2014 Trips Subscribe via RSS


Paradise Ridge

9.5 miles of hiking • 3000' elevation gain •

Hit the goal of 800 miles for the year! Had a fun day in the snow with a good friend. Temps between 20-25°F all day, not much wind, light powdery snow up to a foot deep. Caught a few views, but not enough. Need to go back here in better conditions. :)

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December 30, 2014


Wahkeena Springs Lollipop

5.5 miles of hiking • 1750' elevation gain •

(Actually hiked on Dec 31, but I found the stats on the Home page aren't updated with hikes on that date for some reason!)

It was too nice a day not to get out, so midday I decided to go looking for frozen waterfalls in the gorge. Ended up just wandering up past Wahkeena and Fairy Falls, and on to Wahkeena Springs, before making a bit of a loop up top by heading over to the Vista Point trail to return. Lots of ice on the trail, in spots, but not so much in the creeks. Still, a very nice day to be in the gorge. :-)

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December 30, 2014

Heart_bw 5

Wyeth to Nick Eaton Loop

17 miles of hiking • 4750' elevation gain •

Awesome loop into a Winter Wonderland. Started at the Wyeth Campground, and took the 411 up towards North Lake, with the thought of possibly tagging Defiance. On the way, we hit snow around 3250', and it deepened to 3-4" by 4000'. Plus, rather than climb through the clouds, they just seemed to thicken all but eliminating the prospect of decent views. So we decided to loop across the Greenpoint Ridge (418) and Plateau Cutoff (412) trails over to Gorton Creek (408) and Nick Eaton (447) to make a mega loop out of it rather than just an in/out. The plateau was flocked beautifully, with snow between 4-8" deep and sticking to everything. Nick Eaton Ridge was awesome and the hiking was easy. After the punishing descent, we veered east on Ridge Cutoff, thinking of taking a look at Indian Point but it too turned out to be entirely shrouded in fog. Continuing downard on Gorton Creek, we cut about two miles off the trip with a plunge downhill (800' in 0.2 miles!) to the Gorge (400) trail - yeeehaw! The 400 through here was surprisingly pleasant, with hardly any freeway noise and a few nice views of Wind Mountain, into the gorge, and up towards Indian Point. Just an awesome day in the woods!

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December 26, 2014


Elevator Shaft Ornament Loop

10 miles of hiking • 2750' elevation gain •

Fun time climbing up Elevator Shaft to wander around Multnomah Basin. Great detour halfway up to look out over the viewpoint just beyond Meadow Ridge. Still can't figure out the approach to there from Multnomah Creek. The ornament trail sure has exploded in popularity since I was last up there two years ago! Only saw one other human up top, lots more coming back down the flipflopper route.

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December 13, 2014


Herman-Benson Area

12 miles of hiking • 3500' elevation gain •

Thought we'd take the PCT up from Herman Creek to the Benson Plateau. Mostly just to continue working off Thanksgiving. From about 1500' up, the remains of a previous day's freezing rain were quite evident. Snow was thickening up around 3000', and it looked like a solid cloud layer above. So we decided at that point to just go back down and follow the PCT a bit towards Cascade Locks, to take a look at the Pinnacles over there. Another great, soggy day in the woods.

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December 6, 2014


Ramona Falls

9 miles of hiking • 1250' elevation gain •

Solitude at Ramona Falls. Impossible? Not if you go on a 30-something degree day with unrelenting "wintry mix" falling from above. It was that sort of day. We may have spent a total of 5 minutes at the falls. Just enough to take "we were here" photos, and change gloves. The forest was beautiful as ever, though the Sandy crossing isn't amateur hour at half-rage stage.

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November 22, 2014


Hamilton Mountain Loop

8.5 miles of hiking • 2750' elevation gain •

It was a bitterly cold morning in the Gorge, but SR-14 was in pretty good shape. We got to BRSP before 9am to find two cars already in the lot; one of them already sporting a ticket for improperly displayed Discover Pass. Ground was frozen hard, and the restrooms were bolted shut. The climb up Hamilton was mostly on snow and ice. She put on YakTrax in the parking lot, and I put on my microspikes by Hardy Falls. Both of us wore them back to the jeep. (The 1/2" of ice on the parking lot may have been the most treacherous part of all!)

Much of the way up was buffeted by pretty strong winds. Cresting the summit to that magnificent view of Table Mountain and Mount Adams, we were hit full-on by the fury of the east wind through the Gorge. It was beautiful, anyway. Moving on over to the saddle, one of the more lovely views in the Gorge, the wind only became more fierce. Blew the hats off both of us, and swirled ice crystals into cyclonic funnel clouds. Just about knocked me over, at one point.

Snow along the upper ridges, and back in the woods on Don's Cutoff, was deep, fluffy powder. As light as imaginable. No more than 8-10" deep, except where piled up by wind. The forest was beautiful, with some lingering golden vine maples still disputing the fact that winter has arrived. We were back at the trailhead about 1, and in town by 2. Heckuva way to spend the morning!

This little loop remains a wonderful favorite of mine, and is always fun to see in every different weather scenario!

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November 16, 2014


Larch Mountain Loop

18 miles of hiking • 5000' elevation gain •

Winds in the gorge were howling, as I drove down I-84 yesterday, so I decided a "training" hike up Larch might offer the most respite as so much of that route is wooded. Left the lodge just a bit past 10am, and beat my old record by getting to Sherrard Point by about 1pm. Initially, I had the place to myself, and hadn't seen another soul since about half-way up.

The ground was frozen from about the talus field (2400') upwards, especially in the shade. By 3000', it was frozen solid everywhere. Ice crystals were protruding in places. On top, the temperature was 27°F with gusts to about 30 mph. I know, kinda slow, considering. I think I hit a lull, as the walk along the north crater rim was almost spooky. Those hemlocks were groaning, with occasional pops that made me wonder.

Two other groups came up to Sherrard while I was there; both left before I did. One confirmed the snow gate is now closed for the season. I think I was at the look out for under 15 minutes, before heading back down to the parking lot in search of a bit of reasonable calm sunlight to eat my lunch in.

Since it was only 1:30-ish as I got ready to leave, I decided to take the longer route back down, making a loop for the day. Followed the road for a bit before diving down the Oneonta Trail. This too was mostly frozen, but as I neared the Bell Creek junction, there was a profusion of mushrooms and other fungus; some, the likes of which I'd never seen before. Anyway, took Oneonta to Franklin Ridge, and followed that back to Multnomah Creek. The ridgeline was also howling windy.

