Eugene to Crest Trail 08Mar2022

This hike was really about having a little more of a challenge. I’ve been sticking to hikes I feel comfortable with, and this one scared me… just a little. It’s not the longest hike I’ve done, or the most elevation gain, but it is the most I will have done solo. Also, it just felt more secluded. I don’t know how true that is, but that’s how it felt. Hiking solo as a woman can be intimidating. I want to be brave and bold… but not stupid.

Lowell covered bridge

Heading out to Lowell, OR, I had to snap a quick picture of the covered bridge as I went by (very slowly, watching for traffic). I was going to take a better picture on the way home, but I’ll address that at the end. There’s actually a parking area and you can read about the bridge and walk close to it.

Pedestrian sign?

Out in the boonies, on a one-lane gravel road, I saw this and laughed. A pedestrian sign out here? But it’s very close to the trailhead, so it was a pretty nice thing to warn people about.

At the actual spot, there’s a couple of more signs. There was one more that was knocked over, and I was going to check it out, but I got distracted and forgot, darn it!

Great signage – there were actually several of the little metal circle along the way, which was nice. I mean, it would be extremely unlikely to get lost (it’s pretty much just one path), but it’s still encouraging somehow.

Eugene to Crest trailhead

When I first approached the trailhead, I saw the road. I thought it was weird that it started out as a road… but then I noticed the trail to the right. Aha!

The trail muddy in several areas (and slippery!), and quite narrow.

Oregon Beaked Moss (kindergia oregana)
This may be a Northern Red Belt (fomitopsis mounceae)
Pacific Madrone (arbutus menziesii)

It looks like there was a sizable tree fall (or more than one) that left a lot of carnage around the trail here. Somebody did a pretty good job of clearing the path though.

This view is just a bit up the trail. Strangely, there isn’t much of a view except for this one. I was hoping for something at the top, but there’s a lot of trees (go figure).

Pacific Madrone (arbutus menziesii)
Cascade Oregon-grape (berberis nervosa)
Broom Moss (dicranum scoparium)
Gold Dust Lichen (chrysothrix candelaris)

This Gold Dust Lichen was amazing in person! The color is an incredible neon yellow – my first thought was that somebody painted the rocks until I realized it was lichen. Just beautiful!

Methuselah’s Beard Lichen (usnea longissima)

I didn’t realize this was a lichen, but what a great name! This stuff grows all over the Pacific Northwest, as far as I know. It hangs from trees and looks ghostly at times.

I wish I could have gotten a better angle, but from everywhere I stood, it looks like this fallen tree is being held up off that boulder by one branch! I don’t know how this is possible, but everywhere I looked, there was nothing else holding it up.

Western Rattlesnake Plantain (goodyera oblongifolia)
Western Rattlesnake Plantain (goodyera oblongifolia)

Those Western Rattlesnake Plantains are the same, just a little different marking. I think this was the first time I’ve seen that plant. It looks like a houseplant, especially the first one.

Possibly an Artist’s Conch or Bracket?
Big Shaggy-moss (rhytidiadelphus triquetrus)

For the following video, please have your sound on.

The video doesn’t quite do it justice – it was so loud! I felt like I was in a jungle! This was the only spot on the trail where the birds were this active.

All of the running water I saw was a bit cloudy. I’m not sure what causes that.

Here I found some remains, and next to it some very hairy skat. It may have been cougar, but I can’t be sure. I’m not quite an animal poop pro yet. (haha)

I guess nobody is driving to the top for a while. At least, not until they clear the way!

More cloudy water. I wondered if it were a mineral in the water that makes it cloudy like it is?

A type of trametes
Woodsorrel, of some variation

This is a hike with some dense foliage, so when the sun broke through, it was wonderful.

I got to the end of the trail at a closed road. I followed the road a short distance to this road.

In the middle of the “u” of the road is the Pacific Crest Trail. I didn’t go beyond this point, as my hike was over. That will have to be for another hike, another day.

Halfway done, ready to head back down.

Stairstep Moss (hylocomium splendens)

I think this is the same sunny spot, just on the way back. I enjoyed it so much, I took another picture, apparently. Haha!

