Monthly Archives: May 2012

60 – Rosario Head and Pass Lake Trails

With time remaining to sneak in even a few more hikes before the big six-O rolls around, the Rosario Bay and Pass Lake Loop trails mark my sixtieth hike. Goal met! Will this be it for hiking for me? Of course not! I have always been a hiker, and while the goal of completing sixty hikes between the first of Jaunary and my sixtieth birthday on June 10th set the pace for a rather ambitious number of hikes to be completed in a relatively short, six-month period, I really enjoyed having that extra motivation to keep me out there on the trails. It’s late Spring here in the Pacific Northwest and the snow is melting from our mountains. Very soon, we will have access to an entirely new world of beautiful trails and we’re digging out the backpacking and camping gear so we will be ready. Stay tuned, there will definitely be more hiking!

Along the trail . . .

Now back to Rosario Bay and Pass Lake. All part of Deception Pass State Park, we began this hike at Bowman Bay with a quick tour of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) – Interpretive Center at the CCC camp. A tribute to the young men stationed at Deception Pass during this depression-era program, they learned valuable life skills as they built the structures, trails and campgrounds at Deception Pass State Park and earned enough wages to help support their families back home.

Display at CCC Interpretive Center at Bowman Bay

I have began hikes from Bowman Bay before – to Lighthouse and Lottie Points  (go here, https://60before60.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/18-lighthouse-and-lottie-points/ – to read about that hike), but this time I headed in the other direction – to Rosario Bay. Climbing the Rosario Head Trail along the hillside on the west side of Bowman Bay, we set off for Rosario Beach.

Rosario Head Trail . . .

Tide pools are always fun to explore, so even when the tide is not out very far, once on Rosario Beach, we followed the Tide Pool Trail. Do you notice the yellow rope that he is following in this picture? You see, this is a popular beach and in the late 1990’s during an extreme low tide, over 1,200 visitors trampled the tide pools causing significant damage to the intertidal life – some of which has not yet recovered. To minimize future damage, the yellow rope indicates a trail where visitors can now walk.

Once we explored the tide pools and followed a trail along the bluffs over Rosario Bay, we paused at the dock there before heading back to Bowman Bay.

Dock at Rosario Bay . . .

Next we headed to nearby Pass Lake.

Pointing out fish in Pass Lake . . .

The Pass Lake Loop Trail took us through the forest. On the map, the trail looked as if it might be close to the shoreline of the lake, but, unfortunately, it was not, and the forest thick so we barely even saw the lake. At least it was a beautiful forest!

Along the Pass Lake Loop Trail . . .

The map also showed that the trail exited Deception Pass State Park lands as it passed through a small section of private land before it looped back into the park. You can imagine our surprise as the trail immediately dumped us into a recent clear-cut logging operation once we entered that private land.

Trail ends abruptly in a clear-cut logging operation

Reminding me of the waste lands where gunslinger Roland Deschain of Stephen King’s Dark Tower series had perhaps passed, we climbed over logs as we walked through the rubble and around the huge stacks of logs as we worked our way to the other side of the property in our effort to once again find our trail.

Walking through the clear-cut logging area . . .

Finding a muddy logging road once we reached the other side of the logging operation, we scoured the forest for signs of our trail.

Searching for the trail . . .

We were not successful in our search for the trial, so ended up following the logging road, figuring it would lead us back to the main highway and we could walk back to the lake from there.

Following the logging road . . .

Just before the main highway, there it was – our trail!

Finding the trail near the main highway . . . along the logging road

So that was it, my sixtieth hike – and I can hardly wait to get back out on the trails again!

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Categories: Hiking, Island County, Nature, Photography | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

59 – Patterson Mountain

Deciding to begin at Patterson Lake and hike to the top of Patterson Mountain as we sipped our coffee and soaked up the morning sun from the deck of our Eagle Pine Chalet, at that point, I had absolutely no clue just how beautiful the wildflowers would be, or how outstanding the view from the top of the mountain would be, or that I would have western tanagers and mountain bluebirds practically posing for me – or that I would pass so closely to a four foot long snake – but that is exactly how it turned out.