Not much fall color left to report. Some nice maples on lower part of Franklin Ridge. The rest was on the forest floor.

Great day in the woods! :-)

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November 11, 2014

Heart_bw 1

Sheep Canyon

12.5 miles of hiking • 3000' elevation gain •

Took off from the Blue Lake trailhead a couple hours late, due to car failure in Woodland. (ugh!) But managed to salvage the day, and have a wonderful hike in glorious November weather! Followed the Toutle Trail to its intersection with the Sheep Canyon Trail, at which point we turned uphill and headed towards the Loowit Trail. Once at that next junction, we proceeded clockwise on Loowit, as the big views opened up. As beautiful as Sheep Canyon was, we took the chance that we'd have an even better view on top of Crescent Ridge, so we pushed through. Our wish was granted, with a superb giant boulder to take a lunch break on. From this vantage point, we had marvelous views of the Toutle River Canyon, Mount Saint Helens (of course), Mount Rainier, the Mount Margaret Backcountry, and (believe or not) we could even see the Olympics! After lunch, we continued on Loowit, soaking up awesome canyon views all along, until we met up again with the Toutle Trail. With under an hour until sunset, we just put it in cruise control and headed back to where we'd started once we hooked back into our "in" route. Another great day on the mountain!

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November 8, 2014

Heart_bw 2

Frustration Falls

9 miles of hiking • 1750' elevation gain •

Perfect day for an old-growth rainforest hike to a waterfall that hardly anyone knows about, and even fewer have ever seen. After pinching my sciatic nerve, I've been in need of "rehab" hikes that didn't take me quite as far out of reach as I like to get. This was perfect. Two miles through fairly level, ancient, moss-draped forest along the beautiful Salmon River, before we began climbing another two miles or so to some fog-shrouded, hanging-meadow overlooks into the canyon. Then it was a somewhat nerve-wracking scramble almost back down to the bottom again, to a magnificent view of Frustration Falls. Marvelous!

Conditions were superb, considering. Lots of fall colors in the vine- and bigleaf maples, still. Fungus of every sort popping from nearly all surfaces. And the thick forest soaking up or otherwise repelling most of the rain. Great hike! :-)

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November 2, 2014


Mount Rose

1.5 miles of hiking • 500' elevation gain •

Just a fun little "rehab" scramble to a viewpoint on "Mount Rose" (which I just can't help but call Rose Hill, I'm sorry). Offered some great views of the Grand Portage harbor, and a reconstructed fort on the site once used by the North West Company as the primary export point for their fur operations. The area is now within the Grand Portage Reservation of the Ojibwe tribe.

The name Grand Portage refers to the 8.5 mile portage from Fort Charlotte to this spot on Lake Superior. The Pigeon River, which forms the boundary between the USA and Canada here was simply too rough to consider running in birch bark canoes. Instead, "pork eaters" would hump two 90# bales of fur on their backs for this distance.

Someday, hopefully once this nerve thing is settled down, I'll return and retrace the steps those voyageurs took over 200 years ago.

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October 18, 2014


Eagle Mountain

7 miles of hiking • 1500' elevation gain •

Hiked up to the highest point in Minnesota, ticking that one off a long and ever growing list. Have wanted to do this one for years, so it felt really good to finally bag it. Eagle Mountain is within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and soars to the impressive height of 2301' above sea level. Perhaps even more interesting is that it's only 13 miles from the lowest point in Minnesota - Lake Superior at 602'.

The hike in is mostly wooded, mixed with some swampy areas that seem to have been created by beavers. The soils are extremely thin, given how little time they've had to rebuild following the last ice age. The trail is mostly rocks and roots. The rocks are possibly the oldest exposed on the surface of the Earth, ranging well over a billion years old. There were also some nice lakes we passed along the way.

The forest is mostly birch, aspen, hemlock, cedar, and pine. There were spots with glorious golden tamarack (larch), too. On the summit, we lunched at a marvelous viewpoint that took in a wide swath of the BWCA and Lake Superior as well. Just as we were about to leave, a bald eagle drifted slowly by us, just 50 or so feet away. It seemed he was just as interested in us as we in him. He proceeded to circle above us for 5-10 minutes, before catching a thermal and slowly ascending into the sky.

We timed our return to the trailhead almost perfectly, getting there about 20 minutes after sunset. Absolutely incredible day. :-)

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October 15, 2014


Woods Creek

4 miles of hiking • 1250' elevation gain •

Just another nice leg-stretching rehab hike along a creek in the north woods. Somehow we went the wrong direction on the Superior Hiking Trail, as we were looking for the deepest canyon in Minnesota. We found it near the end of the hike, on the other (west) side of County Road 58, and will go back there again. This one was just pure SHT, meandering up and down, up and down, along a burbling creek through a birch, aspen, and hemlock forest. Felt good!

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October 14, 2014


Devil's Kettle

3 miles of hiking • 750' elevation gain •

Another "rehab hike." Following a splendid brunch at Naniboujou Lodge and subsequent stroll along the shore of Lake Superior, we crossed Highway 61 to Judge Magney State Park, and hiked along the Brule River past a beautiful waterfalls and finally to a most perplexing feature known as Devil's Kettle. The river splits at a falls, with half flowing on down the channel, and the other half plunging into a huge hole in the Earth. No one has ever explained where this water is going. (See the this link or that link for the range of theories.)

Many of the hiking trails in Minnesota seem to incorporate stairs if there's significant slope involved. This one may be the king-daddy of them all, with one section of stairs comprised of no less than 176 steps! Really nice hike, worth doing if you ever find yourself on the north shore of Lake Superior. :-)

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October 12, 2014


Sweethearts Bluff

3 miles of hiking • 500' elevation gain •

First in a series of little "rehab hikes." (Pinched my sciatic nerve - ugh!) This was a lovely walk through the municipal campground and up to the top of a bluff that used to be the site of a fire lookout. On the way back, I followed the shoreline of Lake Superior and looped around the harbor bay in Grand Marais. The leaves were very colorful, but a bit past peak.

