Independence Rock

After spending Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day weekend in Bend we were hoping to get home fairly early on Monday. We wanted to beat the holiday traffic and needed to run a couple of errands but we also wanted to sneak a quick hike in. The 2.3 mile Independence Rock loop was a perfect fit. The trail starts on Marion Creek Road just a hundred yards after turning off of Highway 22 across from the restaurant at Marion Forks. We parked on the shoulder of the road across from the trail sign for the Independence Rock Trail.
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The trail started off in a green forest filled with yellow Oregon grape and various white woodland flowers.
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The trail then passed through an area that had been previously logged.
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The trail then headed uphill via a series of switchbacks and worked its way around to the backside of the hill.
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Near the 1 mile mark Independence Rock, a basalt outcrop, came into view up to our right.
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The trail arrived at the base of the rock on the far end where a unmarked trail to the right led up to the top of the rock.
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The view from the top wasn’t anything spectacular but we could see the tip of Three Fingered Jack rising above a snowy ridge in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness.
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It was only 6:45am but we weren’t the first ones up on the rock.
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After descending from the rock we continued on the loop briefly following a ridge which had also been logged before descending back into thicker forest.
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The trail ended at Marion Creek Road .4 miles from the where we had started. We simply followed the road back to our car and were back on our way before 7:30.
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We did indeed beat most of the traffic and we also arrived back in Salem before the stores we needed to go to opened so we did a little impromptu shopping until their doors opened at 10. It may not have had the most breathtaking views but it made for the prefect quick leg stretcher if you find yourself driving between Salem and Central Oregon. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Independence Rock

Central Oregon Oddities

On Sunday of Memorial Day weekend we headed south of Bend on a tour of oddities, most of which were geologic in nature.  In addition to our usual Sullivan guide books (Central and Eastern Oregon for these hikes) we had the 2012 updated “Bend, Overall” by Scott Cook with us.

Our first stop was the only hike that was solely covered by Cook, South Ice Cave.  From Bend we drove south on Highway 97 to LaPine where we turned left on Finley Butte Rd which became NF-22. After 25 miles we turned left at a sign into a parking area.
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A short path descended into a depression where numerous small birds were busy singing in the pine trees.
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We followed the path to the right which led to the entrance to South Ice Cave, a .25 mile long lava tube.
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Armed with headlamps and warm clothing we headed down into the cave. Cook suggests that May is the best month to visit to see the ice but noted that each year is different as far as how much ice is present. We may have been just a bit late this year but there was indeed ice on the floor of the cave near the entrance.
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We climbed over a pile of rocks and went deeper into the cave where the amount of ice increased.
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We continued to scramble over the lava trying to avoid the ice as much as possible since it made the rocks very slick, on the other hand the lava was sort of sharp and both our pants came away with battle scars. A little further into the cave we came to the best of the ice display where icicles hung overhead and ice nubs rose from the rocks.
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Near the back of the cave the ice pretty much disappeared and the cave ended unceremoniously.
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I had reached the end first and as I turned to see if I could see where Heather was a bat flew through my headlamp’s light. It had apparently passed by Heather as well because when I told her there were bats she said she knew. 🙂

Despite the ice it wasn’t as cold in the cave as we’d anticipated and we were both a little warm from all the scrambling by the time we emerged from the cave.
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The half mile round trip took us about an hour which is what Cook had said to expect in the guidebook. After taking off our extra clothing we headed off to our next stop – Fort Rock State Park.

We turned left out of the parking area back onto NF-22 and followed it for a mile to a stop sign at NF-18 where we turned right. We stayed on NF-18 for 15 miles to the entrance of Fort Rock State Park. We had stopped here in 2014 after a hike up Hager Mountain and toured the inside of Fort Rock so this time we decided to hike around the outside.

