Monday, October 26, 2009

Badger Lake Loop Hike

One brisk Sunday in early October, I wanted to take a hike I'd never done before.  My goal for the last several years has been to hike all 100 of the hikes featured in William L. Sullivan's "100 Hikes in Northwest Oregon" book.  I've hiked about 3/4 of them so far, and the ones that are left are not as easy to get to, or not as interesting to me. 

But my goal for this day was a new hike, so I decided to try one of the loop hikes to Badger Lake in the Badger Creek Wilderness east of Mt. Hood.  The hike described in the book was a measly 6.7-mile loop.  I decided to add to the distance and elevation gain by taking the Gumjuwac Trail from Highway 35.  This trail is supposed to switchback up 1700 feet in 2.4 miles.

After parking on the side of Hwy 35, and dashing across the road, I was at the trailhead.  It was really cold and windy and I thought to myself "What am I doing?"  But the climb up warmed me quickly.  The trail was as steep as it promised to be.  Near the top, I started running into small patches of snow.  Just before the Gumjuwac Saddle, was a nice viewpoint of Mt. Hood.  The mountain was looking a little bit barren---it  needed some snowfall!

Bear and I reached the trail junction at Gumjuwac Saddle.  The saddle was marked by a beat-up sign telling the history of the Gumjuwac name.  Apparently it's named for some French-Canadian sheep herder who used to camp in this area.  He was nicknamed "Gum Shoe Jack." 

There are lots of trails departing from this area, and I had to search to find the trail I was looking for.  As you can see by the photo above, I also encountered a lot of snow.

I started down the Gumjuwac Creek Trail.  After all that climbing I did, this trail headed downhill quite rapidly.  It was really cold up on the saddle, so going down in elevation meant warmer temps.  That was fine with me!  This trail also featured lots of nice fall colors.

A stunning vine maple tree and red huckleberry bush leaves make for a very scenic spot.

Bear gives me one of his cute doggy expressions as he peeks through the golden huckleberry leaves.

More great fall colors courtesy of the abundant huckleberry bushes.

The fall foliage looked like red fire on the forest floor.  What a great scenic trail!

Unfortunately, the rest of the hike was not as nice.  The next trail I hiked, the Badger Creek Trail, was two miles of solid blowdowns.  It took me over an hour to go two miles. I had to scramble over, under, or around hundreds of downed trees.  I scraped up my legs and wore myself out.  By the end of this trail, I was cursing at the trees, and just wanted to finsh the hike and go home.  There was no more photo-taking from this point on.  There really wasn't anything nice to take pictures of.

This trial (oops, I mean trail!) ended at a junction with Badger Lake.  Badger Lake was not very pretty, and I could hear gunshots in the distance, so I didn't linger long.  I headed up the Divide Trail, which was to take me back to Gumjuwac Saddle.  I was hoping that I wouldn't encounter any more blowdown trees -- by this time, I'd had enough!

Luckily, there were no more large blowdowns.  But the Divide Trail launched uphill, seeking to gain the elevation I'd lost from the Gumjuwac Creek Trail.  By this time, it was really getting cold, so slogging up the trail was keeping me warm.  I'd never noticed before, but I discovered that my altimeter watch has a thermometer---and it read 32.1 degrees! 

At the saddle, it was really cold, and I took off down the Gumjuwac trail just as fast as my legs would allow me.  I was never so happy to see Hwy 35!  I got to my car as the sun was starting to sink behind the mountains.  I was so cold, I hit the Starbucks in Hood River for a warm drink, and blasted the car heater all the way home (Oh do I love my heated car seats!)

So, this hike was not so great.  I doubt I'll do it again anytime soon.  But now I can check off Hike # 78 in my Sullivan book!


No comments:

Post a Comment

Don't be shy! Please leave a comment.