Indian Point hike

I have a sedentary job and I’ve been disgustingly sedentary on my free time this winter. So today I was looking for a whip-my-ass-into-shape hike where I wouldn’t encounter mobs of people. So I settled on Indian Point.

The gate is open at the Herman Creek Campground so you can drive all way the trailhead. The lot there had more than 30 cars when I pulled in right after 10:00. Yikes!

Within the first quarter mile I saw several trillium blooming alongside the trail. The forest is very much cloaked in winter right now, though, with no vegetation leafing out yet.


Cool tree leaning over the trail:


So much moss!


I decided to take the Gorton Creek Trail up and the Nick Eaton Ridge Trail down. There’s no scenery along the GCT so I just powered up the trail one step at a time, wondering how I could let myself get so out of shape over the winter.

I finally made it to the steep booth path that goes down to the point and made my way down. When I got to Indian Point I was surprised to see that the place was deserted. I headed out on the rocks a short ways, took a few quick pics, and then beat a hasty retreat. A fierce icy cold wind was blowing and it instantly numbed my bare fingers.


I ate a quick snack in the trees where it was slightly less windy before heading back up to the main trail. I picked up the cutoff trail and headed over to Nick Eaton Ridge, then headed downhill. I was pleasantly surprised to find a series of small meadows, and then a huge meadow, along the upper stretches of this trail. I could see Bonneville Dam and I even got a peekaboo view of Mt. Hood!


Except for the trillium near the trailhead these grass widows and goldstars were the only signs of spring on the whole hike.


After a long grueling descent down all those switchbacks (oh my poor knees!) I finally reached the Herman Creek Trail. There’s an old mossy trail sign near the junction, although not as near as you would think.

Back at the trailhead I saw that parking had overflowed and cars were parked in the campground, and I saw some parked down on the road as well. Sheesh! I feel lucky that I only saw 20 people on my hike!

A walk through the Labyrinth

Greg and I headed out to the eastern Gorge for some exercise on Sunday. We parked at Rowland Lake and headed up the Labyrinth. We were hoping for sun and warmth. But it was overcast and 40 degrees when we left the car at 11:00, and overcast and 50 when we got back to the car.

Walking west on the old highway and passing the waterfall:


We picked up the trail heading uphill and we immediately ran into a WTA group doing trail work. Here is a picture I took at the end of the hike, showing the new trail on the left and the decommissioned trail on the right going straight up the hill.

They told us we were the first hikers to walk on the new trail they had just re-routed. Thanks for your hard work, WTA!

I had never hiked this trail before and was pleasantly surprised that it more or less followed a creek with a number of little waterfalls. Fun!


Unfortunately waterfalls aren’t photogenic in winter because of all the leafless vegetation detracting from the scene.


We saw several different kinds of wildflowers, especially desert parsley and gold star. We even saw the very first balsamroot of the season! The grass widows are on their way out.


The higher we got, the better the views became.


We reached a viewpoint where we had a rest and a snack before continuing.


The last push before reaching the junction with the old road.


Crossing the rickety bridge on the old road.


Some more photos:

We looped down through the Coyote Wall area, where we encountered dozens and dozens of cyclists going up. Then after awhile we encountered dozens more going down. You can’t usually hear them coming and I felt like I needed a rearview mirror on my hat!

We did about 5.75 miles with 1300 feet elevation gain.

Sunny spring walk

Greg and I went for a walk in Forest Park this morning. It was a crazy beautiful day so we did a three-mile hike along Fireland 15 and the Wildwood Trail. We found some geocaches along the way, enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine, and generally felt happy to be alive.


Winter at Tamanawas Falls

I haven’t been up to the mountain in two months, what with other commitments and a wretched cold at the beginning of February that knocked me flat. Worst cold I’ve had in a LONG time. Weeks ago my sis and I had marked this Saturday on our calendars as a snowshoe day, and even though it looks like tomorrow will be better for it she works on Sundays and I have a class, so today was the day!

We headed over to Tamanawas Falls and found the lot empty when we pulled in shortly before 10:00. As we packed up to hit the trail I realized that I forgot my camera. I have never done that before. Nuts! Well, I’d have to rely on my Droid RAZR.

We could see that the snow was hard packed so we left our snowshoes in the car, put on our Yak Trax, and set off.


Navigating the bridge was tricky. A ridge of frozen snow ran the length of it.


A fallen tree knocked out the railings on the west side of the bridge. It’s amazing that it didn’t take out the whole bridge.


Down the snowy trail. Oh that came out so dark! I’ll never forget my camera again!


Crossing Cold Spring Creek:


Observing the way that snow has piled up and then melted on tops of logs and rocks was really interesting:


I love this creek!


There was a sketchy section where the snow trail skirted this hillside and became very very narrow. I took this picture on our way out, although it doesn’t really convey how tricky it was to get around that tree.


And then we reached the falls. Ah, lovely!


The camera on the Droid (or any smart phone for that matter) does not provide a wider angle like I’m used to. This is a stitch of two horizontal shots.


We didn’t linger long since Deb had to work this afternoon. We had encountered no one on the hike in and we encountered no one on the hike out. It was such a mild day (probably about 40 degrees) that we saw a family having a picnic at the trailhead picnic table!

Goodbye, winter! I’m done with snow for the season and I’m off in search of sunshine and wildflowers until next winter. I’m SO excited for this:


Old Vista Ridge Trail

Greg and I headed out on the Old Vista Ridge Trail on Sunday. This trail was abandoned by the Forest Service for many years, but volunteers cleaned it up in 2007 and it now makes for a great hike! The last time we were here in early October of 2009 it was miserably cold and we had to hike through snow because there had been a big dump the previous week. This time we had MUCH more pleasant conditions!

Fall is going strong up there. We saw lots of red leaves alongside the trail.

We stopped at Alki Point, but the view to the north isn’t so great with all the wildfire smoke.

Once past Alki Point the trail loses elevation. This section is also somewhat overgrown, although the trail is still easy to follow.

We hiked all the way out to the old trailhead, where the Red Hill Guard Station used to be. (I have no idea why the G.S. was named after a hill that is over a mile away.) Below is a picture of the place from 1954 and it had a very unusual fire lookout platform up on the roof. I’ve never seen anything like it.

All that’s left now is the foundation of the station.

And the foundation of some kind of garage or shed.

After that we hiked back up the way we came. We had skipped Owl Point before but visited it on our way out. The view, of course, was awesome.

Looking east.

Then we hiked back out to the car. We ran into seven other people on the trail plus a large family with their dog. Nice to see people hiking this great trail!

Of course on the way home we stopped at the informal roadside viewpoint for an evening view of our lovely mountain.

Eagle Cap Wilderness

Back in mid-August Greg and I spent a week exploring the Eagle Cap Wilderness in the Wallowa Mountains of northeast Oregon. What a beautiful place! We plan to go there again next summer.

Maxwell Lake, the destination of a beautiful day hike we did on our first day

Horseshoe Lake, where we camped the first night of our four-day three-night backpacking trek

Horseshoe Lake at dusk

View from Culper Pass looking down on Moccasin Lake, Mirror Lake (where we camped that night) and Upper Lake

Sunset at Mirror Lake that night

The next morning at Mirror Lake

Sunshine Lake, just down the trail from Mirror Lake

Looking down on Glacier Lake, where we would camp our final night

Greg crossing the outlet of Glacier Lake

Dusk at Glacier Lake

Morning at Glacier Lake

Exploring Mt. Howard, which we summited via a handy tram

Lower Bonny Lake
Lower Bonny Lake, the destination of our last day hike of the trip

Looking west from Dollar Pass

The fire lookout at Point Prominence, which we drove most of the way to before the road got too rough

The fire lookout on Mt. Harris, which has been abandoned by the Forest Service and now serves as support for radio equipment

Admiring the view at Vinny Viewpoint

The cab blew off the top of the fire lookout on Goodman Ridge a few years back

Paradise Park

We met up with friends for a one-nighter backpacking trek into Paradise Park this weekend. None of us had ever been there, so we were looking forward to seeing this place we’d heard so much about!

It was a gorgeous morning at Timberline Lodge.

We picked up the Timberline Trail and headed west.

Entering the wilderness.

Looking happy before we begin the LONG descent into Zigzag Canyon.

It was at that spot that we came across Barry, a very nice Forest Service volunteer who was counting hikers. Turns out that about 40-50% of hikers don’t fill out the mandatory wilderness permit, so the FS isn’t able to get an accurate count of how many people are hiking the trails here. Unfortunately this negatively impacts the funding that MHNF gets. So that’s why Barry was out there counting heads.

Crossing the Zigzag River wasn’t a problem. But I would NOT attempt this without poles!

After the long climb back out of the canyon we finally broke out of the trees and started hiking through the most awesome wildflower meadows. This place isn’t called Paradise Park for nothing! (Oh yeah, and we’d been munching on huckleberries along the trail as well. Double happiness!)

More wildflowers, more views!

Just after crossing the south fork of Lost Creek we came across the remains of the old Paradise Park shelter. I thought it was strange that none of the stones were laying around. According to William Sullivan, the shelter was “smashed by a falling tree in 1994 and painstakingly removed.” Why would they do that? Why not let the pile of stones just be?

We set up camp a little ways downhill from the shelter remains and then set off to explore. Here Brad and Greg approach the crossing of the north fork of Lost Creek.

The wildflowers love it down in this creek bottom.

We hiked up to the big broken rock.

We had great views to the south and west. I think that might be Rushingwater Creek way down there.

Dead center in this photo is East Zigzag.

Weird to see autumn colors here and 20 feet down the trail see summer wildflowers!

Back at the big meadows at the junction with the Paradise Park Trail, the guys followed a trail north up to Mississippi Head.

Greg took this photo at 7,200 feet. Mississippi Head is just off-frame to the right.

Dawn and I relaxed by the beautiful creek near our campsite while the boys were off exploring.

After the boys got back we made dinner as the sun started to set. The light on Mt. Hood was beautiful light!

Sunset behind the trees.

Morning was clear and beautiful and chilly. No rainclouds in sight! As we hiked out we stopped to enjoy the wildflower meadow a bit moret. Awesome!

Down below it was quite cloudy, but we were high above the clouds!

After the long descent, river crossing, and ascent out of Zigzag Canyon we stopped for a break on the canyon rim.

The trail was REALLY dusty in places.

As we neared Timberline Lodge we got another view to the south and a giant cloud to the left of Mt. Jefferson that hadn’t been there two hours ago. Only it wasn’t a cloud, it was smoke from the Pole Creek Fire, which we would later learn. Yikes.

Yay, we made it!

There was a lineup of cool old cars at the lodge. I’m not a car person by any stretch of the imagination but even I found all these old cars pretty cool.

We had worked up quite an appetite so we stopped at the Ice Axe Grill in Government Camp for delicious beer and food before heading home. OH YUM!

Great hike, great views, great wildflowers, great company!

Elk Cove

I wouldn’t have thought that the flowers at Elk Cove would still be looking nice by Labor Day, but my sister hiked there on Saturday of that holiday weekend, sent me a picture, and I was sold. So that’s where I hiked on Labor Day. And wow, I cannot believe I have never been here before! What took me so long? Better late than never. Holy moly!

Out of all the routes available I decided on Vista Ridge. The Elk Cove Trail and the Pinnacle Ridge Trail sounded like they had too much elevation gain and not enough views. Getting to the TH took even longer than usual when I missed the turnoff from Road 16 to Road 1650 because there is no sign, and then at another junction I accidentally ended up on 650 because the Road 1650 sign (which is in the process of falling over) is right in the middle of the fork and doesn’t indicate if the left or right fork is 1650. (It annoys me that the Forest Service will take the time and effort to drive up there and remove trail signs, but they can’t be bothered to maintain the road signage to a popular trailhead!)

Shortly after leaving the signboard on the Vista Ridge Trail I entered the burn area from last year’s Dollar Lake fire and for about two miles it was all burnt forest. This section is pretty disheartening and tedious, so I put in my earbuds and powered through as fast as I could.

That said, life is starting to come back already.

And there is some beauty to be found here, like this twisted curving tree trunk.

Finally my first view of Mt. Hood.

AND the first of many many lupine I would see.

I hit the Timberline Trail and turned left. From Wyeast Basin I could see Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams. (Mt. St. Helens too, but it didn’t end up in this photo.)

Hiking on, I crossed a gurgling creek where the lupine were flourishing.

I looked for the side trail to Dollar Lake, based on descriptions from Bill Sullivan’s book and from the field guide. This was the closest match, but it wasn’t actually a trail, dead-ending at those trees there. Hmm…. Well, next time, maybe.

Got a great view out to the Hood River Valley and Laurance Lake.

I came around a corner and POW! There’s Mt. Hood in all her glory. Ooooh!

The fire burned right up to the edge of Elk Cove, but only scorched some of the trees surrounding the meadows, thank goodness!

There’s a whole hillside carpeted with western pasque flower and lupine. It’s a sight to behold!

A gorgeous gurgling creek runs through the meadow and it’s a wildflower paradise. I was completely and totally enchanted with this awesome little creek.

But I also checked out the meadows too.

Where the trail crosses the creek I sat and enjoyed the pleasant nature noise and the awesome wildflowers, soaking my feet in the ICY cold water, letting them dry, then repeating. It was incredibly awesome. But eventually it was time to go and I had to tear myself away. One last view before turning the corner above Elk Cove.

On the way out I checked out the lupine meadows just beyond the turn-off for the Vista Ridge Trail. They didn’t disappoint.

After my hike I stopped at a roadside viewpoint a short ways from the trailhead for one last view of Mt. Hood. I love this spot.

AWESOME hike. I don’t know what took me so long to do this one but I’m glad I did and I’ll definitely be coming back next year!

8.8 miles
2,000 feet elevation gain

Olallie Butte

Hiked up to the top of Olallie Butte yesterday. Saw a little bit of early fall color along the trail. Fall is beautiful but I’m not ready yet!

After climbing through the trees for a long time we finally broke out into the open.

The vegetation is a lot different up here than down below and there are a lot of tree skeletons.

Views were awesome even before we reached the summit. Here’s Mt. Jefferson and Olallie Lake.

Up on the summit we headed over to the site of the fire lookout that once stood here. Here’s what it looked like in 1932.

The lookout was abandoned in 1967 and the cupola collapsed through the roof in 1982. In the past 30 years the various pieces of the old lookout have scattered far and wide across the summit and down the slopes of the mountain.

Here is the site of the lookout.

Looking south across the big wide summit towards Mt. Jefferson, which is enveloped in smoke from the nearby Waterfalls 2 fire.

Although the southern view was smoky the northern view was very clear. We could see Mt. Rainier, Mt. Hood, and Mt. Adams.

Looking northeast from the summit.

Looking due east.

Looking west. The foreground bump just right of center is Potato Butte, which I hiked up in 2007. To the left of it you can just barely make out the string of lakes that you hike past if you approach Potato Butte from the west.

Here is the reverse view from my 2007 hike, looking at Olallie Butte from Potato Butte.

We headed over to the other part of the summit for better views of Mt. Jefferson. It was a pretty smoky view, but we could make out Broken Top and the Three Sisters.

Plenty of smoke from the Waterfalls 2 fire. We had checked Inciweb before our hike and we checked it again last night. Despite how it looks the fire is contained.

Here’s some of the burned area from the 2010 View Lake fire. Man, this area just keeps getting hit hard by fires!

Looking back across to the other part of the summit where we just were.

There was some kind of temporary radio equipment up there. It appeared to be there because of the nearby wildfire.

On the summit we saw these roots, although I’m not sure what they are roots of. They looked like evil creeping tentacles from some underground creature!

Stopping to admire the view again on the way back down.

About 20 minutes before reaching the car we could hear target shooting. Great. It sounded like it was coming from the direction of the TH. Sure enough just down the hill from the car were these guys shooting at….the hillside? I hope they cleaned up after themselves, but based on past experience I doubt it.

We drove down to Olallie Lake to get a cold drink. In addition to a cold root beer I was able to buy an Otter Pop. AWESOME! We sat on the store’s porch and admired the view. It’s so peaceful here. THANK GOD motor boats aren’t allowed. We were imagining what a nightmare of noise nearby Detroit Lake must be at that moment.

Here’s the view of the butte from the lake. I climbed that?? No wonder I’m tired.

On the way out we stopped to check out the cabin at Olallie Meadow. Anyone know the story of this cabin? It doesn’t appear to be in the rental program and is pretty grody inside. Lots of mice/rat poop and bird poop and bird’s nests. Too bad they don’t maintain it because it’s a cute little cabin.

7.2 miles
2,500 feet elevation gain
2 hours up, 2 hours down

Wildcat Mountain and McIntyre Ridge

Hiked up to Wildcat Mountain and McIntyre Ridge yesterday. I parked at the quarry trailhead along the Douglas Trail, which I won’t do again. Everywhere is evidence of the unsavory crowd who hangs out here. The place is a dump. Here is a shot-up tape deck, complete with cassette tape (there were other pieces of electronic equipment nearby too).

This glass bottle on a boulder had clearly been used for target practice. This is right where you leave the quarry to get on the trail, meaning that people were shooting in the direction of the trail.

I hoped I wouldn’t find my car gone, burglarized, or full of holes when I got back and quickly headed into the trees.

I saw the tallest pine drops I’ve ever seen, about four feet tall!

Wilderness boundary sign shot to bits.

Not far off the trail I spotted this metal survey disk that marked the boundary of the wilderness. I’ve seen plenty of USGS survey markers, but I’ve never seen a NF wilderness boundary marker like this.

I reached the junction with the spur trail up to Wildcat Mountain. No signage of any kind, but the trail is easy to spot. It is, however, getting quite overgrown with rhododendrons. Many spiders had made their webs across the trail, so the going was VERY slow as I waved my hiking poles around in front of me to knock them down (I’m sure THAT would have looked funny to any bystander!). Damn I hate spiders. After what seemed an eternity of the rhodie/spider hell I reached the summit.

A fire lookout stood here once but is long gone. The trees are growing up but you can still get a peek at Mt. Hood.

Bill Sullivan’s hiking book recommends pushing through the rhododendrons to the edge of the summit for a better look at Mt. Hood. I attempted this and all I got for my troubles were two bleeding scraped-up legs. Rhododendrons are pretty to look at when they’re in bloom but they are hell to navigate through.

On my way back I took the side trip out McIntyre Ridge to the bench at the awesome viewpoint. (Once again, no signs at this junction. It’s like the MHNF has forgotten about this area of the forest.) I had the viewpoint all to myself so I just sat and enjoyed the scenery for awhile. The wildflowers that bloom here earlier in summer are all bloomed out, but the view made up for it.

And then I headed back down to my car, which was safely intact. It was nice to check Wildcat Mountain off my list but if I ever hike someplace in the “Hwy 224 corridor” of the Mt. Hood National Forest again I won’t go alone.