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.

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

Eight Lakes Basin

Saturday, August 18 – Sunday, August 19, 2018

I wanted to go backpacking last weekend but Greg wanted to stay home. So I loaded my pack and set off for the Eight Lakes Basin solo.

Eight Lakes Basin sign

Even though it’s longer, I hiked in from the Duffy Lake Trailhead instead of the Marion Lake Trailhead. Duffy Lake is popular and busy, but Marion Lake is way worse and I wanted to avoid that zoo. The first three miles were pleasant forest walking:

Duffy Lake Trail

Duffy Lake Trail

I crossed the dry North Santiam River:

Duffy Lake Trail

And after 3.5 miles I reached Duffy Lake, with Duffy Butte towering above:

Duffy Lake

Duffy Lake

At one campsite I saw a car camping stove and four canister of propane fuel. That’s heavy!

Campstove at Duffy Lake

I also saw a raft:

Raft at Duffy Lake

I walked around to the west end of the lake to get a view of Three Fingered Jack:

Duffy Lake

Duffy Lake

Back on the trail I crossed the dry lake outlet:

Duffy Lake

Then I turned left on the Blue Lake Trail. The trail enters the burn zone from the 2003 B&B Fire, then re-enters the trees:

Blue Lake Trail

Mowich Lake is next:

Mowich Lake

You can see Red Butte from here. There’s an unofficial trail that goes up there, but I didn’t do that on this trip:

Red Butte

The other side of Duffy Butte is also visible:

Mowich Lake

The pearly everlasting were everywhere!

Mowich Lake

Red Butte

Interesting to see how the forest is recovering post-fire. This section of hillside was covered in millions of 15-year-old trees:

Burn

Next up was tiny Alice Lake, which was more like a pond:

Alice Lake

Alice Lake

At the south end of Alice Lake a user trail heads off into the trees. I believe this is the route up Red Butte:

Trail up Red Butte

Shortly before the trail started descending beyond Alice Lake I got a peek at Mt. Jefferson through the trees:

Mt. Jefferson

Green Peak, Saddle Mountain, and Marion Peak

Green Peak, Saddle Mountain, and Marion Peak

After seven miles of hiking I reached this junction where the Blue Lake Trail continues to the left and the Bowerman Lake Trail heads to the right:

Trail Junction

I went right, then followed a user trail down to the shore of Jorn Lake. Beautiful!

Jorn Lake

I pitched my tent in the trees:

Campsite

Then I set off to do some exploring. I hiked half a mile further down the Bowerman Lake Trail to Little Bowerman Lake:

Little Bowerman Lake

Little Bowerman Lake

The trail beyond that point is supposedly pretty challenging with a lot of blowdown. It sounds like the Forest Service has abandoned it. I turned back to Jorn Lake, heading down a side trail to Bowerman Lake on the way:

Bowerman Lake

Bowerman Lake

Bowerman Lake

Then I headed up the Blue Lake Trail, which passes the west end of Jorn Lake:

Jorn Lake

Then starts climbing above it:

Jorn Lake

This area of the burn was totally different. Some vegetation is coming back, but there are very few young trees are growing here, unlike the burned area near Mowich Lake:

Burn area

Burn area

Three Fingered Jack:

Three Fingered Jack

Jorn Lake

From the lakeshore you can’t see that there’s an island, but up here I got a good view of it:

Jorn Lake

0.8mi past the junction at Jorn Lake is Blue Lake:

Blue Lake

Blue Lake

Blue Lake

The forest here burned pretty thoroughly and now there is only one campsite, and it doesn’t have much shade:

Blue Lake

On the way back from Blue Lake I happened to spot two bushes full of huckleberries:

Huckleberries

Throughout the afternoon a layer of haze had been building up to the east and north, which I could see through all the burned trees. Back at Jorn Lake it hovered around Mt. Jefferson:

Jorn Lake

Back at my campsite I was surprised to discover I had neighbors, a group of nine teens with two leaders from the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center. They had been backpacking through the wilderness all week and this was their last night. Turns out I had camped in the one area that could accommodate all their tents and hammocks. If I had known they were coming I would have chosen a different site, but of course how would I have known?