From the parking area we followed a path to some plaques on rocks.
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From these rocks we turned right and passed through a barbed wire fence heading around the outside of Fort Rock.
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Although there is no official trail around the outside there was almost always a clear path through the sagebrush. Much like our visit to Cottonwood Canyon State Park the previous day we kept our eyes peeled for wildflowers and wildlife amid the sagebrush and on the cliffs above.
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After approximately a mile and a half we rounded the west cliff of Fort Rock where we could now see into Fort Rock.
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We turned left onto an old road bed and followed it around the inside of Fort Rocks cliffs.
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We skipped the .2 mile trail up to a viewpoint which we had visited on our previous trip and stuck to the road bed which climbed up next to an explorable rock shelf where there were several lizards and a lot of bright red paintbrush.
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The trail then passed by a rock pillar before returning to the parking area.
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For our next stop we headed toward Christmas Valley by heading south from the park to the town of Fort Rock where we turned left and followed signs for Christmas Valley a total of 27 miles. After passing through the town we turned left at a sign for Crack in the Ground and followed this dirt/gravel road for 7.2 miles to a small parking area with a toilet. The trail started on the far side of the road at a signboard.
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A level .2 mile path passed through sagebrush dotted with white phlox to a picnic table near the entrance to Crack in the Ground.
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A path led down into the lava slot which reaches a depth of 70′.
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There were some interesting textures along the canyon walls.
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It was nice and cool inside the crack and there was still some left over snow managing to hide from the sun at the bottom.
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We emerged from the crack at a saddle after a little less than a quarter of a mile. We had made the mistake of not bringing the guidebook with us and were really confused because even though we both remembered something different neither of us had expected to be out of the crack yet (we’d both remembered it wrong).

Another section of the crack continued on the other side of the saddle but it was impassable after just a couple hundred feet.
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We did remember that Sullivan had said the canyon did become impassable at some point but that it was possible to follow the rim for another mile so we continued on a clear path on the west side of the crack. Views extended across the desert to some distant buttes.
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Lizards and butterfly covered flowers were common along the rim.
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We came to another a saddle and remained on the rim to yet another saddle where we decided to drop back into the crack.
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We figured that if we found this section impassable we would just turn around and call it good. It wasn’t quite as deep or dramatic as the first section but it was still interesting and better yet, passable.
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We passed another small saddle before coming to what appeared to be the end of the crack where it split into three slots.
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We turned back after emerging from this section and followed an old dirt track on the east side of the crack.
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The road brought us back to the saddle between the first section and the impassable section. We crossed over to the west side of the rim here and followed a clear trail back to the picnic table and then returned to our car. We pulled out the book which showed us we had basically done the hike as described although Sullivan didn’t mention being able to pass through the later sections of the crack. We had hiked roughly two and three quarters of a mile which agreed with the distances on his map.

From Crack in the Ground we drove back to the town of Fort Rock and continued west 6.5 miles to Highway 31. Here we turned north toward LaPine and drove just over 7 miles to a sign for Hole in the Ground near milepost 22. We followed signs for 4.4 miles to a small parking area on the rim of the 425′ deep volcanic maar created when a volcanic gas bubble exploded. A similar occurrence formed Fort Rock only the lava at Fort Rock formed under the water of an ancient lake. Over time the currents and waves of the lake removed all but the hardest rock leaving the fortress like ring.
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A steep dirt trail headed straight down into the crater.
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We were surprised to find some blue lewis flax among the flowers blooming at the bottom.
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After a half mile we arrived at the small playa at the center of Hole in the Ground.
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To get an idea of the size of the crater a couple of other hikers had come down behind us and are on the trail in the following picture.
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An old dirt track extended from the playa to the far side of the crater and eventually wound its way up to the rim after 1.2 miles.
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Along the way it passed a nice stand of ponderosa pines.
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Once we obtained the rim Paulina Peak was visible to the north across the crater.
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Mt. Bachelor and the South Sister were also visible to the NW.
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We followed the road along the rim just over a half mile back to our waiting car then headed for our next stop – Big Tree. We returned to Highway 31 and continued north to Highway 97 then through LaPine. Seven miles north of LaPine we turned left at a sign for LaPine State Park.

We had visited this park before in 2015, but had not made it to Big Tree – Oregon’s largest ponderosa pine.

A half mile after entering the park we turned right at a four way junction following a Big Tree pointer. A .7 mile gravel road brought us to the trailhead parking area.
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A paved .2 mile path led to the tree.
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We continued on the Big Pine Loop passing near the Deschutes River before looping back to the trailhead.
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It was a quick half mile hike but after visiting the redwoods, Oregon’s largest Myrtle Tree and several large port orford cedars and douglas firs on the Big Tree Trail on our southern Oregon vacation earlier in the month it was fitting to add this behemoth to the list.

