Horseshoe Ridge loop, Jun 24

Since with a group of friends we were planning on doing the Timberline trail over the 4th of July weekend, I decided to lead a hike up in the area to gauge snow levels. Looking at the list of hikes I’ve done, I also wanted to do good distance and elevation so I pickled the Horseshoe ridge. Not only this loop has the stats I was looking for it also has the possibility of some pretty spectacular flower displays if you catch it in time. With that in mind, we headed for the mountain. Right from the start we had very nice weather with a cool day and not too humid (which happened last time I was here making the hike difficult). Still, we knew it was going to get hot during the day. The first part was mostly flat in a nice forest until we got the bridge one of the affluent of the Sandy River and found ourselves with no bridge. Looking around we saw several promising logs so some in the group bushwhacked downstream to get on those while others decided to get their feet wet and cross safely to the other side. Once there we started our march up the ridge.Not long after that we found a deer carcass that wasn’t completely eaten by whatever killed it. We guessed it was probably a cougar but that was a clear indication that not too many people had been going over this trail. We sweated quite a bit as we gained elevation towards the view point. Once there we took a lunch break with the always amazing views of Mt Hood and the usual suspects towards the north.
By then the temperature had climbed almost at the same pace as we did so it was pretty hot. Then we resumed our route and things got complicated quickly. Since we turned to the shaded area of the trail we found snow on the ground and some heavily bent branches that made navigation a bit of a challenge. On several turns Zach found the trail to the side while I was looking the other way which was good. Mosquitoes were fierce in that area as well so between swatting them and getting branches off our faces it became a complete workout. We did find some pretty amazing avalanche lilies on the trail like we haven’t seen in a while so that was very nice. Even though we were heading down it got pretty tough at point but finally, after a long while we finally descended enough to get out of the snow. Getting out of the snow and to lower elevation, also meant more heat. On that march, almost all of us ran out of water still with a couple of miles to go. We did pass a water source but didn’t stops as we all figured it wouldn’t take that long to get back to the car. It actually did so we were pretty dry by the end of the hike, but it was a good workout with some pretty nice rewards. Oh, and we figured there was too much snow to do the Timberline trail

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Siouxon Creek to Wildcat Falls, Jun 18th

Siouxon is always a pleasant and easy hike with some pretty scenery. A couple of years ago I backpacked there for three days and noticed at the time the creek running extremely low. So, low that we could get on the creek and walk upstream and discover some nice small canyons with no issues at all. The plan for this hike was to go up to the Wildcat waterfall and then come back and ford Siouxon creek to get back on the main trail doing a lollipop loop. That idea changed quickly when we got there and hiked down to the creek. This time, contrary to the last couple of years, the creek was running pretty full. We even made a stop on the point you get out of the creek if you decide to cross and gauged that it might have been at least 3 feet deep and running fast. Right there we were certain we were not crossing; it was just asking for trouble. That didn’t change the plans to go to the waterfall as we had the alternative to retrace our steps to return to the car. Along the way we enjoyed all the waterfalls and scenery and were pleasantly surprised by the amount of water coming down Horseshoe Creek.
The waterfall you see on the left before the bridge or after was just incredible. Further up, just before the bridge over Siouxon, there’s a pass over a seasonal creek that runs over the trail. I do recall in previous years being quite a challenge as the rocks get slippery. Last couple of years this section was bone dry so it was easy to pass. This time it was running hard so we had to use a log and some rocks to get safely to the other side. From there we continued on the side trail until we reached the wildcat trail which we took going uphill. WE just went as far as the lower waterfall viewpoint. I don’t think I have ever seen Wildcat falls running so high and being so beautiful. With Mark, we managed to climb down the side to the base. My idea was to take a long exposure of the bottom but the spray was so strong that I wasn’t even able to setup the camera so no pictures from down there. After a quick bite, we retraced our steps all the way to thrailhead without even considering the possibility of fording the creek.


