You are in our hearts always
I stopped by Lithia Park in Ashland on my way south this morning. I have a specific spot that I like at a specific time. The trouble is that the sky was overcast. Normally that is exactly what I want for creek and forest pictures. But in this case I need sunlight because it reflects off the foliage into the water. Todayís overcast didnít much matter since there was almost no color whatsoever.
My report is that this was a terrible year for fall color in Oregon. I did see some, but for the most part the color just wasnít there. That wasnít entirely unexpected after the dry summer and warm fall. I figured that it wouldnít be a good year, but what was I supposed to do? Just skip the vacation? No. But even without much color I did enjoy being there. I visited some favorite places and explored quite a few new locations. I wonít return to some of those places, but Iím glad that I did get to see them.
As for weather, there were way too many sunny days for my liking. I canít complain though. The sun usually hurts my photography, but I have to admit that itís very nice hiking without rain gear.
Iíll finish the blog with a shot from the always gorgeous McKenzie River north of Trail Bridge Reservoir.
I stopped to pick up a piece of litter when I was hiking around Daly Lake. It was a cloth ribbon with, ďYou are in our hearts alwaysĒ written on it. I put it in a pocket intending on throwing it away later, but I decided to keep it. Iím not sure why.
Eleven herbs and spices
I really struggled this morning while choosing todayís destination. Even though itís a difficult hike, and even though I didnít think that I would get any great pictures, I was so very tempted to go hike to the Seven Lakes Basin. If I had one extra day in the area, thatís what I would have chosen. But instead I opted to explore the ďRiver within a RiverĒ segment of the Rogue Trail from Hershberger Road to Foster Creek. I did not expect that this would be one of the better parts of the Rogue Trail, but I did want to see it. As a matter of fact, given more time, I would definitely hike much farther upstream from that segment of the Rogue Trail where I know that the river is too gentle to be the type of photographic subject I prefer. Todayís hike didnít make the cut last time I was here. I only had it among my many optional hikes when I planned this trip. But a ranger told me that it was her favorite section of the Rogue Trail. Having seen the other wonderful segments of the Rogue River Trail, that is very high praise indeed. See, itís good to ask questions and get firsthand knowledge.
Since I wasnít going to be driving as long, I found myself in the unusual position of needing to wait a little while before hitting the road. I wanted to take a short hike near Natural Bridge to get a particular shot before driving to my dayís trail, and I needed to wait until there was at least a little light. Maybe it was unfortunate that there was enough light for me to see. While driving on state route 62, I happened to spot a car parked on the side of the road. The elk hunter appeared to be chambering a cartridge while standing right next to the highway, but Iíll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he was checking to see that his rifle was not loaded. Safety First!
I know that hiking from the upper trail head requires a ford of Foster Creek. Since I have no way to shuttle hike, I always have to hike out and back instead of one way, which is why it made sense for me to park at Hershberger Road at the south end and hike upstream. Then I could simply turn around at Foster Creek without needing to ford it. It seemed like a good plan to me. The Falcon hiking guide stated, ďIf you donít see a sign for the trail, just start walking north along the river.Ē Well that didnít last long since there are a few social paths at the start which quickly peter away. There is no trail. So I climbed to Hershberger Road and started walking north while looking for the trail. After a half mile it was obvious that either Iím blind or there is no trail.
That meant that I needed to drive to the north trail head. The Falcon guideís recommended northern trail head is very bad. I scouted it the other day. Itís an unmarked, and hard to see unless youíre really looking for it, side spur road (and I use that term very loosely) that occurs right after a downhill blind curve on a state highway. What I noticed while previously driving by at 45 MPH is that there might be a hump, and thereís definitely a steep slope. There is, however, an actual, official trail head a half mile north of there. I parked at the safe trail head and headed south. It probably should go without saying that the Falcon hiking guideís trail mileage was wrong again. The author lists the one-way distance as 4 miles, when in reality itís 6.5 miles. Theyíre off by 2 miles (one-way) when accounting for the fact that the real trail head is a half mile north of theirs.
I started hiking, and when I reached Falconís trail head, I saw that there were holes and ruts in the dirt right at the top of the slope adjacent to the road. It would not have been possible for me to park there. And even if I could have, itís not overly safe trying to pull out when a vehicle could come flying around that downhill curve.
It was fortunate that Foster Creek was running low enough that I was able to rock hop across. It was a cold morning and I was not looking forward to immersing my feet in a cold stream.
I have to report that I didnít particularly care for the trail, and apparently neither does the forest service. I found myself getting ready to flick a branch off the trail, which is not unusual for me. Itís always a good thing when each hiker does some spontaneous trail maintenance as they go along. But in this case the irony that I was going to do so after climbing over yet another downed log. I forced myself to stop. If they donít care about the trail, then neither will I. Since I wasnít really taking any pictures, and the scenery wasnít doing much for me, I did not end up hiking the entire length.
I finished up the day by finishing the end of the River Bridge to Prospect segment that I didnít complete earlier this week. Thank God I didnít finish it on that day because I didnít have rain gear, and my camera gear would have spent a couple of hours getting soaked. Today, however, was a sunny, dry day. I was only planning to hike the part of the trail that is somewhat close to the river. Well, actually the first ĺ mile or so is narrow, still, green water at the inlet side of a small diversion reservoir. I reached the area where I had planned to turn around, but I found that somehow I was still going forward. I decided to hike to my previous turn around point in order to complete this trail segment. Although the forest wasnít as excellent as some others I can think of, this is my last day here so I wanted to spend a little more time in the woods.
I finished the day meandering around the hotel grounds and sitting on patio furniture and on the chairs on the wonderful porch. While I was sitting and reading on the porch swing, some Chinese tourists wanted to have their picture taken with me. Their interpreter said that they liked my mustache and goatee. They must have thought that I was Colonel Sanders.
An island in the sky
I started my drive in the pitch dark this morning. Soon I ended up pulling off the side of the road just so that I could get out and look at the stars.
I saw Mount McLaughlin close up for the first time. Usually itís just a distant peak seen while driving up Interstate 5. It probably would have looked more impressive if there had been snow on the peak.
I was pleased to see that there were no campers and RVs parked at the Blue Lake Basin trail head. I canít remember if I previously mentioned this, but it seems that they can set up camp wherever they want around here.
There was frost on the ground in the morning. I enjoyed walking on the crunchy dirt and seeing millions of sparkles.
The trail quickly reached Round Lake, and then Blue Lake. The trail then passes between Blue Lake and Meadow Lake heading toward Horseshoe Lake. I planned to take the short spur to Pear Lake and have a snack, but I seemed to have missed it. I was thinking that I should have reached the lake by then, but I didnít notice any spur trail. A few feet later I could spot a lake through the trees. I sort of have a habit of bushwhacking shortly before side boot paths, so this time I continued on the main trail, but it was obvious that I had gone too far. Oh well, I figured that I could catch it on the way back.
I wasnít sure how far I was going to go. I knew that all of the lakes I previously mentioned should make for an easy day, but I had the option of continuing to Island Lake, which is what I decided to do. When I could finally see it, I cut through some trees to a view of the lake. The hiking book mentioned only one unmarked fork to, ďthe only grassy bank along the shore of large, brush-rimmed Island Lake.Ē Well the bushwhack I took led me to a very large grassy area, which would normally be large shallow part of the lake. Back to the main trail, I found the unmarked spur. It looked as though it has been abandoned since there are downed logs all over the place.
It was nice to have Island Lake all to myself, although it may not have been worth the effort to get to there. Iím not claiming that it was difficult. Itís just that a shorter day hiking to the other lakes I previously saw is a pretty reasonable option. My plan was to do just that and see how the day was going. I was expecting that might be as far as I would hike today, and I would only end up at Island Lake if I was feeling ambitious.
I could have continued on to the Red Lake trail, which on the map looks like it would come to the shoreline of another part of the lake, but I was almost halfway through the time I had allotted myself for this hike. I knew that I probably did have enough time, but I decided to head back anyway. The sweetener was that if I was making good time, I could hike to yet another lake.
