Tag Archives: wildflowers

Sleeping Beauty & Foggy Flat Backpack Day One- 08/01/2020

Our first backpacking trip of the year was over Memorial Day weekend (post) but since then we hadn’t had an opportunity to break out our tent. Sleeping Beauty, a 3 mile featured hike in Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington” (4th edition), gave us a reason to put the tent to use again.

It wasn’t because the hike to the top of Sleeping Beauty was backpackable, but rather the 2:45 drive time to the trailhead was too long for this to be a stand alone hike for us. To make the trip worth the drive we decided to continued to nearby Mt. Adams and do a hike to Foggy Flat from Matt Reeder’s “PDX Hiking 365” guidebook.

We began our trip by driving to Trout Lake, WA then continued on to the Sleeping Beauty Trailhead.
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The trail climbed steeply up through a green forest for a mile to a forested saddle. Most of the flowers had passed but a few lingered and the pearly everlasting was getting started. Thimbleberries weren’t quite ripe but we did find a few strawberries to snack on.
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IMG_2376Beardstongue

IMG_2377Pearly everlasting next to thimbleberry bushes.

IMG_2371Not quite ready yet.

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Near the saddle we got our first look at the rock feature that is Sleeping Beauty from the trail (it is visible on the drive).
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The trail bends to the right (ignore a fainter trail heading left) at the saddle continuing through the trees.
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Another bit of climbing brought us beneath the rocks.
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The trail switchbacked its way up amid the rocks up stonework ramps gaining views of the surrounding Cascade mountains along the way.
IMG_2414Mt. Adams

IMG_2415Goat Rocks (post) to the left beyond Mt. Adams

IMG_2417Looking down at some of the switchbacks.

IMG_2419Mt. St. Helens in the distance.

IMG_2424The top of Mt. Rainier.

IMG_2426Mt. Hood to the South.

IMG_2431_stitchMt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Goat Rocks and Mt. Adams.

IMG_2448Indian Heaven Wilderness

It was fairly windy up on the rocks, just windy enough to make us a little nervous when we got to the saddle near the top as we had to push back a bit against it. Luckily the top is fairly wide and there was a least one place behind a rock where the wind was non-existent.
IMG_2430Looking east over the top of Sleeping Beauty.

20200801_084405_HDRLooking west to the true summit where a lookout once stood.

We were hoping to see a mountain goat as they do live here but alas we only saw some fur on a rock and a couple of bushes. The views would have to do and they did just fine. I scrambled over to the former lookout site after deciding it looked safe enough while Heather waited at the saddle.
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IMG_2455Mt. Hood from the foundation of the former lookout.

After a good long time exploring the area and enjoying the views we headed back down. We passed several groups of hikers heading up (just about everyone had a mask) so we were once again glad we’d gotten the early start to have the top to ourselves.

From the trailhead we drove back to Trout Lake and turned left onto Mount Adams Road aka Forest Road 23. (Google would have had us continue on the forest road we had been on to reach the Killen Creek Trailhead, but Google doesn’t always know the condition of the Forest Roads and I don’t either so we played it safe.)

We then followed Reeder’s direction to the Killen Creek Trailhead stopping along the way when Heather spotted a nice waterfall on Big Spring Creek.
IMG_2469Sign at a pullout along FR 23.

IMG_2471These were huge yellow monkeyflowers.

IMG_2476Big Spring Creek

After the brief stop we drove on. The final 9 miles on FR 23 was gravel but wide and not too bad. We turned off of the gravel onto the narrow, paved FR 2329 which was a nice break, but beyond the turn for Takhalakh Lake Campground this road also turned to gravel. It was not in the best condition and was fairly narrow and busy which made for a bit of a tedious final 6 miles to the Killen Creek Trailhead.
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After attempting some gear repair (a hole in some clothing) we set off and quickly entered the Mt. Adams Wilderness.
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This was only our third visit to the wilderness with our first having been a hike from the South Climb Trailhead to Iceberg Lake in 2014 (post) and the second an overnight stay at Horseshoe Meadows in 2017 (post). (Apparently this is an every three year thing.)

The Killen Creek Trail climbed through the forest where we were pleased to find quite a few flowers were blooming. Little did we know what was coming.
IMG_2493Lupine along the trail.

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IMG_2501Arnica

IMG_2504Lousewort

IMG_2505More lupine along the trail.

IMG_2506Partridge foot and lupine.

IMG_2514Lupine, paintbrush and valerian.

IMG_2523Lupine along the trail which sees a good amount of equestrian use.

IMG_2526Mountain heather.

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As we continued to climb the number and types of flowers we were seeing kept increasing.
IMG_2536Yellow buttercups mixed in with the lupine, paintbrush and valerian.

IMG_2542Beardstongue, arnica and lupine.

IMG_2544Beargrass

Approximately 2.5 miles up the trail the flowers really started to explode as the trail began to level out a bit.
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Over the next mile we gained views of Mt. Adams and crossed a small alpine stream all while being mesmerized by the flowers.
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IMG_2582Lousewort

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IMG_2595Elephants head near the stream.

IMG_2604Elephants head and a shooting star.

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20200801_125034Mountain heather

IMG_2620Phlox

As we gained elevation we also began to get glimpses of Mt. Rainier to the NW.
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The views and flowers just kept getting better as we went.
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IMG_2652False hellebore amid the lupine.

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IMG_2665Paintbrush framed by trees.

IMG_2675Woolly pussytoes

After a little over 3.25 miles the Killen Creek Trail ended at the Pacific Crest Trail.
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We had been to this junction in 2017 when we had hiked the PCT north from Horseshoe Meadows. We had continued a few hundred feet before realizing that Killen Creek was still almost a mile away. This time we would be hiking beyond Killen Creek and so we turned left on the PCT and continued on.
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Where the Killen Creek Trail was heading for Mt. Adams the PCT was bending around the mountain. This made for more up and down hiking as opposed to steady climbing. Mt. Adams occasionally made an appearance over our right shoulders and the flowers continued to be amazing.
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20200801_131817Cinquefoil

IMG_2702White and pink mountain heather, paintbrush and lupine above the PCT.

IMG_2706Shooting star

IMG_2733Violets

IMG_2737Coming in for a landing on groundsel.

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IMG_2739Aster

The Goat Rocks was soon fully visible between us and Mt. Rainier.
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IMG_2746_stitchGoat Rocks

A little under a mile from the Killen Creek Trail junction the PCT began a descent to Killen Creek Meadows.
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IMG_2761Aster and white seed heads

There were a couple of small ponds still holding water in the meadows and we noticed a lot of ripples in the water as we approached.
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It turned out to be pollywogs, and a lot of them.
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IMG_2775Spirea

The PCT crossed Killen Creek on a footbridge just above a waterfall.
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IMG_2782Killen Creek and Mt. Adams.

There was a steep path down on this side of the falls but it looked like the PCT might have a good view of it on the other side of the creek so we opted not to head down. We figured the worst case scenario was that there wouldn’t be a view and we could just go down on the way back out.
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As we started to cross the bridge we noticed something in the creek nearby, it was an ouzel.
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There wasn’t a great view of the waterfall on the other side.
IMG_2791The waterfall from the PCT.

The PCT descended to a lower meadow where a trail led out to a campsite and another possible vantage point for the waterfall but the view was obscured so we put it on the to do list for the next day.
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From Killen Creek it was .2 flower filled miles to a junction with the Highline Trail.
IMG_2800Highline Trail ahead.

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Here we left the PCT as it continued on its way to Goat Rocks and beyond and turned up the Highline Trail. Not far from the junction we arrived at an unnamed lake with a reflection of Mt. Adams.
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The wildflowers had been impressive thus far but the Highline Trail took it up a notch.
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IMG_2812Yellow arnica along the trail.

IMG_2813Beargrass in full bloom.

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IMG_2836Subalpine mariposa lily

After a total of 1.7 miles on this trail we arrived at another junction. This time it was the Muddy Meadows Trail.
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IMG_2840Look more lupine that way.

We continued on the Highline Trail another mile before reaching Foggy Flat, a wet meadow near an unnamed creek.
IMG_2844Still tons of flowers.

IMG_2856Frog near Foggy Flat

IMG_2862Mt. Adams from Foggy Flat

IMG_2869Frog in a little stream at Foggy Flat.

IMG_2868Zoomed in

We walked along the meadow to the far end where the creek was located looking for tent sites. There was one occuppied site along the trail across from the meadow but that was about all we saw at first.
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The Highline Trail crossed the creek on a footbridge but then launched steeply uphill so we turned around and decided to check around the meadow more thoroughly for a suitable site.
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IMG_2878Gentian

IMG_2884Elephants Head

We are fairly picky about our campsites. We do not like to camp on any vegetation, especially in meadows and we do our best to maintain a proper distance from water and trails. Unfortunately we are in the minority and it was obvious from the fire rings and smashed grasses that many others aren’t as selective (not to mention the TP – come on people). We finally managed to find an acceptable spot tucked into some trees.
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With camp established we took our daypacks out put our essentials plus dinner and the stove into them and set off across the creek on the Highline Trail. Reeder described the trail beyond Foggy Flat as having “incredible views” but also “difficult creek crossings”. Our plan was to go as far as the Muddy Fork crossing and unless it looked really easy turn back there.
IMG_2897Monkeyflower and willowherb along the creek.

The climb up from the creek was indeed steep and we were happy to just have our daypacks on.
IMG_2902Mt. Rainier behind us.

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IMG_2911The trail dropping steeply behind us on one of the steeper sections.

We passed several nice campsites as the terrain became more level at the edge of a lava flow. A couple of the sites were occupied. Despite the rockier conditions due to the lava flow the flower show continued.
IMG_2914Can you spot the yellow paintbrush?

Shortly after crossing another little creek we found ourselves in the lava field with an excellent view of Mt. Adams. We had been waiting for the clouds to break up all day and now they were starting to oblige.
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IMG_2934Buckwheat

We continued to follow the Highline Trail through the lava and past snow fields.
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The lava also provided great views of Mt. Rainier and Goat Rocks.
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IMG_2949Goat Creek falling from Goat Lake.

