Tag Archives: Pika

2019 Wildlife Gallery

We had so much fun in 2018 putting together posts of the different species and varieties of wildlife and wildflowers we’d seen that year that we decided to do it again for 2019. While we didn’t see a lot of larger animals this year we did see a lot of pikas, frogs and toads, and a number of new birds.

In the spirit of Leave No Trace principles we do our best not to cause any distress to the wildlife we see by keeping our distance, not feeding them, and doing our best not to disturb or startle them in any way.

Starting out small-
Beetle on a blue dicks

Ladybug on a thimbleberry leaf

Beetle

Beetle in a rose

Green beetle

Green beetle

Dragon fly

Dragon fly

Bug shenanigans

Bee on showy phlox

Bumblebee on thistle

Wasp

Catapiller

Caterpillar

Wooly bear caterpillar

Millipede

Snail and a millipede

Slugs on skunk cabbage

Slug

Wolf spider

Crab spider

Spider on bluedicks

Spider fight

We didn’t see as many different moths and butterflies this year but we saw quite a few of several types.
Moth on the Boulder Lake Trail

Moth on rainiera

Blue copper

Blue copper on aster

Some sort of copper butterfly

Ruddy copper

Skipper

A skipper of some sort or a duskywing

Skipper

Buttefly on the Hertiage Trail

Butterfly on aster

Butterfly on the Tarbell Trail

Butterfly

Fritillary butterfly

Butterfly along the Wenaha River Trail

Butterfly on valerian

Butterfly

Butterfly

Butterfly on stonecrop

Butterflies on aster

Butterfly

Butterfly on a flower

It was a good year for reptiles and amphibians, especially frogs and toads.
Cascade toad

Toad

Western toad at Temple Lake

Frog

Frog

Frog

Frog

Frog

Frog on moss

Tree frog

Tadpole

Rough skinned newt on Amanda's Trail

Northern alligator lizard

Western fence lizard

Sagebrush lizard

Pygmy short horned lizard

Snake with an attitude

Water held a couple of creatures.
Crawdad

Fish in the Clackamas River

We had good luck with birds this year as well, being the one animal where we saw quite a few varieties for the first time (that we know of).
American goldfinch

Bald Eagle

Bird along the Boulder Lake Trail

Black-headed grosbeak

Bullock's Oriole

Canada geese

Chickadee

Clark's nutcracker

Duck on Monon Lake

Duck on Russ Lake

Ducks

Egret and great blue heron

Golden eagle being chased by a smaller raptor

Gray jay

Grouse

Hummingbird

Hummingbird on a mountain ash

Junco

Killdeer

Kingbird

Lazuli bunting

Lewis's woodpecker

Little bird along Trail 5

Mergansers

Merlin

Mountain chickadee

Northern flicker

Nuthatch

Osprey with Mt. Adams in the background

Ouzel at Sawmill Falls

Pied-billed grebe

Pileated woodpecker

Raven

Red breasted nuthatch

Red tailed hawk

Red-breasted sapsucker

Red-winged blackbird

Robin

Sparrow

Stellar's jay

Scrub jay

Swallow and a sparrow

Turkey

Turkey vulture

Varied thrush

White crowned sparrow

White pelicans

Wilson's snipe

Wood Ducks

Woodpecker

Wren

Yelllow rumped warbler

Yellow breasted chat

Yellow warbler

Yellow-throated warbler

Spotted towhee

Black-throated warbler

Small furry creatures included a number of our personal favorites the pika.
Pika

Chipmunk

GOlden-mantled ground squirrel

Ground squirrel

Belding's ground squirrel

Marmot

Squirrel

Rabbit

Finally the larger mamals which included the wildlife highlight of the year, watching a group of big horn sheep roughhousing on the far side of the Wenaha River canyon.
Big horn sheep

The deer near Wallowa Lake got into the roughhousing as well.
Deer in front of the Edelweiss Inn

Didn’t see many elk but these were at Zumwalt Prairie.
Elk

We spotted two coyotes in the brush at the Umatilla Wildlife Refuge. One’s head can be seen here as it was running off.
Coyote in the grass

There are still a handful of animals (that we are aware of) that we haven’t seen yet but continue to keep an eye out for. At the top of that list are cougar, bobcat, beaver, otter (Apparently there was one swimming in Crabtree Lake (post) while we were there this year but we didn’t notice it.) porcupine, wolf, and wolverine. The odds of seeing any of these are not in our favor, but they are out there and have probably seen us. Keeping an out for these and all the other animals we’ve seen or have yet to see is an additional motivation to get out and explore. Happy Trails (and tails)!

Lookout Mountain and Gunsight Butte – 10/14/2019

With a day off and a mostly sunny forecast we looking for a viewpoint hike for our 50th outing of the year. There were two hikes left on our 2019 schedule that fit the bill and it came down to which one kept us out of Portland’s traffic (since it was a weekday) and that was the hike to Lookout Mountain and Gunsight Butte east of Mt. Hood. We had been to the top of Lookout Mountain in the Badger Creek Wilderness Area during our inaugural backpacking trip (post) but there had been no view that day.

On that previous visit we had started from High Prairie which is less than a half mile from the summit of Lookout Mountain, but this day we chose to start from Highway 35 at the Gumjuwac Trailhead.
IMG_0819Gumjuwac Trail at Highway 35.

From Highway 35 the Gumjuwac Trail wasted no time in heading up hill toward Gumjuwac Saddle.
IMG_0826

The lower portion of the trail climbed via a series of switchbacks before straightening out a bit gaining almost 1900′ in just over two and a half miles to the saddle. There were brief glimpses of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Rainier through the trees which improved as we climbed.
IMG_0836

IMG_0839Mt. Hood in the morning Sun.

