Tag Archives: Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness

Devil’s Peak

The end of September/beginning of October brings us a pair of birthday celebrations, my Grandma on 9/30 and our Son on 10/1. We planned a joint celebration dinner in Portland but before the festivities we headed out on a hike to work up an appetite.

Due to the plans we needed a hike near Portland in the 8 to 10 mile range and hiking up the Cool Creek Trail to the Devil’s Peak Lookout fit the bill perfectly. We headed out early to the Cool Creek Trailhead. Oddly our guidebook had us turn on Road 20 at the east end of Rhododendron, OR instead of west of Rohododendron on Still Creek Road which is how the Forest Service directions have you go. We followed the guidebook directions only to be turned back by a closed bridge and had to go back to Still Creek Road. After finding the open route to the trailhead we parked along the shoulder of the road and set off on the Cool Creek Trail.
IMG_3124

The trail started with a steep incline, a reminder that it needed to gain over 3000′ over the next 4 miles. Not far from the trailhead we entered the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness.
IMG_3133

The trail is mostly forested with a few glimpses of Mt. Hood through the trees.
IMG_3144

IMG_3145

IMG_3148

IMG_3157

The best early view came just over a mile along the trail. For about two tenths of a mile the trail passed along an open hillside with a view across the valley to Mt. Hood.
IMG_3165

IMG_3166

The trail then passed around to the other side of a ridge where it pretty much remained for the next two miles. The forest here still housed a good number of red and blue huckleberries.
IMG_3176<

IMG_3177

IMG_3184

IMG_3187

IMG_3183

There were sections of more level trail in the forest which gave a nice break from the climbing, but also meant that the elevation would need to be made up on the sections of uphill.
IMG_3197

IMG_3198

Approximately 3.25 miles from the trailhead a spur to the left led to a rocky ridge top which provided what turned out to be the best viewpoint of the day.
IMG_3201

IMG_3232The rocky ridge

IMG_3203

From this point four Cascades were visible, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Hood.
IMG_3213_stitch

IMG_3207Mt. St. Helens

IMG_3209Mt. Rainier

IMG_3210Mt. Adams

Tom Dick and Harry Mountain (post) was also clearly visible to the NE.
IMG_3229

Beyond the ridge viewpoint the trail traversed the hillside on the west side of the ridge climbing for another quarter mile past one more viewpoint of Mt. Hood to its end at the Hunchback Trail.
IMG_3235

IMG_3238

IMG_3240

IMG_3244

A spur trail to the Devil’s Peak Lookout is just 500 feet after turning right onto the Hunchback Trail.
IMG_3247

IMG_3248

The lookout is a little over 200 feet up this spur.
IMG_3249

IMG_3250

The tower is available for use on a first come, first serve basis so there was a possibility that it was occupied but it turned out to be empty.
IMG_3257

IMG_3285

IMG_3288

IMG_3289

IMG_3290

Mt. Hood was visible from the lookout.
IMG_3286

I had gone ahead of Heather and Dominique who had joined us for the hike so I explored Devil’s Peak while I waited for them to arrive.
IMG_3259

IMG_3263Mt. Jefferson in some haze to the south.

IMG_3268Mt. Hood

IMG_3272Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness

IMG_3283

IMG_3300Clouds coming up the Salmon River Valley

IMG_3339Butterflies on the lookout.

IMG_3346One of several birds foraging in the bushes near the lookout.