IMG_2955_stitchRed Butte and Mt. Adams

IMG_2961Red Butte, a neat looking cinder cone.

IMG_2959Flower amid the rocks.

We did indeed stop at Muddy Fork. It was a little more of a crossing than we wanted to tackle at that point.
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We backed track a bit to rise where we had seen a great looking spot for dinner (or a tent). We cooked our dinner there and then explored a bit on the ridge above the spot where we found a few flowers amid the rocks and more amazing views.
IMG_2984Paintbrush

IMG_2993Cutleaf daisy

IMG_2999Dwarf alpinegold

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We eventually headed back to Foggy Flat under the watchful eyes of the locals.
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We were momentarily distracted below one of the snow fields as we watched a stream forming in front of our eyes.
IMG_3028Water in the upper portions of the snowmelt stream.

IMG_3030The same stream 3 minutes later.

When the water reached a large hole that would take some time to fill we managed to pull ourselves away and continue back to our campsite. We stopped at the creek to get water for the next day and turned in fairly quickly. There were just enough mosquitoes about to be a nuisance making the confines of the tent that much more appealing.

Combining this hike with our previous two visits we’ve managed to cover quite a bit of the trails that wrap around the mountain. The east side of Mt. Adams is on part of the Yakima Indian Reservation and is largely trail less. Special permits are required to enter the Reservation with the exception of Bird Creek Meadows on the SE side of the mountain.
Mt. Adams Tracks

From every angle that we’ve seen it Mt. Adams continues to impress us. It’s truly a special place. Happy Trails!
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Winter Ridge – 07/19/2020

After a night in Bend we continued on our way to Lakeview making a stop along the way to hike the Fremont Trail at Winter Ridge to do the first of seven planned featured hikes from Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Eastern Oregon” book.

The Fremont Trail traverses the Fremont National Forest at a distance of almost 150 miles. We had hiked a short section of the Fremont Trail on our visits to Hager Mountain (2013, 2014). For this hike we drove Highway 31 south from Highway 97 for 87 miles turning right on Forest Road 29 at milepost 87. FR 29 climbed from Summer Lake 9.5 miles to Government Harvey Pass. Our excitement started when a bobcat ran across the road right in front of the car. This was one of the animals left on our “yet to see” list. Granted it was from the car but it was on the way to a hike so we still sort of count it. When the road leveled out on Winter ridge at the pass we turned right at a “T” junction onto FR 2901. We parked along the shoulder of this road after a tenth of a mile near a sign on the right marking the crossing of the Fremont Trail.
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Some cows up the road were watching us closely as we prepared to set off on the trail.
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There was a bit of blowdown along the early portion of the trail but nothing too difficult to navigate.
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Sullivan indicates that the wildflowers are best here in June but that is also when the mosquitos are at their worst. We were pleasantly surprised to find a number of wildflowers blooming and mosquitos were not an issue.
IMG_0028Prairie smoke (old man’s whiskers)

IMG_0031Yarrow and Oregon sunshine

IMG_0037Pussytoes starting to go to seed.

IMG_0040Paintbrushes

IMG_0049Scarlet gilia

IMG_0059Lupine

IMG_0065Buckwheat

IMG_0077Orange agoseris

IMG_0089Paintbrush

20200719_073911Sticky purple geranium

Sticky sandwortSticky sandwort

IMG_0103Nuttall’s linanthus

IMG_0105Fireweed

IMG_0113Hyssop

The trail spent a good deal of time close enough to the edge of Winter Ridge to allow for short detours to check out the scenery below.
IMG_0052Golden mantled ground squirrel also enjoying the views.

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IMG_0132Looking down at Summer Lake

20200719_115435FR 29 coming up the hillside to the right.

In addition to the views and flowers there was some wildlife, but no bobcats, along the way.
IMG_0117Woodpecker

IMG_0122Swallowtail

IMG_0139Fritillary butterfly

Just under 2.5 miles from FR 2901 we arrived at junction with a side trail to Currier Springs.
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We turned down this sometimes faint trail which led slightly downhill for .3 miles to the Currier Springs Horse Camp Trailhead on FR 3221.
IMG_0150Passing through a grove of quaking aspen.

IMG_0151California corn lily

IMG_0153California corn lily

IMG_0157Chipmunk

IMG_0159More cows at the horse camp.

We walked past the large sign for the horse camp to the spring on the left side of the road.
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IMG_0172Brewer’s blackbird

Near the spring we encountered some musk thistle which as far as thistles go was pretty impressive but unfortunately not native.
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In the meadows nearby were some native wildlfowers though.
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20200719_090205White triteleia

20200719_090226A checkermallow

We returned to the Fremont Trail and continued north past more viewpoints for 1.4 more miles to a sign for another spring, Mud Springs. Here there was no obvious trail and we did not attempt to visit the spring.
IMG_0190A view north along the ridge.

IMG_0194Looking NE from Winter Ridge.

IMG_0198Grand collomia

IMG_0209Hummingbird

IMG_0211Rosy pussytoes

IMG_0212Scouler’s woollyweed (maybe)

IMG_0214Wildflowers along the Fremont Trail

IMG_0222Another viewpoint

IMG_0223Looking south along the ridge.

IMG_0230More musk thistles.

IMG_0233Fremont Trail along Winter Ridge.

IMG_0241Buck watching us through the trees.

IMG_0245The buck heading off.

IMG_0252Sign for Mud Springs.

IMG_0269Western tanager near the junction.

Here Sullivan’s description no longer matched what we were seeing. We had expected the Fremont Trail to continue faintly along the ridge to a point where Sullivan described a “Landside Viewpoint”. Our GPS maps showed the trail following this alignment but not far beyond the Mud Springs sign the trail veered away from the ridge passing through snowbrush that was covering much of the hillside below the point.
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IMG_0274Snowbrush along the trail.

We stayed on the clear trail expecting it to eventually lead us up to the point, but instead after a half mile it turned away from the point heading downhill another quarter mile before reaching the rim of Winter Ridge well below the viewpoint which was to be our turnaround point.
IMG_0279Where we wound up along the rim of the ridge.

IMG_0282Looking up toward the viewpoint.

We decided to bushwhack our way up to the viewpoint and began a hot and tedious .7 mile cross country adventure. I stayed closer to the edge of the ridge which provided some decent views but became nearly impossible to navigate.
IMG_0287I made it to this rock outcrop which wasn’t the viewpoint I was looking for.

IMG_0288A second rocky viewpoint (with the first down the ridge a bit), still not the viewpoint I was looking for.

IMG_0289Looking up the ridge from the second rock outcrop. The number of snags and thicker snowbrush caused me to abandon the ridge here and follow the line that Heather was taking just a bit in from the rim.
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We eventually managed to reach the viewpiont.
20200719_105548Looking north across the landslide to Summer Lake.

IMG_0309Looking south

IMG_0307Balsamroot near the viewpoint.

After taking a break we debated what route to take back. We weren’t keen on going back down the way we’d come up but we also weren’t certain what the conditions would be if we attempted to follow the rim back toward the Mud Springs junction. In the end we decided to use our GPS and aim for the closest point on our track from earlier when we passed below the viewpoint. This worked out well as it was only a little over a quarter of a mile back to the Fremont Trail and there were far less obstacles to navigate. We followed the Fremont Trail back to where it had veered away from the ridge and looked to see if we had missed something. There was no obvious trail tread but there may have been a cairn (or it might have just been rocks).
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Regardless we had made it to the viewpoint so the hike had been a success. We returned the way we’d come, looking as always for wildlife and things we missed on the first pass. In this case we had missed a large number of Orobanche that we hadn’t noticed earlier.
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IMG_0320Becker’s white on subalpine fleabane.

Slender cinquefoilSlender cinquefoil

It was around 90 degrees by the time we got back to the car. This hike turned out to be a little longer and more difficult than we had expected due to the bushwhacking. My GPS read 11.3 miles instead of the 9.6 we had planned on. We drove into Lakeview where the temperature nearly hit triple digits. It promised to be an interesting week of hiking and this first hike let us know that it was going to be a challenging one as well. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Winter Ridge

The Three Pyramids and Parrish, Riggs & Daly Lakes – 07/18/2020

When we scheduled our vacation weeks back, in January, we had no idea the issues that Covid-19 would create. We’ve been doing our best to socially distance and wear masks when that isn’t possible, but was going on a trip different? Fortunately for us we’ve stayed healthy and our plans for this vacation had been a trip to the Lakeview, OR area where the number of Covid-19 cases has been low and the likelihood of encountering many (if any) other hikers was low. Before heading to Lakeview we planned on stopping to visit Heather’s parents in Bend. On our way to Bend we stopped for three short hikes.

Our first stop was at the Pyramids Trailhead to check off one more featured hike from William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Central Oregon Cascades”.
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We had been to this trailhead once before but that was for a backpacking trip to the Middle Santiam Wilderness (post) when we took the South Pyramid Creek Trail. This time after we crossed Park Creek we turned right on the Pyramids Trail.
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The trail climbed along Park Creek passing a series of small falls before crossing the creek.
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The trail then passed a meadow filled cirque.
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The trail climbed from the cirque via a series of switchbacks to a ridge where the trail turned left heading for the Middle Pyramid. There were several nice wildflower displays along the climb.
20200718_071555Coneflower

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IMG_9413Death camas

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IMG_9445Penstemon

20200718_091211Larkspur and penstemon

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The trail followed the ridge to the cliffs of the Middle Pyramid and wrapped around its north side to a junction 2 miles from the trailhead. Several mountains could be seen from this stretch of trail.
IMG_9465Middle Pyramid from the ridge.

IMG_9477Mt. Washington and the Three Sisters

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IMG_9501Mt. Jefferson

IMG_9506Valerian and columbine

IMG_9507Mountain bluebells

The junction was with the Old Cascade Crest Trail coming up from the North Pyramid Trailhead three and a half miles away.
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We turned left continuing toward the Middle Pyramid climbing to a saddle just below it’s summit which was to the right.
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IMG_9529Looking up toward the summit from the saddle.