We returned to Highway 97 and drove north another 10 miles to exit 153 for our final hike of the day. At the exit we followed pointers for the Lava Cast Forest. After 9 miles of gravel road we arrived at the trailhead in the Newberry National Volcanic Monument.
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A paved 1 mile interpretive loop here led through a lava flow where the molds of trees remain from when the lava cooled around their burning trunks.
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Other sights along the trail included a few wildflowers, the rim of Newberry Crater, and a view of Mt. Bachelor, Broken Top, and the Three Sisters.
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When it was all said and done we hiked a total of right around 9 miles on the day and saw some amazingly diverse and unique scenery all within a relatively small area. It had been one of the most interesting days of hiking to date. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Central Oregon Oddities

Cottonwood Canyon State Park

We spent Memorial Day Weekend in Bend and on Saturday morning drove up to Cottonwood Canyon State Park along the John Day River. To get there from Bend we drove north on Highway 97 to Wasco then turned onto Highway 206 for 15 miles to the park entrance.

Just after turning onto the entrance road we forked right on a short gravel road to a parking area near the river. The Hard Stone Trail began here.
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This nearly level 1.5 mile path follows the river upstream to Big Eddy, a lazy whirlpool at a bend in the river. The park has very few trees which allows for some wide open views but it also means a real lack of shade. Considering it was already in the low 60’s as we set off on the Hard Stone Trail at 7:30 we knew we were in for a hot hike.
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We spent our time enjoying the views of the canyon cliffs and scanning the sagebrush for flowers and animals including rattle snakes which are seen with some regularity along the John Day. We didn’t see any snakes but we saw a few other critters and a nice variety of flowers.
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The trail, which followed an old road bed, officially ended at Big Eddy which was where we turned back, but the road continues on.

After returning to our car we drove further into the park following signs for the Pinnacles Trail parking area. We set off following signs for the trail. After a short walk through a camping area the path led to a gate with a signboard and trail register.
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A nearby walnut tree offered some cool shade.
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The Pinnacles Trail follows another old road bed along the river downstream a total of 4.3 miles. IMG_0728

The cliffs along the trail were captivating. It was hard not to turn off the trail just to see how far one could get up some of the gullies and side canyons.
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A short distance from the gate the cliffs crowded the trail.
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The cliffs hung over the trail and were home to countless American Cliff Swallows which sped to and from their nests as we passed underneath.
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Just under a mile and half along the trail brought us to a neat old walnut tree where we spotted a colorful lazuli bunting.
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A trail near the tree provides river access and another trail led slightly uphill away from the tree. The sign named this the D & H Trail and indicated that it returned to the Pinnacles Trail further downstream. We decided we’d take it on the return trip after realizing (after way too long a time) that those were our initials, D & H.

As we continued on we passed part of an old fence where we spotted an aptly named western fence lizard.
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We spotted many of the same types of flowers we’d seen along the Hard Stone Trail and a few we hadn’t including some sweet smelling mock orange.
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The Pinnacles Trail is named after some rock outcrops across the river near the 3 mile mark.
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Beyond the Pinnacles the trail bent to the left passing through an open area full of sagebrush before rounding a rocky ridge-end.
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The ridge bowed away from the trail.
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We had talked early about the possibility of spotting larger animals on the hillsides and imagined that most of them would be sticking the the brush filled gullies we had seen along the way. As we were scanning the cliffs below the ridge I spotted what might have been an animal or possibly another rock (I have a real knack for spotting rocks and tree trunks).
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Making use of the camera’s 30x optical zoom allowed me to confirm that is was indeed an animal, in fact it was several animals.
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Going from the optical to the digital zoom gave us a closer look (but grainier picture) of the first big horn sheep we’d spotted on a hike.
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Sure enough they were hanging out in the shaded vegetation. Then we noticed a few more of the sheep passing below the first group. They seemed to be grazing on balsamroot leaves.
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The official trail continued to a narrow area between the cliffs and river.
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A use path continued on but we didn’t see any reason to continue. It was well into the 80’s and we’d seen plenty of great sights already. The sheep had disappeared when we passed back by where we’d seen them but Heather spotted something that was almost as surprising to see as they had been, a mushroom.
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We forked onto the D & H Trail when we reached its eastern end.
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The trail led through the sagebrush just far enough uphill that we were able to avoid what had been a fairly active area for mosquitoes before dropping back down to the Pinnacles Trail by the walnut tree.
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One final sighting of note was a pair of Bullock’s Orioles which we had not seen before.
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The one thing we didn’t see were any snakes which Heather was more than thankful for. I on the other hand was a little disappointed. I have no desire to be close to a rattle snake but at the same time I wouldn’t mind seeing one at a nice safe distance.

