Finding Lost Lake Butte

I first visited Lost Lake when I was about 14.  My family hiked partway around the lake and found camped along the shore in our four person Eureka tent.  It is a fading memory of which I am fond.  I have been back to the lake a few times in recent years.  A flat trail circumnavigates the water in about three miles.  Somehow I had never climbed Lost Lake Butte, directly east of the lake.  I rectified that situation last Sunday. The two mile hike starts by meandering past the campground, then starts climbing in earnest.  There is no flat section of the trail, but it is mostly moderate climbing,  In two miles, the path gains 1400 feet.  There are few views along the way as you climb through pleasant forest, but there are nice ones on top, mostly to the east and north.  Even on a partly cloudy day, Mount Hood dominated the scene, but looking down the valley towards Hood River was also pretty.  The trail is hardly bucket list worthy, but if you are visiting the area, try combining the hike with a kayaking trip, or simply camping at Lost Lake, or just hanging out at the little lodge.

 

Three Views From Hoyt Arboretum

A couple days ago I walked part of what is known as the 4T Trail.  The name refers to  four modes of transportation by which travelers can experience a loop around the city: trail, tram, trolley, and train. 

Looking back to where I started.  The bump with radio tower is Council Crest.

Looking back to where I started. The bump with radio tower is Council Crest.

I started at a high point in Council Crest Park, and walked on a trail to the Hoyt Arboretum, where the famed Wildwood Trail begins.  It is also right next to the train leaving the Oregon Zoo, where one could continue a loop to downtown Portland. I simply wanted to walk, not ride around Portland by mechanized transport.  That might be nice on a another day. 

Walking up a sunny slope on the Maple Trail

Walking up a sunny slope on the Maple Trail

Once I arrived at the Arboretum, I tacked on a  loop through on the Wildwood and Maple trails. The diversity of tree species are amazing, and views are great too.

I found irony in the extensive graffiti on a fence separating the Arboretum and an upscale neighborhood

I found irony in the extensive graffiti on a fence separating the lovely Arboretum and an upscale neighborhood. 

The trail is relatively easy, but I found myself dripping with sweat by the time I finished my uphill return to Council Crest.  It was a well spent two hours of urban hiking, complete with a graffiti, oriental cherry trees, and a freeway crossing.  Not too shabby.

 

Walking Along The Willamette

Jackie Chan and I got out for a quick two park double walk this afternoon. Here is a section of sand along the Willamette looking downstream. It feels very serene until you hear the hoots and hollers from the small amusement park next door, Oaks Park. Regardless, the combination of trails and beach make for a nice spot to walk.Sellwood jack

Island In The City

It’s hard to believe I’ve never been on Elk Rock Island before. It’s a little island paradise only minutes from Portland. The island has multiple ecosystems, ranging from cliffs to grasslands and forests to mudflats.  Part of the year, a channel separates the island from the shore. When the Willamette River is low, however, people can easily walk across the rocky bed of the channel.  Once across, a small network of trails gives easy access to most of the corners of the island.  

   It’s  great place to spend an hour or an afternoon.  It would probably be great to circumnavigate in a kayak or canoe.  Next time…

A Scrubby Hot Hike Past Gillette Lake

Sunday I looked for a new hike at a reasonable distance.  I found the Bonneville trailhead on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge, just two miles west of the Bridge of the Gods.  A half mile spur trail connects people to the Pacific Crest Trail. Then you can pretend you are hiking with the serious thru hikers.  I only went a few miles, through an atypical landscape, partly denuded from logging, and partly from power lines.  The trail gains little elevation, but the heat made me sweat. After crossing beneath the power lines, the trail drops near Gillette Lake, and then climbs a bit more, heading into the forest, hopping a beautiful creek and skirting a small pond after going through an open area infested with poison oak (I caught a little on my calf, but I’ll survive).  In the end, I stopped at a great viewpoint where someone had made a little bench of stone. The trail continued toward Table Mountain and other viewpoints, but I did not feel like adding many more miles to my day.  This was a good casual hike, although the power lines and dirt road crossings made it less than pristine.  Still, that lake water definitely looked inviting, so it was no surprise that it seemed to be the main destination in the area, for both camping and swimming.  This is not on the ever changing top ten list of favorite hikes, but it made for a worthy afternoon.

