Tag Archives: Eileen Lake

The Hikes of 2015 – A Look Back

Another year of wandering the trails of the Pacific Northwest has come to an end. Since 2010 we have been on over 200 hikes covering over 2200 miles and we continually find ourselves in awe of God’s creation.

We managed to hit the trails at least once every month ending with 56 hikes for myself and 55 for Heather. I was able to sneak an extra one in by meeting my parents at Columbia Hills State Park in April while Heather was still running. These were the most hikes we’d done in a single year which also led to our highest mileage totals – 660.4 for myself and 652.6 for Heather. The hikes ranged from 2.9 miles (Butte Creek & Abiqua Falls) to 19.1 miles (Green Lakes Loop). Below is a link to a Google map showing the various trailheads and campsites (denoted by picnic tables).
2015

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zIiZZDXeDJAs.kn3sBy2gxhI8&usp=sharing

In addition to my Columbia State park hike we met my parents for hikes at McNeil Point and Jefferson Park. We also met a couple of regular contributors to Oregonhikers.org out on the trails, miah66 on Silver Star Mountain and justpeachy in Jefferson Park. In December we attended the Trail Keepers of Oregon/Oregon Hikers annual Winter Meet-n-Deet in Portland where we were able to put a few more faces to the names we’ve gotten to know on the hiking forums.  It was a blast and we’re hoping to continue attending the event in future years.

As in previous years our primary focus was to visit new places and spend time on trails we had not previously hiked.  We continued to expand the area in which we’ve hiked by spending 4 days hiking the Northern Loop Trail in Mt. Rainier National Park and spending some time hiking in California around Crescent City and in the Red Buttes Wilderness.  Other areas which were brand new to us included the area around Ashland, OR, Indian Heaven Wilderness, and The Oregon caves National Monument.  In all 43 of our 56 days of hiking were spent on sections of trails we had never been on before. The remaining 13 days were spent on trails that we had visited in prior years, but we managed to do something different this time around on each trip allowing us to see something new every time out.

This year just reinforced what has become one of our favorite aspects of hiking, the variety.  In visiting so many new trails we were able to see flowers, trees, animals, and even mountains that we had not previously encountered on our hikes.  Even in the familiar areas there always seems to be something new to experience.  It’s not just the sights that provide the variety though, the smells, sounds, and even the feeling of the air and the forest can change multiple times on any given hike.

Although the camera cannot adequately capture the beauty of nature a look back at some of this year’s pictures will hopefully give some indication of the many different sights we were blessed with.

Views:
Oregon Dunes Overlook
View from Oregon Dunes day use area

Rowena Crest
Rowena Crest from the Tom McCall Point trail.

Mt. Hebo Trail
Sunlight penetrating the clouds in the Siuslaw National Forest

View from Boccard Point
Looking west from Boccard Point

French Pete Creek
French Pete Creek

Smith Rock State Park
Smith Rock State Park from the summit above Burma Road

Mt. Hood from the McNeil Point Trail
McNeil Point Trail

Middle & South Sister from Eileen Lake
Middle and South Sister from Eileen Lake

Middle & South Sister from Linton Meadows
Middle and South Sister from Linton Meadows

Pacific Ocean from Salishan Spit
Low tide heading toward Salishan Spit

Mt. Jefferson from Russell Lake
Mt. Jefferson from Russell Lake

Sluiskin Mountain
Sluiskin Mountain in the morning

Mt. Rainier
Mt. Rainier

Olallie Lake Scenic Area
View from Double Peaks

Indian Heaven Wilderness
Lemi Rock

Mt. Washington Wilderness
Mt. Washington and Three Fingered Jack from Belknap Crater

Belknap Crater
Belknap Crater

South Sister from the Green Lakes
South Sister from the first Green Lake

South Sister from Denude Lake
South Sister from Denude Lake

Wind and Dog Mountain from Indian Point
Wind and Dog Mountains from Indian Point

Bull of the Woods Wilderness
Lake Lenore and Mt. Hood from Big Slide Mountain

Pacific Ocean near Damnation Creek
Sunsetting over the Pacific Ocean from the mouth of Damnation Creek

Redwoods in Jedediah Redwoods State Park
Redwoods along the Boy Scout Tree Trail

Red Buttes Wilderness
Red Buttes and Kangaroo Mountain

Kangaroo Mountain
Marble outcrop below Kangaroo Mountain

Paradise Lost, Oregon Caves National Monument
Looking up in the Paradise Lost room of the Oregon Cave

