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This Week’s Recap of Recreation Incidents

Every year as the weather starts to turn from non-stop gray to blue skies filled with sun we start to see an increase in injuries and deaths related to outdoor recreation.  The last week has been particularly busy for rescue units and recovery operations in Oregon.  Here is a quick recap of the week’s unfortunate events that will hopefully act as a reminder to all to be safe when having fun out there.

Mother Falls to her Death at Horsetail Falls in the Colubmia River Gorge: http://www.kgw.com/news/local/horsetail-falls-hike-leaves-woman-dead-3-year-old-son-injured/163999195

This all happened in the span of less than 7 days.  We are all excited for the warmer weather to be here but lets all try and exercise some caution and learn from the unfortunate incidents that happened this week.

Cape Horn Hike in the Columbia River Gorge

The Cape Horn Loop hike on the Washington side of the Columbia River Gorge is an excellent 7 mile long hike that is close to Portland and easy to get to.  The hike starts just off Highway 14 roughly 10 miles east of Washougal and winds its way up the cliffs of  the Columbia Gorge far above the highway offering excellent views and vista points.  Along the trail you will pass waterfalls, cross creeks, meander through heavily wooded areas and be presented with numerous views of the gorge looking both east and west.

There are a few ways to hike Cape Horn and you will find that most people opt for the out and back trip making to the viewpoints then returning.  This is a good option if you are looking for a shorter hike.  For those looking for something a little more challenging opt for the longer 7 mile loop hike.  *Note that the 7 mile loop hike is not possible from February to July due to a trail closure to protect nesting falcons.

Cape Horn Hike Trailhead

Cape Horn Sign

Cape Horn Trail Sign

The Cape Horn Hike starts at the Cape Horn Trailhead located at the junction of Salmon Falls Road and Highway 14.  There is a large parking lot that fills up quickly during the busy season and parking is free – no permit needed.  Be sure to remove any valuables from your car as there have been many break-ins here.  The trailhead has restrooms, a paved lot and information boards outlining the history of the area.  To find the trailhead from the parking lot cross Salmon Falls Road and look for the Cape Horn Trail sign.  You can’t miss it.

Cape Horn Trail – The Hike

Cape Horn View

Cape Horn View

Upon entering the trail you will immediately be greeted with junction where the trail goes left or right.  Left is how you will return so stay right and follow the trail as it winds through the woods until you cross a small creek.  After the creek crossing the trail begins to work its way uphill through a series of mild switchbacks.  At this point it is important to note that this trail is open to horses and because of this you will come across many junctions with signs that say something like “viewpoint” or “horses only”.  At no point do you want to follow the horse trails – these completely bypass the viewpoints and you will miss out on the main attractions of this hike.  All of the “viewpoint” trails link back up with the main trail without forcing you to backtrack.

View of tree and cliffs

Fallen Tree Viewpoint

As the trail gets steeper you will soon reach your first view of the Gorge – Pioneer Point.  The view here to the east is excellent but watch that ledge – one false step and it will be the last thing you see.  Continue on the side trail here (do not back track) and you will quickly come to another viewpoint called Fall Tree Viewpoint which offers better views to the west as well as east.

Continue hiking on the side trail until you meet up again with the main trail and keep hiking up.  You will soon work your way from the cliffs and come to a section of trail that crosses private property.  It is OK though – the landowners have easement that allows access for well behaved hikers.  Soon you will come to a dirt road with a gate.  There are small brown markers with arrows indicating the direction of the trail for those who confuse easily.  Follow the road until you will see some homes and soon the dirt road runs into a paved road you must cross called Strunk Road.

When you cross the road you will see a field with a trail working its way parallel to the road for a short ways until you come to a T.  Stay right and follow the gravel road slightly downhill until you find the trail again on your left hand side.  This is where the trail leads to your next viewpoint called Phoca Viewpoint.

View of river and bird

Phoca Viewpoint

This is a developed viewpoint that looks east up the Gorge and is a popular spot for photographers.  If you are doing this hike between February and July this is a good turnaround point due to the closure further down the hill.