It turned out that I had gotten quite a bit ahead and wound up spending about an hour and a half at the tower watching the clouds break up above while they also moved in below.
IMG_3306

IMG_3332

IMG_3350

After they joined me at the lookout they took a break as well then we headed back down. At the ridge viewpoint the view of Mt. Hood was better than it had been earlier, but not for the other Cascades.
IMG_3355_stitch

We continued back down stopping to gather some huckleberries to take to my Grandmas house. We wound up passing beneath the clouds losing Mt. Hood for the last mile and a half.
IMG_3363

IMG_3366

IMG_3370

IMG_3369

It was a tough 8 mile hike given the elevation gain but the views were well worth the effort. That effort was also rewarded with a nice birthday dinner and a tasty piece of cake. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Devil’s Peak

Advertisements

Salmon River Overnight

For our first overnight outing of 2018 we chose the Salmon River Trail which we had previously visited on August 30, 2015. (post) That hike included approximately 3.5 miles of the 14 mile trail from the west trailhead. This time we would start from the east trailhead with our plan being to set up camp somewhere along the trail then continue to same viewpoint where we had turned around on our previous visit to complete the trail.

Before we could start our hike though we needed to get some water since the city of Salem’s water had been testing positive for a toxin. We stopped at the Trillium Lake picnicking area on our way to the trailhead and filled our packs there. We didn’t take the time to visit the lake since we were on a mission to start hiking but we did stop again on they way home to see the lake and its view of Mt. Hood.
IMG_5083

IMG_5088

After filling up on water we continued to the trailhead where we were the only vehicle. The trailhead also serves as the north trailhead for the Jackpot Meadows Trail.
IMG_4754

We took the signed Salmon River Trail and headed downhill.
IMG_4756

The trail descended in the first quarter mile to a footbridge over Mud Creek which flows from Trillium Lake.
IMG_4760

This was the only creek crossing with an official bridge. Over the next mile and a half the trail would cross Fir Tree Creek three separate times.
IMG_47621

IMG_47672

IMG_47833

Between the first and second crossings the trail passed a now abandoned section of trail that led up to the Dry Fir Trail.
IMG_4764

It also passed through some nice forest with rhododendron beginning to bloom along with a little beargrass.
IMG_4779

IMG_4771

IMG_4777

Beyond the third crossing of Fir Tree Creek we entered the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness and passed through a variety of scenery.
IMG_4786

IMG_4792

IMG_4793

IMG_4794

The trail also crossed more creeks.
IMG_4799

IMG_4803

We had passed a few possible campsites but felt they were too close to the trailhead, but after 5.5 miles we came to a junction with the Linney Creek Trail.
IMG_4810

We had spotted some potential campsites along the Salmon River from above just before the junction so we turned down the Linney Creek Trail to check them out.
IMG_4811

The remnants of an old bridge could be seen on the far side of the Salmon River where the Linney Creek Trail used to cross.
IMG_5056

There was a nice large established campsite here which we claimed and set up camp.
IMG_5059

After getting set up we switched to our day packs and climbed the short distance back up to the Salmon River Trail and continued west. For the next three miles the trial continued above the Salmon River to a junction with the Kinzel Lake Trail. We began seeing more flowers along this stretch and also saw the first of two garter snakes for the day.
IMG_4817

IMG_4821

IMG_4824

IMG_4825

IMG_4841

IMG_4835

Shortly before reaching the Kinzel Lake Trail we crossed Kinzel Creek which had a small waterfall visible through trees.
IMG_4845

IMG_4843

IMG_4852

IMG_4853Kinzel Lake Trail

The flower display continued to improve beyond the Kinzel Lake junction with the rhodies now in full bloom.
IMG_4858

IMG_4870Spotted coralroot

IMG_5032Paintbrush and plectritis

We also passed our first other person of the day when we spotted another backpacker camped near Goat Creek. A bit over a half mile beyond Goat Creek the trail entered a grassy area with the first real viewpoint of the day.
IMG_4878

We turned out toward the viewpoint where we found more flowers and a limited view of the Salmon River below.
IMG_4888

IMG_4892

IMG_4896Larkspur

IMG_4902Field chickweed

We knew from our 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon guidebook that there was a series of three viewpoints along this section of trail. The third of which (coming form the east) being the only one we had visited on our previous hike. After the first viewpoint we passed by what appeared to be a use trail and kept going for a moment before deciding to go back and make sure this wasn’t the route to the middle viewpoint. It was not, but what it turned out to be was the very steep, rugged scramble to an overlook of Frustration Falls.
IMG_4947