Waterfalls:

University Falls
University Falls

Lower Butte Creek Falls
Lower Butte Creek Falls Upper Butte Creek Falls Upper Butte Creek Falls

Abiqua Falls
Abiqua Falls Upper McCord Falls Upper McCord Falls

Wahclella Falls
Wahclella Falls Elowah Falls Elowah Falls

The Potholes
The Potholes Woodburn Falls Trillium at Woodburn Falls

Rodney Falls
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Lower Kentucky Falls
Lower Kentucky Falls North Fork Falls North Fork Falls

Munson Falls
Munson Falls

Unnamed waterfalls along Linton Creek Waterfalls along Linton Creek

Waterfall on Linton Creek

Waterfall on Linton Creek

Waterfall along Linton Creek

Duncan Falls Duncan Falls

Upper Portion of Linton Falls
Upper portion of Upper Linton Falls

Some of Upper Linton Falls

Indian Holes Falls
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Garda Falls
Garda Falls Another unnamed fall in Mt. Rainier National Park IMG_7972

Van Horn Falls
Van Horn Falls

Waterfalls along Fall Creek IMG_9592

Fall Creek

Fall Creek

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Falls along Crater Creek
Falls along Crater Creek

Falls along Crater Creek

Waterfall on Crater Creek

Corner Falls Corner Falls

Fall River Falls
Fall River Falls

Waterfalls along Paulina Creek Small waterfall on Paulina Creek

Falls on Paulina Creek

Small waterfall on Paulina Creek

Small waterfall on Paulina Creek

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Waterfall on Paulina Creek

McKay Falls

Waterfall on Paulina Creek

Waterfall on Paulina Creek

Waterfall on Paulina Creek below Ten-mile snopark bridge

Wildlife
Mallard at Lacamas Lake

Bullfrogs in pond near Lacamas Lake

Turtles at Lacamas Lake

Greater Yellowlegs

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Douglas Squirrel

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Frog

Northern Pacific Treefrog

Western Bluebird

Wood duck

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Owl

Rabbit

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Green-tailed Towhee

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Hummingbird

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Butterfly along the Crooked River

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Butterfly along the Blair Lake Trail

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Butterfly along the Bluff Mountain Trail

Mountain Parnassian

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Deer visting a meadow behind our campsite

Small fish in a little stream near Linton Meadows

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Grasshopper invasion

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Harbor Seals

Seagull

Pika

Black Bear

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Mountain Goats on Burroughs Mountain

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Chipmunk enjoying a berry

Deer in the meadow below Yellowstone Cliffs

Lounging marmot

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Rough Skinned Newt

Sea Lions

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Cormorant

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Anenomes

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Ouzel

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Great Blue Heron

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Buck

Last butterfly of the year

Hawk

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Barred Owl

Americn Kestrel

Acorn Woodpecker

Wildflowers
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Bachelor Button

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California Poppy

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Columbine

Wild Iris

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Henderson's Stars

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Elegant Brodiaea

Popcorn Flower

Common Madia

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mariposa lily

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Scarlet gilia

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Monument Plant aka Elkweed

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Striped Coralroot

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smoothstem blazing-star Mentzelia laevicaulis

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Bog Orchid and Elephants Head

Tiger Lily

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Beargrass Meadow

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Orange Agoseris

Elegant Brodiaea

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Cat's ear lily

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Aster

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We are already looking forward to next year’s hikes. I freely admit that I already have a preliminary schedule laid out (I will not admit to how far out it extends though 😉 ).  As it currently stands we will be visiting 6 new wilderness areas, another national monument, and summiting three peaks over 9000′ tall.  If history is any guide the list of completed hikes at this time next year will look vastly different from this preliminary one, but then that’s just part of the adventure.  One thing is for sure though, we are sure to see some amazing sights along whatever trails we wander.  Happy Trails!

Three Sisters Wilderness Days 3 & 4

I am combining the final two days of our Three Sisters Backpacking trip because the last day was simply a 7 mile hike back to the trailhead along portions of the Louise Creek and Separation Lake Trails that we had done on the first day.

