McCart Lookout

Sunday, July 21 – Tuesday, July 23, 2019

For the first part of our vacation this year Greg and I stayed at the McCart Lookout in the Bitterroot National Forest of Montana. I have now rented seven lookouts in Oregon, but this was the first one in another state. The biggest difference was the price, just $30/night (lookouts in Oregon are about twice that).

The weekend before our visit this area had some major thunderstorms that actually started some fires, all of which were fortunately extinguished. Check out these amazing photos taken from the Spot Mountain Lookout in Idaho’s Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness:

We drove all the way from Portland to the Spring Gulch Campground near Sula, MT on Saturday. Between all the generator racket from the RVs, and the highway noise, it was not a very quiet place.

Spring Gulch Campground

Before heading up to our lookout on Sunday we drove 3.6 miles up a gravel road to visit the Sula Peak Lookout, which was built in 2001 to replace the previous lookout that burned in a 2000 wildfire. The design is unusual:

Sula Peak Lookout

It has great 360-degree views, including a nice view into the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness:

Sula Peak Lookout

We met Debbie and her sweet dog Piper:

Sula Peak Lookout

Because this lookout has a line running up to it and is fully wired for electricity, it has a fridge. Wow!

Sula Peak Lookout

After bidding goodbye to Debbie we headed up Highway 472 towards our trailhead. The day was young s0 we decided to take a detour to visit the Teepee Lookout.

Teepee Lookout

The lookout came out and chatted with us for a few minutes. He said that the flagpole snapped in last week’s storm:

Teepee Lookout

This lookout also has a pretty nice view:

Teepee Lookout

Loo with a view!

Teepee Lookout

The small white dot in the center is McCart:

Teepee Lookout

And there is Sula Peak way off in the distance:

Sula Peak Lookout

After that we drove to the Johnson Peak Trailhead. You can see beyond the sign that the final 0.2mi of the road has been decommissioned so we would start our hike here:

Johnson Peak Trailhead

My pack weighed 45 pounds and Greg’s weighed 35. There is no water up there and we didn’t want to have to hike back to the car to get some, so we each had our three liter drinking reservoirs filled up in our packs plus I had an additional two liters in my pack. We each carried an eight-pound jug of water:

Hiking to McCart

We paused for a break next to the wilderness sign:

Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness

After a 1.3 mile hike from the car (it felt longer) we made it!

McCart Lookout

McCart Lookout

McCart Lookout

The interior of the lookout was in good shape, although we were disappointed to discover that the windows had no screens. That meant we could keep the windows closed against the bugs (resulting in a hot and stuffy cabin), or open the windows for a breeze and have lots of bugs:

McCart Lookout

McCart Lookout

McCart Lookout

McCart Lookout

The old phone is still here, from the pre-radio days when lookouts communicated via phone line strung through the forest:

McCart Lookout

There was a fire pit outside and firewood, but it never got cold enough to use it:

McCart Lookout

The views are pretty great. Looking south:

McCart Lookout

Looking northwest:

McCart Lookout

Looking northeast at an area burned in a 2017 fire:

McCart Lookout

This is the view to the west, taken the next day, with the Bitterroots in the distance:

McCart Lookout

And we could see Teepee Lookout where we had been a few hours earlier:

Teepee Lookout

We were delighted by all the wildflowers growing in the meadow around the lookout, especially the thousands of paintbrush:

McCart Lookout

McCart Lookout

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

McCart Lookout

McCart Lookout

McCart Lookout

The beargrass around the lookout must have looked amazing back in June, but was all done blooming now:

McCart Lookout

Traditionally the logbooks in lookouts are some type of notebook, but this custom one had wooden covers with pages inserted inside:

McCart Lookout

The outhouse was cramped but serviceable:

McCart Lookout

We chilled out on the deck as evening approached:

McCart Lookout

We spotted a pretty yellow bird flying around. I looked at it through the binoculars and looked it up online and determined it was a western tanager. Beautiful! Greg got some good shots on his camera:

Western tanager

Western tanager

Watching the golden mantled ground squirrels was also entertaining. Another shot from Greg:

Ground Squirrel

There is a camp stove and propane for cooking here, but we didn’t want to bother with the hassle of prepping ingredients and cooking from scratch, so we ate backpacking meals while we were up here:

McCart Lookout

Sunset was lovely:

McCart Lookout

McCart Lookout

McCart Lookout

McCart Lookout

With clear skies that night we got up half an hour before moonrise to see the stars. We were very far from civilization so there was no light pollution and it was quite a show:

Starry skies

Starry skies

Starry night

Sunday’s clear weather gave way to clouds on Monday. It was still a beautiful morning, though. I loved that the lookout cast a shadow on the trees to the west:

McCart Lookout

Looking south into the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness, where we would be hiking today:

McCart Lookout

After breakfast we continued along the Johnson Peak Trail that we had hiked in on the day before. It continues deep into the wilderness:

Johnson Peak Trail

This trail hasn’t seen maintenance in awhile, and there was quite a lot of blowdown:

Johnson Peak Trail

We hiked through this big meadow full of buckwheat wildflowers:

Johnson Peak Trail

Johnson Peak Trail

Johnson Peak Trail

We knew that in the meadow a side trail descended to a spring, so when we saw a cairn of rocks we followed a faint trail 0.2mi down the slope to a very small spring. We didn’t see flowing water, and the little pond looked stagnant:

Johnson Peak Trail

It was a lush little spot with a few wildflowers:

Johnson Peak Trail

Johnson Peak Trail

Back on the main trail we left the the meadow and entered the trees:

Johnson Peak Trail
There was a channel down the middle of the trail in places from last week’s thunderstorm:

Johnson Peak Trail

This forest is incredibly dense and the fallen trees looked like matchsticks:

Johnson Peak Trail

While most of the beargrass had peaked weeks ago, there were some left, including a nice big patch in the trees about 40 feet off the trail:

Johnson Peak Trail

Johnson Peak Trail

Johnson Peak Trail

A nice patch of lupine:

Johnson Peak Trail

Johnson Peak Trail

Rocky Mountain Columbine:

Johnson Peak Trail

We entered an old burn:

Johnson Peak Trail

Johnson Peak Trail

Johnson Peak Trail

Johnson Peak Trail

There’s Johnson Peak:

Johnson Peak Trail

Sections of this trail are deeply eroded and hard to hike:

Johnson Peak Trail

We reached the junction with the Swift Creek Trail, which was marked by a sign, but the trail itself was totally invisible:

Johnson Peak Trail

We had considered the possibility of continuing another 3 miles up to Johnson Peak, but Greg wasn’t feeling well, plus the weather was starting to turn a bit stormy, so we made the junction our turnaround point and headed back:

Johnson Peak Trail

Johnson Peak Trail

About halfway back we got a peek at the lookout through the trees:

Johnson Peak Trail

We sat on the deck for the rest of the afternoon (so glad we brought our backpacking chairs!), playing gin rummy and reading our books:

McCart Lookout

McCart Lookout

We heard distant thunder and watched a thunderstorm approach from the south:

McCart Lookout

The storm passed us by to the east:

McCart Lookout

At sunset a thunderstorm passed up the Bitterroots and it was great to watch. We saw a lot of lightning, although I didn’t capture any of it on camera (very hard to do):

Stormy Sunset

Stormy Sunset

Stormy Sunset

<Stormy Sunset

Stormy Sunset

Stormy Sunset

Stormy Sunset

Stormy Sunset

Stormy Sunset

Stormy Sunset

We had some crazy strong wind that night, and I thought of all the dead trees in the forest, wondering how many would fall in the wind. In the morning it was sunny and calm again:

McCart Lookout

McCart Lookout

McCart Lookout

We packed up our gear and headed out. Bye, McCart! We had a great time!

McCart Lookout

Before driving to Idaho for the next part of our trip, we stopped at the Camp Sula store and got some ice cream. YUM.

Sula Store

Storm-Watching on McIntyre Ridge

The McIntyre Ridge Trail has a “musical chairs” history when it comes to access. The original trailhead at the end of Road 110 (on BLM land) was closed, and an unofficial trailhead was established at the end of Road 108. Once Trailkeepers of Oregon helped build the new Douglas Trailhead the Forest Service claimed to close off access to Road 108.

Greg and I visited on June 29 and it didn’t look like access had ever been closed to Road 108. The road itself is a bit of a mess with enormous potholes. But it is open, so this is just a quick report to let you know you can still access McIntyre Ridge this way (here’s the hike description).

The boulders at the end of the road are no deterrent for the OHV crowd. They just drive around:

The first mile is not so much a trail as a road, due to the OHV use (even though this is inside the Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness):

At the first viewpoint Mt. Hood was only partially visible:

It was not a banner beargrass year here:

But the rhododendrons were in bloom and looking nice:

And the wildflowers near the bench looked great:

McIntyre Ridge Hike

We even saw a hummingbird:

McIntyre Ridge Hike

You can still sit on the bench, but it has really reclined over the years:

McIntyre Ridge Hike

We watched (and listened to) a crazy thunderstorm moving from south to north, engulfing Mt. Hood (and dumping a bunch of hail, from what we heard):

McIntyre Ridge Hike

On the way back we spotted this shot-up handle on a tree branch. Maybe it was once part of a growler? We removed it and packed it out.

The last view of the mountain before heading back into the trees for good was a stormy one:

McIntyre Ridge Hike

Greg was about ten minutes behind me and when he got to that spot there was a cool rainbow!

McIntyre Ridge Hike

We stopped at the Douglas Trailhead on the drive out. Ever wondered what one of those new plastic-like trailhead signs looks like after being used for target practice? Wonder no more:

Little Grayback Mountain

Saturday, July 6, 2019

We stayed at the Squaw Peak Lookout in the Siskiyous over the holiday weekend (read more about that here). After hitting the road to the trailhead first thing in the morning the previous two days, this morning we decided to take it easy and relax. After some relaxation time we did a nearby hike on Little Grayback Mountain.

Most people who do this hike probably start at the lower trailhead. We parked at the upper trailhead on Road 340 since it was much closer:

Little Grayback Upper Trailhead

Motorcycles are unfortunately allowed on this trail. This small trailhead sign claimed that the trail was maintained by the Motorcycle Riders Association, but it didn’t look to us like the trail had been maintained in a few years:

Little Grayback Hike

At this spot where a tree fell across the trail, the motorcycles just gouged a new trail up the hill to go around the tree:

Little Grayback Hike

The trail does not go to (or near) the summit, but traverses the slopes on the south side:

Little Grayback Hike

The trail alternated between open meadow areas…

Little Grayback Hike

Little Grayback Hike

Little Grayback Hike

…and pleasant shady forest:

Little Grayback Hike

Little Grayback Hike

At this elevation most of the wildflowers finished blooming about a month ago, but there were still a few left:

Little Grayback Hike
Oregon sunshine

Little Grayback Hike
Cobweb thistle

Little Grayback Hike
Coyote mint

Little Grayback Hike
Grand collomia

We also some poison oak:

Little Grayback Hike

At the two-mile mark we passed some big boulders in the shade that looked like a good spot for a break:

Little Grayback Hike

Then we turned and headed back, enjoying the views along the way:

Little Grayback Hike

That’s Dutchman Peak on the left:

Little Grayback Hike

There are some nice big trees here:

Little Grayback Hike

Little hiker, big landscape:

Little Grayback Hike

Little Grayback Hike

Our total for the day was 4 miles, 480′ elevation gain. Back at the lookout that evening we enjoyed a wine and cheese “appetizer” before dinner. Great way to finish the day!

Squaw Peak Lookout

Then watched an amazing sunset on our final night:

Squaw Peak Sunset

Dutchman Peak and Observation Peak

Friday, July 5

We stayed at the Squaw Peak Lookout in the Siskiyous over the holiday weekend (read more about that here). After hiking in the vicinity of Big Red Mountain the day before, we had planned to do a hike closer to the lookout today, then head back over to the Siskiyou Crest area again on Saturday. But Greg discovered that he left his trekking poles at the trailhead yesterday, so we moved our Saturday plans to today so we could go look for them. Fortunately they were right where he left them at Wrangle Gap so after picking them up we headed to 7,417′ Dutchman Peak (often mistakenly referred to as Dutchman’s Peak).

