by paul spencer
Sat Feb 2nd, 2008 at 01:55:08 PM EST
This area is called Bird Creek Meadows, and it is owned by the Yakima Indian Nation. The 'Meadows' are essentially the south face of Mt. Adams, which is about 70 miles east-northeast of Portland, OR. Adams is a little less than 4000 meters above sea level, and the hike goes from around the 1700 meter level to approximately 2200 meters. Round trip on the paths that I take is about 12 km.
To get the elevation change out of the way, I take a path along 'Hell-Roaring Canyon' which rises quickly toward a viewpoint at the top of the 'timberline' and just south of the glaciers on the peak.
Looking back toward the east, you can see Bench Lake. I have seen a Golden Eagle during two of my hikes in this view-space.
Heading south from the peak, the meadows are full of lupine, indian paint-brush, bear grass, and assorted 'belly flowers' (you have to get down on your belly to see them). Sorry about the quality of these two pictures, but this was taken a few years back, and the camera was an older model.
There are several glacial-melt creeks through the meadows and a couple of small falls, like this one:
At the southwestern end of the hike is Bird Creek Lake. I have seen rainbow trout (bull trout) 60 cm long in the crystal-clear water. They patrol the shallows for insects on the surface and roll onto their sides to engulf them. When one actually jumps for a fly, you can hear the 'whap' on the water from a fair distance.
To the east is Bluff Lake, which is less than 200 meters from a cliff about 300 meters high. We generally go dangle our feet over the edge - for some unknown reason - and gaze out over some 100 km to the south and east. One time we watched a very large red-tail hawk ride the thermals from near the bottom, circling slowly all the way to the top of the cliff and flying within 20 meters of us before he saw us, flapped his wings three times, and quickly disappeared. I used to have pictures from the cliff, but I can't find them, so here is only the lake nearby.
Then we hike back to the starting point through a forest of Fir trees, 50 - 60 meters tall. Takes about 3.5 hours, because you have to stop and take some pictures. Best time for flowers is late July through middle of August, because of the altitude. Then there's huckleberries after that, but watch out for the bears, plus the snows can return at any moment.