The day after our successful off-trail exploration of Linton Creek it was time to pack up camp and move on. We woke to find that the clouds had finally won out overnight and now covered the Three Sisters.
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We were once again visited by the deer who stayed back in the trees this time as they made their morning rounds. We packed our things and ate some breakfast then headed back toward Husband Lake. The frog situation around Eileen Lake seemed to have worsened with the arrival of the clouds. There were even more frogs on the trail and the going was pretty slow.
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We discovered that tapping our trekking poles on the ground in front of us got the frogs to start getting out of the way sooner so we tapped our way through the frogs and past the lake. The frogs weren’t the only animals out as we had spotted several different types of birds by the time we’d gotten to Husband Lake.
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We topped off our water at Husband Lake and then headed for the big trail junction where we would be looking for the Separation Creek Meadow Trail which would take us down to Indian Hole Falls. We had not seen the trail when we were at the junction on the first day and when we got back there we still didn’t see it. Heather thought it might be just a bit up the trail toward the James Creek Shelter and went to investigate. She was right and just over a little rise there was an unsigned but clear trail heading down to the right.
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The Forest Service described this trail as “a primitive trail that may be hard to find at times.” That sounded a lot better than the impassable due to heavy blowdown description of the Separation Creek Trail. There were a few downed trees but the path was easy to see and some trees had been blazed to mark the trail.
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The trail met Separation Creek in what must have been a spectacular field of lupine. Now it had all gone to seed.
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It had also been invaded by grasshoppers.
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As we walked they would all jump in unison and make all kinds of noise. I would have liked to get a better look at them but there were also plenty of mosquitoes present and whenever I stopped they landed. We were just about to Separation Meadow and we hadn’t had any issues following the trail up to that point. Then the trail just disappeared. We knew it was to the right of the creek and we noticed a tent set up at the far end of the meadow so we simply aimed for the trees between those two things.
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We had to hunt for a couple of minutes to find the trail again once we arrived at the trees. We managed to follow it fine after that all the way to a trail junction with the trail from Buck Meadows. This junction was also unsigned but it was marked with a rock cairn.
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We turned left at the junction and began to descend toward Cole Chuck Meadows. Views included Sphinx Butte and The Wife.
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The trail went around Cole Chuck Meadows without ever entering it then headed steeply downhill. There was a large meadow below to our left and we could hear Separation Creek roaring in the distance. The trail had loose rocks and dirt and it also passed below the Indian Holes, springs that flowed across the trail and down toward Separation Creek.
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The trail then entered the large meadow at a narrow point. The grasses were tall enough to hit us in the face as we passed through. We then entered another treed area before arriving at Separation Creek.
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The creek was much wider and deeper than it had been in Separation Meadow. Several other creeks and springs had fed into it since then. We crossed on an old log and and quickly arrived at another unsigned trail junction with the “impassible” Separation Creek Trail.
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We could hear Indian Hole Falls from the junction. It was only a couple hundred yards to the top of the falls. This was another impressively massive waterfall. An upper viewpoint allowed for a close up view of the top portion of the falls while a steep scramble down along the creek led to a lower moss covered viewpoint where the entire cascade was visible.
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The Three Sisters Wilderness had managed to wow us again and we sat on the mossy ledge of the lower viewpoint in the cool breeze of the waterfall. We climbed back up from the lower viewpoint and decided to head out the the upper one.
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After checking out that view we headed back up to the trail to pick up our packs. It was my turn to get stung by an angry yellow jacket. Just as I was about to step back onto the trail I felt a sharp pain on my ankle bone. It took me a minute to figure out what was causing it but once I realized what it was I was able to knock it out of my pant leg. I took a moment to be a bit of a baby then we resumed our hike and head back toward the creek crossing.