IMG_0845

IMG_0847

IMG_0849

IMG_0860

IMG_0871Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams

IMG_0866Mt. Adams

IMG_0879

IMG_0884Finally an unobstructed view of Mt. Hood.

IMG_0891

IMG_0896Gumjuwac Saddle

From Gumjuwac Saddle we turned left onto the Divide Trail which briefly paralleled Bennett Pass Road.
IMG_0897

IMG_0898

The Divide Trail soon entered the Badger Creek Wilderness.
IMG_0899

We had been on this stretch of trail while returning to our car during the backpacking trip so it was a little familiar, but that trip had been in late June so much of the vegetation looked different as we passed from forest into a series of meadows.
IMG_0900

IMG_0901

IMG_0902

The wildflowers were long gone but we did get a view of Mt. Hood that hadn’t been there on the previous visit.
IMG_0905

A pair of raucous ravens provided a bit of entertainment as they harassed an unwelcome hawk.
IMG_0911The hawk.

IMG_0913A less than thrilled raven.

There was another thing that we were hoping to see and that was larch trees turning color. Larches are a deciduous conifer whose needles turn a yellow/gold in the Fall. We were hoping that the recent cold temperatures had helped start the process early and there were a few larches scattered about on the distant hillsides in the process of turning.
IMG_0912Light green to yellow larches on the hillside behind the raven.

The trail left the meadows and began a series of switchbacks on the forested flank of Lookout Mountain where we ran into a little snow left over from the week before.
IMG_0916

As we climbed we got another good look at Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens as well as a number of Cascade peaks to the south.
IMG_0921

IMG_0930Mt. St. Helens

IMG_0922View south.

IMG_0923From L to R: Broken Top, The Three Sisters, Mt. Washington, and Mt. Jefferson.

We had expected to run into the High Prairie Loop Trail about 2 miles from the Gumjuwac Saddle but we missed the final switchback and ended up following a deer trail uphill to rejoin the official trail. We came to a rocky viewpoint where we could see the summit to the east and had a great view south.
IMG_0941

IMG_0940

IMG_0946Mt. Jefferson

Beyond the viewpoint the trail passed over to the north side of the ridge into the trees where a little more snow remained.
IMG_0950

IMG_0952

There were a number of birds in the area, many of them varied thrushes which you might know are a nemesis of mine. We see them a lot but rarely can I get even a semi-decent picture. On this hike though I lucked out and one landed on a limb that I was already focused on and I was able to get an only slightly blurry photo.
IMG_0960

As we neared the summit we came to the other end of the High Prairie Loop.
IMG_0961

We stayed right on the Divide Trail which passes just below the summit where a short spur trail brought us the rest of the way.
IMG_0964Approaching the summit.

IMG_0965Lookout on Lookout Mountain.

IMG_0968Flag Point Lookout in the distance.

IMG_0969Flag Point Lookout

As we came around to the summit we could see that the larches further east in the wilderness were a bit further along than those we’d seen so far.
IMG_0971

IMG_0973

IMG_1017

IMG_1023

The view was excellent, making up for the clouds on our first visit. A total of 10 Cascade peaks were visible with Mt. Hood being front and center.
IMG_0980Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Rainier

IMG_0988Mt. St. Helens

IMG_0985Mt. Rainier

IMG_0983Mt. Adams

IMG_0993Mt. Hood

IMG_0997Mt. Jefferson followed by Mt. Washington, The Three Sisters, and Broken Top

IMG_1001The Three Sisters

After a long break we started to get a little chilly just sitting up on the summit so we started back down. This time we stayed on the official trail and found the end of the High Prairie Loop that we’d missed on the way up.
IMG_1033

We had stopped briefly near a small talus field as we descended the switchbacks and Heather spotted a pika that was gathering tree bits, presumably getting ready to spend the winter underground.
IMG_1041

The pika wasn’t the only critter running around on the rocks.
IMG_1044

We made our way back through the still frosty meadows and returned to Gumjuwac Saddle.
IMG_1046

The saddle can be a bit confusing as several trails converge at Bennett Pass Road here. The Gumjuwac Trail coming up from Highway 35 crosses the road and continues down the other side to the Badger Creek Trail, the Divide Trail crosses the Gumjuwac Trail and descends to Badger Lake (we came up this way on the backpacking trip). We nearly started back down that trail this time before realizing that the trail to Gunsight Butte (the aptly named Gunsight Butte Trail) was on the other side of Bennett Pass Road.
IMG_1048

We headed up this trail which began a gradual climb through trees which included a few larches.
IMG_1053

IMG_1054

IMG_1093

IMG_1099

The trail emerged from the forest into a burn scar along a rocky ridge with a view.
IMG_1057

IMG_1058_stitch

IMG_1088Lookout Mountain from the Gunsight Butte Trail.

IMG_1062Clark’s nutcracker

After a mile and a half we found ourselves crossing over the forested summit of Gunsight Butte. Another .1 miles, slightly downhill, brought us to a rock pile with yet another view of Mt. Hood.
IMG_1068

IMG_1069

IMG_1074

It wasn’t quite as impressive a view as Lookout Mountain but it was still pretty good. We returned to Gumjuwac Saddle and then turned down the Gumjuwac Trail for the final 2.5 miles of the day.
IMG_1102

We took our last looks at Mt. Hood from the trail then enjoyed the signs of Fall as we descended.
IMG_1107

IMG_1111

IMG_1112

IMG_1119

This was a 13.2 mile hike with around 3600′ of elevation gain making it a pretty good workout. This may have been our last viewpoint hike for the year, and if it is, it was a great one to end on. Happy Trails!

