Sunday, August 26, 2012

Whitehorse Meadows

After arriving in Winston, Oregon, back from our vacation up north, it was time to tend to business. Chiefly, it was time to make my rounds with doctors, dentists, and oral surgeons; my planned backpack trip in the Diamond Peak Wilderness was relegated to the trash bin along with the little pieces of my jaw taken out during surgery. If I can offer any words of wisdom from my experience, they would simply be "Don't crash your bicycle."

Flower show at the trailhead

But hey, my legs and feet were in working order and with 2 weeks of vacation left, it was time for a near daily hike. The first of these hikes was Whitehorse Meadows, chosen as as destination solely because Maggie the Hiking Dog and I had never been. Judging by the rickety road to get there, the meadows don't see a lot of visitors. And judging by the brand new picnic table and brand new open air compost toilet, maybe a lot of people do indeed come to eat and poop after driving on the rickety road.

Pearly everlasting

Fire comes to visit, too, and the area had been ravaged by last year's Rattlesnake Fire, leaving tracts of dead trees on the rocky ridges above Black Rock Creek. Despite all the arboreal death and destruction, life was bursting at the seams on the ground as the usual post-fire denizens had taken over: fireweed, pearly everlasting, goldenrod, dwarf bramble, and wild strawberries, just to name a few.

Where o where is Wolf Lake?
The drawback to all this ground-level greenery is that the trail becomes overgrown and can be faint and hard to follow at times. I lost the trail during a short side-trip to Wolf Lake and stopped at a marshy meadow that I presumed was the lake. A subsequent check of a map showed that I was close but just short of the small lake. Oh well, now I have a reason to go back again.

View, sort of, to Mount Bailey through the haze

Continuing on, the trail climbed up a rocky ridge through the ghostly snags and then contoured above a rocky ridge that dropped off precipitously at my feet. Wildfire smoke hazed over the view but I could make out Mount Bailey, Diamond Peak, and Crater Lake Rim. Up the valley and several miles ahead, massive Whitehorse Meadows lay draped over a forested ridge like a green comforter over a snoring wife.

Whitehorse Meadows

What goes up, must come down, and the trail descended gently to Whitehorse Meadows and the edge of the fire zone. The meadows are huge and predictably scenic as there is just something about green meadow under a blue sky. We stopped to soak in the view and Maggie also soaked in the little creek in the meadow, cavorting and romping as only a water dog can.

Still life with rhododendron and sunlight
It was just over 3 miles to the meadows and that was just not far enough for mileage-addicted hikers so we continued on in a beautifully shaded forest untouched by fire. Angling gently uphill, we crossed over from the Black Rock Creek drainage into the Castle Creek drainage.

Rattlesnake Mountain

As we walked upward, brief open areas in the forest afforded views of rocky boulder slopes and of the very deep Castle Creek valley. I had entertained a notion of maybe walking as far as Rattlesnake Mountain but when, at the 5.5 mile mark, a brief view showed Rattlesnake Mountain about a mile farther and about 1500 feet higher, it was time to turn around and head back. Rattlesnake Mountain would have to wait for another day.

Trail through the burn
On the way back, the cool sunny day soon turned into a cold, cloudy, and windy day as a storm system blew in, reminding us that summer is about to end.  It was nice to sneak one more hike in before winter comes for an extended visit.

For more pictures of this hike, please visit my photo album in Flickr.

1 comment :

  1. Fantastic Photos. Love the pearly everlasting -- definitely a new one for me. I am going to head over to your album and see the rest of this trip.
    Darlene (tweey13)