I sat by the lake with my Kindle, reading until it was time to make dinner. At one point a helicopter flew overhead:

Helicopter

The Opal Creek group was not being noisy, but the background chatter of 11 people was not what I wanted to be listening to. Nor did I want to be the jerk who ruined these kids last night in the wilderness by being a wet blanket. So I took my dinner and my Kindle further down the lake shore and enjoyed the peace and quiet there as dusk fell:

Jorn Lake

Jorn Lake

Jorn Lake

Most of the group went for a little walkabout; I could see them working their way along the shore. So I headed back to my campsite and soon after I arrived I saw a doe and her young on the shore nearby. Cool!

I slept great and woke to a beautiful morning. The lake was glassy calm:

Jorn Lake

Jorn Lake

Jorn Lake

Jorn Lake

After breakfast I packed up and hit the trail. I took the side trail to visit Red Butte Lake, which I had not visited the day before:

Red Butte Lake

Red Butte Lake

It was hot hiking through the burn:

Burn

I got back to the trailhead about 1:30. My total mileage for the weekend was about 19 miles. Great hike! This is a beautiful area, even with so much of it burned.

EightLakesBasinMap

Iron Mountain Loop

June 23, 2018

Greg suggested we do the Iron Mountain loop hike today. It’s a very long drive from our home in Portland, so we got up at 4am, left at 5:10, and arrived at the Tombstone Pass Trailhead at 7:40. Despite the forecast (“Sunny, with a high near 64″… no mention of clouds) it was very cloudy:

Iron Mountain Hike

We hit the trail at 8am. There were signs of recent trail maintenance:

Iron Mountain Hike

The trail crosses Highway 20 and then switchbacks up through a forest with some pretty big trees. We emerged into one flower meadow and then a bit further came the big showy flower meadow. Awesome!

Iron Mountain Hike

Iron Mountain Hike

Iron Mountain Hike

Iron Mountain Hike

Iron Mountain Hike

Iron Mountain Hike

Iron Mountain Hike

Iron Mountain Hike

We started getting views of the surrounding peaks. Here is Browder Ridge (we hiked up there in 2011):

Iron Mountain Hike

Iron Mountain, where the trail will take us in a few hours:

Iron Mountain Hike

And still more wildflowers…

Iron Mountain Hike

Iron Mountain Hike

Iron Mountain Hike

Iron Mountain Hike

The trail leaves the meadow and heads over to Iron Mountain, circling around the north side over to the west side of that peak:

Iron Mountain Hike

On the west side of Iron Mountain we picked up the spur trail to the summit and started climbing. Views started becoming abundant:

Iron Mountain Hike

We could see the trailhead at the end of Road 35, which is an alternate place to start this hike:

Iron Mountain Hike

Then we arrived at the summit! The last time I was up here was 2007 when the old fire lookout was still here:

Fire lookout

Shortly after that visit the Forest Service removed it. Then they put in this nice viewing platform:

Iron Mountain Hike

There were still a surprising number of clouds considering that the forecast didn’t call for any clouds. Fortunately we could still see some mountains. Mt. Jefferson:

Iron Mountain Hike

Mt. Jefferson, Cone Peak, Echo Mountain, and South Peak:

Iron Mountain Hike

Three Pyramids:

Iron Mountain Hike

The Three Sisters:

Iron Mountain Hike

A wider shot that includes Mt. Washington and the Three Sisters:

Iron Mountain Hike

They’ve installed a map and mountain locater in the center of the viewing deck (although people were leaning on it like they were at a bar, so it was mostly unusable):

Mountain locater

We hung out for awhile at the summit enjoying the views, but it was far from peaceful up there. There were quite a few people and most of them were pretty loud. There was one large group celebrating a birthday with champagne and they were basically having a party up there. We eventually decided we’d had enough of the din and started heading back down:

Iron Mountain Hike

After we got back to the car we headed to nearby Echo Basin to do that short hike. The trail starts out by climbing steeply up an old logging road. Then it leaves the new growth from that logged area and enters the trees that surround the edge of Echo Basin. There was evidence of recent trail work here:

Echo Basin

Yellow cedars grow here, which is pretty far south for this tree:

Echo Basin

Echo Basin

The trail splits to make a loop through the meadow. We crossed a stream and after climbing up through the trees the trail emerged into the meadows of Echo Basin:

Echo Basin

Echo Basin

Echo Basin

Echo Basin

Echo Basin

We stopped on one of the boardwalks in the meadow, beneath which a little creek gurgled. Very pleasant And we spotted this little frog hanging out!