As we were passing back through the tall grasses of the meadow we heard some strange noises ahead. It was a family of grouse. The adult stood watch as the young made their way into the safety of the trees.
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She stood guard until they were all safe then headed into the trees herself.
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We climbed back up the steep trail past the Indian Holes and went straight past the rock cairn. Our plan was to stop at Honey Lake to fix an early dinner and fill back up on water for the final day since we knew there were no sources from Buck Meadows on. We weren’t sure what we’d find at Honey Lake because none of the maps or the Forest Service showed a trail going to the lake but we had seen the pointer for it at the junction by Buck Meadows. As we were looking for the mystery trail we spotted various wildlife along the way.
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Sure enough we came to a side trail with a pointer for Honey Lake.
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We momentarily had second thoughts about our plan when we saw how far below us the lake actually was.
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We knew we needed water though and the lake looked very pretty so we headed down the steep path to the lake shore. It really was a pretty lake and larger than we had been expecting.
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We noticed a tent back up in the forest on the far side of the lake and headed around the lake counter-clockwise looking for a good spot where we could set our things down and cook dinner. We found a pair of spots where people had obviously camped, fire rings and all, both of which are illegal within 100 feet of water in the wilderness. One of the fire rings was full of cigarette butts. Yay for people, not 😦 We took off our packs and wandered out to a little peninsula where the breeze kept the mosquitoes at bay.
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We took a nice long break at the lake and felt recharged after having our dinner and we were ready to tackle the climb back up from the lake.
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The climb back up turned out to be a lot easier than we’d expected and we were soon back on the trail to Buck Meadows. We stuck to the trail this time when we arrived at the meadows and wound up going right around the area we had considered camping in. Once we saw that we had passed it we decided to just keep going and we’d look for a spot further along the meadows. The view from the meadow was changed a bit from our first day with clouds now hiding The Husband.
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There wasn’t a viable spot to camp anywhere else along the meadows that we saw so we just kept going keeping our eyes open for an acceptable site. About 1 1/2 miles from the junction at Buck Meadows we came to a dry pond. On the opposite side of the trail was a flat area perfect for setting up camp.
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We woke up so early the next morning that we needed our headlamps as we began packing up. We ate breakfast at the edge of the dry pond and then set off down the trail. The 2 man trail crew had done a fine job clearing the trail and we were making great time since we’d just been on this trail a few days earlier and weren’t distracted by many new sights. There are always some new things to see though and we noticed a few flowers we’d missed on the first day.
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We reached the Separation Lake Trail a few minutes before 9am and according to our Green Trails map we then had 1.2 more miles to go to the trailhead.
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We figured we’d be back at the car around 9:45 based on our normal pace so we were surprised when we saw a familiar wooden bridge that we remembered being near the trailhead sooner than we expected.
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We actually wound up back at the car before 9:15. We were moving pretty fast but not that fast. Checking another map it showed the distance from the trailhead to the junction as 0.9 miles which made a little more sense. We were happy to be able to change into some clean clothes and different shoes, but we were also sad to have the trip end. We were already thinking about our next backpacking trip, wondering what new adventures awaited us. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157654071670793

Three Sisters Wilderness Day 2 – Linton Creek Exploration

The second day of our four day backpacking trip was set to be an adventure. Our plan was to spend the day “off-trail” exploring Linton Creek which is home to several rarely visited waterfalls. We had camped at Eileen Lake on the NE side of The Husband and originally planned on hiking down the official trail to Linton Creek where we had eaten our dinner the night before, but during our evening exploration of the area behind our campsite we realized we should be able to follow a dry creek bed we’d seen and reach Linton Creek by a more direct route. It would also allow us to avoid another trip through all the frogs along Eileen Lake.

I woke up a little before 5 and went down to the lake for a bit to look at the mountains.
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Heather woke up and I was busy getting ready for our breakfast and the days hike when I looked up and noticed there were deer about 50 feet from our tent. Heather was still inside putting her hair into braids and hadn’t noticed them yet.
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I got her attention and we watched as they nibbled on some plants then entered the little meadow by our site and had their own breakfast.
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They looked up at us occasionally but didn’t seem to be the least bit concerned with our presence then left the same way they’d come slowly disappearing into the forest.
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After our breakfast we threw on our daypacks and got ready for our adventure. We had our compass and three different maps including the map loaded on the Garmin and I had studied the area using Google Earth. That research along with information from a few trip reports and the Northwest Waterfall Survey had us feeling pretty confident that we would at least be able to reach Duncan Falls and possibly Upper Linton Falls if time allowed. I also established a turn around time in order to make sure we had enough time to climb back up from wherever we ended up.

