God’s Thumb

Sunday, April 28, 2019

NOTE: Before you read on, if you are planning to visit God’s Thumb please use good judgement. People come here and make poor decisions and then need rescuing. As of this writing, the trail to the top of God’s Thumb is rough and steep and unofficial.

This was a GORGEOUS day at the coast so I decided to hike to God’s Thumb before driving home. I used the directions from this article, but unfortunately I turned too soon which resulted in me hiking a bunch of extra unnecessary mileage.

I parked at Road’s End State Park:

God's Thumb Hike

Then started walking up Sal-La-Sea Drive (where a red-winged blackbird greeted me):

God's Thumb Hike

God's Thumb Hike

The directions said to walk one mile “to a junction with NW Port Drive, and turn right. There may be signs pointing the way toward “The Knoll.”” I had not gone one mile, but there was a sign for The Knoll and a gate, and Google Maps said this was Port Dr. So I turned right.

God's Thumb Hike

That sign had a nice map on it that I photographed, glanced at, but should have looked at closer. I realized too late that I should have kept road-walking to the parking spot directly south of The Knoll, where the red marker is. Instead I turned off at the other marked parking spot, just below and to the right, and started hiking east.

The Knoll map

The right-of-way was pretty wide with the path down the middle. It looked like it was intended to be a road at one point:

God's Thumb Hike

God's Thumb Hike

I popped out at the end of NE Devil’s Lake Blvd (labeled “cul de sac” on that map). Later I did some research online and discovered that this whole area I was hiking through was called The Villages at Cascade Head. Back in 2013 Lincoln City purchased it “from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) at the end of May for $2,500,000. The property is the subject of an environmentally-friendly development that was foreclosed upon. Its 363 acres are almost entirely wooded and provide habitat for a number of protected species of animals and plants.” (article)

At that time, the city planned “to keep some of the property as open space, develop some of it for affordable housing, and then sell off pieces of the property to private investors to develop in an environmentally-friendly fashion. In the meantime, the City will designate the property as an interim park.”

I found this presentation from 2017 that indicates that city would like to develop the area along Devil’s Lake Blvd, but based on the maps it doesn’t look like it would include The Knoll.

I crossed to the other side of the cul de sac, and picked up the trail heading east:

God's Thumb Hike

God's Thumb Hike

At some point it felt like I left behind what was once intended to be a road, and was now on a true forest trail:

God's Thumb Hike

However, maybe I was wrong because I passed the rusting remains of an old car just downhill from the trail. It was too far-gone to tell what it once was.

God's Thumb Hike

God's Thumb Hike

God's Thumb Hike

Also, it appeared that someone had recently (and probably illegally) driven their vehicle on this path, as I saw tread marks for quite a distance:

God's Thumb Hike

God's Thumb Hike

I was now making a big unnecessary loop over and around:

God's Thumb Hike

The Knoll was out of my way, an out-and-back side trip that would not be on the way to God’s Thumb, so I decided to skip that. I passed through a meadow:

God's Thumb Hike

I was now out of the parcel owned by the city and was hiking in the Siuslaw National Forest. I hiked through more trees, and emerged into another meadow:

God's Thumb Hike

And I could now FINALLY see the ocean:

God's Thumb Hike

Just a little further on I got my first view of God’s Thumb:

God's Thumb Hike

God's Thumb Hike

I hiked down to a saddle below it:

God's Thumb Hike

Then scrambled up to the top where I had a great view north to Cascade Head:

God's Thumb Hike

And a great view south:

God's Thumb Hike

God's Thumb Hike

After sitting there for awhile I made my way back down and headed down the path that would dump me out at Logan Road. I took one last look back at God’s Thumb before entering the trees:

God's Thumb Hike

Many parts of this section of the trail were horrifically muddy:

God's Thumb Hike

God's Thumb Hike

The path came out on a gravel road which I followed to Logan Road, passing through a gate. It now looked like a driveway, but were not any “no trespassing” signs:

God's Thumb Hike

To get back to Road’s End and my car I walked down to Logan until I reached this beach access point at NW 73rd:

God's Thumb Hike

And then I walked the rest of the way back on the beach:

God's Thumb Hike

Before getting off the beach at Road’s End I turned back and saw God’s Thumb poking up to the north:

God's Thumb Hike

I’ve heard a lot about this hike so it was nice to do it on such a beautiful day. I hope the city can improve the muddy parts of the trail.