Echo Basin

Echo Basin

The trail heads back into the trees, but not before passing through some horrifically muddy areas. I ended up with mud above my ankle. We finished the loop then headed back to the car.

Fish Lake Commissary Cabin

Fish Lake Remount Depot

Every winter Deb and I do a two-night sisters outing to a fire lookout. We’ve been to Clear Lake Butte twice and Fivemile Butte twice. Unfortunately I could not get reservations this year so we opted instead for the Fish Lake Commissary Cabin. There is actually a bit of cool history with this place. Fish Lake lies right along the old Santiam Wagon Road. In 1867 a roadhouse was developed there, complete with barns, corrals, a blacksmith shop, and a store. When the Forest Service was established in 1905 Fish Lake was used as a ranger outpost. In 1921 Fish Lake became the fire dispatching headquarters for what was then the Santiam National Forest, and a dispatcher’s cabin was built. Phone lines were put up throughout the forest to connect Fish Lake to fire lookouts, guard stations, and district offices. More buildings were constructed, including the Commissary Cabin, which was used for tool storage and later converted to a residence. The Forest Service no longer needs Fish Lake for its operations, but many of the old buildings still stand and an organization called Friends of of Fish Lake help look after the place.

Commissary Cabin in 1924

Fish Lake Map

Although Fish Lake is located right on Highway 126, winter access is from Highway 20 to the north. So on March 4 we parked at the Lava Lake Sno-Park, geared up, and headed out. There are NO SIGNS telling you which way to go. What you have to do is walk out of the sno-park back to the highway which you will cross. A bit to the left (east) of the sno-park entrance is the road that you will be snowshoeing down. When we were there a blue diamond on a pole was the only marker. The route of the road you need to follow is pretty wide and obvious:

Snowshoeing

We continued following the trail/road through the forest:

Snowshoeing

Then we met up with the Santiam Wagon Road at a well-marked junction and turned left:

Santiam Wagon Road

According to a 2013 newsletter “Work in the Commissary cabin revealed significant bat and rodent residue creating a human health hazard, the structure was removed from the cabin rental program until the damage can be dealt with.” When I visited in 2016 the work was mostly complete:

Fish Lake Historic Site
Commissary Cabin in July 2016

Fish Lake Historic Site
Commissary Cabin interior in July 2016 before the counter and range had been installed

We’re here! (While we appreciated the outside protective walls around the front door, the sheets of plywood were incredibly ugly. I hope they can find a more aesthetic solution that fits the character of the cabin.)

Fish Lake Commissary Cabin

Lots of icicles hanging from the roof:

Icicles

There is a table and two chairs:

Fish Lake Commissary Cabin

A gas cooking stove and a propane heater (not a woodstove; more about that in a moment):

Fish Lake Commissary Cabin

A sink (no running water and you can’t use the drain) with counter space, and a couch:

Fish Lake Commissary Cabin

At the back of the cabin is a small room with a twin bed:

Fish Lake Commissary Cabin

The front windows look out onto trees. The kitchen window looks down onto the blacksmith shop, oil house, and shed:

Barns and buildings

The dispatcher’s cabin is right next door (left) to the commissary cabin (right):

Dispatcher's and Commissary Cabins

After we settled in we went for a walk to explore the area. Fish Lake dries up and becomes a meadow come summertime. In winter it is a wide expanse of white:

Fish Lake

Fish Lake

Fish Lake

Critter tracks!

Tracks in the snow

What a gorgeous afternoon!

Beautiful day

The bunkhouse:

Fish Lake Bunkhouse

Dispatcher’s cabin:

Dispatcher's cabin

The Hall House is the other cabin you can rent here. It was built in 1924 and named for Forest Supervisor C.C. Hall. Notice the unusual vertical log construction:

Hall House

Hall House has an awesome porch:

Hall House

See the old phone line insulator up there?

Phone line insulator

We cooked up dinner on the stovetop, which worked great. Veggies over rice with roasted red pepper sauce. YUM.

Dinnner!

I had heard about snow ice cream, where you take a bowl of powdery snow and mix it with sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. We gave it a try, but our snow was icy. Still, it tasted pretty good!