We followed a use path from our campsite through the little meadow along the dry creek into a larger meadow. The use path ended at the larger meadow so we hopped into the dry creek bed planning on following it as far as possible.
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We had to leave the creek bed in the meadow for a bit when we started running into small pools of water. We got back in shortly after leaving the meadow but that also didn’t last long because the creek bed was getting deeper and we spotted downed trees blocking it further downhill. We didn’t want to get stuck in the bed and be forced to backtrack so we got out and started bushwacking through the forest.
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We gradually made our way downhill toward the meadows surrounding Linton Creek. There was some blowdown in the forest but it wasn’t ever too bad and the vegetation was sparse enough not to cause any problems. We used the Garmin and our maps to keep us heading in the direction we wanted. We were aiming for the northwestern end of the meadows where Linton Creek enters the forest near a series of whitewater. We managed to reach the meadows fairly close to that area and made our way to the glassy creek.
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There were a few flowers still blooming including some very tall monkshood.
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The South Sister loomed behind us over the creek and meadows.
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Shortly after Linton Creek enters the trees it takes a horseshoe bend through a rocky chasm where it puts on its first whitewater show. We were on the south side of the creek and able to side-hill along and around the ridge that the creek bent around which allowed us some good views of the now raging creek.
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After rounding the ridge we came to the first small unnamed waterfalls. A pair of short drops were visible through the trees.
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A little further was another whitewater slide.
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The creek was putting on a good show and we were trying to stick as close as possible to it given the terrain. When we couldn’t see the creek we listened intently for any indication of another fall. The creek then began a second horseshoe bend turning back toward the NW. Somewhere in the middle of the bend was where we would find Duncan Falls. It was one the two main targets for our hike and we heard it well before reaching it. We arrived at the top of the falls and could tell we were not going to be disappointed.
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The ridge stayed and made a wide swing around the falls. We were finally able to get a good view though.
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It was a spectacular waterfall. After standing in awe of this hidden gem we worked our way down a steep hillside to the creek a little ways below Duncan Falls. We could just see the bottom of the falls through some trees and briefly considered hiking up the creek to reach the base but decided against that in the end. We still had a lot of bushwacking ahead of us and the thought of wet shoes and socks was not appealing plus I was fairly certain that I’d fall in and ruin the camera.
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Below Duncan Falls the creek settled down some as the terrain became a little more level.
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At one point we found what looked like it could possibly be a beaver pond.
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We then came upon another pair of small waterfalls.
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In the other trip reports that I had seen the hikers had been on the north side of the creek from Linton Lake until somewhere below Duncan Falls. We had originally planned on staying on the south side of the creek the entire time, partly to be different, and partly because the top tiers of Upper Linton Falls were said to not be visible from the north side of the creek. That changed when we could see that we had arrived at point directly across from the start of a large meadow on the other side of the creek. It looked so much easier than picking our way over and around logs and brush and there was a perfect log to cross the creek on near us. We gave in and walked across the log and entered the meadow. I had read about the meadow and the reports called it marshy but I was hopping the dry year we were having would lessen that, but there was still plenty of wet spongy ground and both of us had soaked shoes in no time.
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We aimed for the closest stand of trees and exited the meadow. We took a short side trip to check out one of two small lakes/ponds that the maps had shown toward the back of the meadow.
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After checking out the pond we began making our way back toward the creek. Shortly after rejoining the creek we found another log we could cross on and got back to our original plan of being on the south side of the creek for Upper Linton Falls.

We knew we were getting close to our goal but before we got to Upper Linton Falls there was another nice little fall with a great viewpoint.
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The next fall we came to was the top tier of Upper Linton Falls.
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The roar from the creek was amazing as it thundered steeply down toward Linton Lake.
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We found our way down to the third tier where there was a nice viewpoint.
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The fourth tier was visible below.
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The ridge we were on began to swing away from the creek though. We could see Linton Lake far below and went in search of a decent view but there were too many trees to ever get a good clear look.
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We found one final viewpoint of Upper Linton Falls. We appeared to be somewhere between the 5th and 6th tiers.
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There was a big drop below us but no way to get a look at the lower tiers from the south side. We decided that just gave us an excuse to come back some day and hike up from Linton Lake to see Lower Linton Falls and get a look at the lower tiers from the north side. In the meantime we sat at the edge of the enormous fall recharging in the cool breeze it generated.
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We had made it to our goal just before the established turnaround time and now it was time to climb back up to Eileen Lake. This time we did stick to the south side of the creek avoiding the marshy trap of the meadow. By doing so we located a couple more small falls we’d missed on the way down.
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We also managed to find a balloon which happens more often than you’d think (and we’d like) in the forest. We retrieved the garbage and packed it out with us.
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We arrived back at Duncan Falls to find it was just as impressive the second time around.
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After Duncan Falls we left the creek and took a more direct route toward Linton Meadows which avoided the steep ridge above the whitewater of the first horseshoe bend. White fluffy clouds hung over the mountains when we finally reentered the meadows.
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We were paying more attention to the views than to where we were going and wound up passing the spot where we had entered the meadows in the morning. We turned up a different creek bed instead. It looked similar enough that we both thought we remembered certain details as we passed them but as the drainage got steeper and we started noticing more blowdown than we’d remembered we knew we had made a wrong turn. Using the GPS and our maps we could see that we were just on the other side of the ridge we’d come down but we had found a different little meadow here and it’s creek had a little more water which was home to some larger frogs and fish.
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We were able to make our way over the ridge at the far end of the meadow and picked up our earlier path just about where we had entered the dry creek bed near the start of our hike.