We were aware that there was a use trail to a view of these falls and originally had no intention of seeking it out. We lucked out in that the conditions were perfect on this day so the trail was not wet or muddy which could make it extra slick. It was slick enough just due to the steepness and loose rocks so we relied heavily on our poles. In all the trail lost around 350 feet in less than a quarter mile. This was definitely not a trail for everyone and anyone wishing to attempt it does so at their own risk. With that said we were happy to have accidentally stumbled on the trail and sat next to a small creek with it’s own fall for a bit admiring the thundering cataract below.
IMG_4928

IMG_4941Cliffs along the hillside above the Salmon River

After the break we struggled back up the scramble path.
IMG_4953

Shortly after being back on the Salmon River Trail we came to the actual middle viewpoint which didn’t have a view of the river at all just up and down the forested canyon.
IMG_4961

IMG_4962

Another quarter mile brought us to the start of a familiar small loop around the final viewpoint area.
IMG_4966

This was as far as we’d come from the west end of the trail and meant that we had now covered the entire Salmon River Trail. The grassy viewpoint here was full of June flowers which would be long gone at the end of August.
IMG_4969

IMG_4970

IMG_4980

IMG_4990

IMG_4994

IMG_5006

The view was quite a bit different too.
IMG_4997

Salmon River Canyon

We finished the .4 mile loop and started back for camp. We had run into a few more hikers since Goat Creek but by the time we got back to the campsites along that creek we had passed them all. We saw one additional hiker between Goat Creek and the Kinzel Lake Trail then not another soul on the rest of the backpacking trip.

We got back to camp a quarter to five and relaxed for the rest of the evening. I had figured that it could be a 16 mile day if we decided to camp near Linney Creek, but I hadn’t figured in the side trips to viewpoints, the scramble trail down to the Frustration Falls view, or the hike up and down the Linney Creek Trail to the campsite. At the end of the day we’d covered closer to 18 miles so we were pretty well pooped. We were however excited to try out some new pieces of gear including an Enlightened Equipment quilt that Heather had recently purchased and for me it was a Thermarest Air Head pillow.

We were both pleased with our new gear and after a good nights sleep at what turned out to be a great campsite we were up at 5am ready to hike back to the trailhead. Even though we had hiked those same 5.5 miles the previous day we managed to spot some candy sticks starting to sprout that we’d missed on our way by the first time.
IMG_5067

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post we stopped by Trillium Lake on the way home where we got some more water and took a look at the lake. This time we paid a $5 day use fee that attendants were collecting, apparently we were there early enough the day before that the attendants weren’t yet out. We figured we’ve paid $5 for two bottles of water before so why not.

Were looking forward to more overnight trips in the next several months and this was a great trial run for the new gear. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Salmon River Overnight

Bonanza Trail – Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness

We were looking for a hike that would avoid the crowds of Memorial Day weekend and landed on the Bonanza Trail. The Bonanza Trail starts at the edge of Welches, OR near the Salmon River where it climbs 3000′ through the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness to a junction with the Plaza Trail #783 on Huckleberry Mountain. The forest service lists usage as light for this trail which is exactly what we were looking for.

The trailhead consists of a small pullout (room for 2 cars maximum) along E. Grove Rd in Welches marked by a cable, a no hunting sign, and a small trail sign.
Bonanza Trail Trailhead

The trail begins on an old grassy road climbing up over a ridge before dropping down the other side to a crossing of Little Cheney Creek.
Bonanza Trail

IMG_2174

Shortly after crossing the creek the trail enters the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness at what has to be the most pathetic wilderness sign we’ve seen yet (note the slug attached to it).
IMG_2176

The trail then went up and down along Cheeney Creek still following an old roadbed. I am still trying to figure out why Little Cheney Creek has one “e” and Cheeney Creek is spelled with two. In places the trail was rather overgrown with salmon berry bushes and scouler’s corydalis, a rather interesting flower.
IMG_2189

IMG_2195

Scouler’s corydalis
IMG_2180

IMG_2327

The trail leaves the creek shortly after arriving at a possible campsite near a small waterfall.
Small fall on Cheeney Creek

We had gained a little over 300′ of elevation up to the point of the campsite and then the real climbing began. One of the reasons that the Bonanza Trail is not heavily used is the 3000′ of cumulative elevation gain to reach the summit of Huckleberry Mountain. The trail only has a handful of switchbacks which means that the trail is fairly steep in some sections and even on sunny days lacks viewpoints. We had not chosen a sunny day though and so we climbed up through a forest filled with fog.
IMG_2223

It may as well have been raining as the mist in the clouds gathered on the plants and trees falling as drops of rain.
IMG_2220

Despite the lack of views there was plenty to see along the way. Flowers, wildlife, and the abandoned Bonanza mine gave us plenty of things to look for and explore.
IMG_2224

IMG_2228

Bonanza Mine

IMG_2232

IMG_2243

Rhododendron in the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness

As we climbed the forest and flowers we were seeing changed.
IMG_2255

IMG_2259

IMG_2261

IMG_2263

IMG_2267

When we reached the trail junction we were a bit surprised to find a newer looking sign announcing the Boulder Ridge Trail. According to the Forest Service the Boulder Ridge Trail ends at the Plaza Trail on the same ridge further to the NW on the opposite side of the summit of Huckleberry Mountain.
IMG_2272

We turned right on the Plaza/Boulder Ridge Trail and headed for the summit of Huckleberry Mountain. We knew we wouldn’t be getting any views on this day but we wanted to bag the summit before turning around. The trail traveled up and down along the ridge entering a nice meadow after .3 miles where we spotted a number of different flowers.
IMG_2275

Lilies
IMG_2278

Larkspur
IMG_2283

Lupine
IMG_2289

Phlox and violets
IMG_2291

Beyond the meadow the path reentered the forest which was a stark contrast to the open saddle we had just left.
Forest along the Boulder Trail on Huckleberry Mountain

In another .2 miles the trail once again emerged from the forest in a meadow at the summit of Huckleberry Mountain.
Meadow on Huckleberry Mountain

IMG_2309

There were more flowers here, some of which we hadn’t seen on the hike until this meadows.
IMG_2300

Penstemon
IMG_2301

Paintbrush
IMG_2304

Yellow violets
IMG_2318

We sat on the rocky summit where at least four cascade peaks would have been visible on a clear day and took a short rest. Missing out on the view just meant we’d need to come back some other day, possibly via the Boulder Ridge Trail, and try again. As we were leaving the meadow Heather noticed an ant pile that was quite active.
IMG_2314

IMG_2316

Our descent was pretty uneventful as we made our way back down the mountain. We finally saw other people at the small waterfall, a family of four exploring the creek. The Bonanza Trail lived up to the light usage label, but despite the fact that it hadn’t been maintained by the Forest Service since 2013 it was in surprisingly good shape. Perfect for a good bit of exercise and solitude.
Happy Trails!

flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157653391492331

The Other Eagle Creek (Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness)

We continued what I have dubbed “Creek Week” by visiting another Eagle Creek the day after our trip to the one in the Columbia Gorge. Even though both creeks share the same name and both are located partially in the Mt. Hood National Forest the similarities end there. This Eagle Creek flows through the old growth forest of the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness and is much less visited than the one in the Gorge. There are no dizzying cliffs or giant waterfalls but rather the relaxing sound of running water while you stroll through a lush forest.