Morning . . . planning the hike

Beginning near the boat launch at the lake, we walked across the road to the trailhead, and right from the start, the trail was absolutely beautiful.

Near the trailhead . . . aspens and arrow leaf balsam root

Sometimes the wildflowers, like this bitterroot, drew me off the trail. Bitterroot, the Montana state flower, was so pretty as its delicate buds and blossoms poked out from the gravel that I found myself stepping closer in order to get a better look.

Bitterroot . . . beautiful wildflowers along the trail

It was not long after spotting those first few bunches of bitterroot that we found ourselves again stepping off the trail. This time because of a snake. There it was, a four-foot long snake, shading itself under the leaves of an arrow leaf balsam root. I had encountered a rattler at the base of a sage brush some years back when on a hike through Douglas Creek Canyon, so I recognized that this was not a rattle snake. This guy was too large and had the wrong coloring – plus it wasn’t shaking a rattle on its tail. But we didn’t know what kind of snake it was. We didn’t know if it was poisonous, nor did we know what its next move might be. So off the trail we went, carefully allowing the snake plenty of room.

He’s taking a photo of the bull snake (from the other side of the trail!)

Shortly after that, we met up with hikers heading down the trail toward where we had seen the snake. They had a little dog running along with them, so we shared with them about the snake. As we described the snake to them, they assured us that it was probably just a bull snake and not poisonous. Whew!

(pic by Kent) Four foot bull snake . . . along the trail

And just like that, we continued on – and up.

(pic by Kent) . . . along the trail

The view continued to get better as we climbed higher. That’s Patterson Lake where we started our hike down there in the background.

Patterson Lake in the background . . . along the Patterson Mountain Trail

Then we started spotting birds. First a western tanager.

Western tanager . . . posing along the trail

Then a mountain bluebird!

Mountain bluebird . . . posing along the trail

Nearly to the summit of Patterson Mountain here, he’s pointing out another bluebird, or maybe it was a pair.

Nearing the summit . . . look out at that view

We made it! Here we are at the summit.

At the Patterson Mountain summit . . .

The view of the mountains was impressive up there. We easily spotted Lookout Mountain where we had hiked the day before (see Hike # 57 – Lookout Mountain). It’s behind me in this photo.

Patterson Mountain summit . . . Lookout Mountain in the background

Then, with map in hand, other peaks were identified.

Identifying mountain peaks . . . from the top of Patterson Mountain

We headed back along the same trail that had taken us to the top, then switched to a loop trail that lead us through a more forested area as we continued on down the mountain. After crossing a small creek, we came to a ladder that we climbed over as the trail continued on through a pasture.

(pic by Kent) . . . fence crossing

The Patterson Mountain Trail is part of the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association (MVSTA), a private, non-profit corporation dedicated to developing and promoting non-motorized, trail-based recreation in the Methow Valley that works in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to create and maintain public trails on the National Forest lands, many of which connect to well-established Association trails on private lands. To learn more about MVSTA, go here – http://www.mvsta.com/.

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After our hike, a tailgate picnic while getting the fishing hook wet seemed the perfect finish to a wonderful afternoon.

Gone fishing . . . Patterson Lake

Categories: Hiking, Nature, Okanogan County, Photography | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

58 – Pipestone Canyon

Surrounded by the beautiful Methow Valley, this hike took us along the popular early Spring mountain bike route through Pipestone Canyon. The canyon walls, lined with natural rock columns that are topped with caps, called hoodoos, were naturally formed millions of years ago.

Pipestone Canyon . . .

An easy, approximate 5 mile (in and back) old jeep trail used for hiking, horse riding and mountain biking in the fair weather seasons, and  those that snow shoe and cross country ski in the winter, the trailhead for Pipestone Canyon is near Campbell Lake.

Campbell Lake . . . near the trailhead to Pipestone Canyon

An “open range” area, we passed cattle grazing in the grass near the lake as we walked along the road to reach the trailhead.

Open range . . . cattle grazing on the way to trailhead

The canyon walls reach heights in excess of 1,500 feet, and, lined with rock formations that almost resemble medievel castles, are very impressive.

