Monday, February 12, 2018

Wildwood Trail - MP 9 to 12 and The Nature Trail

Wildwood Trail - MP 9 to 12 and The Nature Trail

For this section of the trail, we parked off of NW 53rd Street at the trailhead for Dogwood and Wild Cherry Trail. There is "real" off road parking there for 8 or so vehicles, but a lot of surrounding places where you can just pull off the road into the mud. That is what we did.

At this trailhead, you can either go down Dogwood or Wild Cherry until you hit Wildwood, or you can stay up on the ridge and follow the Kiel trail which runs along 53rd until it intersects with Wildwood coming up from the valley. You can also park on 53rd there at the intersection. That is around Wildwood MP 9.25 (it is really marked as 9 1/4, but I can't find the buttons to make a good 1/4 in blogger).

We decide to stay up on the ridge for now, we are doing an out and back today (want to stay off of the big wide Leif Erikson) so we can always drop down to Dogwood on our way back if we desperately need to do some climbing.

The trail winds in and out of the little creek valleys on the ridge. That is the bottom of a downed tree.

This is a lovely section of the trail. Most of the way is heavily forested with Alder but there are a few groves of Doug Fir. In some places there are some pretty big Doug Fir. But mostly Alder. (Note: On doing some investigation, perhaps these leafless trees are really Big Leaf Maple. I need to check back in the Spring). And since it is winter and the Alder are deciduous, we have some views of the river and the city.  We even have a little sunshine on us on the rare occasion. The undergrowth is also lovely and local. We see a lot of Oregon Grape (the Medium High Variety) and Sword Fern. None of the invasive (and to my mind, ugly) English Ivy or Himalayan Blackberry. It makes for much prettier walking. There is one fern we see a lot of that I think is deer fern. Deer fern can be differentiated from Sword fern because it doesn't have the characteristic sword hilt that you see on the leaves of the Sword fern. These fern, however, are growing up the side of the trees, not climbing on the ground. When I looked then up I found them to be Licorice Fern, (see photo).

Sword Fern
Here the Trail was surrounded with Oregon Grape. 

The fern on the Tree is Licorice Fern. I think the tree is Alder, but Wiki says this fern grows
grows almost exclusively on Big Leaf Maple.

We did not see many animals on this hike. My partner saw a squirrel, and I saw a Robin. No big deal except this was the first robin I have seen for the season.  That and a few new sprouts seem to indicate that nature doesn't seem to be aware that it is still winter.

At MP 11.25 we crossed Fire Lane 1. This a larger trail (for fire fighter access) and is one of the few trails that allow bikes. Well, I guess I don't know that they allow bikes, but we did have a bike ride past us... There were a couple of picnic tables at the trail intersection and we determined that we would stop here for lunch on our way back around.

Fire Lane 1. Oregon Grape. Bag O Poop

This section of the trail from the Trail Head to Fire Lane #1 is all up on the ridge. Mostly flat and easy and fun to walk. After the Fire Lane, the trail snakes down into a little creek valley with a (mostly) clean running creek and a little bridge over. Why are creeks in this park a little cloudy? Not nearly as pristine as creeks you might see up in the Gorge. I mean, I know we are sort of in the city, but I don't think there are any (or many) houses or construction or anything like that up above us, so how does the water get polluted?

We turned around at MP12.

A little word here about signs and mile posts (MPs) in Forest Park. The two main trails (Wildwood - for pedestrians only, and Leif Erikson (for pretty much all non-motorized transport) have mile markers every quarter of a mile. On Wildwood, the markers are on trees. The trees have a blue triangle painted on the wood facing in both ways down the trail at about head height. Then at about 10 feet on the same tree is the actual mile marker on a little wooden plaque. Not sure what the markers look like on Leif. I will get back to you on that. Then there are the excellent trail name signs. There are a few pictures of those above. And at the Major Trail Heads there are metal backed color maps of the park. (like the one below).
These signs are at major trail heads.

Coming back, we decided on doing a side jaunt and exited (just past the little bridge) onto the connector trail to The Nature Trail. The Nature Trail winds through below Wildwood for a short distance and gave us a good little climb back up to the picnic benches at Fire Lane #1.

The benches look a bit old but held us up OK.

On the way back we saw more wildlife. This consisted completely of joggers. My, what a lot of joggers on that section of the trail. Men and Women. Groups and singles. Young and Old. But just about all of them decked out in the latest jogging clothing and gear. My the brightness of some of those sneakers! Dude, Black tights, black shirt and bright yellow Sneakers? I think that just says "Look at me, new shoes that I haven't even had on long enough to get muddy!".

It is like the forest is occupied by a new species of animal that like to sneak up behind you and has the characteristic call "On your Left. On your Left. On your Left".

We passed through one big grove of Doug Fir and there I could see the remains of Giants. Old Growth tree stumps. The trees had probably been cut down 100 years ago. These stumps were 4 times larger than any of the biggest living trees. That tells me the area was lumbered. Perhaps strip lumbered, before it was donated to the city as a park. Still, gives some hope that forests can be regrown if we just decide to make room for them.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Netarts Bay in December

A year ago we were having ice storms and constant clouds. This year we have cold weather but record breaking dry air and sun sun sun. Very windy in Portland. Much too windy to go kayaking (you would flip over, blow into the island, and then freeze). But it is rumored to be very nice on the coast.  Let's go there.

In California, people go "to the beach". Here in Oregon, people go "to the coast". We have some beach, mind you, but it rarely gets used for the same purposes as CA beaches. Mainly you go walking on it in your warm jackets and hold the hand of a loved one and wonder what it would be like to live in California.

Today, however, We are going Kayaking. With a group of like minded (probably not crazy) individuals from Kayak Portland. We are going to paddle Netarts Bay.

A small group of winter paddlers.
Full Dry Suit. Warm AND Cool

Netarts is off to the south of the Cape Meares Headland that juts out from the Tillamook cow flats. It is a one of the many bays in Oregon that is formed between two headlands with a river running into it. It has a large sandbar (often with trees and substantial buildup) that has formed along the barrier of the river and ocean and has a shallow bay with lots of tidal influence. Today we are going to meet our friends and launch at the public boat ramp near The Schooner restaurant. There is a $4 fee to park close to the ramp. It helps pay for the clean restrooms so I am sure in favor of that. There are only 8 of us meeting today, so it was a pretty smooth and easy launch off of the public dock.

Horses on the Beach

I don't much like dock launches. No matter how I try, I always feel awkward and silly. And I almost always almost fall in. You know, you have one leg in and your butt most of the way in and the boat starts to drift away from the dock and you try to grab it and now you are off balance and surely going to roll over, but you manage to pull the boat back in closer to the dock and you don't flip over. Then you look around to see if anyone else noticed, but they are all desperately trying to not flip over and so don't see you. Deep Sigh.

How is the weather? It is December 10th and not a cloud in the sky. We are getting a late start (around 1:00) so the sun is pretty much as high as it is going to get and shiny shiny. A little wind. Temperature probably around 55. Many people are wearing dry suits (I am) but I only have one layer of light thermal on under the drysuit (I purposely didn't wear my fleece sweater).

The water in Netarts is very clear. We can see the bottom down to 6 feet very easily. Besides the 8 of us, there are a few people out in small outboards doing the crabbing stuff. You know, power out, dump your pots. Sit for a while. Go back around. Pull up your pot. See if you have any crabs. fight off the seagulls. Put the pots back down. Repeat until you are too fracking cold.

We start with a very short paddle up the beach to "Happy Camp". Not sure what that is, but that is where we paddled. Oh, look, a couple of people out riding horses on the beach. Perhaps that is Happy Camp. The water here is very shallow. Perhaps 6 inches to a foot. It is dead low tide. We are going to wait a few, hang out and catch up with friends, and then ride the tide back up the bay.

It isn't that much of a ride. Sort of a very slow drift. But the idea is, since the tide is rising, you don't have to worry about being caught in a mud bank as the water drains away under you. Even as it was, we were often running into little dead ends where the bay had not yet risen enough to get over the mud. Sometimes we went around. Sometimes we got stuck. At least once a couple of people said, "enough of this" and got out and walked for a bit.

Halfway down the bay we steered into a little area where there were a lot of sand dollars, just sitting there 6 inches down. Many live ones, but also a number of freshly dead ones that could be brought up and studied.

Low Tide Mud Banks

At one time, Netarts was a big Oyster harvesting area. In fact, for thousands of years, the Indigenous peoples lived and fished here. But more recently (early 1900's) the harvesting technology of the Europeans (Us) got a little too good and drove the local oyster population into extinction. Now, as we know for our learnings and paddles in South Carolina, Good Healthy Oyster populations are critical to the general health of the environment. They act as filters and remove much of the "bad stuff" from the water. Without them, no such filtering. So there is an active project to reintroduce oysters (Pacific Oysters) to the bay. It just hasn't been working so well. There have been some oysters found some years, but they haven't been sticking. Unclear if it just takes time, or if the local environment has deteriorated to a point that they can no longer flourish.

Afterward, we did an easy paddle back to the dock. I elected to de-boat at the ramp this time. So much easier. And wouldn't you know it, my foot got caught on my cowling and over I went.

Yes, That is the Fantastic 4 Emergency Signal !!

Friday, November 24, 2017

The Bend River Trail

Hiking The Bend River Trail

Bend, Oregon straddles the Deschutes river just where the river comes shooting down out of the Cascade mountains to plow its way through the old deep lava plain that is the High Desert of central Oregon.  On this unexpectedly nice day in early November, my Partner and I are spending a much deserved long weekend on a mini-vacation. We are staying at Mt. Batchelor Village in one of their rentable condos that sits on the bluff up over the Deshutes a couple of miles south of downtown Bend.

Originally, we were going to drive up to nearby Mt. Bachelor and do a snowshoe, but we decided to stay around town and scrapbook instead. That doesn't get us off the hook from hiking, however. Our Fitbits would be driving us crazy if we didn't get out and get our steps. We did this by going out in the morning and hiking the Deschutes river trail. This trail is a lovely forest and urban trail that winds from the Old Mill shopping district up both sides of the river into the gorge south of town and then up the river another mile or so, terminating at a little bridge that closes the loop. We entered the trail from a little connector about a third of a mile from the bridge on the west side of the trail. Today we decided to walk to the bridge and then into town on the East side of the river.


This trail is well maintained by the city of Bend. It is well marked and has a lot of nature and local interest signage (did you know that mistletoe can make a pine tree look like a witches broom stick?) as well as a few memorial benches and foot bridges. The trail is well used by the locals and visitors alike. Lots of joggers and walkers and dog walkers and families out for a stroll (though the teenagers don't look so happy). We are out early, and it is a bit chilly with a chance of rain in the air, but still we saw and passed many people on the trail. Since it is a loop, we passed many people twice. The second time you wave hello, it is almost like you are waving to an old friend.

This end of the trail is down in the gully of the straight and fast moving river. Sometimes you see white water kayakers out on the river, but not too often. It is a challenging stretch of the river and you can't get easy boat access in this part (you have to go up stream and try to find a place to launch where you don't have to run the rapids that kill you).  Though there is always water in the river, this is the desert, and the flora here shows it. There is lodgepole pine and its beautiful giant cousin, Ponderosa pine.  I like the ponderosa. The slightly orange color and the well formed bulk of the trees is very majestic. There is also manzanita and sage and other low lying plants. No ferns though, this isn't Portland. Lots of deer in this area too, though you don't usually see them when you are out hiking during the day. We see them a lot in town just at dusk.

As you walk the trail you can look up and see the big rock cliffs and all of the condos and houses seated up above them. A little bit of a let down, but hey, this is basically a urban walk, so having the uniqueness of this river valley so close to one of the larger cities in Oregon is quite cool.

A mile or so of walking and we are at the part of the river just across from our condo. There it is up on that cliff. This part of the river has some really large rocks and cliffs right up against the river and is a great place for a view and some picture taking.

I took like 10 of these shots. Could not get the water and hills to light correctly.
There must be a button for that on my phone someplace

Soon we come to a place where you go out along a little bridge and boardwalk around a public water works. There is a couple of big cement pipes at river level with a very strong current coming out. What is this? Well, a few miles up river is a little diversion dam that sends a good part of the river down an aqueduct at the top of the canyon. A this point in the river, some of that water falls down through a hydro-power generator and then returns to the river. The rest of it goes into a open canal and flows across east Bend for irrigation out to who-knows-where.

Further down the trail and you come to the place where the river dumps out of the canyon onto the desert. There is a car bridge to go under and then you are in the little plain where the Old Mill district is built. The river immediately becomes wider and slower and is a pretty and sluggish thing as it winds its way leasurely through the town. During the summer, thousands of people plop themselves into inner-tubes and on rafts to float down the river on a hot lazy day. Lots of fun and pretty much free. Too cold for that today. But we do enjoy the ducks and Canada Geese out swimming and feeding.

Hey Daddy, Can I play on the Saw Blade?

That is a bridge across the river there.

Bend was originally a lumber town and the parks show that in their names and decorations. Statues of horses pulling logs, saw mill themed children play structures, that sort of thing. Why, the old Mill itself has been largely preserved, including the 3 tall chimneys, an houses the local REI store. My partner and I are walking that way. I like REI. They don't mind if you walk in wearing hiking boots and carrying a pack. They even take care of it for me whilst I shop.

See the 3 Chimneys around the Bend?

It used to be that you could go into REI every year and find that one new piece of equipment that you really needed to have. I must be getting old because it is getting harder and harder to find something new. Or perhaps the new things are still there but I can't convince myself that I need them. Part of the problem is that, yeah, a LED head light on an elastic band is cool. But I have 3 of them and I don't need one with 5% more light and a cool red light too !! And I have the 5 tents I need and not sure I could use one that sets up in a tree (if you can find 3 trees just the right distance apart). The stick stove that also generates power to charge you phone is nice, but not something that I think is worth the cost either in money or in weight.

What to do then? There are these new things coming out that I think would be nice. They are what are essentially digital walki-talkis. They communicate with other ones of their kind and build up a local network. You talk to them over bluetooth from your phone and run an app that lets you send text or voice messages to other people, either in your group or more globally. So, imagine you have one. And another friend has one and he is one mile away. Then another friend is a mile beyond that. The second friend is too far away for your device to reach, so the middle friend's device will automatically act as a repeater. I could see this as being a great safety thing if there were some of these things sprinkled around, like, by the rangers. Or even if you left one hanging from a tree when you were halfway out. Anyway, the other cool thing is that they don't have to communicate at speed. If the connection gets bad, they can lower the baud rate and resend and keep trying until they can get the message through (just like a text from your phone).  I like the idea, but for it to be useful, you need to have a lot of people out there using them. Not just me and my partner. Still, Christmas is coming soon...

Enough rank commercialism. We still have a few miles to go back to the condo and lunch time is looming. We cross the river on the nice foot bridge right by the Old Mill. To our right is the Les Schwab amphitheater. Les is the guy to go to for tires in Oregon. And he is the guy to go to for music in Bend. Big concerts outdoors right on the river. I guess a lot of people get the "cheap seats" and just drop an anchor off their inner tubes and listen from the river. I understand that this summer is a 50 year Jethro Tull concert. Can Ian Anderson possible still be the front man?

That rock says "Les Schwab Amphitheate"r. Take my word for it


No concert today, however, so we walk south down the west shore of the Deschutes. Our next site is the big park that is the main put-in for the down river floats. Last time I was here (around July 4th) there were hundreds of people inflating rafts and slathering on sun screen for the float down the river. You sort of need a good float because even in the height of summer, the river is brutal cold. Oh my freezing bum. Over on the side is the giant sculpture made from Eddyline kayaks. A unique piece. Ahead of us is another bend in the river (is it THE BEND? maybe) and above on the cliffs are some very nice office buildings. How did office buildings get to be up there on that prime real estate? Some place up there is the Deschutes Brewery main building. Not that that is saying much, seems like you can't swing a dead cat in Bend without hitting a brewery. And some of the best beers are starting to come out in Cans!! I love cans. So much lighter and easier to recycle than glass. Here are my two current picks for beers: Buoy IPA (from Astoria, so a little off theme) and Mosaic, from just down the road from our Condo at Cascade Lakes Brewery (the Lodge has Prime Rib on Saturday and Sunday nights. It is GOOD, as is the Elk Burger).


The trail now turns from pavement back to gravel and pulls in close to the cliffs. The river is getting more narrow, we are about to go back under the highway bridge and enter into the little gorge again.  Just before though is one last thing.  A strange concrete structure low on the river bank. An old ferry landing? Some place for dumping logs into there river for the mill? A rock beaver dam? I don't know. I wish someone would put up one of those nice little explanatory signs.

And so we come back to the side trail that leads up the bluff to our condo property. What a pleasant hike. And we get to do it again tomorrow morning.

Tesla Charging Stations OF THE FUTURE.

One last thing. Back at our condo I notice a bunch of electric car charging stations. These are new. They have just been put in by Tesla and are just for charging the Tesla cars. These things are popping up all over the place. Now, I know that there is a good chance you are reading this from the future and are thinking. "Car charging stations? How quaint. This must be before  all of the tree's were cleared so that the sun could shine directly on cars and charge them." Of course, if you are from the very distance future, then you probably ARE a smart car. How are things? Please read the rest of my blog entries and send my AI personality copy a note.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Idiot Creek Bridge Update

Idiot Creek Bridge Update

It has been two weeks since my partner and I hiked the Idiot Creek Loop Road section of the Wilson river trail in Tillamook forest. If you recall, a big part of that was because there was a new bridge across Elk Creek that gave us dry shoe (and probably dry butt) access to the main part of the trail. At the time we wondered what would happen to that little bridge when it rained. Well, last week it rained big time (6-10 inches on the coast range). This week when we got to the trail, the Bridge Was Gone !!

Without Bridge
With Bridge

But a little too completely gone.
Turns out it is stored for the winter over there on the other side.
So..... no bridge for crossing and doing the Idiot Creek Loop Road hike probably until late Spring.

See the bridge hiding up there?

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Idiot Creek

The Newest section of the Wilson River trail (well, that I know about) is the section from Elk Creek up over the hill to Idiot Creek Loop Road Trailhead. When they had originally put the trail in (just a few years ago) they had these plans for this big elaborate bridge. It would go across the main part of Elk Creek just below where the two main branches of Elk Creek join. There is a section of the bank there that has high rock on both sides and the bridge was going to be put in up on those rocks. This was going to be an expensive nice bridge, suitable for horse traffic. I think the forestry department lost funding before the bridge could go in. This all means that if you want to hike the part of the trail up to Idiot Creek you need to ford Elk Creek.

Fording Elk Creek isn't too much of a problem (except when the creek is in flood) but you are probably going to get your feet wet. In fact, the safe way is to get you feet wet. I got stuck in the middle once on some slippery rocks, I should have just taken my shoes off and gotten my feet frozen. I have been up this trail one time a few years ago, but I was blocked from getting too far by a big slide. My partner and I were hiking up Elk Creek trail last week when we got to the ford and found (to our surprise) that a little bridge had been put in. Cool. We could cross with dry feet and go explore this new trail. (update on the Bridge)


Idiot Creek is a funny name for a trail. This is actually the Wilson River trail but it is the section going to Idiot Creek Loop Rood Trailhead. Now Idiot Creek Road is an old lumbering road (a dirt road) that is on the other side of the mountains from Elk Creek and winds around Idiot Creek. Idiot Creek dumps into the Wilson River right where the town of Idiotville used to be. Don't believe me? Try a google on Idiotville.

I had run into a ranger up the trail several years ago. He had told me about the plans to build the bridge across Elk Creek but also about the long range plan to extend the Wilson River trail pretty much from the town of Tillamook all the way over to Gale's Creek. The only section that I don't think is done yet is the part from the Idiotville Creek Road Trailhead over to where you can latch in to the Gale's creek trail complex. Right about where Route 6 first Crosses the Wilson River on that one big bridge. There is actually a trail under that bridge that loops around to University Falls and Gale's Creek campground.

Today is going to be Sunny, but sort of chilly. We parked at the lot out by the road (the road into Elk Creek Camp is closed this time of year) so we had already done about a mile by the time we saw the bridge and decided to explore Idiot Creek Loop. The trail starts out pretty level. It is a newly made trail, not a part of an old logging trail, so it is more narrow than Elk Creek Trail, but also has its switchbacks better planned so things are not as steep. You start by following the right branch of Elk Creek (the Left Branch is what we usually follow going up Elk Creek Trail). But we quickly climbed away from the river. Down below, it seems like there could be a number of flat places covered in fern and fallen branches that might be good places to camp. But it is really steep down from the trail and I wouldn't want to try to climb down (or back up). After about half a mile we came across a large old remains of a washout. Ten or twenty years ago a bunch of mud came pouring down off the mountain, bring a lot of old stumps and new trees with it.

The trail cuts through it and then begins a set of switch backs up the mountain. The trail doesn't really go too far up the valley. Just back and forth as you wind your way up. Looking at a map, I see that all we are doing is going up this side of the hill to get ourselves over a little saddle and then down to the Idiot Creek Loop Road Trailhead. Well, as we go up, there is some interesting scenery.

What is that sticking up in the air?

We can hear some machinery whining and when we pass over another part of that big wash (further up the hill) we have a clearance where we can see across the valley onto the sun lit Northern side. Up on the top of the hill we can see a periscope like thing sticking up with a bunch of ropes coming down from it. This is a lumberjack's piece of equipment. It is used to move logs around on a hill side. (after lunch we are up high enough that we get a better view).

There is that out of place Maple
Up on the Lunch Time Ridge

Looking at the view across the Wilson River Valley

Now the switchbacks are taking us back West, so that we are pretty much straight up the hill from where we first crossed over that bridge. We hit the ridge and enter into a sort of strange eco-zone. More sun or something. There are different tree's and plants up here. There is a huge Maple, for instance, instead of the usual Doug Fir. We top out in a sunny area and stop there for lunch. There was a good open place to sit down and we had a bit of a view looking out across the Wilson River valley.

We had already been hiking for a couple of hours, but we figured we only had a mile or so left before the ending trailhead, so we decided to push on. I was thinking we were up on the ridge and we just needed to wind along it for a bit until we came to the parking lot. My partner was thinking that she wasn't going to be going out hiking with me anymore unless she had a map so that she didn't have to trust my thinking on ridges and mountains.  There was another set of switchbacks. And Another. Then we came around the corner and had a really good view looking up the Elk Creek Valley to the hills on the other side where a little lumber crew was hard at work completely denuding the backside of the hill of Trees. There was that Periscope thingee (Ok, turns out it is a Cable Yarding Carriage), and a loader or two and a truck. Maybe 4 or 5 guys tearing down a forest.  Here is a good page about lumber equipment.

The standing plank hole
Another stump

I'm not sure how I feel about that. I mean, over where we were, there were tall Douglas Fir and Alder with a good healthy ground cover of Sword Fern and Oregon Grape. Very green and wet and beautiful. Of course, the really big giants are not here. No, they were cut down a hundred years ago the old fashioned way. In fact, a lot of the giant stumps are still around. You can tell they were cut down by hand because you can see the holes cut in the stumps for the boards to be inserted that the hand saw team would stand on so they could saw down the tree above the bother of the roots and elbows.

Sure looks like clear cutting to me

There is a long history of logging in the Tillamook forest. The tree's have all been cleared out from most areas at least once. You can find a lot of the history still hiding around in the forest. Elk Creek Trail, for instance, is an old abandoned logging road. Running up that road, for much of the length, you can find remnants of the wire road roadway they may have used to swing logs down the valley. There are also machinery bits here and there. In other places in the forest you can find water tanks (presumably for steam engines). The biggest piece of logging history is the Banks to Tillamook train line that runs from Banks through Timber and then down the Salmonberry river eventually hitting the coast at Wheeler (see a story here). Though this railroad was built to provide access to the coast from Portland, it also served as an alternate route to haul the timber of Tillamook out of the forest, probably to Tillamook for shipment to California via Log Barges, but also to Portland for more local usage. The railroad was washed out a about ten years ago, by flooding caused by the very logging that it had originally encouraged. As you drive on 26 toward the coast, you can see many places where logging stripped the mountains down to dirt and sticks. The lumber companies make a big deal about re-planting and putting in little signs that say "Planted in 2016".  I can't help but think that it would be a much better practice to take the trees out a little more carefully. A little less cataclysmically. I am sure such a thinning costs more and that would mean that our 2x4's plywood and firewood would cost more, but I still think that would be better. I guess one could argue that more expensive domestic timber would just increase the demand for stripping foreign forests (poor Canada!) One problem at a time.

By the way, if you want to know more about the history the Tillamook forest, you can try the Forestry Center. It is a very nice facility, paid for using the dollars earned with the clear cutting of the local area, and it has a few nice hikes that originate from there. A good place to go yourself or an interesting learning experience for some kid type friends.

When we started this hike, our plan was to hike two hours uphill and then stop, eat lunch, and hike the two hours back down. But we have already had lunch and continued up the hill for another 45 minutes. I swear I have seen the top at least three times now but there keeps being a big piece of stone soaring out of the forest floor and rising above our heads that we have to follow the switchbacks around and over. My partner was game to continue on, but I called it on account of time. We have a few things to do back home (like take a hot tub) and need to get back to the car.

You are hiking the side of the hill almost all of the way
I find hiking in the wilderness to be one of the stranger experiences in modern life. Here you are, out for a nice walk. Having a wonderful time. But you don't stay out walking until the end. You stay out walking to halfway. You can't just instantly teleport back to your car. You can't get off the treadmill and go to the shower. You have to plan ahead to darkness and get your ass off that hill before you get benighted. So. Back down we go. The views going down are just as lovely as those coming up. But we don't get quite as out of breath.

We examined the map on the sign post at the parking lot and decided that we had been very close to where the trail would even out, wrap around the summit and then head downhill to the Idiot Creek Loop trail head. We will hike that final part another day. We saw no one else the entire time we were out hiking, and that is just too wonderful to not seek out again.