Flirck: Lookout Mountain and Gunsight Butte

Bingham Ridge (Mt. Jefferson Wilderness) – 8/24/2019

After a week back at work it was time to hit the trails again. We once again turned to Matt Reeder’s “101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region” for inspiration choosing the Bingham Ridge Trail as our destination.

The Bingham Ridge Trailhead is located 5 miles up Forest Road 2253 aka Minto Road. That road is just 17 miles east of Detroit, OR and was in great shape except for some water damage in the first quarter of a mile. Beyond that short stretch it was a good gravel road all the way to the parking area just before the road was gated.

The trail began opposite the little parking area where we had parked along side two other vehicles.
IMG_7369

IMG_7371

The trail climbed through a green forest along the dry bed of Willis Creek before briefly passing through the edge of a clear-cut.
IMG_7372

IMG_7373

IMG_7381Huckleberry bushes and beargrass in the clear-cut.

20190824_065018Sleeping bees on some thistle.

The trail soon reentered the trees and then passed into the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness.
IMG_7384

IMG_7386

IMG_7395The bees on the thistle may have been asleep but a western toad was out and about.

After entering the wilderness the trail continued to climb very gradually as it passed through alternating sections of green trees and forest scarred by the 2006 Puzzle Creek Fire.
IMG_7396

IMG_7400Mt. Jefferson through the burned trees.

IMG_7402Back in the green.

IMG_7404Three Fingered Jack through the burned trees.

IMG_7408Aster

IMG_7409Pearly everlasting

IMG_7410Fireweed

The longest stretch through burned forest occurred as the trail passed to the right of a rocky rise along the ridge.
IMG_7412Three Fingered Jack

IMG_7416

IMG_7417The rock covered rise.

IMG_7418South Cinder Peak (post) to the left and Three Fingered Jack to the right.

IMG_7422Still passing the rocks.

We heard a couple of “meeps” from pikas in the rocks but we only managed to spot a golden-mantled ground squirrel.
IMG_7423

As the trail passed around the rocky rise we reentered green forest and quickly came to the end of the Bingham Ridge Trail at a junction with the Lake of the Woods Trail 3.7 miles from the trailhead.
IMG_7426

IMG_7427

The Lake of the Woods Trail runs north-south between the Pamelia Limited Entry Area and Marion Lake (post). We turned left (north) onto this trail which promptly crossed over the ridge at a low saddle and began to traverse a forested hillside.
IMG_7429The low saddle.

IMG_7430

IMG_7431

The trail wound around the basin arriving at a ridge end viewpoint where we had hoped to get a view of Mt. Jefferson but soon realized that we hadn’t come far enough around yet and we were looking west not north.
IMG_7432Coffin and Bachelor Mountains (post).

We continued along the hillside finally coming far enough around to get a look at Mt. Jefferson.
IMG_7433

Just a little further along we arrived at Reeder’s turn around point for the 8.8 mile hike described in his book. A cinder viewpoint of Mt. Jefferson across the Bingham Basin.
IMG_7438

IMG_7439

There was a strange group of clouds hanging out on the top of the mountain. We could see them moving in what appeared to be a SE direction but despite seeing the movement it never really appeared that they were going anywhere.
IMG_7443

As we stood at this rocky viewpoint we could hear more pikas and then Heather spotted one sitting on top of some rocks, maybe enjoying the same view we were.
IMG_7448

Even though Reeder calls this viewpoint “the most logical stopping point for dayhikers” he does provide information for those wishing to continue. Since logic sometimes goes out the window with regards to hiking we continued on. The trail dropped just a bit to a fairly level bench where it passed through a couple of meadows before arriving at an unnamed lake with a view of Mt. Jefferson on the left.
IMG_7460

IMG_7461Spirea with a beetle.

IMG_7464Unnamed lake with Mt. Jefferson (and those pesky clouds).

IMG_7469From the opposite side of the lake.

A half mile later (or just under 2 miles from the Bingham Ridge Trail junction) we arrived a Papoose Lake.
IMG_7470

IMG_7482

The mountain was mostly hidden by trees from this lake but there were several frogs to watch and a short scramble up a rockpile on the east side of the lake did provide another look at Mt. Jefferson.
20190824_092141

IMG_7492

IMG_7484

It was actually a really impressive amount of boulders here and although we didn’t spot any, we could hear a number of resident pikas.
IMG_7483Looking south over the rock field.

Turning back here would have put the hike in the 11.5 mile range, but we had our sights set on a further goal – the Pacific Crest Trail. Beyond Papoose Lake the Lake of the Woods Trail passed several seasonal ponds which were now meadows where we had to watch out for tiny frogs.
IMG_7495

IMG_7496One of the frogs.

IMG_7667

IMG_7663Frog in the trail.

IMG_7672

Just under three quarters of a mile from Papoose Lake (6.3ish from the trailhead) we arrived at the northern end of the Lake of the Woods Trail where it met the Hunts Creek Trail (post).
IMG_7500

A left on this trail would lead us into the Pamelia Limited Entry Area for which we did not have a permit, but to the right the trail remained out of the limited area as it headed to the Pacific Crest Trail.
IMG_7501

In his book Reeder describes this section of trail as “spectacular” which is what prompted us to abandon logic in the first place. We turned right and continued the theme of gradual climbs as the trail passed a hillside dotted with a few asters.
IMG_7503

IMG_7504

After little over a quarter of a mile we found ourselves beneath a large talus slope (by the sound of it filled with a pika army).
IMG_7507

Here we embarked on possibly the most significant climb of the day as the trail switchbacked up through the rocks to a saddle.
IMG_7510Apparently the trail was rerouted at some point because we could see tread that we never used.

IMG_7511The Three Pyramids beyond Bingham Ridge.

As we neared the saddle we spotted what must have been the pika lookout.
IMG_7515

IMG_7516

There was more talus on the opposite side of the saddle, and more pikas too!
IMG_7520

IMG_7526

We spotted at least 4 pikas (it’s hard to keep track when they are running in and out of the rocks) and heard many more. The only thing that could tear us away from our favorite wildlife critters was the view of Mt. Jefferson looming over Hunts Cove.
IMG_7534 (the clouds had finally vanished)

Continuing away from the saddle just a bit provided an excellent view of the mountain and Hanks Lake with a bit of Hunts Lake visible as well.
IMG_7648_stitch

IMG_7551Hanks Lake

IMG_7552Hunts Lake

IMG_7553Rock fin above Hunts Cove.

Reeder hadn’t exaggerated by using spectacular to describe this section of trail. The views of Mt. Jefferson were amazing and a variety of wildflowers (past peak) lined the trail.
IMG_7560Penstemon and a western pasque flower.

IMG_7563Western pasque flower seed heads.

IMG_7568

20190824_101714Hippie-on-a-stick

IMG_7570

IMG_7574

IMG_7576Paintbrush and lupine

IMG_7582

20190824_102625Patridge foot

IMG_7584Mt. Jefferson, Goat Peak (behind the tree) and the Cathedral Rocks.

As the trail crossed a cinder field glimpses to the south between trees reveled the Three Sisters (among others).
IMG_7586

IMG_7588South Cinder Peak

IMG_7591The Three Sisters

IMG_7594Three Fingered Jack

The trail briefly lost sight of Mt. Jefferson as it passed around a butte, losing a little elevation as it did so.
IMG_7596

IMG_7597Paintbrush in a meadow behind the butte.

Although the view of Mt. Jefferson was temporarily gone the view was still good. There was a large basin full of meadows just below the trail and occasional views of South Cinder Peak and Three Fingered Jack.
IMG_7602South Cinder Peak

IMG_7603Three Fingered Jack

IMG_7630

The trail gained a little of the elevation back as it came around the butte regaining a view of Mt. Jefferson in the process.
IMG_7606

After passing another sign for the Pamelia Limited Entry Area at a now abandoned (but still used) portion of the Hunts Creek Trail we arrived at the Pacific Crest Trail.
IMG_7608

IMG_7620_stitch

We sat on some rocks here and rested. We were now at least 8 miles (that is the mileage Reeder assigns but with some extra exploring we’d done a bit more) from the Bingham Ridge Trailhead and needed a good break. Up until this point we’d only run into one other person, a bow hunter along the Bingham Ridge Trail. As we rested in the shade a pair of backpackers heading south on the PCT stopped briefly to talk. After they continued on we did little bit of exploring in the immediate area since there were a few flowers about and at least one tree frog.
IMG_7619Mostly past lupine

20190824_110312Paintbrush

20190824_110411

We returned the way we’d come enjoying the views just as much on the way back as we had the first time by. We didn’t see anyone else the rest of the day and we didn’t see anymore pikas, but as always there were a few things we spotted on the way back that we hadn’t seen or noticed earlier.
IMG_7632Butterfly on an aster.

IMG_7636Never seen one of these looks so clean and smooth, it almost looked fake.

IMG_7660We don’t know if this was just a stunted wallflower or something we’d never seen before.

IMG_7692

We ended the day nearly out of water (luckily for us the temperatures stayed below 70 so it wasn’t too warm) and with some sore feet. Our GPS devices both showed us having traveled nearly 17 miles which was further than we’d planned but all the little side trips and exploring can really add up. Depsite the distance this was a great hike with varied scenery, good wildlife, and a reasonable elevation gain made better by the trails having such gradual grades. Of course any trail where we see multiple pikas is going to be aces in our minds. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Bingham Ridge

Bull of the Woods Lookout & Pansy Lake – 8/16/2019

For the 5th hike of our vacation we finally got around to one of Sullivan’s featured hikes that we hadn’t done yet, Pansy Lake.  Pansy Lake is located in the Bull of the Woods Wilderness in a basin below the Bull of the Woods Lookout.  In his guidebook Sullivan has you start the hike from the Pansy Lake Trailhead which is just over a mile from the lake. He gives two options, a 2.4 mile out-and-back to Pansy Lake or a 7.1 mile loop past the lake up to the lookout and then back down passing Dickey Lake along the way. Either of these options would have caused us to break our self-imposed rule against driving for more time than we spend hiking due to the driving time to the Pansy Lake Trailhead being roughly 2:45 for us. Fortunately Sullivan also mentions the option of starting at the Bull of the Woods Trailhead for an easier hike to the lookout. The Bull of the Woods Trailhead was about a 15 minute closer drive and it added almost 3 miles to the round trip which provided an acceptable drive/hike ratio.

