Opal Creek Wilderness – Opal Lake (#17)

OPAL LAKE
August 28, 2011

The Opal Lake trail drops down steeply from FR 2207 less than half a mile to Opal Lake, the source of Opal Creek. Opal Lake is remote and beautiful spot, and of late has been used as a starting point for those wanting to visit elusive Opal Creek Falls (Opal Creek), a few-tenths of a mile downstream from the lake (bushwhack only).
You can also reach Opal Lake by bushwhacking up from Opal Creek, but that trip is recommended to only the most hardy and intrepid hikers with bushwhacking experience.


Directions: Drive 50 miles east of Salem on OR 22 to Detroit Lake. Just before the Breitenbush River, turn left on French Creek Road 2223 and go 4.2 miles to a fork at pavement’s end. Go right on Road 2207 and it’s the 2nd Trailhead on the right.

Permits: Permits are not required. Parking and access are free.
Jenn’s Review: Joyce and I decided this is NOT one of our favorite hikes. Besides the steep, rocky downhill, bugs galore and the trail was not maintained. Wear pants! There are thorny bushes that will get you. It is a small hike though. If you are looking for a quiet lake to camp or hang out (maybe skinny dippin’? ha ha) than this is pretty nice lake.  Good luck in finding a flat, not muddy spot to set camp. 🙂 The neat part about this is that you cross 2 different Wilderness! You start in Mount Jefferson Wilderness and end up in Opal Creek Wilderness!
The reader board was empty. No postings or signs – I’m thinking they are doing a rehab of this trail.
We did have fun on this hike though…Joyce was singing to one of the songs on Dirty Dancing.

The first stop you come to is a meadow.  We were laughing because we kept saying this is the meadow that Edward Cullen took Bella.

Follow it to the right and you will hit the lake.  The guy we met on the trail was a little freaky…OKEE, his dog was a little freaky and kept attacking poor ShadowLynn…Well all dogs seem to want to attack her, even Muffy!

Of course we had to get silly pictures (after spraying ourselves with bug spray cuz the mosquitoes were awful!)

Shadowlynn fell into the water at the end of the log…Stupid dog!

When I say STEEP, I mean STEEP! It’s one of those, you are breathing very heavy and taking breaks every few steps!

I have a feeling that this trailhead will close eventually and that the only way to get to Opal Lake is to hike from Opal Creek, which I believe is 37+ miles! I couldn’t find much information on the web about Opal Lake. Glad I did it before it is completely overgrown and can’t get in to it.

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Mount Jefferson Wilderness – Boca Cave (#16)

BOCA CAVE
August 28, 2011 

Info:  (from Oregon Hiking book by Sen Patrick Hill)    Difficulty: Difficult
Read the Triangulation Peak blog to get information on the hike. That trail leads to Boca Cave. To find Boca Cave, beware of steep cliffs and watch your step. From the peak, hike down to a saddle and go right and cross-country to a second and lower peak. From here, a scramble trail descends along the right of a rock outcrop. The path ends at a cliff edge. Go to the right around the cliff and descend a steep forested slope to a 100 foot deep cavern with a view of Mount Jefferson.
Permits: A free self issue Wilderness Permit is required and is available at the trailhead. Parking and access are free. Just in case, you may need to pick up a Wilderness pass for $5. Stop by the ranger station and ask. I always do. Better safe than sorry.
Directions: Drive 56 miles east of Salem on OR22. One mile past Idanha, turn left on McCoy Creek Road 2233 for 9.2 miles. At a building (what building? I didn’t see no building but that what’s my book says), go right and continue 1.3 miles and park at spur Road 635. The trailhead is 100 feet down the spur road.  OKEE, wait.  We were able to park right next to the trail head. 🙂
So the trail is pretty easy to get there. Joyce and I ate our lunch at Triangulation Peak and then headed down to Boca Caves.  They were NOT kidding on how steep it is to get down. Just kept thinking to myself, dang, gotta make this climb back UP to get home! Ahhh man, but my tummy was full with Subway Sammich and had all the energy in the world. he he.  I don’t suggest anyone who is not physically fit or who has bad knees or whatever. This is not an easy climb down nor is it an easy climb back up. OK, enough with the “disclosures”
Joyce posing for the camera
Was trying to climb the tree but it just bend
You do have to go around a rock wall…Here is a picture of the path.
Was trying to figure out how to climb to that ledge.  Johnathon would have done it!!!!

