Tag Archives: PCT

Wahtum Lake with Indian, Chindrie, and Tomlike Mountains – 10/27/2019

After a false start we closed out our 2019 hiking season with a bang on a 16.7 mile jaunt to three peaks near Wahtum Lake. We set off on Saturday morning for this hike but only made it 16 miles from our house where we wound up stuck on Interstate 5 for more than three hours due to an unfortunate accident that resulted in a fatality. By the time we were able to proceed it was too late for our liking so we took a mulligan and tried again the next morning.

Our next attempt went better and we arrived at the trailhead at the Wahtum Lake Campground just before dawn. A loan car was parked at the trailhead with just a bit of fresh snow on it from the night before. (We would find out later that he had spent the night at Mud Lake.)
IMG_1364

After some deliberation regarding our planned route we settled on the following. We would hike down to the lake then go southbound on the Pacific Crest Trail to the Indian Mountain Trial and take it up to the summit of Indian Mountain. Then we would return to Wahtum Lake on the PCT and follow the Chindrie Cutoff Trail around the southern end of the lake and climb up to the PCT near the Chindrie Mountain Trail (This part of the plan wound up being changed but more on that later) and hike up to that summit as well. After tagging Chindrie the plan was to return to the PCT and go southbound once again to the Herman Creek Trail following it to the unofficial trail to the summit of Tomlike Mountain. Finally after returning to the Herman Creek Trail from Tomlike Mountain we would backtrack a few hundred feet to the Anthill Trail which would lead us back to the Wahtum Lake Campground.

From the campground we took the Wahtum Express Trail down a series of slick looking steps entering the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness along the way.
IMG_1368

IMG_1372

IMG_1374

After dropping a little over 200′ in .2 miles we arrived at the PCT as it curved around Wahtum Lake.
IMG_1377

Before turning left (south) on the PCT we went down to the lake shore. It was a little under 30 degrees and a crisp breeze was making it feel even colder so we didn’t linger but between a small island and a section of snow flocked trees to the north it was a nice scene. Chindrie Mountain was visible across the lake to the SW.
IMG_1379

IMG_1381Chindrie Mountain from across Wahtum Lake.

We set off on the PCT passing a couple of additional nice views of the lake before arriving at a trail junction at the lakes southern end.
IMG_1386

IMG_1383

IMG_1388

IMG_1391

At the junction we noticed a closure sign for the Eagle Creek Fire closure area over the signs for our planned route to Chindrie Mountain.
IMG_1563

I admittedly hadn’t checked the Forest Service closure map in a while but it had been my understanding that the Eagle Creek Trail was closed at the junction with the Chindrie Cutoff Trail but I had expected this trail to be open. Being uncertain we altered our plans and decided to follow the PCT all the way around the northern end of Wahtum Lake on our way between Indian and Chindrie Mountains. According the mileage shown on our map that would and approximately three quarters of a mile to our day. Further research would confirm that it was indeed only the Eagle Creek Trail that was closed which was just over a tenth of a mile further along the Chindrie Cutoff Trail (it would have been nice if the sign had been clear about that).

We continued south on the PCT gradually gaining over 400′ as we contoured along the side of Waucoma Ridge before arriving at the old Indian Springs Campground a little under 3 miles later. Along this stretch we had some additional views of Chindrie Mountain as well as Tanner Butte and Washington’s Table Mountain (post).
IMG_1395Chindrie Mountain

IMG_1399Tanner Butte

IMG_1403

IMG_1404Table Mountain

IMG_1408

IMG_1413Chindrie Mountain again.

We also got our first look at Indian Mountain and Mt. Hood .6 miles from Indian Springs after leaving the wilderness and popping out of the forest alongside Forest Road 660.
IMG_1416Indian Mountain

IMG_1418Mt. Hood

IMG_1428

The presence of ice formations and a bit of snow here and there made the scenery even better.
IMG_1421

IMG_1432

IMG_1435Crossing FR 660 near Indian Springs

IMG_1436Trail sign at the junction with the currently closed Indian Springs Trail.

We continued south on the PCT for another third of a mile crossing a small stream before climbing up and around a treeless ridge where a frigid wind was steadily blowing.
IMG_1439

IMG_1440

IMG_1441

The view from the ridge was spectacular. To the north the snow covered peaks in Washington were visible beyond Chindrie Mountain and to the south was our goal, the 4892′ Indian Mountain.
IMG_1446

IMG_1457

As the PCT rounded the ridge we came to the junction with the Indian Mountain Trail.
IMG_1462

IMG_1463

20191027_091244

The wind was pushing us around a bit as we turned up the Indian Mountain Trail. As this trail climbed the open ridge the views just got better eventually leading to a decent view of Goat Rocks (post) between Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier.
IMG_1486

IMG_1476Table Mountain and Greenleaf Peak with Mt. St. Helens in the background.

IMG_1491Mt. St. Helens

IMG_1490Mt. Rainier

IMG_1488Goat Rocks

IMG_1477Mt. Adams and Chindrie Mountain

The trail finally went back into the trees which gave us some relief from the biting wind.
IMG_1492

IMG_1493

After passing remains of the former lookout (and bathroom) the trail climbed to the rocky summit a mile from the PCT.
IMG_1495

IMG_1498

Given the time of day and year the Sun wasn’t in the greatest spot for pictures but the view of Mt. Hood was great and there was also a decent view further south to Mt. Jefferson.
IMG_1499Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson

IMG_1503Mt. Jefferson

IMG_1514Mt. Hood from the former lookout site.

IMG_1512Mt. Hood with Lost Lake Butte (post) in front.

The snow and cold weather added some nice touches to the scenery here as well.
IMG_1508Snow on the north side, green on the south.

IMG_1524Mt. St. Helens with some snow on the trees in the foreground.

IMG_1528Crystals on a bush.

We headed back the way we’d come and arrived back at the junction with the Chindrie Cutoff Trail where we paused to see if we could find any indication that that trail was indeed open. With no confirmation in sight we erred on the side of caution and stuck to the PCT which began a gradual climb up and away from the lake beyond the Wahtum Express Trail.
IMG_1568

IMG_1571

We gained another 400 plus feet over the next 1.6 miles before arriving at a junction with the Herman Creek Trail.
IMG_1577

IMG_1580Stream crossing

IMG_1581Herman Creek Trail junction.

We stuck to the PCT and promptly passed the junction with the Chindrie Cutoff Trail. At this end there was no closure sign signifying that we could indeed have taken the trail up from Wahtum Lake savings us about .7 miles (but at a “steeper” price).
IMG_1584

Another 100 yards on the PCT brought us to a fork where the Chindrie Mountain Trail headed uphill to the right.
IMG_1585

IMG_1586

This .4 mile trail was the steepest we were on during the hike as it gained approximately 400′ on the way to the rocky viewpoint atop the mountain.
IMG_1590Looking at the summit from the trail.

IMG_1592

IMG_1593

IMG_1596Mt. Hood

The 360 degree view included Wahtum Lake to the east below.
IMG_1609

IMG_1619

The view south included Mt. Hood and Indian Mountain (and some Sun glare).
IMG_1613

Tanner Butte rose above the fire scarred Eagle Creek Valley to the west.
IMG_1603

The best view, given the position of the Sun, was to the north where the Washington Cascades lined the horizon.
IMG_1597

There was also a good view of the rock spine of Tomlike Mountain in front of Mt. Adams.
IMG_1622

From the angle it looked like a pretty gradual ascent. It was a little breezy at the summit so we didn’t linger long because the wind was making it cold. We returned to the PCT and then to the Herman Creek Trail junction where we set off on that trail.
IMG_1632

We had been on the lower end of the Herman Creek Trail before (post) but not this end. Here the trail climbed gradually through an open forest with with lots of beargrass.
IMG_1636

After a quarter mile we passed the Rainy/Wahtum Trail.
IMG_1637

IMG_1645Lots of beargrass clumps.

