Saturday, November 28, 2009

Gearhart Mountain Wilderness

The Gearhart Wilderness is in South central Oregon about 60 miles east of Klamath Falls and about 30 miles north of the California border.

At 8,370 feet, it is low on the list of Oregon's highest peaks at #65, but one of the beautiful assets of this wilderness is its remoteness. While it's not far from the small Oregon city of Klamath Falls, the closest larger city is Reno, Nevada about 275 miles to the south. It's this isolation of this 35 square mile wilderness that makes Gearhart special.

Nico and I ventured from Central Oregon on a beautiful late fall weekend to spend three days in the wilderness. Coming south from Bend, we were able to catch a glimpse of the Oregon Outback, a section of the Great Sandy Desert of Southern Oregon.

Short film:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Newberry Crater National Volcanic Monument

The boys, Nico and I headed south of Bend about 20 miles to Newberry National Volcanic Monument. The area called the Big Obsidian Flow formed about 1,300 years ago.
The Obsidian rock has a shiny, often sharp, black glass look to it and is formed from a certain type of volcanic flow that is formed in the west.
Occasionally, when the lava is cooling, air will get trapped in layers of pumice and crystal.

Another highlight of the area is Paulina Falls.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Mt. Thielsen-Douglas & Klamath Counties

Oregon 36 Project
Hiking the highest peaks in all of Oregon's 36 counties
#12 & 13-Lake County-Southern Oregon-Mt. Thielsen-9,182 feet
Mt. Thielsen is in the Southern Cascades, just north of Crater Lake, due east of Hwy 138 and Diamond Lake and 60 miles south of Mt. Bachelor.

Thielsen at 9,182 feet, looks similar to Europe's Matterhorn with a point on top. It is also called the lightning rod of the Cascades as it is struck very frequently.

Nico, our awesome new dog and I were out on our first overnight backpacking expedition.

We climbed from Hwy. 138 above Diamond Lake to the shoulder of Thielsen where it meets the Pacific Crest Trail. We set up camp there.
That's Diamond Lake (about 3 miles long( in the background with Mt. Bailey towering at about 8,200 feet above it.

Sweet wildlife as we saw this hawk, several deer, elk cows and a bear (unfortunately the bear had been shot by poachers who were hunting it out of season and we're just taking it's fur-sad reality that type of thing happens)

This is near the summit of Thielsen. It's volcanic history shows itself with some wild rock formations near the summit. The summit itself is the remains of the eroded volcanic plug from it's eruption 250,000 years ago. The lightning rod moniker for the mountain also causes a unique rock formation. A mineral called Fulgurite is formed when lightning strikes the mountain. The superheated volcanic rock melts into tubes of this mineral. It's effectively petrified lightning. Very cool.

Nico had a blast playing in the snow and climbing.

Just so you can appreciate the pitch of this mountain. The last reach before it goes totally vertical to the point is this long field of scree. I took this photo to show just how darn steep the climb is. At this point on the mountain, the trail is gone and you're just feeling your way up to the peak.

Nico at 9,000+ feet resting on the snow and enjoying the view.
A good trek...

Friday, August 7, 2009

Lassen National Park & surrounding area (California)

This trip was a bonus. I was headed back to Oregon from a hike along the John Muir Trail and decided to poke around the Lassen Peak and Mt. Shasta areas. 

The Lassen area is sparsely populated and gives you the chance to explore in isolation.
Lassen last erupted about 100 years ago and still smolders. You can see active vents still producing scalding steam. 
Steam still lingers...

Mt. Shasta at dusk.
In it's beauty, Mt. Shasta, 14,179 feet, along with Lassen, the two prominent peaks in California that are part of the Cascades Range.

Looking the other direction

Hot springs pool at an abandoned resort.

Timber equipment left behind.

Near Mill Creek Falls in Lassen National Park.
Lassen formations

Mill Creek Falls

Lassen Peak

More abandoned timber infrastructure.

Morning in the fields near Sierraville.

Morning sky near Mono Lake

Cool building in Sierraville

Thursday, August 6, 2009

John Muir Trail-Mammoth to Tuolumne Meadows (California) - Mountain Rescue

John Muir Trail - Mammoth to Tuolumne Meadows

This journey was a trip down to California to bag a reach of the John Muir Trail. Instead of hiking the trail in as little as 6 days as I've heard some people do, I have been climbing over the JMT passes for 6 years. Each year I have completed a reach of several dozen miles finding solitude at a slow moving clip.
Above Duck Lake

This year was originally a hike from Mammoth to the trail end at Yosemite National Park. However, as it always is in the backcountry, you need to stay flexible with your plans. Paul and I met Kastle (rhymes with Nestle) and John in Mammoth to begin the trek. 
John and Kastle mock the flow out of the Thousand Lakes basin.

