Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Grassy Knolland up to Big Huckleberry Mountain near Carson, Washington

Grassy Knoll and up to Big Huckleberry Mountain near Carson, Washington.
hikin_mike1960 (just myself)
Distance 11.3 miles
June 14, 2010

OK, first things first.... How in the heck do you get there?

From Portland, drive east on I-84 to Cascade Locks. Cross the Bridge of the Gods and turn right on Highway 14. Drive east for 5.9 miles, through Stevenson. Turn left on Wind River Road, following the signs for Carson. Drive north 4.0 miles, through Carson. Turn right on Bear Creek Road. Bear Creek Road is a narrow paved road. After 3.6 miles, the road turns to gravel and becomes NF-6808. Continue another 7.2 miles to an unsigned road junction at Triangle Pass. Turn left here and drive 2.1 miles on unsigned road NF-68. Turn right on unsigned road 511. The trail head is right at this last junction. Parking is on the right and the trail heads uphill to the left.

What a great day for a hike. The weather never reached the for casted temperature of 85 degrees and ended up at about 76 degrees with a nice breeze. It felt nice on the sweaty body and helped kept the flying biting bugs in check. I was on my own today. Southern Jim had to work and Kpine doubled booked the day. Well that left just me wondering the trails. After what I saw on this trip I will make sure I rub it in a little bit.

I love to read the information board at the trail head before I hit the trail to see if there was any good news. One of the things I saw was a sign stating this was a difficult hike for man or beast. I knew already the trail started out with major uphills but wow, it was a climb. Or in simple terms it kicked my butt and then some. It improved to me I need to get into better shape and I really felt it for days after. One the positive side of it, there were wild flowers all over the meadow at the start of the trail head.

So as I wandered up the trail, sucking in the "O's" and sweaty heavily, I was treated with some great views, Mt Hood and Mt Adams. Along with 1000's of Glacier Lilies all over the meadows. This was a beautiful treat and I have never seen so many in my life in one place. Once past the meadows, I wandered up and around Grassy Knoll. There was once a fire lookout station there but only some metal supports remain. The wind really picked up across the knoll and I lost a lot of body heat quickly.

With a quick look around, I started up the hill again to Huckleberry Mountain. There was not too much snow, a few die hard drifts fighting to stick around. Trillium were everywhere along the trail. Once on top I found a very place to sit and have a relaxing lunch. The view was breath taking and the time past quickly. I packed up ready to leave when a host of hikers popped over the raise and the peace time disappeared.

The trip home was a lot quicker then the up. Less picture taking and stops to catch my breath. I forget about the down hills I did on the way up and was reminded of them climbing back out. I thought I heard a bear in the woods but I think my mind playing tricks on me. This was a great hike and the first time I was ever up there. Not too much running water, only a couple of running streams. It was a great day and I am sure I left off a bunch of details. Oh well, I guess I have to go back sometime. Be safe out there and I hope you find Mother Nature and peace.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Opal Creek near Mill City Oregon

Opal Creek near Mill City Oregon
Just myself (hikin_mike1960)
Distant: 6 miles
16 May, 2010

Directions: From Salem, OR, take Highway 20 toward Mill City. At the second yellow blinking light prior to getting to Mill City turn left on to North Fork Road. Travel about 20 miles to a gate across the road, park and start walking up the gravel road.

It was a great day for pictures and Opal Creek is a great place to do just that. The creek in itself is one of the most beautiful ones around. The color of the water is outstanding, Cristal clear and lots of great places to shoot. Plus it has tons of junk just waiting to have its picture taken. From old logging equipment, mining tools of the trade and personality that will not quite. I have been there several times and came back with lots of memories captured in my camera. Now all I have to do is sort through them all and post them on my website (

Now for the walk in, 3 miles of gravel road that roll along the creek. About half way there on the right of the road, you will come upon a bunch of old logging gear. There is an old boiler, a couple of winches from the Battleship Oregon, rails and tons of other junk. I recommend bring a tripod due to everything is mostly under trees. I spent about 30 minutes or more shooting away. The story goes that logging was stopped due to an accident where a log truck driver and his rig tumbled down into the creek and died. Also a cute little spotted owl caused all sorts of legal problems and the courts stated the logging was to be shutdown.