About a mile from the PCT we passed another junction, this time with the Anthill Trail which we would be taking back to Wahtum Lake later.
IMG_1646

Just under a tenth of a mile later the Herman Creek Trail made a hairpin turn before beginning a steep descent to Mud Lake. Here the unofficial trail to Tomlike Mountain headed out along the ridge to the left. A yellow “temporary” Forest Service sign at the junction identified only the Herman Creek Trail.
IMG_1649Trail to Tomlike on the left.

The trail began in the trees before skirting some cliffs above Mud Lake.
IMG_1652

The trees began to give way allowing for a view ahead to Tomlike Mountain which from this angle looked like it might be a bit steeper of a climb than it had from Chindrie.
IMG_1656

The other thing we noticed was that it looked further than the mile that the map showed between the summit and Herman Creek Trail. Sometimes it seems like it’s better not to be able to see your goal.
IMG_1660

Much of the path was faint with occasional cairns or flagging marking the way. The rocky terrain was somewhat challenging given that we had, by this point, covered over 12 miles already.
IMG_1663

IMG_1671There’s at least one cairn here.

The higher we climbed along the ridge the more of Mt. Hood that was visible behind us.
IMG_1664

IMG_1670

After climbing up a pile of larger rocks the trail entered a patch of small trees which we found to be a fun little section.
IMG_1672

IMG_1673

The trail emerged from the little trees for the final time as it climbed to the rocky summit.
IMG_1674

IMG_1677

IMG_1679Mt. Adams to the right.

IMG_1680

IMG_1683Mt. Hood with Indian Mountain rising up behind Chindrie Mountain to the right.

IMG_1693Heather crossing the ridge below the summit.

The trail continued for a bit beyond the summit although it didn’t provide any real different views.
IMG_1694

IMG_1707

IMG_1700Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Goat Rocks and Mt. Adams from left to right.

IMG_1706Mt. St. Helens

IMG_1705Mt. Rainier

IMG_1703Goat Rocks

IMG_1701Mt. Adams

We left Tomlike Mountain and returned to to the Herman Creek Trail and then walked back to the Anthill Trial junction and turned up that trail for a final 1.9 miles back to Wahtum Lake.
IMG_1720Anthill Trail on the left.

The Anthill Trail climbed for a half a mile to an old road bed which ran between Wahtum and Rainy Lakes.
IMG_1728

We crossed the road and continued to climb gradually to a saddle where we crosed over a ridge and began a descent which included views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson and Wahtum Lake.
IMG_1731

IMG_1739

IMG_1742

IMG_1744Mt. Jefferson

IMG_1751Wahtum Lake and Chindrie Mountain

The descent was gradual until the final quarter mile or so where it steepend before arriving at the campground.
IMG_1752

IMG_1755

It was a great way to end our hiking season with a little snow on the ground and a lot of blue sky above. The persistent wind was a little chilly, but we had dressed appropriately so it wasn’t too much of an issue (my fingers weren’t pleased about having to come out so often for pictures). We plan on getting out a couple more times this year but it’s time to back off a bit and relish in the memories of some great hikes this past year. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Wahtum Lake with Indian, Chindrie, and Tomlike Mountains

Lodgepole Loop – 10/12/2019

We’re entering the time of year where the weather can be a real wildcard. A week earlier there was snow down to the mountain passes. There wasn’t any snow in the forecast but a continuously changing threat of cloudy conditions and rain showers kept us from deciding exactly where we’d be heading until the night before. A mostly cloudy but precipitation free forecast led us to our third hike of the year in the Olallie Lake Scenic Area for a lake filled hike where the presence of clouds would have minimal affect on the scenery.

Our plan was to follow a route suggested by Matt Reeder in his “101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region” starting at the Olallie Meadows Campground and taking the Lodgepole Trail to the Red Lake Trail which we would then take east to the Pacific Crest Trail. Heading north on the PCT would bring us to the Russ Lake Trail. After a side trip to Russ and Jude Lakes we would take the Russ Lake Trail west to the Lodgepole Trail and return to Olallie Meadows. That was our plan anyway but it isn’t quite how things played out.

We parked at a trail sign at the end of the Olallie Meadows Campground and checked out the meadows while we waited for a little more light. The sky was fairly cloud free which was encouraging but it also meant that the overnight low of 35 that had been in the forecast was actually 27 (according to the car).
IMG_0442

IMG_0446

IMG_0447

We didn’t have to wait long and soon we were crunching along the trail. There was a lot of frozen moisture so every step sounded like we were crushing a bag of potato chips, it wasn’t a good sign for seeing any morning wildlife. A quarter mile from the trailhead we passed the Russ Lake Trail junction where we would be coming from on our return.
IMG_0452

For now we stayed straight enjoying the fall colors and traces of snow along the trail while we tried to keep some feeling in our fingers.
IMG_0455

IMG_0456

After a short climb the view ahead opened up to Olallie Butte which we’d climbed earlier in the year.(post)
IMG_0460

Three quarters of a mile from the Russ Lake Trail we arrived at another signed junction.
IMG_0463

We turned right here onto what turned out to be the Pacific Crest Trail (we didn’t notice the marker on a nearby tree on this first pass) following a pointer for Olallie Lake.
IMG_0464

Shortly afterward we began to realize something was amiss. Prior to setting off we had taken a last look at Reeder’s map and remembered that there was a short section of trail that we would not be hiking on if we did the loop the way we’d planned. What we didn’t remember was where that section was, but if we were already on the PCT it didn’t seem possible for there to be such a section so we differed to the book and realized that somewhere between the Russ Lake Trail and the PCT the Lodgepole Trail should have forked to the right and crossed Skyline Road near the Triangle Lake Horsecamp. Neither one of us remembered seeing anything that looked like a trail. We contemplated going back to look for it, but decided to just continue on in the opposite direction as planned.

We followed the PCT south passing a large dry lake then a small frozen one before crossing under a set of power lines and passing the Olallie Butte Trail in just under a mile.
IMG_0466

IMG_0472

IMG_0474

Another 2.2 miles on the PCT brought us more colorful foliage, another frozen pond, and a glimpse of Mt. Jefferson before arriving at Skyline Road just north of Olallie Lake (post).
IMG_0475

IMG_0480

IMG_0485

IMG_0491

IMG_0493

IMG_0494

IMG_0500

We crossed the road sticking to the PCT and stopped to take a look at Head Lake.
IMG_0508

IMG_0515

IMG_0523_stitch

Beyond Head Lake the PCT climbs for approximately a mile and a half to the Red Lake Trail junction. We had been on this section of the trail before (post) but on that day the clouds had restricted the views to the forest and ponds along the trail. In addition to the great fall colors on this trip we had some excellent views of Mt. Jefferson.
IMG_0532

IMG_0533

IMG_0535

IMG_0536Olallie Butte

IMG_0538

IMG_0553

IMG_0559Mt. Jefferson

IMG_0562Olallie Lake

IMG_0568

IMG_0564

IMG_0575Mt. Jefferson

We even had a rather obscured view of Mt. Hood for a moment.
IMG_0584

IMG_0585

At the junction with the Red Lake Trail we turned right onto that trail.
IMG_0587

IMG_0589

This trail was also familiar to us as including the unnamed lake below Twin Peaks.
IMG_0590

IMG_0591

IMG_0592

Beyond the lake the trail began a rocky descent to a junction with the Lodgepole Trail just over a mile from the PCT.
IMG_0594Potato Butte ahead.