Snow ice cream

I tried a night shot of the cabin exterior, but it was too cloudy for stars and it was snowing:

Commissary Cabin

We woke up Monday morning to the slightest dusting of fresh snow:

Snow dusting

Snow dusting

After a leisurely morning we snowshoed the 1.3 miles back to Lava Lake Sno-Park:

Snowshoeing in the forest

Snowshoeing in the forest

We saw a number of little critter tracks in the fresh snow:

Tracks in the snow

From the sno-park we snowshoed up Road 2067. Some inconsiderate driver had actually tried to drive up the snow-covered road and made quite a mess for all the snowmobilers, skiiers, and snowshoers to deal with:

Chewed-up road

What a gorgeous day it was turning out to be!

Up the road

After half a mile we arrived at a junction with a signpost that contained no signs:

Junction

Fortunately I had printed the trail map from the Willamette National Forest website so we knew where we were going. We turned right:

Lava Flats Loop

We arrived at another junction, this time with signage!

Signage

We turned left and traveled about 0.3mi down a spur trail that ended at Lava Lake:

Lava Lake

Deb at Lava Lake

The sunshine felt GOOD:

Blue skies

At first they were kind of obscured by clouds, but then Maxwell Butte and Three Fingered Jack came into view:

Maxwell Butte and Three Fingered Jack

Maxwell Butte and Three Fingered Jack

We sat there in the sunshine for awhile enjoying the peace and quiet and the warm sun. Then we headed back to the main loop. We found that no one had traveled this 0.9mi section in a little while and it was untracked:

Untracked

We definitely got a workout breaking trail as we circled back to the sno-park! This Lava Flats Loop was 2.3 miles total (not including the trek from the cabin and back). We were curious to see where the trail came out at the sno-park because we hadn’t seen any signs of it when we started. Turns out this tree covered in broken arrows is the place to start:

Bad signs

We headed back to our cabin, checking out Fish Lake on the way:

Fish Lake

From a spot near our cabin we noticed that the very top of North Sister was visible through the trees:

North Sister

We spent the afternoon relaxing and trying to warm the place up. While we waited for that to happen we had to bundle up:

Bundled up

One of the downsides of staying in a cabin in the forest (versus a lookout on a mountaintop) is that it’s kind of dark inside even on a brilliant sunny day:

Window view

As evening set in we turned on the battery-powered twinkle lights that we had brought and settled in:

Cozy cabin

Deb made dinner that night. With only icy snow outside we “skipped the middle man” and ate the rest of the condensed milk right out of the can. Delicious!

Condensed milk

The skies were clear so we went outside to check out the stars. I had forgotten to bring my wide angle lens so I had to make do with my regular lens:

Starry night

Stars over the cabin

Tuesday morning was sunny and beautiful (and only 16 degrees Fahrenheit at 6:45!) and the sun sparkled off the snow:

Morning icicles

Sparkling snow

The heat had fortunately stayed on through the night so we slept warmly. But once we were out of our down sleeping bags it was a bit chilly. Time for tea!

Morning at the cabin

Before heading home we wanted to take advantage of the clear weather and get a better look at the mountains. We stopped at a viewpoint along Highway 20 on the way to Sisters and saw Mt. Washington:

Mt. Washington

And two of the Three Sisters:

Mountain view

We stopped for a bite to eat in Sisters, then drove a bit further east for an even better viewpoint of the mountains. The Three Sisters:

Three Sisters

Mt. Washington:

Mt. Washington

Black Butte and Mt. Jefferson:

Black Butte and Mt. Jefferson

So that’s our trip! We had a great time at this cool little cabin. This is a great place to rent for families since the trek in is short and relatively flat. I would stay here again, although next winter we are going to try again for a lookout.

