Sunday, November 4, 2012

Castle Rock

This was the hiking equivalent of making lemonade when you have lemons. The hike is only two miles round trip unless you begin on the King Castle Trail in which case you can look forward to an 11.4 mile round trip hike with nearly 3,000 feet of elevation gain. Sounds good to me!

Leaf on a leaf

The original plan was a hike in the Horsepasture Mountain area but alas, the forest service had closed the road for the winter. The irony was that this was a particularly sunny day, they could have waited until it actually snowed. But anyway, a road closure was what I had to deal with so I backtracked and headed up the road to nearby Tidbits Mountain. That road was closed too, causing me to get out of the car and throw a tantrum under the blue sky.

Blushing red with embarrassment
Since I wasted already half the day driving around on forest roads, I lowered my standards and parked at the Castle Rock trailhead, gritting my teeth at the shameful ignominy of hiking only two miles as I silently debated whether I would tell my hiking friends about this.

It's yellow in there
Since this was going to be a short one, I figured I could turn the hike into a photo shoot and take pictures of everything. After the first few steps, it was obvious that the theme of this hike would be "Autumn". The vine maples were running riot with colors, exhibiting every shade of yellow in the known universe.

Yellower than a coward's liver
Tall firs kept the forest shady with the occasional sunbeam filtering through and illuminating a lucky vine maple tree. The combination of light, shadow, and yellows was absolutely entrancing and I quickly forgot about being embarrassed.

Mini-castle rock

The going was slow, due to all the camera fun, and switchbacks kept the grade manageable. After a bit, rocky things began to appear underneath the trees, the green moss on the rocks adding to the color mix. It was quite a shock to suddenly exit the forest onto a dry slope with a big blue sky overhead. A short traverse across the slope brought me to a small saddle with a view for the ages.

View straight down
Castle Rock is a comparatively short 3,808 feet high, looming about 1,500 feet above the McKenzie River valley. So precipitous was the difference between the valley floor and the summit that if I were to pee off the summit (of course, I would never do no such thing) someone in the community of Rainbow would be unhappy about warm rain on a sunny day.

The McKenzie River valley
The McKenzie River follows a glacial trough and I could follow the river's path from its inception at Clear Lake to a much wider version tractoring its way westward to Eugene. The valley floor was an arboreal fireworks display of yellows worthy of a jaundiced lemon. As I lunched there, the clouds lifted and the Three Sisters made an appearance.

Peace in the forest
After a lengthy and relaxing summit lunch, I returned to the forest and all the autumn colors bursting forth as the shadows lengthened in the afternoon. My legs were wondering where the rest of their hike was when we arrived at the car but there was no complaining for me as this small hike delivered in a large way.

For the rest of the pictures, just click on this link.

Family reunion with the Three Sisters



  1. this hike in ten steps is wonderful, it is not a waste of time to see the full album

  2. This is a hike I might actually be able to Nice shots Richard. Fay