Once back on the road there will be a couple of boarded up mine shafts that runs into the mountain. I wonder about the stories they hold. I have read somewhere that the miners never did find gold but was awarded with other treasures of the earth. Upon arriving at Opal Creek Learning Center one finds a dream place for us photographers. There is old junk everywhere, old trucks, woodstoves, mining equipment and a couple of creeks join together. If you happen to go there in the fall the vine maple adds a new twist to the area with all the fall colors. After more pictures captured in my camera and some time for lunch, I head for the trail to Opal Pond. This is a nice chance to walking on gravel roads. I found some Fawn Lillies along the trail and an old trail bridge to add to my collection of pictures to bring home.

About a mile or so you come to a bridge that crosses the creek and gets you back to the gravel road again. I decided to push myself back the my truck. Remember the big five day hike my friends and I are taking at the end of August. Did I ever tell you how much I hate walking on gravel roads. They seem to go on for ever with not much excitment to be had. Plus it never fails as I walk along I roll my ankle over a couple of times. Why it happens I do not know. I did get a nice heart rate going and was glad to get my backpack off when I get back to my truck.

On the way home I reflected on the hike and how at peace I was. I tried calling my daughter, miss erin and could only leace a message. Once home, she returned my call and after the "hello's", she said she had some important news for me. Well to make a long story short, I am going to be a grandpa. She is happy about it and so I am too. I wish her the best and lots of love. One more adventure I get to add into my life. Be safe out there and enjoy Mother Nature and find peace.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Eagle Creek Trail Overnight Trip

Eagle Creek Trail in the Columbia River Gorge.

Southern Jim, Utah Mike, Kpine and myself (hikin_mike1960)

Total mileage 15.5 miles

Directions: Take I-84 east to exit 41 and follow the signs for Eagle Creek Trail.

It was an overcast day with showers in the forecast. Temperature in the high 40's to low 50's. Great weather to take a walk with Mother Nature. We decide to get out town for a few days and needed to do a shake down hike for our upcoming adventure (5 days in the Goat Rock Wilderness Area) this coming August. I will talk more about it on upcoming entries.

As we wondered up the trail we were greeted by thousands of wild flowers that litter the forest floor, bright colors were every where. I love this time of year just for that. We got an early start to beat the crowds and our goal was to camp at the 7 1/2 mile camp. It is a nice spot to get to and most of the sights are next to the creek. Utah Mike has only been in the state for about 2 months and never been out hiking here in the Great Northwest. He was very impressed with all the color and waterfalls.

I have to say we were pretty lucky on the hike in. It only sprinkled rain on us a couple of times. But when we finally arrived at camp and were setup. The skies opened up and the rain fell steady for the rest of the day. OK, it did let up about an hour before we called it a night. I was impressed with Utah Mike's fire building talents. He started us a small fire and kept it going even when it was raining and nothing but wet wood. I love the smell of camp fire smoke. I did something it do not do very often and took a nap. It was very relaxing and just what the doctor ordered.

One of the things I enjoy about our overnights is that we like to eat good and love to try new ideas. Southern Jim was in charge of dinner and I did breakfast. For dinner Southern Jim cooked up four packages of Alfredo noodles, butter, foil packed chicken. tuna, smoked salmon and some Cajun seasoning. I must say he receive very high reviews on the meal (OK, it was damn good). He is requested to do it again when we go to Goat Rocks Wilderness Area later this summer. Then later that night Kpine made rice pudding. It was a nice way to end the day and yes, it stopped raining.

It was a cold damp night out in the woods but I felt I had a good night sleep. There is something about sleeping by a running creek that makes me relax. The tent finally kicked me out and my partners were slowly breaking down their tents. I worked my way over to the make shift kitchen we set up and started some coffee. There is nothing better then that first cup of joe out in the woods. For breakfast, I made omelets in a bag. A friend show this tasty treat to me and I had to try it out for myself. Take and mixed up two or three eggs in a bowl. Like you were going to make scrabbled eggs and pour it into a zip-lock freezer bag. I added a hand full of diced ham, cheddar cheese and some cooked mushrooms. I placed the bags in the freezer until morning and then in camp set them out to thaw. The next day, I placed them into a boiling pot of water for about 13 minutes. Once time was up, we dumped then into our bowls and they were got in a heart beep. The omelets were very lite, fluffy and tasted dang good. They were requested for repeat preformances on later hikes. Plus there was little mess to deal with once the eggs were done.