We were able to drive up Road 800 for 0.8 mile, then we parked at the gate to walk the final half mile to the top:

Dutchman Peak

Dutchman Peak

Normally it’s not ideal to have to road walk to a lookout, something we have done plenty of. It’s nice when you can drive all the way to the top. But in this case it was fine because it was a very pretty road walk. It was totally open and the views were great:

Dutchman Peak

Dutchman Peak

And there were lots of wildflowers:

Dutchman Peak

Dutchman Peak

Dutchman Peak

Dutchman Peak

Dutchman Peak

Dutchman Peak

Plenty of pollinators around too:

Dutchman Peak

There was a bit of snow on the north side:

Dutchman Peak

The lookout is still used in emergencies, but it was unstaffed during out visit and surprisingly was unlocked!

Dutchman Peak

Dutchman Peak

Dutchman Peak

Dutchman Peak

Dutchman Peak

There is even a visitor’s log:

Dutchman Peak

The views from the top were great. Looking west:

Dutchman Peak

Dutchman Peak

The peak right in the center with the bald south face is Squaw Peak (Baldy Peak is at far right):

Dutchman Peak

Mt. Shasta to the south. Not as clear today as yesterday!

Dutchman Peak

View of Mt. Ashland to the northeast:

Dutchman Peak

Looking southwest, with Observation Peak on the left:

Dutchman Peak

Silver Fork Basin with Observation Peak on the right:

Dutchman Peak

We short-cutted back to Road 20 via Road 805, where we encountered even more flowers:

Dutchman Peak

Dutchman Peak

The car sure is getting dusty!

Dutchman Peak

Next up was a hike up to Observation Peak via the PCT. According to Luke Ruediger in The Siskiyou Crest, “Observation Peak represents a hot spot for botanical diversity, harboring many rare plant species on its varied bedrock and soil types.” Sounds like our type of place!

We could have started this hike at Jackson Gap, but we opted for a slightly longer route. We drove back down Road 20 to Silver Fork Gap where we picked up Road 2025 and drove four miles south to a spot where the PCT crosses the road, and started hiking north:

Observation Peak Hike

Observation Peak Hike

Observation Peak Hike

Observation Peak Hike

We reached the grassy lower slopes of Observation Peak:

Observation Peak Hike

Then got off the trail and headed cross country to the summit:

Observation Peak Hike

Observation Peak Hike

Looking back along our route, with Dutchman Peak right of center:

Observation Peak Hike

View of Dutchman peak and the terraced slopes of Silver Creek Basin. This entire area was once so thick with livestock that “fire lookouts in the area were trained to differentiate between the smoke of fires and the massive dust storms created by overgrazing on the Siskiyou Crest” (according to Luke Ruediger in The Siskiyou Crest). The terracing on the slopes here was done in the late 1950s to slow the erosion caused by that livestock grazing.:

Observation Peak Hike

Observation Peak Hike

This is the 7,340′ summit:

Observation Peak Hike

That red can contained the summit register, but the logbook was soaking wet and moldy:

Observation Peak Hike

I’ve never seen a survey disc like this one before:

Observation Peak Hike

There was a normal-looking survey disc as well:

Observation Peak Hike

The views were pretty expansive. Looking southwest:

Observation Peak Hike

Looking west:

Observation Peak Hike

Looking north, with Mt. Ashland on the right:

Observation Peak Hike

Looking southeast to Mt. Shasta:

Observation Peak Hike

Panorama from NE to SE, with Cow Creek Glade directly below:

Observation Peak Hike

A better look at Cow Creek Glade:

Observation Peak Hike

This spot is not remote, by any means. We could see Road 20 to the north, and Road 40S01 was just 400 feet down the steep east-facing slope from where we sat. But we only saw three or four cars the whole time, and the only other hiker up there left soon after we arrived. After enjoying the beautiful and peaceful setting we turned and headed back. Greg took these shots of me on the way down:

Observation Peak Hike

Observation Peak Hike

Hiking the trail back to the car we met a backpacker who was on her first day of an Oregon PCT thru-hike, with her husband joining her for the first segment. She was VERY excited, and her enthusiasm for the trek ahead was endearing.

