Camp where we picked out a site and set up camp.
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The camp was below Old Desolate and near Mystic Lake. The rocks on Old Desolate were very interesting.
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After setting up camp we headed up the trail to Mystic Lake. It was a pretty alpine lake nestled between Mineral Mountain and Old Desolate. The lake shore was dotted with gentians.
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We decided to have our dinner at the lake but hadn’t brought it with us so Heather headed back to camp to get our stove and food. When she got back she told me she met a doe and her two fawns along the trail. After dinner we headed back to camp and discovered the deer were still in the small meadow where she had seen them earlier.
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Back at camp we found another deer. This one was a buck who was leisurely passing through camp eating as he went.
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The showers had never materialized as we turned in for the night. We did hear a couple of rumbles of thunder during the night but never saw any lightning and it never did rain. It had been a great start to the trip and we were looking for to the rest of it. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157657389155121

Jefferson Park – 2015

Since 2011 Jefferson Park has been the one destination that has been on our schedule every year. This year we planned a joint outing with my parents who had not been to Jefferson Park yet. We picked them up bright and early from the Whispering Falls Campground and drove to the Whitewater Trailhead arriving shortly after 6am. We had agreed that we would hike at our own paces and would look for each other in Jefferson Park and if we didn’t meet up there we would do so back at the car. What we failed to do was set a time that we would start back to the car at in case we didn’t run into them. After giving my parents a brief description of what to expect from the trail on the way up we set off.
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The forest showed the same signs of the warm and dry year we’ve had. Everything seemed to be at least a month ahead of schedule. Few flowers remained and some of the leaves were already starting to turn color.
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The sky to the south was a bit hazy with smoke from fires in Southern Oregon, but Mt. Jefferson was enjoying relatively blue skies.

The Three Pyramids
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At the 1.5 mile mark the Triangulation Trail joined from the left at a saddle. This marked the end of the steepest portion of the hike which is never really all that steep to begin with. Approximately a mile from that junction the trail enters a small rock field with a view of the top of Mt. Jefferson.
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As I was taking a picture of the mountain I noticed movement in the rocks to my left. I looked over to see a pika dart out onto the rocks.
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We love pikas and were excited to be getting such a good look at this one since we typically only hear their “meep” warning of our presence. As we were watching the first pika we began to notice others. In the end we’d spotted 5 different pikas and a chipmunk in the area.
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Pika and a chipmunk

We wound up seeing a sixth pika a little further along the trail making this the highest number of pikas we’d seen on a single hike. Normally seeing a pika, let alone 6, would be the wildlife highlight of a hike, but shortly before reaching the first crossing of the Whitewater Creek around the 4 mile mark the pikas were topped. As we passed a small meadow at the base of a butte we heard some rocks sliding. My first thought was mountain lion because of a recent discussion on how many of the cougar sightings I heard about were the result of hikers hearing rocks moving. When we looked over toward the source of the noise the animal we saw was black so we knew it wasn’t a cougar. It was a bear. This was only the second bear we’d seen while hiking and the first one had run away so quickly that I wasn’t able to get a picture. This time I had my camera ready and the bear was running up an exposed rock slide so I was able to get a few pictures before it disappeared.
Black Bear

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We continued on to the Pacific Crest Trail energized from the excitement of seeing the bear. At the PCT we turned left, re-crossed Whitewater Creek, and entered Jefferson Park.
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Shortly after entering the park we came to a signed junction and needed to decide where we wanted to go this time.
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We settled on heading north on the PCT and trying to find a climbers trail that was shown on one of our maps leading up to the Whitewater Glacier. As we made our way through the park we were struck by just how dry it was and how far past all the flowers already were. The scenery was still amazing though.
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Pond in Jefferson Park

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We found what appeared to be a decently used trail in what seemed to be the correct area and set off toward the mountain. The trail we were following started bending back to the south though so we were forced to abandon it and take a more direct route toward the ridge where we hoped to pick up the climbers trail. We found another clear path and began following it but then it petered out on a tree covered ridge.
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We seemed to be in the correct area according to the map and GPS, but we were unable to spot anything that looked like a trail so we decided to go to plan b and head to Russell Lake where we could pick up the PCT again and decide what to do from there.

We found a few flowers around Russell Lake but again the dry year was evident. The lake was at the lowest level we’d seen and there was no water flowing out of the lake to the South Breitenbush River.
Mt. Jefferson from Russell Lake

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There was still a little water coming down another branch of the river from Park Ridge allowing some monkeyflowers to still be blooming.
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We had considered following the PCT part way up Park Ridge and visiting Sprauge Lake which we had not done before, but after looking up at the climb we’d need to do we decided to save that for another trip and instead we headed for the South Breintenbush Trail.
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As we reached the South Breitenbush Trail we ran into another couple who recognized my Portlandhikers button. They had stayed overnight near Bays Lake and were on their way up to Park Ridge. After talking for a bit we continued on watching for the side trail to Park Lake which we’d find in a hillside meadow above the river.
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The water level at Park Lake was also lower than we’d ever seen, but we realized it was a deeper lake than we’d thought as we looked down into the green water.
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Next up along the trail was Rock Lake. Like all the lakes in Jefferson Park this one has colorful water and great views of the mountain. We spotted some trout in the lake as we passed by and got a kick out of watching a happy bird bathing along the shore.
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From Rock Lake we made our way to Scout Lake where we thought we might find my parents. It was around 11am and we thought they might have stopped at the lake for a break. We didn’t see them, just more wonderful Jefferson Park scenery.
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Our next thought was that they might be at Bays Lake so we headed over to the south end of that lake to take a look. We hadn’t spent much time on that side of Bays Lake so we decided to do some exploring.
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Park Butte from Bays Lake