Wenaha River Hike and Troy

April 12-14, 2019

We spent the weekend with our friends in Troy and hiked the Wenaha River Trail:

Wenaha River Trail

Troy is a long way from nowhere. We headed east on Interstate 84, then north. The mountains had fresh snow on them:

Snowy mountains

From Highway 3 we got onto Flora Lane, which changed to Redmond Grade. This is what it looked like as we descended down to Troy:

Redmond Grade Road

Redmond Grade is a dirt/gravel road and steep in spots. I wouldn’t want to do this in wet weather:

Redmond Grade Lane

I get carsick easy so I was very glad when we finally arrive in Troy. Our accommodations for the weekend was a cabin once owned by John Fogerty and now available to rent through Airbnb. The setting is quite beautiful, and the Grand Ronde River is just a few feet away from the cabin. This was a bit of a concern because the area had been pounded by rain shortly before our trip and the river had risen quite a bit. But the water didn’t reach the cabin.

John Fogerty Cabin

John Fogerty Cabin

John Fogerty Cabin

John Fogerty Cabin

John Fogerty Cabin

John Fogerty Cabin956

The decor was very 1970s:

John Fogerty Cabin

John Fogerty Cabin

John Fogerty Cabin

Cool old sign in the garage:

John Fogerty Cabin

You can see the high water line in the foreground of this shot:

John Fogerty Cabin

There was still some standing water in a low spot of the driveway but we were able to drive through it:

Wet driveway

After getting settled we decided to take a walk. The cabin is on the opposite side of the river from Troy, so we walked over this historic 1910 bridge, only open to pedestrians these days:

Troy bridge

From the bridge we could see where the Wenaha River flowed under Troy Road and into the Grand Ronde River:

Wenaha - Grande Ronde Confluence

This building is a place of many names: Troy Resort, Wenaha Bar & Grill, Shilo Inn Lodge & Cafe. It’s under new management according to this 2017 article:

Troy Store

We could see our cabin across the river:

Cabin across the river

As we walked north along lonely Troy River Road we spotted some deer up on the hillside:

Deer

And then we spotted some elk:

Elk

Back at the cabin later we decided to drive up to Grouse Flat a wide plateau high above Troy and the Grand Ronde River. We made our way up there via Bartlett Road. On the plateau we passed Bartlett Union cemetery:

Barlett Union Cemetery

Then we went north on Grouse Flat Road, passed into Washington state, and turned left on Sheep Creek Area Road. We entered Grouse Flat Wildlife Area:

Grouse Flat Wildlife Area

There wasn’t much to see there, plus we encountered some snow, so we turned around. On the way back down Bartlett we saw some white tailed deer:

Grouse Flat

As we descended back down to town we had a view of the river and hills:

Evening light over Troy

Saturday morning was beautiful because we had some brief sun breaks. This was our view across the river from the cabin:

After breakfast we set off on a hike down the Wenaha River Trail:

Wenaha River Trail

We got lucky with the wildflower timing! We saw lots of balsamroot:

Wenaha River Trail

Wenaha River Trail

The trail traverses the slope high above the river in a really pretty canyon:

Wenaha River Trail

Wenaha River Trail

Then we descended to a flat area with burned trees from the 2015 Grizzly Complex Fire that swept through here:

Wenaha River Trail

We saw signs of recent trail maintenance, including sawed trees that had fallen across the trail:

Wenaha River Trail

And cut brush:

Wenaha River Trail

The trail rose back above the river again:

Wenaha River Trail

Looking back from whence we came:

Wenaha River Trail

We were now below an old decommissioned road and started seeing old car parts that had been tossed from that road a long time ago:

Wenaha River Trail

We passed through a gate:

Wenaha River Trail

Wenaha River Trail

Then we spotted a herd of bighorn sheep high on the canyon wall across the river. Cool!

