OHE September 10, 1998

Date: Thu, 10 Sep 1998 19:51:42 -1000
From: "Arthur W. Neilson III" (art@neilson.ddns.org>
Subject: Pacific Northwest Vacation

I just returned from a 2 1/2 week vacation to the Pacific Northwest, visiting the states of Oregon and Washington. Some of the best hiking trails in the nation are found there and I got to explore a few of them with my Fiance Margie. We flew into Seattle Fri Aug 21 and drove down to Portland, Oregon to stay with my sister Lucy for the first week of our trip.

Saturday Aug 22 We did the first hike of the vacation, Larch Mountain.


"The view from this retired volcanic peak will knock your socks off. And the hike down below may well melt your soles. From the parking lot, take a short walk to Sherrard Point and drink in the view (Mt. Adams and St. Helens to the north, Mt Hood and Jefferson to the south). Then head down into the Columbia River Gorge on Larch Mountain Trail, which leads into the remanants of the mountain's volcanic crater. At about two miles, a side trail leads east across Multnomah Creek to Trail 444, which climbs back out of the crater to the summit. Take the side trail for the 5.5 mile loop or continue straight down, a total of 6.8 miles to the Multnomah Falls Lodge. If a car shuttle can be arranged, it's a fun downhill, one-way hike. For longer loops or one-way shuttle hikes, the Larch Mountain Trail system also connects with Oneonta trails to the east."

The view from Sherrard point was spectacular, sharp and clear that day in contrast to the loop hike we did. The loop hike was mostly in the forest with no views of the surrounding countryside however we did eat quite a few huckleberries near the stream crossing before hoofing it up the many switch- backs on the return leg.

Monday Aug 24 Marge and I did a hike on the South slopes of Mount Hood, most excellent and highly recommended!


"This is the perfect day-long taste of the wilderness for summertime visitors to magnificent Timberline Lodge. From the lodge, follow the Pacific Crest Trail west, beyond the base area for the Magic Maile chairlift. Traverse through open meadows with spectacular views of 11,235 foot Mount Hood, as well as Mount Jefferson and the Three Sisters to the south. About a mile down the path, you'll drop to the Little Zigzag River, then climb up the other side. It's a bit steep, but it's just prepping you for the grand show ahead. About a mile farther, you'll arrive at an overlook on the lip of Zigzag Canyon. The aerobically challenged should call it a day here. Just beyond, the bottom drops out. You'll plunge almost 800 feet straight down, directly to the bottom of the awesome canyon, a steep, barren reminder of the combined impact that weather and erosion have on this volcanic peak. A nice spot at the bottom, next to the icy Zigzag River, allows you to catch your breath for the climb back up the other side. (Watch for falling rocks.) About 1.5 miles later at the top, stop, wheeze, gasp, and then turn right on the Paradise Park Trail, which loops up (way up) to absolutely spectacular alpine wildflower meadows in Paradise Park. A grander lunch spot in the entire universe just might not exist. Turn around here, or continue on the loop trail to the Pacific Crest Trail for the full 12 mile loop. Remember, save some juice for that climb back out of Zigzag Canyon on the way back. And don't forget to bring a jacket. Weather can turn bad in an instant any time of year on Mount Hood."

This was a superb hike, with very grand views of Mount Hood. The wildflower meadows in the Paradise Park loop section of the hike were fantastic, we had lunch beside a burbling Glacial stream looking right up at the peak. Multitudes of flowers abounded, purples, white, yellow, red. My favorite was the red indian paintbrush.

Wednesday Aug 26 Marge and I did the most popular hike in the Columbia River Gorge, Eagle Creek!


"If you could pick only one Columbia Gorge Trail to hike, this would likely be it. And plenty of people do pick this one. Gorge visitors for a day or a lifetime flock to Eagle Creek, largely because it samples the best scenery the gorge has to offer while managing to maintain a fairly friendly pace. On the long, winding path to Wahtum Lake in the Columbia Wilderness, you'll pass half a dozen waterfalls, any one of which would be a substantial hike on it's own. It's almost an embarrassment of riches. For a short hike of just over four miles rounf trip, hike to aptly named Punchbowl falls. Longer hikers can continue on to spectacluar High Bridge, which spans a frightenly deep gorge on the creek, for a 6.5 mile round trip. If you're up to it, go all the way to Tunnel Falls for a 12 mile round trip you won't soon forget. Go as far as you can. You won't regret it. Even the longer trip has a net gain of only about 1,200 feet. For an extra bonus, watch salmon spawning in the creek in the fall."

Another great hike, Marge and I went all the way to Tunnel Falls together. A cool side trail just after High Bridge took us down to an area where several falls converge, we scrambled onto a mossy rock area on the lip of the falls and ate lunch. After lunch we headed onwards and made it to Tunnel Falls, so named because a tunnel is blasted thru the rock right behind the falls. we went thru the tunnel and I leaned over the side and drenched my head in the blasting water of the falls. Awesome. I scrambled down the side to the base of the falls and crossed a few logs in the river to gain a cool moss covered rock island not 10 feet from the blasting fall of water. The spray drenched me completely and I saw a rainbow in the mist in the air. Far out.

Friday Aug 28 My sister Lucy and I hiked to the North slopes of Mount Hood for a hike in the alpine meadows.


"This is the most direct route into the spectacular northern alpine country of Mount Hood. The Vista Ridge Trail begins on an old road and climbs in the forest beyond an old trail junction at about one half mile (stay right). Mount Hood pops increasingly into view as you gain the ridge and eventually join the Timberline Trail 600 at about 2.5 miles. From here, choose your spellbinding alpine destination. Turn right (west), and you'll begin a three mile loop that visits Eden Park, Cairn Basin and Wy'East Basin. Go East, and Elk Cove awaits in two miles. Or go off-trail to the southeast from Wy'East Basin to the top of rugged Barret Spur (elevation 7,853'), where the views of the Ladd and Coe glaciers are truly awesome. Views and August wildflowers at Eden Park and Cairn and Wy'East basins will make you kick yourself for not discovering this trail years before. It's the kind of terrain you normally have to hike much, much farther to see. Be careful not to contribute to the meadow-stomping and other degradation that overuse has already brought to this area. Return the way you came, or for a shuttle hike, exit via McNeil Point Trail reached by walking two miles west on the Timberline Trail."

Another good hike, Lucy and I did the three mile loop and the side trip to Elk cove for a total hike milage of 12.0 miles. Eden Park was a wonderful place, a huge open meadow nestled in the side of Mount Hood the size of several footbal fields. It would be a great place to camp, a small stream runs thru the heart of it. Lucy's dog Sienna (a blonde lab) ranback and forth all thru the meadow chasing Marmots and Pica.

Sunday Aug 30 Marge and I left my sister's house for a two day stay at beautiful Lost Lake. We stayed an an old fashioned cabin on the lakeside complete with a wood stove and kerosene lamps. We arrived in the afternoon, got changed into our hiking gear and did the duck soup trail around the lake then headed up to the top of Lost Lake Butte for the sunset. 7.5 mi. total.


"Bring your camera. Lost Lake is famous for it's expansive views of Mount Hood, and the Lost Lake Trail is a pleasant loop all the way around the lake, easy and inviting enough for the whole family. Pick up an inter- pretive pamphlet at the trailhead. The occaisionally planked trail loops through an awesome grove of old-growth cedars and follows the lakeshore closely for the entire 3.5 mile route. An optional sidetrip is the four mile round trip to Lost Lake Butte (4,468'), which offers great views from a dilapidated hilltop lookout. The trail begins in the large Forest Service campground on the northeast side of the lake."

The loop around the lake was a piece of cake, no elevation gain however the views were great. After completing the loop, we took a side trail which switchbacked up to the Lost Lake Butte lookout. From there we had a picture perfect view of Mount Hood at sunset, quite the romantic spot ;^). We went fishing in the lake the next day and caught twigs, moss and such :^(

We drove back up to Seattle on Tuesday Sep 1 to stay the second week with Margie's sister Anita.

Thursday Sep 3 Marge and I did a great hike on the East side of Mount Rainier up Frying Pan Creek to Summerland/Panhandle Gap.


"This is the best, and therefore typically the most crowded high-country backpack trip in the park. The trail follows Fryingpan Creek up at a good clip for about four miles before opening into an upper valley. Views begin here and won't end for the rest of the day, sudden fogouts notwithstanding. You'll cross the creek in an avalanche area, then embark on some serious steepness for the final mile or so. Then: Boom. Summerland. Meadows sprawl. Breezes tickle. Views entice. Shoulders ache. Drop the pack and look to your left, into the trees, for an unoccupied campsite (in the dead of summer, good luck). Campsite or no, the scenery is splendid, with great views of Rainier, Little Tahoma Peak (11,138'), Goat Island Mountain and the Fryingpan Glacier, locally famous for shattering the wrist and rattling the brain of our telemark-crazed friend J.D. in a recent winter avalanche. Ahead about 1.5 miles is Panhandle Gap, which has unique views all it's own, plus a bonus - it's not unusual to look up and see mountain goats. An all- time classic Rainier hike awaits those who continue ahead to Indian Bar and make exit on Stevens Canyon Road. Total trip: About 16 miles, through some of the more unoccupied stretches of trail in the park. For average backpackers, the latter trip isn't a good idea early in the season, when much of the trail remains covered in snow."

This hike is just as good if not even better than the Paradise Park loop hike I did on the south side of Mount Hood. Views of Rainier were fantastic, the glaciers sparkled in the sunlight with that blue tinge old ice has. The campground at Summerland was a perfect spot and the hike onwards to Panhandle Gap was superb. We encountered high alpine morianes (little lakes) ice cold with deep blue color, a raging glacial river crossed by means of a huge old growth tree laid across the riverand buzzed flat on top somehow. Margie was tired and I left her at the moraine and ascended several snow fields to gain Panhandle gap (6805') the highest point on the famed Wonderland trail circumnavigating Mount Rainier. From this vantage I could see St Helens, Mount Adams and Mount Hood to the South. A large rock formation towers above the gap on the left, I scrambled up to the top of it and surveyed the lands spread out before me. I spotted many white mountain goats cruising on the talus on the south side of the mountain and red tailed hawk floating on the wind looking for varmits to eat. A most fine hike indeed.

Saturday Sep 5 I went camping with randy and Kathleen Jackson at the Cougar Rock campgrounds on the south western side of Rainier. We went on an afternoon hike together with their friends John and Carrie.


"If you're at Paradise for one day and want to head straight for the best camera angle in the area, here's you're trail. Unlike other Paradise vistas, which actually traverse the lower slopes of the mountain, Pinnacle Saddle is a bit more detached, keeping a constant watch on Rainier from the Tatoosh Range to the South. The trail starts out gradually, then turns upward sharply enough to crimp the style of even the most aerobically fit. The trail ends at about 6,000' in the saddle between Pinnacle Peak and (6,562') and Plummer Peak (6,370'). The view of Rainier is frameable, and the view backward, to the south, is almost as magnificent. Try to pick out Mount Adams in the haze. Sections of this trail remain snowbound until midsummer and should not be attempted by hikers with no experience crossing snow. Sturdy, deep-lugged boots are recommended, if not essential. Several scrambles from the saddle to the top are inviting, but should be avoided by most of us."

Heck, I guess that doesn't include me!! Randy had up hike to the saddle then scramble up to the summit on a goat trail. The goat trail petered out and we were basically freeclimbing it up these class II/III rock sections with serious exposure in spots. The view when we gained the summit was superb. Camera shots all around, and I was pinching a bit on the way down. What a Hoot!!! Thanks Randy Jackson!!!

Sunday Sep 6 Randy, Kathleen and I went hiking on a piece of the Wonderland Trail which included a magnificent 576' suspension bridge! Wow! We went up the Tahoma Creek Trail, which was washed out in a flash flood in 1990. Two miles along the trail is the junction with the Wonderland Trail. The left fork leads to Emerald Ridge and the Puyallup River Basin, while the right leads across the afore-mentioned suspension bridge and switchbacks up to Indian Henry's Hunting Grounds. Randy, Kathleen and I headed right upon reaching the junction and immediately encountered the suspension bridge 576' high crossing over Tahoma creek. The bridge itself spans several hundred feet across the gorge, with the icy cold river raging down below. The bridge is suspended by huge cables and looks like a miniature Golden Gate Bridge. Really cool. We raced out onto it and proceeded to make it sway violently side to side. Our stress test on the bridge was of course successful, it's a spooky feeling to have the bridge swaying like that! Anyway that thing is strong as heck and anyone seeing it would clearly understand that anything short of explosives or an earthquake would have zero effect upon it.

After exploring the bridge, we hiked back to the left and went up Emerald Ridge hoping for a great view of Puyallup Glacier. Unfortunately upon arriving at our lookout point, we saw that the glacier was covered over on it's lower extremities with cinder and soil, the glacier looked dirty and ugly. The glacier has receeded quite a bit recently and was not at it's best. We then ate lunch and hiked back down, across the bridge and up into Indian Henry's Hunting Ground. We didn't have enought time left in the day to go up to Mirror Lake and Pyramid Peak, those will have to remain unexplored until my next trip to Seattle!

Total distance covered was approx 12 miles round trip, we drove back to the campground and had dinner then downed a couple beers and listened to Randy strum the Guitar. Man can he play!!

Anyway's, that's it for the hikes I did on my vacation. The days I wasn't hiking I did other stuff like visit the Bridgeport and Widmer Breweries in Portland as well as the Pyramid Alehouse in Seattle, visit the Portland OMSI and watch the OMNIMAX movie on Everest, go to the Portland Zoo, the Washington Zoo in Seattle, the Seattle Art Museum, the Nike Employee store for new boots, REI in Seattle, fishing on Lost Lake and a day out at Indian Beach on the Oregon coast.

All in all it was a very fine vacation and we did so many fun things, it's hard to go back to work again. Vacations are always much too short!!!

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