Total mileage for the hike was 5.3 miles, 1,100′ elevation gain.

Big Red Mountain

Thursday, July 4, 2019

We stayed at the Squaw Peak Lookout in the Siskiyous over the holiday weekend (read more about that here) and on the 4th we decided to drive over to the Siskiyou Crest area and visit Big Red Mountain, which is thought to be the oldest exposed serpentine outcrop in the Siskiyous, according to Luke Ruediger (whose excellent book, The Siskiyou Crest, is a must-have guide for visiting this area.)

According to the Forest Service, Big Red Mountain “gets its name from the reddish orange soil and rock; this color is caused by the weathering of iron in the peridotite and serpentine bedrock. The unusual chemical make-up (low calcium/high iron and magnesium) of serpentine soil is toxic to many kinds of plants. Because of this, places like Red Mountain support a distinctive plant community dominated by Jeffrey pine, western white pine, and incense-cedar over a ‘carpet’ of beargrass.”

We encountered snow on Road 20 at Jackson Gap, just north of the junction with Road 800 up to Dutchman Peak. This looks like it would have been impassible about a week ago, but we had no problem today:

Snow on the road

We continued up Road 20 and parked at Wrangle Gap, where there is an old mangled sign:

Wrangle Gap

The PCT here swings north to go around Big Red Mountain, but we were headed cross-country straight up. While Greg was getting his stuff together at the car, I started up. Right away I got great views of Mt. Shasta:

Big Red Mountain Hike

Looking back down at Greg on Road 20:

Big Red Mountain Hike

We saw all sorts of wildflowers on the mountain and along the trail later. Siskiyou Paintbrush:

Big Red Mountain Hike

Lewisia leana:

Big Red Mountain Hike

Big Red Mountain Hike

Anemone:

Big Red Mountain Hike

Phlox:

Big Red Mountain Hike

Mountain owl clover:

Big Red Mountain Hike

Greg was in wildflower heaven and this was his stance for much of the day:

Big Red Mountain Hike

The top of Big Red Mountain is a pretty large area:

Big Red Mountain Hike

Big Red Mountain Hike

And of course the views were great up there. We didn’t know it, but this would be the clearest day of our trip and we could see for miles. Sure beats last year when we arrived at the Mt. Ashland campground and were surrounded by wildfire haze. Looking west:

Big Red Mountain Hike

Looking southwest; that’s Road 20 left of center, and Dutchman Peak on the right:

Big Red Mountain Hike

Looking south to Mt. Shasta, and the snowy Trinity Alps on the right:

Big Red Mountain Hike

Looking north, with distant Mt. McLoughlin on the left and Mt. Ashland on the right:

Big Red Mountain Hike

Close-up of Mt. Ashland and it’s big ugly weather ball:

Big Red Mountain Hike

Greg was being thorough and methodical in his wildflower documentation, so I descended the north side of the mountain while he kept taking photos. There were still patches of snow on this side:

Big Red Mountain Hike

There was a bit of beargrass on the PCT:

Big Red Mountain Hike

But it looks like last year or the year before was the banner beargrass year here, based on all the dried up flower stalks we saw:

Big Red Mountain Hike

Greg descended and we hiked north along a very pretty stretch of the PCT:

Big Red Mountain Hike

We had a good view of Wagner Butte, which we hiked last July:

Big Red Mountain Hike

There were some trees along this stretch, but a lot of it was pretty open:

Big Red Mountain Hike

The trail lost elevation as it headed toward Siskiyou Gap. We knew this would be the case, but we hadn’t wanted to drive the three extra miles of Road 20 to park at Siskiyou Gap and start the hike from there, since those three miles are reportedly very rough. We reached the trailhead at Siskiyou Gap:

Big Red Mountain Hike

Big Red Mountain Hike

There was a view of Mt. Shasta here:

Big Red Mountain Hike

After a break we turned and headed back, trudging uphill in the afternoon heat:

Big Red Mountain Hike

Big Red Mountain Hike

Big Red Mountain Hike

This time we went around Big Red Mountain on the trail instead of over it. We passed a spot where we could see down on the tiny Monogram Lakes:

Big Red Mountain Hike

This is a panorama from that same spot, looking north. Wagner Butte at center:

Big Red Mountain Hike

A cold beer with chips and salsa really hit the spot after our hike!

Post-hike snacks

Our total for the day was 6.7 miles with 1,400′ elevation gain. Tomorrow we would be back in this area to visit Dutchman Peak and Observation Peak.

Back at the lookout that evening we celebrated our wedding anniversary with pesto pasta and white wine. Our anniversary was yesterday, but we postponed our celebration to tonight since we rolled in so late last night. Eating out at a nice restaurant is fun, but I think this is the best way for two outdoor-lovers to celebrate:

Squaw Peak Lookout

Coffin Mountain

Sunday, June 23, 2019

After our hike up Bachelor Mountain, we headed over to Coffin Mountain for the short 1.5 mile hike to its summit. The flowers started off pretty much immediately:

Coffin Mountain Hike

Coffin Mountain Hike

Coffin Mountain Hike

Coffin Mountain Hike

Coffin Mountain Hike

When the trail entered the forest we started seeing lots of beargrass:

Coffin Mountain Hike

Coffin Mountain Hike

Coffin Mountain Hike

Out of the trees and still more beargrass:

Coffin Mountain Hike

Coffin Mountain Hike

Then we emerged into the huge summit meadow. This year it was full of beargrass:

Coffin Mountain Hike

Coffin Mountain Hike

Coffin Mountain Hike

Coffin Mountain Hike

Coffin Mountain Hike

Coffin Mountain Hike

Coffin Mountain Hike

Coffin Mountain Hike

We traversed the summit and switchbacked up it, then into the trees and out the other side to our first view of the fire lookout, which was not yet staffed:

Coffin Mountain Hike

We made it!

Coffin Mountain Hike

We sat on the deck and enjoyed the view of Mt. Jefferson:

Coffin Mountain Hike

Coffin Mountain Hike

And the Three Sisters:

Coffin Mountain Hike

Looking to the other end of Coffin Mountain where the radio tower is:

Coffin Mountain Hike

We enjoyed some afternoon wine and cheese:

Coffin Mountain Hike

Hiking back down through beargrass heaven:

Coffin Mountain Hike

Getting here meant a five-hour round-trip drive from Portland, which is not something we normally do for day hikes. But it was completely worth it to see the beargrass, which is one of my favorite wildflowers. Great day!

Bachelor Mountain

Sunday, June 23, 2019

We have been having cool cloudy weather in this last part of June, and unfortunately this weekend Saturday was the better day of the two. I was unavailable on Saturday, so today was my only day to head down and hike Bachelor and Coffin Mountains. It’s a five-hour round-trip drive from where we live, but Greg and I headed out Sunday morning.

On Road 1168 to the trailhead we passed a nice patch of beargrass alongside the road. This has been a great year for beargrass:

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Further along we passed another great flower patch, this time with rhododendrons and beargrass:

Wildflowers

There was also a big patch of monkey flower:

Wildflowers

I spent about ten minutes taking pictures, then I was ready to go. But Greg took 30 minutes to thoroughly document the entire area:

Wildflowers

We passed yet another roadside patch, this time full of delphinium:

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

At the Bachelor Mountain trailhead we discovered that someone had inconsiderately built a fire ring right in the parking area. Seriously? I cleaned it up:

Bachelor Mountain Trailhead

Bachelor Mountain Hike

From the trailhead we could see the Coffin Mountain lookout perched high above us:

Coffin Mountain

Just five minutes up the trail we got our first sweeping view, including a view of the huge beargrass meadow on Coffin that we would visit later in the day:

Coffin Mountain

Mt. Washington, the Three Sisters, and the Husband:

Three Sisters

Three Fingered Jack:

Three Fingered Jack

There is a long open stretch on this trail with great views and wildflowers:

Bachelor Mountain Hike

Wildflowers

Bachelor Mountain Hike

Bachelor Mountain Hike

Bachelor Mountain Hike

Bachelor Mountain Hike

Coffin Mountain was visible behind us:

Bachelor Mountain Hike

The top of Mt. Jefferson was visible for awhile:

Bachelor Mountain Hike

We had a view of the Bachelor Mountain summit before re-entering the trees:

Bachelor Mountain Hike

We reached a junction with an old sign and a new sign:

Bachelor Mountain Hike

Bachelor Mountain Hike

We turned left for the last push to the summit. There were lots of about-to-bloom beargrass in the trees:

Bachelor Mountain Hike

Phlox:

Bachelor Mountain Hike

There was a patch of snow just below the summit:

Bachelor Mountain Hike

I reached the summit at 12:45. There were three people up there with their off-leash dog, who kept wandering around the summit while they kept shouting, “Dylan! Here Dylan!” The dog completely ignored them. Since your dog is not under voice control, how about trying a leash next time?

I was disappointed to see that Mt. Jefferson now had a cloud in front of it. All the roadside dawdling meant we missed the cloud-free window:

Bachelor Mountain Hike

There was a good view of the area that burned in the 2017 Whitewater Fire:

Bachelor Mountain Hike

The views aren’t quite 360-degrees since there are trees, but you can still see a lot. Mt. Hood just barely visible through the clouds:

Bachelor Mountain Hike

Bachelor Mountain Hike

Looking northeast in the direction of Hood, not really visible in this shot:

Bachelor Mountain Hike

Looking north:

Bachelor Mountain Hike

And of course neighboring Coffin Mountain:

Bachelor Mountain Hike

The Three Sisters:

Bachelor Mountain Hike

Diamond Peak:

Bachelor Mountain Hike

Gold Butte Lookout:

Bachelor Mountain Hike

The fire lookout up here was burned down decades ago and there are just a few artifacts left:

Bachelor Mountain Hike

Bachelor Mountain Hike

Bachelor Mountain Hike

Hiking back down the clouds were getting thicker:

Bachelor Mountain Hike

Bachelor Mountain Hike

Now on to Coffin Mountain!

Above the clouds on Silver Star Star Mountain

Saturday, June 15, 2019

While I much prefer the trails on the north side of Silver Star Mountain, the trailhead access via Road 4109 is now impassible for my Outback. So today we hiked up from the Grouse Vista Trailhead with Greg’s friend who was visiting from out of town.

As we started hiking up the rough rocky trail at 8am we were totally socked-in:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

When we reached the open stretches, it was pea soup with no views:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Two-thirds of this trail is in the forest:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

The flowers were looking nice:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Someone had come along and snipped off branches crowding the trail, then left them in the middle of the trail instead of tossing them to the side:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

The same person had also strung dozens of pieces of yellow flagging along the trail:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

There is some kind of race up here every June and we suspected that this person was readying the route for that race. I have NO IDEA why the very obvious trail needed what amounted to dozens of pieces of litter. We saw the guy on the summit later, with a roll of yellow flagging and clippers.

At 9:30 we ran into some people hiking down and they reported that the summit was above the clouds. Great news! And soon enough we started seeing evidence that we were emerging from the clouds into the sunshine:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Blue sky!