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Silver Star, Jun 10th

After my back injury that left inactive for quite a while, it was time for me to hi he trails again so with Mark we decided to the Grouse Vista, Sturgeon Rock loop in Silver Star. The reason I chose that one was because it was the right distance and elevation gain I wanted to try plus the potential good view from the top. Being June, you would expect that, even if it was cloudy, the views from the top of Silver Star would be good. Well, not necessarily – at least not this time. When we met, Carole asked us if we were taking traction devices or other shoes as it was likely we would find snow. We didn’t think so s we didn’t take either. Boy, were we wrong, but I’ll get to that in a bit. From the trailhead, we were navigating inside a cloud with a very soft mist. Visibility didn’t extend very long even though the forecast was indicating we would get clear skies. Wildflowers were blooming like crazy with nice color displays. As we gained elevation the clouds opened just a tiny bit so we could see Pyramid Rock as we passed by it. Not far from there, we started seeing patches of snow on the ground that grew larger as we continued. Eventually we found the trail covered in snow and small branches all over forcing us to go over and around. Snow got deeper but was very compacted so it was slippery. Finally, when we got to the junction that lead to the summit, rain turned into sleet. While we hike up that last stretch, we commented that it looked like we were hiking in the middle of the winter. Once we reached the top, the sleet turned into snowflakes… yes, snowflakes in June! We didn’t stay up there for too long because the wind was hauling and it was cold. On the way down, we took the Sturgeon Rock trail which was mostly covered in snow with a stream running under it. That made navigating a bit difficult as we had to avoid the water and walk on the side of the trail. Eventually we got to the bridge over Rock Creek where we made a quick stop for lunch. By then the rain had stopped and the clouds were showing signs of moving away. We didn’t see blue skies, but we did get two or three seasons in one hike. Not a bad thing

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Dublin Lake, May 6th

Dublin Lake is a small unassuming lake in the north end of the Mt Hood Wilderness. I say unassuming because it sits surrounded with ridges that block any potential views you could have. Still, it’s a nice destination, maybe not for a day hike but if you are backpacking in the area and need a nice campsite. I say this because I stopped there when I did the Eagle-Tanner Butte loop a few years back. Since this time, we were not doing the loop, instead of starting from the Eagle Creek trailhead, we started from the new Tanner Butte trailhead along hwy84. From there, we hiked east following the paved trail until we found our detour to get on the trail. From the very beginning it was clear we were going to have some wildflowers as they fight to bloom despite the snow we still have. The first part of the hike can be a bit boring as you hike the old FR777 and pass multiple junctions until you get to the original Tanner Butte trailhead. From there on, things change, quickly. For starters, right at the trailhead you are welcomed by two waterfalls that join and continue as a single creek. As you get on the trail, you follow the stream of one of those waterfalls until you cross the creek shortly after. Then, it’s all the way up. By that point, you are immersed in the forest following a path marked by tall trees. The ridgeline is there somewhere but never close enough for you to say “I’m here”. Eventually the trail levels off a bit and you get to the junction with the Wauna Point trail, another great destination. We stopped for a short minute, mostly to use the facilities though. Then we continued and the trail got step and steady going up. By then we started finding patches of snow here and there that got thicker as we continued. At a certain point, the trail leveled off a bit again close to where we needed to veer off on the Dublin Lake trail. On the way in, we didn’t see the sing on the tree but gauged that we had passed it already, so we went off trail in the general direction of the lake. That made us bushwhack our way downhill to a big white patch just south of the lake. Once down there, we traversed the patch and got to our destination. A little frozen lake in the middle of the forest. We took a short break for lunch and then found our way back out and to the main trail to head back down the same way. It was a great, needed workout!

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Nestor Peak, Apr 29th

This hike has been on my list for quite a while and finally got the chance to do it. This rare find is located in the eastern part of the Gorge on the Washington side and offers some pretty interesting views. From the description, it seems it would be an easy, piece of cake hike but it’s quite a workout, especially if you haven’t been active for a while. That good thing is that, being on the eastern side of the Gorge, wildflowers usually bloom earlier… or at least that’s what I was expecting. We were a bit early. Most of the hike is in the forest with little to no views, yet it’s a different kind of forest than the forest you encounter closer to town. There’s still a lot of greenery but not as many ferns and low bushes so the forest is more open and can give you a sense of dryness. It’s also a steady march uphill thru several switchbacks and old logging roads which strip some of the interest in the trail. Towards the peak, things change quick though. As soon as the trail comes out of the forest, you are met with sweeping views of the valleys across the Columbia looking towards Mt Hood. From that point, a small, almost dilapidated sign, indicates you should turn right and follow the ridge which very soon hits the access road to the top. At first the road seems to be out of place until you see that, at the top there’s an old hut. It’s kind of weird as it’s definitely not a fire lookout but it does have a big room and some extra storage. We did get some flowers there and good vies of Hood while we ate lunch. The return was quick an easy.

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