IMG_0596

IMG_0597Lodgepole Trail junction.

Here we turned right back onto the Lodgepole Trail. We were back on new-to-us trail and in less than a quarter mile came to an unnamed lake on the left.
IMG_0606

IMG_0603One of the causes of the noisy steps.

Just over a quarter mile from the junction was Middle Lake on the right.
IMG_0612Twin Peaks on the other side of Middle Lake.

IMG_0616Colors along Middle Lake.

Next up was supposed to be a short out and back to Gifford Lakes on a trail located somewhere between Middle and Lower Lakes. We missed the unmarked trail on our first pass, but realized it fairly quickly when a GPS check showed we were closer to Lower Lake than we should have been. (For the record it’s about a quarter mile from Middle Lake.) We turned around and headed back the way we’d come looking for yet another trail we’d missed. I had an idea of where we’d missed it having noticed some logs and branches that looked like it could have been over an old trail. Sure enough that turned out to be the spot, but between the wood and snow it had been really easy to miss.
IMG_0622

A .2 mile detour brought us to the larger of the two Gifford Lakes. We had heard that this was probably the prettiest lake in the area and we wouldn’t argue that.
IMG_0624

IMG_0625

IMG_0630Olallie Butte

IMG_0636

IMG_0643

IMG_0648Twin Peaks from Gifford Lake.

IMG_0664

A trail to the left around the lake led to a ridge between the two Gifford Lakes. The smaller lake didn’t have the views that its larger neighbor enjoyed but it was scenic nonetheless.
IMG_0669

IMG_0678

IMG_0670

After exploring the lakes and a snack break we returned to the Lodgepole Trail and turned right to continue on our loop. We came to another junction about .4 miles from the trail to Gifford Lakes.
IMG_0702

Here the Lodgepole Trail continued straight crossing the Fish Lake Trail. We turned briefly down the Fish Lake Trail to take a quick look at Lower Lake before continuing on.
IMG_0704Sign for the Fish Lake Trail.

IMG_0705Lower Lake

IMG_0707Olallie Butte

IMG_0713Sign for the Lodgepole Trail.

The trail dropped to a meadow then reentered the forest and climbed to a ridge top .8 miles from the junction.
IMG_0714

IMG_0716

IMG_0719Pinedrops

IMG_0729

IMG_0731The trail was actually the fainter track to the left leading to the bridge, but that wasn’t obvious until we reached the trees.

IMG_0733A lone yarrow.

IMG_0737

After cresting the ridge the trail dropped to a dry crossing of the Clackamas River.
IMG_0746

Approximately two miles from the Fish Lake Trail we found ourselves passing back under the power lines.
IMG_0749

Another mile of fairly level trail brought us to Triangle Lake.
IMG_0752

IMG_0756

IMG_0761

After passing the lake and horse camp we quickly found ourselves crossing Skyline Road again.
IMG_0764

We were really interested in seeing where we were going to meet up with the trail from that morning. Our answer came in less than 100 yards when the clear trail we were on arrived at a junction. A small tree was lying across the trail but the tread was rather obvious. We decided we must have been focused on the hill that was just beyond the junction and not looking at that side of the trail because it was hard to miss.
IMG_0766Approaching the junction.

IMG_0767Quite the camouflage isn’t it?

We turned right climbing the little hill, for the second time that day, and in a tenth of a mile were back at the Pacific Crest Trail. This time we turned left following the Jude Lake pointer.
IMG_0768

The PCT entered the Warm Springs Reservation before arriving at the Russ Lake Trail in a third of a mile.
IMG_0771

IMG_0772

Here we turned right on the Russ Lake Trail (which was not signed).
IMG_0773

The trail passed a small pond after a tenth of a mile and the southern end of Jude Lake after two tenths before arriving at Russ Lake a little of a third of a mile from the junction. (Please note that fishing is not allowed on the Reservation without a permit.)
IMG_0774Jude Lake

IMG_0775Jude Lake

IMG_0776Jude Lake

IMG_0786Russ Lake

IMG_0782

IMG_0801

We watched the ducks on Russ Lake for a bit before heading back. It wasn’t until we were passing Jude Lake again that we actually realized that it was Jude Lake which allowed us to skip a short out and back north on the PCT to see the other side of that lake. Having seen Jude Lake we stayed on the Russ Lake Trail when we got back to the PCT junction and in a tenth of a mile turned right on a short unsiged spur trail to Brook Lake.
IMG_0803

IMG_0805

IMG_0808

From Book Lake it was another .2 miles to the Lodgepole Trail and about the same back to Olallie Meadows.
IMG_0811

IMG_0813

We were anticipating a 13.2 mile loop (per Reeder) but a little extra exploring, missing the Gifford Lakes Trail, and screwing up the route to begin with we ended our day just over 14 miles. It turned out to be a really nice day (after our hands warmed up) with a lot of nice scenery. We only ran into a single pair of backpackers during the hike although there were a number of vehicles on Skyline Road both in the morning and on our drive out. The Olallie Lake Scenic Area is definately a great place for late Summer/Fall hiking. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Lodgepole Loop

Four-In-One Cone – 8/14/2019

The third hike of our vacation was another repeat (this time only partially) of a viewless outing. In 2012 we had embarked on “the hike that shall not be named” (post) It was an ambitious hike that went wrong in a couple of ways. First I misunderstood the guidebook and turned a 15 mile loop into an 18.6 trudge and second the persistent low cloud layer denied us of virtually any views. Our plan to hike to Four-In-One Cone would cover part of that hike.

We chose the Four-In-One Cone portion of that hike for two reasons. First Four-In-One Cone is a really cool volcanic feature and second much of the remainder of that loop passes through the Obsidian Limited Entry Area for which we didn’t have a permit nor were any available. We started the hike at the Scott Trailhead located along Highway 242 (17 miles from Highway 126 or 20.3 miles from Highway 20).
IMG_6219

The Scott Trail briefly follows along the highway before crossing it and entering the Three Sisters Wilderness.
IMG_6223

IMG_6224

A third of a mile from trailhead we came to a somewhat familiar junction.
IMG_6236

Neither of us quite remembered it looking like it did now (for one thing the trail sign was missing) but the right hand fork led to the Obsidian Trailhead and had marked the final .6 miles of THAT hike. We forked left and began to climb via several switchbacks which we had no recollection of. We also passed a viewpoint at one of the switchbacks.
IMG_6245

After the viewpoint the trail continued to climb but more gradually as it passed through a mixed forest.
IMG_6247

IMG_6249Pinesap

IMG_6251

IMG_6252A very blurry deer spotted through the trees.

IMG_6257

IMG_6258

IMG_6262

Three miles from the trailhead we arrived at the first of two short lava flow crossings. A large western toad was in the trail here and there was also a squirrel nearby which seemed like a suspicious combination.
IMG_6265

IMG_6270

20190814_085527

IMG_6274

The lava crossings are separated by an island of forest that escaped the flow.
IMG_6282

IMG_6284North Sister

IMG_6290Middle Sister

IMG_6288More spies watching us.

