Tag Archives: golden-mantled squirrel

Fall River and LaPine State Park

The day after finally getting to see the Green Lakes clouds had moved into the mountains bringing snow to the higher elevations and rain lower. A pair of hikes near LaPine, OR offered us a chance to stay below the clouds while visiting the Fall and Deschutes Rivers.

Our first hike of the day began at the Fall Creek Campground located off the Cascade Lakes Highway near milepost 15.
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Fall River is fed by springs located less than a mile from the campground which causes the water to be crystal clear.
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We started our hike by crossing the river on a footbridge and heading east .4 miles downstream to a dirt road.
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Along the way we began noticing many trees that had been gnawed by beavers, some rather recently.
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We began watching intently hoping to see one of them. After reaching the road and returning to where we had crossed the footbridge we stayed on the south side of the river and continued west toward the springs. We didn’t see any beavers but we saw plenty of other wildlife along the way to the springs.

Fish in Fall River
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Mergansers
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More ducks
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Small birds
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Kingfisher
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Great Blue Heron
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At the springs we spotted several deer.
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The clear water near the springs was brightened by green plants in the water.
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There is a parking area near the springs as well as the rentable Fall River Guard Station.
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We returned to the campground on the north side of the river resulting in a nice little loop back to the bridge. We continued to see wildlife along the way.

Duck
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Golden-mantled squirrel
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Robin
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Merganser
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Deer
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The trail on the north side of the river continues east past the campground for a total of 2.4 miles before reaching private land. We decided to check out that section as well. More wildlife and peaceful river views awaited on this section of the trail. There was also plenty of evidence of beavers but they never showed themselves.

Golden-mantled squirrel
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Crossbill
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Ducks
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Aster
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Small bird
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Chipmunk
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After reaching the private land and returning to the car we drove 5 miles back toward Highway 97 on the Cascade Lakes Highway and turned south on a gravel road where we had seen a pointer for LaPine State Park. Just over a mile on the gravel road brought us to a pair of parking areas on either side of Fall River. We parked on the south side of the river and set off on a 5.3 mile loop through LaPine State Park.
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We decided to do the loop counter-clockwise and headed right away from Fall River. The forest was fairly dry and mostly lodgepole pine here which can be a little less than exciting.
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After crossing a couple of dirt roads we ignored a trail at the 1 mile mark that split off to the left sticking to the Fall River Trail using the many trail signs along the way.
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At a well signed junction within sight of a fee booth we turned left heading for the McGregor Viewpoint.
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The viewpoint offered our first look at the Deschutes River as it wound through the park.
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Continuing on the loop we veered left at the next trail fork then ignored another left staying straight until we reached a dirt road junction. We went straight toward the river on a dirt road heading for an old house ruin that was shown in our guide book. As it turned out the house had been completely torn down.
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We followed the road a little further then turned right on a trail with nice river and wildlife views and passing two other old ruins.
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Ducks
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Nuthatch
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Northern Flicker
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Heron
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The first ruin was along the Deschutes River.
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The second was was along Fall River.
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The trail followed a short section of dirt road after the second ruin. We turned right on a nice path sticking close to Fall river only to find that we had turned too soon and the path we were on followed a ridge down to the river where it abruptly ended. We backtracked to the road, turned right and quickly found the signed trail we should have taken. We followed the trail for a little less than a mile then forked right heading for Fall River Falls.
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From the falls it was less than a half mile along the river back to our waiting car.

These were great hikes for a less than perfect weather day and both of them offered multiple distance options. The nearly level terrain and abundant wildlife also make them good hikes for kids. Happy Trails!

Flicker: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157658868264591

Mt. Ashland Meadows

After hiking to Boccard Point in the morning and resting for a couple of hours back at the Green Springs Inn we headed into Ashland. Our plan was to pick up a meal to go and then eat it at Grouse Gap Shelter on Mt. Ashland. The shelter makes for a good turnaround point for a moderate hike along the Pacific Crest Trail on the flanks of Mt. Ashland. After picking up some sandwiches from the Greenleaf Restaurant we headed toward the Mt. Ashland ski area south of Ashland. The Pacific Crest Trail crosses Mt. Ashland Rd. (Road 20) just beyond the 7 mile marker which is where we parked at a pullout with a signboard to begin our hike.
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We crossed the road and headed south on the PCT.
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The first section of trail passed through forest before emerging in the first of the meadows.
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It was a little early in the year for most of the flowers but we spotted a few.
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In the second meadow we had views of the now mostly cloud covered Mt. Shasta and the now cloud free Pilot Rock. A near reversal from that mornings hike.
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After leaving the second meadow the PCT crossed a drier slope dotted with red paintbrush and manzanita. We were also joined by some golden-mantled squirrels.
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After about a mile and a half we crossed a gravel road and entered another meadow.
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Just beyond this meadow was another smaller meadow where we spotted a deer far below at the meadows end.
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The trail continued to pass through alternating meadows and forest before entering the final broad meadow before the Grouse Gap Shelter. It was still early for flowers but this large meadow had the most we’d seen on this hike.
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From the meadow we could see the shelter at the far end.
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A quarter mile road led from the PCT down to the shelter.
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The shelter looks out across the meadow toward the summit of Mt. Ashland. We were below the clouds this time but the summit wasn’t.
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After eating our sandwiches we headed back. On the way we spotted another deer in the same meadow we had seen the earlier deer in, an owl who was nice enough to sit and have its picture taken, and a final deer amid the hillside trees.
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Then as we were driving back down the mountain a pair of turkeys emerged from the forest.
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This hike wound up being a little over 7 miles long with about 700′ of elevation gain. The Grouse Gap Shelter proved to be a perfect place to stop for a meal making this a great relaxing hike to end the day. Happy Trails!

flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157651795646153

Black Butte

For the final hike of our vacation we decided to say farewell to the mountains for the year. Black Butte provided us the opportunity to get one last good view of the Cascades and a nice bit of elevation gain to boot. We had been checking the weather forecast as often as possible to see if it would be worth the effort and when we went to bed the night before our hike the forecast was for clear sunny skies all day long. They were wrong. lol

My first inkling that something was amiss was when I was loading the car in the morning and there were no stars visible in the sky. As we began our drive to the trailhead occasional sprinkles of rain were falling, but we were committed now and figured that it was early and maybe the clear skies were just a little late.

