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Herman Creek Pinnacles


A volcanic spaceship emerging from below ground?


I have walked dozens of pieces of the Pacific Crest Trail, but it seems funny that I missed a nearby section until yesterday.  It would have been one of the last legs which Cheryl Strayed hiked on her now famous PCT adventure.  I started at the Herman Creek trailhead, where I have been a couple times (the starting point for an Indian Point hike), and once I veered off onto the bridge trail, I realized I had walked this route in reverse twenty years ago.  I had gone on a quick backpacking trip over Green Point Mountain and across to Benson Plateau.  I had completed a twenty five mile loop by descending steeply from the plateau to this point.  The creek crossing is lovely.  Not a soul in sight.  Serenity now.  It would not have been difficult to stay there for much longer, listening to the babbling brook.

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The trail climbs mostly gradually, but really meanders through the changing forest towards the PCT.  The trail junction there is punctuated by a fantastic splintered stump.  The walking was still casual, and still I had seen nobody since the initial junction on the Herman Creek Trail.  It was midweek, but the weather was absolutely perfect, so I was surprised at the solitude, but longtime readers will know I’m not complaining.  Heading north on the PCT, the trail soon crosses a rockslide.  Cliffs loom high above the trail.  The sun is barely hitting the trail due to the massive walls above.

After a second, wider rockslide, the trail ducks back into the trees, turns a corner, and then I could hear the distant whispers of a stream.  The noise soon increased.  I  looked up at the stream crossing.  The waterfall is partially hidden by some maples, so I scrambled uphill for an improved view.  Pacific Crest Falls is a lovely two step falls which few people probably see, and if you are headed north, it could be easy to miss, but it’s worth the hike.


Pacific Crest Falls


Making the trip even better, a couple hundred yards down the trail, there is a series of odd rocky piles known as the Herman Creek Pinnacles.   Their fractured structure is fascinating, and I found decent views after scrambling up a rocky bump to the west, taking in the Columbia River, Washington foothills, even the white wall of a distant Mount Adams.

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This was a fascinating area to explore, from the water features to the incredibly lush flora to the rocks. The hike is probably less than five miles round trip, so it’s an easy half day venture, and one well worth the drive.  It’s also easy to connect with other short waterfall walks or explorations of Cascade Locks and Hood River.  Enjoy.

Pacific Crest Trail Tease


I have intermittently dreamed about hiking the Pacific Crest Trail since I read Eric Ryback’s book about the trail when I was in high school.  Naturally, life has taken random twists and turns, I’ve done a lot other cool things, from climbing cliffs and bungee jumping to getting married on a mountain to becoming a firefighter and publishing my writing.  At my age, I’m not sure I can press pause on my life for five months it would require.  Perhaps one day…  Here is a tease I stumbled on today in which a hiker took a second-long video every day on the journey, which is compressed to a three-minute video.  I’ve seen another version of this, where a man took a selfie every mile on the trail.  It was interesting to see his face change, but I wanted to see the scenery more.  This clip does that. Enjoy–especially those of you about to embark on the trail.  If you can’t follow my link (and sorry about the ad), here’s the full URL:

Walking Portland, Thinking PCT

Hiking Locally, Thinking Globally

Knowing the weather was about to change, I got out of the house the other day to some urban open land and took the dog for a short walk after work. Partway across a meadow, I found patches of fennel, mint, and these lovely flowers. There would be no epic hike for me that day, only dreaming of wilderness beauty, and here, purple petals  that evoked the joy of natural beauty.  And sometimes, that is enough to give me that outdoor fix.

Little Crater and Timothy Lakes

On the homestretch, along a narrowing arm of the lake.

When I was struggling to find time for a real hike for the second week in a row, I noticed a friend’s post on Facebook about Timothy Lake, a large lake southeast of Mount Hood which is a popular camping and boating spot.  While the weather is really cooling off, and the mountain is again dusted by snow, this could be a good level ground hike.

Mount Hood from the trail in the campground area.

The lake has a trail circumnavigating it which meaures about 13 miles, including a stretch on the Pacific Crest Trail.  Unlike most area hikes, it is relatively flat.  Last year, in a brilliant move, as I recovered from back surgery, I completed the loop.  I started and ended my hike with the spur trail to and from Little Crater Lake, an tiny lake formed of artesian water from an unusual rift in the bedrock.  My favorite spot on the Lake loop may be the area around an inlet stream on the southeast corner of Timothy Lake, where there is an open rocky area with views and a stream where otters played like they meant it.

There are other lovely spots, like the marshy area with a beaver lodge, or the pleasant woods of Meditation Point along the northwest side of the lake.

Most of the trail is uncrowded besides the few miles that travel near a few campgrounds along the south shore.

Otters scamping about right below a footbridge.

Even that section is pleasant, for it has the best views of Mount Hood, and there is usually the exuberance of children in the air.  Then the trail crosses a dam and it heads back to the north and east.  It is a dark forest and I cranked out the miles for the most part as I headed back towards Little Crater Lake.

The pure waters of Little Crater lake. The PCT is in the trees beyond.

I was happy to see the PCT trail junction, and soon thereafter, the meadow around the smaller lake.  I hiked almost 14 miles in about 5 hours, and I was pleased with that.  Today, I smile at the memory triggered, and I think about paying another visit to the area.  It occurs to me that it could be an outstanding cross country ski loop, but road access could be an issue.  Of course there are many places to hike, and I want to visit them all.