On my way back, I was thinking to myself, I should be near Pear Lake now. I couldnít see anything, but then it looked like the trees might indicate a possible lake below. Soon thereafter, I spotted a mark that I had left in the trail earlier. Then I could spot the lake through the trees. I bushwhacked, but soon found the actual spur trail.
Pear Lake was a marvelous spot for my snack. It was beautiful, not unlike the rest of the lakes in the area, and I was content to sit there and enjoy the scenery for a while. Then I worked my way down the shore through semi-dry mud and a multitude of rocks and logs lining the water. On my way back I figured that it would probably be easier to take off my boots and just walk through the shallow water. But instead I climbed through the bushes and soon found a use path that took me back to the spur. Do I have any pictures to show you how wonderful the lake looked? No, since I was looking straight into the sun and the pictures wouldnít have turned out well. Itís too bad that I didnít spot the side trail in the morning when the light would have been better.
I was making good time. Once I reached the junction, I oriented my map and saw that I would be looking straight into the sun if I hiked to Beal Lake, so I skipped that option. I ended up getting back to the trail head sooner than expected. Tomorrow I have the option of another hike to a bunch of lakes also in the Sky Lakes Wilderness, but that one involves more elevation gain than todayís hike, which had more than enough. Actually it wasnít really that bad, but if I decide to hike the Seven Lakes trail it would be a lot of work just to get to the first of them.
I was pleased that I was able to hike farther than I had anticipated. That wonít impress you, but sometimes when I get something in my head I like to complete it just because itís there. Stretch goals is a term sometimes used in business, and elsewhere as far as I know. The other day at a trail head someone asked me if this was what I do for a living. First I told him my job. Then I backtracked and agreed that this is exactly what I do for a living.
Preparations for departure
Yesterdayís attempt to hike the Knob Falls segment of the Rogue Trail got rained out, so I hiked it this morning. I really do like the eastern end of that trail. I love where green moss covers chunks of lava and logs. Towards the end of the outbound part of the hike I was hurrying to get to one particular spot before the sun came out. It turned out that this year there isnít enough water to make the spot photogenic. I was counting on that spot to save me in terms of providing a shot that I could upload. Itís a struggle on some days.
I learned something today. (As if I didnít already know it.) No matter how pretty a place is, sometimes Iím never going to get a satisfactory picture of it. Maybe part of that is the experience of being there, which isnít going to show up in a picture. Because when the composition doesnít work, it doesnít matter how pretty the scene is. Todayís picture is a good example. There is some color and reflections, but thatís it.
I didnít shoot many shots on my way back. But with the sun out, there was a good reflection in the river in one place. I hesitated to set up the tripod since there were distracting branches in the way. But I did it anyway. As I was shooting my first exposure I noticed a big wasp nest about eight to ten feet away from me. I took the time to shoot one more picture after that. You have to realize that isnít a particularly fast endeavor for me. Then I quietly collapsed the tripod, choked the carrying strap around the legs, and slung it over my neck and shoulder. Next I picked up my trekking poles and put my wrists through the straps. Once I had made my preparations for departure I finally adjusted the camera settings and shot a couple of quick pictures of the nest. I let the camera auto focus and could see that it had selected some leaves in front of the nest, but that didnít matter. It was only a reference shot.
Yesterdayís weather forecast was off, and I hoped that todayís would be incorrect as well. If that had been the case my second hike would have been the trail segment from Natural Bridge to Rogue Gorge. But since the sun was out I decided to drive to Crater Lake instead. The last time I visited Crater Lake there was just enough snow for them to close the rim drive. This time there was no snow, so I was able to drive all the way around that great big blue lake. Let me tell you, it was easy. Tomorrow I expect to hike to Blue Lake, which will take more effort in order to see a much smaller lake. I have no idea what it looks like, so maybe tomorrow youíll be seeing commentary without a picture. Or maybe the lake is fantastic. You never know what youíll find when you hike a new trail.