Hoodoo rock formations . . . Pipestone Canyon

The trail first lead us through the rock-lined canyon, then onto a more forested area and ended with rolling fields of grasses.

Along the trail . . . Pipestone Canyon

Peaceful and serene, except for the lone horseback rider we passed along the trail, we seemed to have the entire canyon to ourselves.

Sharing the trail . . .

To reach the trailhead for Pipestone Canyon, from Winthrop, head south on Highway 20. Do not cross the Methow River, but continue straight for one-quarter mile to the first cross street. Turn left and go one block, then turn right onto the Winthrop-Twisp East County Road. After two miles, turn left onto Upper Bear Creek Road, and follow this road to the end of the pavement where it intersects with Lester Road. Continue up Lester road, staying right at all intersections until you reach Campbell Lake. Park near the information sign at Campbell Lake and walk a short distance to the trailhead.

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57 – Lookout Mountain – Methow

With near airplane-like views of the giant valley below, it was a bumpy drive as the gravel road hugged almost too closely to the edge of each corner as the car climbed steeply up Lookout Mountain. Finally landing us at a parking lot near the trailhead, we were greated by fields of wildflowers the moment we got out of the car, and I knew right away that this would be a spectacular hike.

Wildflowers . . . at the trailhead

Even though the views would increase significantly as we continued along the trail to the very top of Lookout Mountain, because we had already driven so high just to reach that trailhead, right off the bat, we saw snow capped mountains.

Great mountain views from the trailhead too . . .

But forget about the great views for just a moment – there were wildflowers. All along, on both sides of the trail, lots of wildflowers, everywhere. Indian paint brush, calipso orchids, the yellow flowered arrow leaf balsam roots, glacier lilys, shooting stars, lupinss, and many more. Sometimes we couldn’t identify them, so out came the wildflower identification book. If we couldn’t find them in the book right away, we took a photo so we could look them up later.

Wildflower identification . . . along the trail

A beautiful clump of shooting stars right along the trail.

Shooting stars . . . along the trail

The trail was steep, I’d call it a steady grunt, and kept us very close to the edge as it continued around the mountain, and after awhile, we started running into patches of snow. In some places, the snow was ankle deep, in others thigh high, but it was patchy and nothing we couldn’t manage to get through.

Along the trail . . .

Sometimes when I took a step, chunks of snow broke off from the edge of a drift. Watching those snowballs tumble ten or so feet over the edge of the mountain before they smashed against the trunk of a tree felt just a little frightening, but Kent led the way and did an excellent job of plowing a track through the deepest drifts to make my going much easier. (Thank you, thank you, Darling!)

(pic by Kent) . . . snow along the trail

A wonderful reward along a steep trail that starts at a relatively high elevation is that before you know it, you are near the top. As if to offer encouragement, in no time the fire lookout tower came into view.

First sight of fire lookout . . . Lookout Mountain

And we continued our climb.

At the fire lookout . . .

We climbed the steps of the fire lookout tower, sat and had our lunch and tried our best to absorb the incredible view. The view, so vast, was definitely a “WOW”. Go here – http://youtu.be/CxZzXm5DM00 – to see my video showing the 360 degree views from the top of Lookout Mountain.

At the fire lookout . . . Lookout Mountain

For more information on hiking to Lookout Mountain – Methow, go here – http://experiencewilderness.org/hikes/lookout-mountain-a-classic-methow-valley-fall-hike. Washington Trails Association trip reports for this hike can be found here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/lookout-mountain-lookout-okanogan. The gravel road leading to this trailhead did not seem as bad to me as some of the older trip reports stated. Sure, it’s a narrow, potholed, rutted, washboarded road without any guard rails that curves steeply up and around the side of a mountain, but even driving my old (did I say OLD!) Volvo wagon, as long I took it easy and went slow, we made it up without any problems.

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The hike back down went much faster than the climb up, and once again we were amazed at the number of wildflowers. We took the time to walk through the fields of wildflowers on the hill just behind the parking area in order to enjoy them even more. Early spring is the perfect time to do this hike.

In the field of wildflowers . . . arrow leaf balsam root

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56 – Cedar Falls – Cedar Creek Trail

Crews finished clearing the snow and opened the North Cascades Highway for the season barely a week ago, so with Discovery PassForest Service Pass, backpacks and trekking poles, we set off over the mountains – to hit the trails.

The North Cascades Highway

Once over the pass, as we turned off the North Cascades Highway and onto Forest Road 200, our first stop in the Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest was the trailhead to Cedar Falls – Cedar Creek.

Cedar Creek Trailhead . . .

Wildflowers galore lined our way as we headed into the forest.

(pic by Kent) . . . admiring wildflowers along the trail

And stately red-barked ponderosa pines filled the forest.

Ponderosa pine . . . along the trail

Not far along the trail, we started to hear the roar of Cedar Creek; and within a mile and a half from the trailhead, had reached Cedar Falls. Very impressive because of spring snow melts, we carefully climbed down onto the giant rocks overlooking the falls.

(pic by Kent) Cedar Falls . . .

What a great place for a break! Go here – http://youtu.be/Mc8xj31_IoA  – to view my video of Cedar Falls, and here – http://youtu.be/gsc_uJRnLC0 – to view my video of the scramble down the boulders to the viewpoint for the falls.

Cedar Falls . . .

After our hike, we continued on to Winthrop and stayed at one of the two Eagle Pine Chalets. Complete with fireplace, loft, kitchenette, sun-filled deck with horse and deer filled pasture and valley views, what a lovely place that was to stay.

Our Eagle Pine Chalet

To reach the trailhead for the Cedar Falls – Cedar Creek Trail, follow the North Cascades Highway (State Route 20) east for 70 miles past Marblemount to the Klipchuck Campground, and turn right onto Forest Road 200 (signed for Cedar Creek). After one mile, there is a parking area just past a gravel pit, and you will see the sign for the trailhead.

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55 – Fragrance Lake

With winter snow still in the high country, perhaps I thought I might run out of hikeable local trails before completing my sixtieth hike, because I had been sort of saving the Fragrance Lake hike at Larrabee State Park – or maybe I was saving it for a rainy day. Lori and I had planned to hike this afternoon, and I had several sunny trails in mind – but the threat of rain hung low in the sky. With several hiking options in mind as we got ready to head out, once we had to turn on the windshield wipers, I knew Fragrance Lake was where we should go. Perfect for a rainy day, the dense forest on the way up to the lake would keep us dry.

At the Fragrance Lake trailhead . . . along Chuckanut Drive

Even though obstructed by rain and clouds, with the near 1,200′ elevation gain along almost two miles of trail that switchbacks up Chuckanut Mountain to Fragrance Lake, at about half way up, the short trail leading to a view point makes a most welcome break.

At the viewpoint . . . along the trail to Fragrance Lake

Fragrance Lake is a popular local hike; so rain or shine, should you do this hike, expect lots of fun trailmates along the way.

Stylin’ trailmates . . . on the way to Fragrance Lake

More information about the Fragrance Lake hike can be found here – http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/fragrance-lake, and information about Larrabee State Park here – http://www.parks.wa.gov/parks/?selectedpark=Larrabee&subject=all.

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54 – Fort Ebey State Park

The Bluff Trail is my favorite trail at Fort Ebey State Park, a park on Whidbey Island built as a coastal defense fort in World War II.

Bluff Trail . . . Fort Ebey State Park

In full bloom this time of year, the trail to the top of the bluff is lined with Scotch broom bushes.

Along the trail . . . Fort Ebey State Park

The view is outstanding from the top of the bluff!

Along the bluff . . .

Taking a break along the trail to enjoy the view, a large red tailed hawk soared over our heads.

Taking a breal . . . on top of the bluff

Enjoying the view . . .

(pic by Kent) Me . . . looking out from the bluff

Driving directions to Fort Ebey State Park as well as a trail map can be found on the Washington State Parks, here –  Fort Ebey.

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53 – Berthusen Memorial Park

A lovely city park in the countryside near Lynden, Washington, with its impressive old-growth forest and the Berthusen homestead, Berthusen Memorial Park appears to be somewhat of a well-kept secret. This was my first visit to the park, and passing the sprawl of the red barn, constructed in 1901, as  I turned off the main road into the park entrance, it felt rather like I was driving into a museum.

Berthusen 1901 barn . . .

Complete with a Farmall tractor like my dad owned when I was a young child, the Puget Sound Antique Tractor and Machinery Club maintains large displays within the park grounds of machines and equipment that show the history of farming and logging in Whatcom County.

Farmall tractor . . . on display at Berthusen Memorial Park

Among what remains of the original homestead is this old privy – most uniquely built into the trunk of an old cedar tree.

Old tree stump out house . . . Berthusen homestead

Once finished touring the homestead and historic display areas of the park, I set off for the trails through the forest.

At Berthusen Memorial Park . . . Lynden, WA

Set in the middle of miles and miles of sprawling pasture lands and located so close to downtown Lynden, finding miles of trails winding through first an old-growth, then a second-growth forest seemed a special treat. There were several large displays mounted behind plexiglass along the trails with detailed maps – complete with dots indicating “you are here”.

Trail maps . . . through the forest at Berthusen Memorial Park

With few signs marking the individual trails, however, it was at times difficult to know exactly trail I was on. Perhaps a compass would have helped. Cooled by the shade of the thick forest, I did not mind having to hike a few of the trails a second time in order to get back to my original starting point.

Along the trail . . . through the Berthusen old-growth forest

Entertained by the sounds of bird songs and the gentle breeze through the trees, it was a very pleasant hike – especially when the trail followed the gentle flow of Bertrum Creek.

Bertrum Creek . . . along the trail at Berthusen Memorial Park

With plenty of local history, picnic tables, large picnic shelter, child’s playground area, playfield and seven miles of forest trails, Berthusen Memorial Park is a great park for the entire family. More information about the park, including driving directions and history , can be found on the website for the City of Lynden here – http://www.lyndenwa.org/?page_id=984.

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52 – Hoypus Point

While other visitors to Deception Pass State Park were at Cornet Bay to launch their boats, share a picnic on the many tables available or fish from the dock, I started from there to hike to the beach at Hoypus Point and then along the trails through the Hoypus Point Natural Forest Area.

Cornet Bay . . .

It is an easy mile from Cornet Bay, first along an old service road and then along a trail, to the beach at Hoypus Point.

Along the trail . . .

Along the way, there are several view points – some even with benches – that look out to Deception Pass.

Deception Pass . . . from the trail to Hoypus Point beach

With the entire Hoypus Point beach to myself and the tide out, I strolled up and down and enjoyed the natural treasures found as I combed the beach.

Beachcombing . . .

Seeking shelter from the heat of the sun, I then set off along the seven miles of trails through the Hoypus Point Natural Forest Area.

Hoypus Point Natural Forest Area . . .

Enjoying the cool shade of the forest, I took the time to follow all of the trails, including the CCC Crossing trail which was originally used by the Civilian Conservation Corps workers to haul lumber during construction of the park.

Trail options . . .

More information about Deception Pass Park can be found on the website for the Deception Pass Park Foundation – here http://www.deceptionpassfoundation.org/ – and on the Washington State Parks website, here – Deception Pass State Park.

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51 – Clayton Beach

With backpack loaded up with books, beach blanket and food, our goal was to spend the afternoon on the beach – reading, picnicking and relaxing in the sun, so with only a 1-1/2 mile of trail too and from our destination, this barely felt like a hike.

Along the trail

And what a lovely trail it was!

(pic by Kent) . . . me, along the trail

Not uncommon to pass young toddlers running toward the beach, barefoot teens and ladies in lovely summer dresses, once one of the best-kept local secrets, now part of Larrabee State Park, Clayton Beach is a popular location.

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With a comfortable breeze coming from Chuckanut Bay and bright sunshine above, this hike truly felt more like a vacation.

Having a great time – wish you were here . . .

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