It was a great hike despite the warm temperatures but they were a good reminder of why summer may not be the best time for a visit to the park. Winter can also bring strong winds and freezing temperatures, so Spring or Fall probably are the best.

Hiking isn’t the only activity the park has to offer either. Rafting, fishing, mountain bike riding, and horseback riding opportunities exist as well. Whatever your reason for visiting it’s well worth the trip. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Cottonwood Canyon

Bald Butte

I’ve already done a lot of shuffling on our hiking schedule this year due to the high amount of snow that fell over the winter/early spring that doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to melt off. We are currently in the midst of some 90+ degree days so that should help but for our latest outing the original plan to visit Lost Lake had been scrapped over a month ago and we were off to the replacement hike – Bald Butte.

Interestingly this hike was less than 15 miles (as the crow flies) from Lost Lake with the high point on Bald Butte coming in at 3770′ while the lake sits a little under 3200′. Location, location, location. In any event the snow coverage maps showed plenty of snow around the lake and none on the butte the day before our visit.

We began our hike at the Oak Ridge Trailhead. To reach the trailhead turn west on Smullen Road off of Highway 35 approximately 14.4 miles south of Hood River, OR. At a sharp right turn take a left off of Smullen Road onto a short dirt road to the parking area. The trail starts on the far side a small footbridge.
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The Oakridge Trail is 2.4 miles long and gains almost 2000′ as it climbs from the trailhead to the Surveyor’s Ridge Trail which runs north/south for 16.4 miles. The trail was fairly level at first passing through an old clearcut with a view of Mt. Hood.
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Mt. Hood

Flowers blooming along this stretch included lupine, arnica and some nice hound’s tongue.
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Arnica

Hound's tongue

We began to climb after the clearcut as the trail entered the trees.
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Additional flowers were blooming here including a few chocolate lilies, woodland stars, silvercrown, and various white flowers.
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Prairie stars

Silvercrown

Wildflower along the Oak Ridge Trail

Wildflower along the Oak Ridge Trail

Anemone

Heather spotted a nice striped coralroot.
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Switchbacks made the climb less strenuous than it could have been and soon we entered oak grasslands with even more flowers.
Wildflower along the Oak Ridge Trail

Wildflower along the Oak Ridge Trail

Balsamroot

Naked broomrape

Larkspur

One of the benefits of gaining elevation on a hike is that doing so typically creates more variety in the flowers seen which was certainly the case here.

The trail continued to switchback up through increasingly open grasslands allowing for some nice views.
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Balc Butte from the Oak Ridge Trail
Bald Butte from the Oak Ridge Trail

Mt. Hood
Mt. Hood

Mt. Rainier in the distance
Mt. Rainier in the distance.

Just before reentering the forest we ran into a small patch of paintbrush.
Wildflower along the Oak Ridge Trail

Paintbrush

Paintbrush

At this elevation the flowers in the forest included fairy slippers, toothwort, and trillium.
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Fairy slippers

Toothwort

Trillium

The trail leveled out somewhat once it was back in the forest and we soon arrived at the junction with the Surveyor’s Ridge Trail.
Oak Ridge Trail and Surveryor's Ridge Trail junction

We turned left following a pointer for Bald Butte which was 2 miles away.
Surveyor's Ridge Trail sign

After passing a “Leaving National Forest” sign the ridge became rocky and more open which once again provided views of Mt. Hood and now Mt. St. Helens joined the skyline.
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Mt. Hood

Mt. St. Helens

Mt. St. Helens

Red flowering currant was profuse along this stretch and we also spotted a gooseberry bush.
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Red flowering currant

Gooseberry

Mt. Adams also made a brief appearance.
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The trail dropped slightly to a saddle where power lines and another possible trailhead sat beneath a hill.
Powerlines along the Surveryor's Ridge Trail

The trail so far had been off-limits to motorized vehicles but the final section is popular with dirt bike and ATV riders. We followed a steep dirt track under the power lines and up the hill.
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There were quite a few flowers in bloom with more to come in the following weeks.
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Daggerpod

Various small wildflowers

Near the crest of the hill we found one glacier lily still blooming.
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Glacier Lily

After dipping into another saddle we faced the final somewhat steep climb to the summit of Bald Butte.
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Bald Butte

There was a nice display of wildflowers blooming along the way.
Wildflowers on Bald Butte

Balsamroot

Paintbrush

There had been a pesky line of clouds in front of Mt. Hood all morning and although it was still present it did seem to be slowly improving.
Mt. Hood and balsamroot

As we neared the summit Mt. St. Helens came into view followed by Mt. Rainier and most of Mt. Adams.
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Mt. St. Helens

Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Adams

Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams

We had run into one dirt bike rider as we were coming up Bald Butte, he was headed slowly back down with a flat front tire. A second rider arrived as we were exploring the far end of the butte hoping for a clearer view of Mt. Adams (there wasn’t one). We were a little put off when the rider took his bike out into the wildflowers instead of leaving it in the dirt next to the road and more so when he started it back up while he was still out in the meadow. It was totally unnecessary and that’s all I have to say about that.

Mt. Hood was indeed becoming increasingly visible as we began our hike back to the trailhead.
Mt. Hood

As we were nearing the power line saddle we spotted a snake along the trail.
Snake

The snake wasn’t the only one out now that the day had gotten later. We had seen two other hikers that morning but passed a good deal more on our descent.

Back in the grassland a number of lizards scurried about.
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Lizard

It was nice to once again have a camera able to zoom in on the wildlife which came in handy one last time near the trailhead.
Douglas Squirrel

It was a little over 80 degrees back at the car and for the first time in a long while there was hope that summer was indeed coming. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Bald Butte

Rough and Ready Creek Botanical Wayside

As we were driving back to the motel from our Hidden Beach hike I had become progressively ill. By Thursday evening it had developed into a full on stomach bug. Heather spent the night taking care of me. We were glad we’d moved the Hidden Beach hike up a day because there was no way that would have been a good idea Friday.

We left the motel a little before 7am and began our drive home. I was still feeling pretty bad but at least I hadn’t vomited since the previous night. Our plans had called for us to stop on the way back at the Rough and Ready Botanical Wasyside just north of O’Brien, Oregon.

We’d been in the car a little over an hour when we reached the wayside and I was feeling well enough (stubborn enough) to want to give the hike a try. We parked at the pullout along Highway 199.
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A .3 mile gravel path led to a picnic table overlooking the creek.
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It was cold and wet, raining off and on, and there looked to be fresh snow in the foothills. Despit the conditions we continued on following an old roadbed from the picnic table just over a mile to Seats Dam which is used to divert water for irrigation before returning as we’d come.
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The area is known for its botanical diversity which was understandable given the number of different wildflowers we saw along the 2.8 mile hike. We likely missed many but here is a sample of the ones we did see.

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It was a tough 2.8 mile hike but well worth the stop. Our vacation hikes were over. We were down a camera, I wasn’t sure what was going on with my left foot, and I was hoping we’d make it home before I had any more rounds with the stomach flu, but in spite of all of that we had had a good time overall and been on some interesting hikes. When we got home we ordered a new camera and began to recover for our next outing. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Rough and Ready Creek

Tall Trees & Lady Bird Johnson Groves and Hidden Beach

The day after our most hiccup free hike of our vacation so far the rain arrived. We had picked up a permit for the entry road to the Tall Trees Grove Trailhead. details here

Covered benches at the trailhead allowed us to get our rain gear set while staying out of the rain.
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The trail to the Tall Trees descended 700′ in just under a mile and a half to the grove.
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A mile long loop explored the grove which was home to the tallest know redwood until a 1989 storm removed some of it’s 367.8′ height.
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We took a brief detour on the Redwood Creek Trail to visit Redwood Creek before finishing our counter-clockwise loop.
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We then climbed back up to the car and headed back. Before returning to Highway 101 we stopped along Bald Hill Road at the Lady Bird Johnson Grove.
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A 1.4 mile lollipop loop here visits a grove of redwoods dedicated to the wife of President Johnson who was a supporter of creating the Redwoods National Park.
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A footbridge led from the parking lot over Bald Hill Road to the start of the short loop.
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My foot had been holding up pretty well, my two sock system seemed to be working, but now my stomach was starting to give me problems. By the time we had reached our next stop, the Lagoon Creek picnic area, I really wasn’t feeling well.

The picnic area was located along Highway 101, 25.7 miles north of Bald Hills Road (13.5 miles south of Crescent City). We had originally planned on doing this hike before heading home on Friday but when my foot began acting up we changed our plans. We had been planning on starting the Tall Trees hike from the Dolason Prairie Trailhead which didn’t require the free permit but would have been over 15 miles round trip with around 3000′ of elevation gain. When we decided to go the free permit route it shortened that hike to 4 miles and 700′ of elevation gain freeing us up to add in the Lady Bird Johnson Grove and to move Hidden Beach up a day.