With our plan in place we set off on the drive which proved to be a bit of an anomaly. The trailhead is located at the end of Forest Road 6340. Where the road was good it was an excellent gravel road but there were a couple of ugly obstacles along the way. The first was a slide that covered the road, half of which was impassable while the spot that could be driven over required a very slow, bumpy crossing (high clearance is probably necessary until it gets cleaned up). This was prior to a fork where the right hand fork (FR 6341) continued to the Pansy Lake Trailhead. After this fork sections of FR 6340 were deeply rutted by channels created by runoff again requiring careful placement of tires. We arrived at the trailhead no worse for wear though and set off on the signed trail.
IMG_6715

IMG_6713

The first few hundred yards were a little brushy but soon the vegetation gave way to a huckleberry filled forest.
IMG_6724

IMG_6725

IMG_6726

IMG_6717

There were ripe berries everywhere and they were big juicy berries too. In fact for most of the day there were ripe berries available and we ate quite a few. We weren’t the only ones feasting on berries though as we counted no less than 13 piles of berry filled bear scat along the trails.
IMG_6734

Although we kept our eyes open for a bear all we ran into on the trail was a rough skinned newt.
IMG_6740

IMG_6743

The Bull of the Woods Trail climbed gradually as it passed below North and South Dickey Peaks.
IMG_6736

A little over 2.25 miles from the trailhead we arrived at a junction with the Dickey Lake Trail. We would be coming back up that trail later after visiting Pansy and Dickey Lakes.
IMG_6746

As the trail continued to climb we were treated to a couple of different views. First was to the west across the Pansy Lake Basin.
IMG_6750

A little further along, when the trail crested the ridge, we got a look a Mt. Hood which was rising above some clouds.
IMG_6754

The trail left the ridge for a bit and then regained it where the view also included Mt. Jefferson to the SE.
IMG_6763Mt. Hood

IMG_6772Mt. Jefferson

The trail then followed a narrow rocky ridge passing below the lookout and coming up to it from the other side, 3.5 miles from the trailhead.
IMG_6770

IMG_6777

IMG_6785

IMG_6789

A lizard scurried into the rocks beneath the lookout as we approached. Aside from a bit of morning haze the view was great. The clouds to the north hid the Washington volcanoes from sight but Mt. Hood stood out just fine.
IMG_6787

IMG_6806

To the south Mt. Jefferson was cloud free and so was Three Fingered Jack for a bit. Mt. Washington and the Three Sisters played peek-a-boo through the clouds though.
IMG_6795

IMG_6796Three Fingered Jack

IMG_6846Mt. Washington and the Three Sisters

In the basin to the NE Big Slide Lake (post) was visible.
IMG_6801

IMG_6812

To the SW the flat topped Battle Ax Mountain (post) rose up above the surrounding peaks.
IMG_6790

We sat below the lookout for awhile enjoying the cool morning air as we watched the procession of clouds around us. After our break we headed steeply downhill via switchbacks for just over half a mile to the Mother Lode Trail.
IMG_6851

IMG_6855Bull of the Woods Trail ending at the Mother Lode Trail.

We turned right onto the Mother Lode Trail.
IMG_6856

We continued to descend as we followed this trail for approximately 1.25 miles, passing a viewpoint of Mt. Jefferson shortly before arriving at another junction.
IMG_6858

IMG_6864

IMG_6873

We turned right again, this time onto the Pansy Lake Trail.
IMG_6875

More downhill hiking ensued as we dropped into the basin. The trail was a bit rockier than the others and passed over a couple of talus fields.
IMG_6876

We’re always on the lookout for pikas and have had quite a bit of luck in spotting them this year, enough so that we have started calling it “the year of the pika”. As we came to the second section of talus Heather spotted one of the little “rock rabbits” scurrying along the hillside.
IMG_6879

IMG_6881

After talking to the pika (I don’t know why but we tend to have a lot of one sided conversations with the wildlife) we continued on. Shortly before reaching the lake we found a couple of ripe thimbleberries, they were delicious.
IMG_6883

IMG_6885First look at Pansy Lake.

20190816_102219

We passed by the lake and reached a junction .8 miles from the Mother Lode Trail. We turned left and quickly arrived at the lake where we were a bit surprised that we were the only people there.
IMG_6888

IMG_6890

We wandered around the lake passing through numerous empty campsites before finding a little log to sit on by the lake where we could watch the dragonflies and ducks.
IMG_6894

IMG_6898

IMG_6891

IMG_6902

After a short break we returned to the trail junction and turned left continuing on the Pansy Lake Trail for another .2 miles to the Dickey Lake Trail junction.
IMG_6907

It was time to climb now and we headed up the Dickey Lake Trail which climbed relatively steeply at times. After .6 miles we came to a spur trail on the right which led down to Dickey Lake.
IMG_6910

IMG_6912

The lake was quite a bit smaller than Pansy Lake and a lot brushier. After getting a look we returned to the Dickey Lake Trail and continued the climb back up to the Bull of the Woods Trail. A bit beyond the lake the trail passed through a little meadow with some remaining wildflowers and a few more thimbleberries.
IMG_6913

IMG_6918

IMG_6921

IMG_6924

We gained approximately 800′ over the next .8 miles before reaching the junction. There was a few more downed trees along this trail than we had encountered on any of the others but none of them were too troublesome.
IMG_6925

We turned left onto the Bull of the Woods Trail and followed back to the car getting one last look at Mt. Hood along the way.
IMG_6935

With the extra exploring around the lakes we wound up doing 10.6 miles (for the third time in the week). We both thought that the elevation gain doing the loop from the Pansy Lake Trailhead would have been quite a bit worse so the extra miles were worth it in our minds, plus it gave us that much more time to eat berries. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Pansy Lake and Bull of the Woods Lookout

Maxwell Butte – 8/12/2019

We spent another vacation doing day hikes from home as we continue to take care of our elderly cats. It has created a delay in our plans to visit all of the designated wilderness areas in Oregon, but it also has given us a chance to redo some hikes that didn’t go as planned the first time around and hit a few other hikes sooner than planned.