Snow Queen (veronica regina-nivalis)

Another shot of that view… it’s so nice!

Almost done!

Matilde

Awww, what a sweet sight to behold: lovely Matilde! When I got back to this point, I really needed to pee (sorry to be so blunt). I think some of you may have read my postings about women’s urinary devices… I had used one on this hike and had some minor issues. This time I decided to use a device that started my trials with women’s urinary devices, the Venus to Mars.

For those of you who may not be familiar, I’m trying these out because having to pee in the wild is not all that convenient for women. We have historically squatted, which can lead to urine splattering on our pants, socks, and shoes. Also, you have to bare yourself to the world in order to squat. So I am trying to find a good device that will let me relieve my bladder in the woods, without baring my behind or getting urine on my clothing.

Let us just say that this last venture was NOT successful in keeping urine off my clothing. Did I sit on my hoodie on top of a garbage bag in my new Jeep? Why, yes. Yes I did. But I shake my fist to the sky and say, “I WILL find a great urinary device! I will not keep peeing on my pants! FREEEEEDOM!!!”

Distance: 5.58 miles; Elevation Gain: 1,442 feet

Mount Baldy Loop 04Mar2022

On this day, I really struggled to get out to hike. I was tired and had a lot of chores and errands. Thankfully, there’s always a hike nearby. I got myself together and picked a new one.

This particular hike had me starting where some very wealthy homes are located. I felt a little like an intruder, but after starting the hike I was comfortable. It’s a sweet little gravel path, just wide enough for two or just fine for one.

Trametes versicolor

I immediately came across some great fungi! I believe the above picture is of the trametes versicolor, or “turkey tail.” I love these!

I’m not certain about what kind of moss this (above) is, so I’ll leave it unnamed for now, and try to get a better picture next time. I also got an identifier app – something that helps me identify the flora and fauna around me. I’m very excited to use it on my next hike!

lobaria oregana

This one is much easier – lettuce lichen, also known as Oregon Lungwort. Lettuce lichen sounds kinda fun, kinda gross… but Oregon Lungwort sounds awful! Luckily, it’s fun to look at. I usually see it after it’s dried up and fallen to the ground, so it was nice to see the bright green version.

The trail splits to make a loop here, so I went left. The left side had a steep decline, and I thought maybe I’d get an easier climb back up on the loop coming back. I’m not sure how accurate I was, but elevation is elevation!

On my way to the hike, it started pouring. I thought, “Oh man! I didn’t bring my raincoat! Oh well, it’s a short hike, I’ll just power through.” I was very pleased when I got there, and the rain had stopped… and then this happened! Sun! It was gorgeous.

Now that I’m trying to identify plants, this picture just makes me mad. HA! Next time I’ll get a better picture… But the point to this picture was the flowers. It’s starting to look more like spring!

The trail went down to another wooded area, closer to a private road.

I got to the backside of the loop and discovered another parking area/trailhead. This one could fit more than two cars, so I might use this side next time.

If anybody knows what those balls are, let me know in the comments! UPDATE: I did a little research after my husband told me they only grow on oak trees. They’re called oak galls or oak apples! Apparently, non-stinging wasps lay an egg in leaf buds. The gall tissue forms because of secretions from the wasp larvae, and the larvae feed on the gall tissue. The oak bud turns into the gall, which protects the wasp larvae while they grow into adults! I never knew… and I almost wish I didn’t now. *shudder*

Wait… are those STAIRS ahead??

Truly, this is a great little hike. I want to do this again when there are more flowers and blooming things!

This is the other side of the top. I bet this is great at night, with all the lights. Of course, you wouldn’t be able to see the stars…

berberis (Mahonia) aquifolium

If I’m correct, this is Oregon’s state flower, the Tall Oregon Grape! Weird… I read that if you boil the roots and bark, it makes a yellow dye for wool, etc. I had no idea this is our state flower. It makes me wonder why they picked it.

This was absolutely the best part of the hike. At first, I saw the bench and thought, oh that’s nice… a bench to rest and enjoy the view. Then I read the plaque.

While I don’t know her story, I can see she was only 31 years old when she died. I think this is a beautiful lookout, and her family must really love her.

