Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Hike: High Rock Lookout Trail, Towhead Gap, WA

Getting There:

Last time I was in the area, I'd stayed in Packwood, WA and took NF-52 to NF-84 up to Mile 8.5 and never found the lookout.

This time, since I was coming from Portland, I took I-5 to Hwy 12, then north on WA-7 from Morton to Elbe. Then went east on WA-706 which becomes Paradise Road E. 

This is the road goes through the Nisqually Entrance to Mt Rainier National Park and winds passed the Paradise Lodge and Reflection Lake.

From SR-706, I took the Skate Creek Road Turnoff which will take you to Packwood. It's 4.7 miles to the NF-84 turnoff. It's 6.8 miles to the NF-8440. It's 2.6 miles to the trailhead.

There is no signage at the last turn onto NF-8440 which is why I drove passed... twice! Today I drove passed cheerfully because I didn't do my research. I assumed that I just hadn't gone far enough passed the 8.5 mile mark. I waved as I drove by my previous turnaround spot. I saw a small road a ways up but continued. It just didn't feel right and I turned around at 10.5 miles and returned the small road (NF-8460).

NF-8460 was pretty narrow with overgrowth, and quite rutted. I panicked a little because there was no where to turn around. I backed down a couple hundred yards to a place I could do a 5-pt turn. (LOL, this is the length of the JK Unlimited biting me in the butt). I scraped some branches in the process on the driver's side. Matches the scrape I got on the passenger side on Red Bluff Road near Stevenson, WA.  :(.

Thanks to GPS I went back down the hill to the junction for NF-8440. I was a bit surprised at the number of cars in the little parking lot, for a Tuesday. Whatevs.

The Hike:

Length: 3.1 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 1318 feet
Type: Out & Back
Duration: 2.5 hours  

There is a lot of elevation gain. It's not quite as taxing at the Silver Star hike a few weeks ago but still a good leg burner. I was off my game, preparation wise - not enough water, no neck gaiter, didn't stretch properly. 

Honestly, I envisioned the lookout to a be a short walk from the road, maybe like Sherrard Point at Larch Mountain. I had my pack which seems to be better than the day pack I'd been using.

It's a well maintained trail with only one or two trees across the path. The route follows a narrow ridge which allows a lot of light to come through the trees but it's still mostly shaded. You eventually reach a steep section on rock and offers some early views of Rainier and Adams.

The top of trail is a bit of a switchback; you overshoot the lookout, then zag underneath it. As you pass a scree field, you'll see the structure above. The trail ends in the trees about 200 ft below the lookout. Looks like a foundation of an old structure. The climb to the lookout is steep on solid rock. There doesn't seem to be any right way but beware of some serious drop offs. 

From the lookout, you get amazing views all around, including the Cascade Mountains: Rainier, Adams, St Helens, and Hood. 

It helps to have hiking poles for the descent.

Here are some of the photos from the ascent and at the top.

Monday, September 28, 2020

Hike: Warrior Rock Lighthouse Trail, St Helens, OR

Getting There:

From Hwy 30, cross the bridge to Sauvie Island and head north passed the store. Turn right onto NW Reeder Rd and take it all the way to the end. Just before the beaches, the road turns to dirt. There are big sections of washboarding.

A parking permit is required on the island: https://sauvieisland.org/visitor-information/park-permits/

The Hike:

Length: 6.5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 42 feet
Type: Out & Back
Duration: 2 hours  

This is an easy hike. I'm surprised that AllTrails shows any elevation change. There is one fallen tree that you have to go around and a couple others that you can walk through single file. Otherwise, the trail is wide and was apparently used as an access road to the lighthouse in the past. 

You cannot climb on or inside the lighthouse. It's not the kind with a Fresnel lens, but cool landmark to see.

"Warrior Rock Light is a lighthouse on Sauvie Island in the U.S. state of Oregon, which helps guide river traffic on the Columbia River around the Portland, Oregon area. It once contained the Pacific Northwest's oldest fog bell. It is Oregon's smallest lighthouse, and the only lighthouse, or one of only two lighthouses, still operating in Oregon which are not on the Pacific Ocean, depending on whether the Umpqua River Lighthouse is considered to be on the coast or on the Umpqua River."

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warrior_Rock_Light

Some more views from the point: 

Difficult to see, Mt St Helens is peeking over the horizon, right of center (photo below). She is pretty barren of snow at the moment.