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Indeed, when we reached the summit we discovered that we were above the inversion and it looked INCREDIBLE. Mt Hood:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Mt. Adams:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier:

Silver Star Mountain

Sturgeon Rock:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Here is an iPhone panorama with Mt. St. Helens just barely visible left of center, and Mt. Adams right of center:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

And another panorama showing Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

After enjoying the warm and beautiful conditions at the summit we finally tore ourselves. Before heading back we dropped down the north side for half a mile to check out the wildflowers:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Silver Star Mountain Hike

Then we turned around and headed back down the south side to our trailhead. As we hiked down the clouds started clearing up and we now had views, albeit of clearcuts:

Silver Star Mountain Hike

I’m still disappointed that the Forest Service has decided to limit access to the north due to their lack of road maintenance. That’s such a better hike. The steep rocky route on the south side that we did today is pretty treacherous in spots. I fell once and almost fell a few other times. But I’m glad we got up there to see the views and the flowers. This is definitely one of my favorite spots in the Pacific Northwest.

Grassy Knoll

June 9, 2019

Today we returned to Grassy Knoll, a great early summer hike with views and wildflowers. A new sign has been installed at the trailhead:

Grassy Knoll Hike

There is a nice patch of wildflowers right at the trailhead:

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

There is a very nice viewpoint one mile in with Mt. Adams being the star of the show here:

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

Red Mountain Lookout:

Red Mountain Lookout

Gifford Peak:

Gifford Peak

Penstemon like to grow here:

Grassy Knoll Hike

We continued north, passing yet more wildflowers:

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

Then we had our first view of Grassy Knoll:

Grassy Knoll Hike

This is always such a lovely spot, where the trail emerges from the trees into a beautiful patch of wildflowers with a view of Mt. Hood:

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

More flowers as the trail continues:

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

We sat on the summit for awhile and enjoyed the view of Mt. Hood. We had the place all to ourselves:

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

There is a partial view of Mt. Adams up here:

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

View to the west:

Grassy Knoll Hike

Three Corner Rock:

Three Corner Rock

Cool clouds overhead:

Grassy Knoll Hike

We continued up the trail a bit to another nice patch of flowers before turning around:

Grassy Knoll Hike

Grassy Knoll Hike

We got back to the trailhead at 3pm, having only seen three people the entire day!

Before heading home we stopped to check out the Giant Trees of Lost Creek (articles here, here, and here) and the trail that Russ Jolly built there:

Big trees

Big trees

Big trees

Cedar and doug fir growing together:

A cedar and a fir

Notches had been cut out of fallen trees to create passage:

Notch

Natural log bridge over a creek:

Log trail

We didn’t have time to explore the whole loop, but we’ll be back. Very cool spot!

Bald Butte

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Greg and I hiked up Bald Butte today, which is south of Hood River. We started at the Oak Ridge Trailhead. One of several nice things about this hike is that you get views right away:

Bald Butte Hike

About a mile into the hike the trail zig-zags up a slope that is dotted with wildflowers this time of year. And of course there are more views:

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Back in the woods, we saw some nice fairy slipper wildflowers:

Bald Butte Hike

And some trillium

Bald Butte Hike

We got our first peek at our destination:

Bald Butte Hike

We reached the junction with the Surveyor’s Ridge Trail and turned left:

Bald Butte Hike

Flowering currant:

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

We crossed under the power lines and started the final steep push:

Bald Butte Hike

Mt. Hood:

Bald Butte Hike

The views and the wildflowers continued as we hiked up:

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

OHVs are not allowed up here, but there is nothing to stop them. We saw signs of their presence:

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

The views from the summit are pretty great. Mt. St. Helens to the north:

Bald Butte Hike

Mt. Hood:

Bald Butte Hike

Lookout Mountain to the south:

Bald Butte Hike

The tip of Mt. Jefferson off in the distance:

Bald Butte Hike

Dirt bikes are not allowed up here, but two of them came up from the other direction and stopped for a break:

Bald Butte Hike

After enjoying the view for awhile we headed back down:

Bald Butte Hike

Bald Butte Hike

On our way down the Oak Ridge Trail some hikers came uphill and said that a hiker had injured themselves on the trail and the rescue crew was bringing them out this way. So we moved off to the side of the trail and sure enough a few minutes later a crew of guys were wheeling a stretcher up the trail on one of those big two-wheeled contraptions. The guy had injured his leg somehow, but was going to be ok.

It was a very warm day so we were pretty hot by the time we got back to the car. Our bodies are not yet adjusted to warm weather!