Beyond the second lava crossing we spent a little time back in the forest before once again entering a volcanic landscape as we came around the south side of Four-In-One Cone.
IMG_6294

IMG_6299

IMG_6300

Unlike our previous visit the Cascade Mountains were visible.
IMG_6301North and Middle Sister behind the Little Brother.

IMG_6312Mt. Jefferson beyond Four-In-One Cone

IMG_6317Mt. Hood over the right shoulder of Mt. Jefferson.

IMG_6319Mt. Washington’s spire behind the cone with Three Fingered Jack and Mt. Jefferson.

The route up Four-In-One Cone is just under 1.5 miles from the first lava crossing and is marked by a signpost.
IMG_6309

Before going up the cone we decided to continue another .8 miles to the Pacific Crest Trail in Scott Meadow. We had of course been to that junction during our loop in 2012 but we’d also visited it in 2013 from the north on the PCT from South Matthieu Lake (post). Lupine is said to bloom profusely from mid-July through August but we hadn’t seen much in 2013 (2012 was late September) so we thought we’d give it another try. Prior to reaching Scott Meadow we did pass a couple of hillsides with a decent amount of lupine but I don’t know that we considered it profuse
IMG_6328

IMG_6331

IMG_6333

IMG_6335

IMG_6343Scott Meadow

There wasn’t any lupine at all around the PCT junction but the view of Little Brother next to the North and Middle Sisters is nice.
IMG_6358_stitch

After a short break and pointing a group of trail runners toward Opie Dilldock along the PCT we turned around and headed back for Four-In-One Cone.
IMG_6369

IMG_6383

Four-In-One Cone is just that, four cinder cones which erupted at different times but are joined together creating a .4 mile long ridge.
IMG_6390

To the SE the North and Middle Sister are closer than the Cascades to the NW the position of the Sun made the view of the further peaks a little clearer.
IMG_6398North Sister, Middle Sisters behind Little Brother and The Husband.

IMG_6392North Sister with Collier Cone in front and South Sister behind Little Brother.

IMG_6411The Husband

IMG_6443Scott Mountain (post) beyond the lava flows of Four-In-One Cone.

IMG_6404One of the craters.

After visiting the southern end of the cones we made our way to the northern end.
IMG_6434Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Hood, and Black Crater (post)

IMG_6444Looking back south.

IMG_6460Belknap Crater (post)

IMG_6459Mt. Washington beyond Little Belknap Crater with Three Fingered Jack behind.

IMG_6462Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood

After fully exploring the cones we returned the way we’d come capping off a 12.3 mile, 1750′ elevation gain hike. We were happy to have finally gotten to see what we’d missed back in 2012. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Four-In-One Cone

Dry Creek and Pacific Crest Falls

Despite what the weather thinks we are approaching our hiking season which means we will be hitting the trails much more often over the next 6 months. As we work our way into hiking shape we jumped on a chance at a rain free morning and headed to the Columbia River Gorge to check out a pair of waterfalls. Several trails in the gorge remain closed due to fire damage from the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire and others that had been reopened are again closed due to rock fall and slides caused by our recent weather combined with the fire damage. Please remember to check on the current status and conditions of trails before heading out.

Our sights were set on a section of the Pacific Crest Trail from Cascade Locks to Pacific Crest Falls. We had visited Pacific Crest Falls coming from the other side in October of 2015 (post) but at that time of year there wasn’t much water flowing so we thought a return visit was in order, especially after our recent rains.

We began our hike at the Bridge of the Gods Trailhead in Cascade Locks.
Bridge of the Gods Trailhead

From the trailhead we took the Pacific Crest Trail south.
Pacific Crest Trail sign in Cascade Locks

Pacific Crest Trail at Cascade Locks

The PCT briefly follows Harvey Road as it passes under I84 to a second possible trailhead.
Short road stretch on the PCT

Pacific Crest/Gorge Trail

From the Harvey Road Trailhead the PCT climbed gradually through the fire scarred forest. It was encouraging to see that many if not most of the trees along this section had survived. There was also quite a few early Spring flowers blooming.
Pacific Crest Trail in the Eagle Creek Fire scar

Eagle Creek Fire scar along the Pacific Crest Trail

Violets and snow queenSnow queen and violets

TrilliumTrillium

Just under a mile from Harvey Road the PCT once again briefly shared a gravel roadbed as it passed under a set of power lines.
Another short stretch of road along the Pacific Crest Trail

The trail leveled out shortly after passing the power lines and traversed along a sometimes steep hillside for three quarters of a mile to a signed junction near Dry Creek.
Pacific Crest Trail

Forest along the Pacific Crest Trail

Pacific Crest Trail

Dry Creek Falls Trail

Here we detoured away from the PCT and followed the pointer for Dry Creek Falls. This trail followed an old roadbed along Dry Creek just over a quarter of mile to Dry Creek Falls.
Approaching Dry Creek Falls

Dry Creek with Dry Creek Falls in the distance

Dry Creek Falls

Dry Creek Falls

Dry Creek Falls

After a nice little break at the base of the falls we headed back to the PCT where we turned right and crossed Dry Creek on a footbridge.
Footbridge over Dry Creek

Dry Creek

We had been discussing the fact that hikers were starting to post picture of fairy slippers (Calypso bulbosa) one of our favorites. We weren’t sure if any would be blooming yet in this area but we managed to spot a few as we continued south on the PCT.
Fairy slipper

Approximately 1.25 miles from Dry Creek the PCT crossed a talus slope.
Pacific Crest Trail

At the beginning of this section we spotted group of yellow flowers which turned out to be glacier lilies.
Glacier lilies

Glacier lilies

Glacier lilies

This section also provided the best, albeit limited, view across the Columbia River during this hike.
Columbia River

A half mile beyond the talus we passed the Herman Creek Pinnacles. We detoured briefly to get a closer look at the basalt formation and the cute little monkeyflowers blooming amid the rocks.
Herman Creek Pinnacles

Herman Creek Pinnacles

Chickeweed monkeyflower

Chickweed monkeyflower

After exploring the pinnacles we continued on and in less than a quarter mile arrived at Pacific Crest Falls.
Approaching Pacific Crest Falls

Pacific Crest Falls

The amount of water flowing over the falls was noticeably more this time around.
Pacific Crest FallsOctober 2015

Pacific Crest FallsApril 2019

We turned around here and headed back along the PCT to the junction near Dry Creek. Instead of returning to Cascade Locks via the PCT we turned downhill on the old road and followed the creek downhill.
Old roadbed back to Cascade Locks

Dry Creek

Dry Creek

After approximately 1.25 miles we passed some sort of a structure followed by a gate.
Dry Creek Road

Beyond the gate Dry Creek Road was open and well graveled.
Dry Creek Road

After passing a few logging roads and swinging quite a ways east we passed under I84 by turning left on SW Ruckle St which we followed to its end at SW Adams Ave. We turned left on Adams which brought us to a school.
Cascade Locks

We passed behind the school (and library) and made our way to Highway 30 where we turned left again towards the Bridge of the Gods.
Heading through Cascade Locks

Cascade Locks

Bridge of the Gods

We arrived back at our car as the rain was arriving. The hike was approximately 9.5 miles (I had some battery issues with the GPS) with a little under 1000′ of elevation gain. Hiking through Cascade Locks at the end was definitely not the most exciting end to a hike and unless you’re like us and specifically seek out alternate return routes I’d recommend just returning as you came. That being said the upper portion of the road walk along Dry Creek was nice.