JMT just north of Duck Pass.
Donahue Pass on the north side.
Chuck and Paul ham it up on the trail.
Chuck after a swim at Duck Lake.
Basin just north of Mt. Lyell.
Banner Peak at sunset

Snow north of Donahue Pass on August 7th!

Our pretty little hike took a scary turn. We were about 10 miles in from the nearest trailhead and we came across a young woman who was in a panic. She spoke a moderate amount of English and explained to us that her father was laying in a meadow and could not move. He was complaining of internal problems possibly related to surgery he'd recently had.

The woman had tried to get other hikers to stop and help, but no one would. She explained that even a pair of nurses had past by and she that he should just hike out. This guy was clearly NOT going anywhere when we found him. John, an experienced backcountry trip leader didn't hesitate. He took the role of first responder and for the next few hours we all jumped in. A CHP helicopter was called in to lift the man out of the backcountry and to the hospital.

The video below shows a short summary of the experience. We never learned what happened to the victim...

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Warm Springs Reservation: Bears, Wild Horses, & more...

Wandering around the Warm Springs Reservation with the boys
Wild horses framed by 10,400+ Mt. Jefferson

Our journey began on the right of the map coming from Hwy 26. The original goal was to get the kids up to the highest point in Wasco County. 

Worth noting here is what comprises the Federated Tribes of Warm Springs. The tribe was formed in 1937 by the joining of three bands. The Wasco band lived along the Columbia River and were fishermen. Their location offered them the opportunity for great trade. The Paiutes were a high plains band existed more in southeast Oregon hunting big game. The Warm Springs band lived along the tributaries of the Columbia River building clever structures to catch salmon as they migrated over waterfalls. The bands all spoke different languages and had different ways of living.You could only imagine how difficult that must have been for them when the U.S. Government effectively forces them to all occupy the same space.

Back to the trip...

Skipping stones in Mill Creek at camp.
We drove in a long way from Hwy 26 with some cool vistas along the way. The road had some abandoned vehicles. 
We spun out of control and landed in a trench (ok not really)
Moments before the wild horses dashed in front of us.
After effectively being forced out of their way of living, the young tribe began getting into industry to make their lives more sustainable. Sometime after WWII and into the mid-60's a boom of timber occurred for the tribe. What is now called Old Mill Camp is littered with stories of that era. Everywhere you look in the ghost town, scattered over many acres, you'll find trucks, cables, structures, and various equipment representing the tribes' significant investment in the industry. This is where we camped.

Remnants of Old Mill Camp

Tree gutted for industrialized use.
Boys relaxing at camp

Floating Mill Creek.
Sunset over Mill Creek.
Day two found us improvising. A ton of bugs at Blue Lake meant that we were not going to try the scale Olallie Butte to the Wasco County High Point. We instead went to Lookout Butte where the views were great and the elevation gain was very manageable for young kids.
Chucky with Mt. Hood in background from Lookout Butte.
Mt. Hood from Lookout Butte.
Mt. Jefferson left & Olallie Butte right.
Olallie Butte from Lookout Butte.
Inside the shell of a once great fir tree.

Hike Configuration: Various jaunts from car, climb up Lookout Butte Blaze: all x-country
Start Elevation: 5,114 feet Elevation Gain: 207 feet
Hike Rating: Moderate, bushwhacking
Trail Condition: No trail
Starting Point: North side of Lookout Butte
Trail Traffic: Saw NO one else
Access: I did not check with tribe like I should have. I educated myself later for an expedition in 2013 of Olallie Butte . Passing through the reservation is okay, but camping is only allowed (with a fishing permit available from the tribe) at Trout Lake which is located on the southeast side of Olallie Butte. DO NOT camp anywhere else, it is a disrespectful gesture and I should have known better.
How to Get There:
Take Highway 26 from Warm Springs. Drive up out of the canyon and along the long, flat, and straight stretch. turn left at the sign for "Old Mill" "Blue Lake", County Line or Blue Lake Road. Follow that road as it heads west, then north. You can use the map above after that to investigate.