To continue the loop jump back on the trail and continue downhill for some time.  You will eventually pass a old decaying shed that is located on the trail and soon after that you will begin to hear the noise from Highway 14.  The trail will lead to a tunnel that passes under the highway as you get closer to another viewpoint that looks down on the upper portion of Cape Horn Falls.  Enjoy the view then continue on your way as the trail meanders down to the Columbia River offering some amazing views along the cliffs and water’s edge.

Waterfall

Cape Horn Falls

Soon you will arrive at Cape Horn Falls proper which is really the middle tier of this long cascade of falls.  There is a bridge that crosses the creek at the waterfall and then you will continue on the trail until you reach the end where the dirt meets asphalt.  From this road you will have to hike out to your car – so from the trail be sure to turn left, away from the river.  You will hike out on this paved road for about a mile until you get close to highway 14.  Keep an eye out for another trail that jumps off the road and will take you through a tunnel under the highway and meets up with the original trailhead where you can find your hopefully  undisturbed vehicle.

What to Bring

If you are doing the full 7 mile Cape Horn loop hike be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks.  Proper hiking attire is suggested and if it is a windy day keep in mind you are headed to the gorge so it will be even windier there.  You can get away with trail shoes however the latter portion of this hike crosses several rock falls so if you are prone to twisted ankles you may want to opt for boots on this one.  The time it takes to complete this hike will vary but experienced hikers can expect to have this loop done in about 3 hours.

Where to Camp

If you are looking to camp near the Cape Horn trailhead consider camping at Beacon Rock State Park, Dougan Creek Campground, or Beaver Campground outside Carson, Washington.

Photos from the Cape Horn Hike

Mist Falls Mini Adventure

Hiking in the Columbia River Gorge can at times be frustrating thanks to the draw of large crowds on nice weekends and the recent boom in outdoor recreation.  Trailhead parking lots are at capacity and solitude has become a rare event.  If you try hard enough though and know where to look you can still find a sliver of peace and quite in the middle of the bustling Gorge.

Mist Falls is one of those little “secrets” of the Gorge that nearly everyone has seen or driven by but most people don’t think twice about stopping and really enjoying it.  The Falls is located right next to Wahkeena Falls but because it is not easily accessible and does not have a huge water flow it is overlooked.  The “trailhead” is just a small pullout that can really only handle about 4 cars at most and there is no signage or visible trail making it hard to find.

If you are able to find the start to Mist Falls then you really just need to follow the worn foot path straight up the hill as it climbs a loose rock fall where you will take two steps forward and slide one back.  There is a slightly precarious section of this little scramble where you could fall and get very injured so if you do this be careful.  In less than a quarter of a mile you will be greeted with Mist Falls most likely blowing in the wind.

On your way back down at the bottom of the trail look east towards Wahkeena Falls and you will see the old chimney from the original Multnomah Lodge.  This is a very cool little piece of history that very few visitors of the Columbia River Gorge notice but nearly everyone drives right by.

Mist Falls Timelapse

Wahclella Falls Loop Hike

The Wahclella Falls loop hike is much easier to complete than the name of this two tier waterfall is to pronounce.  Also known as Tanner Creek Falls, Wahclella Falls is one of the most picturesque falls in all of the Columbia Gorge.  The hike consists of a short “lollipop” loop that takes you through an incredible canyon lined with sheer cliffs and overhangs with Wahclella Falls at its pinnacle.

Who Would Enjoy Wahclella Falls

This hike is very popular for beginner hikers and tourists not from the area.  It is very easy to get to and Wahclella Falls is less than a mile away from the trail head parking area.  There is some mild exposure to cliffs on a few sections of the trail however compared to the rest of the hikes in this area of the Columbia Gorge it seems minimal making this a good hike if you are with children or bringing a dog.

Why Hike to Wahclella Falls

Wahclella Falls is truly one of the more beautiful spots in the Columbia River Gorge.  It is easy to get to and offers so much to look at in what almost seems like a playground for the nature lover.  For the experienced hiker this would be a very easy trek to complete and could even be done in conjunction with another hike. This hike is something that should be checked off everyone’s list that are familiar with the Gorge.

The Hike

Munra Falls

Munra Falls

The Wahclella Falls hike begins at a paved trail head just off highway 84 outside Cascade Locks.  There is a restroom at the trail head and you must either display a NW Forest Pass or pay for day use at the parking kiosk.

You will being your hike by paralleling Tanner Creek up a short access road to a fish hatchery dam.  As soon as you reach the end of this road you will be on the trail.  Almost as if a reward for reaching the trail you will be greeted by Munra Falls, a 68 foot waterfall that rushes so closely to the trail you can reach out and touch it.

From here the trail continues mildly up the canyon and beneath the cliffs until your reach a junction in which you can choose to go left or right.  It does not matter which way you go as this is a loop.  Left takes you to Wahclella Falls and right takes you to Wahclella Falls.  So make like Robert Frost and see if you can pick the road less traveled (hint, it is impossible they are equally traveled).  For the sake of this write-up we are going to go left.

You will continue shortly up the mild canyon, ascend brief flight of stairs then descend to Wahclella Falls.  From the junction the waterfall is less than 5 minutes away if you hike at a regular speed.  Take pictures, go to the base of the falls, let your pooch go for a swim and enjoying the cooling mist of Wahclella Falls.

Moving on you will want to continue looking back at the falls as there is second tier to Wahclella Falls that is difficult to see from the base.  When you cross the bridge look back for another great view.  From here you will pass a rocky overhang that resembles a small cave and then follow the trail back to the junction.

A Note About Safety

Under Cave looking at icefall on trail

Under Cave looking at icefall on trail

This hike follows a trail that is located at the foot of cliffs the entire way.  On this hike you will see evidence of rock falls and debris coming down from above you.  This is especially true during the depths of winter when ice forms on the cliffs and melts when it gets warm.  We completed this hike in January during a thaw following a very ice period.  When we reached the area of the hike where the trail goes by a small cave a very large sheet of ice came loose from the cliffs above us and landed directly on the trail.  We cheated death by 10 seconds and a lot of luck.

Please keep in mind that anytime you hike in the Gorge it is a good idea to always pay attention to the cliffs above you no matter what time of year it is.  Loose rock and debris is constantly coming down and hanging out under cliffs longer than you need to is a bad idea.

How to get to Wahclella Falls

This is probably one of the easier trail heads to find.  Heading both east or west on Highway 84 you want to take exit 40 for Bonneville Dam.  If you are coming from the west (Portland) you will take the first right after exiting the highway and then another hard right down a slight hill until you find the trail head parking lot.

Coming from the east (Hood River) again take exit 40 for Bonneville Dam and then take a left after exiting the highway crossing underneath the overpass.  Once you pass under the highway take your first right down the short hill to the parking lot.

A Northwest Forest Pass is required or you can purchase a day pass at the kiosk.

Adventure Stats

  • Hike Difficulty: Easy
  • Hike Distance: 2 miles round trip
  • Congestion: Very Busy
  • Trail head Fee: Yes
  • Best time to visit: After rainfall during mid week or early morning

Other Resources

Backpacking Jefferson Park Wilderness

Backpacking to Jefferson Park Wilderness

You have probably noticed quite a few photos of Mt. Jefferson on this website as of lately and there is a good reason for that.  Towards the end of this summer, in September to be exact, I went on a short overnight backpacking trip to the Jefferson Park Wilderness area.  The Jefferson Park Wilderness is a super popular day hike and overnight destination and is also a stopping point for through hikers on the Pacific Crest Trail.  The area is comprised of a large meadow that is surrounded by a dozen or so cascade lakes all sitting at the foot of Mt Jefferson.  The result is an absolutely gorgeous scenery ripe for an unlimited amount of photo ops.