Wenaha River Trail

Wenaha River Trail

We saw quite a lot of ball-head waterleaf:

Wenaha River Trail

And dutchman’s breeches:

Wenaha River Trail

And some shooting stars:

Wenaha River Trail

This fallen tree was a bit tricky to navigate around:

Wenaha River Trail

Such a pretty canyon!

Wenaha River Trail

We crossed that old decommissioned road. It descends from above and continues to a nice-looking flat area down by the river:

Wenaha River Trail

The views up the canyon were really pretty:

Wenaha River Trail

Wenaha River Trail

Looking back at a spot where the trail is carved out of the cliff:

Wenaha River Trail

We spotted another herd of bighorn sheep, this time on our side of the river:

Wenaha River Trail

At 2.7 miles we reached the Umatilla National Forest Boundary. The sign was weathered and fallen down:

Wenaha River Trail

We could see across where to water was flowing out of Dry Gulch (not so dry today!):

Wenaha River Trail

The trail switchbacked down to river level again where we had a bit of flooded trail:

Wenaha River Trail

We hiked through a flat area of scorched trees:

Wenaha River Trail

We reached a point where we were ready to turn around so we found a flat area by the river:

Wenaha River Trail

Had a nice view across:

Wenaha River Trail

Heading back:

Wenaha River Trail

Wenaha River Trail

Wenaha River Trail

Wenaha River Trail

Hikers heading in told us about a rockslide that had just had occurred on the trail, and indeed as we approached the section where the trail is carved out of the cliff we could see it. Here’s the photo from earlier when we were hiking in:

Wenaha River Trail

And here is how it looked on the way out:

Wenaha River Trail

Wenaha River Trail

Wenaha River Trail

Home stretch:

Wenaha River Trail

What a pretty hike! The trail is 31 miles long, but about 6.5 miles from the Troy Trailhead (where we started), there is no longer a bridge over Crooked Creek thanks to the Grizzly Complex Fire in 2015. I later called the Pomeroy Ranger District to ask them if there were plans to replace the bridge. They said they want to, but the funds aren’t there. Because it’s in wilderness, the bridge has to be constructed off-site and then helicoptered in. They hope to get a grant, but predicted it would be 5-10 years before the bridge is replaced.

We packed up and headed back Sunday morning. As we drove back up out the canyon we saw a huge herd of elk on the hill above Troy:

Elk

And we got a nice view of the Grand Ronde River:

Grand Ronde River

We saw some white-tailed deer:

White-tailed deer

And wild turkeys:

Wild turkeys

We stopped at the Joseph Canyon Viewpoint and took in the view. The snow has only just melted here:

Joseph Canyon Viewpoint

Fun weekend! Troy is a long way from nowhere but it’s a really pretty area. I’d like to visit again.

Cape Perpetua

Saturday, January 19 through Monday, January 21, 2019

Greg and I spent the holiday weekend in Yachats, a cute little town on the Oregon Coast that I have never visited as an adult. On Saturday we stopped at Cape Perpetua Scenic Area and were surprised to find the visitor’s center open. This is a national forest and with the government shutdown we didn’t expect any facilities to be open. Turns out volunteers were running things. Hooray for volunteers!

Cape Perpetua Visitor's Center

From the visitor’s center we did the short hike upstream along Cape Creek to see a giant Sitka Spruce.

Hiking to the giant spruce

Hiking to the giant spruce

Hiking to the giant spruce

Hiking to the giant spruce

Hiking to the giant spruce

This giant Sitka Spruce is 40 feet in circumference, 185 feet tall, and approximately 550 years old. Until a 1962 windstorm broke off the top, it was 225 feet tall.

Giant Spruce

Giant Spruce

Giant Spruce

After that we returned to the visitor’s center and hiked in the other direction toward the ocean, passing the foundation of a long-gone building from the days when a CCC camp stood here:

Foundation from old CCC camp

We stopped at the viewpoint for the spouting horn, but since it wasn’t high tide we didn’t see any spouting going on:

Cape Perpetua

View of highway bridge over Cook’s Chasm:

Cape Perpetua

We followed the path north:

Cape Perpetua

There was a lot of sea foam:

Sea foam

Tidepools

We continued north to Cape Creek Cove, which we could see from above before descending steps down to it:

Cape Creek Cove

Descending to the beach

This is a nice protected cove where Cape Creek flows into the ocean. I’m sure this little beach is a zoo during nice weather. Today hardly anyone was there.

Cape Creek

We headed to our Airbnb, a super cute cabin on the edge of Yachats. It was just perfect for a winter stay at the beach:

Coast cabin

Coast cabin

We ate dinner that night at the Drift Inn Cafe, which had some cool decor.

Drift Inn Cafe

On Monday we went back to Cape Perpetua to see the spouting horn at high tide:

Spouting horn

Spouting horn

We also saw Thor’s Well:

Thor's Well

Then we hiked the St. Perpetua Trail:

Cape Perpetua

Cape Perpetua

The trail heads up to a day use area and viewpoint that is reachable by car. We hiked the Whispering Pines trail over to West Shelter which was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s:

West Shelter

West Shelter

The view was lovely:

View from West Shelter

Looking south:

View from West Shelter

Before heading home we also visited Yachats State Park:

Yachats State Park

Yachats State Park

Yachats State Park

So what did we do on Saturday? The weather wasn’t great so I spent a lot of time in this cozy reading nook reading a book:

Reading nook

We also attended the Yachats Agate Festival where I picked up this pretty agate pendant:

IMG_4715

As part of the festival, the nearby Yachats Community Presbyterian Church was open to visitors. They have a panel of agate windows that are pretty cool:

Agate windows

Agate windows

Of course they had a piano and Greg asked if he could play it for a bit:

IMG_4713

Great weekend at the coast! Yachats is pretty great.

Tumalo Mountain

December 31, 2018

On New Year’s Even Greg and I snowshoed up Tumalo Mountain and were treated to some nice views!

Tumalo Mountain

Once again we started off the morning with breakfast at Sparrow Bakery:

Sparrow Bakery

Dutchman Flat Sno-Park doesn’t have anywhere near enough parking available. Even though we arrived at 8:20am we got one of the last parking spots:

Dutchman Flat Sno-Park

Mt. Bachelor was hiding in the clouds:

Mt. Bachelor

So was South Sister:

South Sister

The trail heads straight up the mountain from the sno-park:

Tumalo Mountain

Tumalo Mountain

The temps were in the teens, so the snow and ice on the trees stayed where it was instead of melting off and it was quite beautiful:

Tumalo Mountain

Tumalo Mountain

Tumalo Mountain

Tumalo Mountain

Tumalo Mountain

Frosty

Tumalo Mountain

We had some blue sky at the start:

Tumalo Mountain

But as we got higher, we encountered a lot more clouds:

Tumalo Mountain

Tumalo Mountain

Mt. Bachelor barely visible:

Tumalo Mountain

Now Mt. Bachelor is totally obscured:

Cloudy day

The clouds swirled around us and occasionally we got glimpses beyond our mountain:

We can see!

Tumalo Mountain

But when we got to the top of Tumalo Mountain we had no views. The snow was sculpted by the wind that blasted the summit area:

Tumalo Mountain

Tumalo Mountain

Due to the lack of views and the cold wind we didn’t linger up there and started heading back down:

Tumalo Mountain

Fortunately, the clouds started clearing out while we were still in the open area up top and we did end up getting some views. Mt. Bachelor:

Mt. Bachelor

South Sister showed itself:

South Sister

We went off-trail a short ways to get a better view north into the Three Sisters Wilderness where we could see the Three Sisters and Broken Top. Nice!

Three Sisters

The clearing continued and I enjoyed seeing the icy snowy trees set against the deep blue sky as we snowshoed down:

Tumalo Mountain

Tumalo Mountain

Tumalo Mountain

It was 21 degrees when we got back to the car at 12:30. What a perfect way to spend New Year’s Eve day!

Tumalo Falls

December 30, 2018

Greg and I spent a long New Year’s weekend in Bend. On Sunday we showshoed to Tumalo Falls.

Tumalo Falls

Our first stop was breakfast at Sparrow Bakery. YUM!

