September 30, 2012

The short, scenic and historic drive that is road 48

Barlow Road near Forest Creek Campground
As I've written in a previous post, sometimes the best part of a trip to a particular destination is the drive. After making numerous trips over the Cascades from the Portland area to North Central Oregon, one drive that became routine was forest road 48 beginning at its western intersection with Highway 35 (to Hood River) and ending in the little hamlet of Wamic. However, looking closer, the road closely parallels one of the most important roads in not only Oregon history, but also the history of the U.S.

September 21, 2012

Triangulation Peak hike offers new sights and sounds

Mt. Jefferson from inside Boca Cave
I hiked a nice trail from road 635 to the cutoff trail ascending Triangulation Peak (5434'), located just inside the Northwest border of the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. It is a little over 2 miles from trailhead to Triangulation Peak's summit where, I had read, you can see from Mt. Rainier to the north to Diamond Peak to the south. I could see Diamond Peak, but anything north of Mt. Hood was blocked from my view by summer haze.

Hike into Bagby Hot Springs and overt nudity begs the question: do you feed those things?

Several years ago, before it was rebuilt, Shifty, Bones and I hiked into Bagby Hot Springs out of curiosity more than anything. The place is named for an old prospector and miner who spent a lot of time in the area. We had heard all the stories – wild parties with naked people running around the woods. It was time we experienced this place for ourselves.

September 18, 2012

No turning back after initial venture into the Table Rock area (excuse the poor pics)

Table Rock from near Rooster Rock
Years ago, Bones and Shifty, two friends since childhood, and I spent the early morning hours during an April day inside my tiny, rickety pickup, bouncing along washboard stretches of an old logging road, high in the Old Cascades of Oregon.              

September 15, 2012

Lakes, mineshaft and cougar highlight excursions to Pansy Lake and BOTW wilderness

 Pansy Lake

Having some unfinished business around the Pansy Lake area of Bull of the Woods Wilderness, I got up early Saturday morning and drove to the trailhead. I wanted to get home before noon so I could watch the Ducks manhandle Tennessee Tech.

It had been around 20 years or so since I last hiked to the lake. Back then, I backpacked through the area, into Pansy Lake and south to Battle Creek shelter. From there, I made my way down Elk Lake Creek and around to Welcome Lakes and up to the Bull of the Woods lookout. I remember beginning the hike in the evening, and when I arrived at the lake, every square foot of Pansy Lake’s water surface was rippled by feeding trout.

September 12, 2012

A few of Mt. Hood's many looks

Mt. Hood and Mirror Lake from Tom, Dick and Harry Mt.

As a wee pup I used to wonder why all the vehicles were parked along highway just west of the summit of the pass leading to Government Camp along highway 26. Anymore, there is barely a summer or fall weekend when the two parking lots right along the South side of the highway are not full of cars. Later, I learned it was the trailhead to a popular hiking destination – Mirror Lake.

September 11, 2012

Eagle Cap's magnetism a strong pull

Moccasin Lake in the Lake Basin area of the Eagle Cap Wilderness
Something magical radiates from northeastern Oregon's Wallowa Mountains. Viewed from surrounding fields and farmland, their rugged walls rise abruptly in the distance, forming a jagged skyline nearly 10,000 feet high. Even while gazing down into Wallowa Lake's reflective waters, one can feel the outer fringe of these rugged mountains hovering above. And finally, it is when you walk among these granite peaks, within the Eagle Cap Wilderness, you truly discover the secrets to their allure.

September 9, 2012

A great road trip in Southwest Oregon for kids (and adults)

Young leopard at West Coast Game Park

Here's a great road trip in the Southwest area of Oregon that my bride, daughter and I made a few years back. Every kid loves animals, and my daughter is no different. Although I would have liked to have made this trip when she was a little younger, at 11, it wasn't too late to spend a spring break with animals from various regions throughout the planet.

September 8, 2012

Hiking in Yellowstone the morning of the park’s first bear mauling death in 25 years

During the summer of 2011 I talked my bride and 13 year old daughter to take a trip with me to the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks. The primary objective was to experience as much of the parks as one week would allow. This meant plenty of driving, but I also wanted to at least get in a few hikes.

September 6, 2012

Finding solitude on a day hike within driving distance of Portland

Big Slide Mt. and Big Slide Lake from Bull of the Woods near lookout

One of my favorite wilderness areas within driving range of the Portland area for a day hike is Bull of the Woods Wilderness. One of the reasons is because every now and then, you can hike a trail and meet, see, or hear absolutely no one. Unfortunately in Oregon's mountains, there are no guarantees you will find the complete serenity found when only you and the mountains interact, without any interference from the outside world. However, there are areas where one has a much better chance to find solitude. I have found this on a few hikes on the Dickey Creek Trail.


September 5, 2012

Dogs on the trail: some lessons learned

In a previous post about the different ways to hike into Green Lakes, in the Three Sisters Wilderness, I wrote about how one of my dogs, Cody, and I met up with a pit bull and proceeded to spin circles, as I tried to keep them from tearing each other to pieces. Like this pit bull, when they misbehave, it is usually the fault of their handler.

A walk into Eight Lakes Basin, Mt. Jefferson Wilderness

Jorn Lake, Mt. Jefferson Wilderness
Many moons ago and after hiking and backpacking for some time, I finally convinced my bride to join me on a weekend backpack trip to Duffy Lake, located in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. The plan was to hike 3.5 miles into the lake and set up a base camp. From there, we could set out and explore nearby lakes such as Mowich and Santiam.

September 4, 2012

If you can't keep from treating our forests like a garbage dump, stay the hell out!

Garbage left behind atop Hawk Mt.
First of all, I am no tree hugging preservationist with nothing better to do but file a lawsuit when anyone lifts a chainsaw in the forest. I do not claim to be an environmentalist, although I do think common sense and decency play a part in any trip into our forests. I scoff at any mantra suggesting you leave the wilds in better condition than when you left. How is that possible? If the average Joe left the forest in the same condition as when he entered it would do fine. That is not to say that forests should not be managed for multiple uses – including logging! Industry does have its place in the woods! But that is for another post.

Along a 2.6 mile stretch of trail hugging the Salmon River in the Salmon Huckleberry Wilderness, one can see some of the largest old growth trees in the state. At an elevation of around 1,600', this trail can be hiked any time of the year and is easily accessible. A paved road closely parallels the entire trail. Sunset magazine once said, "Though this nearly level trail winds along between road and river, you rarely see or hear traffic; you feel as though you're well away from civilization."

Ignorance in the woods can be very costly

Lake Kiwa, Waldo Lake Wilderness

I think it was back in cub scouts as a wee lad when the "be prepared" mantra was originally drilled into my head. Forgetting toilet paper when preparing for a hike is one thing – not packing the right clothes on a backpack trip, especially in the winter, is another.

Accidents happen, people get lost – let someone know your destination.

Above my desk at home, hanging on the wall, is a framed note from my wife. It reads:


Wake me before you leave. Please write down exactly where you are going, what time you'll be home - DETAILS. Honey, please be very, very careful.

 Please be safe.

I love you very much,


P.S. Set the alarm for 8:00. Candy bars in freezer. Are you going to take a sharp knife to protect yourself? Please.


September 3, 2012

Checklist omission forces Tarzan Method in the wild

After an embarrassing number of miles hiked, I finally realized that committing my quasi backpacking checklist to memory was like wearing speedos on the beach - neither would work me. I had never worn the scant swimsuit, yet knew better. But at the same time, I knew better than to head into Oregon’s wilds without going over a checklist, yet it took me several frustrating miles to realize that putting my list to paper would not only spare me from aggravation but actually add enjoyment to my hikes.


Amped on joe: a lesson learned in coffee consumption in the wild

Oldenburg Lake in the summer
Calvin the Wonder Dog, my feisty Cocker Spaniel, and I set out years ago in late May for Eddeeleo Lakes, named after three dudes named Ed, Dee and Leo and located in the Waldo Lake Wilderness. A mild winter had dumped modest volumes of snow on the Cascade Mountains that year, opening trails at higher elevations much earlier than usual. The plan was to skirt Waldo Lake along its loop trail and then hang a left on the trail leading to the lakes. I had the weekend to get it done.

September 2, 2012

Stealthy predator makes hike along Salmon River one to remember

The sound of a snapping twig alerted me to movement along Devil's Peak's forested slopes, with the Salmon River below. I spun around and peered through the darkness of the deep forest in early morning, focusing on two deer nervously wading through the fern laden forest floor. It was as if Mother Nature had snapped her fingers, directing my attention toward the jittery does and away from the grisly matters playing out in the small canyon below.

Poor directions, spider webs and blisters don't deter from Hawk Mt. hike

Hawk Mt. cabin and views
It was a web-busting morning. Obviously first on the trail that day or perhaps the entire week, I was breaking through countless spider webs spun from tree to tree across my path. Bad directions gleaned from a website brought about an adventure before even getting to the trailhead. Numerous wrong turns and ample guesswork finally delivered me to the Rho Ridge trail. My destination was Hawk Mt. and its views of Mt. Jefferson, Olallie Butte, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington and at least one of the Three Sisters.