History and Nature Interwined at Champoeg State Park

 

Looking  west

Looking west

I was a bit jealous of boaters on a hot day

I was a bit jealous of boaters on a hot day

Champoeg State Park, set along the verdant banks of the of the Willamette River, is the sit of a  pioneer town of the 1840s where settlers gathered to talk shop and politics. Today it is a fine place to show off some of that history juxtaposed to the natural beauty of the area.  

Part of the disc golf course

Part of the disc golf course

Seven miles west of I-5, the park’s quaint visitor’s center helps people get a feel for the area’s history and natural beauty.  After I had my fill of displays explaining regional Native American linguistic influence, endangered wildlife species in the area, and settler arguments over government influence, I set out for a walk in the midday heat.  

Blackberries at various points along the ripeness continuum.

Blackberries at various points along the ripeness continuum.

I started down a paved path along fields dotted with the largest hay bales I’d ever seen. Eventually I skirted a disc golf course, which seemed an anomaly in a state park, but why not?  

Ivy coating half of the tree trunk

Ivy coating half of the tree trunk

There are a couple main day use areas.  At each one, there were pint-sized campers, accompanied by a few adult counselors.  The kids seemed excited to go by the river.  

Nice spot for a boating adventure

Nice spot for a boating adventure

The water was certainly a shiny beacon, but I continued along a giant field, in the middle of which there was an apparent archaeological dig.  The walking was mostly flat, so I was surprised to see few other walkers.  There were actually more cyclists on the paved paths. 

Campers near the trail

Campers near the trail

More history

More history

After a couple hours at Champoeg State Park, I came to appreciate it on a few levels.  I was a great spot for historical reference, nature appreciation, hiking–even a game of disc golf.  After sweating my way through the sun scorched open fields, I was mostly appreciative of my car’s air conditioning. 

Walking back up to the visitor's center

Walking back up to the visitor’s center

Hiking Henry Hagg After All These Years

A fisherman in an idyllic spot below the trail.

A fisherman in an idyllic spot below the trail

Henry Hagg Lake sits an hour west of Portland, where the Coast Range starts to announce itself to travelers. I’d known of the lake for years but had never been there. I’d thought of it as a destination for boaters and triathletes, but it is more than that. 

I loved this tree above the lake

I loved this tree above the lake

Seeking a new hiking destination on a day off, the lake popped into mind. The drive took about an hour.  I parked near a boat ramp in a large parking lot.  Boaters were putting in and taking out their craft, variously equipped with flotation toys and coolers. Nearby, families set up in myriad little coves and cute beaches to swim, tan, and eat. Such leisurely pursuits looked enjoyable, but I was here to hike. I headed counter clockwise on the trail that circumnavigates the lake.  In total it is somewhere over 13 miles. I wasn’t up for that. To be honest, I didn’t want to put in that much effort when I thought I might be underwhelmed by the results. 

A little color by the trail

A little color adding to the beauty

The scenery was attractive, if not spectacular.  At any rate, it was already close to noon, so I decided to hike a couple hours and turn around if I wasn’t blown away.  I was not blown away, but I was pleasantly surprised.

One of my favorite views of the lake

One of my favorite views of the lake

The trail is not particularly well marked, but it was easy to follow as it meandered past the coves and promontories with occasional spur trails to a nearby road.  Few people used the trail itself, but I could hear picnickers and boaters and lakeshore splashers much of the time.  Once I left the immediate environs of the boat ramp and campground area, however, I saw more mountain bikers than walkers.

Looking across one of the many fingers of the lake

Looking across one of the many fingers of the lake

I was pleasantly surprised at the environmental variations along the path.  There was typical lush western Oregon forest, a  nice patch of oaks, as well as some open grassy areas that make me think of “amber waves of grain.”   The views were excellent in the open areas. There were also stands of berry trees lining the trail. Currants? I did not recognize them.