It was good that the trail was so relaxing because the drive to it was anything but. The hike was listed as an additional hike in the 2012 edition of William Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington complete with driving directions. He warned of a confusion of logging roads and he was right. I had also Googled the route and printed out directions from the Forest Service to the trailhead. The road names all matched but each of the directions gave different distances once we got onto SE Harvey Rd. Google said 1.2 miles, the Forest Service 1.8 miles, and Sullivan a more detailed 2.6 miles. Our first mistake was not paying attention to the difference in the distances given followed by not using the odometer as soon as we turned onto Harvey Rd. The area was heavily logged with operations ongoing so there were many side roads and turnoffs and no signs for any type of trail. We drove to the end of what we thought was Harvey Rd. and found a pile of garbage where people had obviously come out to shoot guns (seems to be a favorite pastime in that area) but no sign of a trail. We turned around and headed back the way we’d come looking for any sign of a trail that we might have missed. There were a couple of possibilities but nothing obvious. As we were reading the different instructions we noticed the different mileages which made it more confusing. In the end we decided to drive back to the start of SE Harvey Rd. and use the Odometer. There was nothing at the 1.2 mile mark so the Google instructions were ruled out. At the 1.8 mile mark a gated road led down to the right. The trail description in the book stated that the trail began on an overgrown old road so this had possibilities. I got an idea here and turned on the GPS to see if we were at the trail but when the map came up there was no trail where we were so we hopped in the car and continued to follow Sullivan’s mileage directions. We stopped at one point when we spotted what looked like it might have been an old road with a possible trail leading from it but again using the GPS it was clear that we still had not found the trail. At the 2.4 mile mark we spotted a barricaded road leading down to the right so again we stopped to check it out. This time the GPS showed us on a direct line for the trail and a small path led between the snags blocking the road. There were no signs but this was it.
DSC04775
What we believe happened was the Forest Service stared counting mileage about half a mile after Sullivan started. Then the final approximate quarter mile of Sullivan’s directions had been since blocked by the logging operation because after a brief walk on the road we came to a second small barrier behind which we found an overgrown road such as he had described.
DSC04776

In any event according to the GPS we had found the trail and were on our way down to Eagle Creek. We finally found a sign to confirm what the GPS was telling us. Near the end of the overgrown road there was some flagging and a sign announcing the beginning of the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness.
DSC04779

After entering the wilderness the trail looked less and less like an old road until it finally became a full on trail.
DSC04793
DSC04795

We ran across some interesting trees/trunks on the early portion of the trail. One of our favorites was a tree growing on top of an old trunk. You could see the new trees root system running down the length of the old trunk.
DSC04807
Another old trunk had a stream flowing out from under it.
DSC04816

There were many streams and creek to cross along the trail, but only one bridge.
DSC04821
There was no way we were going to keep our feet dry on some the crossing but that was okay with us, the streams just added to the beauty of the forest.
DSC04855
DSC04874

Due to the dense forest there weren’t a large variety of wildflowers but there were some including bleeding heart, wood violets, lots of trillium, and a new one to us scouler’s corydalis.
Bleeding Heart
DSC04800
Wood Violets
DSC04888
Trillium
DSC04907
Scouler’s Cordylis
DSC04858
scouler's corydalis

Open areas where were filled with salmon berry bushes.
DSC04865

We were up above Eagle Creek at times and then we would be walking next to the water for a bit. It was a decent sized creek lined with lush forests.
Eagle Creek in the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness
DSC04902
DSC04921

We didn’t see a lot of wildlife on this hike but I think that was partially due to the lushness of the forest. At one point we startled a deer that was in the creek but all I saw was splashing then a brown and white flash as it ran into the trees. What we did see was an Ouzel, an interesting spider, a couple of newts, and one of our favorite little song birds that I believe is a Pacific Wren.
DSC04915
DSC04847
DSC04862
DSC04831

We turned around when we reached the end of the Eagle Creek Trail. Here it connected to the Eagle Creek Cutoff Trail which fords Eagle Creek before heading up a ridge to the Old Baldy Trail.
DSC04928
The Eagle Creek Cutoff ford
DSC04929

