Section G Oregon

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At 5:00 pm yesterday, the PCT was closed due to fire between Ramona Falls and Wahtum Lake on Mount Hood. An alternate route will likely be implemented that diverts thru hikers from just south of Timberline Lodge on the Timberline Trail and patches together trails toward Parkdale and Dee and back up to Wahtum Lake. We also have the High Cascades Complex fire on the Warm Spring Reservation that has not affected the PCT…yet. You can go to http://www.inciweb.org/ and select Oregon in the upper right corner to see up-to-date information on these fires.

August 25, 2011

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Began 8/5/2011 at Timberline, going north to I-84. Encountered snow, usually patchy, until Sandy River. A few sketchy crossings over steep drop-offs, and one area where trail was difficult to locate, but generally not a problem. Stream crossings all easy.

Took old trail to Ramona Falls, well worth the detour, as was the beautiful trail back to the PCT. Camped at Lola Pass; found water down the road from a spring and were lucky to get to it before an equestrian group came and got in there.

Hike past Bull Run closure was not a difficult trail, but a long way without water or good camping if you haven’t planned it. Salvation Springs was pretty buggy, but one of the very few places we were bothered.

Indian Springs offers a great view as you approach, but not much else. There’s water, a couple of campsites–one of which was absolutely trashed by the horses from our equestrian group before they left, which they did not choose to clean up. If you can go on to Wahtum Lake instead, do that.

We stopped a bit at that Lake to fish and relax. The trail down from Indian Springs is easy and well-maintained. Thanks to all the Oregon volunteers who we saw and saw evidence of their labors!

We took the Eagle Creek alternative and ended up at 7 and 1/2 Mile Camp. It was really the best campsite, although getting down to the creek is a bit of a struggle. Fishing in the creek for smallish rainbows was fun for my son; he caught and released at least 15 in an evening and brief morning. No one else in that large camping area, and no bugs, either.

What can one say about hiking down Eagle Creek? Not enough superlatives in my vocabulary. Although not suitable for equestrians, and those with an extreme fear of exposure (heights), it is an absolutely glorious pathway for the rest. If you can do it as a day hike as far as Tunnel Falls, then add it to your “Must Do” list.

We chose this hike as an alternative to some of the snowier routes, and it was a good choice. Our worries about mosquitoes was very much unnecessary; they were not a significant issue at any time. Lack of water and camping along the Bull Run closure area needs to be planned for, and the Lola Pass and Indian Springs area were not great destinations for us. Trail maintenance was terrific, except for the areas on Mt. Hood, where snow has certainly kept the crews from reaching and dealing with the downed trees there. But, with that exception, the condition of the PCT was really excellent throughout, as far as we saw it. The Eagle Creek portion, which is not the PCT, was also in good shape, but much more heavily trafficked. By now (late August), snow on Mt. Hood must be quite limited as an adversary.

August 3, 2011

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We did three sections in northern Oregon between Columbia River and Ollalie Lake Resort. July 16th shuttled to Lolo Pass and went north towards 84 in the Gorge. Despite rain the trail is in pretty good shape and snowless. Note that the Salvation Spr. is actually north of Lost Lake Trail junction, not at it. We camped off the trail. No problems with water so dry camp ok at this time.

Next day in the rain did the ridge walk to Indian Springs. Must be spectacular in good weather. Good signage. Reached Wahtum Lk. Take the ‘express’ rte up the stairs to the campground. No water, but people there were very nice about giving us some and sharing their campfire. It was very cold that night, used all our clothes. Only a few places to camp, but vault toilet nice in the rain.

Next morning headed to the Eagle Creek alternative. Very well marked and really stupendous trail. Lots of people. Glad we left car at the Ranger Sta as those that parked on the side of the road leading to the TH got vandalized. Our car at Lolo Pass was ok. Do not recommend Koa in Cascade Locks unless desperate for cabin and pool. Trains pass very close all night long and blow their horns for a long time.

Rte from Lolo Pass to Timberline not doable at this time so did Timberline to Timothy Lake stretch from July 20th to 22nd. Really good information from the two people at the ZigZag Ranger Sta. Online info has been so sketchy. Trail from Timberline to Barlow Pass in lovely shape and beautiful. Made good time, great signage to Timothy Lake (which is large) and a nice camp. Bugs not too bad. Good birding. Next day headed to car at the Tim. Lake TH.

The last leg was from Ollalie Lake ‘Resort’ to Timothy Lake. Ollolie Lake has a nice little store and some vault toilets, but no water in the campgrounds. No swimming in the big lake, but a smaller lake very close to the PCT TH is refreshing. The resort people were very nice and knowledgeable about the roads. Finding the resort was not easy from Timothy without directions. The signage on the rte is bad. Follow the blue writing on the road 4220-crux-off of 42.

Left that afternoon and camped at Lake Jude – nice, bugs not bad. Next day hiked the ‘rez’ Blow downs had been recently fixed thanks to the equestrians and conservation org. especially the Mule Skinners. Really makes the experience so much better. Lots of road crossings not on the map, but no snow and the rhodies are gorgeous. Not many trail markers but not a problem. Saw Washington Lilies all over. Yah for the bridge over Warm Springs River. Camped at spring after the bridge, not too hot and bugs bearable.

Got to the car the next day in good time. Passed many trail runners and equestrians. Little musuem at the historic guard station worth a visit and chat.

July 20, 2011

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7/15/2011 Hiked from Bridge of the Gods (501 mi SB)to Bull Run Lake Area (522 mi SB). Basically snow free until Bull Run Lake. However, snow cover is dramatically increasing thereafter. Encountered numerous aggressive cougars at snowlevel elevations. I guees they are as frustrated as we are with the current trail conditions.

July 13, 2011

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From Windigo pass to White Pass, the PCT is really holding snow this year. In general, snowmelt is about 3-4 weeks later than normal. As of mid-July there is still snow cover on well over half the trail. We expect snow cover to remain at the highest elevations and the northeast facing slopes until mid-August. If you venture out, please be prepared with the appropriate navigational tools. If you are looking for snow-free hiking we suggest the Columbia River area, or the Clackamas Lake/Warm Springs area.

July 6, 2011

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Hiked this section on July 2-4 2011. Continuous snow above elevation 4500 feet on most slopes. Used GPS to find trail up to Timberline Lodge. A few bare ground spots near the lodge.

Northbound from Timberline Lodge continuous snow until trail drops below elevation 4500 feet.Crampons desirable but not essential. Tree wells and many canyons and snow bridges over creeks very fatiguing and dangerous. Snow depth 4-8 feet.

Sandy River reqires wading across 15 feet wide channel up to 3 feet deep. Met one southbound hiker from Cascade Locks that said there was 8 miles of continuous snow from Indian Creek Campground to Lola Pass.

Plenty of trees down from Barlow Pass to Timberline Lodge. North of the lodge when you get out of the snow there are places of trail washouts but can get thru them.

It will be at least September before most of the area north of Timberline Lodge is snow free.

We left the trail at Ramona Falls and hitch hiked back to Bend. Will do this section in September.