This is right next to Rechelle’s Lookout bench, so I heeded the advice and listened. The wind was blowing through the trees, and it felt nice. There was no city noise, no other people around, just the quiet of the lookout point. It was incredibly peaceful.

I’m not sure why I don’t see these signs until I get DONE with my hike… but I can tell you I’m always on the watch for animals. I don’t always carry my bear spray though. On this hike, I saw quite a lot of skat. After a little (very amusing) research, I am pretty sure it was of the coyote variation. I grew up out in the coastal mountain range, and if I’m honest, coyotes give me the heebie-jeebies! But I’m definitely more afraid of cougars and bears. Overall, this was a fun, short hike. I look forward to doing it again in the summer.

Distance: 2.2 miles; Elevation Gain: 578 feet

Mossy Maple Trail 23Feb2022

It’s cold. I mean, it’s not in the negative numbers or anything, but I seriously considered hopping on my indoor bike for some exercise. However, it’s sunny and I have to get in some sun when I can… so, hiking it is!

The water was frozen, and the gravel pathway was extra crunchy. I was glad I wasn’t in some sort of stealthy operation, because all I could hear was CRUNCH CRUNCH CRUNCH!

The path was wide open and well maintained. There weren’t very many people out – granted, it’s the middle of the week. There were only four other cars in the parking lot.

I started seeing light snow or heavy frost in areas, but the sun was shining!

Next to the walking path, there is a downhill bike path. It looked pretty good to me, but I don’t ride dirt bikes.

It was cold enough that my face got numb quickly. I ended up donning my balaclava. I had to be thoughtful about dogs on the path, because… well, you can see. I didn’t want to freak them out and bite me!

The path is great – open, no tripping hazards, etc. I think the only place I saw that made an exception was this nice stream with rocks in it to cross over.

The trail was clearly marked at least every half mile. The name of the trail makes me think it looks very different in the summertime.

I think this is the first time I’ve taken a picture of snow on moss. Silly, I know. I guess I’m usually not in the woods in the snow. HA!! Where’s my hot cocoa?

The trail was pretty clearly marked (see below) to keep hikers on one trail and bikers on another. It was only slightly unclear at the end… but I’m not sure that was the end? So, yeah.

When I grew up, we used to get “licorice root” from the mossy trees. If I remember right, it was from this same kind of fern? Anyway, we would clean the root off and bite down on the root just a little. A strong licorice taste would come out of the root. Woohoo!

As an adult, I can’t remember if this is the right root… So I try it. It did not taste like licorice, but it was a little sweet. It made me a little nervous though, just sampling random plants. (I didn’t get sick, so all is well!)

The above fern looks like it’s ready to spread some spores! At least, that’s what I’ve always assumed those dots were… I just looked it up, and it’s true! Those dots are called sporangia! Folks, every day is an opportunity to learn.

Okay. At what *looked* like the end of the trail, there was a loop to go back, you could hit the bike trail, OR you could walk up the road. I took pictures, and not one of them adequately showed how steep it was. It’s like taking a picture of the moon (with an iPhone, that is).

On the AllTrails reviews, quite a few people said there wasn’t a view, very disappointing, etc. Other people said, “if you didn’t have a view, you didn’t go far enough.” So I looked at the map, and it appeared to end at the top of a mountain/hill/whatever. Topographically, it should have a view. I kept going, up the very steep gravel road.

There’s a tree that is on the way down…

… and look at what’s holding it up, I had the feeling I could probably just give it a wiggle and bring it down. But I didn’t. I’m not a hooligan.

Just a bit farther brought me to the top! It was a grueling last half mile or so. I did not enjoy it. There wasn’t much for scenery, and it was just climbing up a gravel road, trying not to slip. So here’s the top, the view:

Looking straight ahead
Looking left
Looking back where I came from

My friends, I was disappointed. If we’re supposed to go farther to get a view, I could not see where the view might be and I don’t know how much farther I would have to walk to get there. According to the map, I was at the top, and it certainly looked like I’d be going downhill no matter where I went from there. I said some choice words and immediately started back down.

Again, this does not accurately depict how steep the road was. I mean, this looks like a nice walk. No. No. It was not like that. I’m not sure why I can’t get a good picture of the elevation gain, but… it’s okay.

I almost biffed it twice on the way down, the second time barely catching myself in a one-legged squat. The ice and the loose gravel were not my friend that day. But I made it there and back again safely, like a good hobbit. I probably won’t use this trail again, but I’m glad I did it.

Distance: 4.82 miles; Elevation Gain: 1,052 feet

Ridgeline Trail to Spencer Butte 17Feb2022

There are a lot of times when I hike when I think about my skill level, or athletic ability. One of the reasons I started hiking is because it’s easy to find a hike that will fit my ability. It’s also nice that it’s not expensive… unless you want it to be.

This was one of the times that I thought about my abilities. It’s difficult to be passed by people clearly in their 70s, when I am in my 40s (albeit late 40s). If I let it get to me, it can really bother me. I try to remember that, until recently, I have had a very stressful job that didn’t allow for a lot of time off. I try to remember that this is my journey, and not theirs. I try to remember that I’m doing better, each hike I do. I’m getting healthier, and I will get faster and have better endurance. It just takes time.

The Ridgeline Trail is a route I’ve never gone until today. It’s a bit longer and has more elevation gain. I’m trying to improve my endurance, etc., so I thought I’d give it a go. The beginning was a nice, open area that seemed to welcome hikers. It was soon closed in by trees, ferns, and shrubbery, but it was a very pleasant welcome.

I saw this tree (below) that appears to be growing another tree out of a limb. So weird.

I grew up in western Oregon, out in the woods. We learned most of the flora by names such as “fern,” or “sour grass.” The trees were a little more obvious, and I could pick out chittum, alder, fir, etc., but I didn’t know the different varieties. For Valentine’s Day, my sweet husband got me a book: National Audubon Society Field Guide to the Pacific Northwest. From now on, I’ll try my best to identify things correctly!

I thought we’d start with my favorite: moss! I believe the one pictured below may be Big Shaggy Moss, aka Pacific Forest moss. Isn’t that nice to put a name to things?

I think these mushrooms are sulfur shelf aka chicken mushrooms. Pretty! By the way, my favorite mushroom to eat is the golden chanterelle. If I find some, I’ll definitely get a picture before I eat them!

I saw this great tree that had fallen. It was still so long and straight, it deserved a picture.

This is my favorite picture for this hike. The light, the shadows, the trail… it was perfect.

This stepway was nice… and then I got to the top of it. Just past the top, I found a spot that I recognized. At that point I realized I was close to the switchbacks and the stairs to the top of Spencer Butte. I may have cursed aloud. I mean, I knew I was going to have to get to the top, I just didn’t realize where it joined into the trail that I’ve been on several times.

As always, I was rewarded at the top. Such a gorgeous day, at least from the top of Spencer Butte.

Back on the trail, going to the beginning.

This trail can be deceiving at times. I felt like I was closer to these gals for just a second, and then suddenly they were very far away…

In case you didn’t spot them, there are two women in the yellow circle below. The other one is harder to see, and I may have cut her off a bit with the circle. She was just in front of the tree, and in front of the girl in blue.

Obligatory selfie, nearly at the end!

An American robin was my welcome wagon for reaching the trail’s end. Dang, this book is helpful! Ha!

This is a pretty good hike. It was longer than I usually do, which was good. It had some great elevation gain. The view at the top is always good. The trail is gravel and well-maintained – it’s also pretty busy. I don’t mind the frequent hikers if I’m in the mindset for it. On these kinds of hikes, I feel more comfortable wearing earbuds. I’ll try to do this one more often, building muscle and endurance. I’ll try not to let the oldies passing me get under my skin. haha

My Apple watch and the AllTrails app differed again… but this time I had somehow paused the AllTrails app toward the beginning of the hike. For that reason, I’ll list the Apple watch information. I think it had a connection the whole time.

Distance: 5.41 miles; Elevation Gain: 1,329 feet

Kentucky Falls 10Feb2022

My two best purchases recently have been my new Altra hiking shoes and Matilde (my Jeep). I don’t think I would have had much fun, or even made it to the hike, if it weren’t for them.

