Saturday, December 28, 2013

Tumalo Mountain area-unnamed caldera butte

Sledding on Butte with South Sister & Broken Top in back
We needed an overnight and the mild winter weather provided. Lows were set this weekend for about 30 overnight. We figured that might be about 20 where we planned to be camping just shy of 6,800 feet. No snow remaining in town so in order to get some decent sledding it's up to the Cascades.

full of stoke at the TH at Dutchman Flat
Broken Top on the left, Ball Butte on the right-hiking along Dutchman Flat

The hike is along a snowmobile trail. We anticipated that there wouldn't be much traffic due to the thin snow pack and there were only a few machines. Once we broke away from the trail and started gaining elevation we followed a creek bed.

Sunrise over Tumalo Mountain

 We set up camp a few hundred feet below the unnamed butte (we are calling it caldera butte) and hiked up. Check out the map above and you can see the depth of the butte bowl. We hiked up the steep side to do some sled runs, but the other prize was the view!

Sunset over Mt. Bachelor from Butte

The crew en route back to the TH
The short film:

Hike Length: 4 miles Hike Duration: 2 days
Hike Configuration: out and back Blaze: mostly on Flagline Trail, some x-country
Start Elevation: 6,348 feet Highest Point: 7,145 feet Elevation Gain: 797 feet
Hike Rating: easy to moderate, some postholing in the snow, slick areas.
Trail Condition: On the trail, packed down by snowmobiles
Starting Point: Dutchman Flat 
Trail Traffic: a few snowmobiles around Dutchman Flat, no one else on Butte.
Access:  Oregon Snow Park pass required for TH parking. 
How to Get There:
From Bend, County Road 46 (Cascade Lakes Highway) about 20 miles to Dutchman Flat TH. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sparks Lake Canoe Camping-October 2013

Chilly fall days are a GREAT time to get out and camp. We headed to Sparks Lake in Central Oregon with the canoe to enjoy a weekend of solitude. 

To get there: From Bend, drive about 20 minutes on Cascade Lakes Highway, go past Mt. Bachelor and in a few miles you turn to Sparks Lake. Go to the boat launch. You'll need a NW Forest pass or pay for day use. Launch and paddle south. 

The east side of the lake seems less trampled. It is more rocky, but way more interesting with deep lava canyons, slot canyons to climb around, lava bridges, and more-a playground for anyone! 

 After setting camp we headed to Mt. Bachelor. An easy rolling trail to the base of the NW Chair. It was fun to see the ski area stripped of its winter blanket. We hiked up to some early season snow and then headed back to camp. With an easy pace we did the whole jaunt in about 4 hours. 

 Paddling the next day around the lake through freshly minted ice that crackled thru' our oars. The lake also has a drain in the middle of an inlet. You can paddle right up to the swirling water. 

See the film here: 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Olallie Butte-Wasco County

Hiking the highest peaks in all of Oregon's 36 counties
#22-Wasco County-North Central Oregon-Olallie Butte-NE flank-7,218 feet

Fair weather hiker? You'll need to stay out of the high Cascades in the fall.

BEAUTIFUL lakelet in the middle of the recovering burn area.
For this trip, Nico, our loyal trail dog led the way on a 20+ mile loop in and around the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, Mt. Hood National Forest, dozens of lakes-many of them sacred to the tribe, and the summit of the highest point in Wasco County.This is one of the most isolated areas of the Oregon Cascades. The drive from any state highway is over 20 miles. I wanted to check off the highest point in Wasco County, but also wanted to investigate the Dark Lakes. Known as a sacred area to the tribe, The Dark Lakes region lies a few miles east of Olallie Lake. As a visitor, it is important to respect the tribal lands and not camp at any of the Dark Lakes.

On the map you can see a faint diagonal red line from the top of Olallie Butte to the top of Campbell Butte. This is known as the Campbell Line. On this hike, you can find an interesting artifact reflecting the battle of the preservation of tribal lands. The original Warm Springs Reservation was delineated by the Campbell Line surveyed in 1871. When the tribes complained that the line was surveyed wrong as per their agreement (shorting them some 80,000 acres), the U.S. Government remeasured in 1886 to the present boundary to the west. It took the U.S. some 80+ years to process the request. In the early 1970's the line was finally moved. Look for a small line of wire along the trail which I've been told was an attempt to mark original Campbell Line.

Jumping off from the northwest side of Olallie Butte at the PCT, we climbed quickly. The butte is a conical, dormant shield volcano which has over 2,000 feet of prominence. The rain turned to snow, certainly a September surprise given our elevation below 8,000 feet. We camped right near the Wasco County high point. Continuing our trip south, we were cross country for the next day breaking thru' brush down the south face of the butte and into the Dark Lakes area.

Climbing south we came upon some cedar trees that were repopulating the burn area. We did not see any other cedars anywhere in this region so it was quite striking to see them growing here.
Cedar trees with spruces with Olallie Butte to the north.