We had a little drizzle from time to time up to this point but as we began our return trip the drizzle turned to a light rain. We made quick work of our return slowing only due to the climb back up the old road. It had been a great hike for relaxing end to our creek streak with. Next up we’re going to attempt to get a view, but in the Pacific Northwest Spring views can be tricky. Until then Happy Trails!

flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/sets/72157644170377089/
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deryl.yunck/media_set?set=a.10203946548091246.1073741875.1448521051&type=3

Wildcat Mountain

Greetings, I’m back again with another trip report from the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness. We were making a second attempt at Wildcat Mountain; which we had tried to do in May but had run into fresh snow on the road to the trail head. I’d seen a trip report on portlandhikers.org from 6/09/13 saying that the trail head was open and that in a couple of weeks the flower show should be going strong.

We were aware that there have been issues in this area with illegal shooting & off highway vehicle operation but the forest service and volunteers have been attempting to limit access and discourage the bad behavior. Evidence of this battle was everywhere on the drive to the trail head. Numerous “No Shooting” signs lined the road and almost every spur road was barricaded to block access. Unfortunately litter (mostly beer cans and empty shell casings) was visible in many areas as well. When we reached the new McIntyer Ridge trail head the parking area was covered in more of the same. It was a shame because the surrounding forest was beautiful.

We had a little difficulty finding the correct path due to our not noticing the small temporary trail sign at first. The OHV use was obvious given the width and condition of the trail. We followed this wide path for a mile to an opening which provided the first view of Mt. Hood. Shortly after the opening the tail narrowed leaving the OHV damage behind.

Rhododendrons bloomed in mass along the trail and we spotted several patches of avalanche lilies proving that snow had melted not too long before.

Avalanche lilies
Avalanche lilies

Next the trail entered a meadow of beargrass which was still, for the most part, not in bloom. I hoped that this would not be the case when we reached the next viewpoint in a meadow with a memorial bench.

The bench meadow did not disappoint. A good number of beargrass plumes rose up while paintbrush and penstemon added red and purple to the ground. The view of Mt. Hood was great and a pair of hummingbirds zoomed about visiting the flowers. One of them even landed long enough for me to get a couple of pictures.

Mt. Hood from the bench meadow
Mt. Hood from the bench meadow

Continuing along the path we reached a junction with the Douglas Trail and turned SE along it toward Wildcat Mountain. A short side trail led up to the summit where an old lookout tower once stood. In order to get a decent view we had to follow a very faint trail through rhododendrons toward Mt. Hood. When we reached an opening not only did we have a view of Mt. Hood but Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier now appeared to the NW. After returning to the Douglas trail we continued SE to another viewpoint on a rocky section of the ridge. More wildflowers covered this area and Mt. St. Helens and the top of Mt. Jefferson now joined the views.

Mt. Jefferson from the rock garden
Mt. Jefferson from the rock garden

We continued on the Douglas trail to it’s end at the Plaza trail and turned around. Clouds had begun forming around the mountains changing the views on the way back. We stopped again at the bench (I don’t think you could not stop here) where I took a few more pictures.
288
We heard a few gunshots on the way back which sounded like they may have been coming from the Douglas trail head, and learned from a couple of hikers that they had run into a pair of OHVs (illegally) on the trail. We hadn’t heard them, but the presence was easy to see. The trail had been torn up and fresh damage done to several trees and plants along the path.

It’s hard to understand why some people just can’t follow the rules or how they could possibly leave such a mess without regard to anyone or anything else. If you were able to bring it in you can certainly pack it back out. That’s enough of a rant from me 🙂 Despite the depressing state of the trail head and OHV damage it was a great hike with wonderful views. The best thing that could happen to this area is to have more responsible/legal users. Maybe that would discourage the bad seeds and give the area a chance to recover from their damage. Happy (clean) Trails

Salmon Butte

It’s raining mice! We’ve all heard the saying “It’s raining cats and dogs” but on our last hike it rained mice (well a mouse anyway). I’ll explain that later, but for now let me tell you where we were. For Father’s Day we headed toward Mt. Hood and the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness. Our plan was to head to the top of 4877′ Salmon Butte where we hoped to have a view of about a half dozen Cascade peaks.

