Thursday, August 31, 2017

Crescent Mountain

Trudging up the steep path through a hot, humid, seemingly endless forest, I thought to myself  "This had better be worth it."

Bridge over Maude Creek

In mid-July I talked my hubby into a weekend camping trip near Central Oregon's Mt Jefferson.  We decided to visit our favorite Forest Service campground on the banks of the North Santiam River.  Half of it's sites were first come, first serve, perfect for last-minute folks like us.  I had the Friday off, while dear hubby had to work until noon.  Fearing all the campsites would be claimed by afternoon, we hatched a plan where I'd drive up early Friday morning, secure a site, and then be free to go hiking.  Hubby would follow later in the day with the lion's share of the gear, coolers of food, and of course, the beer!

Cascade Lilies

Our plan worked perfectly.  I was able to snag a gorgeous secluded riverside campsite (timing is everything - I came upon it right after the previous night's occupant had vacated).  After erecting our tent and setting up a few chairs around the fire ring, (to signal that the site was taken) my work here was done.  Time to hit the trail!

Dried beargrass stalks

One of the hikes I'd been wanting to cross off my list was the trek up nearby Crescent Mountain.  A challenging climb to a large open ridge, this area had a reputation for stunning early summer beargrass displays.  Although various hiking websites indicated the peak bloom had happened a couple of weeks ago, I was game to see what flowers might still be around.

Scarlet Gilia

So I drove about 20 miles from the campground, turned onto a nice (paved even!) Forest Service road and traveled a short distance on another good gravel road.  I was a tiny bit worried that the trailhead might be full, but upon arrival its large parking area was totally deserted.  Locking the car and shouldering my pack, I could feel the day's temperature already on the rise.  It was gonna be a toasty one!

Beargrass and lupine

The trail started out mellow enough with an easy downhill mile to lovely Maude Creek.  But after crossing it's ample wooden footbridge, things changed in a hurry.

A few daisies

The path climbed steeply through dense, viewless woods.  Both the temperature and humidity began to rise, turning my trek into a sweaty slog.  There were no flowers to speak of, and besides the forest, nothing interesting to see.  Slowly I puffed along, wiping my brow.  It was the longest 2.5 miles I think I've ever hiked!

Finally some views!

But finally, I spotted some gorgeous Cascade Lilies, their fragrant blooms sweetening the air.  As the trail wound past this lily  patch, I noticed  more color on the adjacent hillside.  The forest appeared to be receding.

Colorful slope

I came out onto an open ridgecrest.  Views of the adjacent rounded hills spread out before me.  Bright purple lupine covered the open slopes, accented by orange Scarlet Gilia.  It was sure nice to see something besides forest.

Lupine was in prime shape

I'd definitely hit the height of the lupine bloom.  The tall purple flowers were everywhere!   But as predicted, the beargrass was nearly done.  All that remained were the tall stalks, which I thought were scenic in their own way.  Judging by the large number of stalks, I could tell the rumors of plentiful beargrass blooms were true.

Lots of mountains to be seen from the summit (Hood and Jefferson)

The meadows were chock-full of colorful flowers.  Beside lupine, I noticed lots of yellow Oregon sunshine, asters, daisies, a few paintbrush, and some pretty unknown pink flowers.  Even though the beargrass was done, the rest of this colorful bloom more than made up for it.

Mt Washington and Three Sisters

The next mile was slow as I wandered through the meadows, snapping copious photographs.

Not a bad lunch view!

Finally, the trail led me through a small wooded area sporting a few straggler beargrass blooms.  Then I climbed a steep spur trail that came out on Crescent Mountain's summit.  Yahoo!  My climbing was finally done!  Time for a good, long lunch break.

This butterfly loved my backpack

Foundations from an old lookout tower were all that remained on Crescent Mountain's rocky apex.  But the views were grand.  To the north, I spotted Mts Hood and Jefferson.  To the east, Mts Washington, Three Sisters, and Black Butte.  Although sunny and hot, the day's clear skies made for some spectacular mountain panoramas.

I think it was after my water hose

The early afternoon heat had brought the insects out in droves.  Dozens of colorful butterflies flitted around the summit.  Try as I might, they wouldn't sit still long enough for me to get a photo.  But then I noticed a couple of them hanging on my backpack's water hose.  The butterflies must have been thirsty, because they didn't move an inch.  Finally, I was able to snatch a couple images of these beautiful creatures.

Benchmark on Crescent Mtn summit

Rest, food and hydration were just what my body needed!  After a nice long relaxing break, I shooed the butterflies off my backpack and prepared for the long, steep descent.