The road to Kentucky Falls is a long one. You take a well-trafficked highway to a side road. You stay on that one-lane paved road for a while, and then your GPS will say, “In half a mile, prepare to park your car and walk to your destination.” At least, that’s what mine told me. In reality, it just meant I was joining onto a gravel road. I kept driving, of course. It was another 5 miles or so, and then it connected with another paved road. It was on that paved road (2.8 miles long) that I realized I wasn’t going to have my GPS on the way back because I wouldn’t have cell reception. So I started to really pay attention to where I was. Maybe I should’ve started that sooner.

When I say there were potholes on the gravel road, I think it wouldn’t be clear enough. I would rather say there were craters. Some of those potholes were incredible! I definitely would not have made it in my Mini. Matilde, however, had no problems at all.

It seems like I was driving such a long time when I finally saw a ray of hope…

Once I saw that sign, I knew everything would be fine. Well, as long as I could find my way back.

Kentucky Creek

I parked in the very small parking lot… I think it would comfortably house four or five cars. There was a picnic table or two on the side near the creek., and I think a pit toilet or something. The trail head was across the road, so off I went!

The first thing I realized was there would be more than one waterfall on this trip. I’m glad I read that sign, because I would’ve stopped hiking a lot sooner than I did. Three falls?!? My lucky day!

These two trees must have fallen somewhat recently. They were not very easy to get over. I went over the top, staying on the trail, on my way through the first time. On my way back, I went up the hill a little bit where other people had made a go-around trail and went over the bottom tree and under the top tree. Neither option was comfortable or clean.

Other than that, the path was pretty good so far! It wasn’t terribly wide, but it was very clear where the path was.

The canopy made for some low lighting, and it almost felt like it was evening time, especially the farther in I got.

There ended up being four or five trees that were over the path, but nothing like the first pair.

I saw this tree and I couldn’t help but wonder when it was going to fall down. It looks like it is rotting from the outside in.

I could hear the falls and the path got narrower and rockier. At one point, when the falls became visible, there was a flat, vertical rock that the sound would bounce off of and it sounded like there were more falls just around some corner. It was pretty cool.

Upper Kentucky Falls, from a distance.

It seemed like this waterfall looked a little different from every perspective. It was so beautiful.

I hadn’t realized I would be going all the way down, until I saw this…

Switchbacks upon switchbacks!

I could feel the wind coming off of this waterfall, cooling me off. Not that I was very hot, because I was just going down at this point. Very far down.

Shortly after the upper waterfall was this nice little slide.

Fantastic moss! I actually ran my fingers through a little bit of this. It was dry, but very healthy.

This little tree apparently took a lot of branches with it when it came down.

This was a fun little bridge. I actually took the picture on my way back, because the lighting was a little bit better. I’m not sure why it only has one side of the railing, but it works just fine.

I hit a little bit of sun, and it felt so good. A lot of the trail is shaded and a bit dark, so the sun was a welcomed bit of change.

This bigger bridge went over Kentucky Creek. It felt a little bit like it wasn’t as sturdy as I would like it to be, but it held up just fine and I was safe.

The creek isn’t that big, but it must be deceptively deep or something, because it fed the Upper Kentucky Falls and would feed the Lower as well…

I went on my merry way… Until suddenly the creek wasn’t next to me anymore, and it sounded like it was way below me again. I was a little confused, and then I started doing a bunch more switchbacks… Going farther down. Yeesh! The trip back was going to be a doozy. I was starting to think I would never find the lower falls until I saw this sign.

I went to the right, and around the corner I suddenly hear it and then saw it. I had apparently passed the waterfall when the trail meandered slightly away from the creek.

But wait, there’s more! This one is actually a two-fer!

I was pleasantly surprised to see two waterfalls there, although the more I went closer to the one on the right, the less I saw of the one on the left, which I believe is the North Fork Smith Falls. There is a nice wooden structure for people to walk on or rest on a tiny bench while they are viewing the beauty of this place.

Fun tidbit for you: When I was around 14 years old, I got hooked up with the Looking Glass program. They helped me get a job during the summer. Making around $3.15/hr (minimum wage then), I got to work with the Forest Service. We cleared trails and other things, but I actually got to work on this trail. I didn’t really remember anything about it except for this waterfall.

