Shellburg Falls loop, Apr 9th

While looking for a place to hike I decided to look at hikes I’ve done long ago and that had something special. From that list, I remembered this loop that is not necessarily strenuous but has a couple of nice waterfalls. The start of the hike is probably what keeps people off this loop as it starts on private lands traversing some cow pastures. I don’t necessarily mind that and the cows don’t seem to mind either when hikers or bikers go thru. Soon after you pass the pastures though, you enter a pocket of the Santiam State Forest. The views change quickly and dramatically from open fields to a lush green forest. With all the rain, we’ve had this year, the scenery was especially green with trees covered in moss. I took the trail to the first stop at Shellburg falls where I took the time to take some pictures. I did notice an amazing spot for pictures that would have required wet shoes which I didn’t have. I made a mental note so maybe one of these days I’ll go again and get in the water to take that shot. Until then, I’ll keep the suspense on the view. Either way, the waterfalls was spectacular falling from a rocky cirque into a small pond. After a viewpoint, the trail circles behind the waterfall which gives you a different perspective as you see the fall and were the water goes to. Ok, I’ll tell you about the picture I want to take. See those big boulders on the creek? There’s a crack in the middle and from the right angle, I think you can see the waterfall. I’m thinking of getting in there and taking the picture of the waterfall framed between the rocks. Just imagine it


The trail continues meandering thru the forest nice displays of mushrooms, ferns and moss. It was a very peaceful place. Towards the end of the trail, when it gets back on the road, you can continue on a less used trail to Stassel Falls. This waterfall is a bit hard to see as the trail gets you to the top of the waterfall. If you hang on a tree like a monkey, you can see the most of the waterfall as it plummets sideways between two rocks before landing in the upper of two tiers. It’s quite the spectacle that you can’t picture unless you are there. I took a couple of pictures of the top of the falls where you can see how it turns and goes sideways between the rocks.
After that picture and when I was about to head back, I noticed a foot path towards a tree where a black rope was tied to. The rope was laid to go all the way down to the base of the water fall. After testing it and making certain it was properly tied, I swung myself down the ravine and got to the bottom of the fall. Unfortunately, the sun was right on top of my head so I wasn’t able to take a good picture of the two lower tiers. Still, I did sit on a rock and contemplated the fall for quite a while before climbing back up and heading back home.

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Catherine Creek to Coyote Wall out and back, Apr 2nd

Or the same hike we did exactly one year ago. I guess is the time of year, when rain start to taper off, temperatures start to raise and flowers start to blanket the open meadows in the eastern part of the Columbia Gorge. Looking at last year pictures, I can say we are a bit behind this year which is not surprising given the amount of rain we’ve had and that the weather is not quite as warm yet. Last time, we did the hike to Coyote Wall and from there we hiked down trying to connect a couple of trails and make up a loop out of it. That didn’t go that well last time as it ended up being much longer than anticipated and I got some pretty nasty poison oak that I took on a business trip. To keep it simple, we just did the straight forward hike up from Catherine Creek to the old Atwood Rd and then followed that west until we got to the viewpoint at the edge of Coyote Wall. The hike as always was splendid with lots of yellows and purples painting the landscape. It was still early for the balsamroot though. One surprising thing was the number of people. The entire parking area was full so we had to park a short distance away. Then, while on the trail, we saw families with small kids, strollers... you name it. I wouldn’t say it was over crowded but, at the pace we’re going, we’ll get thee soon enough.

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The Thumb, Feb 12th

Since Val and I were already at the coast for Val’s work holiday party, we decided to go for a hike and maybe discover a new spot. She found a short description for this hike which sounded interesting and something we’d never done before. It’s a rather short hike but with a very nice reward. I did a bit of extra searching and found that there were two or three ways to get there. A loop sounded like the best option so that’s what we did. We started from a parking area that gives access to the beach at Roads End just north of Lincoln City. There’s no actual trailhead but from there, you can walk on side streets until you get to the actual trailhead. This is a better option as you do gain a bit of elevation before you hit the trail. The trail itself starts at the end of the road just behind a fence. Right before we got there, we noticed a deer walking in front of us that ended up showing us the way to the trail before taking a couple of jumps and disappearing in the forest. From that point on, the hike is straight forward as you go on an almost straight line that looks like a ATV track more than anything. The trail splits at some point but both routes lead to the same place atop a small ridge with open views to the south. The morning was cloudy and even foggy which made the views a constant change of grey colors all the way to the horizon. From there, we got into a meadow that quickly made us forget that we were right next to the ocean. We traversed grassy areas and open spaces with many views until we got to an almost invisible trail junction. WE turn left at that point and gained a bit more elevation going to a spot where the only thing you could see was the sky above. Upon reaching that point, the views opened again towards the ocean and the top of the Thumb came into view. It was clear that where we were going as we saw people enjoying the views. At that point the trail got more muddy and slippery than what we had done so far. That and the fact that is was bordering a precipice didn’t make it that much easier. We had to grab on to every little branch as we descended to a flatter area that would then start going up again to our destination. It was a short steep climb to the top where we stopped for some pictures and snacks. After enjoying and soaking in the views, we headed down but instead of going back to the ridge walk, we continued south in the opposite direction than most people were coming in. The hike back was a pleasant walk thru a coastal forest until we got back on the road and then the beach.