With camp broke down and our packs on our back, we head out down the trail. The weather was great for hiking with a slight breeze, sunny and temps in the high 50's. The wild flowers were out in force and better then the day before. As we wondered down the trail we past fellow backpackers breaking down to head home. The place filled up quick last night. The trail was crazy going out with all the day hikers joying the sun and great outdoors. This is one of my favorites hikes but the bad side is there are too many people.

To close the ice tea was good on the drive home. My wife and daughter made me a cake and cooked dinner for me. It was nice to come home.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Tanner Creek Trail in the Columbia River Gorge, OR

Tanner Creek Trail in the Columbia River Gorge, OR
Hikin_mike1960 and Miss Mimi (a.k.a. George)
Distance: 2 miles

I turned the "Big 5-oh" Friday (April 9th) and I received one of the best gifts a dad could ever ask for. I took my 3 year old daughter to Bonneville Damn Fish Hatchery to feed the fish and the ducks. Then we drove to the other side of I-84 to hike up Tanner Creek Trail. It is a two mile loop just off of I-84, exit 40.

She was very excited about the fish and loved feeding them. Plus the ducks joined in the action with a little snack for themselves. It was the best 75 cents I ever spent. She was also impressed with the viewing windows in the sturgeon ponds because of the big trout and the big fellows were head level with her. After the visit with the fish, we headed to the gift shop were dad got to learn about patience with the "Please don't touches", Because we all know little girls love to look by touching all the pretties. We left the gift shop with some salmon jerky which Miss Mimi loved and some cold drinks.

On to the next adventure, the hike started off on a service road which runs along side of Tanner Creek for about a 1/4 of a mile. It gave Miss Mimi a change to run and climb on a couple of rocks. I love the little ones exploring the big world. She picked up rocks, pine cones and one of her favorites, sticks to look at and throw. It was fun to watch. As the service road ended we crossed a bridge which had the first waterfall of the days adventure. She would stop and stick her head through the rails trying to get water drops on her tongue.

Tranner Creek Trail is a well traveled trail, which makes it a great place to take the little ones. It is wide enough that we could walk together holding hands. I would hate for her to tumble down the side into the creek. I kinda like her a little and would hate to see her hurt. At about a mile in we came upon Wahclella Waterfall. It is one of my favorites in the gorge. We found a nice spot to sit and rest. After a little snack Miss Mimi threw a bunch of rocks into the creek. She was having a ball and was all amiles.

The return hike back was pretty much all down hill. We made great time and she was full of energy, running and giggling. I had to laugh because we were maybe five minutes in the truck heading home and she was out like a light. She did great out there and listend well. I need to find another short hike to take her on and help her learn to love the great outdoors like I do. Camping with her this year will be exciting.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Angel's Rest Loop

Angel's Rest Loop
March 14, 2010
Southern Jim and myself (hikin_mike1960)
Distance: About 8 miles

Angel's Rest is located in the Columbia River Gorge, take the Bridal Veil Exit on I-84 and turn right. The trial head is on the right hand side of the road. You can not miss it. The trail starts out with an uphill climb for about 2.3 miles which brings you to Angel's Rest. It is a rock outcropping sticking out over the gorge. The view is well worth the climb. From there one has a choice to go in many directions, back down the hill or take a back trail to continue on to other adventures.

Today, we were greeted by high wind gusts that only the Columbia River Gorge can give you. With the tempertures in the 30's to 40's and the strong wind gusts our body heat was sucked from us very quickly. Also, it felt like we were going to be picked up and floated up and away. I am greatful I packed my shell to help protect me from the bite of the wind. With the weather conditions as they were, we decided not to work our way to the point of Angel's Rest. It is a great view but not worth the chance of being tossed off into the gorge by the wind. I think Miss Robyn would a little bit unhappy with that.

As we trudge along the trail it gave use a chance to think and visit. It has been awhile since Southern Jim and I had hiked with just the two of us. Usually Kpine and Luna the Wonder dog comes with but she decided at the last second to be sick. I guess I will not give her to bad of a time for not feeling well and eleceted to stayed behind at the last moment. Ok,Ok....I know we will rub it in on now great the day was who am I kidding here.

We stopped and had lunch at the springs that feeds or creates Wakeenin Falls. It amazes me on how much water flow out of the ground there. It was a nice place to relax and take some pictures. I will be posting some on my webpage ( later for all to view.

I have to laugh at how it is a small world at times. We were about 4 miles from the trail head and we ran into a couple of hikers coming up a different trail. We stopped and chatted for a bit and one of them said, "Hey, I know you. You are Mike right?" After the surprise wore off, it took me a bit to releaze who he was and where we had met. He is another fellow who took recovery by the trail and hung on. By doing what he was told by the people before him, he can enjoy the beauties of what life gives him instead of crawling into a bottle or bag of dope. I love to see that happen to people. It proves to me being sober works if I work the deal. We parted with smiles on our faces and hope in our hearts.

Now one of the things about hiking in the gorge is every hike starts by going up hill. Many of these trails must have took some very creative thought and engineering to make. Sometimes the trail runs along side of a rock face or up a draw. But one of the worst engineering uses for trail constuction is the "Switchback". I understand why the engineers use them. One hikes back and forth on these things for about a mile then looks down the hill and see you have only gone up about 100 ft. Oh that sucks because you know there is at least another 3000 ft to go until you get to the top. So more back and forth we go hoping this will end soon. Do not get me wrong, I would rather climb uphill then down. It is much easier on my body.

We finally got to the bottom of the Multnomah Trail completing another beautiful day of hiking. As we neared the lodge, one of the bestest smells in the whole wide world hit us.... "COFFEE". It drew us in with a blink of an eye. What a great treat at the end of a great hike. The only thing better would have been ice cream. The simole things are always the best.

Well another hike done and I have ran out of things to say. I hope to see you on the trail. Be safe and alway walk with Mother Nature and find peace.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Miss Mimi's First Hike

Tualitan River Wildlife Refuge
Febuary 28, 2010
Miss Mimi and me (hikin_mike1960)
One very long up hill both ways and if there was snow on the ground, it would have been six feet deep. (one mile if we were lucky)

Ahhhhh, what should one do on a sunny Sunday afternoon? Well, I have the best answer for that one, lunch and a first hike with my bestest buddy in the whole wide world. My three year old daughter (Miss Mimi) who is learning to love the great outdoors. She loves to help dad setup camp when we go camping, throw a bobber into the lake with her fishing pole and just be with dad. We got her own daypack for upcoming hikes this christmas and she wears it all the time.

But today she only brought along her handy binoculars to view the beauty around her. She saw hundreds of geese, hawks soring high above, singing song birds, hungery chipmucks and a ball of snakes. She was all smile a mile wide and in a constant state of move. I showed her animal tracks which brought on a new learning adventure for her. In time the excitement and the great distances (about one mile total) caught up with her. She hit the wall of tried, We walked back to the truck holding hands and dragging feet knowing a cold juice box was waiting for her. Yes, my friends she slept very well that night.

She is becoming an outdoors girl before our very eyes. She is excited about this years camping adventures and the next walk with Mother Nature. Oh and how can I forget about fishing. She brings on a whole new meaning of the word "DUCK!". Miss Robyn and myself are not brave enough to load her pole with hooks and bait yet. But a bobber makes her smile. Maybe this year if the fish are biting we will try.

These are some of the reasons I love life to pass on the love of the great outdoors to others and watch the seed grow. This summer will be intersting full of fears, excitement and lots of laughs. I am looking forward to it. Be safe out there and take a walk with Mother Nature and find peace. I have.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Eagle Creek Trail

February 20, 2010
Location: Eagle Creek Trail in the Columbia River Gorge, OR
People: Kpine and hiking_mike1960 (that’s me)
12.5 miles

First let’s get the directions done first. Drive up I-84 east to Exit 41. Turn right after the exit and drive to trailhead. Beware parking is limited and the place fills up fast. It other words get there early due to lots of people hike this trail. Also, clean your car out of all those valuables because they will walk away if you know what I mean.

