Hiking in May 2022

Our four hikes in May were all repeat hikes for us, east out of the Portland rain, to see spring wildflowers in the Columbia River Gorge.

5/4 – Tom McCall Point

One of our favorite hikes (3.5 miles, 1000 feet) with wildflowers and mountain and river views.

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Balsamroot and lupine on the lower plateau

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Fern-leaf desert parsley and poison oak in Parsley Alley

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Paintbrush and balsamroot all the way up the mountain

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Chocolate lilies

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View to Lyle and Rowena Crest

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Mt Adams

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View to the Cherry Orchard cliffs from the top of Tom McCall Point

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And, a flock of American pelicans flying upriver…we’ve never seen that before!

5/10 – Bitterroot Trail at Catherine Creek

Another easy loop (3.5 miles, 800 feet), my favorite bitterroot flowers in bloom, and amazing views the whole way.

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Bitterroot blooming on the rocky balds near the trail head.

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Poppies and bachelor buttons along the road

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Bitteroot, camas and monkey flowers near the fairy pools.

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Bitterroot – Lewisia rediviva

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Cluster lilies, orchards of Mosier

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Meadowlark

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Rosy plectritis and bitterroot

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Upriver view at the Balsamroot cairn

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Downriver view, giant anvil cloud southeast of Mt Hood

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Top of Rowland Wall. I found that one giant cluster of bitterroot that I always look for.

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Giant bitterroot cluster, not in bloom;

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Another beautiful bitterroot cluster, in bloom.

5/13 – Weldon Wagon Road

A hike with friends along gorgeous slopes of blooming balsam root flowers (5 miles, 1200 feet).

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Lower oak woodland

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Western tanager flying near the balsamroot

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The open slopes in bloom

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Open slopes

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Parsley and balsamroot

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Flowery meadows along the trail

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Lupine dew

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Balsamroot

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Dogwood in the lower forest

5/26 – Hamilton Mountain

This can be a more difficult loop hike (8 miles, and 2200 feet), but we chose to go just to the upper set of rocky switchbacks, then return the way we came (5 miles, 1550 feet). I got to see the smaller cousin of the bitterroot – Lewisia columbiana, on the upper cliffs just as the weather was starting to turn.

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Lots of white flowers blooming in the forest

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Equisetum (horsetail)

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Rodney Falls

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Pool of the Winds

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View across the gorge from the Little Hamilton summit meadows

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Larkspur, parsley, and chickweed blooming down the slope

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Bonneville Dam and the eastern gorge

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Hamilton Mountain- we are only going to the upper rocky switchback section, circled.

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Most of the Lewisia columbiana was not blooming yet,

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but there were some patches on a sunny cliff.

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Chocolate lilies, phlox and parsley on the lower cliffs

We felt a smattering of rain as we hiked down, but managed to sneak this hike out from under the nose of the weather gods. The real rain didn’t start until we were on our way home.

Southwest hiking trip, April, 2022: Part 2 – Escalante, Utah

April 23, To Escalante, Utah

Escalante is about 5 hours drive east of Las Vegas, so we spent most of a day driving there, but it is a beautiful drive!

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I thought this was a lake, in the desert along Highway 15 east of Las Vegas, but it is actually a large array of solar panels.

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Snow capped Pine Valley Mountains on view as we cross into Utah.

We stopped for a lunch break with a family member who lives near St George, Utah.

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View from the garden.

After lunch, we continued on to Cedar City to buy groceries for the next few days. Then we took the scenic route, Hwys 14 to 89 to 12, over mountains, and onto the Colorado Plateau, where the ‘lower’ elevations are above 5000 feet.

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We passed the turnoff to Zion Canyon, not on our agenda this trip.

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Over snowy mountains on Hwy 14,

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Back down to the Sevier River, along Hwy 89.

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Highway 12 deserves it’s scenic designation!

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Hoodoos of the Claron Formation along the road near Bryce Canyon.

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Everyone loves a rock tunnel!

Beyond Bryce, Powell Point of the famous Grand Staircase Pink Cliffs began to dominate our view.

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Powell Point

We stopped at the overlook on Highway 12 to admire Powell Point from another angle.

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View of Powell Point from the Hwy 12 Overlook.

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Hwy 12 Overlook sign

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Our stratigraphic column for the week.

We arrived in Escalante around dinner time.

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Escalante hotel room view – very different from Las Vegas!

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Location map for our hikes and landmarks for the next few days.

April 24 – Toward Boulder and the Burr Trail

We began the day by driving east on Hwy 12 into this remarkable landscape:

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Lower Calf Creek Falls –  We hiked six miles round trip along Calf Creek, mostly between steep red sandstone walls of Navajo Sandstone. 

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The trail begins near the campground, and stays close to the river most of the way.

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Red sandstone walls loom above,

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On both sides of the river.

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Photogenic scenery in every direction.

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Beaver dams in the river.

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The paper trail guide pointed out pictographs across the canyon,

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identified as Fremont-style rock art,

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painted with red pigment.

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A rock arch across the creek, where the canyon walls narrow.

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At river level, the vegetation forms a tunnel,

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and then the waterfall appears through the trees.

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Lower Calf Creek Falls, 126 feet

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Upper lip

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Lower drop

This was a great lunch stop! We admired the falls for a while.

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Tripod nation

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Upper lip again

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After lunch, we returned down the sandy trail.

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Desert varnish on sandstone

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Spotted towhee

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Navajo Sandstone

We continued driving east on Hwy 12, toward Boulder. We stopped at the pullout that is just above Calf Creek Falls, to see the view across the canyon.

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Looking west

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Our trail down in the canyon

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Blue arrow points to the narrow part of the canyon, and approximate position of Lower Calf Creek Falls.

Long Canyon Slot – We continued east on Hwy 12, to the small town of Boulder, then turned onto Burr Trail Road for eleven miles, to the Long Canyon slot canyon. Once again, the road cut through amazing scenery. These white sandstone hills just outside Boulder remind me of Checkerboard Mesa, near Zion Canyon.

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Navajo Sandstone

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By the time we reached Long Canyon, we had driven lower into the stratigraphy to the older Wingate Formation, also a massive red sandstone layer. The slot canyon here is less than a quarter mile long and easily accessible. 

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Wingate Formation

 

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The slot

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Slot entrance

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Looking up at the sky between the walls

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The end of the canyon

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Much narrower above.

Head of the Rocks Viewpoint

On our drive back to Escalante, we stopped at the Head of the Rocks Viewpoint, with all the world displayed around us.

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Head of the Rocks viewpoint

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Panorama

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Farther east

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Close up of slick rock Navajo Sandstone surface

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Navajo Mountain in the far distance

April 25 – Hole in the Rock Road

Zebra Slot Canyon – We drove down Hole in the Rock Road, south of Escalante, to the trailhead to Zebra Slot. This was another six mile round trip hike, first across open desert, then into canyons cut into Navajo Sandstone. For most of the hike we were admiring wall after wall of cross bedded sandstone.

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Open desert and cliffs west of Hole in the Rock Road

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A desert vetch in bloom

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Slumping within the original sand dune layers

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Closer view

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Microfaulted crossbeds

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Harris Wash

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Entrance to Zebra Slot

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Passage becoming narrower

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An open chamber between narrow passages

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Stripes of varnish and concretions

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Squeezing through – we didn’t make it much farther – we would have had to chimney up the slot – a bit out of our skill set.

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Some of the beautiful striping suggesting the Zebra name

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Daylight above

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Coming out of the slot

On the hike out, we wandered across the beautiful slick rock surfaces.

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Devil’s Garden – We continued down Hole in the Rock Road for a few more miles, to the Devil’s Garden – an area of hoodoos eroded from the Entrada Sandstone. We wandered around this area for about an hour enjoying the photo opportunities.

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Metate Arch

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Metate Arch

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Metate Arch

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Mano Arch

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More hoodoos in the distance

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A rock wren?

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Eroding sandstone layers

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To Tropic – At the end of the day, we drove back west for about an hour, relocating to the town of Tropic, just east of Bryce Canyon, where my husband would be based for his photo class. And we still had a whole day to explore in this area.

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View to Powell Point from our cabin in Tropic.

Coda:  When I was at Joshua tree in February, I was wondering if I still liked the desert, and this trip to the redrock country has answered that question. This is the desert I like…sandstone slickrock, slot canyons,  and cliffs – I realized it was the Colorado Plateau I was seeking. Each day, we noted trails and views we didn’t have time to explore, and made a list for next time…

Our first return to Eagle Creek since the fire of 2017

October 12, 2021  Eagle Creek Trail to Twister Falls

We had been planning to hike all the way to Tunnel and Twister Falls in the autumn of 2017, after the summer crowds cleared out. Alas, the Eagle Creek Fire started on Labor Day weekend that year, scorching 48000 acres of the Columbia River Gorge on the Oregon side of the river. After years of trail maintenance, the Eagle Creek Trail has reopened intermittently this year, occasionally reclosed by landslides. I was wary of hiking this trail, and many of the reopened Gorge trails, for just this reason. Burned trees will fall. Burned, denuded slopes, will slide. And yet… we have been waiting to hike this trail for years.

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Map showing extent of 2017 Eagle Creek Fire. Our trail up Eagle Creek to Twister Falls shown in blue.

The trail extends for 13 miles up Eagle Creek, from the Columbia River, to its outlet on Wahtum Lake (elev. 3700′). We have hiked above this trail, from Wahtum Lake to Chinidere Mountain, many times. And we have hiked the lower trail, past various of the waterfalls, many times before the fire, but never all the way to Twister Falls, which is 6.5 miles from the trailhead.

A notable feature of this trail is that several sections are carved out of the vertical basalt rock walls that line Eagle Creek. Trail ledges were blasted out of the cliffs in the early 1900’s, around the time the old Columbia River Highway was built. People with fear of heights do not like this trail.

We chose a clear fall day, no recent rain, and not windy. Onward!

The trail begins near the banks of Eagle Creek, but mostly stays well above the creek on the east bank.

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Trailhead

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Eagle Creek trail along the cliffs

The trail passes by several waterfalls – we were not stopping much – keeping our end goal in mind.

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Punchbowl Falls

 

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Almost to High Bridge

 

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Loo Wit Falls, near High Bridge

 

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High Bridge, 3.3 miles

 

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Looking down from High Bridge

After crossing High Bridge, the trail is on the west side of Eagle Creek. 

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New undergrowth in the burned forest beyond High Bridge

 

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Skoonichuck Falls –  the farthest we had been on previous hikes.

 

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4.5 Mile Bridge – crossing back to the east side.

 

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Fungi

 

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“Potholes” section

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Grand Union Falls

After 6 miles, we reached the first view of Tunnel Falls:

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Tunnel Falls, East Fork of Eagle Creek, 175 feet.

 

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Approaching the tunnel

 

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View across to the cliffs and ledge trail on the other side

 

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Into the tunnel

 

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Looking up at the lip from the other side

 

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Fern-lined trail ahead

 

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My husband took this photo of me after I walked through the tunnel.

We continued around the corner, and upstream another quarter mile to Twister Falls:

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Twister Falls, West Fork of Eagle Creek, 148 feet.

 

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We couldn’t really get a good look at the full drop of this waterfall from the cliffside trail.

 

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Eagle Creek, just above Twister Falls.

We found a quiet place beside the creek to rest and eat lunch before heading back down the trail.

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Top of Twister Falls

 

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Back through the tunnel,

 

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and out the other side.

 

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My turn…

Hiking back through the “Potholes”, where the trail surface is a parquet of columnar basalt:

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Potholes

 

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Columnar basalts

DSC00687We continued hiking downstream:

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Vine maple turning orange in the burned forest

 

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Big leaf maple turning yellow

 

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We hadn’t noticed Wy’East Falls in a side canyon on the hike up.

 

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Basalt cliffs on the east

 

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4.5 mile bridge again.

There were many areas of obvious trail repair in the burned forest.

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Scree slopes, burned and fallen trees

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High Bridge again…

We successfully completed this hike – 13 miles, 1600 feet for the day. I was glad to have seen Tunnel and Twister Falls, but I also felt a bit of vertigo on that section of the trail, and thought that maybe I won’t need to repeat this hike. The week after our hike, the trail was closed again briefly after an atmospheric river event caused more trail damage (quickly repaired by the valiant trail-keeping organizations in the area). It is a special place, and I am glad to have finally been able to see it.

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Last look at Punchbowl Falls.

Three Fall Hikes near Mt Adams, WA Oct. 6-8, 2021

We stayed two nights in Trout Lake, Washington, to be closer to some far flung trailheads in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. The distance may not be far, in miles, but the nature of the roads requires slow and patient driving. The trails were beautiful, in their fall colors, despite a a bit of rain and early snow.

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Trail location map

Lewis River Falls – October 6th

Knowing it would probably rain, we chose a waterfall hike through the forest. This area is extremely popular in summer. However, on this rainy fall day, we had the trail entirely to ourselves beyond the Lower Falls Overlooks near the campground.

Lower Falls: We looked from above, then from one of the downstream side trails.

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Lower Falls from the overlook

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Closer view of the holes in the rocky platform

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Fallen leaves near the downstream viewpoint

The Lower Falls were mesmerizing:

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Lower Lewis River Falls

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We walked back upstream along the Lewis River for about three miles, toward the Upper Falls. We passed the Lower Falls again:

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Lower Falls with a bit of fall color

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We found a beach during a pause in the rain for our lunch break.

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Lunch rock

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Rock hopper nearby

We continued upstream to the Middle Falls:

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Rainy trail – the trees sheltered us much of the time.

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Middle Lewis River Falls

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The main channel cuts into the rocky bench below the falls.

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We passed Copper Creek Falls, a tributary to the Lewis River:

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Copper Creek Falls

We paused for a rest at the Upper Falls lower viewpoint:

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Upper Lewis River Falls

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From here we turned back, retracing our steps through the woods, quite satisfied that we have seen most of the Lewis River Falls.

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We drove on various Gifford Pinchot National Forest roads to our lodging in Trout Lake. These roads were very slow going, shifting from paved to gravel and extremely potholed!

Killen Creek Meadows, Mt Adams – October 7th

We woke to a glorious blue sky day! The mountain was out, and we looked forward to our hike to Killen Creek Meadows on the northwest flanks of Mt Adams.

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Mt Adams from Trout Lake

The Killen Creek Meadows to High Camp trail begins in the forest, then emerges into tiers of meadows. We started at about 4500 feet elevation, ascending to about 6000 feet on the 12,281 foot tall stratovolcano.

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Lots of red huckleberry bushes along the trail.

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Fresh snow from yesterday’s storm began at about 5200 feet.

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In one forest opening we could see Mt Rainier to the north.

The open meadows provide great views of Mt Adams:

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We reached the junction of the Pacific Crest Trail and the High Camp trail at lunch time, after hiking 3.5 miles. The snow was getting deeper, so we decided this would be our turnaround point. We did meet one northbound hiker, Tortoise, while we rested there.

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Trail junction/lunch stop

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High Camp is somewhere up on this ridge

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Sparkling snow

We made our way back, admiring the views and the foliage.

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Clouds forming in the afternoon

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Huckleberries in the snow

Killen Creek Meadows are known for summer wildflowers, and we plan to return for a future summer adventure.

Takhlakh Lake is not far from the Killen Creek Trailhead. We stopped by for the iconic view on our way back to Trout Lake.

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Mt Adams from Takhlakh Lake

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Glacier close ups

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Northern flank

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An ice cave?

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Adams Glacier

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Hummocky topography on the south flank

Bird Mountain Loop, Indian Heaven Wilderness – October 8th

We chose this hike on the northeast side of Indian Heaven Wilderness for our last day. Clouds were coming in, but we had excellent conditions for seeing lots of lovely fall foliage around the meadows and lakes. The trail begins in the forest, and heads up hill to the flanks of Bird Mountain.

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Once again, our trail leads through red huckleberry foliage.

From the shoulder of Bird Mountain, we got views of surrounding peaks, near and far.

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Mt Adams to the east

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Goat Rocks to the northeast

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Sawtooth Mtn, with Mt Rainier in the distance

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Scree slope beneath Bird Mountain, near our return trail this afternoon.

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Continuing south, we would pass near Lemei Rock.

Beautiful foliage, mushrooms, small lakes appeared in the meadows along our trail.

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Mountain Ash

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Small lake

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Mushroom

We stopped by this small unnamed lake to eat lunch and admire the reflections and colors.

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We took the side trail to Deep Lake, passing the Cultus Lake outlet on the way.

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Cultus Lake from the Deep Lake Trail

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Deep Lake

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Back on the main trail, we passed Cultus Lake before taking the junction toward the Pacific Crest Trail and Clear Lake.

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Cultus Lake

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Clear Lake

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Back on the Pacific Crest Trail, northbound

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One of the scree slopes on the west side of Bird Mountain.

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Another unnamed lake by the trail.

We crossed back over the northern shoulder of Bird Mountain, where we could see some views again, before descending through the scree slopes back to the trailhead. Lots of late blooming flowers and seedheads in this area.

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Sawtooth Mountain, from Bird Mountain

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Mt Adams

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Descending the scree slope – rougher trail in here

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Seedheads

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The very last lupine of summer.

This was a very successful trip – three new trails for us, and more added to our list for the future. We’d hiked more than 22 miles, and 4000 feet elevation, and fully immersed ourselves in the autumn foliage.

Artist Point trails near Mt Baker, WA, September 12 – 15, 2021

We stayed in a condo near the small town of Glacier, WA and drove to trailheads near Artist Point each day. During previous visits, we had some lovely hikes, but were impeded by snowed-in trails in August of 2010, and rain in October of 2015.  We felt lucky to have a good weather window this trip.

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Our four hiking trails – the Ptarmigan Ridge and Chain of Lakes Trails share the same trail from Artist Point for the first mile.

September 12 – Bagley Lakes

The cloud level was just above the Bagley Lakes – no mountain views today, and a bit of rain, but not many people either.

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Hiking down the glaciated columnar basalts to the lakes

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Mountain ash, pearly everlasting, and clouds

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Lower Bagley Lake, asters

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Bridge across Upper Bagley Lake outlet

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First we hiked partway around Upper Bagley Lake:

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Small waterfall and late paintbrush along the trail

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Huckleberry bushes turning red

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Fringed grass of parnassus in abundance!

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Upper Bagley Lake shore and meadows. On our previous visit this area was full of snow.

We turned back and walked along the southern shore of Lower Bagley Lake:

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Meadows full of fringed grass of parnassus – previously only seen rarely by me!

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Bridge over the check dam at the lower end of Lower Bagley Lake.

We returned along the north shore of Lower Bagley Lake,

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Columnar basalt waterfall

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Cascade between the lakes

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Pool above the cascade

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Fireweed

then climbed back up the glaciated basalt surface, having completed the 3 mile loop, clouds lifting just a bit.

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On our drive down the road, we stopped at the Picture Lakes – no mountain views today, but plenty of colorful wildflowers and  foliage in the surrounding meadows.

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Picture Lake

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I realized the foliage colors are all there in the Hitchhiker Shawl I am knitting.

September 13 – Ptarmigan Ridge

When we arrived at the Artist Point trailhead, Mt Baker was out, though hiding a bit behind fast-moving clouds.

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Mt Baker from Artist Point

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We started along the first mile of trail that is carved into a high cirque, toward the saddle where the Ptarmigan Ridge trail begins.

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Trail along the cirque

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Saddle, Mt Baker beyond the clouds.

From the saddle, we dropped down into another cirque, then back up to Ptarmigan Ridge, heading toward Coleman Pinnacle.

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Hiking up the next cirque to the ridge.

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Ptarmigan Ridge

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Rock hopping bird

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View along the Ptarmigan Ridge trail

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Closer view of our next saddle

Once over that saddle, we hiked toward Coleman Pinnacle.

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Coleman Pinnacle

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Glacial striations

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Hiking up the barren, glaciated surface.

We were high enough to look down on Goat Lake,

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Goat Lake

but the mountain remained elusive. One shoulder peeked out, giving us our best view for the day.

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Looking for the mountain

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Mt Baker’s shoulder

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Glacier close ups

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Meanwhile, I was also admiring the foliage colors, and the sea of lily seed heads. This must have been an amazing wildflower meadow a few weeks ago.

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Lily and pasque flower

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Lily and huckleberry

The clouds became thicker, so we decided to turn back, after 4.5 miles.

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Another look at Goat Lake.

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Goat Lake, a few people for scale.

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The clouds parted for a minute, giving us a glimpse of this outlet valley below.

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One last look back at Mt Baker before we turned the corner at the high saddle.

Returning along Ptarmigan Ridge…

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Partridge foot, Happy Bunny Butte

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Trail across the western cirque toward the saddle at Table Mountain

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Back along the eastern cirque, Mt Shuksan still under clouds

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Marmot crossing

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Almost back to the trailhead, Mt Shuksan beginning to peek out.

We hiked 9 miles, 1500 feet for the day. We had packed food in our car, just in case the sunset looked promising – one never knows in the  mountains.

September 13 – Artist’s Point Sunset / Huntoon Point

We rested for a while in the trailhead area, and were rewarded with more cloud clearing, and some beautiful sunset views. We walked along the Huntoon Point Trail for about a mile, watching the sky, the glaciers, the reflections in the several ponds and tarns along the way. A lovely evening.

Mt Shuksan:

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The peak

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Glaciers

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Tarn and trail between Huntoon Point and Mt Shuksan

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More stunning reflections

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Last look.

Mt Baker:

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Mt Baker; Coleman Pinnacle, which we walked around earlier today, in the foreground.

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September 14 – Chain of Lakes

The mountains were out at the trailhead under a higher cloud cover, rain pending…

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Mt Baker

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Mt Shuksan

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Cascades to the north

Knowing it might rain by afternoon, we started out on the Chain of Lakes Trail…

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Cirque trail

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Today we can see the Cascade peaks to the south, and Baker Lake below,

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and the glaciers on Mt Baker

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Crossing the stone ledges in the cirque

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Fireweed and Mt Baker, and our trail junction in the saddle.

From the saddle, we had a better view than yesterday of the Ptarmigan Ridge trail.

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Ptarmigan Ridge trail

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Today we are going north, down the scree slope below Table Mountain, into the Chain of Lakes basin.

We passed by four lakes in the basin…

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Mazama Lake

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Stream between Mazama and Iceberg Lakes

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Iceberg Lake

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Hayes Lake

We followed the side trail around Hayes Lake, toward Arbuthnot Lake, and found shelter under a few trees to eat lunch just as the rain began.

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Hayes Lake and Table Mountain

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Lunch spot view of Hayes and Arbuthnot Lakes

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Closer view of Arbuthnot Lake

The rain was beginning in earnest, so we turned around to retrace our steps, walking quickly as conditions got worse.

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Mushroom forest

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Outlet stream

By the time we were hiking back up the scree slope, I was getting pretty tired, after three days of hiking. I paused, and heard a whistle, and saw a marmot down on the rocks below the trail.

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Marmot giving me the side eye as they enjoy their shower.

We still had more than a mile to go in the pouring rain, no more photos today. But we were very happy with our three days of hiking, and seeing the mountains, and came up with a new list of trails to return to, not just here, but along other trailheads in the North Cascades.

September 15 – Billy Frank-Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

Halfway through our six hour drive home to Portland we took our lunch break at this wildlife refuge at the southern end of the Puget Sound. We walked about two miles, to the beginning of the boardwalk that extends for another mile out into the Puget Sound.

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The trail begins near a bog where we spotted a great blue heron.

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We continued on wooden boardwalks through the woods,

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with views to grassy lowlands.

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Some other hikers pointed out the tiny frogs on the marsh grasses.

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and I spotted a hummingbird.

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After passing the barn,

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we emerged to wide open views of the southern Puget Sound,

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and spotted another heron.

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We walked to the very beginning of the mile long boardwalk out over the water,

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but decided to turn around for the day,

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saving our visit to the farthest viewing platform for another day.

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We will return!

Thus ended another adventure, leaving me with tired legs, and a new list of places to hike next time.

What happened in September 2021…

Home and garden:

Knitting:

I finished more hats for the Women’s Shelter donation, made progress on socks and a shawl, both excellent travel knitting, and began knitting the fall Mystery Gnome. And I received a late but welcome crocheted bag as a birthday gift from my sister.

Hiking:

We spent a lot of time on hiking trails! In addition to two out of town trips to the Olympic Peninsula and Mt Baker, and a day hike at Cloud Cap on Mt Hood, all described in separate posts, we went on six other adventures:

September 9, East Crater Trail, Indian Heaven, Washington. Return to Junction Lake.

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Into the woods

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East Crater

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Junction Lake

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Mountain ash

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Huckleberry

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Mt St Helens from the PCT Southbound

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Birds in a water hole in a mostly dry creek

September 17, Portland Arboretum. Early fall color on a beautiful day.

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Aralia

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Sumac

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Hop hornbeam

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Douglas fir with sap

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September 24, Kiwa Trail, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington. Looking for Sandhill Cranes while we can still hike the trail before it is closed for the winter nesting season.

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Nightshade berries near the creek

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Woodland

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Grassland with teasel

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These are the sandhill cranes we are looking for!

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Resident nesting pair with colt

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September 26 – Saltzman Road in Forest Park, Portland. Our first time on this particular trail through the park, we walked 6 miles while catching up with friends.

September 28, Crawford Oaks, Washington. A return to an oft hiked trail, we escaped the rain in Portland and saw only 4 other hikers the entire day.

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Columbia Hills from The Dalles Bridge

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Geologic context

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Eight Miles Falls

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Pear tree

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Our usual lunch spot

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Clouds and wind

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Eastward

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Tufts

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The “one tree”

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Dried balsamroot, Dalles Mountain Ranch

Some foliage for the day:

September 30, Coyote Wall, Washington. Another often hiked trail, again with friends. A beautiful day up there!

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Puffy clouds and rocks

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Coyote Wall

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Mt Hood in the clouds

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Return hike

Other news:

Tiaki, the Albatross chick I have been watching in New Zealand via webcam, has fledged!

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The blue line is a tracker on Tiaki, the red line is one of her parents.

A family member acquired a new-to-him car.

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I attended an in-person book group meeting, where we watched the moon rise over the Willamette River from Sauvie Island.

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Olympic Peninsula, WA, late summer, 2021

Aug 29 to Sept 3, 2021 – We scheduled a trip to the Olympic Mountains after our Iceland plans were cancelled due to increased spread of the Delta variant of Covid 19. We have been to the Olympics a few times, and have wanted to go back and explore more in the Hurricane Hill/Deer Park area where there are higher altitude hiking trails, the only ones that can be accessed without overnight backpacking. The weather was perfect, but a different sort of human pathology foiled our plans. The night we arrived in Port Angeles, the Olympic National Park website posted a closure alert due to police action. The closure continued for the three days we were in the area, so each day we found alternative hikes.

Location map...

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Driving north on 101 toward the Olympic Mountains – great weather ahead!

Port Angeles

Our hotel on the hill right above the center of town had an expansive view across the harbor, all the way to Victoria and the San Juan Islands. Port Angeles is home to the ferry to Victoria, BC. On previous visits, long lineups of vehicles filled the ferry loading zone at the dock, while people waiting to cross filled the town with activity. The ferry has been closed due to Covid since March of 2020. The town felt eerily quiet  as we walked along the waterfront, admiring the beautiful setting and the shipping activity in the harbor.

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View across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Mt Baker poking above the marine layer

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Another view of Mt Baker beyond the ship

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Hotel balcony view across Port Angeles Harbor to Vancouver Island

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Stairs down to town

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Evening lights

Sol Duc Falls

Monday, August 30th – A short trail leads to a beautiful triple falls.

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Sol Duc Falls

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We explored the river above the waterfall.

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American dipper on the rocks.

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Calmer water

We continued farther up the Sol Duc Trail to extend our hike.

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Shelter near Sol Duc Falls

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Trail beyond the waterfall…

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Corydalis

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The blue bead berries of the Queen’s cup or bead lily

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Vanilla leaf

Ediz Hook

In the afternoon, we drove out onto Ediz Hook, the long jetty that shelters Port Angeles Harbor from the Salish Sea. There are beaches on both north and south sides of the jetty, and a Coast Guard Station at its far end.

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Looking north toward Canada…

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and westward from the north shore of the jetty.

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A seal in the Salish Sea

We walked along the south shore of the jetty, looking back to land:

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Southeast to the Coast Guard Station,

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South to Port Angeles and the Olympic Mountains,

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Southwest to the mountains and harbor industrial buildings.

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Seagull on the north shore

Striped Peak

Tuesday, August 31 – We found an interesting hike at nearby Salt Creek Recreation Area on the Washington Trails Association website. This was a 7 mile hike through beautiful forest and not so beautiful clearcuts, with a visit to a lovely beach cove near the end of the loop. 

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Trail map

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We began in the forest, hiking up almost 1000 feet to the top of Striped Peak.

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We passed military bunkers from WW2 along the ridge, similar to bunkers we saw in Cornwall a few years ago.

A trail around the peak leads to views in all directions:

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Crescent Beach to the west,

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Olympic Mountains to the south,

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Vancouver Island to the north,

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Port Angeles, and our trail through the clearcuts to the east, taken from a bench near the top of Striped Peak.

As we walked more than a mile through the clearcut, we could look back and see the top of Striped Peak.

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Eventually, the trail reentered the green forest, and we made our way back along the coastal cliffs .

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A side trail leads down to Eagle’s Cove, with its surreal turquoise waters:

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Eagle’s Cove, tide going out

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We spotted a heron out in the cove.

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Heron and sea gull

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We think the heron is standing on a floating log.

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Pebbly sand and shells on the beach

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Pebble close up…

The hike out of the cove is steep.

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Looking down at Eagle’s Cove

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Wednesday, September 1 – We drove from Port Angeles to Lake Quinault, with stops along the way.

Bogachiel Rainforest

First stop, a three mile hike at the Bogachiel Rainforest. This is the dry season in the rainforest. 

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Large tree as bridge.

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Plank boardwalks through what I presume can be a much wetter forest floor

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Fallen tree to the right of the trail

Ruby Beach

After our rainforest hike, we stopped at Ruby Beach, the first of several beaches that can be visited while driving south along the coast. 

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Looking down at Ruby Beach from the overlook

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Sculpted sea stack near the access trail

We walked north along the shore as the tide receded.

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Wave sorted shingle

A flock of birds kept us company…

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Walking south again…

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Tide pools formed around the sea stacks …

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Sea anemones

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Sand, cobbles, clam

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Back beach lagoon

We also walked a short distance south on Ruby Beach. 

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Destruction Island, with lighthouse, in the distance

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Parting view of Ruby Beach

We stopped briefly at the at Kalaloch Beach 4 overlook.

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View from above Kalaloch Beach 4

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Cormorants

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The sun is shining somewhere on this foggy day.

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Roots around a nurse log

Lake Quinault

We stayed two nights at Quinault River Inn, a beautiful property with lovely views of the river and mountains.

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View from our porch to the river and mountains

Thursday, September 2 – We explored the network of trails along Lake Quinault and nearby rainforest, then drove the loop road around the lake.

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Trail sign

We began by walking east along the lake shore, mesmerized by the reflections in the glassy lake surface.

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The spell was broken by a launch crossing the lake, casting wake ripples through the reflections.

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We turned back west, passing by the historic Lake Quinault Lodge.

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We crossed a bridge near Willaby Falls, then headed uphill to the rainforest trails.

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Willaby Falls

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I was continuously awed by the size of the trees in the rainforest.

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Cedar swamp

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Cascade Creek

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After finishing our hike, we drove the roads around Lake Quinault, passing waterfalls and a view into the higher mountains.

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Merriman Falls

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Bunch Falls

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Quinault River upstream (east) from the lake

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We closed our last day back at the Quinault River Inn, watching reflections in the water as the shadows grew long.

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Follow up to the Olympic National Park crime situation:  We learned that a man under the influence of methamphetamine had wrought havoc on the area before disappearing into the wilderness with a long gun. Trails and campgrounds in the National Park were evacuated for three days, interrupting  many people’s trips. The man was located, and the park reopened, about an hour after we departed. Allegations as of time of writing this, according to a news article in the Sequim Gazette (September 14, 2021):  He assaulted his girlfriend, set a 1000 acre fire, cut down a tree to block the road, disabled a park service radio repeater, and tried to shoot down a surveillance drone. After a negotiated surrender, he was placed in custody. He had multiple weapons, ammunition, chain saws, survival gear, a letter announcing a revolution to begin soon, and a quantity of presumed methamphetamine in his possesion. He has many past domestic violence charges.

This crime event did not exactly ruin our trip, as we were able to find other options for hiking and seeing beautiful places, just not the places we had planned to see. We have become accomplished this year at making other plans, and making the best of unforeseen circumstances. We hope to return another year to see the high country.

More hiking in August, 2021: a witch’s castle, an artesian spring, and waterfalls

In addition to our walk at Nehalem Bay earlier in the month, we hiked three other days in August before going on our trip to the Olympic Mountains at the end of the month.

8-17-2021 – Wildwood Trail/Witches Castle

We added another 2 miles to our section hike of the Wildwood Trail.

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A five mile loop – Wildwood Trail to Birch Trail to Holman Lane

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The forest was dry and dusty today

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Balch Creek

This segment of the Wildwood Trail passes by the “Witches Castle”, formerly a visitor center, now a destination for various graffiti artists and partiers, and a colorful landmark in the green forest.

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Meanwhile, in the forest, harbingers of fall in the maple trees….

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We only have 5 miles remaining in our pandemic thru hike.

8-22-2021 – Dry Creek Falls

We returned to this short hike in the gorge with our visiting  daughter. And I noted that, while we were not in Iceland, we were looking at a waterfall and columnar basalts…

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Dry Creek

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Dry Creek Falls

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Columnar basalts

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Columnar basalts, vine maples and cedar branches

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Bridge on the PCT over Dry Creek

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There were a few colorful flowers and berries along the trail…

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Fireweed

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Penstemon

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Solomon seal

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And the evil poison oak, showing its fall colors

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A ghost tree along the path.

8 26-2021  Little Zigzag Falls and Little Crater Lake, Mt Hood

We planned to hike up high on Mt Hood today, but the cloud cover directed us otherwise.

Little Zigzag Falls – We’ve never stopped here before because the hike is so short – less than a mile round trip. This trail through beautiful green forest along a mountain stream will be a good one to keep in mind for visitors on the grand round-the-mountain tour.