We parked at Skyliners Sno-Park and were one of the first cars there:

Skyliners Sno-Park

From there we set off down the Tumalo Creek Trail:

Tumalo Creek Trail

Tumalo Creek Trail

There wasn’t much to see, but we got occasional glimpses of the cliffs to the right:

Cliffs

Cliffs

We crossed the South Fork on a little bridge:

Tumalo Creek Trail

Better views of Tumalo Creek:

Tumalo Creek Trail

And then we reached the lower viewpoint for Tumalo Falls:

Tumalo Falls

We also visited the upper viewpoint, and we could see downstream along the canyon we just hiked up:

View from Tumalo Falls

Top of Tumalo Falls

We hiked back on the road (which is closed to vehicles in winter) rather than the trail:

Hiking back from Tumalo Falls

Hiking back from Tumalo Falls

We passed at least 60 people hiking in as we hiked out and we were glad that we had gotten an early start. When we reached the gate at the end of the road we discovered that there was parking there. Good to know for next time:

Tumalo Falls parking

We enjoyed lunch at Crux afterward:

Lunch at Crux

Hiking Shore Acres

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Greg and I spent Thanksgiving weekend in the Coos Bay area. We drove down Friday in the POURING rain, and since the weather was so abysmal we did a fun indoor activity: wine-tasting! We visited three tasting rooms in the little town of Elkton, which I visited on a much nicer day back in 2012:

Welcome to Elkton

We drove on, stopping at the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area. Most of the elk were far away, but we saw a few that were close:

Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area

Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area

Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area

Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area

We checked into our yurt at Sunset Bay State Park, then backtracked 20 minutes into town for dinner.

Shore Acres State Park

The next day we did a hike that started at the Sunset Bay day use area:

Sunset Bay State Park

Before long we reached a nice viewpoint:

Sunset Bay State Park

Shore Acres State Park

Sunset Bay State Park

Sunset Bay State Park

Sunset Bay:

Sunset Bay State Park

Hiking on we continued to see cool rock formations and great views:

Shore Acres State Park

Shore Acres State Park

Shore Acres State Park

Shore Acres State Park

Shore Acres State Park

We also had views of the Cape Arago Lighthouse:

Shore Acres State Park

Shore Acres State Park

Shore Acres State Park

Looking back along our route:

Shore Acres State Park

Erosion is constant at the coast. We saw this broken fence dangling along the cliff edge:

Shore Acres State Park

Loved the clash of water and rock:

Shore Acres State Park

Saw several cool mushrooms:

Shore Acres State Park

Shore Acres State Park

As we approached the main part of Shore Acres State Park we crossed the old tennis courts:

Shore Acres State Park

Cool cannonball rocks:

Shore Acres State Park

Louis J. Simpson built a mansion here in 1907. It burned down in 1921, was rebuilt in 1928, and then the property was sold to the state in 1942. The second mansion was razed in 1948. This observatory now sits on the site. It has nice views and interpretive signs explaining the history and geology of this place:

Shore Acres State Park

Shore Acres State Park

Looking north from the Observatory. Starting to get colder and cloudier:

Shore Acres State Park

Looking south:

Shore Acres State Park

The botanical garden from the Simpson days is still here. We would return in a few hours to see the holiday light show here:

Shore Acres State Park

Shore Acres State Park

We made a loop by walking back on the old Simpson driveway:

Shore Acres State Park

Shore Acres State Park

After some hot tea back at the yurt we drove to the third state park in the chain, Cape Arago. We walked down a short trail to see the sea lions. What a racket!

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

There were a lot of them gathered on that rock out there, which we would see from a roadside viewpoint the next day:

Cape Arago State Park

After dinner we went back to the park to see the holiday lights. The backup of cars waiting to get in had been VERY long earlier, but later in the evening we only had to wait at the staging area for about 10 minutes.

Holiday lights at Shore Acres State Park

An underwater scene:

Holiday lights at Shore Acres State Park

Holiday lights at Shore Acres State Park

Holiday lights at Shore Acres State Park

Holiday lights at Shore Acres State Park

I’ve been wanting to see the holiday lights at Shore Acres for decades, so I’m glad I finally got to see them!

Cape Arago Hike

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Today we did a hike in Cape Arago State Park. We started at a locked gate at the day use area and hiked past a “pack trail” sign.

Cape Arago State Park

At first we were on a road:

Cape Arago State Park

Then we were on a trail:

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

After about a mile we reached a signless T-junction. We saw a feature on the map to our right called Arago Peak so we decided to see what we could see. We were now on an old road that was brushy in spots:

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

We reached a big grassy area, stayed to the right, and kept going:

Cape Arago State Park

Now we were in an old clearcut:

Cape Arago State Park

We topped out in an open area in the clearcut:

Cape Arago State Park

From here there was a limited view of the area surrounding Coos Bay:

Cape Arago State Park

And some of the mountains to the east:

Cape Arago State Park

We could see a bit of ocean to the west:

Cape Arago State Park

According to the map Arago Peak was further along the road, so we kept going. From this point the road is in really great shape. It’s timber company land and they drive up from the Seven Devils Road to the east. We spotted this cute rabbit ahead of us:

Cape Arago State Park

It turns out there really isn’t much of a peak. We walked past the spot on the map and realized that was it. Not prominence, no marker, no view. So we turned around and went back to the T-junction and continued straight to finish our loop, still following old road:

Cape Arago State Park

The trail was in REALLY bad shape in spots. It appeared as though Friday’s downpour had washed away a lot of soil:

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

We passed this picnic table which hasn’t had a view in a very long time:

Cape Arago State Park

We also passed the concrete remains of this old WWII bunker. We were dismayed to see the all the vandalism and graffiti here:

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

We continued following the old road down to the Cape Arago Highway which we crossed. The trail took us through the trees and then to some ocean views:

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

We reached the roadside Sea Lion Viewpoint / Simpson Reef Viewpoint:

Cape Arago State Park

We could see and hear the sea lions on the rocks out there. I was glad I had my binoculars. We even saw sea otters frolicking in the ocean! My camera’s zoom lens wasn’t long enough to get a shot of them, but it was cool:

Cape Arago State Park

Cape Arago State Park

We crossed the highway for the last bit back to the car, and spotted these cool fungi along the way:

Cape Arago State Park

Nice hike! 6 miles, 870′ elevation gain.

Cape Arago Map

Angora Peak

Sunday, November 11, 2018

In the fourth edition of William Sullivan’s 100 Hikes / Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range (2016) a new hike appeared: Angora Peak. It is right next door to Neahkahnie Mountain so wither another gorgeous day in the forecast we grabbed a copy of the page from Sullivan’s book and set out on Sunday. Turns out we should have done more research beforehand, and we were in for a bit of an adventure.

This entire hike is on roads, both old and current. We parked at the gate off Highway 101 and set off:

Angora Peak Hike

We hiked through the “beauty strip” buffer of intact trees between the highway and the clearcut. There are some nice trees here!

Angora Peak Hike

And then we emerged into the hideous clearcut:

Angora Peak Hike

As we followed the road up through the clearcut Angora Peak was ever-present to the east:

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

We saw two hunters heading down and exchanged friendly greetings. We continued hiking up the road:

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

We turned right and passed a gate onto a road that was pretty grassy in places and didn’t look like it had been used in awhile:

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

Now that we were getting higher we could see the beautiful blue ocean:

Angora Peak Hike

We could turn around and look back down over the area we just hiked through. That’s Neahkahnie Mountain on the left:

Angora Peak Hike

View to the north. Cannon Beach is out of sight behind those two forested humps, but you can see the tip of Haystack Rock:

Angora Peak Hike

The road climbed up along a basalt cliff. This was a pretty cool stretch. It had gotten very cold the previous night and with the shade we saw patches of frost on the ground:

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

At the two-mile mark we reached another viewpoint at a bend in the road. We were high enough now we could see even further north:

Angora Peak Hike

At the viewpoint we saw two hikers heading down and I asked if they had made it to the peak. They said the route had gotten too brushy so they turned back. That worried me a bit, but they were wearing shorts so their tolerance for pushing through the brush would have been low.

We reached the end of road and here is where we went wrong. Sullivan says “At a small cairn of orange rocks just 150 feet before the grassy roadbed ends, angle up to the right on a faint, brushy deer trail that may be marked with red ribbons”. We saw neither trail nor orange rocks nor red flagging and were now at road’s end (not 150 feet before road’s end). We should have backtracked and looked for the trail, but we saw a trail heading off to the right at road’s end and decided that must be it.

Angora Peak Hike

And here’s what that looked like:

Angora Peak Hike

It started resembling an old road. But it was the wrong old road:

Angora Peak Hike

We realized that our route and landmarks were no longer matching Sullivan’s description. After some research on the phone, which included looking at the satellite imagery of our location, we realized that there were TWO old roads. They paralleled each other and we were on the lower (wrong) one. It was also at this point we realized that Sullivan does not take his readers to Angora Peak itself, but a viewpoint that is north of the peak. What a rookie mistake, not reading the description carefully enough! [hangs head]

So it was time for a course correction. Rather than backtrack to the end of the main road, we scrambled straight up the steep slope to reach the upper abandoned road, the one that we should have been on and that would take us to to the peak. Fortunately the forest was not brushy here and other than being incredibly steep terrain we had no trouble getting to the upper road, where we turned left (south) and continued hiking.

We were soon treated to nice west-facing views:

Angora Peak Hike

The road headed south along the mountain face before curving east. It had obviously not been used in a very long time, so we were pleasantly surprised to find it in very good shape:

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

Looking back down the road to the west and the ocean:

Angora Peak Hike

The road came to a T intersection where we turned left. Suddenly our easy road strolling was over. This stretch was overgrown and in bad shape:

Angora Peak Hike

In some spots the road bed was gone, slid away down the mountain in a landslide. As you can see in this photo, we had to scramble up a bit to bypass the washouts:

Angora Peak Hike

We took a hairpin turn and kept following the road:

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

The road passes just below the peak but doesn’t go the summit itself. There is no trail that goes up there, but thanks to a waypoint from a geocacher we knew more or less where to leave the road and start scrambling up. This was another short steep scramble (burning thighs!) and then we emerged out into a summit-like area where there was an open rocky area and some trees. This was not the true summit, but it was very close and good enough for us.

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

A fierce and raging wind was blowing from the east so we used this rock for shelter:

Angora Peak Hike

Looking east out over the Coast Range:

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

We were very pleasantly surprised to see distant volcanic peaks. Mt. Rainier:

Angora Peak Hike

Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams:

Angora Peak Hike

Looking south out over the Nehalem River and Nehalem Bay:

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

Looking west at the ocean (and straight into the late afternoon light):

Angora Peak Hike

We would have liked to stay longer and enjoy the fruit of our efforts, but the days are short this time of year so after 40 minutes we started heading back down:

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

We experienced a 40-minute delay for Greg to find a geocache (it required him to do some serious bushwhacking while I turned back and waited on the old road) we continued on. We reached the point where we had scrambled up the hill to join the upper road, and continued along that upper road:

Angora Peak Hike

We took a short side trip to check out Sullivan’s viewpoint, which was pretty nice, especially in the late afternoon light:

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

There’s a stone shelter nearby, probably built by and used by hunters:

Angora Peak Hike

Angora Peak Hike

Continuing along the abandoned road we emerged out onto the main road and looked back. Well no wonder we missed this on the way up. I didn’t take a picture, but the turn from the main road onto the old overgrown road is not remotely obvious. There is no cairn and no flagging and you can’t tell there’s a path or old road there. Once you’re ON it then it’s easy enough to follow, but finding it would have been difficult. Sullivan had provided GPS coordinates for this intersection and we should have used them. Oh well, it all worked out in the end.

The sun was setting fast and it was obvious we would not be back to the car before the 4:50pm sunset. This actually turned out to be ok, though, and I discovered the usefulness of hiking through a hideous clearcut at this time of day: no trees to obstruct one’s view of the setting sun.

Angora Peak hike

Angora Peak hike

Our timing was actually perfect as we were high enough on the road to see the horizon and the sunset, which was quite pretty. The sunset faded right at the point that we were low enough to not see the horizon anymore, but there was just enough lingering light for us to see our way back to the car. I had my headlamp, but we didn’t end up needing it.