Biscuits and gravy have a nice day
Todayís choice of trails was along the Rogue River from River Bridge to Prospect. I did not expect this segment to be as scenic as some others, which is why it didnít make the cut last time I was here.
According to the Falcon hiking book, the trail leaves the river to skirt around private property after around three miles. Once again that book is wrong. It lists the segment distance as 4.5 miles when it should be 5.7 miles (each way). When it rejoins the river the water should be calm and placid where it heads into a small reservoir. Iím usually looking for a little more action in my river shots, although placid can sometimes be very nice if there are reflections or other points of interest in the composition. In any case, I chose to head back to the trail head after hiking a little over four miles. That choice would allow me time to hike another segment of the river trail. And it would be easy to catch up on the placid section on a different day. At least that was the plan.
I would say that the first two miles of the trail (heading downstream from River Bridge) were the most scenic. The rest had pretty much no river access, although you can see it down below through the trees at times. Now the very beginning of the trail showed great promise. I first saw it and thought that there would be so many good shots available. However, every spot I checked out had something I didnít like. Nothing would work out, at least the way that I see things. Maybe another photographer can get fantastic shots there. But my eyes didnít see any. The picture I will be uploading was from that area. I really wanted to get some ripples in the lava in the foreground. The problem was that would have filled over half the frame with the rest of the fairly uninteresting lava. Todayís picture already has a foreground and composition that isnít really up to snuff. The ripples were behind and to the left of this spot, so you can imagine how bad it would have looked if I had included them. I know what youíre thinking. Yes, a couple of days ago I did upload a picture that was all foreground. And that foreground was lava. But in that case the effect was exactly what I wanted. I must be fickle, right?
I finished my first hike of the day by noon. The forecast was for a few showers at 3 PM. It was listed as a 35% chance. In reality, there were showers by 12:15. That put to rest any indecision about whether I was going to need to bring rain gear. Very soon after I started hiking the showers became full rain. I continued for just a little while before seeking shelter under a tree that was not yet saturated to the point of dripping. I figured that following my plan and hiking seven miles in this rain was going to result in soaked camera gear. I wasnít up for a repeat of my soaked Union Creek hike three years ago.
In case youíre wondering about biscuits and gravy, I saw that sign in the window of a gas station convenience mart the other day. With a sign like that, how can anything possibly go wrong?
First world problems
I had very high hopes for todayís hike. I was expecting the South Fork Rogue River to be very scenic. I drove southeast on Road 37. The beginning was single lane paved. Then it switched to gravel, which I actually preferred since it was wider and that lessened the chance that an oncoming vehicle would drive too fast around a blind turn and ruin my day. There were a lot of hunters out this morning. I arrived at the middle trail head and found that, just like most other clearings, it was full of campers. Luckily there was one spot left. I felt sort of like an interloper parking next to someoneís fire ring next to their camper. But in reality itís a trailhead and not a campground.
The trail was fairly close to the river for a while. I did bushwhack down to the shoreline several times, but didnít really see any interesting compositions. For the most part the river was shallow and mostly placid with lots of cobbles in the bed and shore. There was only one spot where I got a couple of decent shots.
A wasp stung my finger early in the morning. Iím not lightning fast, so I imagine that the only reason I was able to smash the wasp is because it was intent on pumping as much poison as possible into my finger. Luckily there werenít any reinforcements. I was a bit surprised to get stung. I know that wasps have a bad reputation, but we usually leave each other alone.
After a while the trail kept turning away from the river and climbing. Every time I looked at my altimeter and thought, ďIím finally by the river, and my elevation is almost as low as the lower trail headĒ the trail would climb back up away from the river again. I kept hiking for a long time, but decided to turn around before completing the journey to the lower trail head. I just didnít imagine that the scenery would improve, and I was tired of the elevation gain and loss (and this is heading downstream).
On my way back, I decided to take a spur to the Giant Sugar Pine. The unmarked path climbed to a road. There was a signed trail to the pine on the other side of the road. After going there, I decided to hike back on the road instead of going back on the trail. Not only was the surface better, but this way my legs wouldnít continue brushing up against all of that vegetation that was wet from yesterdayís rain. On yes, my waterproof pants were soaked and my boots were wet.
Instead of driving back the way I came, I decided to drive on 34 towards Butte Falls. That was a stroke of luck. Almost immediately I crossed a bridge over the South Fork Rogue and looked over the side. The view was exactly what I had hoped I would see during the hike! There were spots to pull out on both sides of the bridge, so I parked and took some pictures. Now I have a dilemma. After the hike downstream I had mentally crossed off the idea of hiking in the upstream direction tomorrow. But after seeing the view from the bridge I have to wonder if the river is prettier in the upstream direction. Probably not. I think itís part of a plot to make me drive back and spend another day being disappointed. And hereís more information about the devious plot. I got back in my car to continue my drive only to find that the paved road soon had two lanes! It gets better. There was colorful dogwood on the sides of the road. But, like many diabolical conspiracies, the perpetrators were soon done in by their evil nature. The clear cuts ruined the dastardly scheme.
Although the forecast was mostly cloudy, I had full sun all morning. That was not a problem since it wasnít like I would have gotten good pictures anyway. The clouds came in near the end of my hike, which presented me with an opportunity to visit a few waterfalls very near Prospect.
Yesterday I got a picture that I liked a lot, but I had a few bad spots from rain on my lens. I had been attempting to shield my lens and had been checking, but I missed the droplets at that one particular spot. It was
Man on an island
I had planned to visit Lemolo Falls on my way to Prospect. I decided that it might be best to skip that area due to thunderstorms being in the forecast. There must be something about Lemolo. This is the third time that weather has kept me away. The weather wasnít exactly pleasant the one time that we were able to go there. It was 102 degrees that day. For the rest of the world, thatís obviously measured in Fahrenheit.
Taking another route did allow me to stop at one picturesque spot on the South Umpqua. This time there was some pretty green algae in the water. Thatís probably not great for the folks who surely visit the area in the summer, but I thought it was pretty. I was busy taking pictures and then decided to wash the sand off my tripod feet. I startled a large fish when I put them in the water. It quickly left the shallows, and I lost sight of it in the stirred up algae.
After a long drive, I started a hike on the Rogue River. I quickly decided that I wasnít going to have time for a seven mile hike. I knew that I was going to be stopping rather soon and spending a lot of time taking pictures at Natural Bridge. I still think that folks behind the fence on the other bank must wonder about the idiot walking on the lava adjacent to the river. But theyíre behind a fence, and there is no fence on the side I come in on. Itís also right next to a campground, so I cannot imagine that a lot of people arenít out there in the same place as me during the summer.
Instead of hiking to the Rogue River Gorge, I drove my car there. Iíve already hiked that area in the past. I would love to do it again, but I probably wonít have time during the rest of the trip. I have too many places to see, and not enough time to revisit trails.
I always look forward to photographing a very scenic area above Rogue River Gorge. Imagine my surprise and disappointment to find that the river channel is currently all but dry. I started walking back to the car but turned around when I realized that this was a rare opportunity to explore the island. I have to report that it was fine to see, but I didnít see many photographs of the main Rogue channel.
My next stop was at Union Creek Falls. There were a lot of cars and trailers parked along the road to the upper trail head. I noticed that people seemed to be camping wherever they could find a spot. Last time I was here I hiked the Union Creek Trail from the lower trail head. This time it was a quick walk from the upper trail head to the falls.
I finished the day at the always wonderful National Creek Falls. The funny thing is that after taking pictures at a bunch of locations, I almost ended up choosing a quick snapshot for my picture of the day. I was hiking up the switchbacks and saw a little section of the trail I really liked. I thought I might have time to go to another location, so I was hurrying. I donít suppose that yíall are that interested in a shot of the trail, so Iíll have to choose a different picture. Iím going to do that next, so at the moment I still donít know what Iím going to share.
