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Month: September 2018




This post is about a bike ride I made in August 2015! It has been been in draft mode and by now I have forgotten most of the trip, but I still want to show the best part: the dinosaur tracks! Click on the pictures to see them full size.

These tracks were made in mud 110 million years ago. The mud dried, got covered by some other dirt, and then hardened for a few million years. Really cool! The dinosaur tracks are about 2 miles in.

I’ve been back to this spot several times and it has been covered with leaves or water, so these are the best pictures I have. Here is the beginning of the original post:

In the summer of 2015 I got even more serious about biking and discovered that my civilized Townie was exactly that – civilized. It was almost exactly a year old and I traded it in for a Giant mountain bike with 29″ tires. What a difference! SJ swears it has pixie dust because it rides by itself. After riding it around the greenbelt for a while I thought I’d take it somewhere totally uncivilized, a local natural area called Government Canyon State Natural Area.

As I pull into the parking area, I see a lot of cars with bike racks, so clearly this is a popular biking area. I look at the map and head out Joe Johnson road. Some parts of the road are nice and smooth, shaded by some large trees. Other sections would be a challenge for large 4×4’s.

And that’s as far as I got with the post…

Devil’s Peak Lookout

Devil’s Peak Lookout

On Thursday, August 23, 2018 I went exploring to see how close I could drive to Kinzel Lake. Looking at the map, the forest roads should get me very close. Also, after reviewing the maps and trails around my last hike along the Salmon River, I discovered a lookout tower on Devil’s Peak, just above Kinzel Lake. While I did not expect to actually make it to the lookout, my plan was to see how far I could get.

The trip map is shown below. As usual, I drove out US Highway 26 toward Mt Hood. Just beyond Government Camp is a turnoff to Still Creek Campground, which I had explored in May. The orange line follows the road I took from the highway, through the campground to Forest Road 2613. This starts out as a rough gravel road and gets progressively worse. It is passable, slowly and carefully, all the way to the end where the Hunchback Trail starts. My hikes are along the green and blue lines. The purple line heading north-west is the Cool Creek Trail #794. It’s another way to get to the lookout. (Click on the map to enlarge it)

Here are the pictures. You should maximize the slide viewer (in the top left corner) to properly appreciate them. Most pictures were taken with Nikon D5300 and some with my OnePlus 5 phone. The pictures are in high resolution and take a few seconds to load. You can click on the “+” in the top left corner to zoom in.

I arrived at Still Creek Campground at 10:17. Driving through the campground I realized this would be a nice place to practice some overnights and try out different tent setups. The sites are a bit more spread out than the ones at Oxbow.

There are some roads that lead out from the south end of the campground and eventually I arrived at the beginning of Forest Road 2613. The road is rough with huge potholes, ridges, and random rocks. I didn’t scrape bottom once, “Yeah Orion.” 8.9 miles and one and one-half hour later I arrived at the end. I had not expected to be able to get all the way to the end of the road, but now that I was here I had to climb up to the lookout tower! It should be less than 2 miles and just 500 or 600 feet up. I shrugged into my pack, tightened my shoelaces, locked the car, and headed out.

The trail is Hunchback Trail and follows the ridge, all the way to the Zig Zag ranger station 10 miles away. Much of the way the ground falls away to both sides and you get nice views in both directions. Unfortunately there is still a lot of smoke in the air from forest fires in California and eastern Oregon, which interferes with the view. After 1 mile there is the junction with Cool Creek Trail which goes down to Still Creek Road 3.5 miles away, all downhill. Another half mile along and I’m at the lookout! See the pictures!

The lookout tower is not very high off the ground, but does give a good view of the surroundings. There are heavy shutters all around that protect the plexiglass windows. There are assorted boards available to prop up the shutters. Watch out for protruding nails! The interior is quite spacious with tables, chairs, cots and a cast iron stove. There are plenty of tools and some supplies, including several canisters of isobutane fuel. A file case contains log books full of visitor comments and stories. Some entries limit themselves to name and date while others include some excellent drawings. The current notebook was full and the latest entries were made on the back of a map page. Someone had already been there earlier in the day. I signed in as well.

While I was there three other hikers and a dog showed up, all (except for the dog) apparently older than I. They had come up the Cool Creek Trail, a bit over 3 miles one-way, 3000 feet up! The rating is “Most Difficult.” I was chatting with one of the hikers and he said he was celebrating his 70th birthday that day. None of them looked particularly exhausted. It looks like a lot more practice on Gresham Butte with a full pack is in order.

I prepared lunch from a double serving of Good-To-Go Thai Curry. It says to let it steep 20 minutes but 30 minutes or even longer is better. It is really good and has lots of veggies. No pieces of TVP (textured vegetable protein). This was too much to eat, I could only eat 2/3 of it. A single serve packet with some extras would be better, but they cost more per serving – the double serving costs $12 and the single serving packet costs $10. I do love the packaging – just pour hot water into the pouches, let them sit and then eat from the pouch. Zip the empty pouch and pack it out. No pot or dishes to clean. All I need is a pot for boiling water for the meal and drink. While I waited for lunch to rehydrate I took some more pictures and tossed out some trail mix to a chipmunk that showed up. It was quite happy to join me for lunch.

The adventure was taking longer than I expected and it was time to go. I closed the shutters, made a note of supplies I should bring next time (a weather-proof journal, toilet paper) and headed back. The return to the car was pretty quick since it was mostly downhill.

Once I got back to the car, I decided to check out Kinzel Lake. According to the map it should be just a short distance away. I walked down the trail looking for the lake or a turn-off to it. After a while I checked my GPS and discovered I had gone past the lake. The map showed a trail to the lake campground but I couldn’t find it. Too tired to explore further, I returned to the car to start the drive home. I’ll find it another time. Maybe the staff at the ranger station has some information for finding it.

In summary…
No injuries – I only hiked 4 miles.
Yellow jackets were out. There were several about while I was eating. I had to be careful they didn’t crawl through gaps in my clothing and get trapped. Sometimes I had to blow them off my spoon to avoid eating one.
I had cell reception all along the trail, probably because it was on a ridge. Good, because I could easily keep SJ up to date on my status. Bad, because it doesn’t count as being in the wilderness if I have bars on the phone.

I definitely have to come back to the lookout. Am I ready to tackle Cool Creek Trail?