The hike to Hidden Beach was only 2.4 miles but the California Coastal Trail provided an opportunity to extend the hike to a Klamath River Overlook for a total of approximately 8 miles. Between my foot issues and now not feeling well we decided that we’d only be doing the 2.4 mile option this trip.

The trail began at a signboard at the northern end of the picnic area.
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After crossing a footbridge over the lagoon’s outlet creek a short walk brought us to the start of the Yurok Loop.
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We took the right hand fork which brought us through windswept meadows overlooking the ocean. The rain had ended and now the clouds were breaking up revealing pockets of blue sky.
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The meadows were home to several wildflowers and some ripe salmonberries.
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We stayed right on the Coastal Trail when it split from the Yurok Trail following it approximately a half mile to a sign for Hidden Beach.
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The short spur trail led down to the secluded little beach with a view north to False Klamath Rock.
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We didn’t stay long on the beach as I was not feeling well at all so we headed back to the Yurok Loop which we completed by following the trail on the back side of a small hill.
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It was too bad that we weren’t able to explore more of the Coastal Trail to the south as the weather was so much better and the meadows along that stretch were really nice. I just wanted to get back to the room and rest though. We were heading home the next day and just had a 3 mile hike at the Rough and Ready Botanical Wayside planned on the way. Happy Trails!

Flicker: Tall Trees & Lady Bird Johnson Grove and Hidden Beach

Fern Canyon – Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park

My left foot was still pretty tender in the morning but we had more hikes planned so we came up with a plan for Heather to bring an extra pair of shoes in case I needed to try and use hers again. I was using my newer pair and hers were just small enough that using them on a longer hike would probably cause other issues.

As we were driving south of Crescent City to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park I came up with another idea, wearing two socks on that foot. I pulled a sock from the extra pair I carry and slipped it on. When I put my shoe back on it did seem to have helped.

We parked at the visitors center which was across from a meadow where a few elk were lounging in the distance.
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Unfortunately one of the big differences between having to use our phones and the camera I lost, was the ability to zoom so the elk are just some dark dots up and to the right of the sign.
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Our plan here was to do a loop by taking the James Irvine Trail to Fern Canyon then hiking along the beach to the Beach Campground and returning via the Miners Ridge Trail which would be right around 13 miles.
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We followed pointers for the James Irvine Trail crossing Prairie Creek on a scenic footbridge.
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It was great to be back amid the redwoods again. Walking through the giant trees is simply awe inspiring.
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We kept right on the James Irvine Trail when the Miners Ridge Trail split off to the left.
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We stuck to the James Irvine Trail for approximately four and a half more miles as it descended through the lush green forest. Occasionally wildflowers made appearances along the way.
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We turned left at a sign for Fern Canyon.
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A short descent ending with a few stairs brought us to Home Creek.
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From the canyon floor it was roughly a half mile to the mouth of the canyon. During summer months planks are installed for the necessary creek crossings but they weren’t set up yet so we forded the creek a few times as we made our way through the 50 to 80 foot deep canyon lined with 5 different types of ferns.
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We met a couple at the entrance to the canyon who had just finished an out and back exploration. They informed us that Davison Road, which is the road to the parking lot near Fern Canyon, was closed at the Beach Campground and they were walking back via the beach. That had been our plan too so it didn’t affect us, but it helped explain the lack of hikers in the canyon.

We followed a path from the empty parking lot to the beach through an excellent display of lupine.
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After crossing Home Creek on a log we arrived at the ocean and turned south heading for the Beach Campground which was about a mile and a half away.
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The lack of zooming capabilities on our phones came into play twice as we walked along the beach. First when we spotted some elk in a gap in the trees.
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And again when we were trying to identify a shorebird.
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We took advantage of an empty site at the Beach Campground and Heather changed our of her wet shoes and put on the dry pair she had brought just in case I had needed them. We then located Davison Road and followed it back north a short distance to a sign for the Miners Ridge Trail.
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This trail began as an old roadbed but eventually returned to the mighty redwoods.
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It was 2 miles back to where we had split off on the James Irvine Trail earlier in the day and another 2.2 miles back to the Visitors Center. My foot had held up despite there still being some lingering irritation which was a win and the rest of the day had probably been the smoothest of the vacation so far. Things seemed to be looking up. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Fern Canyon