I was working with a school chum at that site, and she let me borrow her Walkman. I accidentally dropped it between some of the rocks below as we climbed around the rocks. The water was surprisingly deep in those holes! I ended up having to buy her a new Walkman and The Outfield tapes (I can’t remember which one). Over 30 years later, I held on to my phone so tight while taking pictures!

Obligatory selfie coming!

I do love it when signs point the way clearly.

I don’t know what kind of berries these are, and I didn’t eat any to find out.

On my way back up. And up and up… I got to see the upper falls in a different light, and it was just gorgeous.

Finished, I started on my way back. I felt pretty confident that I can remember the way, and it appears that I did.

I don’t necessarily like ending a hike on a climb, but there was really no way around it. This was a great hike, to be honest. I only saw one other person – an older gentleman and his dog. It probably helps that it was a Thursday… and it’s not exactly a quick drive to get there.

My Apple watch and the AllTrails app had very different information when it came to distance and elevation gain. I ended up going with AllTrails because I had downloaded the map and it didn’t need an internet connection. I’m not sure if my Apple watch did or not.

Distance: 3.7 miles; Elevation Gain: 987 feet

Spencer Butte: Up & Back 08Feb2022

I’ve hiked up Spencer Butte a few times, and I will a few times more. It seems like each time I go, I see something new. I thought the entire way would be foggy today, but I was pleasantly surprised at the top. I think I will try to hike this weekly…I want it to be easier, or at least not have to stop so many times on the way.

I never feel inclined to have lunch here, but it does seem like a nice place.

If you look closely, you might see gray haze way in the back, which is exactly what I expected to see.

This trail is so frequented and so well-maintained. I only saw about 10 or 12 people today, but it’s much busier on the weekends.

I went to REI yesterday because my hiking boots have been hurting my toes. I don’t think they are too small, until about halfway through the hike. So I told the clerk I needed shoes for a “barefoot for years” type of foot. He showed me the Altra shoe with that spacious toe box. Friends. It was heaven! The shoe is pretty flexible, so my feet are a little bit tired, but they don’t hurt like they have been! What a difference. I know what brand of shoe and boot I will be getting from now on. It’s the difference between a comfortable t-shirt and a bra. My toes were aaallll splayed out! Ha!

I started to see glimpses of sunlight, and hints of blue sky. I was excited to get to the top.

Moss. My favorite!

When I see this, I am both happy and groaning inwardly. This is the beginning of the end… Or the sign that I am almost to the top but I’m going to have to work to get there.

Close to the top, I can see Mount Hood so clearly!

It feels so very high up on the world, when you can look down on the clouds.

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the top! Just a few more steps! And that blue sky…

At the top there is a bonus round. Usually, people are sitting up there so I don’t. Today however, it was free so I climbed up. It was great!

One side is still very hazy…

…And the other side is clearing up!

I could also see the three Sisters. Eventually, I would love to climb at least one of them. Probably the South Sister, aka, Charity… I think I would need special gear for the other two.

Only two other people on the peak right now. Very peaceful! It was a lot warmer up here, in the sun.

I forgot to take a selfie at the top, so here it is at the bottom, in my new Jeep. Oh, did I forget to tell you about that?

When I went to Madras a week ago or so, I had to go over the pass. Driving a Mini over the pass would have been very interesting if there was any snow – I mean, those things have a few inches of clearance and that’s it! And they can’t have chains, you can only use snow socks (which I bought for the trip).

Not only that, but to get to the trailhead, I had to drive down a one lane gravel road. It had potholes and semi-large rocks, as gravel roads do. Fun fact: did you know Minis don’t have a spare tire? There’s just no room for them. So if I got a flat, I was going to be in trouble. I was scraping the bottom of my poor little car, and sweating the whole way at 5 mph.

The day after I got back home, I went to the car lot. My lifestyle is different now, and I need a different vehicle to fit it. I saw the orange and fell in love:

Matilda

After driving a Mini for 6 years, a Jeep Cherokee feels GINORMOUS! But I’m getting used to it. I’ll miss the great gas mileage and the zip, but I’m digging the heated seats and steering wheel, all the space in the world… and the safety and ability. I’m happy.

Distance: 2.4 miles; Elevation Gain: 776 feet

Alsea Falls & Green Falls 04Feb2022

My good friend MaryAnne went with me on today’s hike! MA and I have known each other for about 13 years now (how can that be?!?). We were both working at the Employment Dept., in the veteran’s section, in a work study gig. We were both doing our prerequisite courses for nursing, and (strangely) both did a paper on Hansen’s disease, aka leprosy. We go way back. I was so excited when she said she wanted to go on a hike with me, so I said, “How about this Friday?!?” I regretted that a little later because I picked up a shift, and I’m working five 12-hour shifts in a week. D’oh!

We arrived at the trailhead – it was very easy to find. Right there at the beginning is the Alsea falls. You just have to walk a short distance off the main trail. We decided to save it for last, and just hit the trail.

The bridge crosses the South Fork Alsea River, which is really just a creek. MA and I were both dreaming of summertime and wading through this sweet little creek.

The trail was super muddy for the first 100 feet or so, but cleared up to be a nice path.

The moss gets me. Is it because I’m a native Oregonian? I mean, I’m no pluviophile by any means (I’m more of an oenophile, and we have some fantastic wine in Oregon!), but I do love that green, spongy moss.

Part of the trail was taped off, and it looks like they may have made a new trail. Maybe the old part eroded? No matter, as long as there’s a trail!

Little streams and bigger roots… and my friend, MA. She lead the way the whole time. She’s a go-getter!

We stopped here just to enjoy the water. We wondered if there were a lot of crawdads in the summer. There’s a fair amount of campsites nearby, and crawdads are a great summertime snack.

The path got really wide, looking more like a road…

And then we figured out why. There’s a road nearby, and more campsites!

While I took pictures of the bridge, MaryAnne hopped over to see the name of the campsite: McBee.

Green Peak Falls isn’t really on maps, at least not that I could find with a cursory search. It almost made it like a secret destination.

Wild ginger

MA pointed out the wild ginger (the dark green, leafy bits)…

Sour grass

And I pointed out the sour grass. I don’t know what other people call it, but I was raised on the stuff! (Update: MaryAnne did some research and thinks it’s called wood sorrel.) That clover looking plant is very sour (and delicious, especially for kids). I imagine it must have a lot of vitamin c. Growing up, we ate it by the handfuls. Now as an adult, I ate some tentatively, not sure I had the right plant until I got the taste.

A cool tree remains, and some sloped ground. It was still pretty damp out, so we had to watch our footing at times.

Speaking of watching our footing! This was a bit more intimidating in person, but once we got going it was fine. We just had to step carefully and deliberately.

We made it to the Green Peak falls! My glasses fogged up nicely whenever I stopped, as you can see.

There were some steps and then mud and rocks, but we went down to the base of the falls.

Double selfie!

This is a strange, almost striated and dark green moss. Also, surprisingly slippery.

A little waterfall slo-mo.

Look at this muppet of a tree! I will name him George…

Close up, it almost looks like you could comb this moss. It’s so delicate looking.

We made it back to Alsea Falls, which was very nice as well. What a great little hike! This really would be a nice place to camp at during the summer, although I’m not sure how robust the waterfalls will be when it’s hot. I’m glad MaryAnne and I got to do the hike together – that was the real treat.

Distance: 2.62 miles; Elevation Gain: 515 feet

Mecca Flat – Trout Creek Trail 28Jan2022

There’s a hike in Madras that I wanted to do for a while. Madras is a bit of a drive though, and the mountain passes require chains, so I hadn’t gone yet. I had a coworker who lived in Madras and stayed with a friend when she was working (because it’s 150 miles away). I figured I’d go on the hike and have coffee or lunch with her after.

Unfortunately, my coworker was hit by a drunk driver last week and she died at the scene.

So, I’m in Madras today. Her service is tomorrow. I went on my hike and thought about her, along with other things that one thinks about when somebody they know dies. This post is dedicated to AnnaMarie Wallace, RN.

When there wasn’t much traffic, I slowed down to take this pic. Through the pass, there was good weather and no need for chains. Woohoo! My car has very low clearance, so I can’t use chains, only snow socks.

Mt Washington, on the way…

The scenery has a drastic change when you cross the mountain pass. We go from the forest to the high desert, which I think is just beautiful.

I made it to the campground without any problems (except for the gravel road and my Mini Cooper… they’re not terribly compatible).

The trail is well-used and easy to follow. It leads straight to the Deschutes River, and is aptly named the Trout Creek Trail.

I love how the land is formed by the weather. Such lines and shadows!

The Deschutes is pretty tame here, allowing for great fishing.

The flora is so interesting! Everything looks dead, but it’s alive. I wonder what it all looks like during the spring?

I feel like Central Oregon is so dramatic. Shadows and sun and mountains…

I see things like this and think, “What happened here? Did it all happen at once, or did it erode slowly?”

I scared a lot of waterfowl on my hike. Turn up the volume to hear the ducks!

Some of the trail was nicely fortified with rocks.

It’s just so dang peaceful! I bet people float down on inner tubes during the summer.

I love signs like this. I like knowing I’m on the right path. Ha!

It was cold enough to still have frozen puddles. My ears were burning with the cold and wind. I almost broke out my knit cap, but wanted to keep my ball cap on because of the sun. THE SUN! The western part of Oregon gets a lot of rain, so it was really nice to see blue skies again.

I’m trying to take more selfies. Like many people, I have issues with self-esteem, etc., so I tend to delete pictures of myself. Well, I need to stop doing that.

If you look on the top of the far-right tree, you’ll see a bird perched up there…

It must be camera shy, because it flew away while I was trying to zoom in on it. Got it anyway!

My trail ended suddenly, and a lot sooner than I expected. The trail kept going, but it was on private land. I think there’s an easement, but it made me nervous that I had to climb over a barricade to do it. I mean, why else would they board it over like that? So, I turned around. It’s okay that the hike was short, it was still beautiful and fun.

More proof of beauty. This is one of my favorite shots, for some reason.

I also saw quite a few tracks…

Human, dog, racoon, deer, and horse. Maybe coyote?

There were a couple of little bridges like this. This one looked a little worse for wear, but it was still very sturdy.

Who wouldn’t want to live here? Or at least visit.

One more selfie. I need to work on this. I look too serious, and it doesn’t portray how happy I am!

This was nice. I’m not sure what kind of plant is being protected, but what a great place for a tribute. It was so peaceful and seemed like a nice fishing spot.

There were still quite a few muddy spots, but most of it had dried up.

Hello, self! There must have been a lot of water to make spots like this.

Here’s the actual campsite. There were a TON of sits to park at. This would be a great place to camp out with friends. A lot of friends.

On my way out of the campsite, looking at the land.

A cattleguard. I grew up with cattle and am very familiar with these. However…

… I’m not excited to see that. I mean, I guess it didn’t have any effect on the actual cattleguard, but it was still weird.

The road out. This section was okay, but there were other places that were not fun with my Mini. Potholes and rocks made me nervous. Did you know Mini Coopers do not have a spare tire? *nervous laughter*

This was the scariest thing I have seen in quite a while. When I drove by, I think I could see daylight shining (barely) way inside. Would I go investigate? Absolutely not. I’ve seen movies. I’m no dummy.

On my way home… It seems like there are so many mountains here! I’m just outside of Sisters, OR here.

It’s hard to tell, but here is part of the wildfire damage from 2020. It was a horrible and terrifying time.

Sad trees, black and stripped of most of their glory.

Ending on a good note, the above brunch was amaaaazing. Shrimp and cheesy grits! With EGGS! Big props to the Cottonwood Cafe! Check out the menu, and if you’re in Sisters, OR, give them a try! http://www.cottonwoodinsisters.com/

I do hope I get to do more hikes in Central Oregon. I’m sorry I waited on this one, but life is like that sometimes. You never know what is around the corner. Overall, it was a beautiful hike and I would recommend it for anyone. It was very easy and short, but the beauty makes it worth it.

Distance: 2.24, Elevation Gain: 131 ft.