The first hike of the week was a repeat of a cloudy September 2015 climb to the summit of Maxwell Butte (post). We’d had no views whatsoever that day so a sunny forecast gave us the green light to try again. Once again we parked in the paved Maxwell Butte Sno-Park lot instead of driving the additional .4 miles of gravel road to the actual Maxwell Butte Trailhead.
IMG_5582

IMG_5585

From the official trailhead the Maxwell Butte Trail climbed gradually through a nice forest entering the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness after 1.75 miles. It was sad to find that the unique wilderness sign was missing.
IMG_5589

First wilderness sign we'd seen that looked like thisThe wilderness sign in 2015.

A little more than two and a quarter miles from the trailhead we arrived at a junction with the Lava Lakes Trail near Twin Lakes.
IMG_5598

There was significantly more water in the lakes this time around (and better visibility too).
IMG_5599

Low water levels at Twin Lakes2015

IMG_5601

Low water at Twin Lakes2015

Our presence raised a ruckus from a Stellar’s jay.
IMG_5604

IMG_5616

Twin Lakes2015

One the way back by later (after the Sun had moved out of the way) we stopped at the lakes to get a photo of Maxwell Butte.
IMG_5790

We followed the Maxwell Butte Trail past the lakes as it began to climb up and around the butte. Closer to the lakes we passed a few remaining flowers and some ripe huckleberries.
IMG_5619Penstemon

IMG_5621

IMG_5626Lousewort

IMG_5631Scarlet gilia

IMG_5623

IMG_5625A couple of short (and late) beargrass plumes.

As the trail got closer to the butte we passed through some meadows and open rocky areas where we kept on the lookout for pikas.
IMG_5634

IMG_5643

IMG_5647This looked like prime pika habitat to us.

IMG_5648

The trail made its way to the south side of Maxwell Butte where our first good mountain view was of Diamond Peak beyond Sand Mountain which we had visited earlier in the year (post).
IMG_5649

IMG_5651

The trail steepened a bit as it made its way up the south side of Maxwell Butte via a series of switchbacks.
IMG_5658

IMG_5659

IMG_5668

Butterflies and increasingly better views helped keep our minds off the climb.
IMG_5661

IMG_5663

IMG_5665Hogg Rock (near left), flat topped Hayrick Butte next to Hoodoo Butte, Mt. Washington with Broken Top behind left and the Three Sisters behind right.

Five and a quarter miles from the sno-park we arrived at the summit of Maxwell Butte where a fire lookout once stood.
IMG_5673

The view now included Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Hood to the north.
IMG_5674

IMG_5676Mt. Hood in the distance to the left of Mt. Jefferson.

Less than three miles away as the crow flies Three Fingered Jack dominated the view east.
IMG_5697

IMG_5721

IMG_5699Mt. Jefferson and Three Fingered Jack with Santiam Lake in the forest below.

IMG_5706The view south.

IMG_5728Broken Top, Mt. Washington, and the Three Sisters with Hayrick Butte in the forefront.IMG_5701Santiam Lake

IMG_5702Duffy Lake (post)

IMG_5703Mowich Lake

After a nice long break taking in the views and naming as many of the lakes dotting the forest below as we could we headed back down. We took a quick detour to check out Maxwell Butte’s crater.
IMG_5740

IMG_5742Paintbrush in the crater.

There were quite a few more butterflies out as we made our way back and we managed to spot a pika gathering greens in the rocky area we had thought looked like a good spot for one.
IMG_5743

IMG_5764

IMG_5784

20190812_114406

IMG_5778Pika

IMG_5767Golden-mantled ground squirrel in the same rocky area as the pika.

It had been a successful do-over getting the views we’d missed out on before. Round trip the hike was 10.6 miles with a little over 2500′ of elevation gain. It was a solid start to what we hoped would be six straight days of hiking. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Maxwell Butte 2019

Bear Point – 7/22/2019

We had passed the Bear Point Trail twice when hiking into Jefferson Park on the South Breitenbush Trail, most recently last August. (post) It was finally time to tackle that trail which gains almost 1700′ in just over one and three quarters of a mile to the site of a former fire lookout.

We set off from the South Breitenbush Trailhead a little after 6am hoping to get the climb over before the day heated up too much.
IMG_3859

IMG_3860

We followed the familiar South Breitenbush Trail for 2.2 miles to a signed junction.
IMG_3870Lots of spent beargrass along the trail.

IMG_3877

At the junction we went left on the Bear Point Trail.
IMG_3878

At first this trail continued the gradual climb that we’d been making on the South Breitenbush Trail as we passed around a spring set in a green forest.
IMG_3885

IMG_3886Thimbleberry bushes near the spring.

20190722_072357Washington lily

IMG_4179Spring near the trail.

Shortly after passing the spring the trail began to climb in earnest via a series of swithbacks. The hillside below Bear Point was covered in talus slopes, the perfect spot to see a pika.
IMG_3890

IMG_3891

IMG_3901Spotted the first pika of the day at this switchback (it’s on one of the red rocks)
IMG_3900

The hillside was pretty dry and the trees began to give way to manzanita, chinquapin and snowbush which allowed for some excellent views of Mt. Jefferson and the surrounding area as we trudged up the switchbacks.
IMG_3913

IMG_3918

IMG_3921The Three Pyramids, Bachelor Mountain, and Coffin Mountain in the distance with Triangulation Peak in a cloud shadow along the near ridge to the right.

IMG_3928Mt. Jefferson with Three Fingered Jack now fully visible.

IMG_3935Three Fingered Jack

IMG_4169Grouse in the brush to the left of the trail.

