OR – Silver Falls State Park

This one has been on my list for a couple years, but by now you know I tend to avoid crowds and state parks. It finally was in my direct path but it was a Saturday. With a 7am opening, I decided to take a chance and see if I could beat the rush, but I was mentally prepared for the population explosion.

Upper South Falls

One of the unusual features of this park is the number of fall you get to walk behind and view from different perspectives.

Lower South Falls

It was another opportunity to walk behind the falls.

Lower North Falls

Double Falls

Drake Falls

Middle North Falls

Twin Falls

North Falls

I skipped Upper North Falls this trip. It’s near a parking area and with it now being nearly 11am the crowds had arrived.

I can see why this is a highly recommended trail and park. By arriving early I walked in solitude for the first couple hours, only encounter a few others. I was able to capture photos of falls minus strangers. I enjoyed bird song, babbling creeks and roaring waterfalls. As I neared parking areas and mid morning the crowds picked up. There were about 10 cars in the South Falls parking area when I arrived, and hundreds when I departed.

 

It just happened to be Historic Silver Falls Days while I was visiting which may have added to the crowds. For the $5 parking fee, there are many activities to keep folks separated and active. The interpretative signage includes lots of interesting factoids.

My reward!

Adventure Date(s):

  • July 13, 2019

Hike Details:

Notice actual elevation gain/loss was 1,500 feet vs the 500 feet noted on the literature and signage. This excludes Upper North Falls which would have added about a mile.Tip(s):

  • If your knees dislike going down stairs, you can plan a route to go up instead. From the South Falls Day Use Area, take the Maple Ridge Trail to Lower South Falls connecting to the Canyon Trail with Lower and Upper South Falls. This is a 2.6 mile counterclockwise route.
  • To avoid going down stairs: From the North Falls Parking lot take the Rim Trail to the Winter Trail to Canyon Trail to Lower North Falls. Along the way you’ll see Winter Falls (only in the winter), Twin Falls and Lower North Falls. I recommend taking a short out and back to see Lower North Falls, Drake Falls, Double Falls and Middle North Falls. Then from the parking lot hike out to Upper North Falls. 
  • In general the signage was good but it was helpful to grab one of the free maps. The first area that was confusing was at the South Falls Day-Use Area. Where does the trail start? Follow the paved stone path. The next area was at the junction to North Falls Parking and connecting to the Rim Trail. There is separate signage with the Rim sign in an odd location. The last areas was just after the Winter Falls parking where the bike path and Rim Trail converge. Stay on the dirt path.
  • There are kiosks in each parking area to pay the $5 parking fee. It accepts credit cards or cash. Best $5 I’ve spent in a long time!

Resources:

Links:

OR – Willamette National Forest, Coffin and Bachelor Mountains

Social media created a frenzy of must see places with timely postings of WOW photos. I have to admit I got caught up in this one, the bear grass superbloom.

To the left is Coffin Mountain, in the middle is Bachelor Mountain (not Mt Bachelor), and to the right is Mt Jefferson. My plan was to hike both Coffin and Bachelor.

Hike #1 – Coffin Mountain

For best photography lighting I chose to hike near sunset and sunrise. I felt like I was in a magical Dr. Seuss forest.

By the time I arrived at the open field, I was feeling a bit disappointed as it looked like I’d missed peak bloom.

Rather than pout, I decided to look at the scene from a different perspective.

With 5:30am sunrise, I decided to enjoy a cup of coffee rather than making the summit. Regrets?

I was on trail before 7am saying good morning to the bear grass, and a trio of hikers who were returning from their sunrise hike. Regrets?

My view of the Central Oregon Cascade Range including Three Fingered Jack, Mt Washington and the Three Sisters.

The reason for this mass bloom of bear grass is historical wildfires. According to the USFS website, the lookout has been rebuilt at least three times since it was originally erected in 1905.

That’s Mt Hood in the distance.

Love this feature in the Peak Finder app.

My view from the lookout.

There was more to see besides bear grass.

Oh but wait, there’s more.

Hike #2 – Bachelor Mountain Trail

The trailhead is marked on maps but it’s a mystery in reality. As a result I met a couple who asked Google to guide them to Coffin Mountain rather than Coffin Mountain Trailhead. They’d already hiked about 1.5 miles before I met them and they couldn’t figure out why the scenery didn’t match the photo they’d been sent.

Instead of bear grass gone crazy, I got sunflower bliss.

The trail wasn’t exciting but I found a few gifts.

There was some blooming bear grass along the way but tons of grass minus the blooms. I wonder if they’ll bloom this year? I heard bear grass is on a 5-7 year cycle so maybe that’s why the superbloom on Coffin Mountain. Possibly the majority of plants are similar age following the most recent fire whereas the ones on Bachelor Mountain are from older stock. 

At the top of the summit, where there once upon a time was a fire lookout, is supposedly a view worthy of the hike.

I finally found a sign, although the trail is easy to follow, it was a nice guidepost at this junction.

Looking at Mt Hood and Mt Adams from Bachelor Mountain summit.

Looking at Mt Jefferson from the summit of Bachelor Mountain.

The Gaia view.

A benefit of hiking this trail is this view of Coffin Mountain. Does it look like a coffin? The brown open area is the bear grass meadow.

Do you see the lookout on Coffin Mountain?

Adventure Date(s):

  • July 11-12, 2019

Hike Details:

  • Coffin Mountain
  • Bachelor Mountain

Tip(s):

  • Coffin Mountain has become a bit abused and overused during this superbloom season. There isn’t a restroom at either of the trailheads either.
  • Of course, some hikers feel like rules don’t apply to them. Dog poo bags were left under the LNT sign.
  • There are plenty of nearby dispersed and backcountry opportunities, Coffin has become off limits.

Resources:

Links:

OR – Willamette National Forest, Tombstone Pass Trailhead

When a friend heard I was in the Central Oregon Cascades in search of wildflower hikes, she recommended the Iron Mountain/Cone Peak loop. I rate this as an A+ WOW-per-mile hike.

Columbine

Tiger Lily

Owl Clover

Penstemon

?

Lupine love

Flax

Sedum

The Cone Flower wasn’t blooming yet. Was Cone Peak named after the Cone Flower?


Well on this day the mountains said, nope, look at the flowers instead. Use your imagination to see Three Sisters.

Adventure Date(s):

  • July 11, 2019

Hike Details:

  • I hiked the loop counterclockwise
  • This was a slow hike with lots of photo stops
  • Signage was good and trail well maintained and easy to navigate

Tip(s):

  • A federal recreation pass is required to park at the trailhead. It cannot be purchased on site; however, Interagency Passes (i.e. National Parks) and Northwest Forest Pass are valid (link).

Resources:

Links:

OR – Newberry National Volcanic Monument, Paulina Region

Over the years, I’ve traveled through Bend many times, but until now my timing has never been optimal to explore the area. After a 5-week travel hiatus, it was time to begin my summer jaunt. Can you believe the Newberry Volcano is the largest in the Cascade Range? It’s also one of the newest National Monuments receiving the status in 1990, and only one of 12 managed by the US Forest Service.

There are three areas of the monument with the southern region the most diverse. I visited several trails in that section during my recent visit.

Hike #1 – Paulina Falls and Creek Trail

Besides Paulina (pronounced Pol-EYE-nuh) Lake, the Falls are probably the most visited areas of the park. There is a short 1/4 mile trail to the falls but it also extends to the top of the falls and along the creek to a crossing and the opposite shore.

Hike #2 – Big Obsidian Flow Trail

This is another short hike of about one mile. Ask at the Paulina Visitor Center if there will be a ranger talk. There was one scheduled for the day I visited but the timing didn’t work for my schedule. The trail is quite rocky. I was glad to be wearing my hiking shoes and prepared with my hiking poles. There is excellent interpretive signage along the trail.

Hike #3 – Little Crater Trail

This trail was in excellent shape offering views of Paulina Lake, but most impressive was the view of the 1,300 year old Big Obsidian Flow. There were even a few wildflower sightings. It was a less than a 2-mile loop with about 400′ of elevation gain/loss.

Hike #4 – Newberry Crater Trail

I really wanted to experience being on the rim and seeing if I could get a better perspective of the 17-square mile caldera, so this trail seemed the best opportunity. There is a 21-mile loop trail along the rim; however, no backcountry camping is allowed so biking, running or fast hiking are the best options to experience it in one go. There are several access points so you can create a series of loops to experience more of the rim. This was 7 mile, 1,100′ foot elevation/gain, zero WOW-factor hike until the end when you’re rewarded with a view.

Virtual Hike – Paulina Peak

After my full day of hiking, I drove to the peak rather than hiking the 2-mile, 1,400′ elevation gain/loss trail. It was a perfect way to end my trip as the view of the caldera, lakes, flow and other volcanic features were highlighted from this perspective.

The skies weren’t very cooperative on this visit keeping mostly hidden the distant mountains. I was glad for at least a glance while on Paulina Peak where I could see Three Sisters.

Adventure Date(s):

  • July 10, 2019

Tips:

  • There is no backcountry camping (car or backpacking) allowed in the park. There are several nice campgrounds.
  • Dispersed camping is available on forest service roads outside the park as well as at the nearby snow parks.
  • Another recommended trail I’d hike in the future is the Peter Skene Ogden National Recreation Trail.
  • A ranger recommended the Lava Cast Forest. I’m sure it’ll be very interesting as I was introduced to these fascinating fossils at Craters of the Moon National Park.

Resources:

Links:

 

OR – Crater Lake NP . . . a January spring tease

With the government shutdown, Crater Lake closed it’s doors from December 23, 2018 through January 27, 2019. When they welcomed back visitors on the 28th, I wanted to be there to not only support our rangers but to experience the beauty under pristine conditions. 

With a late start after four hours of traveling, I didn’t quite get the pristine conditions I’d hoped to experience. The area near parking tends to become a mine field of deep boot holes created by those not wearing snowshoes or skis. My plan was to camp on the rim, something that is only allowed during the winter when the roads are closed. Well as is typical for me Plan A becomes Plan B or C or  . . . The park changed their parking policy for backcountry campers. They now require parking two miles away which then meant either a hitch or a hike up an ungroomed trail through avalanche territory to reach the rim. I was not prepared for those options so I’d have to settle for day visits. 

It was an overcast day with very little breeze and perfect temperatures. I’d been excited to overnight as conditions were forecast to be about as perfect as they can be in late January. 

While the area around Rim Village is trampled and there is usually a well stomped path to Discovery Point, once beyond that point, there is plenty of virgin snow. 

One of the reasons I wanted to overnight on the rim was to enjoy sunset and sunrise. Sunset was a bit of a disappointment, but it kept me focused on Mt Thielsen and thoughts of my PCT journey six months earlier.

It’s a 20 mile drive to a snowpark at Annie Springs to legally overnight camp. With winter road conditions, it took me an hour to drive those miles. After a restless night’s sleep I was up before dawn to make my way back to the rim for sunrise. 

I had high hopes of making it to Watchman Peak. Crusty conditions made for slow travel and considerable effort. 

Watchman Peak with it’s tower was my objective. 

I was near the bend when I was confronted with crumbling snow, rock fall and avalanche danger. I probably should have veered from the road at Lightning Springs as the transition from the road to the ridge looked challenging. Regardless I was tuckered and knew it was unlikely I’d make it to the top, so not feeling too defeated this was good motivation to reverse direction. 

This day will be remembered for the icy reflections on the lake. There was a thin veil of ice covering most of the lake but there were also open water areas which reflected the snow on the mountains. It was a 360-degree phenomenon. Incredible! I wasn’t able to capture the magic through photos, but this gives you an idea.

Adventure Date(s):

  • January 28-29, 2019

Tips:

  • Permits are required to camp on or near the rim. They can be obtained from the wilderness office near the Steel Visitor Center. Plan your timing to hitch the two miles to Rim Village. Had I known about the policy change I would have arrived much earlier in the day so I could have driven to the rim to check on conditions before returning for permit and parking.
  • Car camping is not allowed in the park. There are snow parks on 62 north and south. To be legal you need an Oregon snow parking pass.
  • Download a copy of the winter newspaper for details on closures, trails, etc.
  • Check weather forecast.

Resources:

Links:

 

OR – PCT Sections C, D and E . . . as in Crater Lake to SOS

While visiting friends in Oregon, I found I had an open 3-week window on my calendar. It wasn’t on my summer itinerary, but then again neither was Oregon. With fires preventing me from hiking the Colorado Trail, alternative plans were the word of the day. 

Step 1 – Prep

What is Oregon known for? That’s right lots of mosquitoes! I’ve found spraying my outside clothes, shoes and gear with Sawyers Permethrin minimizes the amount of bug repellent I need to apply to my body. For those times you need a little extra, I use Sawyers Picaridin. It worked fine for me through Oregon.

Having on-trail resupply locations meant no hitching required. I spent a few days getting my resupply boxes ready for shipment to Shelter Cove, Big Lake Youth Camp and Timberline Lodge.

Step 2 – Transportation

I was on the Oregon Coast and wanted to start from Crater Lake. Friends and family stepped up and made it happen, even if it meant a few puppy kisses in exchange. 

Step 3 – Time to HIKE! 

I started north from the Rim Visitor Center on the popular PCT alternate trail. This wasn’t my first visit to Crater Lake but it was my first time to walk the rim. By the way, wildfires were the cause of the hazy views and photographs.

I expected the rim to be fairly flat. I was caught a bit by surprise by it’s lumpiness, especially after being fairly sedentary for the past few weeks.

I was very concerned about the 26-mile dry stretch between Rim Village and Thielsen Creek. I knew there was potential for water caches maintained by trail angels but I didn’t want to depend on them, especially as a friend was driving by on her way to Crater Lake and was able to drop off a gallon in a couple locations. 

Diamond Lake 

Mt Thielsen 

Thielsen Creek 

No summit, no views at this high point. 

You frequently hear about the green tunnel in Oregon, but I found some exceptions. 

And sometimes you even have views. 

Flowers and bees are a good combination. 

There were plenty of campsites without views. 

This was my favorite for catching the morning glow. 

This is what they call the green tunnel. 

I’ll take it over burn any day. 

I took the Oregon Skyline Trail (OST) alternate between Windigo Pass and Shelter Cove. 

I made a wrong turn getting into Crescent Lake and ended up hiking an extra 4 miles. 

I’d planned to spend time soaking in the lake and basking on the beach but instead wasted a couple hours walking those extra miles.

Even in late July, temperatures were quite chilly during the night. 

The collision of warm and cold made for these steamy views.

Diamond View Lake was one of the more picturesque lakes along the trail.

The food at Shelter Cove Resort was great. The staff at the store and cafe were friendly. They’ve created a nice covered area for hikers with recharging station, hiker boxes, picnic table, etc. While I was there campers in the vicinity brought treats to the area. 

Shelter Cove is on Odell Lake. During my time, swimming was discouraged. Shower and laundry facilities were adequate.

Looking back at Odell Lake. 

Rosary Lake and Pulpit Rock 

Yes bears roam these woods.

Sunrise at Charlton Lake. 

Oregon makes it easy to obtain permits in most areas. Self registration is available at major trailheads and road crossings. This is my friend Ron, a long time section hiker, who joined me for a few days.  

This was my third visit to Three Sisters Wilderness and I was excited to see the mountains up close and personal from the west side. After spending three weeks on the Oregon Coast my body wasn’t acclimated to heat, thus I used my umbrella to help reduce the affects.

I knew Anish was on trail and that there was a tiny chance we would cross paths. We came so close to missing each other but as it happened her and Adam were going to grab water at the same lake Ron and I had stopped at to camp. If you haven’t heard Anish completed her goal of hiking the AT, PCT and CDT in 2018, that’s about 8,000 miles. Here’s the link to her story, “Heather Anderson Completed a Calendar-Year Triple Crown.”

I took time to photograph the few flowers I found along the trail. 

I also love finding the older signs that have been eaten by the trees. 

The rumor is that Oregon is flat. Well they may be fibbing a little. This was my most challenging climb, partially because I was hiking it in the afternoon heat. I believe this was Koosah Mountain, north of the Elk Lake Trail junction.