We clambered up a rocky path to the former lookout site atop the peak where a 360 degree view awaited.
IMG_9535Mt. Washington and the Three Sisters

IMG_9538South Pyramid with snowy Diamond Peak to the left in the distance.

IMG_9568Cone Peak and Iron Mountain (post)

IMG_9545Mt. Hood framed between Coffin Mountain and Bachelor Mountain (post) and Mt. Jefferson.

IMG_9562A faint Mt. Adams to the left of Mt. Hood

IMG_9555Meadow from the summit.

We returned the way we’d come and headed for our second stop of the day which was originally going to be the Riggs Lake Trailhead. We had planned on making three more including Riggs Lake (Parrish and Daly Lakes being the other 2) but FR 2266 had a number trees over it beyond the Parrish Lake Trailhead so we decided to park there and walk the 1.2 miles up FR 2266 to the Riggs Lake Trailhead.
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Since we were already at the Parrish Lake Trailhead we started by hiking down the Parrish Lake Trail .6 miles to the lake.
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IMG_9604North Pyramid

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IMG_9608Rough skinned newts

After visiting Parrish Lake we headed down FR 2266 to the Riggs Lake Trailhead. It wasn’t too bad as far as road walks go. It appeared that someone had attempted to do some road maintenance at some point.
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The trailhead was well signed including what appeared to be a fairly new trail sign.
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The condition of the trail left much to be desired. It was only a half mile to the lake, and after having walked the 1.2 miles on FR 2266 we weren’t about to let some blowdown stop us (it almost did though).
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We managed to make it to Riggs Lake which was actually pretty nice.
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IMG_9655Crab spider on prince’s pine

Once upon a time the trail continued uphill to Don Lake but has been abandoned for some time. Given the condition of the trail up to Riggs Lake we had no thoughts of trying to continue on.
IMG_9663The trail used to continue on the other side of the inlet creek.

We picked our way back through the blowdown and along FR 2266 to the Parrish Lake Trailhead then drove to the nearby Daly Lake Trailhead.
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We had seen three mountain bikers on the Pyramids Trail and four hikers on the Parrish Lake Trail and no one along the Riggs Lake Trail, but there were plenty of people at Daly Lake. We readied our masks as we set off on the short loop around the lake.
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There were a number of tents set up and quite a few people floating on the lake but we didn’t encounter anyone along the loop except for at the end when the trail passed through the campsites.
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IMG_9685Washington lilies

The trail was in need of some maintenance but nowhere near as bad as the Riggs Lake Trail had been.
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IMG_9690Crossing on the outlet creek.

IMG_9691Marsh at the outlet creek.

IMG_9693Bog orchid

Most of the trail lacked views and with the best being closest to the campsites.
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IMG_0019The North Pyramid from Daly Lake

After completing the loop we drove on to Bend and had a nice visit with Heather’s parents before getting up early the next morning to continue our trip. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Three Pyramids and Parrish, Riggs & Daly Lakes

Hunchback Mountain – 7/11/2020

We extended our streak of 3000+ feet elevation gains and checked off another of Sullivan’s featured hikes with a visit to the Hunchback Trail in the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness. We started our hike at the trailhead just off Highway 26 at the Zigzag Ranger Station.
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This trailhead is almost directly across Highway 26 from our previous hike, West Zigzag Mountain (post). Based on the forecast there was a really good chance that we’d get to see similar views of Mt. Hood that we’d missed the week before. Similar to that hike the Hunchback Trail began with a steep climb via a series of switchbacks which brought us into a wilderness area.
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Pink pyrolaPink pyrola

Unlike the Zigzag Mountain Trail, which was well graded and rarely felt steep, the Hunchback Trail felt quite steep at times.
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IMG_9022Switchback below a rock outcrop.

IMG_9028Looking down the hillside from the trail.

IMG_9055Trail dropping to a saddle.

After nearly 1.75 miles of switchbacks the trail gained the ridge and turned SE following it for the remainder of the hike. After an up and down we gained our first limited view of the day to the south.
Little Cheney Creek drainage across the Salmon River valleyLooking south across the Salmon River valley. The Bonanza Trail (post) climbs the ridge to the right up to Huckleberry Mountain (hidden behind the first tree on the right).

The ridge was a little more open than the forest below allowing for a wider variety of flowers.
IMG_9066Beardstongue (penstemon)

IMG_9075Washington lily

IMG_9078Tiger lily

IMG_9090Penstemon

IMG_9092Sub-alpine mariposa lily (cat’s ear lily)

IMG_9096Yarrow

The first really good view came after just over two miles when the trail climbed steeply up to a catwalk along rimrock cliffs.
IMG_9103Starting the steep climb.

IMG_9105Coming up to the cliffs.

IMG_9115Cliffs along the trail.

Huckleberry MountainHuckleberry Mountain

Salmon Butte (tallest peak on the left and Tumala Mountain (pointy peak furthest back and right)Salmon Butte (post) (tallest peak on the left and Tumala Mountain (post) (pointy peak furthest back and right)

While Mt. Hood was visible through tree branches to the north there wasn’t enough of a view for photos. There were however plenty of flowers to take pictures of.
IMG_9122Blue-head gilia

IMG_9133Blue-eyed Mary

IMG_9137Oregon sunshine, blue-head gilia, penstemon and yarrow.

There was also quite a bit of clarkia present but it was too early in the day for the blossoms to be open so they would have to wait until we came back by later.

At the end of the cliffs the trail dropped back into the forest then almost immediately climbed steeply again arriving at a sign (on the opposite side of a tree) for the Rockpile Viewpoint.
IMG_9119Trail dropping toward the forest.

IMG_9140Trail starting to climb again.

IMG_9141Sign for the viewpoint.

The side trail headed steeply uphill and quickly devolved into a web of possible paths.
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We followed what appeared to be the “best” route uphill for about 60 yards to the base of the “Rockpile”.
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I scrambled up through the rocks enough to see that while it was a great viewpoint for Mt. Hood it was still a little too early for it as the Sun was right above the mountain.
IMG_9148The top of the rocks.

IMG_9146Washed out view of Mt. Hood

I let Heather know it probably wasn’t worth the effort to scramble up right now and we decided to stop on our way back instead.

After scrambling back down to Heather we returned to the Hunchback Trail and continued SE along the ridge. The next mile was the gentlest section of the trail as it continued to do some ups and downs but they were only little rises and drops with some level trail mixed in.
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The forest here was home to a number of flowers that rely on their relationship to fungi to survive.
IMG_9158Pinesap

IMG_9171Pinedrop

IMG_9175Pacific coralroot

We also got a brief glimpse of Mt. Adams at one point through some trees.
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Approximately 1.1 miles from the side trail to the Rockpile Viewpoint another side trail split off to the right. This one was much fainter and there was no sign where it left the Hunchback Trail but it headed uphill to the right toward some rocks.
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We suspected that this trail led to the Helispot Viewpoint, but we weren’t positive and Sullivan described the view as overgrown so we decided not to follow this path just in case it wasn’t to the viewpoint. A hundred or so feet down the trail we wound up passing a sign (again on the opposite side of a tree) for the Helispot Viewpoint. There didn’t appear to be an actual route from the sign though as it was simply pointing at a hillside covered with rhododendron bushes.
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We decided that on the way back we would take the route we’d seen above and continued on. Over the next mile the trail spent quite a bit of time on the east side of the ridge where the tread was wearing and rhododendron were beginning to encroach on it a bit. There was an short interesting walk on a narrow rocky spine and then there were two steep climbs which brought the trail to a bit over 4000′ in elevation.
IMG_9204Passing a rock outcrop on narrower tread.

IMG_9207Paintbrush

IMG_9218Rocky spine

IMG_9225Columbine

IMG_9228Climbing up the Hunchback Trail.

IMG_9229Heather coming up the trail.

IMG_9234Beargrass near the 4000′ elevation.

After reaching the high point the trail began a steep 400′ drop to another saddle, but luckily our turnaround point was only about 50′ down. That turnaround point was the third signed viewpiont along this stretch of the Hunchback Trail, the Great Pyramid.
IMG_9238Heading down to the viewpoint sign.

IMG_9241Side trail to the Great Pyramid.

The short side path led passed an obscured view SE and some wildflowers along a rock outcrop.
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Unfortunately the whole area was overrun with thatching ants. After a few steps out along the rocks there were numerous ants climbing our legs and although their bites aren’t as painful as the all red harvester ants they aren’t fun either so we left the viewpoint to the insects and retreated back up the trail.

We followed the Hunchback Trail back to where we had planned to take the side trip to the Helispot Viewpoint and headed uphill on the faint path.
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A short distance up we noticed a fairly distinct trail coming up from the left which we assumed was the trail that the sign had originally been pointing too. The viewpoint was just as Sullivan had described it, overgrown. Probably not worth the tenth of a mile side trip but there were a few flowers present.
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We returned to the Hunchback Trail happy to be on the gentler mile section. We detoured back up to the Rockpile Viewpoint just as some other hikers were leaving it which allowed us to take a nice break there all by ourselves with the improved view of Mt. Hood.
IMG_9280The cliffs of West Zigzag Mountain to the left of Mt. Hood where we’d been the week before (post)

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20200711_113107We weren’t entirely alone as Heather was visited by a butterfly.

After a nice break we made our way back to the rimrock cliffs which were now fully in sunlight opening the clarkia and making for even nicer views.
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IMG_9314Looking down into the Salmon River valley

IMG_9317Looking west toward Highway 26

20200711_120439Blue-head gilia

20200711_121116Penstemon

20200711_120700Nevada deervetch

20200711_120246Tiger lilies

20200711_120332Oregon sunshine

IMG_9303Cat’s ear lilies

As we descended the 1500′ from the rimrock viewpoint to the trailhead our knees and feet were letting us know that they were done with three and four thousand elevation gain hikes for awhile. We’ll have to see about that :).