I want to take a moment to thank the volunteers that have worked so hard to restore the trails affected by the fire. In particular the PCTA and Trail Keepers of Oregon (TKO) have been hard at work and doing an excellent job. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Dry Creek and Pacific Crest Falls

Falls Creek Falls and Indian Racetrack

One week after spending a day hiking in California at the Lava Beds National Monument (post) we visited our neighbor to the north, Washington. On our itinerary for the day were a pair of hikes north of Carson, WA. We started with a visit to Falls Creek Falls.

We parked at the trailhead at the end of Forest Road 57 where only one other car occupied the large parking area at 7:15am. The dim morning light coupled with some low clouds made it hard to capture the fall colors with the camera but our eyes had no problems appreciating them as we set off on the trail.
IMG_4324

We quickly passed a trail on the left which would be part of the loop we were planning on doing here and stayed straight toward the falls.
IMG_4331

At the .4 mile mark we arrived at a short suspension bridge over Falls Creek.
IMG_4339

IMG_4340

IMG_4342

Beyond the bridge the trail climbed gradually for a mile to a junction. Along the way there were several views of the creek.
IMG_4345

IMG_4348

IMG_4350

IMG_4354

IMG_4357

At the junction we stayed right and continued to gradually climb for another .3 miles to three tiered Falls Creek Falls. The first views are of the upper and middle tiers through some trees.
IMG_4366

IMG_4368

The lower tier comes into view near the end of the trail at which point most of the upper tier is lost due to the angle.
IMG_4391

IMG_4388

We spent a few chilly minutes admiring the falls before heading back to the junction.
IMG_4393

Here we veered uphill to the right climbing fairly steeply for about two tenths of a mile to the Falls Creek Trail.
IMG_4395

IMG_4396

Before continuing on the loop we turned right on the Falls Creek Trail to visit a viewpoint or two above the falls. After .6 miles on this fairly level trail we spotted a side trail heading out to the first viewpoint. We started to head out this spur but then noticed a tent set up there (we found the owners of the other car) so we continued another quarter mile to the second viewpoint.
IMG_4403

IMG_4404

The view from the top was just out over the valley, but a steep scramble trail led down to the top of the falls from here. We checked to see if the ground seemed muddy or slick, but it turned out to be in good shape so we made our way down to the creek just above the falls.
IMG_4412

IMG_4408

From the viewpoint we returned to the loop and continued down the Falls Creek Trail 1.7 miles to another bridge over Falls Creek which we hadn’t seen since the viewpoint. Despite the creek not being visible from the trail the scenery was not lacking due to the surrounding forest and fall colors.
IMG_4415

IMG_4423

IMG_4426

IMG_4427

At the far side of the bridge we turned left for a little over half a mile completing the loop and returning to our car, and a much fuller parking lot.
IMG_4429

IMG_4432

After the 6.3 mile hike here we were ready for the second hike of the day to the Indian Heaven Wilderness and Red Mountain. We drove back toward Carson and eventually (after missing the turn the first time) turned east on Warren Gap Road (Road 405) at a pointer for the Panther Creek Campground. We followed this road for a little under two miles to Forest Road 65 where we turned left for 8 miles, passing the parking area for Panther Creek Falls (post) along the way, to a junction with FR 60. We turned right here and followed this road for two miles to the Pacific Crest Trail and a small campground.
IMG_4434

IMG_4436

We followed the PCT north climbing gradually through the forest which looked quite different from the forest along Falls Creek just a few miles away.
IMG_4440

IMG_4445

A little over 1.75 miles from the trailhead we passed one of the small Sheep Lakes.
IMG_4449

IMG_4451

A quarter mile later we entered the Indian Heaven Wilderness.
IMG_4456

Although there wasn’t as much fall color along this trail as there had been along the trails at Fall Creek there was some and there were also some interesting mushrooms to be seen.
IMG_4461

IMG_4469This may named be Green Lake

IMG_4442

IMG_4453

IMG_4464

IMG_4473

As we hiked through a meadow we spotted the lookout tower on Red Mountain to the SW which was to be one of our stops on the hike.
IMG_4478

IMG_4480

We turned left off of the PCT 1.2 miles after entering the wilderness at a sign for Indian Racetrack.
IMG_4483

IMG_4485

This trail led a half mile through the forest to the large meadows at Indian Racetrack where up until 1928 tribes indeed raced horses.
IMG_4489

IMG_4493

IMG_4498

IMG_4501

We turned left in the middle of the meadows toward a trail sign for the Indian Racetrack Trail.
IMG_4502

IMG_4503

This trail climbed for .8 miles, steeply at times, to a road on the shoulder of Red Mountain. An opening just above a saddle along the way provided a nice view of Mt. Adams to the NE.
IMG_4506

IMG_4516

IMG_4513

IMG_4523

We followed the road uphill for .3 miles to the lookout gaining views of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier along the way.
IMG_4528

IMG_4532

IMG_4537

IMG_4542Lemei Rock and Mt. Adams

Near the lookout Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson could be seen to the south in Oregon.
IMG_4543

IMG_4544

We took a nice long break at the summit gazing at Washington’s trio of volcanoes and talking with a fellow hiker from Vancouver who had tried to reach the lookout earlier in the year but had been turned back by snow.
IMG_4555_stitch

IMG_4575Mt. St. Helens

IMG_4581Mt. Rainier

IMG_4569Mt. Adams

From the lookout we headed back down the road and followed it all the way back down to FR 60 a total of 3.4 miles from the tower.
IMG_4583

We were a half mile from the Pacfic Crest Trail so we road walked, uphill, back to our car. In hindsight it might have been nicer to do the loop in reverse in order to start with the road walks and finish the hike with a gradual descent. Either way it was a great hike, but we had been expecting it to be a 7.5 mile loop based on our guidebook, but our GPS (and our legs) put it at 9.2 miles. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Falls Creek Falls and Indian Racetrack

Pamelia Lake Overnighter

As I mentioned in our recent Table Lake Loop Trip Report (post)we had plans to visit Goat Peak, a 7159′ peak just south of Mt. Jefferson. We had obtained a Pamelia Limited Area Entry Permit in May when they became available for September 8th and 9th. It was a roll of the dice not knowing what the wildfire or weather situations would be four months down the road but it ensured that we would be able to go if conditions permitted it. Aside from a slight chance of showers the morning of the 8th the forecast looked good so that morning we drove to the Pamelia Lake Trailhead and set off.IMG_1945

IMG_1946

We had been here once before in 2013 on a long loop to Hunts Cove (post).

From the trailhead the Pamelia Lake Trail travels just under two and a quarter miles to the lake. Along the way the trail passes through some very nice forest scenery with several views of Pamelia Creek.IMG_1948

IMG_1950

IMG_1954

IMG_1955

Just prior to arriving at the Pamelia Lake the trail veers left at a junction with the Grizzly Peak Trail which heads to the right.

IMG_1963

Our original plan for this trip had been to take the Pamelia Lake Trail to the Pacific Crest Trail via the Hunts Creek Trail and follow the PCT up to Coyote (aka Mud) and Shale Lakes where we would set up camp before attempting to reach Goat Peak. After some additional consideration though we decided that setting up camp at Pamelia Lake might be a better option. Setting up camp there would eliminate the need to haul our heavy backpacks up the PCT while also leaving us with a hike out the next day of less than two and a half miles. It did mean we would be adding nearly 4.5 miles to Saturdays hike, but on paper it would still only be around 15 miles. The designated campsites at the lake were all along its left (north) side so we followed a use trail straight ahead from the junction and started looking for an open site.

We wound up choosing site #3 which kept us relatively close to the Grizzly Peak Trail junction as well as the Hunts Creek Trail junction.IMG_1966

IMG_1972

After setting up camp we briefly visited the shore of Pamelia Lake then we headed up to the Hunts Creek Trail.IMG_1967

IMG_1970

IMG_1974

We turned left onto the Hunts Creek Trail and followed it around a ridge for nearly three quarters of a mile to its end at a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail gaining a view of Mt. Jefferson along the way.IMG_1975

IMG_1977

IMG_1979

IMG_1981

On our loop to Hunts Cove I had taken the short side trip north on the PCT to see Milk Creek but Heather had not so we turned left at the junction and followed the PCT for a tenth of a mile through vine maple donning its fall colors to a viewpoint above the creek of Mt. Jefferson.IMG_1983

IMG_1989

IMG_1984

After checking off the viewpoint we turned around and headed south on the PCT which climbed gradually through a varied forest.IMG_1990

IMG_1991

IMG_1992

IMG_1997

IMG_2003

IMG_2007

Along the way some movement in a fir tree caught our attention. At first we thought it might be a medium sized mammal of some kind but it turned out to be a squirrel harvesting cones that were crashing down through the limbs after being detached.IMG_1995

Approximately four and a quarter miles from the junction we arrived at Mud Hole Lake. (On some maps it is identified as Coyote Lake but on the USGS Topographic Map the name Coyote Lake is assigned to another lake on the west side of the PCT.)IMG_2010

We turned off the PCT just before the lake on an unsigned but clear trail leading NE through a meadow.IMG_2014

We were using “75 Scrambles in Oregon: Best Non-Technical Ascents” by Barbara I. Bond as our reference for the hike. This was our first time using this particular guidebook but so far everything was going smoothly. The book did not mention that there was a clear trail to follow but we were headed straight for Goat Peak and we’d turned off the PCT at the right spot so we figured we were good to go.IMG_2016

Our intended route would lead us up above a talus slope to the north (left) of Goat Peak where we would then bend to the south at about 6800′.IMG_2020

IMG_2019

It was a lovely area with red huckleberry leaves and a few butterflies still flying about.IMG_2027

IMG_2025

The tread petered out for a bit in one meadow in particular but small cairns helped lead the way.IMG_2030

The unexpected presence of the well marked trail got us off our guard and we weren’t paying enough attention to the fact that our heading was drifting further north than we’d intended. In the meadow where the trail grew faint the cairns led to the left of a rocky ridge end. In order to reach Goat Peak we should have veered to the right here to find the correct gully uphill.IMG_2031

Instead we continued to follow the trail as we now were hearing other voices ahead. The trail began to climb away from the meadow passing more rock covered hillsides.IMG_2035

Three Fingered Jack

IMG_2038

It started seeming really odd that we seemed to be heading directly at Mt. Jefferson but kept thinking that maybe the trail would bend right around some geologic feature.IMG_2042

IMG_2043

I really started to question things when we caught up to the group of gentleman who were ahead of us. They asked how high we were planning on going which is when I became fairly certain we were on a climbers route and not the scramble route to Goat Peak. I replied “as high as our legs will take us”, knowing that if this wasn’t the right way to Goat Peak we’d gone to far to correct it by then. Shortly after we crested a rise and left the tress. We were now at the bottom of a boulder filled gully.IMG_2046

There wasn’t much we could do at that point other than go back or continue on so up we went.IMG_2048

IMG_2047

Cliffs on the right side of the gully.

As we gained elevation the views to the south opened up and the Three Sisters joined Three Fingered Jack on the horizon.IMG_2049

IMG_2051

IMG_2054

IMG_2056

We were well above the summit of Goat Peak by the time we reached the lip of the gully where stunted white bark pines clung to the steep slope.IMG_2057

Anxious to see what spectacular view awaited I charged up the final pitch only to find a second albeit smaller gully.IMG_2059

At least it had a view of Mt. Jefferson. There were a couple of bivouacs here and I waited for Heather to decide our next course of action. When she reached the second gully I decided to continue on and told her I would wave her up if I thought there was something that she just had to see. From where we were I could already see the top of Goat Peak below to the south as well as The Table and Cathedral Rocks.IMG_2060

IMG_2062

Goat Peak

IMG_2063

The Table

IMG_2064

Cathedral Rocks

Getting out of the second gully was much easier than the first and I soon found myself walking along a snowfield.IMG_2066

Later research would reveal that we were indeed following a climbers trail to the South Ridge Route up Mt. Jefferson. I ended my climb at the top of the snowfield but did a little exploring to the high points on either side of the gully.IMG_2069

Climbers trail continuing up Mt. Jefferson

IMG_2071

View south from the ridge to the north of the gully.

IMG_2074

Looking out along the ridge.

IMG_2076

IMG_2079

Where we had intended to be.

IMG_2084

View from below the snowfield.

IMG_2082

Paintbrush below the snow.

IMG_2086

Looking south from the opposite ridge top.

IMG_2094

Wildflower atop the ridge.

IMG_2091

Bear Butte along the nearest ridge.

IMG_2099

Looking back at Mt. Jefferson

The views were nice but I didn’t think they warranted waving Heather up so I headed back down to where she was waiting. After a short break and a snack we began the half mile decent down the lower gully.IMG_2114

We passed the other group, who were still on their way up the lower gully, just after starting our descent. When we’d finally gotten back to level ground in the meadow we decided to check out the other side of the ridge to see if we find any sign of a trail we’d missed.IMG_2128_stitch

There wasn’t anything we could see, but based on all the information in the book including the map and GPS coordinates we definitely had wanted to be on this side of the ridge. Once we had gotten into the area we noticed that there were several ponds/lakes showing on the map to the south. The terrain appeared to be level enough to make a cross country jaunt inviting.IMG_2137

We used the map and GPS to locate several of the ponds but they were all dry save one unnamed lake. We did get some really nice views of Goat Peak though.IMG_2139

IMG_2149_stitch

IMG_2157

IMG_2158

IMG_2159

We took another break at the lake.IMG_2162

IMG_2176

IMG_2180

There were some tents set up nearby in the trees so we thought that there might be a trail somewhere nearby and set off looking for it when we left the lake. It didn’t take us long to spot the clear tread.IMG_2182

This path led us west between Mud Hole and Shale Lakes and back to the PCT.IMG_2186

Mud Hole Lake

IMG_2187

Shale Lake

We turned right on the PCT and continued a short distance until we spotted another use trail heading further west. We followed this path past more dry (or nearly dry) ponds to Coyote Lake.IMG_2190

IMG_2191

IMG_2197

Our urge to explore was now satisfied and we returned to the PCT and headed back to Pamelia Lake, which looked like it was way, way down below us.IMG_2206

It was closing in on 6pm when we finally made it back to camp. We went down to the lake to get water then cooked dinner and relaxed in our camp chairs.IMG_2223

IMG_2230

Ouzel

IMG_2235

IMG_2236

IMG_2245

Marty, a wilderness ranger, stopped by to check our permit and make sure we were aware of the campfire ban. She seemed relieved that we had a permit and knew about the ban. We got the feeling that a fair number of folks aren’t as friendly as we were which is a shame.

Even though we hadn’t made it to Goat Peak and we’d hiked much further than originally intended (19.4 miles) it had been a great day. It helped knowing that we only need to hike 2.5 miles the next day to reach our car.

The next morning we were up before 5am and on the trail by 6:30.IMG_2265

IMG_2275

IMG_2277

We made it home just after 9am which gave us plenty of time to unpack, clean up, and do some laundry. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Pamelia Lake Overnighter

Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Days 2 & 3 – Table Lake Loop

After turning in early the night before we were up before the Sun which wasn’t such a bad thing.
IMG_1497

IMG_1506

IMG_1511_stitchCarl Lake

For the second day of our trip we planned on taking the Cabot Lake Trail to Table Lake and then on to a viewpoint above Hole-in-the-Wall Park before returning to Carl Lake. We were still debating our return route though. We could simply follow the Cabot Lake Trail back, or we could complete a loop described in Matt Reeder’s “101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region”. The loop option would require using what is believed to have been an old Native American trail, not shown on any of our maps, to reach the Pacific Crest Trail. We could then follow the PCT south to the Shirley Lake Trail which would take us back down to Carl Lake. One of the things we really like about Reeder’s book is that most of the suggested hikes have an accompanying GPS track overlaid on a topographic map which can be really helpful.

We decided to wait and see how the day was going before making a final decision about our return route. One thing we did know was that we didn’t want to try and walk around the north side of Carl Lake to hook up with the Cabot Lake Trail after having come back on that side the day before (post). It would have been shorter than taking the Cabot Lake Trail around the southern and western ends of the lake but certainly not easier so we proceeded as we had the day before only this time we went right when we arrived at the junction with the Shirley Lake Trail.
IMG_1516

As we followed the trail around the west end of the lake we noticed that the water at this end was completely calm. It was the only time during the entire weekend that any of the water in the lake was still.
IMG_1522

When we made our way around to the point where we had left the trail to cross the rock outcrop the day before we found the most of the campsites were now occupied which was another good reason for us to not have tried coming from that way.

The trail veered away from the lake and began a half mile climb via a series of short switchbacks. As we made our way up the hillside we spotted a doe and her two fawns coming down the trail.
IMG_1524

IMG_1526

IMG_1529

Near the top of the climb we had a decent view of Carl Lake below.
IMG_1540

The trail then leveled out in a forest accentuated with small ponds and rock formations.
IMG_1541

IMG_1543

IMG_1546

IMG_1549

IMG_1552

IMG_1554

IMG_1567

Approximately 1.75 miles after turning away from Carl Lake we arrived at tiny Junction Lake.
IMG_1569

There was a small wooden sign here marking the now lost Sugar Pine Ridge Trail which was abandoned after the 2003 B & B Fire.
IMG_1571

What had already been a scenic hike got even better over the next mile and a half as the Cabot Lake Trail passed through an increasing volcanic landscape.
IMG_1573Mt. Jefferson and Forked Butte poking up over the trees.

IMG_1583North Cinder Peak

Our favorite part of this section was when the trail passed between a jumble of white rocks on the left and the dark lava from the Forked Butte Lava Flow.
IMG_1585

IMG_1587

The contrasting colors and textures made for some excellent scenery.
IMG_1590

IMG_1597

IMG_1596Moraine below the Waldo Glacier on Mt. Jefferson.

The trail wound around the lava flow where we found a small patch of western pasque flowers that had gone to seed and the remains of a lone clump of aster.
IMG_1599

IMG_1602

IMG_1606

IMG_1607

The trail crested a cinder hillside with spectacular views of North Cinder Peak and Mt. Jefferson and began to descend toward a green forest.
IMG_1612

IMG_1616

IMG_1617

As we came down and around we got a good look at pointy Bear Butte poking up from a ridge to the right of Mt. Jefferson. Our turn around point for the day was at a viewpoint below and to the left of that butte.
IMG_1623

IMG_1624

At the end of this 1.5 mile stretch the Cabot Lake Trail reentered the forest and began a 350′ drop down to Patsy Lake. This .4 mile section was fairly steep as it dove down via one long switchback.
IMG_1632

A signed junction at Patsy Lake announced the location of another abandoned trail – the Jefferson Lake Trail.
IMG_1636

IMG_1637

Patsy Lake was forested except for on the northern side where a rock field dipped down into the water.
IMG_1640

We got ourselves a little confused here about where the trail was and wound up following a use trail clockwise around the little lake. By the time we realized our mistake we were at the NW end of the lake at an inlet creek.
IMG_1645

We decided to finish the loop and passed through a couple of decent campsites where we stopped for a short break before having to cross the rock field.
IMG_1646

After picking our way across the rocks we arrived at the lakes dry outlet creek. It was here that we could see where we’d made our mistake. The Cabot Lake Trail continued on the other side of a downed tree after sharing tread briefly with the Jefferson Lake Trail. It also didn’t follow the lake shore but instead veered away from the lake on the opposite side of a ridge. The trail then began to regain much of the elevation it had lost on its way down to Patsy Lake.
IMG_1649

IMG_1652The Jefferson Lake Trail used to come up this valley.

The trail leveled out again this time passing through a series of alpine meadows and over dry creek beds.
IMG_1656

IMG_1657

We were keeping our eyes open for the unofficial trail in case we decided on returning via the loop option which was what we were leaning towards. Approximately .6 miles from the trail junction at Patsy Lake we spotted what appeared to be a trail leading off into a meadow to the west.
IMG_1660

I marked that spot on our GPS so that we wouldn’t miss it on the way back. A short distance later Heather spotted a second possible trail heading off toward that same area. We had forgotten to bring a copy of Reeder’s GPS track with us so we couldn’t be sure which one was correct, but we had memorized his route description so we knew if we aimed between a cinder cone and The Table we should be okay. The Table is an unmistakable large plateaued feature south of Mt. Jefferson.
IMG_1661The end of The Table to the left of the trail.

The trail descended a bit as it passed by The Table on its way down to Table Lake.
IMG_1664

Our first look at Table Lake confirmed that this was going to be another nice one.
IMG_1666

We passed a backpacker who had stayed at the lake the night before and was now heading to Carl Lake. She told us where to find a view of Mt. Jefferson from the lake so we made our way to the spot she had suggested.
IMG_1669

After checking out the viewpoint we continued along the Cabot Lake Trail crossing above a spring feeding into the lake and then an inlet creek where we had to watch our step due to the presence of hundreds of little frogs.
IMG_1680

IMG_1682

IMG_1764

After crossing over the creek we decided to try to make our way back to a smaller unnamed lake shown on the map which the creek flowed out of.
IMG_1685Table Lake and Forked Butte

We followed a clear path past a large campsite and along the creek for a bit (Watch out for frogs!) then came to a wall of small pine trees. It took a little effort to get through the thicket of trees but the reward was worth it.
IMG_1686

With no where to sit along this lake we headed back toward Table Lake and picked up the Cabot Lake Trail which we followed to a sign apparently marking the current “end” of the trail.
IMG_1693

If the Forest Service has indeed abandoned the remainder of the trail it would be shame. The final portion of the trail down to Hole-in-the-Wall Park has been lost for years since the B & B Fire but we hadn’t heard that they had given up on the section between Table Lake and the viewpoint below Bear Butte.

In any case we continued on to a rock outcrop above Table Lake where we took a snack break.
IMG_1695

From Table Lake the trail climbed gradually save for about 100 yards of switchbacks after three quarters of mile. The trail was a little crowded with brush and had a few downed trees over it but nothing too challenging as it passed through a mix of meadows, trees, and huckleberry bushes.
IMG_1698

IMG_1700

IMG_1704

IMG_1705

Shortly before the switchbacks the trail passed a large boulder leaning up against a pair of trees. It looked like the rock was going to be flat and thin from the direction we were coming but it turned out to not be flat on the other side at all.
IMG_1707

IMG_1708

Beyond the switchbacks the trail leveled out again for about a quarter mile with a view south of the Three Sisters in a gap between Sugar Pine Ridge and Forked Butte.
IMG_1710

IMG_1712

After the quarter mile of more level trail the Cabot Lake Trail headed steeply up a gully arriving at a saddle with a view of Mt. Jefferson after another quarter mile.
IMG_1715

IMG_1717

The viewpoint that we were aiming for was to the right of the saddle visible atop the ridge below pointy Bear Butte.
IMG_1718

A straight forward cross country walk brought us to the top of the rocky outcrop.
IMG_1730

The view of Mt. Jefferson was spectacular. In the valley below was green Hole-in-the-Wall Park with Mt. Jefferson on the other side. Along the ridge to the left of Mt. Jefferson was Goat Peak, a feature we are hoping to visit someday in the future.
IMG_1732

IMG_1736

IMG_1742

IMG_1740

The view south wasn’t too bad either despite the presence of a little haze.
IMG_1725

IMG_1726

To the east was Bear Butte.
IMG_1721

To top it off the sound of crashing water filled the air. Heather spotted the series of cascades creating all the noise well before I did.
IMG_1754

After soaking in the view we returned down to the saddle and sat in the shade of some trees while we had another bite to eat. We then hiked the 1.5 miles back down to Table Lake and refilled our water supply from the inlet creek where there was clearly a frog convention occurring.
IMG_1772

With our water replenished we left Table Lake and hiked back along the Cabot Lake Trail approximately a quarter mile to the side trail we had marked earlier.
IMG_1779

As I previously mentioned there was another side trail that probably would have been the better option about 30 yards north of where we turned. The trail we chose started clearly enough but soon was lost in a meadow.
IMG_1783

IMG_1785

We knew from the description in the guidebook that the trail passed between a cinder cone and The Table so we just headed in that direction and were able to once again locate an obvious path.
IMG_1786

As we neared the cinder cone the trail climbed up along its side as it squeezed between the cone and the rocky hillside of The Table.
IMG_1790

IMG_1797

This area looked like it should be full of pikas and although we heard a few “meeps” that let us know they were there, all we spotted were golden-mantled ground squirrels and chipmunks.
IMG_1802

IMG_1800

As the trail passed by the cinder cone views ahead opened up to a large valley below the Cathedral Rocks.
IMG_1804

All the climbing along the side of the cinder cone was now lost as we dove downhill into the valley.
IMG_1806

The GPS track we’d seen showed the trail passing to the left of two ponds then to the right of a third in this area. The tread was fairly easy to follow here and there was at least one recent set of shoe prints leading the way.
IMG_1808

IMG_1809First pond on the right.

The traverse around the second pond was a little tricky. The cinder hillside was loose and sharply angled and there was no clear trail around to the left save for at the far end.
IMG_1812

It may have been a better option to have gone around on the other side but we managed to make it around the second pond and then the trail dropped into a dry creek bed where the tread disappeared. Fortunately someone had placed a small cairn on the other side though so we knew where to exit.
IMG_1814

The trail was now passing along the left hand side of an enormous rock field.
IMG_1816

Keeping track of the actual route here was near impossible but we kept our eyes out for cairns and footprints which were just frequent enough to keep us on track until we found the clear path again entering a hillside of huckleberry bushes.
IMG_1817

IMG_1821

It wasn’t until we had climbed a bit above the rock field that we were able to spot the third pond that had been on our left.
IMG_1827

The climb out of the valley and up the Pacific Crest Trail only lasted a half mile but it was steep through the huckleberry bushes gaining 400′ in a little under .4 miles.
IMG_1824

Things began to level out a bit once we were back into the trees though.
IMG_1835

One item of note here was that the location of the Pacific Crest Trail shown on the topographic map, the Garmin, and the one in our guidebook is incorrect in this area. Thankfully we had noticed that the GPS track on the map in the guidebook crossed over the supposed location of the PCT before turning south and eventually rejoining the trail shown on the map as the PCT rounded a ridge end. If we hadn’t noticed that we might have wasted some time searching for it amid the small pines that were growing where the Garmin showed the PCT should be.
IMG_1839

The actual location of the PCT was about a tenth of a mile to the west of its location on the maps near some much larger trees.
IMG_1840

We turned left (south) on the PCT and began the 4.3 mile stretch to the Shirley Lake Trail.
IMG_1843

After about a quarter mile on the PCT we arrived at the first of several excellent viewpoints of Mt. Jefferson and some of the areas we hiked through earlier.
IMG_1844

IMG_1850Bear Butte

IMG_1851Another viewpoint overlooking the valley we climbed out of.

IMG_1880North Cinder Peak and Mt. Jefferson

IMG_1886Cabot Lake Trail along the Forked Butte Lava Flow

IMG_1896

We were surprised by the amount of climbing the PCT did along this stretch gaining over 750 unexpected feet in all as it passed a wide variety of scenery.
IMG_1855

IMG_1856

IMG_1864

IMG_1889
IMG_1899

A little under 3 miles along this stretch we got a look at Carl Lake below to the east.
IMG_1894

Not long after we got a good look at South Cinder Peak to the south with Mt. Washington peaking up over a ridge.
IMG_1900

When we finally arrived at the Shirley Lake Trail junction we turned left and headed back down to Carl Lake just as we had done the day before.
IMG_1909

We headed down to the lake shore again and this time went counter-clockwise around the shore to complete the loop we had started the previous day.
IMG_1913

Much like the day before our time at the lake was plagued by a chilly breeze (The only place that we experienced any significant breeze the whole weekend.) and glare from the sun.
IMG_1914

We spent most of the evening sitting near our tent behind the trees facing east until it was time to turn in for the night. The mileage for our hike came in at 17.4 miles for the day which included the unintended loop around Patsy Lake and the side trip to the unnamed lake near Table Lake.

Another early bed time led to another predawn wake up on Labor Day.
IMG_1916

We used the light of the moon and our Luci inflatable lantern to work on packing up and cooking breakfast while we waited for enough light to begin our hike out of the wilderness.
IMG_1918

We were on our way a little after 6:30am, saying our goodbyes to Carl Lake and beginning our descent to Cabot Lake.
IMG_1927

IMG_1936Cabot Lake in the trees below and Mt. Jefferson in the distance.

As we reentered the snowbrush covered landscape of the B & B Fire we noticed quite a bit of smoke in the Metolius River Valley.
IMG_1940

It gave us a little cause for concern as we wondered if some new fire had started nearby but it was smoke from some more distant wildfire that had settled in the valley. We completed the 4.9 mile hike back to the car in about 2 hours and were headed back home before 9am, but not before one last look at the mountain.
IMG_1943

Happy Trails!

Flickr: Table Lake Loop and Carl Lake to the Cabot Lake THTable Lake Loop and Carl Lake to the Cabot Lake TH