I don’t remember seeing a cliff or the outcrop of rocks but I wasn’t really looking. I was more amazed with this hole in the wall and figuring out a way to send ShadowLynn in FIRST to scare away the bears, bums, or creatures living in there — like the ones from the movie Descent! he he.

The entrance!

The cave isn’t very deep.  They did have these ledges that freaked me out (flashback on this movie again). I was expecting a head to peer over and start hissing or crawling on the ceiling, scattering like cockroaches!  he he.  How my imagination runs wild!

The entrance does frame Mount Jefferson real nicely.  Couldn’t get a clear picture of us standing near the entrance.

Started to get it….
The views from outside the cave

And of course, it wouldn’t be MY blog without a picture of moi….

Enjoy! Check out my next Cave exploration.  It’s in the planning stage right now but should be a pretty good one!
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REVISIT: July 29, 2012

So, this is still my favorite cave. It’s not scary and it makes such a great shot for pictures. The tree has gotten a bit bigger and is covering more of Mt. Jefferson. So I will have to do a little bit of photoshoping to change this a bit. See the final product by searching my posts under photography class. LOL

I took Scott and his boys with me to show my favorite hike in 2011. It’s still ranks pretty high up there. 🙂 Also brought the dogs with us. Can you see Sam? It was hard to get a picture of him AND to make sure Mt. Jefferson was clear.

Boca Cave

Climbing up to the mouth of the cave was difficult. I had Muffy in my arms, the camera, and my backpack. Scott had to come back down and grab my pack.

Boca Cave Boca Cave Boca Cave

The boys were real excited about the cave. Central Oregon has a ton of lava tubes and caves so this is second nature for them. 🙂

Boca CaveBoca Cave

Boca Cave

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Mount Jefferson Wilderness – Triangulation Peak (#15)

TRIANGULATION PEAK
August 21, 2011
Info:  (from Oregon Hiking book by Sen Patrick Hill)    Difficulty: Easy/Moderate
A fitting name for a peak on which a fire watchtower once stood. Triangulation Peak offers an impressive view of Mount Jefferson not only from its peak, but from the mouth of a secret cave accessible by a cross-country scramble over the flanks of the peak. Along the way, the trail passes the towering monolith of Spire Rock and enters a series of alpine meadows covered with fish-filled lakes. For intrepid travelers, this trail also provides access deeper into Mount Jefferson Wilderness Area.
Jenn’s view: OK, Ranger Judy (not sure if that’s her name) didn’t mention ANYTHING about no cave so we had NOOO idea there is this hidden cave and I was dumb enough to leave my book at home and dangit! would have love to ventured to find this secret cave. (I know run-on sentence and punctuations are not in place but who cares! I’m upset!)   Brian and I was actually heading to Pamelia Lake but it was full since there is a limited entry fee to get in so Ranger Judy suggested we do this hike and we did.  I gave this rating an Easy/Moderate —  Easy for the first 1.5 miles because it was relatively easy and then the last 0.6 miles is up, up, up! If we have known about this cave – I guess getting to the cave is really difficult.
See! No where does this flyer that Ranger Judy gave us indicated no hidden cave! Sheez!
Directions: Drive 56 miles east of Salem on OR 22. One mile past Idanha, turn left on McCoy Creek Road 2233 for 9.2 miles. At a building (what building?  Must have missed that one) go right and continue 1.3 miles and park at spur Road 635.
Now, good ol’ Brian relies on these High Tech Gadget thingies that I don’t normally carry.  I normally have this book or directions that I print off the web. So, Brian gets us all confuse and we are stopped trying to locate our exact position – we think we are lost, on the wrong road…blah blah blah and all the while thinking – Just drive.. LOL.  He’s too funny. He puts the GPS thingy down and we decided to drive and low and behold there’s the trail head. We were less than 100 yards away…..hahahaha.
Brian Leggs and his high tech gadget!
So the trail was really pretty.  When we left the car, I believe we hit 91 degrees so it was hot.  Thank goodness the forest was pretty cool until we reached the top out of the shade of the trees. And oh lordy the bugs! Sheez! Had bug spray on but you sure can hear all the flies and bees buzzin’ around.

Mount Jefferson is sooooo gorgeous! You literally felt like you can reach out and touch her. She was so close and right there.  There was another mountain that was showing but wasn’t quite sure which mountain that was.  I know we saw the top of one of the Sisters and Three Finger Jack. It was pretty hilarious…I told Brian to tell me a story and guess what he told me – How Joseph Smith became “THE JOSEPH SMITH”. He’s not even Mormon!

Not quite sure which Mountain this one is? Anyone??
While Brian was out doing his thang on getting his pictures for Photosynth (for a 360 degree view…go here: http://photosynth.net/view.aspx?cid=5f81e882-1b9d-4424-8abf-b063ab8e4dd2&ref=nf ) I went off to find out where this little trail went.  Sat on top of those rocks at the end and meditated. Well, not really but it was very peaceful.
I definitely recommend this hike.  It took us 3 hours, including the meditation and picture taking so it was a quick little hike…I WILL GO BACK AND GET TO BOCA CAVE! Maybe with my sister (she’s scared because of the movie Descent) this time since Brian is scared of caves because of the movie Sanctum!
This is probably my favorite picture of all time!
*You can click on any of the pictures to make them bigger*
REVISIT August 28, 2011 to get to Boca Cave. See my Boca Cave blog.  
Here are updated pictures from this visit with my sis. It was about 80 degrees but unfortunately there was a slight haze in the air.  It started clearing up but still that haze stuck on. 😦
My sister Joyce Piol posing for the camera.
My sister was a little scared getting on top of this small rock formation. She gets a little scared of heights but she did it. With my aide, she even got herself down.
Joyce Piol was a little scared getting on this rock and had to help her down BUT she did it! So proud of her!
As you can tell, I have no fear.  Well, not most of the time.  If ShadowLynn was on the rocks with me, then I would freak out. She’s not the most behaved dog and she would have knocked me down.
Huge recommendation to do it. Do eat a big breakfast before going! I struggled the last leg on just 2 cups of coffee.

Mount Jefferson Wilderness – French Creek Trail (#14)

FRENCH CREEK RIDGE TRAIL
August 19, 2011
Info: (http://www.trailsgalore.com/trails/1006096_French_Creek_Trail_Oregon.html) The French Creek Trail has been bypassed by logging roads at lower elevations. The trail now starts at about 4000 ft. on the way to Byar’s Peak. There are some boulders on the road, one in particular had barely enough room to get by. Great views of Detroit area and Three Sisters from the ridge. Says J. D. Adams

French Creek Trail is 17.8 miles long; it’s longer than many backcountry trails. The total elevation difference for French Creek Trail is 4,067 feet which is higher than average. This backcountry walk should take you about 2.5 days, so it’s a good thing if your backpack is big enough to do the job. This is a two-ended trail with two trailheads, so if you can get a ride from someone, you can backcountry trek it just one way. Some parts of French Creek Trail are much higher up than other parts of the backcountry trail, and that means that some parts of the backcountry trail could be very different from other parts of it. This is a hiking trail that is quite long, so make sure you bring plenty of supplies.

The French Creek Trail has been bypassed by logging roads at lower elevations. The trail now starts at about 4000 ft. on the way to Byar’s Peak. There are some boulders on the road, one in particular had barely enough room to get by. Great views of Detroit area and Three Sisters from the ridge. Says J. D. Adams

French Creek Trail is 17.8 miles long; it’s longer than many backcountry trails. The total elevation difference for French Creek Trail is 4,067 feet which is higher than average. This backcountry walk should take you about 2.5 days, so it’s a good thing if your backpack is big enough to do the job. This is a two-ended trail with two trailheads, so if you can get a ride from someone, you can backcountry trek it just one way. Some parts of French Creek Trail are much higher up than other parts of the backcountry trail, and that means that some parts of the backcountry trail could be very different from other parts of it. This is a hiking trail that is quite long, so make sure you bring plenty of supplies.

Directions: (http://www.ohranger.com/detroit-lake/poi/french-creek-ridge-trail)
 From Detroit Ranger Station travel East on Hwy 22 for approximately 1 mile to forest road 2223 (French Creek Road), turn left and travel for about 4 miles to forest road 2207. Veer right onto 2207, travel for about 4 miles. Trailhead is on right.

