Cape Falcon

Greg and I spent the holiday weekend at the coast and after hiking Neahkahnie Mountain on Saturday we decided to hike out to Cape Falcon on Sunday.

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From the trailhead we ducked under Highway 101 beside Short Sand Creek:

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Then we followed a nice wide gravel path down towards the beach.

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There are some incredible nurse logs/stumps here:

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After half a mile we reached Short Sand Beach at Smuggler’s Cove. At this early hour (9:45am) there was hardly anyone around, mostly just a few surfers.

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There’s a cool waterfall at the far end of the beach:

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We continued on the trail, which winds its way up and around and out to Cape Falcon. Shortly after leaving the beach we started encountering mud. SO. MUCH. MUD.

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There were mud-free stretches…

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But otherwise we spent a lot of time navigating stuff like this:

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We reached the end of Cape Falcon and sat down to enjoy the view. It wasn’t very windy and it was actually surprisingly warm, ranging between 65 and 70! I was only in short sleeves at one point! Although we’d had totally clear skies at Short Sand Beach earlier, the clouds had rolled in fast. We had a few brief moments of sunshine when I took this photo of Neahkahnie Mountain:

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But after that it was cloudy:

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I believe this is Rock Mountain. Ugh, what an eyesore. 🙁

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My brand new boots were christened by the mud:

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At one point a bald eagle went soaring by. I only got one poorly-lit shot as it sailed by, but that’s ok. It was a VERY cool moment. 😀

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We also saw a coast guard helicopter go by. I don’t know if it was related to the rescue at Hug Point north of us; the timing didn’t seem right. The news reported that the guy called for help at 11:50 and we saw the helicopter cruising south at 12:15.

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After enjoying the view for awhile we headed back. The trail passes high above Short Sand Beach, but there is a boot path that heads down there. We followed the boot path to find a geocache, then decided to keep descending down to the beach, rather than scramble back up to the trail and navigate Mud Alley. Here is a view from the boot path looking out over the beach:

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And then, well, it wasn’t fun. We had a heck of a time navigating the final 30 feet down to the beach. I didn’t take any pictures, but here is a photo from earlier in the day at high tide. We were off to the right of that waterfall, and the dirt hillside gives way to a sloping rock wall down to the sand:

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The rock wall was steep and wet and we had a hard time finding a safe place to descend. We ended up sliding down on our butts. I DO NOT recommend this route. We walked to the far end of the beach where the trail was

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Then we sat on a log and enjoyed people-watching, dog-watching, and wave-watching. It’s a nice little beach down there, protected from the wind.

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Back at our hotel in Manzanita that afternoon it was so incredibly cloudy at sunset that I didn’t bother going down to the beach at sunset. I couldn’t see any color and it seemed like it was going to be a bust. Imagine my surprise when I looked out the window 20 minutes later and saw a smear of pink on the horizon. I grabbed my camera and ran out to the beach and post-sunset display was going on. Neato!

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Considering that just a few days later the coast was experiencing stormy weather and huge waves, I feel lucky that we had such awesome gorgeous weather while we were there.

Video:

Neahkahnie Mountain

Greg and I spent the holiday weekend at the coast and man did we hit the weather jackpot! It was gorgeous and warm all weekend. I could not believe our luck. We drove over on Saturday morning and went straight to the south trailhead for Neahkahnie Mountain where we were the sixth car at 10:30am. Then we hit the trail for the 1.5 mile hike to the top. We saw this super cool fungus. I’ve never seen this one before:

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Heading up through the trees:

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This trail has a big problem with hikers cutting the switchbacks. There’s a sign…

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But of course signs don’t work. Here is one of the numerous spots where someone (park staff?) has put down a bunch of branches over a big eroded area that was used to cut the switchback. We saw a lot of this.

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This trail needs some work. It has become badly eroded with a lot of exposed roots:

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Man, there was a lot of lichen here!

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We scrambled the last bit up to the summit and for a few brief moments we had the place to ourselves.

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Cool clouds to the west:

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The summit benchmark is so battered that it’s almost unreadable now:

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We had only been there for a couple minutes before people started showing up in droves, but we stayed on the summit for about 45 minutes enjoying the view, the sunshine, and the almost total lack of wind. On the way down we passed a whole bunch of people heading up and we were glad we got an early start. We also passed a hiker heading up who was barefoot. That did not look fun. As we drove out we counted 26 cars at the trailhead.

We had lunch at Left Coast Siesta (highly recommended) then checked into our hotel (the Inn at Manzanita) where sunshine was streaming into our room. Wonderful!

Inn at Manzanita

Then went for a walk on the beach, where we could see good ol’ Neahkahnie to the north.

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Oregon Coast

Oregon Coast

Back at our room afterward we enjoyed sitting on our little deck with hot tea. Ahhhh, this is the life!

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That evening we were treated to an amazing sunset:

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Video:

Nomadik Unboxing – December 2017

I signed up for the Nomadik subscription box on December 27. When I received my first box last Friday I figured it was the January box, but it was actually December’s. Here is what was inside and my initial thoughts about the products.

Green Goo Dry Skin Stick (value: $10)
Seattle Sports FireWater Multi-Bottle (value $20)
Coalatree Nomad Packable 22L Duffel (value $25)

This box cost $32.95. Nomadik values these products at $55, but all three can be purchased from Amazon for $39.53.

Snow hiking at Maxwell Sno-Park

On our way home from Bend on Monday the weather was so gorgeous that we could not pass up an opportunity to be outside enjoying the clear skies. We decided to do a short loop at Maxwell Sno-Park along Highway 22.

A handy map is available on the Forest Service website, complete with numbered waypoints. We headed north past #8 and #9 then angled NE past #12 to the Mountain View Shelter. There was so little snow that we carried our snowshoes instead of wearing them.

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Even though it was now 12:30 we came across a shady patch of forest where the branches and needles still had frost from the night before. BEAUTIFUL!

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We continued on, hiking through the snow. There were large stretches of bare ground.

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After about 2.1 miles we reached the Mountain View Shelter, a first-come, first-serve place where people can stay overnight.

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The name is quite misleading though. At best it could be called “mountain peekaboo” shelter. If you move around the area a lot you can get a glimpse of various mountains through gaps in the trees. Mt. Washington:

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The Three Sisters:

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Three Fingered Jack:

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Duffy Butte:

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Turpentine Peak (with the tippy top of Mt. Jefferson visible):

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Coffin and Bachelor Mountains:

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We sat at the shelter for awhile eating a snack and soaking up the sun. It wasn’t quiet since there was a group of people there who were staying at the shelter, but the sunshine sure felt great! We decided that rather than return the way we came, we would loop around via waypoints #17 and #16 on the map. The first part of this route followed a road:

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I’m not sure where we went wrong, but sometime after passing waypoint #16 we lost the trail. We were following a clear trail, and then we weren’t. #13 was ahead of us so we just went cross-country, navigating towards it with the GPS. When we finally emerged from the woods onto the trail, it was clear that we had been too far upslope, but I’m still not sure where we went wrong. Must have missed a switchback or something. Anyway, the trail was a sight for sore eyes:

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We finished the loop, then enjoyed root beer and a tasty treat from Sparrow Bakery back at the car.

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The loop ended up being about 5.5 miles. Next time when we have a full day I’d like to do the Mountain View Loop, which is quite a bit longer. Our track:

MaxwellMap

Video:

Vista Butte Snowshoeing

Our last hike of 2017 was up Vista Butte near Mt. Bachelor.

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Greg and I spent New Year’s in Bend. On the same weekend last year there was snow all over the place. Snow along the streets of Bend, snow along the drive to Mt. Bachelor, lots of snow on the ground at the sno-parks (last year’s trip report from New Year’s Day). This year was quite different. It was sunny and beautiful, for one thing, and there was a surprising lack of snow. We saw a whole lot of bare ground as we drove up to the Mt. Bachelor area on Sunday, and the driving was smooth sailing unlike last year’s white-knuckle crawl through blowing snow.

When we arrived at the Dutchman Flat Sno-Park at 9:30 there was absolutely no parking left. The lot was totally full and the Forest Service employee who was patrolling the area said there were no more legal parking spaces left if we wanted to snowshoe up Tumalo Mountain (unless we wanted to park further away and make a longer hike for ourselves). It was a beautiful day and we wanted views, so we headed back down the highway to the Vista Butte Sno-Park, which is nothing more than a wide spot on the road and easy to miss.

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The trail parallels the highway for a bit before turning towards the butte:

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The trail split and we opted to go right on the Lower Loop. After 1.7 miles we met up with the Butte Trail and turned right for the final mile to the summit. A word of warning if you come here. The snowshoe route crosses an old logging road that is used by snowmobilers. You can hear them and smell their foul exhaust when the trail is near that road. Very unpleasant.

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Almost to the summit we were already getting great views. Mt. Bachelor was right there, almost close enough to touch:

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Final push to the top! (By the way, this butte is unnamed on topo maps, so maybe the Forest Service just slapped a name on it because they needed a named destination in the sno-park.)

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It took us a little over an hour and a half to snowshoe the 2.8 miles to the summit. The summit was VERY windy and therefore cold. But the views were pretty awesome. We had to move around to get all the various views, but we ended up being able to see quite a lot. Mt. Thielsen:

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Kwohl Butte and Mt. Bachelor:

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Tumalo Mountain, our original destination for the day (maybe next time):

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Looking north, with Broken Top on the left:

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A better view of Broken Top (on the right) with South Sister on the left:

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Swampy Lakes (and Tumalo Falls is somewhere out of sight down there):

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Diamond Peak and The Twins:

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We could even see Mt. Shasta! (Nope, I was wrong. That peak is Mt. Scott, not Mt. Shasta.)

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Snowshoeing back down:

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5.3 miles with 670 feet elevation gain. This is a great snowshoe for a clear day! It’s not too long or difficult and the views are pretty great. A note to dog-owners, though: dogs are not allowed here, although that didn’t stop a large group of people that we saw on the summit, who had brought their dog along anyway (and it wasn’t even leashed). Here is the sign at the sno-park:

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Here is our track:

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And here is a map of the snowshoe trails in that area.

Video:

Bennett Pass Snowshoeing

On December 9 I went showshoeing up at Mt. Hood. I parked at the Bennett Pass Sno-Park where I got a gorgeous view of Mt. Hood on this beautiful sunny day.

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Mt. Hood

I started down Bennett Pass Road (also known as Road 3550).

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Snowshoeing

Saw some really cool hoarfrost:

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Hoar frost

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Hoar frost

Hoar frost

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There really wasn’t much snow on the ground and I saw plenty of bare patches:

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I decided to do some exploring, so at the one-mile mark when I reached a junction I turned right and went another 0.9mi to the end of Road 222.

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Not a whole lot to see on this road, except two spots with glimpses of Mt. Hood through the trees:

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Snowshoeing

Then I explored down Road 220. No views along this spur and it dead-ends after 0.8mi.

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Back on Bennett Pass Road I continued on.

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1.25 miles from the sno-park there is a spur to the left which I did not explore, although I think there is a view to be had there. Staying on Bennett Pass Road 1.8 miles from the sno-park will get you this magnificent view:

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Snowshoeing

After enjoying the view for awhile I headed back to the car. Before driving home I got this parting view of Mt. Hood from the parking lot.

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A fantastic day of beautiful weather and great views!

Bennett Pass Track

Sahalie and Koosah Falls

October 8, 2017

Getting caught up on my backlog here. A month ago we went to Sahalie and Koosah Falls and did the loop hike. Very pretty! I haven’t been there in a very long time and it was nice to see these two beautiful waterfalls again.

We started at Sahalie Falls:

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Then hiked downstream along the McKenzie River:

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Next stop, Koosah Falls:

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We crossed the road bridge at Carmen Reservoir:

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Then we picked up the McKenzie River National Recreation Trail and headed back upstream on the other side of the river.

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Sahalie Falls again:

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Man, I LOVE that blue!

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There was some fall color to be seen:

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Crossing the footbridge back across the river:

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On the drive back we stopped to gawk at the beautiful vine maple in the lava field along Highway 22:

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A lovely day! It’s a long drive from Portland, but with beautiful sunny skies and gorgeous color along 22 it helped distract from the many hours in the car.

Video:

Lewis River Waterfalls

On Saturday we headed to the Lewis River hoping to see some nice fall color. We were WAY too early, though (by 2-3 weeks, I’d guess) and it was still pretty green. It was still a lovely hike, though. Shockingly enough I have never done this trail, despite a decade of hiking around here!

A quick note about access. It seems that guidebooks direct everyone to drive up I5 then head east through Woodland on 503. That’s the way we went, but we came back by heading south on Road 30 then down to Carson. That route is much prettier. Both routes are equally curvy. Bring the dramamine!

We started off at the Lower Falls then headed upstream.

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Apparently there’s a landslide past this point, so the trail detours up to the Middle Falls Trailhead. Instead of a clear sign explaining this, the Forest Service has opted for a mess of pink flagging. Ugh.

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This is what it looks like at the other end on the lower bridge over Copper Creek:

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Copper Creek Falls:

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Middle Falls:

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The trail has slumped away near Middle Falls and is quite a mess. I don’t know when this happened, but it doesn’t look recent:

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Upper Falls:

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We didn’t go any further than Upper Falls because it was starting to rain. So we turned and headed back for the car. Lovely trail! Can’t believe it took me this long to hike it.

Video:

Salmon Butte

With sunny weather in the forecast Greg and I talked about doing the Rimrock Trail to Mt. Mitchell. Greg spent the morning waffling on whether or not he wanted to go. By the time I figured out that he wanted to stay home and just wasn’t saying so, it was already 10am. I couldn’t do Rimrock by myself (IMHO the Clackamas Ranger District is not a safe place for a woman to hike alone) so I decided to do another hike on my bucket list: Salmon Butte.

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In 2010 the Forest Service decommissioned Road 2816 starting from a point just after it crosses the Salmon River. Unfortunately this added 2.5 miles onto the hike and an additional 800 feet of elevation gain. Here is the new trailhead:

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The trail crosses a bridge over the South Fork Salmon River:

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Then it was a climb up the decommissioned road. I was surprised at how trail-like this stretch felt. They removed the culverts, and the vegetation has really grown in, so it didn’t feel like a road at all.

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Finally I reached the spot where the old trailhead used to be, although you would never know it now. The alders are growing in thick:

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There isn’t much to see on this hike. It’s just a long hike through the forest. The trail was in great shape, though. Well-graded with very little blowdown. I had my earbuds in listening to the Dirtbag Diaries podcast and was able to keep a steady uphill pace.

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About halfway to the top is an opening in the trees where you can see across to Salmon Mountain (not to be confused with Salmon Butte).

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And you can just barely see Salmon Butte poking up above the trees:

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There were several trees that had old telephone line hanging from them, a remnant from the lookout days.

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Besides a couple of golden-mantled ground squirrels (see video below for footage of them) the only wildlife I saw all day was a gray jay:

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Spotted some flagging noting that I reached 4,000′. My GPS agreed.

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Still climbing:

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With less than a mile to go before the summit, I got a peek through the trees at Mt. Hood. What’s this? Clouds? Not what I was expecting, considering that on the drive up Highway 26 there were no clouds whatsoever in the vicinity of the mountain.

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The trail hooks up with the old road that goes from Road 4610 (aka Abbot Road) to the summit. Looking down the road:

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Looking up:

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Now just a short jaunt up the road, as it curls around and up to the summit. Almost there!

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I finally reached the summit at 2:30, after 5.7 miles and 3,000′ elevation gain. I had the place all to myself! I remember reading about the group of dirt bikes and ATVs on the summit that someone got photos of back in 2009, and I really hoped I wouldn’t find any OHVs or evidence of them. I didn’t. I wonder if the Forest Service has blocked access at the bottom of the spur road at the intersection with Road 4610?

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I love the old panorama photos from lookout sites. It’s fun to compare and see how things have changed. North:

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Southeast:

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Southwest:

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84 years later the view is now partially obscured by trees in several directions. South:

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Southwest:

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Olallie Butte and Mt. Jefferson close-up:

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Southeast:

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Looking north:

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Close-up of Mt. Adams:

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Mt. Rainier:

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Mt. St. Helens:

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There was some nice fall color on the summit:

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I stayed at the summit for an hour, but Mt. Hood refused to come out of the clouds all the way. I tried to see if I could spot the fire lookout on Devils Peak but the trees have grown up too much, and in any case I don’t have binoculars (really need to get some):

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I looked all over the summit for the benchmark and couldn’t find it. On my way down I finally found it, on the side of a rock below the summit. I’m guessing this rock used to be up on the summit and tumbled down at some point. Someone incorporated it into a fire pit area:

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I got back to the car at 6. Here’s a parting shot of the lovely South Fork Salmon River:

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On the way home I looked in my rearview mirror to find Mt. Hod once again totally free of clouds. Figures! I’m glad I crossed this one off my bucket list. I would definitely NOT recommend this hike unless it’s a crystal clear day. Also, if you can go during the rhododendron bloom in summer, that would certainly spice up the long hike a bit.

Salmon Butte Map

Video: