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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Triangle Lake Equestrian Camp, Mt Hood National Forest

I have to admit the main reason I wanted to camp at Triangle was to do the ride into Jefferson Park from the S. Breitenbush Trailhead which is located on the way to the camp (if coming from the south).

Mt. Jefferson and Scout Lake.

Although I have hiked into here before, I wanted to revisit and check out the whole area on horseback. There are a few different trailheads that provide access, but most are not horse trailer friendly so S. Breitenbush TH was the best option.

S. Breitenbush Trailhead.

This trail gradually climbs almost 3000 feet in elevation in 6 miles, and it becomes pretty rocky in the middle section.

On the S. Breitenbush Trail.

Once I got close to the mountain there were a lot of pretty little meadows and creeks. Then the trail met the PCT and I was right next to Russell Lake.

Mt. Jefferson on the S. Breitenbush Trail.

I wandered around for awhile, checking out Scout Lake, Bays Lake, and Park Lake.

Scout Lake and Mt. Jefferson.

Park Butte.

After awhile I had to leave this beauty behind, head back down and continue the drive over to Triangle. The first part of the road into camp is paved but the last four miles are gravel and it is a rough potholed road. This is the Olallie Lake Resort and there are numerous campgrounds for people but the horse camp is one of the first that you come to, still 3 miles from Olallie Lake itself. Once this resort is closed for the season, the gate is shut and no one can get in to any of the camps.

Triangle Lake Equestrian Camp is a large half circle with 8 spots which are quite roomy with most being large enough for bigger rigs, although they are all "back in" only.
There is a bathroom, three manure bins, a garbage can, and a very large water storage container that is for stock, no potable water. It is $15.00 per night and is managed by the resort.
The only downside is there is quite a bit of traffic going to and fro along the main road and the people that are driving entirely too fast, kick up a large cloud of dust which then hangs in the air and drifts through camp for quite some time.

Triangle Lake Equestrian Camp. 

The stock water tank at Triangle Lake Equestrian Camp.

The actual Triangle Lake sits a very short stroll behind the camp but it is off limits for horses. At this time of year it is more of a large puddle, not deep enough for swimming.

Triangle Lake and Olallie Butte.

On my second day I headed over to the PCT which is a short jaunt away, and rode south, basically back towards Jefferson Park again except it would be a rather long ride from camp, 29 miles total, to get there and back. This country has A LOT of lakes...I rode past Olallie Lake and Head Lake which is right next to it, and is a nice swimming lake. Olallie Lake is off limits for swimming because they use it for drinking water. I then continued to Cigar Lake and Upper Lake and then about half a mile further to a meadow, and then turned around. On my way back I visited a side trail to Top Lake. There is also a trail that climbs Olallie Butte, which I did not do. Looking it up later, it has an interesting story, the last part of the climb ends up on the Warm Springs Indian Reservation, technically you are not supposed to hike/ride on Indian land without permission except on the PCT. I guess the Indians have removed the original trailhead signs (there are some new handmade ones now) to discourage hiking, but don't seem to be really trying hard to prevent it either.

Head Lake is right near Olallie Lake and looks great for swimming, there is even a floating dock.

Olallie Lake from the PCT.

Cigar Lake.

On the PCT.

 Mt. Jefferson looks so close, but isn't!

Top Lake and Olallie Butte.

It was nice to be riding somewhere where I knew for a fact that the trails would be cleared, especially this year, with last winter having wreaked havoc on most trails, and not enough manpower to get to all of them. OET clears the Lodgepole Trail every year in July and also a part of the PCT, and the Muleskinners maintain this section of the PCT as well.

Sign on the PCT.

The guard station cabin at Olallie Lake Resort. This can be rented.

On the third day I rode the PCT north, this is a very easy stretch of the trail that passes Jude Lake then runs along a ridge for awhile with occasional views of Mt. Hood, then drops down to Lemiti Creek which is currently dry, and into the Warm Springs Indian Reservation. Again I rode as long as I felt like before heading back.
The PCT can be a busy trail but I saw no one on the way out, and only a few hikers on the way back.

Fall colors on the PCT.

Standing in Lemiti Creek, which is currently dry.

Heading north on the PCT.

Mt. Hood from the PCT.

My evenings at camp were uneventful seeing as how no one else was camped there the entire time.
The next morning was cloudy and I figured I would get rained on at some point...and I did, but not for too long.
I did the Lodgepole Trail which heads south for awhile then climbs up to several lakes. I passed Lower Lake, then did a side trail over for a view of Fish Lake, then Middle Lake and then I got to the junction with the Red Lake Trail and decided rather than turn around and go back the same way, I would just follow it back to the PCT and ride that section once again. When I arrived at the resort, I took the road home this time for a change of scenery.

The Lodgepole Trail.

Looking down onto Fish Lake.

Stopped for a snack at a small pond on the Red Lake Trail.

There were still even more lakes I could have visited and a few other options for making some loops, so there is plenty of exploring to do in this area.
Driving back down in elevation, it was pouring, and there was a bike race going on with drenched cyclists to dodge ...glad to get back home to the desert, where the rain does not dare to fall!


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Three Creek Meadow Horse Camp, Deschutes National Forest

Long long ago before I lived in Central Oregon I camped at Three Creeks and was completely enamored by it. Now it is about a 45 minute drive from my house and I can go up and do the rides anytime. If you are looking for an area with a lot of scenery, and with trails that are not difficult, this is the place to be.

Park Meadow.

To get there: From Sisters OR take Elm St. south for 15 miles. This road is paved up until the last mile or so which is a little rough. When you see a large meadow on your right this is part of the campground, but it is the side for non horse people. Rather than turning there continue up the gravel road briefly and just after a horse crossing sign take a right. This will take you into the day use area and then the horse camp.

Three Creek Meadow Horse Camp entrance.

The day use area at Three Creek Meadow Horse Camp.

Three Creek Meadow has 9 spots with log corrals.
There is a day use area, two water troughs for stock, a bathroom, garbage cans, a bottle and can recycle barrel, and two large dumpsters for manure with ramps so you can push wheelbarrows up into them. There is no potable water. It is $14.00 per night, and there is a camp host nearby in the people campground. If you continue up the road past the camp you will happen upon Three Creek Lake which is a nice place for visiting after a ride on a hot day.

Three Creek Lake.

As of June 20th 2016 they are enforcing that no one other than horse people can use this camp. There are barriers across the two loop roads that you can move if you are indeed a horse person.
Some friends of mine camped here last summer and since they have a bigger rig they knew exactly which spot they were hoping to get into. Upon arriving they found a man with a tent, no horses, camped in the spot they knowing that this can no longer happen is a great thing.

Barriers so non horse folks are no longer allowed into the camp.

Corrals at Three Creek Meadow Horse Camp.

To do the ride from Three Creeks to Park Meadow, Golden Lake and Green Lakes, leave camp from the message board behind site #12 and take the trail to the far right after crossing the creek....the other trail that leaves from here will get you there eventually as well, but it is a longer version.
The first part of this trail will be through a burn area from the fire in 2012.

The creek behind spot #12. The trail begins here.

Still not much growth in the burned area.

You will get to an unsigned junction, here you will take a left....on the way back remember to turn here again, it is marked with some small orange pointer signs on the trees.

Continue along the trail, and soon there will be another junction where there will be signs pointing towards Park Meadow, which is the correct way.

Signs for Park Meadow.

Once you get to Park Meadow enjoy the lovely view of Broken Top and continue on from here following signs pointing towards Green Lakes.

Kate enjoys the view from Park Meadow.

Happy puppy, cooling off in the creek at Park Meadow.

You will start climbing after the meadow and not too far along there is another unsigned trail to the left with a cairn on the ground. This is the trail to Golden Lake and if you just wanted to ride to Park Meadow and then over to Golden Lake it would be a 12 mile ride.

Golden Lake.

Golden lake is a beautiful destination and if you want to extend this ride a little longer you can continue past the lake another mile to the two tarns that sit below Broken Top.

One of the tarns above Golden Lake.

Back on the main trail you will then be passing right by South Sister, with Broken Top on your left. And then the descent begins into the Green Lakes area.

North and Middle Sister.

South Sister.

If you don't mind a longer ride, this is 17 miles total and is a much better alternative to getting into Green Lakes than from the overpopulated trailhead on Cascade Lakes Hwy. Although there are designated horse trailer parking areas there, this trail has become so popular that getting a parking spot can be tricky even during the week.

Once at Green Lakes you can explore the area for awhile, and then retrace your steps back the same way.

Green Lakes with Mt. Bachelor on the left.

Green Lakes.

South Sister from Green Lakes.

Another great ride to do from camp is the Tam McArthur Rim trail. There is more than one way to do this ride. The longer less scenic way or the shorter more scenic way... or a combination of both.
I have heard that some people do not like the shorter way which leaves from the TH at Three Creek Lake. There are a few steeper sections, but I personally much prefer this way. You can detour onto the Metolius Windigo trail on the way back and make it into a loop. The shorter version of this ride is 10 miles round trip to the rim and back, although you can ride another mile along the red cinder until the trail becomes impassable to stock.

Tam McArthur Rim.

Terraka's photo of me on the Tam McArthur Rim trail.

Riding on the Tam McArthur Rim trail.

There is also a short but scenic loop ride over to Little Three Creek Lake. You can do this from the day use area or from the other trail that goes to the left behind site #12.

Little Three Creek Lake.

The Tam McArthur Rim on the way to Little Three Creek Lake.

All these rides are stunning!

Happy Trails!


Saturday, August 27, 2016

Hidden Horse (Trinity Alps) and Lovers Camp (Marble Mts.) Klamath National Forest

After unforeseen circumstances forced me to delay this trip on three different occasions, I finally got to leave on a Saturday and head over to Northern California to Hidden Horse Equestrian Campground, also called Carter Meadows, in the Trinity Alps. I was slightly concerned about getting a spot on a Saturday but I had no issue, in fact the place was pretty quiet during my whole stay.
Although this is only my second time camping in California I have to say I am impressed with the effort they put in to make the camps as nice for horse people as they can, adding a few extras you don't normally find out in the middle of nowhere.

The Marble Mountain Wilderness.

Hidden Horse has 6 sites with log corrals, except for spot #6 which has steel corrals, and is the only one that can be reserved. There are potable water spigots in each site, and an extra couple by the bathrooms. Spot #5 is accessible for people with disabilities.
There is a manure bin, with a couple of muck buckets, two bathrooms, two bear proof trash receptacles and a recycling bin. There is a $10.00 per night fee, and there is no extra charge for more than one vehicle.
Across the creek, close by, but not in view, is the Carter Meadows group camp with 12 steel corrals, a water trough, potable water spigots and a bathroom. There is also a large group cooking area.The gate is locked, it is reservation only, so you can't just drive in there, but it is a really nice option for larger parties.

Hidden Horse Equestrian Campground.

Hidden Horse Equestrian Campground.

While at camp that night I could hear some clanging noises nearby and after awhile I felt the need to investigate, it sounded like cowbells to me, and that is indeed what it turned out to be. There's a meadow near the group camp and the cows were grazing there. I also heard them a lot in the next couple of days, while riding, I'd be perched atop a mountain pass and hear a cowbell way down in a valley below me.

Early the first morning I went outside and discovered my horse was not actually in her corral. Not a large concern since she is not a horse that heads for the hills when loose, she doesn't even care about canoodling with any other horses in the vicinity. But it was a bit of a mystery how she got out, since she is not an escape artist. I put her back in and watched her for awhile and the mystery was solved. She has always liked to itch her butt and neck on things, and this resulted in her sliding the gate open ever so slowly. The lever latch on the gate was a little sticky, so I hadn't closed it all the way, I fixed it, and had no further issues after that.

At the TH there is a map board and it was very helpful. I took a picture of it with my phone and referred to it while riding. There are a lot of options on the map with many loops that go on forever. My first ride was north on the PCT taking a detour over to see Syphon Lake, then past Jackson Lake way below me, and then into the Russian Wilderness.

On the PCT.

On the PCT.

Taking a side trip over to Syphon Lake.

On the way to Syphon  Lake.

Syphon Lake.

This country is very similar to the Wallowas's in Oregon, but most of the trails aren't as difficult and the road driving in is paved, although there are a lot of steep sections with a few hairpin turns thrown in for good measure.

The Russian Wilderness.

On the PCT in the Russian Wilderness.

Jackson Lake, Mt. Shasta in the distance.

On my way back I ran into a hiker carrying a sun umbrella which is a shiny silver metallic color. Rina is a very seasoned trail horse and has seen every configuration of backpack known to man, people covered head to toe in mosquito netting, strange headgear etc. but an umbrella was a little different. This guy was prepared, having already had an encounter with a horse that was not pleased to see him, so he folded it up quickly and no harm was done. An hour later, I kid you not, umbrella guy #2 came hiking up the trail. This time I had to holler at him to fold it up, which he was happy to do. At the very end of this trip I saw one more guy sporting an umbrella so my conclusion is, it is the new thing hikers are carrying and it may be best to get your horse used to them at home to be prepared for a possible encounter!

The following day I went over to Trail Gulch, visiting Trail Gulch Lake first and then looping back down Long Gulch passing Long Gulch Lake along the way. This was a day that I had wanted to do a longer ride but once I got to the top of the loop, I was on a ridge and all the other loops from there were all straight back downhill in different directions which meant I would have had to climb back up, so I made the decision to stick with a shorter ride that day...just over 5 hours.

Riding up Trail Gulch.

Trail Gulch Lake.

Views from the top of the Trail Gulch loop.

Looking down on Long Gulch Lake.

The following day I went back to the PCT and headed south this time knowing that I also wanted to detour over and check out South Fork Lakes. The trail to these lakes is steep and rocky and turned out to be quite the climb so it took a little longer than expected. I knew there was a way to do a loop once up there but although I started out on the Saloon Creek Trail, it wasn't very well used and had not been cleared, so I turned around and went back down. Continuing to ride along the PCT I found myself in some very pretty country. I could see across in the distance to some other mountains that make it pretty obvious why they are called the Trinity Alps.

Trinity Alps sign on the PCT.

Lower South Fork Lake.

Upper South Fork Lake.

Our spot for lunch after the steep trip up to South Fork Lakes.

Rina spots some hikers coming on the PCT.

Some of the "Alps" in the distance.

On the PCT.

I met a young German guy hiking the PCT backward, north to south, a girl sleeping on a rock, a couple of guys that wanted to take my picture because they said they don't see horses often, and unfortunately a guy who had an attitude problem about horses, and apparently thought he was an expert on them as well.... not everyone is nice.... but most are.

That night my solitude was interrupted by a couple of ladies and three kids that came in and camped right next to me. They stayed for two nights but rode just for one day, strapping the smallest kid on the largest possible horse. Meanwhile I gave my horse the day off and hiked up to Hidden Lake.
I was hoping for a nice swim once I got there, and I did jump in a couple times, but it wasn't a great swimming lake, too shallow, with too many dead trees in it.

While hiking I was looking across at where I was riding the day before.

Cows invade camp in the morning.

The next day it was time to pack up and do the hour or so drive to my next destination, Lovers Camp in the Marble Mountains. I stopped in the tiny town of Etna for fuel and hurried back up to the high country, as it was HOT in the lower elevations. The last 8 miles of this road is narrow, one lane and fairly steep, but it is paved.

Lovers Camp is a trailhead, with two separate parking lots, one for cars and hikers with walk in camp spots, and then the area for horses. I tucked my rig into a corner and made myself at home. There are four very large steel corrals, each corral has it's own water trough that you can fill with a spigot. There is a bathroom, but no garbage, no manure bin, and no potable water. There is no fee to camp or park here.
The Canyon Creek Trail leaves from here, and it is a popular area for horse use, during the time I was there different rigs came and went, with most people doing pack trips, as well as some day riders.

Lovers Camp.

Lovers Camp.

There is a map board at this camp as well, and this one is even better than the one at Hidden Horse. This one shows other trailheads in the area that have corrals for horses, in fact I now plan to return and camp at another one in the future.
Also besides the red lines for trails on the map there were some black lines that were trails marked as unsuitable for stock, which was handy to know ahead of time.

My horse was pretty perky after having a couple of days off so we headed off on our first day up the Canyon Creek Trail. This trail splits after a short while and there are two valleys you can ride through, Marble Valley and Red Rock Valley. I picked Marble Valley and the Sky High Lakes. I talked to a forest service lady I met on the way up, I told her how much I liked the huge corrals at camp and the easy access to stock water, and she said her husband had welded those corrals.

The lakes themselves are nice, but the whole valley is just gorgeous, even in mid August it was still so lush.
I met some ladies camping in the meadow, they were on a walk at the time but warned me that several of their horses were loose...on purpose...up by their camp. I rode on past the horses and two of them did try to follow me briefly.
After exploring this area, I continued on to the PCT getting a great view of Marble Mt. I then took a side trail over to Big Elk Lake. This trail runs through a pretty recent burn area for awhile but the lake itself is unscathed.
I then rode past the Marble Valley cabin and headed back to camp.

Sky High Lakes Valley.

Lower Sky High Lake.

Frying Pan Lake.

Looking down on the Sky High Lakes.

Marble Mt. from the PCT.

Marble Valley cabin.

There are enough choices of places to ride here that I had to narrow it down, and realize I couldn't do it all... so the following day I chose to go up Red Rock Valley and then took a side trail towards Little Elk Lake and beyond. On the map I could see that the trail might be a little steep, and it was. I climbed up, then down, then up, then down quite a few times, and by this time with it not being especially scenic thus far, I was starting to think maybe I should have done a different ride... when I finally arrived at Deep Lake, and oh my...what a treat that was. A gorgeous lake nestled between mountains in a lush green valley. The pictures I took do not do this place justice unfortunately...I hung out there for about an hour while Rina contentedly munched the tall grass.

Deep Lake.

Lunch time at Deep lake.

On my way back I ran into a bow hunter, I was surprised to see him since I did not realize that California's bow season had started already. We talked for a minute and that is when I realized he was going in completely the wrong direction, so before he trudged along for miles and got lost, I redirected him towards the PCT....he wasn't thrilled to learn he had just climbed a rather long steep hill for no reason.

Later that evening back at camp, a truck drove in with four large goats in the back of it. Three guys got out and introduced themselves. Doug, Dave and Michael are also bow hunters and they use the goats to pack in some of their stuff. We proceeded to sit around shooting the breeze for the next few hours, nice guys, even though I think they got the clue I am not, and never will be a hunter.

One of the pack goats.

On my last day I rode back up through Marble Valley onto the PCT and went north. Fairly soon I was riding right through the marble, then along a ridge line for a long time with great views. And lastly to my destination for the day which was Paradise Lake.

Riding through the marble on the PCT.

On the PCT.

On the PCT.

The Marble Mountain Wilderness.

Paradise Lake.

That night a guy suddenly appeared at my trailer and asked me where I had ridden that day and whether I had smelled smoke...the short version is, he was out for a brief hike and was going to take a swim in the creek and smelled something burning. Turns out a campfire had not been put out properly and was smoldering away. He put it out and basically diverted potential disaster. As we talked I realized where he had seen it, and I told him that I had seen who was camped there the day before, and that they were the likely culprits. There was not much to be done about it at that point, but he was going to report it to the forest service the next day.

I spent one more night, and then drove home the next day...a very fun and diverse trip, so glad I finally got to ride in these two areas!