Indian Heaven Wilderness Hike Race Track Lakes Trail to PCT North – Half of Mileage Milestone!

Hike Distance: 8.0 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 1036.3 miles

Elevation Gain: 1735 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 136621 feet

Another significant milestone day for me as I passed the halfway mark on my 25,000 mile goal!  It’s definitely a time of reflection when you achieve an important goal in your life.  I believe everybody needs a long term goal, whatever it is (and legal), that helps them move through tough times as well as enjoy the good times.  The hiking my wife and I have done have helped us bond and also helped me overcome some very rough times in life.  Nature is very healing and hiking has helped us combine exercise while experiencing all the natural beauty in our world!

I decided that I would like to go through this milestone in Indian Heaven Wilderness, a place I would like my soul to roam when my body is gone.  The “Heaven” in this wilderness is apparent every time I come here.  It only adds to this special place that the magnificent Pacific Crest Trail traverses the length of this wilderness.  My wife and I have spent many a hike providing “Trail Magic” to thru-hikers on their journey that will end in Canada.  The pristine views from this wilderness abound, and I come here to refresh my soul and gaze upon perfection.

We parked on the road near the Rainy Lakes trailhead.  A short distance on the trail is the wilderness permit bulletin board.  Shortly thereafter is a single lane bridge over a small creek.  The trail ascends steeply but later tapers out to a less strenuous ascent.

We bumped into a couple that was backpacking, and they were quickly descending to get away from the mosquitoes.  Shortly after, we bumped into four young adults that were also hurrying down the trail due to the mosquitoes!  Lucky us, as we were prepared for the onslaught of blood suckers, but it never got that bad.  To be honest, the hikers we met were poorly prepared for any insects and had short sleeve clothing and no insect spray.  We had our insect shield clothing, picardin insect spray and head nets.  The mosquitoes simply had no place to land and no bare skin that wasn’t wreaking of picardin.

Continuing up the trail we finally made it to Rainy Lakes, which looks more like a flooded field.  The water is quite shallow and there were plenty of frogs sloshing about.  The lakes are surrounded by meadows and some clumps of trees.  It’s a spectacular setting and I stopped to take pictures.

We headed around the lake and took the cutoff trail to the PCT.  Before reaching the cutoff trail there is a nice view of Red Mountain but not the lookout.  After reaching the PCT we headed north toward Berry Mountain.  Ascending the swichbacks of Berry Mountain yields steadily increasing views.  We had views of the southern Indian Heaven Wilderness, Red Mountain and lookout and the base of Mt. Hood.  It brought tears to my eyes to see such beauty.

We didn’t have time to ascend all of Berry Mountain and turned around after achieving some awesome views.  The sky looked ominous on our way back to the car.  We thought it would rain but that never happened.  On our descent, and within about one mile of the trailhead, is when I reached the halfway point of my 25000 mile goal.  The trail is rocky and looks like a streambed where we were, but it was a fine place to reach that milestone!  We took some pictures and continued back to the car.

Such a wonderful fulfilling day in a special place.  We never saw any people after the initial groups at the beginning.  We were definitely one with nature today. 🙂


Forest Road Hike

Hike Distance: 8.3 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 1028.3 miles

Elevation Gain: 1567 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 134886 feet

A nice amount of ups and downs gave us some nice elevation gain and exercise.  Low water levels affected the falls and made them look like dripping walls.  The creek was the nicest water feature on the hike.  A very enjoyable day!

VACATION DAY #4 – Three Sisters Wilderness Devil’s Lake TH to PCT & Beyond

Hike Distance: 10.9 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 1002.1 miles

Elevation Gain: 1352 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 131447 feet

I’m very sorry for being so delinquent on creating trip reports for the remainder of this fabulous vacation. 😦  There were 6 total days and I will try to update the remaining two soon.

As you’ll see from the pictures it was a stellar bluebird day but it was early enough in the season to still have snow on the ground.  We parked at the Devil’s Lake TH and headed NW into a tunnel under the road.  We quickly entered the Three Sisters Wilderness and continued on the Elk Devils Trail.  After about a mile we veered right to head toward the PCT.  It was my intention to complete a small portion of the PCT that wasn’t completed on a previous hike.

As we ascended up the trail, toward the PCT, we walked right past the junction that led to the PCT because of a snow drift that covered the trail! haha  We looked at our map and spent 30 minutes trying to find a way to bushwack to the PCT, but failed.  We then backtracked and found that the trail continued on the other side of a large snow patch.  We finally made it to the PCT and completed the short PCT section. 🙂

Not having had enough hiking we returned along the PCT bypass trail and then turned onto a trail that leads to the Le Conte Crater Trail.  This trail was incredibly scenic and had stellar views of South Sister and a very large meadow!  We didn’t go very far but took plenty of pictures and soaked up the awesomeness!

We went out for dinner at the Sunriver Brewing Pub after our hike and had a great meal.  A truly wonderful vacation day that I’ll always remember. 🙂

Vacation Day #3 – Crater Lake National Park – Halfway Around Earth!

Hike Distance: 7.1 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 991.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 1387 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 130095 feet

Today was a significant milestone for me and we planned on going to a special place to achieve that.  Today I crossed over half the diameter of the Earth, in distance, on my journey to reach 25,000 miles!!!! 🙂  The circumference of the Earth around the equator is 24,901.55 miles, and therefore half is 12,450.8 miles.  Today the hike ended with me reaching a total of 12,456.3 miles.  And to think, it only took 10 years, 1 month and 7 days to complete!  During that time we went on 1657 hikes and my total elevation gain was 1,915,703 feet.  I do hate to think about how much time was spent driving to/from the hikes and the cost of gas to get there.

The hike was interesting in many ways.  The number of visitors in the park appeared overwhelming and we didn’t expect to easily find a parking space on the rim.  Luck was with us as we turned into the parking area and a car was just pulling out! 🙂  We also noticed the significant haze around the park on our drive there.  It turns out there was a fire near Lake Billy Chinook, in Central Oregon, and the entire region was blanketed in haze.  Unfortunately, it slightly cut down on visibility and affected all the pictures.  The haze started to clear later in the day, which was nice.

We started the hike by walking along the rim toward the lodge, and the crowds were huge.  Truthfully, we were walking around such that we would be away from the crowds when I reached the milestone, and we would have a view at that point.  Once we started walking away from the lodge the crowds thinned and almost went away.  We reached the milestone with a narrow view of Crater Lake, and Wizard Island was right below us!  We stopped and took pictures and filled our stomach with fluid and food.  During that time we met a nice older couple and talked with them for almost 45 minutes.  A very lovely couple and it was refreshing to talk with like minded people. 🙂

Instead of continuing clockwise around the rim, toward more people at the parking area, we turned around and headed down the PCT toward Mazama Village.  The beauty of descending down the crater was that we lost most of the tourists and had almost complete solitude.  We did meet two small groups, that were backpacking, and talked with them a while.  The descent was initially steep but it became less so the further we went.  It was so beautiful, and there was even some snow along the way.  The only real issue was that the mosquitoes  were in full force, but our insect shield clothing and Picardin insect repellent protected us from getting any bites.

It was getting late and we turned around before reaching the Mazama Village.  The ascent was easy for my wife but for some reason I was getting winded?  Our elevation was close to 8000 feet and so maybe that was the issue?  I’m sure my very heavy pack had something to do with it though.

Once we got back to the rim we took a quick last look at Crater Lake and then headed to our car.  We got in the car and drove to the Annie Creek restaurant, which is in the Mazama Village.  It was so nice to be there again and I was looking forward to their fine pizza!  I went to the washroom and when I got back my wife gave me the bad news that they no longer served pizza! 😦  Evidently, the brick oven broke and Xanterra decided not to repair it.  The server convinced me to try the vegetarian burger and I was surprised at how tasty it was!  We ended the meal with a celebratory slice of cheesecake, with fresh blueberries on top.

The icing on the cake for today was exiting the restaurant and meeting a PCT thru-hiker that was sitting on one of the rocking chairs!  The trail name of this thru-hiker was “Shuttle”, and she had flipped past the Sierra Nevada mountains, in California, due to all the snow.  She told us she had already hiked about 1300 miles, or about half the total distance of the total PCT.  Such a nice person and we wished her a safe and enjoyable journey.  This was such an awesome way to end this special day. 🙂

Vacation Day #2 – Waldo Lake Trail Hike into Waldo Lake Wilderness

Hike Distance: 8.7 miles      Yearly Hike Distance: 984.1 miles

Elevation Gain: 950 feet      Yearly Elevation Gain: 128708 feet

Waldo Lake is one of the most spectacular lakes in the Central Oregon area.  Its pristine clear waters is a haven for fish and many outdoor activities.  Thankfully, no motors are allowed on this large lake, which eliminates the noise factor from the lack of boats. 🙂

We’ve hiked on the north side of Waldo Lake before, but this burn area had so many downed trees that it was miserable to hike.  So, we decided to try the Waldo Lake trail once more with the goal of heading into the Wilderness.

To our delight, there were few people on the trail, and the solitude was intoxicating.  We were so thankful that the mosquitoes were non-existent in this area.  At the end of the hike the mosquitoes were plentiful when under the tree canopy, but the hike was almost over anyway.  What was also nice to see was how well the vegatation and trees were recovering from the burn!  That said, there was really no escaping the sun while in the Wilderness.  The lack of tree cover also gave us amazing views of Waldo Lake, and also the ponds and smaller lakes along the trail. 🙂

The flowers were also blooming in profusion.  We saw Paintbrush,  plenty of Bear Grass and a huge amount of the pink Rhododendron flowers. 🙂

While looking south at Waldo Lake we were rewarded with the snow capped Diamond Peak!  I’ll never get tired of this beauty and definitely plan on going back.  The cool weather also helped us from overheating.  A very special day!