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!

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.

Blue Pool and Proxy Falls

Saturday, October 6, 2018

After a warm night in our rustic cabin at Clear Lake, we had breakfast then headed out for some hiking. Blue Pool is a beautiful spot along the McKenzie River National Scenic Trail. It is only two miles from the nearest trailhead and it is horrendously crowded in summer (it has actually become quite a problem). I had never seen it and a rainy October day seemed like the perfect time to check it out.

The fall colors were quite lovely:

McKenzie River Trail

McKenzie River Trail

This is a very mossy forest:

McKenzie River Trail

A crew had been out here the week before working on the trail, which is so overused. You could tell the spots they hadn’t hit yet:

Trail puddles

Trail puddles

And the spots that they had:

Trail Work

Trail Work

I loved this footbridge!

McKenzie River Trail

McKenzie River Trail

More vine maple in color:

McKenzie River Trail

McKenzie River Trail

McKenzie River Trail

McKenzie River Trail

McKenzie River Trail

McKenzie River Trail

At one point we got a view down over the McKenzie River:

McKenzie River Trail

Then we arrived at the pool, which is not as blue as it is on a summer day, but still very pretty:

Blue Pool

Blue Pool

Blue Pool

This is where the water flows out of the pool and downstream:

Blue Pool

The pool appears to have no inlet. Sometimes water flows over the ledge into the pool (this is Tamolitch Falls), but usually that waterfall is dry. This is from the Forest Service website:

A lava flow from Belknap Crater 1,600 years ago buried a 3 mile (4.8 km) stretch of the McKenzie River between Carmen Reservoir and Tamolitch Falls. The river resurfaces at Tamolitch Pool at the base of dry Tamolitch Falls, seeping up to the surface through the porous lava, creating a pristine turquoise blue colored pool. The water, a chilly 37 degrees Fahrenheit (2.8 C) on average, reflects the surrounding cliffs covered with alder and evergreen trees. While the falls are dry the majority of the time, during wet winters the river can flood over the lava bed and Tamolitch Falls will flow.

In addition to the lava, the water upstream is diverted. From the Northwest Waterfall Survey:

Were it allowed to flow unchecked, the falls would still flow naturally for at least 5-6 months of the year, though greatly reduced involume from what flows over Koosah Falls. However just downstream from Koosah Falls the Carmen Reservoir diverts the majority of the river into the Smith-Carmen Hydroelectric system which effectively removes the portion of the river which would naturally flow over Tamolitch Falls during the spring and early summer months. Only when the river exceeds the capacity of the Smith-Carmen diversion will the falls potentially flow.

On the hike out we encountered a whole lot of people hiking in. I was surprised how many people were doing this trail on a cold drizzly day, and I was glad we had gotten an early start.

After that we headed up Highway 242 to the Proxy Falls trailhead. The drive was absolutely gorgeous, with lots of beautiful color along the highway:

Vine maple

Highway 242

We hiked to Upper Proxy Falls first, which is by far the more beautiful of the two falls:

Lower Proxy Falls

Then we visited Lower Proxy Falls:

Upper Proxy Falls

Back at the lake the weather was starting to clear up a bit. Greg rested in the cabin while I wandered the lakeshore taking photos:

Clear Lake

Clear Lake

I was astonished to see this heron land in a tree!

Heron

Then he took off across the lake:

Clear Lake

I saw some stand-up paddle boarders. I was amused to see a dog on the board with them:

Clear Lake

That night I went down to the lake to see if the skies were clear enough for star photography. I was very pleased to see thousands of stars overhead.

Starry skies over Clear Lake

Starry skies over Clear Lake

Starry skies over Clear Lake

While I was enjoying the stars I heard an owl hooting nearby. So cool! A perfect way to end the day.

Belknap Hot Springs

Friday, October 6, 2018

Several months ago Greg and I booked a three-day-weekend fall getaway at the Clear Lake Resort in the Willamette National Forest. Unfortunately Friday, the first day of our weekend, was extremely rainy. It was far too wet to do any hiking, so we decided to visit Belknap Hot Springs.

Belknap Hot Springs

The soaking pool is behind the lodge, not too far from the river:

Belknap Hot Springs

For a short while we had the pool all to ourselves:

Belknap Hot Springs

That didn’t last long, however, and soon we had plenty of company. They weren’t the problem, however. At some point in the past hot springs management made the unfortunate decision to add an RV park to the grounds and one of the spots is right on the other side of the fence from the pool. Someone with a huge RV arrived, backed into the spot, and then idled their engine for 30 MINUTES while they moved forward and backward over and over to level the trailer. Finally the noise pollution was more than I could take and I went over the fence and yelled over to the guy. He couldn’t hear me at first because of his loud pickup. When I asked him to please turn off his truck he made no apologies for the noise and said he would turn it off when he was done getting set up. Great. Thanks for nothing, buddy.

