Bull of the Woods Lookout - 6/22/14

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justpeachy
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Bull of the Woods Lookout - 6/22/14

Post by justpeachy » June 23rd, 2014, 1:21 pm

On Sunday I hiked up to Bull of the Woods Lookout via Pansy Lake.

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There were about a dozen cars at the trailhead. When I got out of my car, ACK! Mosquitoes! Swarming me! I scrambled for my long-sleeved shirt and headnet, which of course were buried in my pack. Mosquitoes swarmed into my car. I hoped that the car would warm up as the day progressed and that the heat would kill the little bastards. (It didn't.)

I marched through the forest at a steady pace, which was the only way to escape the mosquitoes. There were lots of rhododendrons but only a few were blooming. Snapped a quick picture and kept on hiking.

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Took the side trip down to Pansy Lake, which is really more of a marsh. To my surprise the bugs weren't that bad here. I took the opportunity to switch out long sleeves for sunscreen and bug spray due to the weather warming up.

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The Pansy Lake Trail climbs up away from the lake and you get views of Pansy Mountain towering to the west.

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I picked up Mother Lode Trail #558 and continued climbing. There were occasional views.

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There was a nice little rock garden area at one spot where wildflowers were blooming.

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Saw quite a few bleeding heart in the forest.

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There are huckleberries EVERYWHERE. This would be a great hike in August. Actually, this would be a very slow hike in August, nom, nom, nom.

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This must have been a great hike last year during the banner beargrass bloom. I saw hundreds of dried up beargrass stalks from last summer along the trail and at the summit. Note to self: come back and hike this again next time we have a good beargrass year. ;)

I got to a spot where there was a wide view to the south and southeast. Not knowing which direction I'd have views at the summit I took a panorama photo here. (Turns out you CAN see this direction from the summit.) The snowy peaks on the left are the Three Sisters and I think the big bump on the right is Mother Lode Mountain. (It's actually Battle Ax Mountain.)

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I saw a really weird phenomenon that looked like a reverse rainbow. Later at the summit I saw that it actually encircled the whole sun. Is this a sundog?

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After 2,000 feet of climbing I finally got a glimpse of the lookout.

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Yay, I made it! And there are no mosquitoes up here...thanks, breeze!

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The lookout is getting pretty run down. You can walk around on the catwalk but the lookout has a steel cable wrapped around it to keep the shutters closed and door barricaded.

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Here it is in better days:

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Part of one shutter was missing and I could see through the window that there was a bunch of junk inside, including a new-looking metal ladder. I thought that the lookout was considered officially abandoned, but judging by the stuff inside I don't think that's the case. I don't know what, if any, plans the Forest Service has for this place. I know that the Wilderness Manager for the Mt. Hood National Forest is dead set against having any structures inside wilderness and won't allow maintenance on existing structures (which is why the Upper Sandy Guard Station is falling to pieces). On the other hand, they did take the trouble to wrap the lookout in fire protection during the 2010 View Lake Fire, so who knows.

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Anyway, from the catwalk there are views. So many views! Everywhere! Looking east:

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Looking north (that's Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood in the picture but I could also see Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Rainier):

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Looking south:

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Big Slide Mountain and WAY down below is Big Slide Lake:

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The little white speck in the center is Gold Butte Lookout, where Greg and I stayed on a rainy weekend last September:

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Sisi Butte and its lookout tower:

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The views of Mt. Jefferson and the Three Sisters were especially nice.

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I like to compare lookout views of today to the old panorama photos, if they exist. Here's how the views looked in 1934. Southwest:

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North:

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East:

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Saw a woodpecker. Cool to see him up-close!

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This lookout hasn't been staffed in many decades so I was shocked to see the old outhouse still standing!

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I wasn't alone up there; people came and went, but it was never crowded. I lounged around on the summit for a few hours, just soaking up the views and (finally) the sunshine, once the high level of clouds burned off. This weird little cloud looked like a doodle across the sky. :D

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Finally with a parting shot I tore myself away and hiked down the Bull of the Woods Trail to finish my loop back to the car.

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I picked up the Dickey Lake Trail and headed downhill. This trail has A LOT of downed trees on it. Some of them are situated in such a way that the only way to get past is to get down on your hands and knees and crawl under.

And then I saw a grouse chick! I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and saw a mama grouse, and then I got just a glimpse of a fuzzy chick disappearing down the trail ahead of me. Mama was acting very protective and making all sorts of noises. She seemed like she might act aggressively towards me if I tried to pass (she was just off trail in the forest). I stepped back and gave her a few moments, thinking she'd follow her chick (and, presumably, its siblings), but I later realized she wouldn't do that, drawing attention to her babies. I eventually hiked past very quickly and although she flapped around and got upset, she didn't attack me. I didn't see any more of the chick. But here is someone else's picture of a grouse chick for your AWWWW! moment of the day.

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I took the little side trip to brushy Dickey Lake, then kept moving to escape the mosquitoes.

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Back at the car I dumped my gear in, did some very quick stretches so I wouldn't be limping today (all the while flapping and flailing at the mosquitoes) then jumped in the car and drove away. I didn't even take the time to change from boots to crocs.

There are only seven lookouts still standing in the Mt. Hood National Forest and after today the only one left I haven't visited is Sisi Butte. (Well, Hickman Butte, too, but I'll never get to visit that one since it is in the Bull Run Watershed.) This was a totally GREAT hike for a clear summer day. :D

By the way, there must have been at least 100 people backpacking in the Bull of the Woods Wilderness this weekend. I saw plenty of backpackers just in the little corner of the wilderness I hiked through. I'm sure that there were lots more in other areas.
Cheryl

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pablo
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Re: Bull of the Woods Lookout - 6/22/14

Post by pablo » June 23rd, 2014, 1:43 pm

Nice report and photos as usual. The baby grouse pic is the cutest thing I've seen in ages - you should post that to reddit in /r/awww I should try reading for comprehension, cute pic anyway. In the pano the big bump on the right looks like Battleax.

Thx,

--Paul
Last edited by pablo on June 23rd, 2014, 6:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bull of the Woods Lookout - 6/22/14

Post by acorn woodpecker » June 23rd, 2014, 4:23 pm

Wonderful report and great photos. The historical ones definitely enrich the views of the area when compared with recent photos. I especially love the woodpecker sighting (hence my username)! I had thought of venturing up there this weekend and glad I didn't what with the mosquitos being the way they were.

The pano shot shows the extent of that burn along the Pansy-Mother Lode ridge. That's definitely Battle Ax behind the burnt ridge in the pano photo.

Your rainbow photo is actually called a circumhorizontal arc. I saw one at almost the same time last year and that's the only reason I even know what it is.

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Re: Bull of the Woods Lookout - 6/22/14

Post by kepPNW » June 23rd, 2014, 5:47 pm

This is a hike we've been talking about doing for a month or so, now. Really appreciate all the photos and commentary, as now I'm convinced I definitely want to do it. Will wait a bit for the bugs to die down, too, so I really appreciate that warning! :)
acorn woodpecker wrote:
justpeachy wrote:I saw a really weird phenomenon that looked like a reverse rainbow. Later at the summit I saw that it actually encircled the whole sun. Is this a sundog?
Your rainbow photo is actually called a circumhorizontal arc. I saw one at almost the same time last year and that's the only reason I even know what it is.
We saw that guy for much of the day in the Salmon-Huckleberry! It was really something...

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First sighting, still in the woods, it was fully circling the sun.


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Later, near a much larger opening, we realized there was a double rainbow! (Although only the inner one was 360°.)
Last edited by kepPNW on June 23rd, 2014, 6:35 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bull of the Woods Lookout - 6/22/14

Post by Splintercat » June 23rd, 2014, 6:24 pm

Thanks, Cheryl - terrific report & pics!

Tom :)

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Re: Bull of the Woods Lookout - 6/22/14

Post by Double Tree » June 23rd, 2014, 7:54 pm

"You can walk around on the catwalk but the lookout has a steel cable wrapped around it to keep the shutters closed and door barricaded."

The latch is in your photo, the lower corner. The lookout can be opened up and explored. Nice that no one (as of last fall) had done any serious vandalism. The lookout can be used as a emergency shelter if needed.

Did you notice if the sign is still posted, about the lookout being registered with some sort of "lookout preservation registry" ? Maybe it's gone now.

My avatar photo is Mt. Jefferson (and ring around the sun) from Bull of the Woods above Big Slide Lake. Didn't get the color that you did.

I was fortunate to backpack there in 2006 I think it was, before the fire that burnt all that area in your "Looking south" photo. Off-trailed to a small lake up that ridge. You can just see the lake from the lookout now, since all the bushes and trees are burnt up.

Kelly

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Re: Bull of the Woods Lookout - 6/22/14

Post by justpeachy » June 23rd, 2014, 9:49 pm

Double Tree wrote:The latch is in your photo, the lower corner. The lookout can be opened up and explored. Nice that no one (as of last fall) had done any serious vandalism. The lookout can be used as a emergency shelter if needed.
I didn't realize that! I didn't inspect that latch closely at all; I just assumed that latch was also a lock. Oh well, I'm not sure I would have wanted to wrestle with the thing to explore inside the lookout. I probably wouldn't have gotten it all put back together correctly!
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Re: Bull of the Woods Lookout - 6/22/14

Post by ishredsnow » June 23rd, 2014, 11:17 pm

Matt Zaffino identified the horizontal rainbow as an iridescent cloud, someone had taken one today and shared it with KGW wondering what it was. Beautiful pics as always!

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Re: Bull of the Woods Lookout - 6/22/14

Post by justpeachy » June 24th, 2014, 6:23 am

Double Tree wrote:Did you notice if the sign is still posted, about the lookout being registered with some sort of "lookout preservation registry" ? Maybe it's gone now.
It's still there. The sign says that the lookout is on the National Historic Lookout Register. In some of my photos you can kind of see the sign hanging above the stairs.
Cheryl

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Re: Bull of the Woods Lookout - 6/22/14

Post by RobFromRedland » June 24th, 2014, 2:56 pm

I love that lookout - I just wish there would be some movement on restoring it. Every time I see that lookout, it looks in worse shape than the time before. The catwalk is starting to make me nervous to walk around. It just seems weird it is on the national register and no work can be done on it. Probably competing "regulations" or something.

I hadn't seen that photo of the "wrapping" of the lookout before. I heard it was done, and I could see the remnants of the wrapping last time I was up there. Where did you find that picture? Thanks for posting it.
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