For Val’s birthday weekend we rented a cabin in Camp Sherman right next to the Metolius River. Our original plan for the day was to drive up towards Black Butte and hike to the top. The morning didn’t look good but the forecast was announcing that it was going to clear so we thought there was potential for views. While trying to get to the trailhead, we got stuck in snow and had to spend a bit over an hour getting it unstuck and moving using braches and a shovel. Long story short, we drove back to the cabin and decided to hike along the Metolius River. We started from a trailhead located right across from the Camp Sherman General Store heading north. The first part of the hike goes right on the border of the river where numerous camps sit next to each other. In the summer these get full with fishermen that pretty much can get out of their cabins and cast from there. Not long after that we left the campgrounds behind and started hiking on pristine forests with the river right next to us. There was a bit of snow on the ground but not enough to impede our progress. AS we hiked, we noted the river sinking into the ground as the side walls started to grow. We were entering a small canyon. The trail took a turn to get on the high side. From it would could hear the rapids below us but almost no views of it. And then we found a fence with a no trespassing sign. So we followed what looked like a path following the fence around it. We found a dirt road and took it around the property and discovered it was the boundary of the Smiling River campground. Once we got to the other end we saw a path going back towards the river so we followed. We lost the trail at that point but knew we were on the right path. As we saw the terrain starting to go down to the river we veered a bit to the east and got back on the trail. We were still pretty high above the river and the only visible thing was a ridge on the other side. We found a junction without a sign but the trail going down over a switchback looked more traveled so we took that. It took us down to the river and continued on the river edge. I can say this part of the hike was the most interesting one. The river was not as wide but running pretty fast with clear blue waters. Along the trail the rocky sides covered in snow and moss looked amazing. It didn’t seem thee was a way to get out of the canyon but then the sides started getting lower. From the map I knew there was supposed to be a waterfall on the other side of the river. We kept looking for it and past the point in the map where it’s supposed to be but never saw it. By then we were a bit tired and the days was wearing thin. Once we saw the bridge that goes over to Wizard Falls we took a turn heading towards the road. From there we had the choice to head back retracing our steps or take the easier path on the paved road back to Camp Sherman. It was a long walk on a very hard surface but with great scenery. We finally got back to Camp Sherman with enough light to check the general store before heading back to the cabin. It ended being an excellent hike with much better weather than what the forecast was predicting.
While waiting for snow and watching as the weather was just dumping water, Val and I started to look for other places to hike. We found a trail that uses some old roads in the Tillamook Forest so decided to go check it out. Getting there was much easier than what I had expected. Some of the hikes in the Tillamook Forest and buried inside the mountain so they are not easy to get to, and you get the un-official camp where big trucks, tents usually appear with the accompanying sound of gun fire. We didn’t get the distraction this time perhaps because it was raining, even though we did see the big camps trailers here and there. The bad side was that, with the rain, we were not able to really enjoy the scenery much. Most of the hike was either in a dense forest or around a service road. The highlight was a detour we took to go check out University Falls. After the fall, we close a short lollipop loop to then head back to the car. Luckily we had towels and a change of clothes as we got drenched. I’m guessing we can check this trail again sometime
If you have followed my stories, you know that Val and I like to snowshoe on Jan 1st. It’s just a good way to start a new year, and this year was no exception. Last couple of years we’ve done hikes instead because we didn’t have good snow on the ground but finally this year conditions changed. Knowing conditions were good, we went to one of my favorites places to snowshoe, the Barlow Pass area, but instead of doing the normal long loop that goes over the ridge and connects to Palmateer Point, we opted for a shorter lollipop Loop so we would time to relax afterwards, besides, we both had to return to work on Friday. From the trail head we knew it was going to be a spectacular day. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the air was cold and crisp. As we started on the PCT towards Ghost Ridge, we enjoyed the sun filtering thru the trees and illuminating the forest. It made for a perfect scenery to play a bit with my new camera. AS we move further, the trail got harder and harder as not too many people had gone since the last snowfall. Once we reached the almost unnoticeable saddle, we veered off tail and followed the ridge to our destination. At one point we came out of the forest into the open and were welcomed with a spectacular view of the hill and valley beyond and sun above us. We saw a couple of groups on the trail enjoying the same thing. From that point it was simply straight up to the top where you can turn around and enjoy the view of Mt Hood. Instead of retracing our steps, we continued on the ridge breaking new snow and then started veering to the left to head back down towards the PCT. I guess I missed when we crossed it as at some point I knew we were not where we needed to be. In fact, we were a bit below the trail so we had to find our way thru the forest, going uphill until we found the PCT again. Once there we did retrace our steps back to the parking lot where we found way more cars than what we saw when we got there. I guess a lot of people had similar ideas to celebrate the new year.
