Thursday, August 14, 2014

Proxy Falls and Linton Lake

It was a sort of drizzly summer day in the McKenzie River Valley of Oregon, but we were determined to get the kids out for a hike. So we set out up the road to head up toward McKenzie Pass. There were numerous trail heads that we had not been hiking on that were short enough and pretty enough to make it worth the struggle that it took to keep the kiddos moving.
 I had Conrad in the backpack, but Zyla was now old enough that she could do a lot of the walking herself. The first trail that we chose was Proxy Falls. There were two waterfalls, but we did not know that. We pulled into the trailhead, parked, and paid for our group of four. Then we headed down the trail. Zyla was really excited about the huckleberries and it was hard to keep her moving as she always wanted to stop to eat some more. We got her to the first fall and it was a little hard to see. There seemed to be a lot of trees growing around it and it was a bit rainy. We debated about whether to go the other way, but finally decided for it.
I was glad that we did for their was another much more prominent waterfall and this one was way better than the other one. There seemed to be a perfect cut in the forest to see the water pouring down. It was a nice spot and I knew we would have to take our friends and family back to see this again in the future. We finished the loop, but we still had not had enough. So we packed the family up and went up the road to the trailhead to Linton Lake. For some reason this trail was a little bit busier.
It seemed to be a popular spot for young people to go backpacking into as it was close enough to the trailhead that they could actually bring in their beers and flotation devices. Not really my style, but it was a good hike and though it was an effort, Zyla was really putting those 4 year old legs to use. She was a bit slower than other hikers on the trail, but she was able to keep going. The trail was fairly level, which helped, but slowly went downhill to the lake. When we got to the lake the kids were excited.
 Having lived in Southern Utah all of their lives it was nice for them to see the alpine lake and be able to throw rocks in it. We enjoyed hanging out at the lake, but it wasn't really necessarily a typical August day. We were in our rain jackets for most of the day. As we fled the multitudes of unprepared and sort of gloomy looking backpackers that seemed to set up camp haphazardly near the lake, we went back up the trail running into more silly 20 somethings coming up the trail. Zyla and Conrad for that matter did great and it was awesome to be able to take the two of them hiking in Oregon. I think we were really going to enjoy the awesome scenery and excellent trail system that was out here. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Horsepasture Mountain

 Still trying to figure out the new country that was surrounding me, I rode in Carl's truck up into the mountains again. We took a forest service road that seemed to climb for a long time. As we took a turn around the corner, we were rewarded with a view of the Sisters that was shrouded by the smoke that seemed to permeate up through the forest. It had been a hot, dry summer in Oregon and now the area was paying for it with wildfires. The area we were going to did not have any issues, though, and soon we were at the trailhead ready for the hike. Carl decided to sit this one out and he spent his time eating some berries and wandering around a bit on the Olallie trail that connected with the trail that I was going to take up to Horsepasture Mountain.
The hike started out pretty gradual, but I made sure I really put a lot into it because I did not want Carl to have to wait for too long. There were a few other folks on the trail and it was nice to chat with them as they went by. The trail spent most of the time in the forest, but toward the end it popped out into some nice meadows with many switchbacks. I zigzagged up until it ended with the one last switchback where you could see the top right at the end of a long semi steep meadow. I could see why it was called Horsepasture Mountain given the large meadow that would have been right near the top. The horses of the old timer Forest Service workers could have grazed while someone went up to the fire lookout.
 The fire lookout, though, was no more as it was one of the many casualties of the helicopter. In the 1950's, it would have been efficient to man these hundreds of lookouts across Washington and Oregon, but now we have the ability to watch the fires from the air so much easier. It was a good view from up on top, but once again the smoke really hid the majestic mountains which beckoned me to come climb them.
On this day, though, it was just a minor peak with a short trail, but I sure was enjoying the area. I quickly made my way back down and looked forward to all the opportunities that Oregon had to offer me.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Carpenter Mountain

We had been continuing to unpack our stuff and get used to living in Oregon, but it still was summer vacation, so we had to take the time to get out and enjoy it a little bit. We had a bit of time in the afternoon, so I went with Carl and the kids up to Carpenter Mountain. It took us a long time to drive the miles and miles of dirt roads to get to the trailhead. Some were better than others, but eventually we got to the trailhead. The view from the trailhead was good enough to be worth the drive as we could see the Three Sisters from there.
The trail was not very steep, but was covered in huckleberries. This was Zyla's first introduction to huckleberries and she was all over it. Conrad and Zyla had been enjoying the blackberries growing right near our new rental. This was a bountiful harvest that Oregon had to offer. There were multiple kinds of huckleberries on this hike to enjoy and the harder part was just keeping Zyla moving enough to keep our momentum going. I would hand every other huckleberry back to Conrad so that he could enjoy it also. I think Carl was happy with the pace of the four year old because his knees could not take a long walk. The trail wound through the woods with expansive views along the way of vast expanses of forest. The region we were living in just had an immense amount of trees. I think we were really digging the green even though it was rather hot and dry during the summer.
We eventually made it to the lookout. The last hundred feet were pretty steep and I was glad Jacqueline wasn't there because I had to carry the kids up to the lookout with a pretty significant drop off on the side. It all went fine. There was a forest service worker there manning the lookout. We talked to him for a while and he showed us how he used certain things to report fires. There was a fire going on currently and we were able to see it pretty well from Carpenter Mountain. In fact you could really see quite a bit of forest from up top. We enjoyed the view, but did not stay too long as I was a bit nervous having the kids up on top.
Down we went eating more huckleberries as we went. The pace was just perfect and Zyla did great. It took a bit of plodding to get her to keep moving all the time, but all and all she was turning into a pretty good hiker. She was starting to enjoy it too as she got to reap the rewards of a fruit harvest along the way.