Recently the US Forest Service announced a permitting plan for the Jefferson Park area that would allow visitors to make campsite reservations to would guarantee a spot for the night.  This approach is thought to help alleviate the stress of high crowds on the delicate ecosystem however it does not seem to limit the number of visitors to the area – only those who plan to camp overnight.  What’s more, the reservation system does not prohibit visitors from camping in campsites that are not near the lakes.  This only addresses the demand for lakeside campsites which is very odd as most of the visitors when we were there were day use visitors.  In any case, the announcement of the reservation system created a last minute scuffle of adventurists trying to get one last trip into the area before the  reservation system goes into place.

Jefferson Park Hiking Routes

There are several ways to visit Jefferson Park ranging from a in and out day hike to an overnight backpacking trip.  We chose the overnight option as the idea of going to bed at the foot of a giant and waking up next to it seemed like a great idea. There are also a couple of different routes that can be chosen for the approach to Jefferson Park – one being more scenic but difficult and the other being easier with less to look at.  Naturally we chose the scenic route.

When taking the scenic route the adventure starts before you even step foot on the ground.  The trailhead begins at Breitenbush Lake near the Breitenbush Lake Campground which is fairly difficult to access due to a very rough forest road.  4×4 vehicles are not really needed however high clearance is a must.  The road in takes about 45 minutes and due to many large rocks is slow going. We saw several camry type vehicles simply parked on the side of the road and we assumed they gave up and hiked in the rest of the way.

Upon reaching Breitenbush lake we started hiking immediately on the Pacific Crest Trail.  The hike in takes you through a lush forest with occasional clearings allowing for magnificent views of Pyramid Butte and Mt. Hood.  The hike is a gradual ascent all the way up to a ridge that offers amazing views of Mt. Jefferson and Jefferson Park.  From here it was a steep descent into the park.

In the Park

In Jefferson Park there are quite a few lakes including Russell Lake, Scout Lake, Bays Lake, Rock Lake and Park Lake.  To make things more confusing there are many smaller ponds surrounding these lakes and trails leading all over the place.  We quickly got lost and found ourselves walking off trail through a meadow until we found an actual trail.  After visiting several lakes and finding all the campsites to be taken we finally settled for an awesome spot at Scout Lake.  When camping in Jefferson Park it is illegal to camp in a non-designated spot within 250 feet of a body of water which is why all the sites were taken.  In addition the state was in extreme fire danger and campfires of any type were strictly prohibited.

Once we found our campsite we immediately began the ritualistically blissful process of boot removal.  Once the sensation returned to the feet tents were setup and camp was ready. We checked out the shores of Scout Lake next to our campsite and could see maybe 50 or so other hikers around the shore of the lake.  We were by no means experiencing the solitude we had hoped for however the amazing views of Mt. Jefferson instantly erased the annoyance of the crowds.

Thanks to the crowds we decided to do a little side hike and put our boots back on and headed straight for the base of Mt. Jefferson.  We hiked up maybe a couple hundred vertical feet and found meadow after meadow over each ride we scaled.  Truly a beautiful scene with streams running through them and the dogs going crazy chasing bugs and drinking mountain fresh water.

As nightfall approached the crowds of day hikers drastically died down and the alpenglow set the scene for an amazing evening.  Mt. Jefferson seemed to be lit up in a hue of gold just for us as darkness drew in.  The night was almost silent except for the sound of massive rockslides echoing loudly through the huge canyons on the mountain.  Morning was just as exceptional as the evening’s alpenglow with a crisp and fresh taste to the air and a crystal clear view of Mt. Jefferson.  Coffee was made, breakfast consumed and tents broken down.

The hike out of Jefferson Park is certainly the most brutal section of hiking on the whole trip.  It starts with a short hike through the meadow but then immediately ascends up to the top of the steep Park Ridge.  Once to the top of Park Ridge it is a long but quick descent to the car where we once again partook in the ritual of boot removal.

