Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Goat Rocks via Packwood Lake

Packwood Lake just 10 miles south of Packwood, Washington is worth the four mile one way hike all by itself. The hike in is largely short on views although glimpses of Mt Ranier to the north can be had. The lake has been naturally damed for thousands of years. There is a small dam here built in the 1960's to collect power.

There is also Forest Service cabin currently being renovated. It is among the oldest still standing in the Gifford pinchot National Forest.

The North shore offers a number of large campsites. After a short break and after dipping our toes in the lake we took the trail to Lost Lake.

The trail winds up and around the forested slopes on the East side of Packwood Lake. With views of Johnson peak, wildflowers and abundant huckleberries the hike is a very enjoyable ascent.

Lost Lake did not disappoint and we were glad it was found!(we thought it was funny). The crystal clear waters reflected the evening light and surrounding hills beautifully.

We camped and enjoyed sharing the 'backpacking style' camping with backpacking newbies Amy and John

Morning brought a nice climb decorated in wildflowers and views. At first we had grand views to the north of Mt Ranier.

Then Mt St Helens appeared to the south-west.

Finally as we rounded the slopes we were treated to views of the Packwood Glacier and Old Snowy.

Flowers were everywhere as nature's bouquet accompanies the amazing views.

We continued to climb to the base of cliffs where we skirted the hillside with Chimney Rock high above and stunning valley views below

We took lunch when we reached the highest point on our hike. It was an open ridge leading down to Packwood Saddle. The place is magical and I am sure I will always remember lunch with Jennifer, Amy Johnn, Cleo and Biscuit. When I am hiking far across the valley on the PCT in the future I know I will point and say remember that lunchbreak!
Where did you have lunch today?

After some much deserved rest we worked our way down to the saddle. A camper there informed us of the steep slope below us and he spoke true. What followed was the fastest  steepest descent that ended at the Upper Lake Creek. Shortly after reaching the creek we found a nice campsite tucked across the trail and away from the creek a bit.

In the evening we watched the sun turn the snowfields high up on Old Snowy amber. Later we watched the stars but found ourselves too tired to stay up for the late show! The morning hike revealed a winter flood through the trees had erased the trail. With small flags and rock cairns the way is easily found and we meandered downUpper Lake Creek and enormous old growth trees back to Packwood Lake.

The east side of the lake has great campsites and this is a place we will return to soon.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Falls Creek Falls

This waterfall in Skamania County Washington is a beauty! This is a hike well worth the time. As usual go early as there are lots of people later. The hike is casual and the falls are about 1.7 miles from the parking area. The hike is an out and back and follows Falls Creek.

The falls are a total of 210 feet and are 3 tiered. What you see when you get there is the last two tiers of a 90' cascade  and then 60' plunge. The top tier is blocked from view here.

Near the top you cross a couple of small creeks with beautiful rushing water framed by the Vine Maples.

This bridge crosses Falls Creek early in the hike.

This Bunchberry or Cornus canadensis is a dwarf Dogwood. No wonder they look so alike.

According to Greek legend, this Windflower or Anemone deltoidea was sent by Greek God of Wind Anemos to herald the beginning of spring. Works for me.

Fairy-Slipper  or Calypso bulbosa is a wild Orchid. 

Flowers of the Beargrass

Monday, May 28, 2012

Siouxon Creek Trail

Siouxon Creek Trail

A hike through a forest floor with the rotting remnants of old growth snags and deadfall all dressed up in moss.

Chinook Falls on Chinook Creek, in Southwest Washington.

This out and back hike is a great stroll up Siouxon Creek just west of Trapper Creek Wilderness in Southwest Washington. 

This bridge over West Creek is near the beginning of the hike through a lush second growth forest. Just beyond it were the first of several great campsites along the trail.

The trail is used  extensively by mountain bikers who enjoy the relatively gentle rise and fall of the trail as you ascend the valley. Cleo loves the puddles laced with their tracks.
Oregon Grape in bloom

Horseshoe Creek Falls  

The trail cuts deep into Horseshoe Creek crossing on a small bridge above a series of beautiful waterfalls. Just beyond them is a bench below with several goos campsites and views of these falls.

Falls on Siouxon Creek

 This Douglas fir has used an old snag for support as well as nourishment.

Wild Bleeding Heart or Dicentra formosa.

The trail follow the Siouxon Creek more or less. The water is crystal clear and makes you think this would be a great summer swim spot, albeit cold.

We were surprised to find snow. We quickly realized it was hail from the thunderstorms from the day before that had hit all over Clark County and Portland. We saw big Skunk Cabbage leaves that looked like they had been shot with a shotgun. We did not know it but there would be more thunderstorms later this day.
Hail from the day before.

What a great place to take lunch. The trail up Chinook Creek is worth the small trek. We watched five fathers and their boys ford her while eating our lunch.

This is just an amazing place full of dead rotting trees feeding the forest.

A side trail led up to a bit of a cave that looked cool from a distance but was actually more of a big dark overhang. Like us, enough people were interested to eventually result in a trail.

This out and back hike came in at 9.6 miles on the GPS. The lush healthy forest and the beautiful creeks with waterfalls makes it a great and relatively easy hike.