Backlit beargrass poofs

I lingered in the flower-filled meadow as long as I could.  It was just as nice the second time around, and I'm sure about the same number of images were captured on the return trip.  The meadows were full of butterflies and it was a delight to watch them soar through the blooms.

Three Sisters view on the return trip

Both Mt Washington and the Three Sisters were front and center as I traveled back down.  Afternoon light was perfect for some nice captures.

Mt Washington

But finally, I had to bid these wonderful meadows farewell, and endure a long punishing descent back down the boring, steep trail.  It seemed to go on forever......there was nothing to see but trees, and the temps hadn't cooled down in the least.  About halfway down I encountered the only other hikers I'd seen all day, a couple heading up.  When finally reaching Maude Creek again, I was so hot I soaked a bandana in it's cool waters and tied it around my neck for some relief.

Lovely pink unknown flowers

Then I trudged uphill on a hot, dusty trail.  I swore that the trail stretchers had been out....a mile never seemed so long.  All I could think about was the cold beer waiting for me back at our campsite (at least I hoped my hubby was there by now).

The only butterfly who sat still

Although the first three miles weren't very exciting, the fantastic bloom in Crescent Mountain's upper meadows and the panorama of peaks at the top made this hot slog worthwhile.  Now it was time to head back to our sweet riverside campsite.....and plan tomorrow's hiking adventure.

Which I'll write about in my next post!

Stats:  9 miles round trip, 2200 feet elevation gain

Sharing with:  Through My Lens


  1. Magnificas fotografias onde a natureza nos mostra toda a sua beleza.
    Um abraço e bom fim-de-semana.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa

  2. that's a mighty nice flower garden.

  3. It looks as though the hike was well worth the toil. (Some husbands would have stayed home and drunk the beer!).

  4. Hi! There are many beautiful flowers. I like them very much. The views from the mountain top are very cool. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Hello, it is awesome to see the mountain tops in the clear. Gorgeous views. The wildflowers are just beautiful, love the pretty butterfly too. Great report on your hike and beautiful collection of photos. Happy Friday, enjoy your day and the Labor Day weekend!

  6. Well that sounds like a beast of a hike...but the flowers and mountain views sure were worth it!

  7. Nice to get the reward of a fabulous view at the end of a hot hike! Love the butterfly and lily photos, and who can resist a distant view of one of the Cascade's most shapely mountain peaks! The beargrass was certainly stunning everywhere this year, wasn't it?

  8. What a gorgeous and captivating place, Linda! Thank you so much for sharing.

  9. Beautiful photos! ! Love checking out your blog for travel advice and inspirations, thanks for the share!

  10. Tough climb in that heat. Glad it was worthwhile. You took some great photos of those wonderful flowers not forgetting the mountains, of course.

  11. Long, hot sweaty slog, but magnificent vistas and wildflowers a perfect reward for effort.
    I just love the clarity of the sky and how on so many of your hikes, the snow capped peaks wink back at you.

  12. Can't get over the flowers you find on the alpine trails! Love that photo of the Beargrass blooms.

  13. What an amazing place. So beautiful and relaxing. I love that photo of the butterfly on your backpack. Very cute!

  14. I'm starting to recognize some of the flowers and critters now. Soon as I saw the beargrass photo I thought "that's beargrass" without needing to see the caption. Yeah, I'm learning! I think the butterfly is a Baltimore Checkerspot. Spent hours trying to photograph UK butterflies here only to get a wingtip, an empty flower or a blurred image. A good challenge though that brings its own rewards.

  15. Such beauty - I love your endless forests.

  16. Another gorgeous trek. - Loved seeing the view of the Three Sisters Mountains. Also those lilies, so pretty.

  17. Nice series - amazed at how many flowers you still have

  18. These photos are stunning...and lupines are my favorite!

  19. Greetings from the UK. Great shots. Looks an amazing place to visit.

    Thank you. Love love, Andrew. Bye.

  20. I've just finished catching up on your blog after my holidays and what an enjoyable hour that was! Looks like you are having a superb summer of hiking :)

  21. I'm glad I can always count on you for my wildflower fix. :)

  22. You find the best stuff to photograph! Awesome shots!

  23. It almost always is worth it in the end I find! Great pictures.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  24. I tried to run this trail about a month ago. Ha. Ha.

  25. Since I can't hike my new state, I love getting to join you here! Beautiful views! I love the Cascades so much! Wonderful wildflowers! Hope you checked out my Over the Rivers and Through the Woods post...the Cascades by car! :-) Take care and have an awesome week.

  26. What a fabulous trip! Your pictures are stunning as usual. :-)

  27. What a great hike! I love seeing all the wildflowers:)


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