The fascinating thing about hiking up here is the ancient bedrock that's so often right at the surface. These are some of the oldest rocks there are on the entire planet, aged between 1 and 1.5 billion years. Very little soil has accumulated since they were scrubbed bare during the last ice age, and yet trees somehow manage to (mostly) cling on and somehow find nourishment. Many roots are exposed, and even when a tree falls over it often lives for years.

The big lake is a source of constant interest, as it transitions from placid to storm-wracked with the winds.

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October 10, 2014

Heart_bw 1

Indian Heaven and Red Mountain

12 miles of hiking • 2750' elevation gain •

Had my first taste of Indian Heaven yesterday, and thoroughly enjoyed it. We started at the Falls Creek Horse Camp TH, and generally followed an abandoned (not on any map) trail through the Lakes Basin. This trail is somewhat overgrown, and gets very spotty around all the little lakes. You just sort of need to follow your nose, so to speak. From the basin, it's a better defined trail (if you can find it) up a steep ridge to the PCT, climbing 500' in a half-mile. Nice way to warm up!

We then took the PCT southbound up to and along Berry Mountain. There were a few nice views of Mounts Adams and Saint Helens along the way, and even an occasional peek at Mount Hood. For a Wilderness without views, they didn't seem all that lacking along this stretch. We turned back west again at the Indian Racetrack cutoff.

At the Wilderness registration kiosk, we'd saw a map that labeled a fire lookout on Red Mountain, and it appeared to be on our general route. As we were descending from Berry Mountain, we saw the lookout ahead, and of course felt compelled to climb one more big hill to visit it! It was, without question, the highlight of the day. The 360° views from there were spectacular. It's about a mile out of the way, with another 800' gain.

After enjoying well over an hour at the lookout, we went back down and explored the Indian Racetrack area a bit, before returning along trail 171 to our starting point. Totally great day in the woods!

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September 27, 2014


Mississippi Head

12.5 miles of hiking • 4500' elevation gain •

Took advantage of the last day of summer with the classic loop through Paradise Park, up and over Mississippi Head, farther up to the top of the Palmer ski lift, then bombing back down to Timberline at full bore as long as slope was suitable for boot skiing/skating. Beautiful day on the mountain, but nasty smoke in all the valleys from the 36 Pit Fire near Estacada. (Wondered if we saw another new fire towards Mount Jefferson, as well?)

First time ever meeting more people up on Mississippi Head. This is generally an extremely solitary route. Paradise Park was relatively quiet. Did run into some extreme doofuses who'd built a campfire on the way up to PP! WTH? It was 75° out! I think we talked them into putting it out. Also dismantled another firering and scattered the store of gathered firewood beside it. (No fires allowed ANYTIME in this area - not just now during times of extreme fire danger.) Talked to some rescue folks who wondered if someone was stuck up on the the Steel Cliffs. Oh, and ran into an evac in progress, for a gal who'd badly sprained her ankle. Kind of a crazy people-day on the mountain, especially given how few we encountered.

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September 21, 2014

Heart_bw 1

Jefferson Park from Breitenbush

15 miles of hiking • 3250' elevation gain •

[Video added!] Drove to the Breitenbush trailhead via Salem, rather than Estacada, due to the 36 Pit Fire burning along 224. That might've added a little time, but - good grief - that last little bit on FR4220 is unreal. Six or so miles that take nearly 50 minutes! Yikes.

At any rate, once we got there, all was well other than the pall of smoke to our north. Hiking in over Park Ridge was a wonderful recollection of a trail last hiked long, long ago. There is a short burned segment nearer the trailhead, but it's an easy stretch. Soon enough, you're above timberline and traveling along a massive lava flow. And then, the big reveal! As you crest Park Ridge, Mount Jefferson looms large.

We diverted west at the crest, and lunched near the highest point on the ridge, enjoying the magnificent views in all directions. After lunch, we traversed along below the ridgetop, towards Park Butte, before crashing cross-country down into the Park itself. Somewhere along the way, one of the dogs accompanying us managed to injure a paw pretty badly. He took a good rest at Russell Lake, while I wandered around exploring Scout and Bays Lakes.

When it came time to return north again, we chose the PCT to reclaim the ridge. Max, the injured dog, made it a bit more than halfway up before he simply gave out. We shifted all the gear into one backpack, and put him in the other. This slowed us down greatly, of course. But we did all make it back to the TH before sunset, which was our goal to avoid driving out that terrible road after dark.

All in all, a pretty darn good day out in the woods! And a fairly good story to tell for it. We survived. :-)

PS - I'm told that Max is doing just fine, now!

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September 14, 2014

Heart_bw 1

Enchanted Valley

28 miles of hiking • 4000' elevation gain • 1 night

Camped beside Lake Quinalt in order to get an early start the next morning up to Enchanted Valley, to see the chalet that was about to fall into the East Fork Quinalt River due to severe undercutting. The NPS has embarked on an emergency stabilization project to protect the river by moving the historic chalet about 100 feet farther away. Prep was well underway, with helicopters flying in supplies, and just another day or two until teams of horses and mules will begin doing the real heavy work.

Enchanted Valley is a good 13 miles from the nearest road. Of all the hikers we encountered, we were the only dayhikers making the 28-mile in/out run. Access to the valley is highly limited right now. No camping, and you can only move through in between helicopter drops.

The rain forest was probably at darn near the driest it ever gets, which offered a totally different (but still lovely!) perspective on it. Another really great day in the woods! :-)

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September 5 – September 6, 2014

Heart_bw 5

Venus Bushwhack with Whittier Traverse

20 miles of hiking • 6000' elevation gain •

Incredible day! Began at the Norway Pass trailhead on the Boundary Trail. Hooked a right on the Lakes Trail at Bear Pass. Dodged off-trail after a couple of dropdead gorgeous miles through the lakes area, and followed elk trails over to Venus Lake. Bushwhacked from there up to the top of Mount Venus and celebrated there with a light lunch. Continued back eastward after lunch, along a high unnamed ridge, heading generally towards the northwest end of Mount Whittier. The day (literally) culminated with that ultimate traverse across Whittier Ridge. The sun was setting as we rejoined the Boundary Trail, and began heading back towards the trailhead. That last hour on the trail was only possible with headlamps. What a day!!! :-D

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September 1, 2014

Heart_bw 1

Backcountry Bushwhack

11 miles of hiking • 2500' elevation gain •

Just a fun day in the woods with friends. :-)

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August 24, 2014

Heart_bw 3

Broken Top 360°

35 miles of hiking • 6500' elevation gain • 2 nights

Awesome reintroduction to backpacking, after 31 years of taking the easier options! Started at Three Creeks Lake, and went up Tam McArthur Rim. Veered southwest after awhile, heading cross-country over to a campsite at the base of Ball Butte. After setting up our tents, we took a nice scramble up into the crater of Broken Top. Incredible up there! Then, the thunderboomers were forming behind Ball Butte, as we came down. The evening got real interesting as the sky lit up. Wonderful test for a brand new tent!

