Connecting the Dots

I secretly have a crush on one of the areas of the Cascades. It is a space between Mt Hood and Mt Jefferson called the Bull of the Woods. I repeatedly find myself and my backpacking traipsing through the lush forest, hopping over creeks and enjoying the endless display of natural beauty.

IMG_0638Last week, I took a friend into the woods with me. We left after work Tuesday evening (10:00 PM) and got to a base camp in the Bull of the Woods around 1:00. We set up tent and tucked into our sleeping gear for a night’s sleep. At around 3:00am, we realized it had started to snow. It was a light accumulation which was a pleasure to wake up to.

IMG_0705We woke up later than we had anticipated, ate a delicious breakfast of a fried egg in a tortilla wrap, had some hot coffee and packed up the tent into our packs. It took about another 20 minutes to get to the Pansy Basin trailhead.

IMG_0633From Pansy Basin Trail, we climbed up trail # 551 to #549 to #550. We stopped at the boarded up Lookout Tower. There were a lot of clouds so the view was less than stellar. We then hiked down trail #554 to #553 and camped at Big Slide Lake. As it was mid-week, there were no other humans around. We spent the afternoon eating lots of food and playing cards.

IMG_0672The following day, the sun came out and we were blessed with some blue skies! We climbed back up to the tower for some spectacular views. The panoramic picture shows the mountains from Mt Rainier in WA all the way down to the Three Sisters in central/south Oregon. (Click on the photo, then enlarge it. You’ll have a great picture of the cascade mountain range)

IMG_0639From the tower, we headed down towards Welcome Lakes and the Mother Lode on trail #558, then caught trail #551 back to Pansy Basin. We camped at the lake. It was beautiful and quiet. We had guests show up later in the evening with their extremely friendly and adventurous dogs. They camped at one of the spots closer to the trailhead.

Pansy Lake

Pansy Lake


The following morning, we packed up early and headed back to the trailhead, then back to the city to go to work.

Big Slide Lake

Big Slide Lake

Big Slide Lake

Big Slide Lake

This trek connected a lot of the other trails I had already been through, thus completing most of the trails section I’ve already trekked in the Bull of the Woods. Two more trails to go and I will have completed the whole area.

I love wilderness escapes!IMG_0699

Happy Trekking!

Denny & SamIMG_0658 IMG_0627


Backpacking Prep Trekking

I’ve been doing a lot of hiking this season in preparation for an extended distance hike in September. I’ve been slowly adding weight to my pack and tackling challenging elevation gains. It’s been interesting, but each hike has been successively leading to the next hike.

2014 Treks

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Last week I had a free day and I also did not have to be at work until 5:00 pm the following day. My friend James posted on FB that he was looking for some hiking buddies for his week of Stay-Cation. I suggested an overnight trek into the woods with a camp-out and a trek back, and he agreed to do it with me! So off we went on an adventure that was both quick and rewarding.

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The Bull of the Woods
There is something magical about this section of the Mt Hood National Forest. There are many peaks and valleys, lakes and hot springs, creeks and rivers, and from the highest spots you can see the Cascade Mountain Range from Mt Rainier to the Three Sisters. The Bull of the Woods is sandwiched between Mt Hood and Mt Jefferson – two peaked snow capped volcanoes! Yes Please!

I’ve been doing quite a bit of hiking out in the Bull of the Woods recently and had hoped to do a loop into some of my favorite spots, yet a missed turn on my path brought me into a whole new beautiful spot. Twin Lakes!

Gear Packed – Tent, Sleeping Pad, Sleeping Bag, Hammock, Bear Vault (full of yumminess), Backpacker Stove, Cookware & Fuel, Camp Towel, Flip Flops, Camera, Headlamp, Knife, Warm Clothes, Water Filter and Bladder.

Pansy Basin

The Route Intended:
Pansy Basin to Welcome Lakes (~6 miles one way)

Mother Lode

The Route Taken:
Pansy Basin to The Mother Lode to Twin Lakes (~10 miles one way)

The path we took brought us up and over a pass, down through a burn area from 2011 into a low area (The Mother Lode) full of rhododendrons and wild blueberries/huckleberries. We ate a lot of them. A whole lot of them. They were sweet, ripe and delicious.

Twin Lakes

The trail wound up towards a fork for the Twin Lakes Trail which took us to a scenic overlook camp spot, which we took a long needed rest at, then ventured on around 2.5 more miles to the Twin Lakes area.  Part of the trek passed us over a scree field with amazing views of Mt Jefferson. The scree field echoed with a tingly vibration that sounded like music. It was a musical delight. The water in the lake was warm and crystal clear, nestled inside of a mountainous basin.

Happy Camping!

– Denny

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