Both Sullivan and the Oregonhikers.org field guide put this hike at 9 miles roundtrip. They vary on elevation with Sullivan showing a 2900′ gain while the field guide showing 3270′. Our Garmin’s came in at 10.1 and 11.2 miles and we never pay attention to the elevation numbers. We were actually running an experiment on this hike regarding the distances shown on the GPS units. We both carry a Garmin GPSmap 62s unit. We’ve looked at the settings and they seem to be the same, but for the majority of hikes Heather’s Garmin reports a noticeable amount more mileage than mine (mine is typically closer to what the information for the hike states). For this hike we swapped units so I was carrying the one she normally does and vice versa. Sure enough the one she carried registered the higher 11.2 mile total. We are at a bit of a loss to explain what causes the discrepancy. On rare occasions the totals have been the same or within a tenth of a mile or two but more often than not the difference is at least a mile and sometimes a couple. Any thoughts out there as to what might cause this? I tend to hike faster, especially uphill but then I spend more time stopped waiting for Heather.

If you couldn’t tell the GPS thing is driving me a bit crazy, so much so that that night as we were going to bed I wondered aloud what would happen if one of us carried both GPS units on a hike? These are the things that keep me up at night :). Happy Trails!

Flickr: Hunchback Mountain

West Zigzag Mountain – 7/04/2020

We continued our 4th of July tradition of hiking by checking off another of William L. Sullivan’s featured hikes, West Zigzag Mountain (Hike #68 “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Northwest Oregon & Southwest Washington” 4th edition). He actually describes two hikes, a 1.8 mile round trip to Castle Canyon and an 11+ mile round trip to the former West Zigzag lookout site. We chose the longer hike for this visit which starts from Zigzag Mountain Trailhead.
IMG_8644Parking area is just a wide spot in the road.

Two trails start at the trailhead, the Zigzag Mountain Trail heads uphill to the left while the Road 19 Trail follows the closed road to the right. The Road 19 trail connects with the Castle Canyon Trail in 1.1 miles.
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After a short steep climb the Zigzag Mountain Trail arrived at a wilderness permit box and Mt. Hood Wilderness map.
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After filling out one of the self-issue permits we began to climb. Our last two hikes had cumulative elevation gains right around 4000′ so today’s 3100′ was a little better. It also helped that unlike the trails on our previous two climbs the Zigzag Mountain trail utilized a number of switchbacks to keep the grade much more manageable.
IMG_8651Zigzag Mountain Trail entering the Mt. Hood Wilderness.

The climb was forested with a few flowers present at the lower elevations.
IMG_8656Washington lilies

IMG_8662Tiger lilies

IMG_8663Self-heal

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IMG_8696Salal

IMG_8709Candy sticks

IMG_8717Queen’s cup and bunchberry

IMG_8723Anemone

As we climbed we began to see a fair amount of rhododendron in bloom.
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The trail made 15 switchbacks over the first two miles before straightening out for a bit along a ridge.
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We passed a small rock garden with some penstemon along the ridge.
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The ridge was a bit more open and here we found some beargrass and lupine blooming. There were also opportunities for views but it had clouded up overnight and those clouds weren’t burning off very quickly.
IMG_8783Beargrass

IMG_8785Lupine

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The trail spent little time on the ridge top and instead rose up and down switching sides of the ridge as it passed under rock outcrops.
IMG_8796Trillium along the north facing side of the ridge.

IMG_8798Mushroom

IMG_8803Pinesap

IMG_8806Passing a rock outcrop.

IMG_8814West Zigzag Mountain from the trail.

IMG_8817Back to the north facing side.

IMG_8819Now on the south facing side.

Near the 2.5 mile mark we came to a rocky viewpoint where we had a nice view of West Zigzag Mountain ahead but not of much else due to the clouds.
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IMG_8828Sub-alpine mariposa lily at the viewpoint.

Another series of switchbacks followed before the trail straightened out following the ridge of Zigzag Mountain near the 3 mile mark. After another three quarters of a mile of climbing the trail began a series of ups and downs along the ridge. This lasted for the final 2.5 miles to the former lookout site although none of them were very long or too steep. While there weren’t any wildflowers meadows on this hike there were quite a few flowers to be seen along the way.
IMG_8850Lupine and paintbrush

IMG_8864Beargrass and rhododendron

IMG_8867Huckleberry

IMG_8871Cliff beardtongue

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IMG_8879Larkspur

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IMG_8897

IMG_8905Phlox

IMG_8909More cliff beardtongue

IMG_8917Penstemon

20200704_095101Larkspur

IMG_8919On the ridge just before reaching the lookout site.

Around the 5.25 mile mark we came to what would have been a great view of Mt. Hood if not for the clouds.
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After crossing the ridge the trail emerged from the forest near some rock outcrops that framed the forest below.
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We followed a short path led to the top of the southern outcrop where we had a view over to the former lookout site.
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IMG_8928Former lookout site in the tress to the left.

We sat on the outcrop and watched the clouds pass by.
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With the limited views outward we focused our attention down picking out a few flowers that we hadn’t seen on other parts of the hike.
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IMG_8932Tufted saxifrage

IMG_8941Arnica

IMG_8947Lousewort

IMG_8946Some of the rocks in Castle Canyon

When we started to get a little chilly we decided to head back, but first we had to visit the former lookout site to ensure that we connected this hike with our 2012 hike.
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IMG_8952View of the outcrop from the lookout site.

IMG_8955Raceme pussytoes

We returned the way we’d come spotting a few flowers that we’d missed going the other direction.
IMG_8962Valerian

IMG_8964Salmonberry

IMG_8967Bleeding heart

IMG_8972Violet

IMG_8977Monotropa uniflora aka ghost plant

Despite the clouds never burning off (we did eventually see a couple of slivers of blue sky) it was a good day for the hike. The flowers were good and the clouds kept the temperature down and the gradual grade of the trail kept the 11.4 miles from feeling difficult. We wound up passing 8 other hikers on our return trip which is a pretty low number for a Saturday hike on a trail as close to Portland as this one is so that was also a plus as we are still doing our best to practice proper social distancing. We capped off our 4th by watching the fireworks in our neighborhood with our son and my parents. Happy Trails!

Flickr: West Zigzag Mountain

Monte Carlo – Monte Cristo Loop – 6/27/2020

After ending a five day stretch of hiking with a 13 mile, nearly 4000′ elevation gain hike we chose a longer hike with even more elevation gain for our next outing. I found the the Monte Carlo – Monte Cristo Loop while working on our future hiking plans in the off season. A recent trip report indicated that the wildflowers were near peak and a mostly sunny forecast for Saturday made it seem like a good time to check it out. In addition this hike is not particularly popular so social distancing most likely wouldn’t be a problem.

There are numerous potential starting points for this loop (or shorter hikes to one or both of the peaks) we chose to start at the Monte Carlo Trailhead. The reason was twofold. First this was the starting point for the hike described in the Oregonhikers.org field guide and secondly the drive was almost entirely paved.

We missed the parking area for the trailhead which was directly across FR 18 from the start of the trail mistaking it for part of the Oklahoma Campground. We wound up turning up the next little forest road (I believe it was 752) on the right and parking at a pullout along it and walked down FR 18 to the trail. This really didn’t add any extra distance as the loop ended by walking approximately 2 miles along FR 18 between the Lower Monte Cristo Trailhead and the Monte Carlo Trailhead.
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We followed the field guide entry closely for this hike due to numerous logging road crossings, a couple of road walks and a few odd junctions. The field guide was spot on (despite being a bit off on total distance which we’ll get to later) so I won’t reinvent the wheel here and try and describe every twist and turn of the route. A tenth of a mile up the trail we came to a forest road which was the same one that we parked along. There was no signage at this junction but we knew from the field guide (and our GPS) to turn right. After our hike some hikers came by our car having turned left at the junction. After following the road for approximately 450′ we came to a trail on the left which quickly began climbing.
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The designer of the trail apparently had little use for switchbacks as the trail went just about straight uphill. A little over three quarters of a mile in we came to an old logging road which the trail followed to the right where it leveled off a bit.
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This road ended at FR 1840 where a sign pointed to the left for the Monte Carlo Trail.
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At another road junction after just 500′ on FR 1840 another segment of trail launched uphill. In the forest here we found a large number of phantom orchids.
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IMG_7967One of the phantom orchids to the right of the trail.

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Just over a quarter mile after leaving FR 1840 we came to another logging road which we turned right on briefly to pick up the continuation of the Monte Carlo Trail.
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Another .3 mile climb was followed by another short walk to the right on a road followed by yet more climbing.
IMG_7983A rare level section of trail.

IMG_7995There were thimbleberry bushes along the roads/trails all day long.

Just over 2 miles into the hike we came to a small hillside meadow.
IMG_8010Bumble bee working on some clover.

IMG_8004Penstemon

IMG_8018A few wildflowers.

IMG_8020Yarrow

IMG_8022Popcorn flower and strawberry plants.

After rounding a corner we came to a bigger meadow with more wildflowers and some views.
IMG_8059Timberhead Mountain

IMG_8062Little Huckleberry Mountain

IMG_8067Nightblooming false bindweed

The trail managed to steepen as it headed uphill and entered the upper portion of the meadow.
IMG_8077Wallflower

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The meadow was full of Oregon sunshine and a few other flowers.
IMG_8085Tall buckwheat

Tall buckwheatCloser look at the tall buckwheat.

IMG_8091Oregon sunshine

IMG_8078Yarrow, lupine and penstemon

At the top of the meadow the trail leveled out a bit and entered some trees before arriving at a trail junction.
IMG_8099Many of the signs along the route were no longer in the ground so it was important to make sure they really were pointing in the correct directions.

IMG_8104Honeysuckle

The junction consisted of the Monte Carlo Trail which we were on and the Buck Creek Trail which is managed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources whose land we were now on. We kept left on what was now a combination of the Monte Carlo and Buck Creek Trails which crossed and old logging road then arrived at the Buck Creek No. 2 Trailhead. We picked up the Monte Carlo – Buck Creek Trail here at a sign for the Middle Fork Grove and Monte Carlo Viewpoint.
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The Monte Carlo-Buck Creek Trail dropped to a crossing of Buck Creek before climbing for almost a mile (crossing one logging road) to a 90-degree right hand turn. Much of the time was in previously logged forests.
IMG_8119A few trees that were spared.

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IMG_8120Bunchberry

IMG_8131Footbridge over Buck Creek.

