Saturday, July 19, 2008

Right Angle Viewpoint Area Tour

On July 13th I lead a tour to the Right Angle Viewpoint area on the Molalla-Clackamas watershed divide for the Clackamas River Basin Council. As noted earlier this outing was delayed three weeks due to snow. On this hike snow was present in some spots but gone in others - depending on the winter accumulation and aspect, not on elevation. With about 700 ft. elevation change, the deepest snow was at the flatter lowest 4200 ft. heights, while the 4900 ft ridge was bare of snow and flowers were blooming.

Dry Meadow at Right Angle Viewpoint

The road was blocked by snow at the 4500 ft. high point. There the slope of the road changed from south to north, and from bare ground to two to four feet of snow. As a younger crowd had showed up for this tour, we elected to bushwack at an angle to the north up the slope. We alternated between patches of snow and bare ground and brush. Once the trail was located less snow was found and finally it ended, with the viewpoint clear of snow and blossoming. This was a shortcut, though a steep one.

Larkspur and paintbrush bloomed on Right Angle Viewpoint. Oregon sunshine was growing but not yet flowering. We saw it in full bloom along the road two thousand feet lower.

Lost Creek Overlook Cliffs from the south

Lost Creek Overlook is comfortably broad but cliff on three sides. The rock is a chaotic jumble characteristic of volcanic mudflows. As this entire area was once on the slopes of an ancient volcano, one can assume that this mudflow filled a valley and after millions of years is now exposed by glaciation as a headwall cliff.

Evening Star, Saxifraga bronchialis vespertina

An unusual plant growing only on the dryest cliffs is the Evening Star (Saxifraga bronchialis vespertina). Though widespread, it is limited to rocky, dry faces with little competition because of drought and lack of soil.

Lost Creek watershed from Lost Creek Overlook

This interesting little valley is glacial at first with steep wet meadows high up. There was once a trail but the luxuriant wetland growth now hides it. Much of the area was clearcut. The road at the bottom was removed a few years ago. The glacial section runs north towards a tributary of the Clackamas but makes a quick 180 degree turn to the south and connects with the Molalla. A notch where this creek could have continued north long ago is now hundreds of feet above the creek.

Old Whitespot is interesting and the open south wall is snowfree and looks ready to freeclimb.

A fuller discussion of this area is available on an earlier post from last September.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Further changes to hike schedule

With the heavy, wet winter snowpack meltoff running a month or more late, rearranging hiking plans is required! A second problem with the Bull of the Woods tour has appeared - a section of road is gone, and a 30 mile detour over twisting gravel Forest Service roads will add two to three hours travel time to any trip there. This is a doubling of travel time. And on top of that, the detour route as of this writing is still blocked by snow! So Bull of the Woods tour slated for July 13th will be put off until next year.

The outing on June 22nd was moved to a lower elevation tour around Clackamas Lake. Even with lowering the top elevation a thousand feet (300 meters) a late season snowfall had just melted off. The original destination, Right Angle Viewpoint, is now rescheduled for July 13th, replacing Bull of the Woods. It's possible snow will still be present at the highest elevations of the hike and on the road leading to the trailhead. Alternative routes are available if the road is blocked by snow.

The next tour, July 20th to the Headwaters High Elevation Loop, will go ahead as scheduled. Again snow is possible, and interesting alternative routes at lower elevations are available at several points along the approach road. Lakes are frequent throughout the Olallie Highlands area.

So the new schedule is:

July 13th - Right Angle Viewpoint area

July 20th - Olallie Highlands High Elevation Loop

See the original descriptions of these tours below in this blog.