The overall experience of camping at Jefferson Park brought back memories of High Sierra adventure from my childhood and a longing to backpack more than I had been.  Its beauty was absolutely amazing and revitalizes the soul in a way that only a someone who has been there can understand.

Here are all the photos from the hike:

RAVPower Foldable USB Solar Charger

The RAVPower USB Solar Charger Panel is a lightweight and compact solar panel designed to be both affordable and efficient while keeping your USB devices powered up with full bars. There are tons of different options out there for keeping your electronics powered up while off the grid and we chose this one because of its nice price point and favorable reviews on Amazon.com.  So far this has been a nice solar panel however there are some things left to be desired which we will talk about below.

What does the Solar Charger come with?

The RAVPower USB Solar Panel is built to allow the connection of up to two USB devices and folds into itself for easy transportation in a backpack or bag.  When unfolded the outside corners of the panel have holes which allow you to connect the solar charger to a backpack with the four carabiners that are included with it.  This would allow you to charge your devices while hiking on a trail (something you may have seen others doing).  The solar panel comes with “iSmart technology” which is supposed ensure optimal charging of your Apple devices like an iphone or ipad.

Quality and Design

The RAVPower USB Solar Charger Panel seems to be built well with a nylon exterior and durable feel to it.  It is advertised as being water resistant however it doesn’t seem to be the type of thing you would want to leave out in the rain or get wet if you can avoid it.  The charger comes with a small Velcro pouch which allows for the storage of the USB ports and your small devices.  When folded up it feels very sturdy which means it will be able to withstand any abuse thrown at it while crammed into backpacks and bags.

Using the USB Solar Charger

We have used this solar charger on several occasions and when conditions are right it works great.  We used it to charge up and iphone 6 and in roughly and hour and half of straight sunlight it took the phone from 35% to 100%.  Some important things to note are that this charger will work best in direct sunlight.  If it is cloud out it will work however your device will not charge as quickly.  The charger barely works indoors even if it is near a window.

iPhones and other high demand devices can have some difficulty getting a proper charge out of this charger if it is not in direct sun light.  Due to the nature of iPhones if there is not enough power coming out of the charger it will completely disconnect itself and won’t even trickle charge.  Even on cloudy days however we have not noticed a huge problem with this so long as you are able to lay the charger our flat.  While we have not tried it, hiking with this solar charger most likely would not charger your phone as going in and out of shady areas and under trees would just keep disconnecting the phone from the charger.  Our iPad had an especially difficult time getting to charge with this device – it basically didn’t work unless it was the middle of the day and in direct sunlight.

Setting up and Charging USB Devices

The RAVPower 15w Foldable Solar Charger is super easy to use.  Simple unfold, lay in sun, plug in and let it do its thing. Seriously, you do not need to be a techy to get this to work.  If you can plugin your phone into a USB charger you are good to go.  The only challenge you may face is figuring out the bast angle to lay the panels to optimize the exposure to the sun.

Should you Buy the RAVPower USB Charger

Overall we think this is a good buy for what it is.  In the right conditions the RAVPower USB Solar Charger is going to quickly and efficiently power up your devices.  For car camping or short day trips or even a visit to the beach this is a great product.

If you are considering this product for back country backpacking trips we would suggest other solutions as this just isn’t a realistic charger. If you are looking for a Backpacking Charger we would suggest something with a built in battery pack that will allow you to charge your devices at night and when not in the direct sunlight.  Furthermore, this solar charger is going to add about 1.5 lbs to your pack and you may as well just carry a battery pack.

View Product on Amazon.com

*We are in no way affiliated with the product described above. This was a completely independent and unbiased review. If you do happen to purchase the product and use our link we will get a small kick-back from Amazon.com.

Want to see more?

Here is a nice video someone put together reviewing the product in detail.

Hiking to Falls Creek Falls in Washington

Lower Falls Creek Falls Hike

The hike to Falls Creek Falls in Washington is a great short out and back style hike that follows Falls Creek most of the way to the popular Falls Creek Falls.  The round trip hike if you just do a basic out and back is roughly three and a half miles total which makes this ideal for a quick hike.  Lower Falls Creek Falls itself is a beautiful multi-tiered waterfall that plummets over 250 feet and offers spectacular views and a more intimidate feeling than more popular waterfalls in the area.

The Hike

The hike starts at the Lower Falls Creek Falls Trailhead and meanders through the woods parallelling Falls Creek.  After some time the trail will cross the creek at which point most of the hike will lack easy access to the creek so if you have a pooch that likes to swim you may want to let them in the water early on the hike.  There are no real strenuous or difficult aspects of this hike and it mildly follows the creek with a few short hills that may get the blood moving in your legs but nothing to worry about.  At one point the trail gives an option to veer left however for the shortest version of this hike you will just want to stay right the entire hike in to the falls.

Lower Falls Creek Falls

Once you reach Lower Falls Creek Falls you have some options for photos.  There will be a cliff that sticks out a bit and offers some nice views and for the adventurous type you can scramble down the hill to the base of the falls though you will most likely get wet doing so and it can be a fairly dangerous descent.  Another option for falls view is to manuever your way to to the base of the upper section of Lower Falls Creek Falls.  This requires traversing the hillside on a un-maintained and sketchy trail that is also fairly dangerous.  If you do it, however, you will be rewarded with great views of the upper tier of the lower falls.

Getting There

The Lower Falls Creek Falls trailhead is located about 20 minutes past the town of Carson, Washington and is easily accessible by most vehicles.  To get there from Portland take Highway 84 out to the Bridge of the Gods and Cross over into Washington onto Highway 14.  Follow Highway 14 East until the turn off for the down of Carson onto the Wind River Highway.  You will follow the Wind River Highway North for roughly 15 miles until the road veers abruptly right.  From here you you will want to keep your eyes peeled for the dirt road turn off onto FSR 3062 which will show up in less than a mile.  Take this road on the right and follow FSR 3062 for just under two miles until you reach the trailhead.  There will be signs leading you to the trailhead and for those of you who like GPS you can just enter these coordinates into your navigation system or phone to find the trailhead: 45.905794, -121.940554.

Backpacking Coffee Maker

Backpacking Coffee Maker

If you are anything like me you cannot start your day without a strong cup of coffee in the morning.  This is especially true when out in the woods camping and you are forced awake by the early glare of sun on your tent at 6am.  There is something about being off the grid that makes a hot cup of coffee taste that much better – maybe it is the warming of the cup on the hands on a cold morning or the strong aroma contrasted with the fresh air… whatever it is I love it.

Making coffee while car camping is pretty much a no-brainer.  There are tons of options from the French Press to the classic percolator however brewing a batch of the black stuff while backpacking raises another challenge.

When backpacking you want your gear to be light and compact… hauling a percolator or french press is just not going to happen.  Companies like Jetboil make addons that allow you to brew coffee however those options tend to cost more than I am willing to spend and take up more space than should be necessary.

Enter the pour over coffee make.  Most of us have seen a traditional pour over coffee maker in our own home or at a coffee shop.  You see the barista put the funnel-like contraption over a cup, line it with a filter, dump the grinds in it then slowly pour hot water over it.  This process make a fine cup of coffee and is perfect for backpacking.  The only catch is carrying that slightly bulky contraption.  Until now.

After much searching online, reading reviews and making a tough decision we decided to try out the R’stoyours Collapsible Silicone Coffee Maker.  We couldn’t be more pleased.  This collapsible device is made out of silicone, comes with a carabiner for easy hanging from a pack and expands perfectly when you need it to make a cup of coffee.  What’s more, it weighs next to nothing and takes up very little space in a pack.  To enjoy coffee on the trail all you need is this pour over coffee maker, a way to boil water, your grinds and a coffee filter.  Well… you also need a cup but come on you knew that.

