Saturday, Jun 26, 2021
Today we braved the extreme heat and headed up to Silver Star Mountain for our nearly-annual pilgrimage to check out the wildflowers.
All month long we had always planned to head up there this weekend, the only one free for us to visit during the wildflower bloom. So we were pretty dismayed when the forecast called for a record-breaking heat wave. (It ended up being 108 in Portland this day.) We decided to go for it anyway, getting up at 3am so we could get an early start. When we got to the Grouse Vista Trailhead (2,400′) at 5:30am it was already 70 degrees.
Hiking up the Grouse Vista Trail is always a slog because it’s SO rocky, but at least we were fortunate to be in shade thanks to our early start. The sun stayed behind the mountain for pretty much the entire hike up:
Soon enough we started seeing the first of A LOT of beargrass:
And of course other wildflowers:
More slogging up the rough trail:
We reached the junction with the spur trail to the summit where we saw some vandalism that hadn’t been there two years ago. Ugh, what is wrong with people?
Last push to the summit:
There was a lot of beargrass up here!
Looking over to the south summit:
It was 8:15 and getting pretty warm, but there was wind which helped a bit. There was haze but the views were still pretty great. Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier:
Sturgeon Rock and the horrendously ugly clearcuts beyond:
We could see Ed’s Trail below. This is how we used to come up Silver Star until Road 4109 to the trailhead became too rough to drive:
Looking down on the Bluff Mountain Trail:
Unfortunately we found more evidence of disrespectful visitors up there. Trash in the form of discarded orange peels (we packed these out):
Someone has vandalized the summit with this large steel cross. Apparently people take it down and others keep putting it back up. I’ve heard it was actually placed in concrete last year. It is VERY heavy but it needs to be hauled off the summit somehow:
After a break at the summit we headed over to the south summit:
View from there:
From the south summit we could see the Indian Pits area and the beargrass bloom there (pardon the overexposed photo):
That looked pretty promising so we descended back down the trail and took the Indian Pits spur trail. The beargrass was PROFUSE:
The trail loses elevation as it descends the beargrass slope, then enters the forest in a saddle. Parts of this trail were very overgrown and brushy:
We climbed up the opposite slope from the saddle where more beargrass awaited:
The beargrass was the main attraction here but there were other flowers too:
This trail is called the Indian Pits Trail because it leads to pits in the talus slopes that may have been used by Native Americans as vision quest sites or hunting blinds. We did not go as far as those and stopped at 0.7 miles at a rocky viewpoint where we could see Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. Adams:
The wind was pretty strong at times, gusting up to 20 mph according to my Kestrel. It was warming up fast and was 82 degrees at 10:30 (at 4,000′ elevation). We would have loved to hang out and enjoy the scene longer, but we had to head down before it got too hot, so off we went:
Battling through the thick brush again:
And laboring up the slope in the hot sun:
Back on the Grouse Vista Trail it was a long hot slog back down to the car:
Despite the heat and sleep deprivation it was worth it to see the beargrass bloom! Gaia was having some issues at the beginning of the hike and kept crashing so my track was incomplete, but I estimate our mileage to have been around 8 miles.