According to the Garmin we had covered 9.3 miles. We both had a few scrapes and bruises as well as some mosquito bites and Heather had been stung in the shin by a yellow jacket but it had all been worth it. We spent the evening at Eileen Lake watching clouds float by and then disappear over the Three Sisters.
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Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157656375371832

Three Sisters Wilderness Day 1 – Separation Lake Trailhead to Eileen Lake

We just started backpacking last year and we really enjoyed it so we were looking forward to our first outing of the year which we recently completed. I plan on covering our trip over three entries starting with this post featuring our first day.

We had originally planned on spending a long weekend in the Opal Creek and Bull of the Woods Wilderness areas, but with the early snow melt in the mountains we changed our destination to the Three Sisters Wilderness. I had been wanting to check out the waterfalls along Linton Creek since seeing a trip report that was posted on Portlandhikers.org in 2013. There is no official trail to any of the falls along the creek and in most places there is no trail at all. The few reports I found on the area all began their hike at Linton Lake along Highway 126 and climbed up toward Linton Meadows. In the report on Portlandhikers they had hiked up the creek then over to Eileen Lake for the night then returned to Linton Lake the next day. I wasn’t too keen on the idea of carrying our full packs while bushwacking uphill so I came up with a different plan.

The solution was to start the exploration of Linton Creek from Eileen Lake where we would already have established our campsite. This would allow us to explore down stream as far as Upper Linton Falls using daypacks. I began studying our maps trying to plan the trip. The three closest trailheads to Eileen Lake are the Obsidian Trailhead, the Foley Ridge Trailhead, and the Separation Lake Trailhead. I quickly settled on the Separation Lake TH since it was the closest to us, didn’t require a limited entry permit, and offered a couple possible return loops.

We had been to the Separation Lake Trailhead in May 2014 when we hiked to Separation Lake so we were familiar with the trail when we slung our packs on and set off into the Three Sisters Wilderness.
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This time we took the Louise Creek Trail when we reached the junction just under a mile from the trailhead.
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Our plan was to follow the Louise Creek Trial for 7.2 miles to another trail junction at Buck Meadows then continue up to the Foley Ridge Trail which would take us to yet another junction. From there we would take the Linton Meadows Trail to a final junction where we would head for Husband Lake and our ultimate destination of Eileen Lake.

As we climbed up the Louise Creek Trail we met a couple that were hiking out after having camped at Sisters Mirror Lake. They had come down a portion of the Separation Creek Trail from the James Creek Shelter to Indian Hole Falls and reported that the trail did indeed have many downed trees across it. This confirmed what the information on the Forest Service website which called the trail “impassible due to heavy blowdown”. We had planned on visiting Indian Hole Falls then taking that trail down to Separation Lake where we would camp on our third night but had nixed those plans after seeing the information on the website. The other couple said the falls were beautiful and we still planned on visiting them but by using the Separation Creek Meadows Trail instead.

They also reported that there were a couple of people doing trail maintenance just up the trail and that they had not seen any water along the trail for quite some time. We had plenty of water for the day but it was good information to have for our return trip so we didn’t short ourselves hiking out.

