Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Hiking Canyon Creek Meadows

For those of you who have older editions of William Sullivan's Book, 100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades, you are probably familiar with the very beautiful scene on the cover, promising all kinds of amazing nature experiences if you get out on the hikes in the guide. As it turns out, this completely real place is called Canyon Creek Meadows, and it is every bit as cool as it seems. We've gotten in this really good Sunday hike groove this summer, and since this hike had been enticing me for quite some time, we made it our destination last weekend. I knew we were outside the time window for wildflowers, which is a big part of what this hike is known for, but the heatwave had me craving high mountain meadows and meandering streams and I knew I could find wildflowers another time. I had also been wanting to check out Jack Lake at the trailhead for future camping options, and that too was not disappointing. One could easily camp out there and day hike into the meadows for some leisurely exploring.  All around, I have to say this hike is my new favorite spot.

Corey had an old friend visiting from out of town, so there were plenty of entertaining shenanigans and never a dull moment on the trail.

We did our best to re-create the cover of Sullivan's book, but took a little artistic license.

Sitting next to a little stream in a meadow with views of Three Fingered Jack was exactly where I wanted to be. I had heard reports of this area being very popular and crowded, but whether it was the heat, or lack of wildflowers in bloom, we mostly had the trail to ourselves. It was backcountry paradise.

Many of the side channels were dried up for the season, but the main branch of Canyon Creek kept flowing and providing a spot for insects, pollinators and hikers like us to cool down and hydrate. We were a little limited on time, having left later in the day, so we didn't make it the additional two miles to the upper meadow. It will remain an enticing reason to come back.

Although most of the wildflowers were done blooming, we did see some Indian paintbrush and purple asters right along the stream, and patches of pearly everlasting and fireweed along the trail.

To mitigate crowds, the Forest Service will designate a direction for everyone to hike the loop, so we ended up following Canyon Creek for the hike out. I enjoyed seeing the new scenery, and it was amazing how green the riparian zone stayed in contrast to the woods around it.

It's always nice when you go out on a hike and find a new friend. This little fellow had the right idea on a 100 degree afternoon, hanging out in the water and burrowing down in the mud. 

While we were up to finding things, we stumbled across ripe huckleberries!

Snacking on the first huckleberries of the year is always a treat, and was the perfect refreshment for our hike out.

And, huckleberries weren't the only treat we found! I spied a little orange beside the trail and ended up finding about a gallon of chanterelle mushrooms. Normally we don't see them until the fall, so this was an added bonus to an already fantastic hiking experience.

The trail begins and ends in the burn from the 2003 B&B forest fire, and there's a lot of regeneration to observe as you hike along. The burn area by contrast makes the creek look like a magical oasis. We passed a waterfall and a side trail to Wasco Lake that I would love to come back and check out (not that I need another reason). It's fun to get out and find a new favorite spot, and I have a feeling there are more out there to be discovered!

Follow Highway 20 east of Santiam Pass 8 miles. At a "Wilderness Trailheads" sign near milepost 88 (1 mile east of Suttle Lake or 12 miles west of Sisters), turn north on paved Jack Lake Road 12 for 4.4 miles. Then turn left on one-lane Road 1230 for 1.6 miles to the end of pavement, and left onto Road 1234 for 6 miles to the Jack Lake campground.

Here's a link to the hike at  William Sullivan's Oregon Adventures Page:

Monday, August 3, 2015

Riverside Camp

At the end of a hot August day, camped out by the river is the best place to be. My newest needle felted wall hanging is a McKenzie River camping scene, with a crackling campfire at sunset and the Three Sisters watching over. With the recent heatwave, we've been exploring good riverside campsites and have found some gems. Last weekend, we traveled over the mountains to the Metolius River and camped out at the confluence with Canyon Creek. Yesterday, we hiked up the upper stretches of Canyon Creek to Canyon Creek Meadows below Three Fingered Jack, and there will be more on that to come. In this hot weather, I am thankful to live close to cold, clear mountain rivers.

You can see more of the new wall hanging here in my Etsy shop:

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Blue Moon

Blue Moon: A second full moon that appears during a calendar month.

We decided to take a little excursion Friday night and drove up to a viewpoint to observe July's blue moon over the Cascades. There had been quite a bit of discussion amongst friends as to what a blue moon means. As it turns out, blue moons are not actually blue, and it is suggested that the word "blue" was substituted for an old English word "belewe." These moons would have been referred to as "betrayer moons" because they threw off activities following the lunar calendar, like fasting for Lent. 

When we first arrived at the viewpoint, we thought it was a bust with the cloud layer obscuring our view, but finally we saw a glowing spot start to open up and the moon rose out of it and came into view. This particular blue moon was red from all the wildfire haze, and made quite a contrast against the night sky. 

If we only head off on late night drives up into the mountains once in a blue moon, 
I'll gladly take that.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


"Strange that so few ever come to the woods to see how the pine lives and grows and spires, lifting its evergreen arms to the light, -- to see its perfect success; but most are content to behold it in the shape of many broad boards brought to market, and deem that its true success."

~Henry David Thoreau, Chesuncook 1858

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Dilly Beans

Farmhouse Dilly Beans

2 lbs. green beans
1/4 cup canning salt
2 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 cups water
1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes per pint jar
4-8 cloves peeled garlic per pint jar
one head dill per pint jar

Trim ends off of green beans.  Combine salt, vinegar and water in a sauce pot and boil. Pack beans lengthwise into hot jars. Put 1/2 tsp pepper flakes, garlic cloves, and one dill head in each jar. Ladle hot liquid into each jar, leaving 1/4" head space.  Remove air bubbles. Adjust two piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Makes 4 pints.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Hiking Iron Mountain

In search of a good Sunday hike with our friends, we decided to explore the Iron Mountain Trail in the Willamette National Forest. We haven't been getting out hiking quite as often over the past year, with plenty to keep us busy around the homestead on the weekends, but I am making a concerted effort to remind myself that homestead projects will always be there, and time needs to be made for recharging in the outdoors. I also feel like I'm still in the process of getting acquainted with my new home mountain range, and any opportunity to see more of it should be taken. After chickens were tended and watering was done, we headed out to meet our friends for an adventure. The trail to Iron Mountain is actually a loop, and we started with the recommended longer, more gradual trail through the meadows of Cone Peak.  This way we were able to take the shorter and steeper trail on the west side of Tombstone Pass on the way back. This trail has enough uphill as it is with 1900 feet elevation gain, so this is definitely the way to go.

 The meadows were dried out at this point in our summer drought conditions, but offered clear views of the surrounding peaks and Iron Mountain ahead of us.

It's a nice perspective, being able to clearly see your destination ahead.

This area is known as a botanical wonderland, with over 300 species of flowering plants, 17 tree species and 18 plant communities. Even though we had mostly missed the wildflowers' blooming window, there were beautiful patches of purple fireweed (Chamerion angustifolium) that were exciting enough all on their own.

I will not lie, the last .7 mile climb to the top was intense, but fortunately they had some strategically placed stone benches along the way. I recommend giving yourself some time and rest breaks on this part. The climb was well worth the effort, because the view from the top was spectacular. It's quite the perspective to look down and see the highway where the trailhead begins.

In a panoramic sweeping view, we could see the Three Sisters on one end of the Cascade's crest...

 And Mt. Jefferson on the other.

I always enjoy the views of rolling hills and mountains just as much as the snow-capped peaks. All those layers of different shades of blue are amazing.

Views from the top were not only grand in scale, but small as well. We heard reports of an aggressive chipmunk and found this bold little fellow marauding around the platform and benches in search of fallen crumbs.

Spending time with friends is always a good time, but spending time with friends on an outdoor adventure is even better. There has been talk of hiking Jefferson Park, Canyon Creek Meadows, Lowder Mountain and the full length of French Pete Creek, so I'm looking forward to more local adventures and tales of trails to tell.

Trailhead Directions:

From Sweet Home, Oregon travel east on Highway 20 for 34 miles to Forest Service Road 15 and turn right at Tombstone Pass. There is a parking area and vault toilet at the trailhead.

Here is a link to the USFS website: Iron Mountain Trail

A link to William Sullivan's Oregon Adventures: Iron Mountain 

And info on the Cone Peak Meadows: Cone Peak Loop Hike