Friday, August 27, 2010

Burnt Lake Hike

Hiking was one of the things I wanted to do with Cody during his short stay at home.  When Cody was younger, we took many hikes together, and I have very fond memories of our outings.  Cody always loved to find and identify the many plants and trees along the trails we traveled.  A lot of what I know about the trees and wildflowers of the Pacific Northwest I learned from him.

Beautiful old growth forest

We'd planned to go hiking the next Sunday after my half marathon race.  Unfortunately, the weather decided to heat up for that weekend.  I'd wanted to go somewhere high up on Mt. Hood to see the wildflowers, but with the predicted hot weather, a shady forested hike to a lake sounded like a better option.  I decided we'd instead hike up to Burnt Lake.

Large hollowed-out tree trunk along the trail

The Burnt Lake trail is located on the west side of Mt. Hood.  It's path winds through a beautiful old growth forest of Doug fir, hemlock  and cedar.  The trail follows a little creek, and finally climbs up to a small lake, that mirrors Mt. Hood in its waters.

Bright yellow monkeyflowers

We got a late start, and didn't reach the trailhead until almost noon.  Getting out of the car, the air already felt hot!  Ugh!  But once we got on the trail and entered the shady woods, the temperature dropped to a comfortable level.

Our first peek of Mt. Hood from the trail

The trail followed Burnt Lake Creek for the first 2 miles.  The woods were cool and beautiful.  At about the 2 mile mark, we passed by several huge burned-out cedar trees that were hollow inside.  My hiking guidebook mentioned that these trees were casualties of a 19th-century fire that swept through the area, and gave Burnt Lake its name.  The trees were gigantic - about 10-feet wide in diameter.  They were large enough for someone to stand inside, and I did just that for a photo op.

Shoreline color and Mt. Hood

After that we began to climb.  We gained about 600 feet of elevation in the next mile.  The trail ducked though a couple of clearings, and we got our first Mt. Hood sighting.  Wildflowers bloomed next to the trail and the nice scenery helped distract my mind from a hot trudge uphill.

A blurry reflection of Mt. Hood on Burnt Lake's waters

And finally we were at the shore of Burnt Lake.  We chose the side of the lake that had the Mt. Hood view for our lunch spot.  There was a slight breeze, so the water wasn't calm enough for a clear reflection of the mountain.  But it was still a lovely sight.

Lakeside lilly pads

My only complaint for the day (besides the heat) was the flies.  There were tons of flies, both on the trail and at the lake.  The flies didn't bite, but they were numerous and kept landing on us. It was annoying to keep swatting them off our arms and faces.

Bright yellow flower in the lilly pads

After finishing our lunch, Cody and I decided it was too hot to hike the additional 1.5 miles and 800 feet up to East Zigzag Mountain.  So we instead chose to explore the path around the lake.  Halfway around we came upon a large cluster of lilly pads floating in the lake.  The lilly pads had two yellow flowers blooming on them.  Way cool!

Swimmers in the lake

There were a lot of people at the lake.  Some were camping, others dayhikers.  One person had lugged a small inflatable raft up the trail and was floating around in the water.  Many people beat the heat by taking a swim.  By that time, I was feeling pretty hot and sweaty, and the water looked very inviting.  I was wishing I'd thought to bring my swim suit.

Cody and Bear check out the lakeshore

Cody and I saw lots of crawdads in the water.  Someone even had rigged a crawdad trap.  The lake was so clear and shallow that we could see all the way down to the bottom.

Bright fuzzy flowers

Along the far side of the lake were lots of hot pink fuzzy flowers.  The flowers were wonderful - really brightened up the forest.  They kind of looked like muppets.  Cody told me the name of these flowers, but of course now two weeks later, I don't remember what it was!

Pink fuzzies

After circling the lake, we decided to head back down to the trailhead.  It was much easier hiking downhill, which was a good thing, as the temperature was much higher now.

Fireweed flowers along the trail

I grabbed a few more flower photos on the way down.  Cody found a bunch of bright orange salmonberries.  He picked a couple of berries to try and said they were really sour.

Bear ponders the trail washout

There's one area of the trail that was washed out a couple of years ago.  It drops about 15 feet and is kind of tricky to cross.  I was worried that Bear might have trouble scrambling up it, but after a little bit of pondering at the bottom, he hopped right up the slope.

Bright orange salmonberries

The rest of the hike back was uneventful, save for swatting at flies, and wiping sweat off my brow.  By that time the woods were hot, and all I could think about was finishing the hike, and getting some ice cream.  When we returned to our car, the temp was well into the 90s.  On the way home, we stopped for a frozen treat at the local grocery store in Welches. Boy, that ice cream tasted wonderful!

My hike with Cody brought back good memories.  It's great to have him home in Oregon, and I hope we get to hike together again soon.

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