Angora Peak hike

Angora Peak hike

Well that was quite an adventure. We managed to cobble together the correct route (more or less) thanks to Sullivan’s book, the topo map, the satellite imagery, geocaches and their corresponding waypoints, and intel from SummitPost (thank goodness we had a data connection).

An interesting side note: my brother-in-law Karl was also up on Angora on Sunday. I had texted my sister that morning to tell her where we were going and she texted back that Karl was also hiking on Angora. He got an earlier start than us and is a very fast hiker, plus he was doing some side trips that we didn’t do, so he was ahead of us and we never saw him. In fact, other than the two hunters and two hikers we saw early on, we had the place to ourselves. Quite a welcome respite after the crowds on Neahkahnie the day before!

8.5 miles round-trip, 2,100′ elevation gain.

AngoraPeakTrack

A quick note: this land has changed hands several times but is still owned by a timber company. They allow hunters and hikers in here and let’s help keep it that way. Please practice LNT while visiting Angora Peak.

Neahkahnie’s North Side

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Greg and I drove to the coast today for a three-day weekend and WOW did we luck out with gorgeous weather! We have hiked the trail up Neahkahnie Mountain’s south side several time (most recently in January) but today decided to hike up the south side. Lots of other people had the same idea and we had to lurk like vultures in the trailhead parking area and swoop in to take a spot as someone left.

The first stretch of trail has some open areas that allowed us to see the ocean:

Neahkahnie Mountain Hike

That’s Cape Falcon, a hike we did in January:

Neahkahnie Mountain Hike

The trail is in pretty bad shape. It’s badly eroded with lots of exposed roots:

Neahkahnie Mountain Hike

Neahkahnie Mountain Hike

Neahkahnie Mountain Hike

And in places where people have cut the switchbacks, the trail is eroding down the hill:

Neahkahnie Mountain Hike

After a 2.3-mile hike up the mountain we made it to the top, where we scrambled up the last little bit to the rocky summit. On this beautiful day we were definitely not alone. There were so many people up there it sounded like a crowded restaurant. But the view was fantastic. This is the iconic view looking south along the coast at Manzanita, Nehalem Bay, and beyond:

Neahkahnie Mountain Hike

After hanging out on the summit for awhile we headed back down. To our surprise we passed several groups heading up, probably to watch the sunset from up there. I would NOT want to hike this trail in the dark. It is just too rough. As we neared the end we were awash in golden light from the sinking sun:

Neahkahnie Mountain Hike

Neahkahnie Mountain Hike

We headed south on Highway 101 and found our Airbnb, and octagonal-shaped cabin between Nehalem and Manzanita. This place was great! What a perfectly cozy place to hang out with a book next to the fire. We would definitely stay here again.

Clear Lake Loop Hike

Sunday, October 7, 2018

On our last day of the weekend Greg and I packed up and checked out of our cabin then set off to hike the circuit around Clear Lake before heading home on Sunday. We expected we would see good fall color and we were not disappointed:

Fall Color

Fall Color

Fall Color

We hiked clockwise from the cabins and soon found ourselves at the north end of the lake with a view looking south where we could see a bit of the Three Sisters above the store:

Clear Lake

More fall color:

Clear Lake Loop

We connected with the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail and crossed Fish Lake Creek, which was dry (Fish Lake, where Deb and I stayed last winter, is less than a mile from here):

Clear Lake Loop

Love the color of this lake!:

Clear Lake Loop

More fall color:

Clear Lake Loop

We passed Great Spring although I never would have known this was a spring. It simply appeared to be a little lake inlet. This is considered the source of the McKenzie River:

Clear Lake Loop

Hiking south along the lake’s eastern shore, we could now see across to the store where we had started. At this point of the lake that is quite narrow:

Clear Lake Loop

Hiking on:

Clear Lake Loop

Clear Lake Loop

Clear Lake Loop

We passed Cold Water Cove Campground, then crossed a footbridge over the lake outlet at the south end:

Clear Lake Loop

Clear Lake Loop

After that it was a quick and easy hike up the western shore back to our car. This was a really pretty fall hike, with lots of vine maple and other vegetation in color.