IMG_4171Grouse

IMG_3946

As we neared the top the trees began to reappear in larger numbers and the beargrass was still blooming.
IMG_3948

IMG_3965

We spotted the second pika of the day in a talus slope just below the summit.
IMG_3962

Despite the 3000′ of elevation gain to reach the summit the climb wasn’t particularly steep until the final 100 yards or so.
IMG_3967

IMG_3981Almost to the top.

IMG_3989Bear Point summit.

The views from the summit were amazing and there were a few wildflowers scattered about. We would have loved to have spent quite a bit of time relaxing there but the mosquitoes were a nuisance and there was no breeze to keep them at bay.
IMG_4143_stitch

IMG_4018The Three Sisters and Three Fingered Jack

IMG_4009Mt.Jefferson

IMG_4013Park Ridge (post)

IMG_3991Bear Lake, Dinah-Mo Peak, and Park Ridge

IMG_4146Triangulation Peak and Devils Peak

IMG_4148Boca Cave below Triangulation Peak (post)

IMG_4147Devils Peak (high point to the right of the ridge), which we had just hiked to a couple of weeks earlier (post)

IMG_4152Mt. Hood and Olallie Butte (The Breitenbush Cascades are also out there amid the trees.)

IMG_4137Mt. Hood with Slideout and Mildred Lakes in the forest below.

IMG_3986Fleabane

IMG_3996Columbine and fleabane with Bear Lake in the background.

IMG_4022Snow patch near the summit.

The round trip to Bear Point is just 7.6 miles so we had some energy left and with the early start coupled with not stopping for very long due to the bugs we also had some time so we decided to tackle another challenge and visit an off trail lake. Due to the lake being off-trail I’m not going to go into much detail although it probably wouldn’t take a lot of detective work to figure it out. This was a challenge to reach and required route finding and navigational skills.
IMG_4031Typical terrain, it’s hard to tell here but this was a steep hillside.

IMG_4023There were tons of these butterflies around.

IMG_4028Paintnbrush

IMG_4045Crossing a talus slope.

IMG_4050More typical conditions.

IMG_4053Pond near the lake.

IMG_4055Bird at the pond.

IMG_4058The lake

IMG_4076Spirea and shooting stars

20190722_094856Crab spider with a bee

IMG_4080The lake

IMG_4102Aster

IMG_4104Lupine and beargrass

There were of course mosquitoes here too, being July and near water, so we didn’t linger and were soon attempting to follow our route back. It was slow going but we managed to get back just fine. It was a fun and challenging day and it felt good to be able to practice our off-trail skills a bit. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Bear Point

Tidbits Mountain – 6/29/2019

As we continued to let the weather dictate our vacation plans we couldn’t pass up a “sunny” morning forecast for Tidbits Mountain near Blue River, OR. Another of Sullivan’s featured hikes, the trip to the site of a former lookout tower atop Tidbits Mountain is just 4.4 miles round trip from the Tidbits South Trailhead. This was actually a bit of a problem as the drive from Salem was a little over two and a half hours which meant our hiking time would most likely not be greater than our driving time which would break our rule of not driving longer than hiking. Our original plan to solve this was going to be making a second stop at the Lower McKenzie River Trailhead where we could hike as far as we liked on the McKenzie River Trail, but while researching the Tidbits Mountain hike another option presented itself.

The Gold Hill Trail travels 3.2 miles along a ridge to a junction with the Tidbits Mountain Trail three quarters of a mile from the summit of Tidbits Mountain. Instead of driving to a different trailhead we could spend some time on the Gold Hill Trail which the Forest Service warned sees only periodic maintenance.

We started our hike not at the Tidbits South Trailhead but rather along Forest Road 1509 where FR 877 headed uphill .2 miles to the trailhead on the left.
IMG_1504FR 877 at FR 1509

Both the Forest Service and Sullivan pointed out that FR 877 was steep and Sullivan added that turning around at the trailhead was “awkward”, thus our decision to walk up the road.
IMG_1512

As we hiked up the road there were a couple of views of the rocky pinnacles of Tidbits Mountain on the left.
IMG_1513

IMG_2085

A sign marked the start of the Tidbits Mountain Trail.
IMG_1516

The trail climbed gradually for 1.3 miles to a junction on a ridge crest. This section of trail passed through some old growth trees and was full of rhododendron blooms. It was by far the best display of rhododendron that we had seen.
IMG_1518

IMG_2076

IMG_1525

IMG_1558

IMG_1560

IMG_1562

IMG_1565

IMG_1566

There were a few other flowers along the way as well but none in anywhere near the numbers as the rhodies.
IMG_1531Penstemon

IMG_1535Showy phlox

IMG_1538<script async src=”//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js” charset=”utf-8″Paintbrush and stonecrop

IMG_1544Anemone

IMG_1546Iris

IMG_1555Arnica

At the junction we turned left following a pointer for the Tidbits Mountain Lookout.
IMG_1568

This section of trail traversed a rocky hillside on the north side of Tidbits Mountain. Being on the north facing slope trillium were still in bloom and a few remnants of glacial lilies remained.
IMG_1581

IMG_1583

20190629_080903

IMG_1639

The talus slopes below Tidbits Mountain allowed for some previews of the views to come at the summit.
IMG_1608

IMG_1605Looking west toward the Green Mountain Lookout.

IMG_1607Green Mountain Lookout

IMG_1603Mt. Jefferson

IMG_1601Three Fingered Jack

The talus is also home to one of our favorite wild animals, the pika! They are not particularly easy to see but once you know what you are looking for with a little luck you’ll spot one of these rabbit relatives. It was a lucky day for us as we spotted two.
IMG_1614There is at least one pika in this picture.

IMG_1613

IMG_1648There is another one in this picture.