This one was hiking north out from Bobby Lake.

I was beyond excited to finally get a view of South Sister. 

And this one of Mt Bachelor.

And this one of Broken Top. 

Wickiup Plains ended up being my favorite part of the trail thus far (besides Crater Lake). 

Although the lighting was bad, it was magical seeing South Sister, wildflowers and the glacial moraine. 

Could I have asked for a better place to spend my last few hours on trail? 

It was just me and my shadow soaking in this amazing early morning beauty. 

Just when I didn’t think things could get much better I found this meadow filled with blooming lupine. 

And another with monkey flowers. 

With so much happiness in my heart I found myself weaving through burned forests. 

Mesa Creek was a wonderful oasis, with water so much nicer than that gathered from the lakes. I took a break here at 8am and as I was about to leave I saw my trail friends, Hot Lips and Caveman, who I’d had a nice conversation with at camp the previous night. I briefly met them at Shelter Cove but didn’t see them again until that arduous climb up Koosah Mountain.

Hot Lips and I visited for a while at the creek while Caveman went ahead. We hiked together through this burn area. 

As we said our goodbyes and she rushed up the trail to catch her husband, I got into my rhythm and suddenly found myself looking down a slope with my upper body propelling myself into a fall. These things happen. No big deal . . . until I found my wrist contorted and yelled HELP in hopes Hot Lips was still within ear shot. As luck would have it she heard me and rushed back to my aid.

Here’s the link to the rest of the story, “Life Interrupted . . . Forever Grateful for the SOS Button

Adventure Date(s):

  • June 17-25, 2018

Hike Details:

  • Section C: 17.8 miles
    • Guthook Mile 1839.2-1847.9 +9.4 miles for Crater Lake Rim alternate
  • Section D: 54.3 miles +4 bonus miles
    • Guthook Mile 1847.9-1878.2; 1906.6-1907.9 +22.7 miles for OST alternate to Shelter Cove/Odell Lake
  • Section E: 57.8 miles
    • Guthook Mile 1907.9 – 1965.7

Resources:

Links:

OR – Central Oregon Coast Jaunts

I’ve always enjoyed a quick visit to the coast but it’s never been a place I dreamt of living nor spending extended time. I’m a mountains girl through and through. Nevertheless, I’ve also learned to be open minded and perhaps be surprised by new perspectives. 

Hike #1 – Cape Perpetua, St Perpetua Trail

I was underwhelmed by this “best view on the Oregon Coast.” 

Hike #2 – Cascade Head Preserve 

I can tell I liked this area better as I took more photos.

Hike #3 – Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area, Salal Hill Trail

I enjoyed observing the Peregrine falcons. Yes I know, crappy photo . . . 

Hike #4 – Cape Perpetua, Cook’s Ridge Trail 

I liked this forested hike better than the coastal view hikes. 

This plant intrigued me. I’d never seen anything like it. Very cool! According to Wikipedia, “Monotropa uniflora, also known as ghost plant (or ghost pipe), Indian pipe or corpse plant, is an herbaceous perennial plant. Unlike most plants, it is white and does not contain chlorophyll. Instead of generating energy from sunlight, it is parasitic, more specifically a mycoheterotroph. Its hosts are certain fungi that are mycorrhizal with trees, meaning it ultimately gets its energy from photosynthetic trees. Since it is not dependent on sunlight to grow, it can grow in very dark environments as in the understory of dense forest.

Hike #5 – Darlingtonia Wayside 

Winners of coastal life?

Sunsets

Tidal pools and breaking waves 

Interesting sea life 

Oh how I love the barking, sun loving, happy napping sea lions.

Flowers 

Farmers markets, live music, fresh fish, breweries and coffee shops in places like Newport, Florence, Bandon, Lincoln City, Depoe Bay, and my favorite Yachats. 

Losers of coastal life?

I didn’t care for the marine layer mist and views, which seemed present 75% of the time. 

Gray skies, flat beaches, quiet water . . . even with the occasional bird.

The daily forecast, 40% fog, 40% drizzle, 20% sun plus 80% breezy. 

Links: