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Category: Climbing/Hiking

More Oregon Hike recommendations

More Oregon Hike recommendations

  1. No Name Lake and Bend Glacier via Broken Top Trail – considered one of the best hikes in the state.
  2. Tamanawas Falls – Mt Hood
  3. Tom, Dick, and Harry – Mt Hood
  4. Hamilton Mountain Trail – Gorge
  5. Maxwell Lake – Wallowas
  6. God’s Thumb via The Knoll – Oregon coast near Lincoln City
  7. Clatsop Loop Trail – Ecola Park – easy but good views. Great intro trail.
  8. John Dellenback Dunes Trail – Oregon coast near Reedsport
  9. Natural Bridges Viewpoint Trail – South Oregon Coast – probably most amazing views of multiple natural rock bridges and coastal rock formations.
  10. Trail of Ten Falls – Silver Creek State Park
  11. Misery Ridge Hike – Central Oregon
  12. Tumalo Falls Trail – Bend
  13. Green Lakes/Soda Creek trail – Bend –
  14. Cleetwood Cove Trail – from rim to water at Crater Lake

Major multi-day hikes:

  1. Three Sister’s Loop – 46 miles
  2. Steens Mountain Gorges Loop – 28 miles
  3. Paulina Peak trail – gorgeous sunrises, rent a snowmobile in winter
  4. South Sister Trail to summit – 12 miles

More information and some of them taken from here.

Tools for wildflower season in the Gorge

Tools for wildflower season in the Gorge

Purple and golden wildflowers cover a landscape

It’s springtime, and that means wildflowers are blooming in the gorge! Knowing when to go and what trails you want to take can be overwhelming. Here’s two good resources.

  •  Oregonwildflowers.org, is created and maintained by flower superfan and photographer Greg Lief. The exhaustive site collates recent trip reports from wildflower wanderers. Follow links to discussion groups and “up to the minute bloom conditions” as well as links to further information including handy wildflower databases and local plant lists.
  • ReadySetGOrge.com, a clearinghouse maintained by local partner agencies. ReadySetGOrge offers complete information — maps and directions; trail lengths, elevations and difficulty levels; facilities and required passes — for all 181 recreation sites in the Gorge.
  • OregonLive list of some popular trails (where I stole most of the above info from)

With the increased popularity of the gorge, you now need permits more than ever before to hike trails and see the flowers. Here’s some links for that:

Mailbox Peak Trail

Mailbox Peak Trail

You may have heard Mailbox Peak Trail mentioned in hushed tones, the kind reserved for stories about some legendary storm or a bad accident. What inspires such reverence?

The original trail proceeds more or less straight up a ridgeline to the summit, gaining a jaw dropping 3,800 feet in two and a half miles. After a short flatter section, there is nary a switchback in sight as it climbs and crosses an open talus field. Until the Department of Natural Resources built a new, much gentler trail to the summit, accidents and rescues of wayward hikers were a fairly regular occurrence. Most of the old trail remains, marked for much of its length by a string of white reflectors nailed to trees – an earlier step DNR undertook to keep the uninitiated from losing their way in the most confusing parts of the trail.

While it might not be the most scenic of trails, it is definitely one of legends. It reminds me a lot of the Heartbreak Ridge trail on Table Mountain. It is so steep as to be a near scramble up, or requires using the trees to descend without tumbling. Heartbreak climbs 1650ft in 1.2 miles – which is almost the same pitch, but only half as long.

Finding Forrest Fenn’s Treasure

Finding Forrest Fenn’s Treasure

In 2010, Forrest Fenn hid a treasure chest containing gold and other valuables estimated to be worth well over a million dollars. The only clue to its location was a 24 line clue-filled poem.

What followed was a decade of treasure hunters searching, trespassing, harrassing, breaking into Fenn’s home, suing each other, going bankrupt, and even dying in pursuit of the treasure.

Yet on June 6, 2020 an unassuming 32-year-old Michigan native and medical student named Jack Stuef finally solved Fenn’s poem and found the treasure in Wyoming – after only 2 years of searching.

After the chase, some Fenn treasure seekers now on hunt for closure | Local  News | santafenewmexican.com

He has tried to stay anonymous and has kept the location secret in the post-finding madness. He says it is almost certainly what Fenn would have wanted – which shows the lengths he went to understand Fenn himself.

Which lends itself to the most fascinating aspect about his search technique:

The key was really just understanding Forrest Fenn. Stuef hunted solo, never discussed his search with others, stayed away from the blogs after his initial looks at them, and tried hard not to get caught up in any groupthink.

To read about Stuef’s search, the best way to find the treasure was to simply get to know the man. Which might have been Fenn’s whole goal – to have someone else really understand him. The final goal of a 90 year old man before he made his own departure shortly after the treasure was found.

Read more about the fascinating interview with the finder here:
https://www.outsideonline.com/2419429/forrest-fenn-treasure-jack-stuef

Grand Canyon hiking

Grand Canyon hiking

In January 2020, I had the amazing fortune to score a cabin with friends at Phantom Ranch at the bottom of the Grand Canyon.

One Best Hike: Grand Canyon: Everything You Need to Know to Successfully  Hike from the Rim to the River―and Back: Wenk, Elizabeth: 9780899974910:  Amazon.com: Books

We used the excellent guide “One Best Hike: Grand Canyon: Everything You Need to Know to Successfully Hike from the Rim to the River―and Back” by Elizabeth Wenk. Based on her tips and recommendations, we took the South Kaibab Trail down, then the Bright Angel Trail back up. I highly recommend the book because it details the trail mileposts along with giving you all the training, preparation, and other information you could possibly need. I made copies of her maps+guide to bring with us and they were spot on.

Additional Amazing Trails

Besides hiking down in the canyon itself, I also found a really good article by Annemarie Kruse from REI Adventures. We only had time for our Phantom Ranch hikes, but there are many different trails that can be even more amazing at the right seasons and times of day. She gives her expert opinion and list of trails – along with the best seasons and times to do them. I found them so good, I wanted to include them here too in case the article goes away.

.Image may contain Mountain Outdoors Nature Valley Canyon and Plateau

Cape Royal Viewpoint

Where: North Rim (open May 15–October 15 only)
Distance: 0.6 miles (round-trip) from the parking lot
Best time to do the hike: Sunrise, especially from July to September (monsoon season) for incredible cloud drama
Highlight from the trail: Sweeping views to the eastern edge of the Canyon, and out toward the rocky badlands of the Painted Desert and Navajo Nation
Best for: Beginners who want an easy win with memorable sunrise views

Image may contain Mountain Outdoors Nature Plateau Valley and Canyon

Kolb Studio via the South Rim Trail

Where: South Rim
Distance: 2.5 miles one-way from the Grand Canyon visitor center (check to see if the free shuttle is operating so you can take it back to your car)
Best time to do the hike: Mid-September, when air conditioning at the visitor center offers a respite from the heat and the Grand Canyon Conservancy, the park’s nonprofit partner, typically kicks off its annual Celebration of Art. Nearby Lookout Studio (pictured) also affords views, and a gift shop, naturally
Highlight from the trail: Passing through the Trail of Time with its geology exhibits en route to the perilously perched Kolb brothers’ photography gallery built in 1905, now a hub for artists exhibiting works inspired by the Canyon
Best for: Beginners with a penchant for art and human history

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Grand Canyon Lodge via the Transept Trail

Where: North Rim (open May 15–October 15 only)
Distance: Four miles round-trip
Best time to do the hike: September–October to walk amid changing, fiery-colored aspen groves
Highlight from the trail: Hiking directly from the popular lodge to the edge of the Canyon, alternating between dense woodlands and killer cliffside views of the Transept tributary and Bright Angel Canyon
Best for: Beginners looking to get their feet wet hiking at North Rim’s high elevation

Grand Canyon

Toroweap Overlook

Where: North Rim (open May 15–October 15 only)
Distance: Two miles round-trip from Tuweep Campground
Best time to do the hike: May to June, before the muddy monsoon season
Highlight from the trail: Backcountry vibes off the tourist map and the chance to stare down the edge of an abrupt gorge and a 3,000-foot sheer drop, the tallest in the Grand Canyon
Best for: Any level of hiker craving a rugged, remote option and prepared for the rough drive (a high-profile vehicle is a must)

Image may contain Nature Mountain Outdoors Plateau Valley Art Painting and Canyon

Ken Patrick Trail to Point Imperial

Where: North Rim (open May 15–October 15 only)
Distance: 5.4 miles round-trip
Best time to do the hike: June for spring wildflowers
Highlight from the trail: Hiking through a wooded alpine climate to the highest overlook point on the North Rim at 8,803 feet
Best for: Intermediate hikers who prefer minimal elevation changes

Image may contain Nature Outdoors Mountain Cliff and Valley

Bright Angel Trail to Indian Garden Campground

Where: South Rim
Distance: Nine miles round-trip
Best time to do the hike: October to December for minimal crowds, color-changing cottonwoods, and a festive finish with holiday cocktails outside on the veranda of the historic El Tovar Hotel
Highlight from the trail: Descending into Native American history with rock pictographs en route to the turnaround point of Indian Garden campground, a lush, creek-fed oasis once farmed by the Havasupai
Best for: Intermediate hikers who want a solid introductory descent into the canyon

Image may contain Nature Outdoors Mountain Mesa Plateau and Valley

South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point

Where: South Rim
Distance: Six miles round-trip
Best time to do the hike: November–October (though it’s good anytime but April, when high winds can overcome this exposed hike)
Highlight from the trail: A quick, switchback-laden descent opening up to a ridge and 360-degree panoramas with views to the North Rim, across the river corridor, and then, from Skeleton Point, a rewarding perch about 1,000 feet above the rarely spied Colorado River
Best for: Experts looking for jaw-dropping views of the canyon and the river below

A view of The Grand Canyon Grandview to Horseshoe Mesa

Grandview to Horseshoe Mesa

Where: South Rim
Distance: Six miles round-trip
Best time to do the hike: September–October and March–May for comfortable, snow-free temperatures on a challenging hike
Highlight from the trail: One of the most remote trails from the South Rim, this rugged backcountry route doesn’t lead to Phantom Ranch or take you from rim to rim, but does offer an uncrowded option through signature Grand Canyon scenery, deep into the desert and high up to a forested mesa sprinkled with pioneer mining history
Best for: Experienced hikers with between a few hours and a half day to explore

Grand Canyon Rim Trail to Hopi Point Grand Canyon

Grand Canyon Rim Trail to Hopi Point

Where: South Rim
Distance: Five miles round-trip from Bright Angel Trailhead
Best time to do the hike: June through July, when shade under the pines offers respite from a blazing summer sun
Highlight from the trail: Accessibility may be the draw, but sweeping views of the West Rim from the wide Hopi Point promontory will impress every level of hiker
Best for: Beginners and those who’d rather trade elevation for a flat, well-maintained trail

Winter shelters in Oregon

Winter shelters in Oregon

Gold Lake Shelter with deep snow on roof

I was aware and visited the warming hut at Teacup near Mt Hood on several occasions, but little did I know that the Willamette National Forest has winter shelters maintained by volunteers for use by winter sports enthusiasts. Some of the shelters even permit overnight stays; some are warming shelters only. There are also three winter cabin rentals available by advance reservation. How cool is that?

Fuji Shelter with skiers overlooking hill to snow covered mountains in background
Maiden Peak Shelter with deep snow on roof and skiers along side

List of shelters with information, recent condition, and trail links.

https://www.fs.usda.gov/detailfull/willamette/recreation/wintersports/?cid=stelprdb5109521

Garmin Fenix 5x and custom maps

Garmin Fenix 5x and custom maps

A good GPS can save your life out in the wilderness. I always carry one with me when heading out climbing or hiking. But GPS units are somewhat notorious for being expensive, heavy, burn through batteries, and often have clunky UI’s and features. Some units charge you money for map updates. Things are getting slowly better.

I currently own a handheld Garmin Oregon, but had a friend who has the Fenix 5x watch. I was amazed how well the interface worked and the quality of the GPS. The Fenix 6 was just announced, and older units went on sale. I recently saw the Fenix 5X on sale for $299 during an early Black Friday sale and couldn’t pass the opportunity up.

The next question is – how are the maps for hiking. The default watch now comes with Garmin’s excellent maps and are upgraded regularly for free. My well-healed hiking friend says he has yet to find a trail in the Pacific Northwest that’s not in the default maps.

I was even more happy to learn that the Fenix 5X allows you to upgrade your maps yourself – including open map packs and systems. I tried out the maps on GMap – which include more details and topo features than the default maps. Using the free Garmin BaseCamp software package, you can copy the free maps from GMap into the tool’s list of maps, then load those maps onto your watch. I found the process to be really smooth and worked without much fuss.

Follow the directions/links on the Hiking Guy’s website for instructions on how to upload maps too.

Links:

Eternal Flame Falls

Eternal Flame Falls

About 30 miles south of Niagara Falls, just below the Canadian border in northwestern New York, inside Shale Creek Preserve about a half-hour drive south of Buffalo, lies a hiking trail with an unusual payoff, if you can find it: Eternal Flame Falls, a waterfall tucked away in a grotto that contains a natural “torch” about 8 inches high.

The ground at the base of Eternal Flame Falls emits a steady supply of natural gas, which rises from deep below the surface up through fault lines and into the open air. This, in turn, is what lights the flame, found on the waterfall’s right-hand side about 5 feet up from the creek bed.

The flame is visible year-round, but the waterfall can run dry in the summer and often is only fully flowing in the spring. If you go right after there’s been some decent rainfall, you’ll get to enjoy the waterfall’s full effect.

The flame stays lit on its own, but bring a lighter just in case — occasionally it goes out, in which case it’s your duty as a good citizen to relight it. It ignites quickly, with a distinct “pop,” so maybe try one of those extra-long candle lighters if you’re nervous.

Historically rendered 3D maps by Scott Reinhard

Historically rendered 3D maps by Scott Reinhard

I absolutely love maps and visualizations. I’m always on the lookout for cool new creations.

Scott Reinhard combines contemporary land elevations with historic maps to create three-dimensional environments of a specific region, city, or state. To produce the digital maps, he pulls elevation data from the United States Geological Survey, which he then embeds with location information and merges with the original design of the old maps.

Reinhard was introduced to the methods he uses in his digital maps through Daniel Huffman’s website Something About Maps. You can see more of Reinhard’s digital works on Instagram and buy select high-quality prints, on his website. Check out his Shaded Relief in Blender tutorial (thanks to Dunstan Orchard and Anton van Tetering) or DesignBoom.

Grand Tetons 1899
1903 Acadia
1904 Glacier