The day was blue skies and the temperature crisp 34 degrees to start. I think the finally temperature was in the mid fifties. What a great day for a walk with Mother Nature. I have done this hike over 30 times at least and I probably could walk it in my sleep. But it is a nice first of the year hike with lots of beauty, over seven waterfalls, deep drop offs and if you are there the right time of the year 1000’s of wild flowers.

I made the invite to many and only Kpine could go. Which was fine because this trail even thou traveled by many can be a killer if you are not aware of your footing and steps. The trail climbs slowly up to about a 1600 foot elevation gain. The problem comes in the form of the trail runs along the canyon wall and the drop offs can go from 100 to 200 feet down to Eagle Creek, I think that would make for a very bad day. If you all remember right last year a young lady stepped of the side and fell to her death. One must respect the trail and know that it can kill you if not careful.

Back to the good stuff. The day was bright the light for pictures was crap with tons of shadows. I was still planning to take pictures anyway because Kpine can be a silly subject to photograph just by her self and if you just add some nature. Well if you know Kpine then you can understand. Later I plan to add a section on my website of the people I have photographed and to can see Kpine in action.

Back to the hike, we arrived at the trial about 9:00 in the morning. Oh I almost forgot Luna, Kpine’s wonder dog was with us too. Not too many people were there before us so parking was good. After pit stops to the local port-a-potty, we strapped on our packs. Today I was trying out a new REI Flash 65. I got it for longer backpacking trips and I wanted to test it out before the “Mid-life Crises Hike” planned for later this summer. I will write about it later and on why we are going to do it. Before we started, I met a guy wearing a Flash 65 and drilled him for information about the pack. He stated pretty much all good things about it. So that was a positive start to this purchase. The pack fit well to my body for what I had stuffed into it and cannot wait to load it with the needs of an over night stay.

The trial was in great condition. Thanks to all the hard work of the maintenance crews, what a great hobby. It must be a labor of love and I am very grateful of all their hard work and time. I wish I had the time to give. Our game plan today was to hike up to Eagle Creek Falls or Twist Falls, another name for the falls. It is about 6 ¼ miles up the trail. We started out at a good pace stopping to take pictures of our adventures. The pictures will be posted on my website if any turn out. Remember the light was not that great. The waterfalls were very full with tons of water flowing over them. No wild flower yet, a bit too early for them. I was a little bummed out about that. That just means more hiking to come to see them. Dang, it I hate it when that happens.

Kpine and I have done this little adventure once before but turned around at the 4 ½ mile bridge. So she was see new country for the first time. I love showing people the beauty we have here in the Great Northwest. She was all smiles and just being Kpine. She really liked Tunnel Falls. Tunnel Falls drops over the top and falls were the trial would have been. So the engineers who built the trail blasted a tunnel in the rock. One must see it to understand because you are walking behind the falls incased in rock. After Tunnel Falls, we went a short distance to Twist Falls and ate lunch. It is so relaxing to sit by the creek with friend and eat. The serenity just flows into a person and I get closer to my Higher Power. It recharges my batteries and washes away all the crap running through my brain.

We had a nice lunch sharing the goodies each of us brought. We discuss many things but felt something was missing. Finally, we decided it was our other hiking partner Southern Jim. He had to work that day. We called him on the way home and express our feels and how great the hike was. Ok, we rubbed it in that he was not there. Yes I can be an ass at times.

After and peaceful lunch and trips off the trail to go potty, we head back to the real world. We met hikers who were planning to overnight. I wish I could go with them but it would get cold tonight. The trip back was like driving on a freeway. It was full of day hikers enjoying the day. It is an experience just watching them. I have been up there once when I met a group just out of church. They were in their Sunday’s best, suits and ties, dresses and high heels. I have to laugh every time I think about it.

It is a good feeling when the trailhead comes in site. I did not want to leave but I had sore feet and was getting tired. Plus we were looking forward to ice cream in Cascade Locks. My new pack worked out well except for one spot on my lower back where my pack rubbed a hot spot. I will try to repeat and figure out what caused it. Other then that, I loved how it rode and looking forward to loading it up.

May you all have a great day and see you someday out on the trail. Please take a walk with Mother Nature and find peace.