We arrived at the lower Black Butte Trailhead under cloudy skies but at least there was no rain. The trail set off through pine trees and a carpet of orange ferns.
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We caught several glimpses of Black Butte on the lower portion of the trail and at least it was cloud free (it had not been on the drive earlier).

Black Butte from the lower trail
Black Butte from the lower trail

The lower portion of the trail passed through a variety of forest types. The ever changing makeup of the trees and plants was very interesting.
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Cedars
Cedars

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There would have been some mountain views on a clearer day along this portion as well but on this day all we could make out was the snow line at the base of Mt. Washington and Three Fingered Jack. We were still hoping that the cloud cover would burn off by the time we reached the summit so we continued to climb to the upper trailhead.

From the upper trailhead we climbed out of the forest to the more exposed upper slopes of Black Butte. Here the view was virtually unobstructed by trees but the clouds were a different story. There was a thick layer of clouds above our heads but low enough to hide the taller Cascade Peaks. Below us were smaller patches of clouds passing by and sometimes over us.

Mt. Washington
Mt. Washington
Looking down past the clouds
Looking down past the clouds

As the trail wound up and around the butte we got our first good look at the lookout tower. We also noticed that the summit appeared to be a bit snowy or at least frosty.
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We had been overly warm as we climbed so far and had taken most of our layers off but as we entered the “white” zone we were met with much colder air. As we worked our way around the north side of the butte a slight breeze brought even colder air to us and kept this side of the butte wintry white.
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To the north we could see the edge of the upper cloud layer as sunlight reflected off the lower clouds.
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To the NE we spotted the top of a snowy mountain against blue sky – Mt. Hood!

Mt. Hood
Mt. Hood

Further around we found ourselves staring at the base of Mt. Jefferson. The view was strangely reminiscent of the view we’d had on Double Peaks on the opposite side of the mountain just 3 days earlier with clouds covering the upper 2/3rds of the mountain and blue sky apparently above and behind the mountain.

Mt. Jefferson hidden again
Mt. Jefferson hidden again

At the summit the snow/ice created some interesting scenes.
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We explored the area on top of the butte where the lookout tower is not the only structure. A 1924 cupola that was the former lookout and a log cabin where the lookout staff lives were also present.

1924 cupola
1924 cupola

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Signs on the summit listed the mountain peaks that would be visible on a clear day from Broken Top to the south to Mt. Adams to the north. We were mostly left with our imaginations. 🙂 Looking out over the log cabin we could see a good portion of Three Fingered Jack and some of Mt. Jefferson.

Three Fingered Jack
Three Fingered Jack

We hung around for a little over half an hour hoping that the clouds would break up but the lower clouds just kept coming up from behind us and the upper clouds didn’t seem to be budging. Just as we started to leave though we noticed the upper layer was breaking up to the north and there seemed to be some breaking up near Mt. Jefferson. We turned around and headed back toward the cabin but the low clouds were rising up just in front of us so we again headed back down. I kept looking back though hoping for something when we finally got a little break and the summit of Mt. Jefferson made an appearance over a ribbon of clouds.

Mt. Jefferson
Mt. Jefferson

As the upper clouds retreated south we suddenly had blue sky above us and the frosty coating quickly melted from the trees and plants.
As we came around to the south side of the butte Mt. Washington was a bit more visible.

Mt. Washington
Mt. Washington

 

The upper layer of clouds retreating south
The upper layer of clouds retreating south

Just as quickly as the blue sky had appeared one of the larger low clouds enveloped the side of Black Butte and we were once again without a view.

When we got down past the upper trailhead we finally got back out of the cloud and could once again see out to where the mountains would be. Even though the upper layer of clouds had mostly retreated the lower clouds were quickly replacing it and many of them clung to the taller peaks. We did manage to get a good view of several small peaks and buttes though.

Belknap Crater and Little Belknap
Belknap Crater and Little Belknap
Black Crater
Black Crater
Hayrick Butte & Hoodoo
Hayrick Butte & Hoodoo

We even got a brief glimpse of North Sisters summit.
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This time on the lower trail we spotted a decent amount of wildlife including chipmunks, douglas squirrels, golden-mantled squirrels, and various birds. Some were more willing to have their pictures taken than others.
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We were supposed to meet my parents at the trailhead at 2:00 so they could drop off Dominique (who had chosen not to accompany us on the hike). A series of mishaps led to a bit of an adventure but while we were waiting a group of deer came by the parking area.
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We eventually met up with my parents and reclaimed Nique and headed home. With that the bulk of our 2013 hikes were behind us. We’ll hopefully get out a couple more times this year, but our activities have now shifted to running for the next several months. It’s the beginning of our race season and we are all starting to train for a 15 mile trail run in a couple of months. Happy Trails.

Facebook photos:https://www.facebook.com/deryl.yunck/media_set?set=a.10202390873000341.1073741863.1448521051&type=1
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157636523907403/