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Hikes in the Pacific Northwest - Mt. Adams

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.

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I was actually just thinking today that it would be nice to start a "walking the blog" feature, of walks we take...and you have started it! Good one, thanks!!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Sat Feb 2nd, 2008 at 04:24:45 PM EST
I was feeling guilty at my lack of diary writing, and was going to do something similar,  but then I needed the pictures for the photo diary.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sat Feb 2nd, 2008 at 04:39:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
God, Paul, I wish I was there!

(No huckleberries here, but more and more bears).

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Feb 2nd, 2008 at 04:42:18 PM EST
The Cascade Mountains are coming close to record snowfall accumulations this year. Bird Creek is probably under 3 meters of snow at least.

It's been great - closest thing to a Winter that we've had in the last 10 years.

paul spencer

by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 at 02:42:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Eee, gads, your diary pulls hard on my heart strings.

If I have a 'home' in the US, it's in the Pacific Cascades. Shasta, Three Sisters, Mt Hood, Mt Jefferson, et al.

Oof, I miss it, particularly in the midst of worsening conditions in the US.

by Loefing on Sat Feb 2nd, 2008 at 06:17:53 PM EST
Now that I've recovered.

Beautiful diary. Thanks.

by Loefing on Sat Feb 2nd, 2008 at 06:20:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
where are the clouds and rain?
by wu ming on Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 at 04:39:34 AM EST
Good one. You must be from southern California.

paul spencer
by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 at 02:44:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
but i went to college in tacoma, and married a bellinghamster.
by wu ming on Mon Feb 4th, 2008 at 01:07:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems so "wild"...!  Even in our preserved parks you always see some hints of human activities, or some villages at the limited horizon.

"What can I do, What can I write, Against the fall of Night". A.E. Housman
by margouillat (hemidactylus(dot)frenatus(at)wanadoo(dot)fr) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 at 04:53:09 AM EST
either Gifford Pinchot National Forest or Mt. St. Helens National Something-or-other. I own land just above the top end of Stevenson (town where I live), and there is bear scat on a regular basis. We were up playing in the snow a few weeks back, and some of the tracks definitely appeared to be cougar. Friend of mine and I saw a bobcat on the road (alive and well) last Fall.

Across the river (Columbia) is Mt. Hood National Forest. Plus the topography is so steep and broken that there couldn't be development if it were to be allowed. We have many square miles of land along the Cascade Range that seldom see a human footprint. When I hike in the areas that are designated 'wilderness' - on trails, of course - I might see two other hikers in a day.

paul spencer

by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 at 03:01:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's really lovely.  Those are the parts of America I would really like to see if I get chance to travel there.
Great diary, thanks!
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Sun Feb 3rd, 2008 at 05:22:47 AM EST
Home of the Grand Yakima hop I imagine. Lazily savours memories of Mendocino beers.

Fab photos. If the trout are so good, any intention of fishing for a couple to barbecue ?

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Feb 5th, 2008 at 12:04:30 PM EST
I'm not sure about the Grand Yakima hop, but hops are grown by the acre just southwest of Portland, OR.

I don't recognize Mendocino beer, either; but, if you ever get out this way, I'll take you to the Walking Man for an array of some of the best beers and ales that I've ever found. They are all "craft" brews, and the brewer/proprietor wins at least one top-of-class award every year for the Pacific NW region. His Scotch Ale is only available sporadically, but it is the ale equivalent of Chateau Rothschild (I forget the rest of the label) in its best vintages.

As to the trout - for the best eating, catch the brookies and browns from 20 to 40 cm in the streams.

paul spencer

by paul spencer (spencerinthegorge AT yahoo DOT com) on Tue Feb 5th, 2008 at 01:17:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, that sounds like a good date. But your next president is gonna have to do something about DHS/Immigration before I venture out west.

I always wanted to go to the Denver beer fest in october. that'd be the biggest draw for me.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Feb 5th, 2008 at 04:27:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mendocino is a brewery in N Cali. I'm a big fan but I don't see them as much as I used to. It's all Sierra Nevada and Anchor Steam these days, nothing wrong with 'em but we don't get the interesting ones.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Feb 5th, 2008 at 04:30:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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