IMG_8135Salsify

IMG_8139Streambank globemallow

IMG_8141Silverleaf phacelia

IMG_8153Logging road crossing.

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The trail had reentered forest a bit before the 90-degree turn. After turning the trail dropped just over 200′ to Road B-1500 where we encountered the first other hikers of the day. A couple had parked along this road and were getting ready to head up to Monte Carlo for the wildflowers.
IMG_8161Starting the descent.

The trail set off from B-1500 amid a lot of lupine.
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The trail climbed steeply gaining over 600′ in the next three quarters of a mile to a junction atop Monte Carlo. A bit below the summit the trail enters an open hillside with wildflowers and some actual switchbacks. There is also reportedly an excellent view of Mt. Hood but there were enough clouds present that we could not verify that.
IMG_8179Entering the meadow.

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IMG_8194Pollinator on wallflower

IMG_8197Bee heading for some penstemon.

IMG_8203Clouds to the south.

IMG_8204Penstemon

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IMG_8211Lots of Oregon sunshine again.

IMG_8216Taper tip onions

20200627_101109Penstemon and lomatium seedheads.

IMG_8218Warning for mountain bikers going down the trail.

After briefly reentering the woods (and leveling out for a bit) the trail reached the summit junction.
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At this point the trail is back in the Gifford-Pinchot National Forest. A jeep track to the right heads down Eton Ridge while the Buck Creek Trail also drops to the right down Penny Ridge. The Monte Carlo Trail turned left and began a mile long traverse of the Monte Carlo Ridge.
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The ridge walk was a delight. First it was relatively level and better yet it was covered in wildflowers.
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IMG_8277

IMG_8278Balsamroot

IMG_8260Ladybug on a flower.

20200627_103428Cat’s ear lily

IMG_8280Lupine

IMG_8283Phlox and Oregon sunshine

IMG_8297Buckwheat

IMG_8301Paintbrush

20200627_104543Sunflowers

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IMG_8334Grouse in the flowers.

20200627_104926Columbine

Despite the clouds having hidden Mt. Hood from the meadow below there were plenty of views from the ridge.
IMG_8378Little Huckleberry Mountain to the left and Lemi Rock to the right.

IMG_8233Lemi Rock in the Indian Heaven Wilderness

IMG_8255Looking SE into Eastern Oregon.

By far the best view was of Mt. Adams.
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There were various penstemons in the area with the view of Mt. Adams.
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The level trail ended at the ridge end where the Monte Carlo Trail dove down toward a saddle and FR 1840. The trail dropped nearly 800′ in .7 miles before reaching the road. Worse than the steepness of the descent was knowing that we would need to gain all of the lost elevation back to visit Monte Cristo.
IMG_8397Starting the drop.

IMG_8409There were huge amounts of Arnica in the forest.

IMG_8419Monte Cristo from the trail as we dropped….further, and further.

The trail arrives at the Monte Carlo Upper Trailhead on FR 1840.
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To complete our loop we would eventually need to start down FR 1840 to the left but to reach Monte Cristo we needed to head uphill to the right on FR 1840-100 following pointers for the Monte Cristo Trail 53.
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IMG_8428FR 1840-100.

IMG_8431Shiny beetles

After .6 miles of gradual climbing the road ended at the an old trailhead.
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It was time to gain that elevation back and the Monte Cristo Trail did it with gusto. Despite the presence of actual switchbacks the concept seemed to escape the designer and instead of tight turns and gradual grades the trail went from a moderate grade to nearly straight uphill before turning back along the hillside at a moderate grade. We gained over 800′ in the next .8 miles.
IMG_8447A “switchback” turning directly uphill.

About a tenth of a mile below the summit the trail entered a spectacular wildflower meadow.
IMG_8456Sunflowers at the edge of the meadow.

IMG_8468Approaching the meadow.

IMG_8474Sunflowers

IMG_8479Scarlet gilia

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After having missed out the view of Mt. Hood earlier there was just enough of a break in the clouds to see the mountain from Monte Cristo.
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A lookout tower once sat atop the peak.
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A much shorter ridge than on Monte Carlo ran north from the summit where the Monte Cristo Trail continued eventually reaching the Monte Cristo Upper Trailhead. Our second encounter with hikers came along this ridge when a group of three people were coming up from this upper trailhead.

The short ridge was covered with wildflowers including quite a bit of white-stemmed frasera which we haven’t often encountered.
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IMG_8521Pussytoes

IMG_8525White-stemmed frasera

IMG_8544Phlox

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IMG_8563Taper tip onions

20200627_122010White-stemmed frasera

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IMG_8584Wallflower and paintbrush

IMG_8581A white lupine

IMG_8580Paintbrush and phlox

We took a short break at the summit which was just long enough for Mt. Hood to sort of reemerge from clouds that had hidden it. This happened at the same time a hawk decided to ride an updraft straight up in the sky.
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After admiring the hawks flight abilities we started back down through the meadow.
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The trail was just as steep going down as it had been coming up and our knees were starting to protest this whole adventure. We made our way back to FR 1840-10 and followed it back to the Monte Carlo Upper Trailhead, pausing briefly to watch some swallowtail butterflies.
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We followed FR 1840-100 a few yards downhill to it’s junction with FR 1840 and turned left for 20 yards to the signed Monte Cristo Trail on the right.
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Our knees would not be getting a break just yet as the Monte Cristo Trail descended over 1000′ in just over a mile to the Monte Cristo Lower Trailhead along FR 18.
IMG_8612Presumably letting you know that you’re a mile from the road. (It could also be that this tree is “Number 1”.)

IMG_8618Twinflower in the forest.

IMG_8622Our first blooming prince’s pine of the year.

20200627_134001_HDRNot nearly the steepest section.

IMG_8626FR 18 finally!

We turned left on FR 18 the nearly 2 mile road walk back to our car. The good news was that the road surface wasn’t too hard and better yet it was nearly level the whole way!
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The field guide lists the hike as 11.8 miles but a trip report from 6/20 that I’d seen said that the hike came in closer to 14 miles for him. My Garmin came in at 13.6 miles so keep that in mind if you’re considering this hike. It was certainly challenging but the wildflowers and the views made it a worthwhile endeavor. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Monte Carlo-Monte Cristo Loop

Table Rock Wilderness West Meadows – 6/21/2020

For the final hike of our vacation we were looking for something relatively close to home that we had not done before. While we had visited the Table Rock Wilderness twice before (post) both of the previous hikes started from the Table Rock Trailhead. Two of our guidebooks contained hikes starting at the Old Bridge Trailhead which would allow us to do a predominately new hike in the BLM managed wilderness.

One author (Sullivan) suggested a 6.4 mile loop utilizing the High Ridge and Bull Creek Trails as well as Rooster Rock Road while the other author’s (Reeder) suggested hike was a 10.8 mile out and back to Rooster Rock on the High Ridge Trail. We decided to combine the two and visit the meadow below Rooster Rock and then return via the Bull Creek Trail/Rooster Rock Road route described by Sullivan. We parked at the Old Bridge Trailhead which had it’s pros and cons.
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Trailhead sign at the Old Bridge Trailhead.

On the pro side the entire drive to the trailhead is on paved roads. On the con side the trailhead is at a gravel pit used for target shooting and there were a lot of empty shell casings as well as litter in the immediate vicinity.

The first few feet of the trail were nearly hidden by thimblerry bushes but after passing through them the trail was obvious and well maintained.
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IMG_7385A second signboard just up the trail from the trailhead.

There was a chance of showers in the forecast that never materialized, but it was foggy and the fog left the vegetation wet which in turn made us increasingly wet as we brushed against the leaves.
IMG_7389Wet leaves around an iris.

One thing that we’ve come to expect from hikes in this wilderness is a good climb and this portion of the High Ridge Trail was no exception. Starting at an elevation just over 1200′ the trail climbed 1800′ in 2.5 miles to a junction with the Image Creek and Bull Creek Trails. The majority of the climb is through a mature forest but at the 2.4 mile mark a small wildflower meadow awaits.
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IMG_7423Rhododendron

IMG_7430Coralroot

IMG_7448The small wildflower meadow.

We’d timed it fairly well for the flower display but the fog made it a little hard to get the full effect of colors.
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IMG_7452Paintbrush, Oregon sunshine, and plectritis

IMG_7461Sub-alpine mariposa lily

IMG_7465Death camas

20200621_074119Paintbrush

IMG_7472Blue-eyed Mary

IMG_7478A penstemon

The trail briefly reentered the forest before coming to a second, larger meadow in .1 miles.
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IMG_7490Balsamroot at the edge of the meadow.

20200621_074643Penstemon

IMG_7491Larger meadow

This meadow was quite a bit larger with a few additional types of flowers present but it was also disappointingly foggy.
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IMG_7498Honeysuckle

IMG_7493Larkspur amid the paintbrush and Oregon sunshine

IMG_7516Tomcat clover

IMG_7518Possibly a milk-vetch or some sort of vetch.

On the far side of the meadow we arrived at the wide 4-way junction with the Image Creek Trail on the left, the Bull Creek Trail on the right, and the continuation of the High Ridge Trail straight ahead.
IMG_7525Image Creek Trail and the High Ridge Trail.

We stuck to the High Ridge Trail which launched uphill. The trail gained the ridge and leveled out for a bit before another steep climb. There were a few dips along the way as the trail was forced to leave the ridge to drop under rock outcroppings which just increased the amount of climbing needed.
IMG_7535One of the sets of rocks along the way.

IMG_7543In the middle of one of the climbs.

IMG_7552The trail leveling off a bit.

Approximately 2 miles from the junction we came to the first of a series of small meadows, each with a slightly different feel.
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IMG_7591Oregon sunshine

IMG_7607Mountain sandwort

IMG_7611Penstemon

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Olympic onionOlympic onion

IMG_7635Back in the trees.

20200621_093033Fawn lilies

IMG_7647The next little meadow.

IMG_7656Larkspur and blue-eyed Mary

IMG_7658Groundsel

IMG_7661Trees again.