The trail head is located next to the Salmon River, a fork of which it quickly crosses on a old bridge. The river is left for good here as the path follows an abandoned road up toward a former trail head. The road was closed down due to repeated washouts which we could see evidence of as we passed over numerous small creeks. The roadbed was fairly overgrown with green grasses and many small flowers. After travelling on the road for a little over a mile we reached the former trail head and turned into the forest. Not long after entering the forest a we came to a sign announcing the boundary of the wilderness. This was our first visit to the 62,455 acre Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness which is part of the Mt. Hood National Forest.

The trail offered no real views for the first 2.5 miles as it steadily climbed up through the forest. Rhododendrons lined the trail, many of which were in bloom adding a splash of pink amid the green. Although the total elevation gain for the trail is almost 3200′ it was rarely steep and never for very long which was a welcome change to last week’s trudge up Heartbreak Ridge. At the 2.6 mile mark a viewpoint at a rocky ridge end opens across the Mack Hall Creek Valley and to Salmon Butte itself. The ridge end was home to a small but diverse number of flowers. There were a couple red paintbrush, a single lupine, a lone cats ear, a couple of yellow flowers, and a blue filed gilia which was a first for us.
290

Leaving the viewpoint the trail reentered the forest and climbed along the west side of a ridge for 2 miles before we would reach the next viewpoint. Still there was plenty to keep us entertained which is where the mouse rain incident occurred. As we were walking along I saw something out of the corner of my eye and heard a “thump” on the hillside just to the left of us. My first thought was pine cone, but the thump was too loud and the color wrong for a cone so my next thought was that someone had thrown a rock at us. It nearly rolled into Heather. As she attempted to avoid it we realized it was an animal. The poor mouse got its bearings and scurried off the side of the trail and disappeared into the brush. We have no idea where it came from, if it just slipped or possibly escaped from a bird in the trees above, but we certainly won’t forget our first encounter with mouse rain.

At a switchback near the 3.9 mile mark a short side path extended out to a small but amazing hillside meadow. There was no view to speak of but the hill side was carpeted with plectritis, larkspur, and little yellow monkeyflowers.
109

The trail eventually moved from the west side of the ridge to the east and shortly after reached a viewpoint with the first view of Mt. Hood. Here beargrass and rhododendrons lined the trail in various states of bloom. For the next half mile the trail climbedd gently along the top of the ridge before a couple of steep switchbacks reached a second abandoned road. This was the road to the former lookout tower that no longer exists on Salmon Butte. As the road curved up around the summit Mt. Jefferson came into view to the south followed by Mt. Hood to the north. After .3 miles we reached the summit and sweeping across the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness to the north, south, and east.

Although there were a few clouds in the sky we had an excellent views of Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson.

Mt. Hood
Mt. Hood

Mt. Adams and Mt. St. Helens were clearly visible in Washington and the North Sister was peaking over the shoulder of Mt. Jefferson to the south. With an assist from the binoculars we were finally able to identify Mt. Rainier as well. We enjoyed a peaceful lunch as the only people on the summit. We were not alone though. A couple of swallowtail butterflies flitted around the summit and a gray jay flew up to check us out. There was also a chipmunk busy eating seed on a tree trunk, obviously knowing this was a perfect spot for lunch.

We passed several hikers on our way back down but no more falling mice. When we rejoined the old road near for the final 1.2 miles the scenery had changed. Scores of white candy flowers had opened to the sun and now dotted the green grass along the path. This was a really nice hike and in the end didn’t feel like we’d gone 3170′ in 11.2 miles. Until next time – Happy Trails (and watch out for falling mice :))