IMG_1645

When we weren’t scanning the rocks for pikas we did a lot of looking up at the formations above us.
IMG_1616

IMG_1625

IMG_1628

IMG_1636Columbine and solomonseal in the talus slope.

IMG_1630Last of the snow along the talus.

At a saddle a half mile from the junction with the Gold Hill Trail we came to a second junction. This one was unsigned. To the right a trail headed downhill to the Tidbits West Trailhead. The Gold Hill Trail used to continue straight here but it was so faint and overgrown that we didn’t even see it on the first pass. We turned uphill to the left and began the steep .2 mile climb to the summit.
IMG_1667

IMG_1679

IMG_1684Catchfly on the way up.

IMG_1685Lookout remains below the summit.

IMG_1689

IMG_1693Foundation remains

IMG_1696Wildflowers at the summit.

The 360 degree view from the summit was very good although our timing meant the sun was overhead between us and the Cascades impacting the ability to get clear photos of those mountains.
IMG_1698NE we could see Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, and Three Fingered Jack.

IMG_1703Mt. Hood

IMG_1705Mt. Jefferson behind Iron Mountain and Cone Peak

IMG_1707Three Fingered Jack

The eastern view added Mt. Washington, The Three Sisters, and Mt. Bachelor.
IMG_1764

IMG_1708Mt. Washington

IMG_1750Three Sisters

IMG_1718Mt. Bachelor

We could also just make out the lookout tower atop nearby Carpenter Mountain (post).
IMG_1755

To the SE we could make out Maiden Peak, Mt. Thielsen, and Diamond Peak.
IMG_1724

IMG_1719Maiden Peak (post)

IMG_1762Mt. Thielsen (post)

IMG_1722Diamond Peak

We spent a good amount of time on the summit taking in the view before descending to a lower viewpoint with a number of flowers.
IMG_1810

IMG_1813

IMG_1802Cat’s ear lilies

IMG_1806Oregon sunshine amid buckwheat

IMG_1807Penstemon and paintbrush

IMG_1816A fleabane or aster

IMG_1830

IMG_1819Looking down from the lower viewpoint.

We then headed back down to the trail junction where we found the faint tread of Historical Gold Hill Trail. We followed it just far enough to get a close up view of a flower garden.
IMG_1862

IMG_1864

IMG_1850Western wallflower

IMG_1853Larkspur

20190629_092727Paintbrush

20190629_093003Cinquefoil

We returned to the Tidbits Mountain Trail and recrossed the talus slopes, this time we didn’t spot any pikas. We did stop to admire some of the flowers though.
20190629_093755Baneberry

20190629_093642Current

IMG_1879Bleeding heart, trillium and wood violets

20190629_093952Wood violet

With the Sun starting to pass overhead Mt. Jefferson was a little more photogenic.
IMG_1890

When we arrived back at the junction with the Gold Hill Trail we briefly searched for any sign of a former shelter that was indicated on the map.
IMG_1892

After failing to uncover any sign of it we headed out on the Gold Hill Trail. Given the Forest Service mentioned that this trail only receives periodic maintenance we weren’t sure how far we might go but we were curious to check it out.
IMG_1893

The trail was pretty overgrown, not crowded with brush, but it had a lot of vegetation growing in the middle of it indicating a lack of use.
IMG_1898

We soon passed a rock outcrop where a patch of small monkeyflowers were blooming.
IMG_1907

IMG_1905

20190629_100226

We followed the trail a total of 2.7 miles losing a total of 800′ through a series of ups and downs as it followed a ridge to the north and east. We passed through some lovely forest filled with more blooming rhododendron and by several rock outcrops. There were occasional views of the Three Sisters and Mt. Bachelor through the trees and also spotted some deer, at least one doe and fawn, as they dashed away through the trees. Despite the lack of use and periodic maintenance the trail was in pretty good shape with just a few trees to step over.
IMG_1908

IMG_1914North and Middle Sister

IMG_1915

IMG_1917

IMG_1919

IMG_1922

IMG_1927Mt. Bachelor

IMG_1935

20190629_104300Showy phlox

IMG_1939Washington lilies getting ready to bloom

IMG_1941

IMG_1944

IMG_1946

IMG_1958

At the 2.7 mile mark the trail began a final 400′ descent in the remaining half mile to FR 1509. We weren’t overly keen on having to climb back up that just to say we reached the road plus we had set an 11:30 turn around time and it was just after 11:20. We noticed an open knoll just off trail to the right so we decided to check it out and make this be our turn around spot.
IMG_1965

The knoll turned out to be very interesting. In addition to some nice views there were a number of flowers.
IMG_1970

IMG_1975The Two Girls

IMG_1999Mt. Washington and the Three Sisters

IMG_1986Wolf Rock an Mt. Washington

IMG_2007North Sister

IMG_2008Middle Sister

IMG_2010South Sister

IMG_1990Mt. Jefferson had been overtaken by clouds but Iron Mountain and Cone Peak were still visible.

IMG_1996Buckwheat and paintbrush

IMG_2021Wallflower and cat’s ear lilies

IMG_2015Penstemon and paintbrush

After exploring the knoll we headed back looking for anything we missed on our first pass. We did notice a couple of interesting old tree trunks and a grouse crossed the trail in front of us.
IMG_2029

IMG_2040Young tree growing out of an old trunk.

IMG_2049Grouse

We made our way back to the Tidbits Mountain Trail and returned to the trailhead without seeing another person until we ran into a gentleman at the trailhead who seemed to just be out for a drive and looking around. We ended up with a 10.5 mile hike which was perfect. It was a nice way to end our vacation. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Tidbits Mountain