IMG_7662Another meadow

IMG_7672Phlox

IMG_7676Phlox

IMG_7678Chickweed

Just under 3 miles from the junction we arrived at the meadow below Rooster Rock. This was the first part of the hike that was familiar to us having visited Rooster Rock on both our previous trips to the wilderness.
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We were just a week or two early for the full false sunflower display but a few of the blossoms had opened and there were plenty of other flowers blooming.
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IMG_7709Larkspur

IMG_7710Lupine

IMG_7713Wallflower

IMG_7722Paintbrush

IMG_7727Bistort

20200621_100025Sub-alpine mariposa lily

We turned left at a “Y” junction with the Saddle Trail and climbed to, wait for it…. a saddle between Rooster Rock and Chicken Rock. With the fog we couldn’t really see either rock formation but we knew they were there. While Rooster Rock is taller there is no trail to it, but there is one up to Chicken Rock and we headed up despite knowing that there would be no views of Mt. Jefferson today. There was a lot of colorful clumps of purple and pink penstemon though.
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The rocks were at least a good spot to take a short rest and have a bit to eat. We were occasionally able to make out the shape of Rooster Rock across the saddle as we sat.
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Mt. Jefferson to the left and the Three Sister to the right of Rooster RockFor comparison.

After our break we explored a little more of the meadow along the High Ridge Trail looking for any types of flowers that we might have missed earlier.
IMG_7805Sticky cinquefoil

We headed back along the High Ridge Trail to the junction with the Bull Creek Trail. The three miles back to the junction were pretty uneventful except for startling an unexpected hiker who we thought had seen us but hadn’t. He was in the middle of the trail and when he didn’t move we noticed he had ear buds in. I said hi and he about jumped off the trail. He wasn’t expecting to see anyone else on the trail he said. We wished him luck with the view as it was supposed to clear up at some point during the day and continued on our way.

By the time we arrived at the junction the fog had at least lifted so we took a faint user trail out to the edge of the big meadow from the Bull Creek Trail to take another look.
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After returning to the trail we noticed a smaller meadow on the opposite side that was bursting with color.
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It was mostly plectritis and Oregon sunshine but Heather managed to spot a couple of yellow monkeflowers.
IMG_7842Plectritis and Oregon sunshine

20200621_120104A monkeyflower by some plectritis.

The Bull Creek Trail dropped fairly steeply along an old roadbed to a crossing of a branch of Bull Creek.
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In a cruel twist the trail climbed away from this crossing. We had hoped that we were done climbing for the day but not quite. We then dropped to a second branch of the creek.
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After a brief smaller climb form this crossing the trail dove downhill in a hurry to the Bull Creek Trailhead along Rooster Rock Road.
IMG_7864Iris along the trail.

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It was 1.6 miles from the junction to the trailhead and now we faced a 2.3 mile road walk back to the Old Bridge Trailhead.
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As road walks go this one wasn’t too bad. We could hear (and occasionally got a glimpse of) the Molalla River and there was finally some blue sky overhead.
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The butterflies were coming out to pollinate the flowers so we watched them as we shuffled along.
IMG_7873I didn’t see the beetle until I was uploading this photo.

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We spotted a colorful bird flying back into some trees but couldn’t quite figure out where it had gone of what it was. I took a bunch of pictures of the branches though hoping to at least get an idea of what it was which actually sort of worked. It was a western tanager.
IMG_7890Where’s the western tanager.

The highlight of the road walk came as we neared the trailhead. Several cedar waxwings were in the trees nearby.
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Instead of 12.4 miles my GPS showed 13 but that’s to be expected when we wander around exploring things. 🙂 This was a tough hike with nearly 4000′ of elevation gain up some steep climbs but it was a good one. Having already gotten to experience the views from Chicken Rock helped alleviate any disappointment about the foggy conditions and we got to see a very different set of flowers in the meadow on this trip. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Table Rock Wilderness West Meadows

Green Ridge – 6/20/2020

After three nice days the weather turned on us again and what had been a pleasant forecast for Saturday turned to rain everywhere I looked on the west side of the Cascades so we swapped a planned hike in Washington’s Trapper Creek Wilderness for a trip over Santiam Pass to Green Ridge where there was just the slightest chance of showers.

The Green Ridge escarpment sits at the eastern edge of the High Cascades graben along the Green Ridge Fault. With the ridge being the transition zone between the High Cascades and the High Desert the area is an interesting mix of trees and vegetation. The trail is popular with equestrians and mountain bikers as it connects with various longer loop options.

To reach the trailhead that we began at we drove Highway 20 to FR 11 also known as Green Ridge Road (2 miles east of Black Butte Ranch or 5.8 miles west of Sisters). We turned north onto FR 11 at a pointer for Indian Ford Campground and followed this paved road for 4.3 miles to an unmarked junction with FR 1120 at a curve. We turned left on the red cinder FR 1120 for 0.9 of washboard road to the trailhead on the left.
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The Green Ridge Trail began on the far side of FR 1120 at a sign.
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The trail passed through a forest of mostly ponderosa pine and a few scattered flowers.
IMG_6945Paintbrush

IMG_6956Balsamroot

IMG_6971A phacelia, Oregon sunshine, and a little pink diamond clarkia.

20200620_071037A penstemon

IMG_6977Washington lily

IMG_6955I couldn’t get a good shot of this western tanager but he was really colorful.

IMG_6995Buckwheat

IMG_6985Bird with breakfast

The trail soon began climbing gradually up the ridge via a long switchback. As we climbed we began to get views of the nearby Cascade peaks.
IMG_7012Three Fingered Jack

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20200620_071856Pinedrops

We also began to notice 3-inch long Pandora moth larva crawling across the trail.
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The larva spent spring feeding on ponderosa pines and are now burrowing into the ground where they will transform into pupae. They will then emerge next summer as adult moths. Based on studies of ponderosa pine tree rings up to 22 Pandora moth outbreaks have occurred in the last 600 years. When I was at Redmond High School in the late 80s/early 90s one of the outbreaks occurred and the number of the large moths was amazing.
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Many of the larva we saw would not be making it to adulthood as they seemed to be of particular interest to the resident ants of the area.

Three Fingered Jack was clear of clouds but the same couldn’t be said for Mt. Washington when it came into view over the shoulder of Black Butte (post).
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While it was still climbing the trail began to level out as it followed the ridge south.
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As I was watching the drama at my fleet playing out between the larva and the ants I spotted something in a hole in the middle of the trail.
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We shared a moment then the lizard scurried off into the sagebrush and we continued on. Mt. Jefferson soon joined the view and it too was relatively free of clouds for the time being.
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We spotted another familiar prominent feature along the Cascade crest as well.
IMG_7084South Cinder Peak (post)

As we continued along the ridge the forest transitioned from the ponderosa pines to higher elevation furs and pines.
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The flowers transitioned too and we were soon seeing a lot of purple larkspur red scarlet gilia, and white California stickseed as well as a few other flowers.
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California stickseed

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IMG_7195Lupine

IMG_7200Columbine

IMG_7206A moth but not a Pandora moth. 🙂

20200620_092042Sticky cinquefoil

20200620_091818Salsify

IMG_7225Tortoiseshell butterfly

Around the 5.25 mile mark we came to a bend in an old roadbed that the trail had been following since the 4 mile mark. Past the bend the road headed downhill a bit to dip around a knoll and continue on another 4.3 miles to the Green Ridge Lookout.
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This knoll was our goal for the day. We were using Matt Reeder’s “101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region” guidebook and he described a faint trail leading up past a campsite to a viewpoint. We couldn’t identify the faint trail so we simply set off cross-country up the knoll. We did pass a fire pit which we assumed was the campsite and then noticed what might have been a faint trail.
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Just .2 miles from the trail/roadbed we arrived at the rocky viewpoint where we found a lot of penstemon.
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There was also a view of several mountains from the North Sister north to Mt. Hood.
IMG_7271Black Butte and the North Sister

IMG_7304North Sister

IMG_7289Three Fingered Jack

IMG_7302North Cinder Peak and Forked Butte (post)

IMG_7252Mt. Jefferson

IMG_7248Mt. Hood

We could also make out just the slightest bit of the Metolius River (post) below the ridge.
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After a nice break we headed back along the ridge. We took one side trip on the way back down just over 2.25 miles from the knoll to check out what looked to be quite a bit of balsamroot to the east of the trail. It turned out to be a wide open area that had a high desert feel in the center with lots of buckwheat while balsamroot surrounded it near the tree line.
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IMG_7323Buckwheat in the center.

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IMG_7329Balsamroot near the trees.

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After the brief side trip we continued down the trail which was now quite a bit busier with several mountain bikers and a couple of hikers making their way up the trail. Going in this direction there were times where we were looking straight at Black Butte and in so doing we noticed that Broken Top was visible over the left shoulder of the butte.
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IMG_7365Tam McArthur Rim (post) and Broken Top

There was a moment when a bit of blue sky opened above the cascades giving us a good look at Mt. Washington and Three Fingered Jack.
IMG_7346A sliver of blue sky over Black Butte and Mt. Washington.

IMG_7348Mt. Washington

IMG_7352Three Fingered Jack with some blue sky.

The blue sky quickly disappeared and it sprinkled ever so briefly before we arrived back at the trailhead. Our hike came in at 11.2 miles with approximately 1200′ of elevation gain which was spread out fairly well along the trail so that it never felt very steep at all. Given all the rain forecast for the west side of the cascades we felt fortunate to have gotten the mountain views we did. The best part of the hike for us though was the different vegetation and scenery along the ridge. The mix of high cascades and high desert made it a truly interesting place. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Green Ridge

North Fork and Buffalo Rock – 05/09/2020

As we continue to deal with the ever changing situation presented by the COVID-19 pandemic we are looking for ways to hike responsibly. That means doing our best to follow social distancing guidelines and honoring any closures in place. The situation with closures has been especially confusing requiring a fair amount of digging to get a clear picture of just what is allowed and what isn’t. With these things in mind we have been looking for hikes that are open and lightly used to limit our interaction with other people.