On day two, I made a quick run up to No Name Lake, before we packed up and wandered over towards Green Lakes. Had a wonderful lunch break there, beside the lake, and right below the massive South Sister. Continued on, and setup camp at Golden Lake on night two. Just sorta enjoyed being there, at this point.

Next morning, I woke before sunrise, and started wandering around in my flipflops and longjohns. Before I knew it, I had climbed 800' up the mountain, going about 1.5 miles past a couple of lovely tarns just as the sun was hitting the mountains all around me. WOW! When I realized how much time had passed, I hurried back down, and we packed up camp to head back towards the trailhead. Passed through the lovely Park Meadow, and then a few miles of devastation left behind by the 2012 Pole Creek fire.

Upon getting back to the trailhead, all I could think of was taking a plunge into Three Creeks Lake! YOWSA!! That was cold!!! And it felt soooooooooooooooooo gooooooooooooooooooood! :-)

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August 17 – August 19, 2014

Heart_bw 3

Glacier Basin

13 miles of hiking • 3000' elevation gain •

Did something really different this day. Joined up with a group hike sponsored by the Friends of Mount Adams, led by a well-known local historian who'd spent a lifetime crawling all over this mountain. The bugs were simply horrendous! But the scenery and good company made up for that, and more.

We started at Divide Camp trailhead, and hiked up to the PCT from there. Shortly after the Adams Creek crossing, we diverted off-trail and up-hill enjoying alpine meadows peaking with massive amounts of lupine, paintbrush, and more. We continued up into the tundra zone, and the floral display became all the more dwarfish, but still abundant.

The snowfields provided easy passage up through and beyond Glacier Basin to our lunch spot at Glacier Lake. Beautiful! After soaking that all in for awhile, we just wandered back in roughly the same direction we'd come, again just soaking up the alpine goodness all around us. Another great day on the mountain!

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August 9, 2014

Heart_bw 3

Iceberg Lake

15.5 miles of hiking • 3250' elevation gain • 1 night

Solo ramble starting at the South Climb trailhead on Mount Adams, then winding east along Round The Mountain ("not really") trail over to Bird Creek Meadows. This early stretch was through burns for a couple miles, and then into the most glorious alpine meadows for the next few. Particularly once on the Yakima reservation. The trail of flowers didn't seem quite as good as what led up to it.

Anyway, from Bird Creek Meadows, I headed uphill take in the sights at Hellroaring Viewpoint. And at this point, I had a pretty good idea where I had to go, but I really wasn't sure how I'd get there. I believed Iceberg Lake was over the other side of the highest lateral moraine I could see. Someone had recommended climbing the moraine's ridgeline from the bottom up. Not good! I found a better way down, just plummeting over its side.

The "trail" off the moraine over to Iceberg Lake is "flagged" with a spray-painted orange "X" of all things! So, one more snowfield to cross, and there I was! Simply outrageous place to kick off the shoes, and enjoy a good soak. :-)

Then, it was just time to head back to the jeep, pretty much the same way I came. Helluva day on the mountain!

Anticipating another hike the next day, on the other side of the mountain, I then drove back down to Trout Lake and north from there to pitch a tent not far from Takhlakh Lake, which is where the next report begins. :-)

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August 8 – August 9, 2014

Heart_bw 2

Barrett Spur

16.5 miles of hiking • 5250' elevation gain •

Parked at Elk Cove trailhead, and immediately bushwhacked uphill to the Pinnacle Ridge trailhead. Proceeded from there up through the 2011 Dollar Lake Burn to the Timberline Trail, snacking on some ripe huckleberries along the way. Wandered towards Wy'east Basin, before cutting up again towards Barrett Spur. Had to deal with some lingering snowfields along the way. The views were fantastic once we crested out at nearly 8000'. Hung for a good hour or more. Then it was just an improvisation descent in the general direction of Cairn Basin. But we saw a raging Ladd Creek below, so we diverted east a bit to avoid having to cross it at its worst. Finally ended up back on the Timberline Trail, and wrapped around clockwise until we hit the Elk Cove trail which we took back down to the jeep arriving there almost an hour after sunset. Great day!!!

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July 25, 2014


Cooper Spur Shuttle

16 miles of hiking • 6000' elevation gain •

Devised a fun "shuttle loop" from Cooper Spur Ski Area, up Polallie Ridge to Tilly Jane, up some more to Cooper Spur, back down along the Timberline Trail over to Gnarl Ridge and Lamberson Butte, and finally down to Hood River Meadows. Really nice way to avoid the in/out nature of Cooper Spur if you can drop one vehicle at HRM. The road to Cloud Cap is still closed; ranger said until mid-August. But that's alright, climbing the 1800' in 2.5 miles along Polallie Ridge seems far preferable to driving it in 11 nasty gravelly miles at 15mph. Doing the shuttle using Cloud Cap as one end would've added nearly three hours of driving to the day! Time far better spent on the trail.

The day was crystal clear blue until we descended back below timberline on our way down towards Elk Meadows. But the gale winds up high were something nasty indeed. Sustained 20-30mph without letup, and a walloping 60-70mph on ridges and other more exposed areas. Sand-blasted and sun-burnt. Yikes! The scenery totally compensated for that, of course. The volcanoes in Washington were all out, though they clouded over earlier in the day. Looking south, we saw Oregon burning. Quite a nasty scene in the Jefferson vicinity!

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July 19, 2014

Heart_bw 4

South Coldwater Ridge Loop

18 miles of hiking • 3750' elevation gain •

Another great day in the blast zone! Did the "classic" loop, going up South Coldwater Ridge past several logging relics destroyed in the 1980 eruption, ultimately winding up to Saint Helens Lake for the ultimate "lunch with a view!" After that, our descent slid progressively into the tourist (flipflops and spandex) zone as we meandered closer and closer to Johnston Ridge Observatory. Actually, there's a lot of beautiful scenery in this segment, but it's funny running into so many folks after being nearly all alone for the first segment. Grabbed a quick snack at JRO, then continued down the Boundary Trail back to the Hummocks trailhead.

There were some mosquitoes along the north side of South Coldwater Ridge, and it seems the wildflower show at JRO is just a bit past peak. That said, there were lots of wildflowers along the entire loop, just not in the jaw-dropping multitudes that happen for a week or so in late June.

These seem to be some of the hardest 18 miles out there. Most of them are subject to extreme exposure. We also battled fairly high humidity, so though the clouds offered a bit of respite from the sun, the extra moisture probably sucked even more energy out of us. One of the best loops out there!

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July 5, 2014


Hamilton Mountain Loop

8.5 miles of hiking • 2250' elevation gain •

Just the standard loop, using Don's Cutoff rather than the more boring jeep trail all the way down. Extremely pleasant, after-work, evening jaunt with some of the family, allowing me to introduce all of them to one of my favorite Gorge destinations. Trail's in great shape, the streams are running very low, wildflowers seem to be a bit past peek, some mosquitoes descending after sunset.

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July 2, 2014


Silver Star, via north ridge

5 miles of hiking • 1500' elevation gain •

Just a quick, after-work run up the main jeep trail on the north ridge, then back down Ed's Trail. Saw the sun for nearly 10 seconds while at the summit, but otherwise visibility was limited to 100' or so most of the way. The wildflowers are exploding out there right now! Wow...

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June 26, 2014


Wildcat Mountain

10.5 miles of hiking • 2250' elevation gain •

In the end, I guess my takeaway was, "okay, checked that one off!" I know a lot of folks really like this hike, and there are some compelling reasons to do so. But man, there are also a number of reasons it won't be on the "once a year rotation" schedule, too! For a place that's within walking distance (really!) of US-26, it takes forever to get to the trailhead. The trailhead itself seems to be a party pit, with numerous bonfire remains and countless shotgun shell casings trashing up the place. The "trail" begins as something used and abused by off-road vehicles. Blah, blah, blah..

Anyway, before too long, the tread becomes too steep in a couple places for the motorized cretins to continue. And all along it's going through an absolutely lovely forest that's thick with rhododendron floating over a carpet of oxalis. There are a couple of nice meadows a few miles in, one with a very nice view of Mount Hood. Beyond that, it's back in the forest again. The summit is a thicket of rhododendron. A little scrambling gets you to (mostly obscured) views of Hood, MSH, Rainier, and Adams.

The map offered on PortlandHikers field guide promises another viewpoint a bit past the summit, too. Well, we got to one where we actually could see the Hood, the three WA volcanoes, and Jefferson, but didn't really feel it merited the "viewpoint" moniker so we kept walking until we hit the Huckleberry Mountain trail. Bah! Heh... Back we go. This time deciding to try getting one decent "buddy shot" at the "viewpoint" on return.

Until this point, we'd been totally alone. On the way back, we ran into a variety of folks. I'd accidentally left my poles on the summit, so had to return there and found that a nice lady was going to turn them into the Ranger Station. Thankfully, I'd saved her the trouble. Met a couple with a dachshund in a messenger bag - he'd walked all the way to the summit, but was pooped out and appreciated the ride down. Met a big family at the first viewpoint. Met another pair of women a bit farther down. Then a total asshole on a dirt bike came roaring up the trail, tearing all to hell in the process. Man...

Anyway, the jeep was still intact at the TH on return. Only one other jeep was there. A few more cars had parked 1/4 mile down the rutted road. And still more a bit farther than that. So... Worth checking this one out/off, no doubt about that! But wow, really too bad the way this area is trashed by the locals. :-(

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June 22, 2014

Heart_bw 1

McNeil Point

9.5 miles of hiking • 3500' elevation gain •

Took advantage of the bluebird forecast for a quick run up McNeil Point. Absolutely glorious! Snow started around 5200', just below the cutoff for the (so-called) "climber's scramble" route. We followed some boot prints for awhile, before realizing the "trail" was a 100' or so to our right. After that correction, the rest of the way up to the shelter was relatively melted out. From the shelter up to nearly 7000', it was patchy snow, leaving us with the terrible decision of whether to have sure footing or trample the heather. I guess we compromised with a bit of both. At any rate, it was totally doable with shorts and trail runners. At least if you don't mind wet feet. The views were stunning! We enjoyed an owl sighting (on the road up), lots of hummingbirds, acrobatic ravens soaring and performing barrel rolls seemingly for our (and of course their!) entertainment, followed some very fresh bear tracks for awhile, and were pleasantly without a lot of human company at all. There were some fresh tracks leading off into the ice caves, and the flowers are really only just getting going. Great day on the mountain!

Comment 3 comments

June 19, 2014


Rainy-Wahtum Loop

18 miles of hiking • 4000' elevation gain •

Did a slight modification of the linked hike suggestion, hitting peaks rather than all the lakes. Started at Rainy Lake, and just looped up directly to Green Point Mountain. Which was in the clouds. We hoped to return past here on the way back, with an improving forecast promising better views. But having our heads in the cloud turned out to be the theme of the day. Continuing on, we passed the little shack at Herman Creek Cutoff, which we took down to Cedar Swamp. Really love that area! Lingering far too long, we finally climbed back up to, first, Mud Lake, and then followed the ridgeline out to Tomlike Mountain. Summit 2. Which was, again, totally in the clouds. Dropping back down off Tomlike, it was a jaunt on over to Chinidere for Summit 3. Again, in the clouds. Helped a young couple in cotton back to Wahtum Lake, before heading along the Rainy-Wahtum trail (abandoned road) back to our trailhead. All in all, an entirely excellent day!

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June 14, 2014


Bell Creek Loop

17 miles of hiking • 4000' elevation gain •

After all the trailwork done by mcds up on Bell Creek, we just had to go take a look for ourselves. What an amazing transformation this trail has undergone! It's so walkable now, as to not even seen at all to be the same one I hiked just a couple months ago. Not only were there very few trees to clamber over, under or around, but even the normal creekbed that passes for a trail in winter had dried up with a result of no wet feet at all. Oh, and the "PortlandHikers Effect" was in full-force, as we passed at least a half-dozen groups on a trail where solitude was all but guaranteed for (apparently) many years now. The landslide below Triple Falls is passable, but might be a problem when wet. Very steep, and probably increasingly muddy. Otherwise, the repair seems very well done.

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June 7, 2014

Heart_bw 1

Observation Peak - Sister Rocks

12 miles of hiking • 3500' elevation gain •

Third try's the charm! Finally made it up to Observation Peak, after being rejected twice already this Spring. This time we started at the Big Hollow trailhead, which offered a bit of variety from past failed attempts, and a bit shorter (if no less steep) climb. It was a gorgeous day, so we lunched on OP, then meandered over to Sister Rocks for even more views. The Trapper Creek Wilderness has definitely seized my attention.

Comment 2 comments

May 31, 2014

Heart_bw 1

Cast Creek - Horseshoe Ridge Loop

17 miles of hiking • 4500' elevation gain •

Dear trail friends warned me, "Boriest. Trail. Ever." Well, I'm not entirely sure about that, but you do walk uphill for 5 miles before catching a view. Once up top, though, wow! I just love wandering around on Zigzag Mountain. Took the Cast Creek Trail up from Riley Horsecamp, to the junction with Zigzag Mtn Trail, where I veered east to go have lunch on top of East Zigzag. Beautiful views in all directions, including the usual bevy of volcanoes (St Helens, Rainier, Adams, Hood, Jefferson, and Tree Finger Jack - a little too hazy for the Sisters), Burnt Lake below, foothills in all directions, even familiar Gorge peaks such as Silver Star, Defiance, Dog, etc. Man, what a view! Luxuriated in that for some time before heading west again, and looping Cast Lake, which was still surrounded with snow on the south side. That should've been a hint. After that loop, I got back on Zigzag Mtn Trail and kept going west, aiming to descend on the Horseshoe Ridge trail. Well... It took me over an hour to get just ONE MILE across that north-facing slope on West Zigzag. The snow drifts were still 5-15' deep, and the trail was probably 90% covered. Ugh! I kinda-sorta knew where I was going, though, and was confident an end was near, so I pushed on. So glad I did! There's a viewpoint near the next trail junction that's just superb! And at this time, thunderboomers were forming over the Oregon volcanoes. Really beautiful. I reluctantly turned down the Horseshoe Ridge trail, finally, and made it the 5.5 miles back to Riley to complete the loop. Honestly, I didn't find either the climb up or down to be all that boring. Pretty darn nice day in the woods, all in all! :-)

Comment 7 comments

May 30, 2014

Heart_bw 2

Grassy Knoll & Big Huckleberry

12 miles of hiking • 3000' elevation gain •

Woke up to mostly clear skies, but that all changed by the time we hit the Grassy Knoll trailhead. It was a misty start, but developed into a full-on gale by the time we hit the knoll. Sort of bypassed that, hoping it'd be better on the way back, and continued on northward. The conditions gradually improved, and became downright pleasant after a while. The wildflower show is still far from peaking up there, with many not even leafed out yet, much less coming into bud. But there were scattered patches of pretty nice displays, some made all the better by the downpours. The road into GK is in better shape than I remember from 2-years ago, although still pretty pot-holey in places. No downed trees across it this time, or other paintjob-threatening overgrowth, at least.

Comment 4 comments

May 26, 2014


Huckleberry Mountain via Boulder Ridge

13 miles of hiking • 3500' elevation gain •

This would probably be seen as a really nice "training hike" by many. Long walk uphill in the woods, with an occasional viewpoint. Unfortunately, Mount Hood was encased in clouds the whole way up. Then, amazingly, the clouds parted as I hit the summit! Sweeet. There's a nice saddle about 1/4-mile shy of the actual summit, which makes the best break point. If you really need to (like I did ;-) you can go the extra distance and 60' higher to tag that, though it's entirely wooded so no views there.

I'd also strongly recommend not just "marching" through the Wildwood Recreation Area, where the hike starts, while there! The Wetland Trail, along a boardwalk, offers some very nice scenery too. It's really a spectacular facility, which (unfortunately) doesn't accept a NW Forest Pass as it's run by the BLM - $5 to park.

Comment 14 comments

May 16, 2014


Dog Mountain

8 miles of hiking • 3000' elevation gain •

The balsamroot is just about at peak up there, which was a good enough reason to take the afternoon off. Because of the sudden onset of the rather extreme heat and my late start (3:00), I took the loop "backwards" and went up the Augspurger trail then back down the normal approach, which made a nice bit of variety. Hardly a breeze on top, so the bugs were quite bothersome. Didn't hang out long, but just kept wandering instead.

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May 14, 2014


Gumjuwac Saddle

5 miles of hiking • 1500' elevation gain •

The very epitome of a lazy Saturday! Got a very late start, enjoyed the wonderful views as we drove east, had way too good a lunch in Hood River, and then continued enjoying the views as we drove US-35 towards Mount Hood. Our plan was to just take a nice walk through the forest to Tamanawas Falls, as the forecast was for snow/rain. But a funny thing happened, and Mount Hood stuck its head up out of the clouds. Plans changed, and we decided to climb up Gumjuwac Saddle until the snow got too irritating. There was a fresh flocking up on Gunsight Butte, and we could see considerable snow ahead. Found a marvelous lizard rock (around 5100') to enjoy the sunny views, and just sorta hung out for awhile. Hard to beat!

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May 10, 2014


Observation Peak

14.5 miles of hiking • 3500' elevation gain •

Made another attempt at Observation Peak. Snow is still incredibly deep up there, especially on the formal trail around the north side. The south side has an unmaintained trail that looked more promising, so we followed that for a while only to end up again on a snow-covered plateau with no sign of a trail anywhere. Bombed down the Sunshine "trail" back to Trapper Creek, in the end, and just had an altogether good, sunny day in the rainforest.

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May 1, 2014


Falls Creek Falls

7.5 miles of hiking • 1250' elevation gain •

Very pleasant day in the woods, walking along beautiful Falls Creek, and enjoying a most beautiful triple-decker waterfalls. Mostly misty-rainy, with a few snow flurries at about 2400'.

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April 27, 2014

Heart_bw 4

Syncline Wandering

12.5 miles of hiking • 3250' elevation gain •

Spent about eight hours, just wandering aimlessly around the syncline area. Started at Catherine Creek, took a new (to me) ridgeline up to the upper level, then followed the twistiest-turniest far-off-the-beaten-trail down towards the Labyrinth. Looped back up Coyote Wall, met some new trail friends along the way, crossed over the high-line again, before finally coming down along the power lines back to the TH. Flowers were coming into stride; probably peaking in another week or two?

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April 19, 2014

Heart_bw 1

Elk-Kings Loop

12 miles of hiking • 4250' elevation gain •

Couldn't have been a nicer day in the Coast Range than it was yesterday! Did the classic Elk-Kings loop with Crusak and Payslee, and we all remembered again that 12 more grueling (but fun!) miles are hard to find. Trilliums everywhere down low, glacier lilies up above. No ocean in view!

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April 12, 2014


Siouxon Creek

8.5 miles of hiking • 1000' elevation gain •

Had a great walk in the woods with two good friends. Never been there before, but will certainly be going back. This is a delightful trail, suitable for nearly anyone.

Comment 4 comments

April 6, 2014

Heart_bw 2

Larch Mtn via Bell Creek

25 miles of hiking • 5750' elevation gain •

Found an interesting way to loop Larch while the Benson Bridge is closed down at Multnomah Falls. Started out at Horsetail Falls, wandered up past Ponytail Falls, then up Oneonta Creek to Triple Falls. Where the trail bridges across Oneonta, a bypass on the east side of the creek took me up to Horsetail Creek Trail, which I followed up to Bell Creek Trail. Bell Creek is a damn mess - but fun! Counted 60 logs that required climbing or crawling over or under or around in less than three miles! Probably a dozen were more than 3-feet in diameter. Oh, and then there's the irony of a creek pretty much occupying much of the trail. Anyway, after getting back to the Oneonta Trail, I headed up to Larch on the backside (south crater rim). There's still a couple feet of snow on the road, and the last mile was postholing to my knees. 30° and rainy sleet on top, so I only stayed a short while before finding a place out of the rain to reorganize for the descent. Just took the normal path back towards Multnomah Falls, but then diverted along the 400 back to Horsetail Falls trailhead. Really great day in the woods!

Comment 2 comments

April 4, 2014


Silver Star and Pyramid Rock

7.5 miles of hiking • 2500' elevation gain •

The forecast was for sunny and 70°! Was there any real choice here? Did a quick run up Silver Star with my sons - their first trip up there. On the way up, had a fun scramble up Pyramid Rock. Still more snow up high than I'd expected to find, but totally navigable on the beaten paths. We nixed a side-trip over to the Vision Pits on the south ridge, as it seemed to be pretty post-holey.

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March 24, 2014

Heart_bw 1

Cape Perpetua

5 miles of hiking • 750' elevation gain •

Just playing around down on the coast, had a chance to jump the rig up top at Cape Perpetua, and take "Amanda's Trail" back down to Yachats. Get leg stretcher!

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March 21, 2014

Heart_bw 3

Table Mtn-Cedar Mtn Loop

14 miles of hiking • 4750' elevation gain •

Took a last-minute opportunity to cruise the Table Mountain area with Crusak. It was his first time there, so we did the full-circle tour, starting with the classic Heartbreak Ridge ascent up Table. Then it was off exploring along the north ridge over to South Birkenfeld, before dropping back down the PCT and crossing over for the final descent along the wonderful ridgeline of Cedar Mountain. Nice day!

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March 15, 2014

Heart_bw 2

Observation Peak

12 miles of hiking • 3000' elevation gain •

Wonderful walk in the wet woods. Big trees, raging creek crossings, some cool waterfalls, green lushness all around. Got very close to the summit, but decided at the end it wasn't worth the final push. Not only was it in a thick cloud, but the snow was deep, soft and very steep. Gonna go back on a bluebird day!

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March 9, 2014

Heart_bw 1

Catherine Creek-Coyote Wall loop

13.5 miles of hiking • 3250' elevation gain •

Found Spring! 70° and Sunny! Just had a marvelous day traversing the desert regime in the Catherine Creek area, over to Coyote Wall, with a return through the Labyrinth. Even wading across a couple of frigid streams only added to the enjoyment of the day.

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March 7, 2014

Heart_bw 1

Herman Creek Trail to Cedar Swamp

16.5 miles of hiking • 3500' elevation gain •

Forecast was glum just about everywhere. Decided it'd be better to be in the snow than the rain, and no need to seek high ground! So we had a most excellent walk in the old growth up the Herman Creek trail to Cedar Swamp. It snowed nearly the entire day, which provided a most beautiful flocking on everything. Last storm had melted out to almost 2500', so easy walking. Hard-packed accumulations began above there, but still no need for snowshoes or any other traction. Excellent day!

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March 1, 2014


Saddle Mountain

5.5 miles of hiking • 2250' elevation gain •

Returned to an old favorite for an excellent morning jaunt! First time here in winter, and actually first time here in nearly eight years. This one's always fun, if pretty short. Trail was in excellent shape; just a bit of snow up top.

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February 22, 2014


Silver Falls SP - Trail of Ten Falls

10 miles of hiking • 1250' elevation gain •

Returned to Silver Falls, after not having been there for at least a quarter-century. It's still as beautiful as, actually more than, I remembered! I think the "trick" here is to go on a weekday. I only crossed paths with maybe a dozen other people, tops. The trails are real pedestrian, requiring little effort beyond paying attention. They are for the most part very enjoyable to walk along, and wide enough that you could walk side by side with your partner most of the way. Just be sure that, if you go with someone else, that you both have the same love/tolerance for photography. A mismatch on that count, here, could be really irksome.

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February 21, 2014

Heart_bw 1

Clackamas River Trail

9 miles of hiking • 1500' elevation gain •

It was storming in the city until about noon, when the sun magically broke through. In a flurry of radar checks, we decided to hightail it down to Estacada, to explore the Clackamas River Trail a bit. Ended up doing an in/out from Fish Creek Campground to Pup Creek Falls, and totally enjoyed it. There were a few extremely hazardous new landslides along the way, though! Hard to say we did the wisest thing by continuing on. Be safe out there!

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February 17, 2014


Wilson River Trail, western end

16.5 miles of hiking • 3000' elevation gain •

Surely a new "personal best" for wetness! Nearly 17 miles in relentless - at times driving - rain, along the western end of the Wilson River Trail. We started at Keenig Campground (MP18) and north, then east, for almost 8.5 miles to the Wilson Falls. Had a little snack, and hiked back. The Wilson River itself was fully raging, and there were uncounted little waterfalls we crossed along the way, most of them only coming back to life in response to the torrential rains we've been having. It was truly a beautiful hike, but the camera was soooooo waterlogged that only a few shots had what you'd call recognizable details. Ah well. Great day!

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February 15, 2014


Salmon Creek Greenway

8.5 miles of hiking • 500' elevation gain •

Okay, this time it was with gaiters and microspikes, due to the freezing rain on top of 12" of snow! Most of the open water was frozen, which really seemed to irritate the wading birds. Not sure where all the migratory waterfowl went; only a few were left. Ski and snowshoe tracks marked the trail today. Really excellent prescription for cabin fever!

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February 9, 2014


Salmon Creek Greenway

7.5 miles of hiking • 500' elevation gain •

An escape to the "wilds" of suburbia, while down with the flu. Lots of wildlife, good exercise compared to napping and looking at screens. Took a side trip up Cougar Creek, too, this time.

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February 5, 2014


Salmon Creek Greenway

7 miles of hiking • 250' elevation gain •

An escape to the "wilds" of suburbia, while down with the flu. Lots of wildlife, good exercise compared to napping and looking at screens.

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February 2, 2014

Heart_bw 3

Saint Helens Lake Loop

16.5 miles of hiking • 3750' elevation gain •

Magical day in the blast zone! We followed South Coldwater Ridge up to the saddle over Saint Helens Lake, where we enjoyed lunch with an absolutely priceless view. Then found our way down a forbidden valley towards Harry's Ridge, made possible by nearly complete snow cover. We finally made our way over to Johnston Ridge Observatory, then down that ridge and back to the Hummocks.

The conditions were remarkable. Very little snow below 4000', and essentially none below 3500'. Temps hit 72°F at one point, and only a degree shy of that as we basked on the saddle enjoying lunch. The snow was mostly crispy, and easily walked upon, except for the occasional soft spot that seemed to exist solely to mock one for having the audacity to wear shorts and short sleeves in the middle of January!

This was a day to be remembered, perhaps forever. :-D

Comment 8 comments

January 26, 2014


Cedar Mountain Loop

8.5 miles of hiking • 2500' elevation gain •

Really fun loop up and over Cedar Mountain, then wandering around in the woods north of it before descending along the Hamilton Creek drainage. Only gone down Cedar before. Going up was an eye-opener, with the initial push of nearly 1000' EG in just over a 1/2 mile! Ai yi yi... :-)

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January 24, 2014


Cape Horn Loop

7 miles of hiking • 2000' elevation gain •

Had some extra time, so we did a quick loop of Cape Horn, in hurricane force gusts, before the annual Falcon closure kicks in on February 1.

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January 24, 2014

Heart_bw 1

Newton Creek Canyon Loop

8 miles of hiking • 2000' elevation gain •

Snowshoed in from Hood River Meadows. Followed the Elk Meadows trail to the Newton Creek junction, and were pretty much off-trail from there on. We followed the canyon, or actually the ridge directly west of it, to the Timberline Trail. From there, traversed over to the next ridge to our west, and climbed up that to a nice lunchspot view above the trees. Then it was just a bomb on down the ridgeline back to the Clark Creek bridge on the Elk Meadows trail. Heckuva great day! Snowshoes absolutely required.

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January 20, 2014


Silver Star

10 miles of hiking • 3000' elevation gain •

Introduced a good friend to Silver Star on Saturday, hitting the summit a couple times, in between forays onto different ridges radiating outward from it. Incredibly little snow given it's already mid-January! Roads to all trailheads were clear. No need at all for spikes or snowshoes. Amazing.

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January 18, 2014


Tracy Hill Loop & Lyle Orchards

10.5 miles of hiking • 3000' elevation gain •

Did a real fun loop up that started up Catherine Creek, but then went right and followed Tracy Hill almost to the top. Then we just sort of rambled across game trails back over to Catherine Creek, which proved easy enough to cross, but a bit of a bear to escape! Sort of a scramble back up. We kept heading west, before descending down another game trail towards the Labyrinth, then went totally cross country across a cliffy face thing around Rowland Lake until we finally popped out over by the Vision Quest Pits. Very cool! Then just followed the regular trail back to the Catherine Creek trailhead. Excellent exploration!

We still had daylight left after the Tracy Hill loop, so we went east just a bit to explore the Lyle Cherry Orchard. Wandered along the convict road, around the bend, before climbing back up over the butte to return to where we started. First time I'd been here, and I'm definitely going to go back for longer explorations!

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January 12, 2014

Heart_bw 3

Eagle Creek (Clackamas)

13 miles of hiking • 1500' elevation gain •

The forecast called for doom and gloom. What better excuse to head into an old-growth rain forest? It turned out to be a simply fantastic day! We hiked until we figured about half our daylight was gone, then turned around and came back out. This place is really hard to find, but worth it. Driving directions on gpsfly here: http://gpsfly.org/g/2971

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January 10, 2014

Heart_bw 3

Tanner Butte

19.5 miles of hiking • 5000' elevation gain •

Wonderful first trip up to Tanner Butte, with a whole slew of PortlandHikers folk. Two big takeaway impressions: a) Beargrass alley is vastly more significant than any trip reports or photos ever convey! b) I don't think there's an easier 4500' descent anywhere in the gorge.

Comment 2 comments

January 5, 2014


Cape Horn

8 miles of hiking • 1750' elevation gain •

Did the classic loop around Cape Horn before they close the lower section to preserve the sensibilities of some nesting falcons. Wanted to see how badly WTA had messed things up with re-routes and viewpoint closures. I guess it's not as bad as may have been feared, but it's still rather disconcerting at times. :-/

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January 4, 2014


Hardy-Hamilton New Year's Loop

14.5 miles of hiking • 4250' elevation gain •

Rang in the new year with a "new favorite" loop through Beacon Rock State Park, tagging both Phlox Point (on Hardy Ridge) and Hamilton Mountain along the way. Good friend, good weather, good views, great hike.

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January 1, 2014


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