Last flowers of the season

The starkness of this area still recovering from fire was magical. Silver towers of dead conifers filled the viewshed as gray fall clouds wrung out a steady shower on and off.
Horseshoe Lake, home for two nights

Continuing south of the burn area, we reach Horseshoe Lake as we straddle the line between the Reservation and the National Forest. The car-camp lake, reachable by long drives on rocky roads, is vacant and has a sad worn look. Trash from the season is fairly abundant and the rain makes it all seem more dim. I strike up the stove, make biscuits, and pickup trash to boost my mood.

Mt. Jefferson, it's lower section, on the left, only view of it for 4 days

Day 3 was a day trip up to Park Butte. The idea was to get a magnificent view of Mt. Jefferson and get high enough to be able to text my family for the first time in a few days. One glimpse of Jefferson popped thru' the clouds for a moment.

Day 4 was a long slog out in the rain for about 8 miles. It was so cold and wet, that you just have to smile. I kept laughing about how ridiculous it was to be out there. After 4 days of seeing no one, I started to come across a high Cascades ultra-marathon race. The 50 or runners had something in common with me. We both thought the other was crazy for being out there.
Really, does she need to speak? We know what she's thinking.

See the film of the whole trip:


Hike Length: 20+ miles Hike Duration: 4 days
Hike Configuration: loop, with one day out and back Blaze: some on the PCT, a LOT x-country
Start Elevation: 4,791 feet Elevation Gain: 2,427 feet
Hike Rating: Difficult, heavy burn area recovering, strenuous hiking and rocky terrain.
Trail Condition: On the trail, great conditions on the PCT
Starting Point: North side of Olallie Butte
Trail Traffic: Saw NO one else until the last day
Access: I checked with the Warm Springs Tribes since the county high point is on tribal lands. Passing through is okay, but camping is only allowed at Trout Lake (with a fishing permit available from the tribe) which is located on the southeast side of Olallie Butte
How to Get There:
There are two ways to access the TH that lies on the NNE side of the Butte. One is about 30 miles from Detroit is dicey and was pretty tough on my Subaru. Allow almost 2 hours to get to the TH. 

The other is from the east from Madras and is shorter, but WAY more of an adventure. I did it in my Subaru, but I'd recommend a high clearance truck. 
Take Hwy 26 west (headed in a northerly direction) thru' Warm Springs. After you come out of the canyon, look for County Line Road aka Blue Lake Road aka P-600. Follow the road for about 5.8 miles and turn left at triangle intersection onto Old Mill Road aka B-130. Follow for 5 miles until you cross Mill Creek. Interesting stop here to investigate the Old Mill Camp which has many ruins of out buildings and mill equipment. Turn left after Mill Creek onto Blue Lake Road. In 2.5 miles, turn left onto B-240 crossing under powerlines you've been traveling under (just before you cross under the another set of powerlines). Follow signs for 7.6 miles and you reach Blue Lake-a rarely used beautiful lake in the northeast shadow of Ollalie Butte. Follow the road on the north side of the lake. In about 1 mile, you have a creek crossing that is sketchy in early season. One mile more and you intersect NF-4220 where you'll find the TH. Total travel-23.25 miles and about an hour from Hwy 26.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Three Fingered Jack-August 2013

Three Fingered Jack

Backpack in from Jack Lake

This hike comes highly recommended. The trail is easy and the climb rewarding. This is a great adventure for kids 7+. A good destination for this hike is Canyon Creek Meadow only 2 miles in and less than 1,000 feet up.

You'll need your NW Forest Pass or pay for a day permit. You'll also need a wilderness permit. This area has seen heavier use since the Pole Creek Fire of 2012 devastated nearby backcountry. Be very mindful of camping 30+ adult paces from water. Rangers roam the meadow and we received a tongue lashing for utilizing a highly impacted site that was just that distance.

The hike starts at the far end of the parking lot and wraps around Jack Lake. Look for a nice framed shot Three Fingered Jack just above the lake.

Travel thru' mixed conifer forest that transitions from lodgepole to fir and from sagebrush to manzanita as you climb.
Canyon Creek Meadow is awesome and makes a nice spot to take a break.

 Vistas start to really open up in what I call the upper meadow.
We got a glimpse of the Mountain Goats that had been released in this area as they clung to the east face of 'Jack.
Look REALLY close at the cliff and you'll see the 'dots' that are Mountain Goats.
Mountain Goat
Vistas open up on the southeast shoulder rim. From left to right we see, Broken Top, Mt. Bachelor (tiny in the distance), The Three Sisters, and Mt. Washington

Watch a short film on the jaunt here:

You can find the trailhead by turning off Highway 20 west of Sisters onto FS Rd 12. Follow that north for a few miles. Take a left onto FS Rd 1234 after crossing Jack Creek. Follow that road about 7 miles to the trailhead at Jack Lake.