The Louise Creek Trail was indeed dry and most of the flowers had long since passed although a few stragglers could be found here and there. There was also the remains of what must have been an impressive beargrass display lining much of the trail.
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The meadows of Buck Meadows were also dry as far as we could tell. There were some patches of green but no visible water. Purple aster dotted the dry grasses and were popular with the butterflies.
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We got our first look at The Husband from the meadows. We knew Eileen Lake was on the far side of the rocky mountain.
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The final meadow was surprisingly long and we wound up losing track of the trail near the far end and just headed cross county to a small knoll with trees. We were now planning on staying somewhere in the area of the meadows on our final night and this seemed to be a viable spot. We picked up the trail again near the signed trail junction.
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The pointer to the left was for the Foley Ridge Trail and the right was for Honey Lake. Oddly none of our maps or the Forest Service website showed a trail going to Honey Lake, instead the trail passed by on its way to the Separation Creek Meadows Trail. It was also unclear if either or both forks were still considered the Louise Creek Trail. Our two maps indicated the right hand fork was the Louise Creek Trail but the Forest Service showed it as the left fork. Either way we needed to get to the Foley Ridge Trail so we headed left. The trail switchbacked uphill offering a brief view of Diamond Peak to the south before arriving at the Foley Ridge Trail junction.
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It had been a tough climb up for us not being used to carrying full packs so we rested a bit at the junction where we were joined by a hummingbird.
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Shortly after setting off again we passed the first water we’d seen all day, a few small ponds that still held some water.
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We followed the Foley Ridge Trail for almost two and a half miles to the next trail junction.
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Four trails met at this junction. The Foley Ridge Trail we had come up and on its right was the trail to the James Creek Shelter. To the left were two trails one to the Pacific Crest Trail and to the immediate left the trail to Linton Meadows. We had expected to see a fifth trail at the junction, the Separation Creek Meadows Trail, which appeared to also meet here according to the maps. We thought it was odd but it was a question for another day and headed toward Linton Meadows.
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We had been on this portion of trail during our backpacking loop around the South Sister the previous year. The trail passes through a pumice plain which manages to support a good amount of colorful vegetation.
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Just .3 miles from the big junction the Linton Meadows Trail split again. The right fork headed down to Linton Meadows while the left fork pointed to Husband Lake. The left fork then passes Eileen Lake before rejoining the right hand fork at Linton Creek.
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We stopped at Husband Lake for a moment to take in the views before continuing on our way.
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We finally came upon a creek with flowing water between the lakes coming down from The Husband.
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On our previous visit there had been tons of frogs along the shore of Eileen Lake and we had been wondering if we would find the same thing this time. That question was answered upon arriving at the lake.
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There were more this time than before and we slowly made our way around the lake being careful not to step on any of them. We were planning on setting up camp on the far side of the lake where we would be able to set up at least 100 feet away from the water and the trail per wilderness regulations. We found our spot on a small rise with a small meadow behind us and no frogs to have to watch out for.
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After setting up camp we decided to hike down to Linton Creek to have dinner in the same location we had eaten at the year before and to fill up on water from the creek. We tried going around the lake on the other side hoping the frogs would be less but it proved just as challenging and slow. On our way down to the creek we spotted 4 deer also making their way down the meadows.
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We arrived at Linton Creek to find it flowing strongly. It is primarily fed by Linton Springs so the dry year apparently hadn’t effected it as much as the other creeks. The springs also mean the water is cold and we had forgotten just how cold until we tried to soak our feet. The water was too cold to keep them in for more than 10 or 15 seconds.
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After having dinner and filling up on the wonderfully cold water we returned to Eileen Lake where we explored the area behind our campsite then sat by the water watching the frogs along the shore and small fish occasionally jumping from the water disrupting the reflection of the mountains.
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It had been a great start to our trip and the adventure had just begun. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157656374056692

South Sister Loop – Day 1

After kicking off our vacation with a visit to Broken Tops no name lake we took a day off and got ready for what we originally planned to be a 4 day backpacking trip around the South Sister in the Three Sisters Wilderness. We wound up finishing the loop in 3 days instead of 4 hiking two 20+ mile days, our first ever over that number. Given the mileage and the amount of places we visited we are going to break this report up into three entries instead of trying to fit it all into one.

The route we were going to take would start and end at the Green Lakes/Soda Creek Trailhead. http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/deschutes/recreation/hiking/recarea/?recid=38870&actid=50
We decided to take a less direct route around the mountain in order to visit some of the places we had yet to see in the wilderness. Below is our GPS track from the trip (The hike to the no name lake is also on the map to the right).

South Sister Loop

We were excited for this hike for a number of reasons. We had tried to visit the Green Lakes on four previous occasions including our first attempted hike together over 20 years earlier. Snow had turned us back that day and again in 2011, in 2012 it was a forest fire, and in 2013 thunderstorms stymied our plans. The forecast was good this time around and there were no fires in the immediate area as we set off from the trailhead. The sky was blue except for above each of the mountains which were each covered in white clouds.
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In 1994 we managed to hike up Fall Creek a little over a mile before being turned back. We both remembered being impressed with the creek and the scenery but couldn’t remember exactly what we had seen. We were quickly reminded of why Fall Creek left such an impression on us. In the first two miles Fall Creek lived up to its name with over a half dozen cascades of varying sizes.
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At the two mile mark we took the Moraine Lake Trail to the left and veered away from the creek. After crossing a lava flow and climbing over a ridge we arrived at Moraine Lake. We had been at the lake the year before after climbing the South Sister. It was just as pretty this time around nestled beneath a moraine with a front row view of the South Sister.
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After leaving Moraine Lake we headed toward the Wickiup Plains on our way to the Pacific Crest Trail. The clouds were starting to burn off of the mountains as we passed through the plains. Broken Top was behind us with the South Sister on our right and the Wife ahead.
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The plains offered an interesting landscape with open views all around.
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As we headed North toward the PCT on the Le Conte Trail we were able to see a couple of peaks that are often overlooked due to their proximity to the larger Three Sisters, The Wife at 7054′ and The Husband at 7524′.
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We met the PCT and turned right passing the Rock Mesa lava flow and views of the South Sister.
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The PCT eventually left the plains and entered more forested terrain crossing several branches of Mesa Creek amid meadows and wildflowers.
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We left the PCT when we reached the James Creek Trail. We had planned on camping at Linton Meadows the first night and this trail would eventually lead us there and take us past some other interesting sights. The first of these was the James Creek Shelter which sat at the edge of a meadow made green by James Creek.
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Next we passed a small pond where Heather spotted a tadpole.
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Flower lined Hinton Creek was next.
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Followed by Separation Creek. We may have found some of the tadpoles relatives there.
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At a five way trail junction we stayed straight continuing on toward Linton Meadows. The clouds had finally lifted from the mountain tops and here we got our first good look at the Middle Sister.
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Another junction awaited just .3 miles later. We had originally planned on staying straight and going directly to Linton Meadows but we were enjoying the scenery so much we decided to take a longer route to the meadows and go past Husband and Eileen Lakes first. The 2.4 mile trail would lead us beneath The Husband, past the two lakes, and back to the far end of Linton Meadows. It was interesting to see The Husband up close. The shape reminded us a lot of Broken Top.
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The first lake we reached was Husband Lake. It was a nice lake with views of both the Middle and South Sister.
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After a nice break at Husband Lake we continued on toward Eileen Lake. The trail passed a rock slide at the base of The Husband where we were surprised to see some Columbine in bloom.
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There was also the cutest little tree attempting to grow out of the side of a boulder.
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The North Sister made its first appearance of the day as we continued North.
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Eileen Lake was a gem with green shores and great views. There had been several people camped near Husband Lake but for some reason no one was at Eileen Lake. As we made our way around the lake we encountered a large number of tiny frogs. We had to walk very carefully so we didn’t step on any since they were all over on the trail.
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We eventually made our way around to the best views from the lake.
Eileen Lake
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We left the lake and the frogs behind and in another .8 miles reached the junction with the James Creek Trail at the edge of Linton Meadows.
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Several branches of Linton Creek flow through the meadows creating a large swath of green with the Middle & South Sister providing the backdrop. There were not many flowers left but a couple of patches remained and the sound of the streams roaring down hillside on the far side of the meadows completed the experience.
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We headed back South here and found a campsite at the edge of the meadows. We seemed to be the only ones camped in the area which suited us just fine.
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After getting camp set up we had one more thing to visit – Linton Springs. There is no official trail to the springs but I had a feeling there might be a way up to them so we set off looking for any signs of a trail that might lead us to them. We managed to find some faint trails and picked our way up the main stream being careful to avoid damaging the plants. As we neared the springs we found a more established path and followed it up to an amazing view.
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The springs were truly impressive cascading down from all around the rim of a small bowl.
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It was a perfect way to cap off our first day. We had already visited so many diverse and beautiful places we couldn’t wait to see what day 2 had in store when we would return to the PCT and head to the Chambers Lakes between the Middle and South Sister and finally past Camp Lake to Demaris Lake for our second night.

Happy Trails!

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