We headed down to the day use peninsula and removed our packs to take a break and check out the area.
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Mt. Jefferson from Bays Lake

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When we resumed our hike we decided to just loop around the rest of the lake and then head back to Scout Lake.
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We still hadn’t seen any signs of my parents by the time we had made it back to the PCT from Scout Lake and we debated on whether to head back to the car or go up the PCT again toward Russell Lake in search of them. It was at this point that we realized that it would have been a good idea to establish a time at which we would head back to the car. We made it all the way back to Russell Lake without running into them which had us a little concerned that they may not have made it all the way to the park. Heather had come up with a theory though, she suggested that they might have gone directly to Russell Lake since that was the ultimate goal for my Mom. If they had done that we easily could have missed them while we were touring the other lakes and then missed them again while we were on the PCT if they had taken one of the other signed trials to Scout Lake. Either way we were fairly certain they were either on their way back to the car or were already there waiting so we headed back down ourselves.

Heather asked a group of young hikers that were on their way up if they’d seen anyone matching my parents description and they had,¬†which made us feel better. We didn’t think to ask how far ahead of us they were though. We picked up our pace but kept getting distracted along the way. It was interesting to see how much the water level had risen in Whitewater Creek as the heat caused an increase in the glacial runoff.
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We also kept looking back at the views of Mt. Jefferson.
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We were still making pretty good time trying to catch them when we rounded a little bend in the trail and saw a gentleman trying to dust himself off. He was covered in dirt with some scratches on his head and there was a camera mounted on a tripod behind him on the trail. He explained that he had set the timer on the camera and was running up the trail to get in position for the picture when he had tripped. He said he was fine but hadn’t realized he was bleeding until Heather pointed it out. Luckily none of the cuts were deep and there was no real damage. He told us that it wasn’t going to affect his enjoyment of his hike. Just more proof that there is no such thing as a bad hike.

We never did catch up to my parents and I half expected to see them sitting on the bench along the trail at the trailhead, but instead we found them at a picnic table just a few feet away. We found out that they had indeed gone straight to Russell Lake and relaxed there awhile before heading to Scout and Bays Lakes. Heather had been right again. We didn’t know how far we’d wound up hiking with all the wandering we’d done, but we found out when I plugged the Garmin into the computer. According to the GPS we’d covered 18.1 miles, a little bit more than we’d planned on but that’s what can happen with a place as scenic as Jefferson Park. Happy Trails!

flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157656592737940

Salishan Spit

Every August we head to Gleneden Beach for a family reunion, and almost every year we consider hiking Salishan Spit due the starting point being less than a mile from the site of the reunion. We had consistently passed on it though in favor of doing a wildflower hike in the mountains the day after instead. With the wildflower season over early this year it was a perfect time to finally check out the spit. We started at the Gleneden Beach Wayside south of Lincoln City, OR. The wayside consisted of a large parking area, picnic tables, restrooms, and a large gazebo. A rabbit was the only one present when we arrived.
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The area was full of salal berries which are edible but not one of our favorites.
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There were a few flowers at the wayside as well.
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A short path led through a small stand of trees and down to the beach.
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It was a weird day at the beach. We had been having a heat wave in the Willamette Valley with highs over 100 degrees and our drive to the coast had been under bright blue skies. When we had arrived at Lincoln City the sky was still blue but there was a big wall of clouds visible off-shore over the Pacific. As we drove south down Highway 101 toward Gleneden Beach the blue sky was replaced by fog. It was blue sky again at the wayside, but when we reached the beach we saw that we were in a pocket of blue amid the fog. The bank of clouds off-shore was also visible.
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We headed north along the beach. The tide was out as we watched seagulls search for snacks in the surf.
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The beach was fairly free of debris but there were a few items to inspect including some nice drift wood.
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One of the things we were looking forward to on this hike was the possibility of seeing some seals. We spotted the first one of the day in the ocean about half way down the spit.
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The spit ends where Siletz Bay meets the Pacific Ocean.
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As we walked around the end of the spit we spotted many seals floating past on their way back out to the ocean.
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We then turned along the bay.
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There were several groups of seals lounging in the bay as well as a Great Blue Heron looking for breakfast.
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Along the shore we spotted a bird laying in the sand. We weren’t sure if it was injured or just a young bird but we kept our distance so we didn’t disturb it.
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A wide path then led through some stunted pines and grasses to the Salishan North parking area.
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From the parking area we crossed back over to the ocean due to the presence of private residences on the bay side of the spit beyond the parking area.
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We returned along the beach to the wayside. Many of the seagulls were still hunting for goodies to eat although some were now taking a break.
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Our total distance was 7.7 miles making this a relatively short hike for us but we finished with plenty of time to get to the reunion on time. It was a far cry from the previous weeks hikes in the Three Sisters Wilderness but it was great to see so many seals and the mild temperatures made for a really nice hike. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157656249280980