ID – Wildflowers of the Snake River Trail- Hells Canyon National Recreation Area

Wildflower viewing was one of the primary reasons I wanted to hike the Snake River Trail in Hells Canyon National Recreation Area. Here are a few of my favorites, with names based on limited research. ENJOY!

Brodiaea

Who am I?

Narrowleaf Skullcap (?)

Larkspur

Fiddleneck

Balsamroot

Aster (Tragopogon dubius)

Paintbrush (bonus: tent worm?)

Three Flowered Avens (Old Man’s Beard)

Phylox

Aster (?)

Redstem Filaree (?) Geranium (?)

Sweet Pea or Milk-vetch

Flax (lewisii)

Prairie Star (bonus: poison ivy)

Ladybugs love Milkweed

Date(s) Hiked: May 4-8, 2017

Spring 2017 Road Trip: Days 67-71 (out of 78)

Resources:

Links:

Trinity Alps – Long Canyon Trailhead (07/14)

The majority of hikers use the Long Canyon Trail to reach the Four-Lakes Loop, as I did last September.

Long Canyon trail lined with Dr. Seuss flowers, aka Western pasqueflower (Pulsatilla or Anemone occidentalis).

If you are one of the few who enjoy route finding, hiking off-trail, bushwhacking, and scrambling, you’ll love the lakes hidden behind this ridge.

From Bowerman Meadow, looking up at the ridge sheltering the lakes.

Lake Anna

Billy Be Damned Lake

Sunrise at Lake Anna

Sunbeam reflection upon Lake Anna

Infinity image at Lake Anna

 

Jan’s Tips:

  • Reference my Trinity Alps Trails Link Page for maps, books, online resources, etc.
  • For travel in the Trinity Alps, I highly recommend having a GPS device. Except for the very popular, over-used trails, most other trails listed on the maps and in guidebooks are overgrown, filled with deadfall or scree, or are nearly non-existent. Some trails have been rerouted, with no updated reference on GPS. For example, on the Bowerman Trail, GPS showed we were on trail, but there was absolutely no evidence for at least a mile.
  • Additional blog postings about related hikes I’ve taken can be found in my Hikes in the Trinity Alps Wilderness category.

Trinity Alps – North Fork Coffee Creek (07/14)

I go to the wilderness for solitude, so planning a trip for a holiday weekend requires a bit more thought and compromise. Thankfully the Trinity Alps Wilderness has a multitude of trails and access points.

In 2010, I’d taken a day hike from the North Fork Coffee Creek Trailhead to Hodges cabin and had fond memories of the meadows and creeks. With high temperatures predicted and it being prime wildflower season, my goal was to find a plentiful supply of both. Otherwise armed with maps and trail guides, the plan was to make decisions at each junction, my favorite way of hiking.

Cabin Tour:

Hodges Cabin – Sadly this cabin with an interesting history has experienced degradation due to neglect.

This miner’s cabin is supposedly sometimes occupied. Well . . . maybe by vermin.

Frank Schlomberg Cabin – He was a German cabinet maker who built furniture for the Hodges cabin.

The Wolford Cabin. Another reminder of not relying on hiking guidebook accuracy. This 2010 edition indicated that the cabin is open and available, but we found it locked up tight, and degrading like the others.

Wildflower Tour:

The flowers weren’t nearly as prolific as I’d hoped; however, as expected for lower elevation.

Finding this hidden spring-fed paradise was one the highlights of my trip.

Seeing aphids in the wild, accompanied by the ladybug munchers, was another unusual sight.

Lake Tour:

Lower South Fork Lake – a perfect place for swimming and lazing away a few hours.

 Views:

Interesting rock formation and a peak down into the Scott Valley. On a clear day, you can see Mt Shasta.

Statuesque trees and rocks

Favorite tree

Trinity Alps ranges to the southwest

Creeks and Bridges:

Thankful for these steel bridges since I’m not the most confident with water crossings.

Just one of many refreshing creeks enjoyed during this outing.

Forest Mismanagement?

A lot of unhealthy forest and deadfall, accompanied by poor trail conditions in those areas.

Lest you think this lower elevation trip was a walk in the park.

Jan’s Tips:

 

 

Trinity Alps – Stoney Ridge Trailhead

Destination: Van Matre Meadows

Van Matre Meadows are about 5.5 miles 3,000′ elevation gain from the trailhead

The trail rounds the bend to Stonewall Pass while temping hikers with a green shoulder leading to Granite Peak.

At Stonewall Pass, looking north into Red Mountain Meadow

At Stonewall Pass, looking south down at Trinity Lake

Lovely Van Matre Meadows, looking west toward Stuart Fork mountains.