Access #2: From Detroit Ranger Station travel East on Hwy 22 for approximately 1 mile to forest road 2223 (French Creek Road), turn left and travel for about 2 miles to forest road 2225. Turn right and travel for about 6 miles to forest road 458. Turn right and travel for about 2 miles. Trailhead is on left.

Jenn’s View: I honestly thought I was on the trail to Opal Lake. I forgot my book and my map so when I was on this trail, I knew it was wrong. The trail head sign was knocked down and there was soooo many bugs.  I was also freaking myself out because of all the talks about bears that people were telling me. It pissed me off.  I didn’t finish the trail. It wasn’t my favorite and the trail was super overgrown AND I kept hearing something or somebody following me. Maybe it was just my imagination. LOL Also, I didn’t really see anything significant even though I should have seen Marten’s Butte and Boulder Peak.  I may have seen it but I sure wouldn’t have known. Everything was overgrown that you will get breaks to see some sort of clearing. That was cool. Not sure if this is a trail I will re-visit and try to complete. It just didn’t tickle my funny bone.

The drive up here was real pretty.  I stopped by the Ranger Station to pick up my Wilderness Pass. Always pick one up just in case.
Detroit Ranger Station. There’s my White Honda!
The drive up to the trail head was amazing. You can always get a beautiful picture of Jefferson.

So, I found a trail head. I honestly thought I was going to Opal Lake. I knew the Lake was less than a mile. When I parked, I must have parked right next to a bee hive or a wasp nest.  All I kept hearing was a ton of “buzzing” sounds. Super icky. Tons of bugs. It was a bad sign and the sign to the trail head was all knocked down. No signs on it. Another bad sign.  Shadowlynn and I start on the trail and was hoping to hit some shade. It was about high 80’s, low 90’s which is hot. Dumb me wanted to hike in this heat with this black hair? Oh lordy!

 Well, Shadowlynn and I kept walking and walking and walking.  I knew we had gone more than a mile but I kept telling myself the lake should be coming up real soon. Didn’t hear water. No indication of water…just more bushes and trees! Plus, I couldn’t see too far ahead of me and couldn’t see too far behind me. It really started freaking me out. LOL.  I guess it was a good time to start taking pictures.. Sheez!

 Along the trail, you do get a break to see the views of the clearing. 

 My hair is such a heat generator.  The white bandana that I carry all the time made a great “Aunt Jemima” look.

 More pictures of the trail….

 So, got back in the car, disappointed about this trail and with myself. Took more pictures on the drive down.

 But it wasn’t ALL that bad.  I did stop by the cafe and picked up coffee and a slice of brocolli, cheddar quiche.

 

Moutn Jefferson Wilderness – Whitewater Trail #3429 (#13)

I think they need to replace this sign
JEFFERSON PARK – WHITEWATER TRAIL #3429
August 13, 2011
  

So, it’s about 3:30-ish when I got back from the car from Cheat Creek and decided it’s still early enough to get to Jeff Park.  I’m thinking it’s about a 2.1 mile hike — Who the heck knows where I even got that figure in my head! Whitewater trail is approximately 10+miles round trip to the first lake.  That would take me more than 6 hours at the rate I was going with all my “poor Jennifer” excuses (neck/shoulder pain, knee pain, no exercising for almost a week, blah blah blah).  Found the parking area and this is where the Wilderness pass comes in.  Here is the map guide from Ranger Bob. It’s pretty crinkly because I kept looking at it to make sure I wasn’t heading in the wrong direction PLUS I used it as a barrier between my hand and the walking stick I found. LOL

On our way up, I was able to get beautiful pictures of Mt. Jefferson. It was closer in person and so beautiful. It makes me really appreciate Oregon!

The weather was perfect! About 75 degrees, clear skies.  In my head, I was thinking, “DANG – perfect day to do Table Rock to see all the mountain ranges” but glad I didn’t.

My water bladder was low and already drank all my Vitamin Water from Cheat Creek.  It was nice because it made my pack WAY lighter but was a little worried about Shadowlynn.  Kept filling up her water bowl and kept wanting more.  Was hoping to find any creeks or water beds for her to drink out of to help save what little water I had left. We did find a creek about 1.5 miles UP and was all happy once again.  We ate near the creek – the rest of my Subway Sammich, trail mix, and protein bar….felt so much better. I brought Dog Food for Shadowlynn so she was all happy and content too!

I think this is part of Whitewater?

Well stupid me NEVER stays on the trail.  Looked up and thought, “that looks like a great place to cut through.” HOPING it would lead me to a great view of the ridge. hmmm.  Nope, it didn’t.  Got turned around a little and noticed a trail so started following the trail not knowing which one I was on. Gimme a break — IT WAS A TRAIL!  After awhile, met the 2 backpacking girls that I met on Cheat Creek trail and said that this trail will lead you to that meadow…Ahhhh crap — was going the wrong way! Turned around and followed the same trail – opposite direction.  Glad I did.  Found these beautiful views along the way…

I seriously need to invest in a camera.  Would love to take one of these pictures, blow it up, frame it and put it on one of the walls…Well, hopefully on my next commission check I may be able to do that.  Plan to do this hike to the first lake within the next week or so and plan to “backpack/camp” next year with friends/family to do the FULL loop!

Mount Jefferson Wilderness – Cheat Creek (#12)

JEFFERSON PARK – CHEAT CREEK TRAIL
August 13, 2011

I came across this hike in my book awhile back ago and has been “dog earred” for quite some time. Been so busy with other activities this summer that it kept being pushed to the end of the list.  Jefferson Park, as described on William Sullivan’s hike site is as follows:

About the Hike: Oregon’s second tallest mountain rises like a wall from the lake-dotted wildflower meadows of Jefferson Park. The view of Mount Jefferson is so impressive and the meadows are so delightful to explore that the area is crowded in summer – so why not wait to go until September?
Difficulty: The hike is a difficult 10.2-mile round trip, gaining 1,800 feet of elevation. 


Now, thinking to myself — ahhhhh hell yes! I can do this one!!! So packed up the dog, dropped Makaila off at work and headed out.  I knew I had to stop by the ranger station to pick up the pass so I did.  The pass cost me $5 for a day pass or $35 (?) for the year.  I only purchased the day pass but should have purchased the yearly pass. Dude was discouraging me from going – “The mountain is still covered in SNOW…about 45% is still covered.” He tried to get me to go to Marion Lake — easy trail / heavy usage – Yeah right! Thinking to myself, I can still do it and if I hit snow, I’ll turn around. he he. 

Directions: From exit 253 of Interstate 5 in Salem, drive 61 miles east on North Santiam Highway 22. Between mileposts 60 and 61 (10 miles beyond Detroit), turn left on Whitewater Road 2243. Follow this gravel route 7.4 miles to its end at a large parking area. Especially if you’re leaving your car here overnight, leave no valuables inside and leave doors unlocked to discourage car clouters, an occasional problem here.

Well, the first trail head I encountered was Cheat Creek.  I couldn’t find it on the map provided by good ol’ Ranger Bob so I still got out of the car to do it.  Filled out the self issued Wilderness Pass and headed on up.

The trail was a steady climb up.  Stopped several times to catch my breath – HEY haven’t exercised for a week and my neck/shoulder was still in pain! Gimme a break.  Plus my knee was starting to ache – DANG, getting old! Beautiful hike up.

Saw the BIGGEST wasp or is it bees nest EVER! Safe distance – just zoomed in as much as my camera phone will allow.

Gotta have one picture of me! LOL
After a steady climb – I would say about 2 miles, it finally started leveling off and you hit one of the meadows. Now there is a trail to the Pacific Crest Trail some where but the meadow was so overgrown that I wasn’t gonna risk it.  Plus, the hike back??? ahhh geez. There were plenty of bugs, bees, and ants that I decided NOT to enter it too far in.  It reminds me of that episode on Twilight when Bella and Edward were in the meadows and he showed his “shiney” body…hahahahaha!

 I turned around and headed back down.  Met 2 hikers and 2 backpackin’ girls.  Thinking to myself, Jodi and I can do this!!!! LOL.  Guess, I’ll be takin’ my nephews!  Didn’t think I got enough pictures of the Cheat Creek trail…so here are a few more

There really is a creek down there.  You are walking right beside it most of the way up/down