Iím back. I decided to choose a picture of Union Creek Falls. I shot the falls from a different perspective last time I was here. I think I may prefer that vantage, but I wanted something different this time, so I chose to emphasize the lava in the foreground. I also think that the photograph itself is better. Although I certainly wouldnít claim to be a highly skilled photographer, I believe that Iíve gotten better over the past few years. The funny thing is that before this month I hadnít even held a camera in almost a year. At the beginning of this trip I was stumped trying to remember how to switch on my cameraís live view. I had wondered if I would be getting any decent shots. I neednít have worried; Iím in my element. Thereís nothing I like better than rivers and creeks running through the forest.
Panning for gold
I had quite an easy day. I had nothing to do other than spend my time taking shots along the Little North Santiam and Cedar Creek. Thatís in contrast to the folks who were gold panning at Three Pools. I donít know if they find much, but youíve got to hold out hope that youíll be the one who succeeds in finding a big nugget. It seemed like an interesting thing to do. I wouldnít mind trying it if I lived up here. Of course I expect that most of the time itís just hard work with little payout. Maybe I would start off panning and then a few hours later realize that I had just been sitting on a rock or log next to the creek absorbing the scenery and daydreaming.
Yesterday I tried to take a few quick glances at the North Santiam above Detroit Lake. There are pullouts along SR 22, and it looked as though there might possibly be some good pictures down there, although itís kind of hard to tell at 55 miles per hour. I was tempted to stop and check them out this morning, but I decided that I would be better off sticking to the plan and going to a few waterfalls and Marion Lake (hopefully before the sun was fully on the falls.)
I stopped to see two waterfalls before getting to the Marion Lake trailhead. The second was Gooch Falls, and let me tell you itís pretty impressive.
There was an inmate work crew building a rail fence when I arrived at the trail head. You canít beat that, either from their perspective or mine. From theirs, itís a chance to get outside. From mine, how could me car be any more safe at a trailhead than on a day when there is a sheriff hanging around?
Personally, I didnít think that the forest was anything close to exceptional. Perhaps Iím spoiled after getting to visit Pamelia yesterday. The forest at Marion pales in comparison. What this hike does have is a waterfall. Oh, and I suppose that most people would prefer this trail since, not only is Marion a much bigger lake, but you also get a bonus lake.
I started scrambling up the hill alongside the Marion Outlet Trail too soon. I stopped a couple of times to take a look behind me so that I would know what to expect on my way out. Then I ran into the real path to Marion Falls. At the beginning the path looks like a real trail, but then it gets fainter. It was always pretty easy to follow. Or maybe I should say it was easy to locate. Following is another story. Once you reach the brink of the falls the fun starts. Itís a steep scramble down to several viewpoints of the upper tier and lower viewpoints of both tiers.
My gamble paid off since I was just early enough to have the right light from two vantages. I didnít bother to go any farther down because at that point the sun was lighting the next spot I would have shot from. Since I would have been looking right at the sun, and since there was also now a bright spot on the waterfall, I decided not to go through the trouble of scrambling any farther down. Instead I just stood there for a long time watching the water. I ended up looking at one particular spot for quite a while, and when I decided it was time to leave I looked up and the world was moving. Vertigo is not what I needed just in time to scramble back up the hill so I looked at the falls a little while longer.
On my way out I did some trail work. I removed some debris from the path, and I placed some sticks and branches at the edges to help outline the way. I also placed a big stick across the entrance to the side path so that people who intended on taking the Outlet Trail wouldnít make a wrong turn.
Later in the day I met a couple of ladies who said they were looking for the waterfall. I gave them instructions on how to get there. They asked if I had seen the inmate crew. I mentioned having seen an unsupervised inmate crew in the past. They were surprised, but I figure that the inmates would have to be supremely stupid to mess up a good thing like that. Escaping would mean not only a longer sentence, but serving the entire thing behind walls. Besides, as I mentioned to the women, Iím paying a lot of money for the opportunity to be out in the woods.
Soon after I started my return from the lake I started to smell smoke. Camp fires are banned in the area, and there hasnít been any lightning, so I wasnít sure where it was coming from. As I hiked back downhill the smoke intensified. I stopped at the Detroit Ranger Station to ask if there was a controlled burn. The lady told me that there was one in the McKenzie district.