Our classic end of year/beginning of year snowshoe. AS we have done many times in the past we try to make a point of doing this snowshoe to kick off the season. Last year it wasn’t that good as we had an incredibly warm winter. This year it has been better and with a little help from el Niño, we’ve gotten a bit more snow. It was time to go check it out. We got lucky in getting thee before the hordes would fill up the parking area which is usually what happens on sunny clear days. There were some low hanging clouds but not enough to obscure the magnificent views of Mt Hood. We did our usual hike following the river trail uphill until you leave he crowds behind and get to “The big hill”. We love going up there not only for the fun of it but also to get the better views. From the top we were able to hear loud music, probably from a party at Timberline Lodge. With that we explored a bit more uphill until we decided to turn around and head back. It was a very cold day. Instead of doing the back-country route back though, we decided to go down the way we came which we rarely do. A couple had just arrived there and were taking pictures to then glissade all the way down. That looked like fun so we followed doing the same. The rest of the trail was the normal walk ending with tons of people, kids and dogs enjoying the snow and some fun glissading
This was not the original plan or what we had in mind. When Val and I got in the car and left pretty early in the morning, our plan was to hike along a ridge with magnificent views towards Buck Peak, a destination we’ve never been to yet. The drive there is considerable as we had to go all the way to Hood River and come from the back side to head up towards Wahtum Lake as the trailhead is a bit above the Wahtum Lake campground. As we drove there, we found patches of snow but nothing to terrible so we got to the lake in the normal, almost two hours but then things turned south. We continued on the road uphill towards the trailhead and the first thig we noticed was that, there was absolutely nobody out there. Generally, we like that. The second thing was that the snow on the road was getting thicker as we drove. But then, we saw a big tree that had fallen across the road cutting the pass. Being a narrow road as most forest roads are. There was no easy way to turn around and parking it there was not an option since we didn’t know if we would be able to get out. So we backed up to a wide area were we were able to turn around and got out of the car to take a couple of pictures and think about our predicament. It was cold, really cold. As predicted by the weather people, temperature was in the low teens. At that point we were above the clouds so the day was looking pretty fantastic. After discussing for a bit, we concluded that it was not safe to stay there so we continue our way down and started thinking about an alternative. Since we were all the way on the other side of the mountain, our choices were somewhat limited so we opted for taking Lolo Pass road back towards Zigzag as that was in the right direction to go back home and there’s more than a couple choices along the road. One of those is Ramona Falls. The only problem is that the seasonal bridge across the Sandy River was already out. So we decided to give it a try and see. With all that driving, we ended up getting there close to noon so our day time was already running pretty short. We quickly got on the trail that follows the Sandy and got to the point were the seasonal bridge is… no bridge. We looked for a place to cross but water was running pretty high so it was an unnecessary risk. Instead, we continued, off-trail, on the south side of Sandy River. We explore for quite a while enjoying the limited views of the mountain until we got to a big opening that we thought would give us a passage to the other side and eventually to the falls, but that’s when we found the big marks of a bear that was probably wandering in the area that morning. I guess someone was trying to tell us something so we turned around and headed back to the car.