After we were done soaking Greg stayed inside while I did a bit of exploring, crossing the footbridge over the McKenzie River:

Belknap Hot Springs

Belknap Hot Springs

On the other side of the bridge is the source of the hot springs (it’s piped across to the pool):

Belknap Hot Springs

After our soak we headed to Clear Lake to check in. We knew our cabin would be rustic and it was:

Clear Lake Resort

Clear Lake

Clear Lake

There are rowboats for rent here. It was not great weather for being out on the lake, but that didn’t stop some people:

Clear lake

Clear Lake

Clear Lake

The cold damp weather kept us inside for the rest of the afternoon and evening. We were glad for the stove in the cabin to keep us warm.

Burnt Lake and East Zigzag

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The forecast today was favorable, so Greg and I decided to hike to Burnt Lake and East Zigzag. It took us just two hours to reach Burnt Lake from the trailhead. I was pleasantly surprised to find the lake calm, beautifully reflecting Mt. Hood:

Burnt Lake

Burnt Lake

After stopping for a lake break we continued on the trail, heading towards East Zigzag. The final push to the top:

East Zigzag

This stretch before the summit is actually the best place for views:

View from East Zigzag

The rocky summit used to have clear 360-degree views back in the lookout days, but the trees have grown up now:

View from East Zigzag

View from East Zigzag

East Zigzag

We got a peek at Mt. Adams:

View from East Zigzag

Looking northwest:

View from East Zigzag

Mt. Jefferson:

Mt. Jefferson

View to the south:

East Zigzag

All that’s left of the lookout that once stood here is a few pieces of melted glass from when they burned it in the 1960s:

024 Destruction of East Zigzag fire lookout, Mt Hood NF

We stopped for photo on the way back down:

View from East Zigzag

Greg got stung by a yellow jacket just as we reached the lake on the way back, so while he tended to his wound I went on litter patrol around the campsites. The sites themselves were surprisingly clean, but there was a heck of a lot of toilet paper in the trees behind the sites. I picked it up (wearing a glove) and bagged it for the hike out. While I was over on that side of the lake I got a photo of East Zigzag above the lake:

Burnt lake

A 10-mile day with beautiful weather!

Carl and Table Lakes

Labor Day Weekend 2018

I spent the long weekend exploring some of the east side of the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness, which I’ve never visited before. I started at the Cabot Lake Trailhead, hiked into Carl Lake and stayed there the first night, then hiked to Table Lake for the second night and hiked an abandoned trail up to a viewpoint above Hole-in-the-Wall Park. Then I hiked back to Carl Lake for the third night and did a side trip up to South Cinder Peak. It was great!

Table Lake
Table Lake

I got off work at 1pm on Friday and went straight to the trailhead. I started hiking at 4:30. This area was burned in the 2003 B&B fire, so I was surrounded by a stark burnt landscape. The fact that the wind was blowing so hard that it whistled made everything all the more eerie. Most of these photos are from my hike out on Monday when the light was better:

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

To the north I had a good view of Sugar Pine Ridge. Before the fire there was a trail up there, but it’s totally impassible now:

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

Lava:

Cabot Lake Trail

Fall is well underway up here:

Cabot Lake Trail

At the 1.5-mile mark I left the burn zone and entered the trees:

Cabot Lake Trail

The trail passed this huge dry pond:

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

Then I passed some other ponds:

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

Below is a shot from Monday of the pond above, with Mt. Jefferson peeking up through the trees:

Pond

I reached the east end of Table Lake at 6:50. The wind was coming from the west and blasted off the lake with such force that it nearly knocked me over:

Carl Lake

Normally I pick campsites based on how scenic they are. This time I was looking for one that was protected from the wind. Success:

Carl Lake campsite

The wind blew all night long. My tent was protected so it wasn’t flapping, but the wind still made a racket. Thank goodness I brought I earplugs! While getting ready Saturday morning I saw two deer pass through near my campsite. Got a photo of one of them:

Deer

Carl Lake in the morning. Still pretty windy:

Carl Lake

Carl Lake

Carl Lake

I packed up and headed off for Table Lake. The trail climbs up above Carl Lake:

Carl Lake

Passed through a small burn area:

Cabot Lake Trail

Huge rockslide:

Cabot Lake Trail

The vegetation was turning fall color and it made the ground look pink:

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

This little pond is known as Junction Lake. By no stretch of the imagination is this a lake, and I think the only reason it got a name at all is because the junction with the Sugar Pine Ridge Trail used to be here until that trail was abandoned:

Junction Lake

This is the only indication that a trail once started here:

Sugar Pine Ridge Trail

When my friend Brad hiked here in 2012 that signboard held a “trail not maintained” sign, but it’s gone now:


Photo by Brad Rasmussen

By the way, Brad’s report is worth reading, if for no other reason than to see what happens when a trail is abandoned after a fire.

From here I could see the tip of Mt. Jefferson. I didn’t know it yet, but better views were soon to come:

Cabot Lake Trail

The trail continued passed Junction Lake through some pretty lovely scenery:

Cabot Lake Trail

This is some pretty cool terrain. Here the trail is squeezed between two different kinds of rock (that’s North Cinder Peak in the second photo):

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

Mt. Jefferson views improving:

Cabot Lake Trail

Forked Butte in the background. Notice the mixture of rocks in the foreground:

Cabot Lake Trail

I was surprised to see western pasque flower so late in the season:

Cabot Lake Trail

This stretch was so cool! That’s Forked Butte in the background:

Cabot Lake Trail

The trail reaches a pass before descending down to Patsy Lake. Here’s North Cinder Peak:

Cabot Lake Trail

The view of Mt. Jefferson from the pass is partially blocked by trees:

Cabot Lake Trail

But just down the trail there is a full-on view of the mountain. WOW!

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

North Cinder Peak and Mt. Jefferson

Bear Butte is the distant pointy peak; Forked Butte on the right:

Cabot Lake Trail

A closer look at Bear Butte:

Bear Butte

From the pass the trail descends through the forest down to Patsy Lake:

Patsy Lake

Patsy Lake is also the junction with the Jefferson Lake Trail. Sadly after the fire the Deschutes National Forest abandoned that trail to its fate, just as they did the Sugar Pine Ridge Trail. Its super brushy, being very overgrown with snowbrush. You used to be able to do a nice loop involving those two trails, but it’s impossible now that they’ve been taken back by Mother Nature.

Jefferson Lake Trail

The trail climbs again. Looking down on Patsy Lake:

Patsy Lake

Looking east from a spot above Patsy Lake. The abandoned Jefferson Lake Trail is somewhere down there:

Lava

The trail continues

Cabot Lake Trail

One last view of the mountain before reaching Table Lake:

Mt. Jefferson

First look at Table Lake:

Table Lake

Table Lake

The trail crosses the inflow stream:

Little stream

There were hundreds (heck, probably thousands) of these little frogs all around the stream:

Frogs

The water here is a beautiful color:

Table Lake

Table Lake

I picked a campsite:

Table Lake campsite

Then I went off to find Upper Table Lake. This little lake is GORGEOUS!

Upper Table Lake

Upper Table Lake

I saw two deer across the way and got a photo of one of them:

Deer

I set off for a viewpoint beyond Table Lake. The topo map shows the trail continuing, but the Forest Service has put up a sign at Table Lake that says “end of trail.” As you can see beyond the sign, they’ve covered the trail with rocks and logs:

End of trail

Rocks on trail

The trail DOES keep going beyond that sign. Then it heads off into the trees away from the lake. Here also the Forest Service has covered the trail with debris:

Rocks on the trail

Once you get past those annoying obstacles the going is pretty easy. The trail is obviously abandoned and not maintained anymore, but it was pretty easy to follow, even though it was overgrown in many spots:

Faint trail

You can see the old trail blazes on the trees, which is how they used to mark trail routes:

Old trail blaze

As the trail approaches a pass before descending down into Hole-in-the-Wall Park, it gets pretty faint. With some good route-finding and the help of my GPS I stayed on course. The last stretch to the pass enters the edge of the burn zone and there are downed trees and branches covering the trail:

Faint trail

And then I reached the pass where this old “viewpoint” sign somehow miraculously escaped the flames 15 years ago:

Viewpoint sign

I turned right off the trail towards the viewpoint, seen here on the left (Bear Butte is the pointy peak on the right):

Viewpoint

Any semblance of a side trail that once led up here is totally gone in the wake of the fire, but the distance is short and it’s easy to make your own path to the rocky viewpoint, where a few gnarled dead trees stand:

Mt. Jefferson

The views up here are AMAZING. That’s Goat Peak and Mt. Jefferson:

Mt. Jefferson

That meadow down there is Hole-in-the-Wall Park. You won’t find much about this place online (I found just one online report from someone who had hiked down there) so here’s what I’ve learned. This is from The Mount Jefferson Wilderness Guidebook (1983), by Tony George:

Hole-in-the-Wall Park is over 10 miles from the nearest trail head, and few people take the time to see it. Tucked in a very deep steep-sided glacially carved canyon, the “Park” is an intricate network of wet meadow, ponds and streams. There is a very good viewpoint overlooking the Park on the ridge west of Bear Point. From here, it is easy to see how Hole-in-the-Wall Park got its name.

This is from Northern Oregon Wilderness Areas (1992), by Donna Aitkenhead:

The Forest Service wishes to keep HITW pristine and plans on stopping al maintenance of the trail leading down to this unique region in the near future. one hiker said she through the area looked “like Shan-ri-la” from the saddle and rushed to enjoy its many splendors. We through the same, but instead found lots of mosquitoes and other insects. She found the same. Hiking in mid-September, we wondered what the place was like in July or August when the pesky critters are “supposed” to be bad.

I could understand why the Forest Service might abandon the trail down to the park, but it doesn’t make sense why they have abandoned the trail to this magnificent viewpoint. In any case, both of  those descriptions are of course pre-fire. Here is what Matt Reeder has to say in 101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region (2016):

The Cabot Lake Trail does indeed continue down into Hole-in-the-Wall Park but the trail has fallen into such a state of disrepair that it’s not worth even attempting. Hole-in-the-Wall Park itself is a boggy marsh without a view of Mount Jefferson – so again, it’s not worth it.

Not wishing to lose elevation that I would have to regain, and also lacking a desire to deal with an unmaintained trail through a burn area, I admired the meadow from above and did not venture down there.

Hole-in-the-Wall Park

Looking northeast. The Warm Springs Reservation boundary is at the base of the slope I’m standing on, so none of that is public land out there:

Warm Springs Reservation

Bear Butte to the east. Somewhere around here is where the Bear Butte Fire started in 2003, later joining with the Booth Fire to form the B&B Complex Fires, which ended up burning over 90,000 acres:

Bear Butte

Mt. Jefferson and Bear Butte

Looking southeast:

Meadow

A closer look at that huge meadow down there:

Meadow

Three Sisters to the south:

Three Sisters

Table Lake is out of sight down there. My route up here came out of the trees and up the slope in the foreground:

Viewpoint

A panorama looking west. The trail from Table Lake comes up from the left then drops down the slope at center to Hole-in-the-Wall Park where it ends:

Mt. Jefferson

It was SUPER windy up at that viewpoint, so as much as I would have loved to linger I turned back after spending 25 minutes admiring the view and headed back down. When I got back to Table Lake I made my way over to the west end of the lake to this cool viewpoint. Two guys I had seen earlier said they had camped at this end of the lake, in the trees on the left there, but there’s no trail and I was tired so I didn’t go that far to check it out:

Table Lake

Table Lake

Looking down on Table Lake:

Table Lake

I spent the rest of the afternoon reading Where the Crawdads Sing on my Kindle and enjoying the beautiful warm weather:

Table Lake

I discovered a spot near my campsite where I could see the tip of Mt. Jefferson:

Mt. Jefferson

The sun disappeared behind The Table at the early hour of 5:30 and the wind started dying down. (By the way, there is no trail up to The Table but next time I come here I want to go up there and explore.) Just when I thought I’d have the whole place to myself that night, a family of four showed up around 6:40. I chatted with them a bit and it turns out that hiked in via the Jefferson Lake Trail. I expressed my surprise since that trail isn’t maintained anymore and the dad said, “Oh yeah, it sucked.” They said it was incredibly brushy and they got pretty scratched up. He said 20 years ago he used to be a wilderness ranger here, but of course that was pre-fire so everything would look a lot different now.

The family went off to find a campsite and shortly after that a couple with a black dog arrived. They had hiked all the way over from the Marion Lake Trailhead, via the Swallow Lake Trail, which resulted in a very long day.

That night when I got up at 11:30 the wind had totally died down (thank goodness) and the stars were out. I had not brought my tripod, so I just put my camera on the ground pointing at the sky and gave it a shot:

Starry sky

The overnight reprieve from the wind lasted into the morning, which was such a relief. The lake looked beautiful on this calm morning:

Table Lake

Table Lake

Table Lake

Mt. Jefferson

Table Lake

Loved this mossy log:

Table Lake

Stream flowing into Table Lake:

Table Lake

Floating frog (there were so many of these guys all around the creek):

Frogs

I definitely loved Table Lake better than Carl Lake. I had one more night and I really wanted to climb South Cinder Peak (which was closer to Carl Lake). Plus I didn’t want a 10-mile hike out on Monday. So I reluctantly packed up and headed out. There is a way to make a loop with the PCT, picking up an east-west connecting user path just a bit south of Table Lake, then heading south on the PCT, then picking up another connecting path just north of Carl Lake. About 0.3 mile from Table Lake I saw this path on the left heading off into the heather (main trail at right) and it seemed like it would be correct, but I decided not to try it today and just head back on the Cabot Lake Trail.

Trail

Got a good view of North Cinder Peak above Patsy Lake as I descended down:

North Cinder Peak

The long climb back up to the pass from Patsy Lake was not fun, but I finally made it. More fall color:

Fall color

Fall color

Descent to Carl Lake:

Carl Lake

Carl Lake

As I feared, since it was Sunday of a holiday weekend, Carl Lake was FULL. I had trouble finding a campsite. I was on my to Shirley Lake to look there when I found a flat spot near a pond on the right side of the Shirley Lake Trail. I made camp and headed south towards South Cinder Peak. I topped to check out Shirley Lake on the way:

Shirley Lake

Someone camped there had llamas!

Llamas

More fall color as I trudged up the Shirley Lake Trail towards the PCT. It was warm and I was tired:

Fall color

I reached the PCT and crossed it, heading west on the Swallow Lake Trail. My first view of South Cinder Peak:

South Cinder Peak

A better view of South Cinder Peak from Swallow Lake Trail, my path up clearly visible now:

South Cinder Peak

View of Mt. Jefferson from the spot where I left the trail to head up the peak:

Swallow Lake Trail

It was a hot trudge up that shadeless peak, but I made it.

South Cinder Peak

The views were amazing. It’s been such a smoky hazy summer that I almost forgot what clear blue skies looked like. This is looking north at Mt. Jefferson and an unnamed lake far below:

Mt. Jefferson

South Cinder Peak view

Looking northwest:

Burn view

Looking west; that’s Marion Lake down there:

Mountains

Looking southwest; that’s Jorn Lake in the Eight Lakes Basin, where I camped a few weeks ago (the distant smoke is from the Terwilliger Fire):

Eight Lakes Basin

Looking south to Black Butte, Broken Top, Three Sisters, Mt. Washington, and Three Fingered Jack:

Mountains

It was sobering to be up here looking down on huge swaths of burned forest from the 2003 B&B fire, which burned such a huge chunk of the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. It’s one thing to see it from the trail and quite another to see it from above.

I headed back to Carl Lake and filtered water:

Carl Lake

Back at my campsite I cooked up dinner and then discovered my spoon was missing! I turned my pack inside out and searched pockets, but no spoon. I figured I must have set it down somewhere at Table Lake that morning and missed it when I was packing up. (Later my sister said to me “I bet the wilderness is full of people’s lost spoons”.) I had no idea how to improvise eating my pasta. I was not above eating with my hands but that meant burning my fingers on the hot pasta or waiting for it get cold so I could eat it without getting burned. I ended up cutting off the top part of the pouch and folding it into a sort of scoop. It did the job and I was able to eat dinner:

Dinner improv

I slept well. I skipped my hot cereal and just had salmon jerky and tea for breakfast. I saw some deer across the pond. Third day in a row I saw deer! I packed up and hit the trail at 8. I stopped at the east end of the lake for photo a on the way out. Once again, it was quite windy. Was it just my timing, or this just a windier lake than Table Lake? I never experienced a lack of wind at Carl:

Carl Lake

Carl Lake

Despite the campfire ban, I caught the whiff of campfire smoke at Carl Lake before I left. Never saw the fires, just smelled them. On the hike out I took the short side trail to Cabot Lake, which I had skipped on the way in on Friday:

Cabot Lake

I got back to the car at 10:50. My total mileage for the trip was 28 miles, with 4,400′ elevation gain. What a great weekend! It was SO wonderful to have clear blue skies and to see a gorgeous corner of the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness that I haven’t seen before.

TableLakeMap

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Sunday, August 26, 2018

While staying at Gold Butte Lookout, Greg and I had wanted to hike up Battle Ax Mountain. But it was far too cloudy, so we opted for a forest hike instead. We drove to Elk Lake and set off down the Elk Lake Creek Trail into the Bull of the Woods Wilderness. I’ve never seen such a plain wilderness boundary sign before:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

It had rained the night before:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

We were pleasantly surprised to discover we had hit peak huckleberry ripeness. There were THOUSANDS of them:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Elk Lake Creek Trail

We were hiking through a nice old forest with big tall trees. Love it!

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Elk Lake Creek Trail

There were a number of downed trees we had to detour around, under, over:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Elk Lake Creek Trail

At the point where we crossed a section boundary we saw this old sign on a tree:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Still in the trees:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Old withered candy stick:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

The trail started losing elevation as it descended towards creek level:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Crossed an old bridge:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

I don’t think this boardwalk has been maintained in a LONG time:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

And then we arrived at the junction with the Mother Lode Trail. This is a big open area that is clearly very popular with backpackers:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Elk Lake Creek Trail

The Battle Creek Shelter once stood here somewhere, but collapsed from heavy snow several decades ago. In 100 Oregon Hiking Trails (1969) it says “The three-sided shelter is well-preserved and has a concrete fire pit and a steel grate.” I could find absolutely no sign of the old shelter. No bits of lumber and no remnants of the concrete fire pit. It is thoroughly gone.

We sat and enjoyed a snack and listened to the sound of nearby Elk Lake Creek:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Elk Lake Creek Trail

The trail keeps going to another trailhead on Road 6380 but we weren’t going that far. We headed back and on the way I spotted an old phone line insulator up in a tree. Lookouts and guard stations were connected by phone line in the pre-radio days. These insulators were put in trees and the phone line strung between them:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

It was 8.5 miles when we were all done. It was cold and cloudy at Elk Lake when we got back. Time to return to our warm lookout!

Elk Lake

Dome Rock

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Greg and I had reservations at Gold Butte Lookout this weekend and before heading up there on Saturday we decided to do the short hike up to Dome Rock from the upper trailhead on Road 2223. Even from the road we had a good view:

View from Dome Rock Trailhead

Before we even started the hike I was standing at the trailhead waiting for Greg to finish getting ready at the car. An unleashed black and white dog came down the trail and started barking and growling and acting aggressive. A few moments later a group of about six or seven hikers came up behind. I said “You might might want to leash your dog if he’s not friendly.” One of the hikers said in a sarcastic tone “That’s a novel idea” and continued to his car. Meanwhile the other unleashed dog – a pug – was jumping on me over and over again. Another of the hikers kept repeating “Stop it! Leave it!” But the dog paid no attention and only stopped when he was picked up and carried away. No one apologized for the behavior their dogs. What if that pug had jumped on someone who hated or feared dogs and (I would NEVER do this) what if that person had kicked the dog and injured it? I love dogs, but I do not want to be barked at, growled at, and jumped on by your out-of-control dogs. The lack of apology, the assumption that they have nothing to apologize for, just made it all the worse.

We set off down Tumble Creek Trail #3380:

Hiking to Dome Rock

We passed the side trail to Tumble Lake (we’ll do that another day) and then reached the spur trail up to Dome Rock. Just 1.25 miles from the trailhead we were up on the summit and wow, what views! It was a cloudy day but fortunately the clouds were high and we could still see the mountains.

Looking west to Tumble Lake and Sardine Mountain:

Dome Rock

iPhone panorama to the west:

Dome Rock view - west

This is one of those early lookout sites where panorama photos were taken. This is looking the same direction as above in 1933:

North:

Dome Rock

iPhone panorama to the north:

Dome Rock view - north

In 1933:

South (that’s Detroit Lake down there):

Dome Rock

iPhone panorama to the south:

Dome Rock view - south

In 1933:

Notice the Three Sisters, and to the right of them the Three Pyramids:

Dome Rock

Olallie Butte and Mt. Jefferson:

Dome Rock

Mt. Jefferson:

Dome Rock

Battle Ax Mountain to the west:

Dome Rock

Dome Rock

The lookout was built in 1929, pictured here in an undated photo:

Although it was removed sometime in the mid 1960s, there are a few remnants still:

Dome Rock

Dome Rock

There was a lot of broken glass around from the long-gone lookout:

Dome Rock

Dome Rock

Where the lookout once stood:

Dome Rock

Dome Rock

After enjoying the summit for awhile we hiked back down:

Dome Rock

What a great spot! I can’t believe I’ve never hiked here before. I’ll definitely come back on a sunny day.

Dome Rock