Thatís not permitted here
Yesterday morning I went online and purchased my Pamelia Lake permit. There are a limited amount of permits available, but I suppose that if all twenty day use permit holders bring the maximum number of people youíre looking at a crowd of 160 people. It looks like there is also a single permit for a group of 9-12 people. I think that the overnight permits are subtracted from the day use allotment. In any case, at this time of year itís not bad. I saw that six other permits were reserved for today, but I only saw three people.
Pamelia Lake was really small. The water level was as low as Iíve ever seen it. Of course you can take that with a grain of salt since my sample size is two visits. However, due to the conditions this year I feel confident that the water level is much lower than normal. And a big for instance would be looking at you from over the tree line. Mount Jefferson is looking mighty bald. I only saw two small patches of ice. That surprised me since I was pretty sure that I saw more when I was looking at the north face from the Olallie Lake area a couple of days ago. I was looking directly into the sun at the time.
Although I knew I wasnít going to have time to hike to Huntís Cove, I was expecting to hike a lot farther than I did last time. Ha Ha (Clinton Dix). That last part was unnecessary, but since I was typing ďHa HaĒ, my mind naturally completed the rest. Just in case you donít know, thatís the name of an NFL safety. But back to your regularly scheduled programming. The laughter is because itís quite obvious that there was no way that I was going to be able to hike through the lovely forest next to a creek without stopping to enjoy the scenery as well as spend a whole lot of time taking pictures.
Whereís that confounded gorge?
I didnít have high hopes for the South Breitenbush Gorge hike. My main reason for going there is because the drive along forest road 46 is pretty. Itís part of the West Cascades National Scenic Byway. I wanted to get off the road and this seemed like as good a spot as any.
It turns out that this is one of those river trails that has almost no river access and hardly offers even limited views through of the water through the trees. It was a pleasant enough trail through the forest as long as youíre not expecting to reach some specific destination. Although in this case there is, in fact, a specific destination. My hiking guide described a sign for the gorge and a path to the right of the trail. I was feeling kind of stupid for missing those things by the time I reached Roaring Creek. But thatís okay. I was going to continue a way on the trail and then I could search more carefully on my way back. By the way, the view from the trail bridge over roaring creek is a very nice cascade through mossy rocks. It would have been very photogenic if patches of sun had not been on it.
On my way back I once again knew that I was in the gorge area. I could hear the water below. For the second time I went down a hill to a bit of a clearing, but I donít think that I was going to attempt to scramble down any farther than that. Besides, where is this side trail described in the book? Once I was obviously past the gorge area for the second time I decided that the authorís pleasant lunch spot was not likely to be visited by many of his readers.
Itís kind of sad that my upload was the best picture I could get. That was right near the start. There were also some unique and interesting bridges in that area.
So to summarize my day:
I didnít find the gorge.
It was too sunny for the kinds of forest shots I like.
I didnít get access to the river shore, but that didnít matter because of the sun.
I enjoyed the day.
This list is probably grammatically incorrect, but I donít care because I didnít have to go to school today.
Maybe the title should have been Trail on Fire. I got my fall color fix with red huckleberry leaves. The area was definitely past peak. The majority of the leaves had fallen. But there was still plenty of color to be found.
No, I didnít get lost. I know where my limitations lie. Last week I was trying to find a couple of lakes without trails. I climbed up on a ridge and couldnít see them. I could have continued bushwhacking, but I wasnít sure that I was going to both find the lakes and find my way back to the trail, so I stopped my search.
Today I was in the Land of Small Trees. That kind of LoST. Olallie Lake is over twice as high as Opal Creek, which was where I was yesterday. Being in the higher elevation forest with small trees was quite a change from the Opal Creek old growth. Another change was that I only saw one other hiker all day. Olallie Lake itself was deserted. Amazingly, there werenít even any helicopters in the sky. It was like it was the end of the world and the last two people left had nothing better to do than hike to a bunch of small lakes.