Who knows this fruit?

I almost ate some of these, but couldn’t identify them

The views gradually change after meandering around watery fingers of the lake. On a sunny day, Henry Hagg Lake definitely seemed like the Oregon version of a camping and boating paradise. It is not exactly a wilderness retreat for thru hikers, but it’s a great place to get away from the city.  I turned back after hiking a few miles in one direction, and as I left, I felt satisfied with my afternoon.

Looking toward the hills

Looking toward the hills

Gaudy Sunsets and Too Much Work

A view to bring a smile to my face

A view to bring a smile to my face

I have been working way too much, so I try to find the time to savor nature when I can. For example, a couple nights ago I admired an amazing sunset. Last night I took a walk by the light of a huge rising moon. Still, I would rather be in the mountains, perhaps camping with my wife in the trees near a lakeshore, watching the colors on the mountains change as the sun set. Yet as always, it’s good to be thankful for what we have. I thought I might have to work today, but since I don’t, I’m getting out early for a hike today, destination unknown.  To be continued…

Wauna Point: From Mild to Wild

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It’s finally summer, and I am ready to hike. A year ago I looked at hiking to Wauna Point, but it didn’t pan out because I didn’t have a good map or guidebook. This year, that wasn’t a problem. As I am working a new job that only allows me one day off a week right now, I was very focused on getting in a good hike today. It had been far too long. I took my faithful canine hiking companion Jackie Chan with me and headed to the majestic Columbia River Gorge. Unfortunately, I was delayed by a traffic problem. Two lanes of the three lane highway were closed. It was backed up for three miles. Ugh.  Still, I managed to be at the Tooth Rock trailhead by noon.

I opted for a simple route via an access road past a couple junctions.  The road curves about two casual miles uphill to the old Tanner Butte trailhead. I’d climbed Tanner Butte as a teenager. Now it’s a sixteen mile adventure. Not for everyone.  Wauna Point, on the other hand, is a relatively modest ten miles, the last leg of which is very rugged. More on that later. Beyond the old tiny trailhead, a path continued upwards, briefly following a beautiful stream. Multiple wispy cascades drape the drainage within a quarter mile, after which the trail veers away from the small canyon.

The landscape along the trail is typical western Cascades: lush, green, and viewless in the lower elevations. It is also relatively people free.  One guidebook as well as a hiking website refer to the Tanner Butte trail as steep. It certainly forges uphill steadily, but it rarely felt steep. That’s not to say it wasn’t challenging. Whooee, my legs are gonna feel it, I recall thinking. Eventually, after climbing to a landscape of salal and fern undergrowth with stately evergreens overhead, the trail flattens briefly at a junction. To reach Wauna Point, one goes straight ahead on an unmaintained trail. Due to dense damp ferns encroaching on the path, my boots and legs were soaked in a few minutes.

Despite the dampness, this secondary trail seemed easy. It descended the far side of the ridge, dropped beneath a rocky rampart, and then plunged down a very narrow ridge via some very steep, scrabbly and muddy spots.  This is not for the casual hiker.  Good traction and balance are necessary. I used my hands a few times. As always, descending a steep bit is the tricky part. Once I was down into a little saddle, the rest was relatively easy. I eventually sat on an airy perch, the Columbia River undulating like a shiny snake 2500 feet below me. I kept Jackie close by my side. Wauna Point is not a place for a pup to be a squirrel chasing spaz. It is fairly rocky, and only a few feet wide, with some exposure in places plunging hundreds of feet.

Wauna Point is a notch below the best viewpoints of the Gorge, largely because its views are dotted with manmade structures like Bonneville Dam, the Bridge of the Gods, and the buildings of a couple towns. Still, it was pretty great, especially the unique horizontal perspective of the bare, steep flanks of Munra Point, which faithful readers may recall I climbed last July.

The way down was quiet and relatively quick.   In all, I took just over 5 hours for the round trip of 10 miles, with some extended relaxation on top. I might be a touch sore tomorrow. This was a great first serious hike of the year. Hopefully there will be many more great hikes forthcoming. Ah, summer!

 

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