Commissary Cabin

Things to know if you go:

  • The Forest Service website says it is 3/4 mile from the Lava Lake Sno-Park to the cabin. My GPS said 1.3 miles.
  • The cabin has a couch, a twin bed, a table with two chairs, a gas range with stovetop and oven, and a sink (no running water and a sign said not to pour anything down the drain). An outhouse is in the trees behind the cabin.
  • The source of heat for the cabin is not a wood stove, but a propane one. It does a mediocre job of heating the place up and I’m sure most of our heat was hanging out underneath the high ceilings. Bring warm sleeping bags and plenty of warm clothes. We also had trouble with it going out and one thing that sometimes helped with this was to turn the thermostat up to 80. There is also a button at the base of the unit that you have to press and hold when re-lighting the pilot light and we found that if we held it in for a full two minutes that worked better than holding it in for the recommended one minute.
  • Although there is a picnic table and fire ring outside (it’s right behind the neighboring dispatcher’s cabin) they weren’t usable when we were there because they were buried in snow. Also, it was cold.
  • There are lights in the cabin but they are powered by batteries charged by a solar panel. During the short cloudy days of winter when sunshine is in short supply, the battery can go dead quickly so bring some lights of your own.
  • There is no water so you’ll need to melt and filter (or boil) snow. Gray water cannot be poured down the sink (according to the sign in the cabin) so you’ll need to pour it in the toilet.
  • Our Verizon phones had zero signal of any kind at the cabin (although we had full signals at Lava Lake Sno-Park). Good excuse to unplug from the world!

Video:

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:

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Video:

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:

Slate Rock Lookout Site

Greg and I spent the third weekend of August in Detroit waiting for the solar eclipse. It was too smoky to hike on Sunday the 20th, so we crossed the Detroit Dam and geocached our way up Kinney Creek Road. The final cache of the day was at a feature called Slate Rock, and hey, it happens to be a former lookout site! We had done zero research on this ahead of time; I had just dumped all the geocaches onto my phone when I had a signal and now here we were.

The parking coordinates were about a mile down Road 640, off of Kinney Creek Road (2212). The person who hid the cache said the old trail was followable for part of the way, but you had to get to it first. From the roadside waypoint it looked pretty daunting, a thick wall of small trees and brush.

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But once you pushed through that initial screen, it opened up into a mature forest, so we decided to go for it. At the “trailhead” we spotted an old road or trail signpost with the numbers 1, 2, and then a 6 or a 9. Cool artifact.

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We headed generally uphill towards Slate Rock, hoping to pick up the old trail. There were a number of downed trees and – although they’re not present in this photo – a whole heck of a lot of rhododendrons:

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We could not find the old trail, so we just pushed our way straight uphill. It was not fun. We reached a rocky prominence that turned out to be not quite Slate Rock, but we had some views:

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We could see Slate Rock so we made our way over to it. Along the way we got a view of Mt. Jefferson’s summit poking up above all the wildfire smoke.

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The Cascades south of Jeff:

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Slate Rock, just ahead:

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We found a buried stash of old bottles.

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I was wary of climbing up Slate Rock because getting up isn’t the hard part; it’s getting down that can be tricky. But Greg headed up and took some shots on his iPhone. The views are still great up there, which is often not the case at abandoned lookout sites. Here, though, big tall trees cannot grow on the rocky summit:

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Looking north. Mt. Hood towards the left; Olallie Butte towards the right:

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Looking down:

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A panorama:

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Greg coming down:

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At Slate Rock we could clearly see the old trail so we decided to follow it and see it where it took us:

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Looking back at Slate Rock from the trail below:

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The trail kept going. It was in surprisingly good shape considering how long it’s been abandoned. Sometimes the rhodies had really grown in, but the trail was still easy to follow.

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Until it wasn’t. Abruptly we lost the trail. It didn’t seem to go straight so we switchbacked, but it didn’t go that way either. We were close enough to the road, so we just went cross-country, never seeing any more remnants of the trail. When we got back to the car we were covered in pine needles, leaves, and spider webs. The summit is only about 0.3mi from where we parked, but it sure felt further! I’m glad we checked it out, though. It was pretty cool. We said to ourselves that if anyone wanted to bushwhack their way up there, they’d probably have the summit all to themselves for eclipse-viewing the next morning!

Here is our track. The line on top (or the left, depending on how you look at it) was our bushwhack up. The bottom line (or right line) is the route back, mostly via trail. The big X on the topo map is Slate Rock itself.

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When I got home I looked up the history of Slate Rock. The lookout was built in 1935 and destroyed in 1965.

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Back in the pre-road days  a side trail from the Volcano Trail (which I mentioned in this report from last year) led up to Slate Rock:

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The trail network is still intact on the 1983 North Santiam River USGS map, but the 1985 Lawhead Creek USGS map shows the road, with no sign of a trail. So presumably the trail was abandoned sometime in the early 80s.