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Ghost Ridge, Palmateer Point, Devil’s Half Acre loop, Jan 28th

Seems like this winter is dropping all the snow we didn’t get the last couple of years. Right before this snowshoe, a report stated that we were already over 140% of the normal snowpack for the time of year. That statement was a song to my ears and tie to head out into the backcountry and do one of my favorite loops. We started from Barlow Pass heading towards Ghost Ridge. This first part of the route has gotten discovered by a lot of people is it’s more normal now to see people heading that way, and that’s no surprise. Just the view of Mt Hood you get from the top is reason enough to go there, even if it’s a short out and back (read the post from Dec 18th).


The day was not very stellar in terms of cloud cover so we made a quick stop for a picture or two before starting the fun part of this loop. Right after the highest point of Ghost ride, we continued south breaking new snow. The lack of noise and snow up to our knees made it hard but fun at the same time. My original plan was to do a longer loop but decided instead to just continue the ridge until the first saddle. By then we were navigating in the thick of the forest avoiding tree wells and deep pockets of snow. From the saddle, we made a shar left and started going downhill, quickly. We had to do a lot of switchbacks to make the slope not as steep but still it was a quick route back down to the PCT. We found ourselves negotiating a small creek which opened some challenges but finally we got to the PCT. After regrouping, we had two options, follow the trail back to the junction with the trail to upper twin lakes and connect from there to Palmateer Point or just go thru the forest and finding our way. The common consensus was the later so we made a straight line thru the forest looking for the ridge that goes to Palmateer point. This route is a bit difficult as the forest doesn’t open enough for you to see the slope. The only way is to make the best educated guess as you head towards the destination knowing that you’ll either get there or find the ridge line. At some point, we saw the opening to out right and headed for it. Soon after that, we were plowing thru very deep snow going to our second destination on the top of Palmateer Point. The sky was grey and the sun hiding behind the clouds so we didn’t stay there too long. Even the views of Hood were obscured by the clouds. To head down, instead of taking the normal way around it, we headed north that takes you down on a very long and steep downhill. Some of us did it skiing down on our snowshoes while others decided to sit down and glissade their way. I was ahead but could easily make were everyone else was as I heard the laughs and yells as they gained speed coming down the slope. Towards the bottom it got a bit more complicated as I knew we were heading for a creek but didn’t remember how deep it could be or where to cross. AS if by design, we came out of the forest right next to a bridge that crosses the creek and head to the Devil’s Half Acre Camp ground. Even I was surprised about the accuracy of getting there from the slope. WE traversed the campground taking pictures of the creek and ice crystals on pine branches before starting our last push back to the parking lot. This last portion is quite surprising to most, not because of the views or scenery but because is mostly uphill. That’s when you realize how far down you came from Palmateer Point. Finally, we made it back to the parking area tired but happy. It was a good day

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Barlow Butte – the short version, Jan 15th

After several days of snow followed by several days of cold weather, we decided to go explore one of my favorite places to snowshoe. With a small group of people and friends we headed out to Barlow Pass where we would do a shorter version of the Barlow Bute loop I normally do. As soon as we got there, we knew it was going to be a perfect day. The sun was out, there were no clouds and the air was crisp and cold. There was also a ton of snow on the ground. We started via the normal route going down the hill towards Mineral Jane but ten veered off at the sign pointing to our destination, Barlow Butte. Right from the turn we had to start breaking new trail as several tracks were heading in multiple directions none of which seemed to be going in the right direction. The going got tough quickly as we were sinking up to our knees in the fresh powder. At some point, we got back to some sky tracks and opted to stay on them even though they were on the wrong side of the ridge. Normally, as you go up to Barlow Bute, you get sun on your right side. This time, we were in the shade most of the time. Still, it was clear we were just below the normal route on the ridge. As we continued climbing, and being in the shadows, we noticed the sow was partially frozen. Instead of being a homogeneous white powder, it was more like a blanket of tiny ice crystals. Snowshoeing thru it made the upper layer fly around and make a very subtly sounds as it hit the ground again. At some point, I noticed we were past the line were the summit would be so we made a tight right turn and walk straight into the sun. Right there we got our first grand view to the a very steep drop off and the valley in front of us. All white, all wintery. Then we continued up and very soon we got to the top were the views are very limited. Now I knew exactly where I was so I continued to navigate the group thru the ridge line to the backside where an impressive ridge dominates the panorama (and the reason I like this route so much).


The original intent was to go down a saddle and over the next ridge before descending to Barlow Ridge but with the deep snow, we decided to make it shorter and head straight down. The fluffy snow made it for a very quick downhill which is always the highlight of the adventure. Finally, we got the Barlow Ridge and at the very last jump to it, I landed on a hole which I pointed out to all behind me. Still Val fell thru another hole that trapped her snowshoe. With the inertia of the fall, not only the snowshoe was left behind but the boot and the sock. After a short rescue mission, we were able to pull the snowshoe from the trap and continued on Barlow Ridge with the magnificent view of Mt Hood in front of us. Once we got down to the junction with Mineral Jane and made the turn to head back to the parking lot is when the second part of the reward came in. I noticed on the side huge ice crystals on the tree limbs. Looking closely, we realized that, with the cold temperatures of the last couple of days, the top layer of snow had crystalized forming tiny crystals around everything. Rocks, trees and limbs were covered in tiny crystals like I’ve never seen before.


We spent quite a bit of time admiring the beauty and taking pictures before continuing towards the parking area. It was a splendid day

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