Leaving Van Matre Meadows enroute to Echo Lake and Little Stonewall Pass, subalpine ponds or tide pools can be seen in the Deep Creek Drainage.

From Little Stonewall Pass, looking toward Echo Lake and Granite Peak.

Sunset alpine glow at Echo Lake

Siligo Meadows back dropped by Gibson Peak.

From Deer Creek Pass, looking south at Siligo Meadow and far in the distance Stonewall Pass.

From Deer Creek Pass, looking down at Deer Lake, and across at Siligo Peak (gray granite).

From atop Siligo Peak, looking down at Round Lake, and across to Seven Up and Gibson Peaks. Mt Shasta is visible in the far background.

Seven Up Peak and Mt Shasta

From atop Siligo Peak, looking down at Summit Lake, Siligo & Van Matre meadows. The trail from Deer Lake is off to the left (with a few snow patches remaining). The switchback trail down to Diamond Lake is near the middle of photo).

From the shores of Summit Lake

Another view of Deer Lake (with better lighting)

Sunrise alpine glow in Van Matre Meadow at my campsite.

The timing of this trip was perfect to enjoy wildflowers galore.

Jan’s Tips:

  • The access road is in much better condition than it has been for quite a few years. In my opinion, a high-clearance 4×4 is no longer required.
  • The Stoney Ridge Trail was in superior condition. To my recollection, the best trail condition I’ve encounter in the Trinity Alps in many years.
  • On this low snow year, late June was perfect timing for a fantastic wildflower display; however, many streams were already dry. Planning on water sources normally available could be problematic.
  • Reference my Trinity Alps Trails Link Page for maps, books, online resources, etc. (SUMMER 2014:  Fire Restrictions)
  • Additional blog postings about related hikes I’ve taken can be found in my Hikes in the Trinity Alps Wilderness category.

 

 

PCT Section P – Deadfall Lakes – Weather or not?

Mother Nature loves to show her fickle side in spring. Forecasters have a 50/50 chance of being in sync with her moods. When they predict 30% chance of precipitation, I say 70% chance of no precipitation. But, then again, do I want to be wet? or cold? or snowed upon? On this particular weekend, forecasters said 30% chance on Friday, 50% on Saturday. I decided to roll the dice and selected Deadfall Lakes as my destination.

Middle Deadfall Lake

It’s extremely unusual to be able to access this area in the spring. The pass doesn’t usually open until late June or early July.

From July 2, 2010 (the day after the pass opened)

There are two primary access points to reach the Deadfall Lakes basin. First, via the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail), heading south from Parks Creek Pass or north from the Gumboot trailhead. Or, second, from the Deadfall Meadows trail, the one I selected for this adventure.

In the early season, this trail should be avoided. It’s a catchment for snow melt and creek overflow, and as a LNT (Leave No Trace) promoter, traveling off trail or widening paths in sensitive areas is inappropriate. Later in the season, this meadow has the most beautiful wildflowers and water plants including the magical carnivorous pitcher plant.

As with any wilderness area, the WILD in WILDerness should be expected. Meadows, thickets and nearby creeks are perfect habitat for bears. On this day, just beyond the trail sign, in front of those thickets, was the blackest, shiniest-coated bear I’ve ever had the privilege of seeing.

Along the way I was treated to creek crossings and a couple of early blooms. Opportunities exist to replenish your water and to get your feet wet.

Lower Deadfall Lake (looking north)

Lower Deadfall Lake (looking south toward Middle Deadfall Lake)

Tucked in out of the wind, watching the building and receding storm clouds at Middle Deadfall Lake

By 8pm, the wind had died down and the skies were clearing.

9pm is hiker’s midnight, all is calm. The question remains, did I hedge my precipitation probability bet correctly?

At 4:30am, snow cometh; it didn’t last long, just enough to pitter-patter upon the tent and leave a trace of evidence. A few more offerings were made; on/off, on/off, on/off . . . . (photo time about 8:30am)

By 9:30, things were looking pretty good and it looked like Mother Nature was being kind to me.

Evidence of the tiny bit of snow. The weather continued to be fickle with storms clouds, wind, and snow showers coming and going making the decision of the day’s plan more challenging.

By 11:30, Mother Nature released her fury. With the skies socked in, there was no reason to hike for views, and no sense spending hours secluded in my tent (since I’d already lollygagged away the morning), thus it was time to high-tail it off the mountain.

It snowed and sleeted all the way down the trail, reminding me of how quickly the trail can become masked by snow-covered topography.

What was a dry easy log crossing becomes a dangerous obstacle when covered with snow and ice.