After looking through our to-do hike list we decided that the best option for an acceptable outing at this point was a pair of hikes along the North Fork Middle Fork Willamette River. In regards to closures, the Willamatte National Forest (as of this writing) has closed all developed recreation sites. Reviewing the March 27, 2020 announcement on their website goes on to say that those sites include “campgrounds, day-use sites, trailheads with bathrooms, Sno-parks, snow shelters, fire lookouts, hot springs, boat launch facilities, and OHV trailhead facilities.” Trails themselves are not on the list and remain open assuming proper social distancing and group size/make up is within acceptable limits.

Our first stop was to hike Segment 1 of the North Fork Trail. Since trailheads with bathrooms are part of the temporary closure the traditional trailhead for this hike was out. Our plan was to park at a small pullout along Forest Road 1910 three miles NE of Westfir along Forest Road 19 (Aufderheide Scenic Byway). A decommissioned road just after crossing the river provided the perfect spot to park and happened to be right where the North Fork Trail crossed FR 1910.
North Fork Trail at FR 1910

We headed SW into the forest where a number of different wildflowers were currently blooming.
North Fork Trail

Star-flowered solomonsealStar-flowered solomonseal

AnemoneAnemone

TrilliumTrillium

Oregon grapeOregon grape

StarflowerStarflower

Yellowleaf irisYellowleaf iris

After .2 miles we followed a path down to the riverbank.
North Fork Willamette RiverLooking back at FR 1910’s bridge over the River.

North Fork Willamette River

A few steps after returning to the trail we left the trail again and crossed the decommissioned FR 685 near Short Creek to check out a small slide.
Short Creek

We followed the relatively level trail for another 3 miles turning around at an old road about a tenth of a mile from the parking area of the closed trailhead. Like most river trails the North Fork trail spent some time along the river, above the river, and others back in the forest. There were a few changes to the scenery along the way and plenty of flowers (along with a fair amount of poison oak). Three miles from FR 1910 we passed the concrete remains of a 1930s mill pond.
North Fork Trail

ValerianValerian

Spotted coralrootSpotted coralroot

Inside-out flowerInside-out flower

North Fork Trail

Hookedspur violetHookedspur violet

Fairy slipperFairy slipper

Dogwood blossomDogwood blossom

Buck Brush - redstem ceanothusBuck brush

Yellow leaf iris along the North Fork Trail

North Fork Willamette River

Shed skin from a Cicada on a yellow leaf irisShed cicada skin

Wood roseWood rose

FairybellsFairy bells

Showy phloxNorthern phlox

Snail on the North Fork TrailTrail snail

North Fork Trail

HoneysuckleHoneysuckle

ColumbineColumbine

North Fork Trail along the North Fork Willamette River

Lupine along the North Fork TrailLupine

Youth-on-ageYouth-on-age

North Fork Willamette RiverRock ledge along the river.

North Fork Willamette RiverView from the rock ledge.

Monkey flowerMonkey flower

CamasCamas

North Fork Trail along the North Fork Willamette River

Dam site along the North Fork TrailConcrete tower

North Fork Trail

Pale flaxPale flax

North Fork TrailheadRoadbed near the trailhead.

We returned the way we’d come keeping our eyes open for anything we missed on our first pass, and of course there were a couple of flowers that we missed.
Vanilla leafVanilla leaf

Wild gingerWild ginger

A garter snake provided a bit of excitment when Heather noticed it coming towards her onto the trail. It eventually slithered to a fern on the other side but not before getting her to jump.
Garter snake

Garter snake

We wound up only encountering 4 people along the trail, a lone hiker and a group of three mountain bikers so this first stop had worked out well from a socially distancing standpoint.

After making it back to our car we returned to FR 19 and turned left (NE) for 18.1 miles to Forest Road 1939 (1.1 miles beyond Kiahania Campground). We turned left onto FR 1939 for 1.2 miles to a hiker symbol on the left marking the start of another segment of the North Fork Trail.
North Fork Trailhead at FR 1939

As best as I can tell from research this 4.5 mile segment of the North Fork Trail appears to have been completed in 2011 or possibly 2010. There is very little information online about it even though it has appeared as a featured hike (along with Segment 1) in William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades” books since his 4th edition was published in 2012. I was unable to find any reference to it all on the Willamette National Forest’s website despite the Forest Service hoping to one day connect all the segements of the North Fork Trail from Westfir to Waldo Lake. In any event there is no parking area for this trailhead and there is just enough room for a couple of cars to park off the road on the shoulder nearby.

From the outset it was obvious that this was a much lighter traveled segment than the Segment 1 as the tread was narrower and there was some large trees across the trail.
North Fork Trail

North Fork Trail

There were some similarities though as we saw many wildflowers (some the same as during our earlier stop and some new for the day) and this trail also provided a few access points to the river.
Trillium

Candy flowerCandy flower growing out of a mossy tree trunk.

Western meadowrueWestern meadowrue

Largeleaf sandwortLargeleaf sandwort

North Fork Willamette River

Striped coralrootStriped coralroot

Red flowering currantRed flowering currant

There were several creeks to cross, the first was too wide at the trail to hop across requiring a slight detour downstream. The rest all had rocks allowing us to cross dry footed.
North Fork TrailThe second creek crossing.

The trail turned away from the river to drop to the third substantial creek crossing.
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Creek along the North Fork Trail

It was at this third creek that we realized we’d missed a 10 foot waterfall marked on Sullivan’s map at the 1.1 mile mark. A quick re-reading of the hike description told us it was 150 feet offtrail which explained why we hadn’t seen it. We made a mental note to look for it on the way back.

At the 2.3 mile mark the trail passed close to the river and a cobblestone beach from which the basalt outcrop of Buffalo Rock was visible.
North Fork Willamette River

Buaffalo Rock from the North Fork Willamette River

As the trail began to pass under Buffalo Rock it became even wilder than it had been beginning with a large tree blocking the trail just on the other side of a creek crossing.
North Fork Trail

After ducking under the tree the trail passed through a small hillside meadow.
North Fork Willamette River

Coastal manrootCoastal manroot

Sticky cinquefoilSticky cinquefoil

Popcorn flowerPopcorn

Western yellow oxalisWestern yellow oxalis

The dry, rocky hillside below Buffalo Rock provided for some different types of flowers and plants and was the only spot along this trail that we noticed any poison oak.
North Fork Trail

Buffalo Rock

Collomia heterophylla - Variable CollomiaVariable collomia

Western fence lizardWestern fence lizard

Giant blue-eyed MaryGiant blue-eyed Mary

LarkspurLarkspur

This segment of the trail had originally extended another 2 miles from beneath Buffalo Rock with the next marker on Sullivan’s map being a “mossy pool” a mile from the end of the trail. As we continued on from Buffalo Rock though we found that the trail was quickly deteriorating. It was evident that what little maintenance this segment saw, had all been focused on the section between FR 1939 and Buffalo Rock.
North Fork TrailHad to climb over this on the left side by the standing tree.

North Fork Trail under some blowdownThe only choice here was to use this tree as the trail.

North Fork TrailMinor debris on the trail.

North Fork TrailCuts most likely from the original establishment of the trail.

North Fork TrailThis one required a detour to the right around the end of the tree.

North Fork TrailForest reclaiming the trail tread.

Given the conditions we were experiencing and the distance we were facing for the day we decided to shoot for the mossy pool and turn around there instead of trying to reach the end of the trail. Sullivan himself had suggested turning around at Buffalo Rock and other than noting the pool on his map made no mention of it so we weren’t exactly sure what to expect. The trail turned away from the river to descend to the creek crossing where we expected to find the mossy pool.
North Fork Trail

The creek had done a good job of erroding the trail which provided one final tricky obstacle to reach the little pool.
Creek along the North Fork Trail

We were pleasantly surprised by how nice this little creek and the pool were. There was a small cascade creating the pool.
Mossy pool

Small cascade

Mossy pool

It was the perfect spot for a nice break. It was the warmest day of the year thus far with temperatures expected in the mid to upper 80s and it felt every bit that hot, but here by the creek the air was cool and refreshing. Between that and the calming sound of the water we both could have easily taken a nap but alas we needed to head back.
North Fork Trail from the mossy pool

We headed back before we had time to stiffen up with a mission to find the off-trail waterfall. From Sullivan’s map it appeared that there was no creek at the trail to follow up to the waterfall and his description said to listen for the sound of water and follow it. When we thought we were in the right general area we started listening. We took one wrong turn up a small stream that we thought was too soon but didn’t want to accidently miss it again. After following this little stream a short distance we determined that there was no sound of a waterfall of any kind so we returned to the trail and continued on. After descending a series of switchbacks we were in another promising area and this time we could hear water on the opposite side of the trail from the river. We bushwacked uphill to find the little waterfall.
Small off-trail waterfall

Small off-trail waterfall

After seeing the waterfall we returned to the car and headed home. We did see one other couple on our way back to the car making it a half-dozen between the two stops for the day. The two hikes totaled 13.9 miles, 6.4 on Segment 1 and 7.5 at Buffalo Rock.

We will continue to look for responsible options to allow us to keep hiking during these unprecedented times. Please be smart and safe and as always Happy Trails!

Flickr: North Fork and Buffalo Rock

Salem Parks – 4/26/2020

With COVID-19 still affecting every day life we decided to get a little creative with our April hike. We wanted to get outside and do our best to see some of the typical Spring sights that we have been missing while still following responsible stay-at-home guidelines. Our solution was to set off on an urban hike from our house to visit a number of area parks and natural areas. We grabbed our smallest day packs and some face masks (just in case) and headed out our front door.
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Living in the hills of West Salem we are often greeted with blue sky when the city below is shrouded in fog and this was one of those mornings.
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In addition to a few less mornings of fog, living up in the hills also provides us views of several Cascade mountains from various spots in the neighborhood. At one intersection we always look for Mt. Jefferson (Jeffry as we refer to the mountain). It’s become a kind of running joke that even if it’s pouring rain one of us will ask if Jeffry is visible. We were lucky enough this morning to be able to make out the mountain through a thin layer of fog.
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Our hope for the outing was to spot some wildlife and enjoy some flowers. Being an urban hike through neighborhoods there were plenty of flowers to see in different yards but what we were really looking for were the ones growing wild.

The first park that we passed was 5.5 acre Eola Ridge Park. The neighborhood park is thin on development other than some picnic tables and short paved path between Eola Dr. and Dan Ave NW. Wetlands on the western end of the park attract birds and other wildlife.
IMG_2631Wetlands near Eola Ridge Park

IMG_2633Red-winged blackbird

IMG_2635Madrone in Eola Ridge Park

Continuing east on Eola Dr the next natural area we came to was the Salem Audubon Nature Reserve. This seven acre reserve has a few trails and interpretive signs.
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We drive by the reserve daily and often see volunteers working on the area and their dedication showed as we made our way through the area.
IMG_2643Bleeding heart and miners lettuce around a small bench.

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IMG_2650Possibly forget-me-nots.

IMG_2653Fringecup

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IMG_2655Giant white wakerobbin

IMG_2657Coastal manroot and annual honesty

IMG_2659Blue-bells

IMG_2661Plummed solomon’s seal

IMG_2664I think this is a checker-mallow but I’m never sure between the checker-mallows and checkerblooms.

After leaving the Audubon Nature Reserve we made our way down to Edgwater Street where we turned left eventually passing the old West Salem City Hall.
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From 1913 to 1949, when it merged with the city of Salem, West Salem was it’s own incorporated city. The old city hall building was opened in 1935 and functioned as city hall until the merger.

We could have followed Edgwater east to Wallace Road (Highway 221) and from that intersection crossed the Willamette River on the Center Street Bridge, but that is a noisy walk along the busy Highway 22 so instead we opted for a slightly longer route to the bicycle and pedestrian only Union Street Bridge. To reach the Union Street Bridge we wound through some neighborhoods eventually making our way to Wallace Road on Taggert Drive and then heading south along Wallace to the now paved former rail line leading to the bridge.
IMG_2672 The city has put up a number of these direction pointers all over Salem which are actually really helpful.

We’d heard a lot of birds in the nature reserve but couldn’t see most of them in the woods there but in the neighborhoods they were easier to spot.
IMG_2667Scrub jay

IMG_2668Starlings

IMG_2673Spotted Towhee

The morning fog was burning off quickly save for a little lingering over the Willamette here and there as we approached the bridge.
IMG_2674Path leading to the Union Street Bridge

This bridge showed up in one of our other hikes back in 2018 when we toured Wallace Marine, Riverfront, and Minto-Brown Island Parks (post). The bridge connects Wallace Marine and Riverfront Parks by spanning the Willamette River and is always a good place from which to spot ducks and geese.
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IMG_2676Family of geese

IMG_2682A very light colored mallard

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As we reached the eastern end of the bridge near Riverfront Park we started to see a lot of squirrels.
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IMG_2687Two squirrels on a tree.

IMG_2693This squirrels was vigoursly attacking this bush.

As we neared the Willamette Queen Heather spotted a rabbit in the grass.
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There were a few people out and about, some of which were wearing masks.
IMG_2692 (We hope this mask was no longer usable because we’d hate to see them wasted, but it did make us chuckle.)

Since we covered Riverfront Park during our 2018 hike we walked through the park and crossed into downtown at State and Front Streets. We then walked a block down State Street to Commercial Street where we turned right (south) and passed the Salem Convention Center on the way to The Mirror Pond in front of the Salem City Hall.
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IMG_2698Pringle Creek from Commercial Street with City Hall in the distance.

IMG_2699The Mirror Pond

We’d seen blue herons in the water here (in addition to the statute of one that is in the pond) but as we neared the pond today it was two sets of eyes that caught my attention. I wasn’t sure what I was seeing until one set disappeared and then I realized they were frogs.
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IMG_2705The heron statue

IMG_2707Mallards

We passed The Mirror Pond and followed a path beneath Liberty Street and over Pringle Creek.
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We then made our way to High Street crossing it in front of the SAIF building where another small green space and water feature tends to attract ducks.
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We passed through the green space and then turned right on Church Street (south again). We crossed over Pringle Creek again and took a quick detour down to the George Arthur Powell Meditation Garden.
IMG_2718Pringle Creek at Church Street.

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The small garden had a small bench and lots of flowers.
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On the opposite side of Church Street is Pringle Park and the Pringle Community Hall. When we both worked near the hospital we would often walk through this park during lunches.
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We skipped Pringle Park today though and continued south on Church Street toward Bush’s Pasture Park.
IMG_2725 Passing the Let’s All Play Park. part of the Salem Hospital Campus on Church Street.

IMG_2726Sign at Bush Park

IMG_2728Bush House Museum

At 90.5 acres Bush’s Pasture Park is one of the larger parks in Salem and may provide the most diverse set of activites. Along with the Bush House Musuem and Rose Garden there are picnic areas, playgrounds, tennis courts, ball fields, woods, and open swaths of grass. There is also a soap box derby track and some of Willamette University’s sports fields.
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Our main motivation for getting to Bush Park though was to check out the camas bloom. For years I’d been wanting to see the camas bloom at Bush Park up close instead of from the car while driving by on Mission Street. COVID-19 had at least provided the right situation to prompt us to finally get here. We made our way to the NE end of the park and turned into the woods at the interpretive signs for the camas.
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IMG_2774A white camas

While camas was the predominate flower there were a few others present.
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IMG_2776Western buttercups

IMG_2765Buscuitroot

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We emerged from the woods near the SE end of the park at a large open field.
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IMG_2778Ground squirrel

We headed SW along the field to a newer flower garden along a hillside.
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After climbing the hill we passed through a grassy picnic area (the tables weren’t out due to COVID-19) and exited the park at its SW corner.
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Our plan from here was not very well thought out. The rough plan was to make our way up to Fairmount Park in the foothills of South Salem. We hadn’t laid out a route though so after recrossing Liberty and Commercial Streets we simply zigzaged our way through neighborhoods up to the park. On on occassion we had to back track when the street we had chosen had no outlets.
IMG_2792Neat old carraige in a yard.

IMG_2794Stellars Jay

After wandering for a little over a mile we finally arrived at Fairmount Park.
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This neighborhood park is just under 17 acres with a picnic shelter, playground, a half-court basketball hoop and is next to the Fairmount Reservoir.
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Our reason for coming here though was the Fairmount Park Trail which we could theoretically follow down to the River Road entrance to Minto-Brown Island Park.
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I said we could theoretically follow the trail down becuase we knew from other people that it was possible, but we had never tried it and we quickly discovered that there were a number of spur trails, none of which were marked to let us know if we were following the correct one. The muddy sufrace and presence of poison oak along the trail made it a bit more of an adventure than anywhere else we’d been in the morning.
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We had been behind a couple and their dog but lost them when we stopped for a quick break at one of the unmarked intersections. We decided that we would simply choose downhill trails to the right whenever possible knowing that River Road was in that general direction. This worked fine for the first three tenths of a mile or so but just after spotting River Road the trail we were on began deteriorating quickly on the steep hillside.
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We weren’t all that high up, but the poison oak had become much more abundant so we didn’t want to get off the trail at all. Some fancy footwork and a lot of luck at the bottom got us onto the shoulder of River Road less than a quarter mile NE of the entrance to Minto-Brown. As we arrived at the entrance we spotted the couple that we had briefly followed on the Fairmount Trail approaching form the opposite direction. Clearly they had known a safer route down than we had and must have kept left at one of the junctions where we had gone right.
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At this point we were approximately 8.5 miles into our hike and given that most of it had been paved our feet were starting to feel it so we took the most direct route through Minto-Brown to the Peter Courtney Bridge which brought us back to Riverfront Park. We did of course stop for birds and flowers along the way.
IMG_2805Another scrub jay

IMG_2806We risked the caution for mud and high water since this was the shortest way to the bridge.

IMG_2808Tree blossoms

IMG_2812The high water wasn’t an issue, but it was really muddy around that puddle.

IMG_2817Sparrow

IMG_2820I mistook this small bird for a hummingbird but after looking at the photo it might just be a baby?

IMG_2823We tried to take our first sit down break of the day here but the bench was still wet from the morning. On to Riverfront it is.

IMG_2824Riverfront Park and the Peter Courtney Bridge in the distance. (We had found a dry bench by this time, thank you Gallagher Fitness Resources)

IMG_2825Looking across a field to West Salem and its green water tower in the hills.

IMG_2827California poppy

IMG_2830Red flowering currant

IMG_2831Sparrow

IMG_2834Western service berry

IMG_2835Crossing the Peter Courtney Bridge.

We then headed back through Riverfront Park to the Union Street Bridge and took a slightly modified route back to the Audubon Nature Reserve.
IMG_2836Willamette River from the Union Street Bridge

IMG_2839More geese

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Having taken the Hillside Trail that morning we followed the Upper Trail uphill through the reserve.
IMG_2849Perriwinkle

IMG_2850Pacific waterleaf

IMG_2857Camas

IMG_2860Another checker-mallow(or checkerbloom)

IMG_2861California poppy

IMG_2863Haven’t figured this one out yet.

One of the things that we look forward to every year is the return of osprey to a nesting platform at the reserve. The platform had been replaced earlier this year and Heather had noticed some new sticks showing up recently. We hadn’t noticed any activity earlier when we passed by but now there were osprey flying around overhead.
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We watched as one landed with another stick for the nest. It was soon followed by a second.
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Hopefully there will be young osprey to watch later this year.

After watching the osprey we trudged uphill (and down and back up) past Eola Ridge Park and back into our neighborhood. By this point we were both dealing with blisters and generally sore feet. Jeffry was still visible, although the positioning of the Sun made it difficult to see. In addition we were able to see both Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams briefly as we limped our way back to our house.
IMG_2878Mt. Hood beyond the green water tower.

IMG_2882Mt. Adams through a little haze.

I had used Google to map out a potential route a week before our outing and it had led me to believe that it would be around 13 miles to hit these different parks. Our Garmin 62s and watch had us in the 15 mile range though which made us feel a little better about how we were feeling at the end.

As long as things stay locked down we’re planning on heading out from home to check out what’s close by (definitely not 15 miles worth though). Hopefully everyone reading this has stayed healthy and things will start getting back to normal sooner rather than later. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Salem Parks Tour