After taking this little coffee maker on a backpacking trip I can confidently recommend it and the price point (around $6) makes it even easier to pull the trigger on this.  Click the link below to check out the backpacking coffee maker on Amazon.com and see what others have to say about it.

View Product on Amazon.com

*We are in no way affiliated with the product described above.  This was a completely independent and unbiased review.  If you do happen to purchase the product and use our link we will get a small kick-back from Amazon.com.

Polar Bear Cooler Tubes

We are always looking for new ways to keep food cold when camping because lets be honest – bagged ice just doesn’t cut it for those long trips. And nobody likes soggy camp food after the ice starts to melt. Recently I turned to frozen water bottles in our food cooler and it worked decently but at times was hard to keep the food as cold as I would like. I also tried using a large 2 liter bottle of frozen water which mimicked a chunk of blocked ice without the issues of soggy food but it was hard to keep the entire cooler cold enough.

Today I stumbled across this great idea of making your own PVC ice tubes AKA Poler Bear Tubes. It is such a simple concept and allows you to custom build the tubes to the correct dimensions for you specific cooler so you can achieve the proper dispersion of ice and keep your entire cooler cold. Check out the photos and step by step how to here.

Do you have any other tricks or tips for keeping your cooler cold? Share them in the comments below!

Canyon Creek Meadows Hike

This is the second time I have been to Canyon Creek Meadows and it was just as good as the first time if not better.  Canyon Creek Meadows is an incredible place that doesn’t get much attention thanks to it’s distance from Portland and difficult access road in to the trailhead.

Located roughly an hour from Bend and right off the Pacific Crest trail, Canyon Creek Meadows sits at the base of Three Fingered Jack – you know, that jagged looking rock that resembles the lair of a villain in a Disney movie that you see when driving over Santiam Pass.  What most people don’t know is at the base of Three Fingered Jack is one of the most pristine and beautiful meadows in the entire state.  If you are lucky enough to visit Canyon Creek Meadows during wildflower season you are sure to be in for a treat.

This year, however, I missed the flower bloom thanks to an early summer brought on by the drought.  In fact, the actual creek that is usually flowing with practically drinkable mountain water was down to a mere trickle and completely dried up at some spots.

This time around I got a very late start on my hike thanks to Google maps taking me a completely wrong direction and trying to navigate some sketchy jeep trails.  Eventually I found my way to Jack Lake, where the trailhead for Canyon Creek Meadows resides.  Jack Lake is a small but swimmable lake with a few campsites scattered around it thought this is not the place for actual “car camping”.  A Northwest Forest Pass is required to park at the trailhead and you will need to self register at the trail permit kiosk before entering the back country.

canyon-creek-b-wThe Canyon Creek meadows trail is fairly straightforward and it follows the “lollipop” format.  I chose to just do an out and back since I was getting such a late start and preferred to trace my steps back out since I anticipated being in the dark.

The hike is fairly easy and this would be an excellent “first time” trip for a novice backpacker looking to break in the boots and spend a night in the wilderness.  The trail goes in and out of an old burn and is a little spooky at spots with amazing views of Mt. Jefferson through the scorched trees.  After some time the views of Three Fingered Jack Begin to appear.  I followed the trail all the way up until you get to a rocky area where it seems to just dissapear.  At this point I was at the base of Three Fingered Jack.

If you want to climb up Three Fingered Jack you can scramble up the left side (when facing it) to a saddle that will offer some amazing views of Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Washington.  This is pretty much as far up as you can go without climbing gear and even if you had it the rock is very loose and it probably would not be that fun.

I scrambled back down as the sun was setting and eventually found myself walking through the woods following only the light of a small LED flashlight I had thrown in my pack at the last minute.  With the darkness it seemed the critters were out and I stumbled upon three massive bull frogs right in the middle of the trail.

I did this hike in just over two hours… out and back.  I would suggest giving yourself plenty of time but that should illustrate how easy this actually is.  Overall I did 6.9 miles with an elevation gain of 1,755 ft.  You can see my GPS tracks below.

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