Looking back up at the mountains whence I’d come reaffirmed my decision to hike out vs hunkering down and waiting out the storm.

Memories are made from taking chances and expecting the unexpected, while making wise decisions about weather and conditions. Planning and preparation are keys to success. On this trip, I brought gear for inclement weather, notified others of my whereabouts and plans, had maps, compass, and electronics to assist in my travels if need be.

Jan’s Tips:

  • This area is loosely considered part of the Klamath Mountains, Mount Eddy range, and Shasta-Trinity Divide Mountains. For purposes of this blog, I’ve categorized the various mountain ranges that parallel Interstate-5’s western side from Castella to Gazelle, as the Shasta-Trinity Divide Mountains.
  • Reference my Trinity Divide Trails Link Page for maps, books, online resources, etc.
  • For day and multi-day access points along the PCT, I recommend the book, “Day Hikes on the Pacific Crest Trail – California” by George and Patricia Semb.
  • Information about the PCT can be found on my PCT Love page.
  • Additional blog postings about related hikes I’ve taken can be found in my Hikes in the Trinity Divide Mountains category, Hikes near Mt Shasta category, and PCT Hikes category.

Rogue River Trail – Variety is the Spice of Life

While the Rogue River may be best known as a boaters paradise with 215 miles of wet and wild water, to the northwest of Grants Pass lies a hikers paradise, the 40-mile Rogue River National Recreation Trail. Wildflowers? Did someone say WILDFLOWERS?

There were thousands of yellow iris lining the trail.

Plenty of color and variety to keep the eye stimulated

Lots of bridges make for dry foot creek crossings

Mixing things up a bit.

Plenty of opportunity to cool off or filter some water, either in one of the many creeks, streams or the river.

Use your imagination of how the landscape would change if the river were 55′ higher.

Sand, much like snow, shares secrets of our wilderness companions.

Whisky Creek Cabin – Did you know Oscar Mayer had canned Wieners?

Zane Grey Cabin, pretty nice setting don’t you think? I’d be happy writing here.

Watch where you are walking . . .

This is NOT a flat trail (mileage is a bit off due to the GPS bouncing off of the canyon walls).  This is from Graves Creek to Quail Creek to Graves Creek.

 Resources:

Jan’s Alerts:

  • Poison Oak – If you are highly sensitive, this might not be a good trail option. While the trail is mostly clear, it’s hard to avoid the prolific poison oak along the trail, near the creeks, accessing side trails, camping, etc.
  • Heat – This is a HOT trail in the summer. Many of the streams are seasonal, much of the trail is exposed, and there are significant miles between beach access points.
  • Congestion – Once the river gets busy with boaters, the lodges open, and the crowds hit the beaches, solitude may be a challenge.
  • Ticks – Good to be aware that this is an area known for ticks.

Jan’s Tips:

California Ground-Cone (Boschniakia strobilacea)

 

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Merced River – Wildflowers and Archaeology

I had wildflowers on my mind; Hite Cove was my destination. My car and some higher power led me instead to Briceburg, not far from Mariposa on Highway 140, the gateway to the Merced River Recreation Area.

The hike begins at this gated bridge, on nearly flat railroad grade with the river as a constant companion.

Before starting my hike, I happened to meet Vern, a naturalist for the area, who contributed to the local wildflower brochure. This serendipitous encounter resulted in me becoming the lucky recipient of the brochure, hugely helpful in wildflower identification. I encourage you to stop at the Briceburg Visitor Center for your own copy of this excellent brochure; plenty of interesting tidbits included. (If you’re not into flowers, scroll down to learn about my archaeological finds.)

Blue Dicks

Bottle Brush

Fairy Lantern

Fiddleneck

Pretty Face

Fiesta Flower

Snake Lilly

Harvest Bardiea

Low Phacelia

Tarweed

California Thistle

Long-Beak Stork’s Bill or Fillaree

The poppies were mostly closed on this overcast day, a slight disappointment.

The lupine were stars on this day.

Red Bud was another show stopper.

Mustard

Wallflower

I always enjoy finding traces of how areas were used previously. In this case, you’ll find evidence of gold mining and railroad activity.

There were long stretches of disentegrating flume along the hillside

I read that this was an old pit mine

There are several campgrounds along the trail, including this one dedicated to the railroad. If you’re lucky, you may hear the ghost train while camped there.

I found this little graveyard a bit spooky, not exactly what you want near your campsite.

Very curious about this 1991 grave.

Mother nature sure provides some spectacular skies

The winding road to Mariposa reminded me of those in the Swiss Alps.

 

Resources: