I "discovered" Cook Hill

Discussions and Trip Reports for off-trail adventures and rediscovering lost trails
Post Reply
User avatar
Chip Down
Posts: 1356
Joined: November 8th, 2014, 8:41 pm

I "discovered" Cook Hill

Post by Chip Down » November 19th, 2017, 2:16 pm

I wanted to check out a long skinny waterfall east of Dog Creek Falls (east of Dog Mountain). It wasn't a full day hike, but the map showed if I kept going uphill I'd reach a high point around 2800' (just barely higher than Dog). From there, I could descend a ridge that drops NW to a saddle before continuing to Augspurger Mt. But my goal was just getting to the 2800' high point. It's not much elevation gain or distance, but I was anxious about bushwhacking and deep snow, so I set a time budget of 5 hours for the ascent.

Finding my waterfall was easier than I thought it might be. I remembered approximately where it was, but thought I might have to search a bit. Also, the bottom was much lower than expected, hidden from the vantage where I first saw this creek on a previous visit to the peaks east of Dog Creek Falls. I came to realize this waterfall is steeper and taller than I had previously thought, cascading and twisting through a few drops in a deep slot. I was pleased to have found the bottom so easily, rather than meeting it part way up as I had expected. Also was surprised to see the creek went underground almost immediately downstream of the pool (but it soon emerges again).

I followed the creek up, into a grass-and-oak band, where it was still in a slot, until it took me into forest, at which point the slot opened into a typical creek gully. I left the creek, climbing as directly as possible, with some zigs and zags due to terrain and brush. Crossed a few old subtle roadbeds, and one which was so crisp you could probably drive a wrangler up it. I wasn't expecting that at all. I was curious, but crossed the road and continued my direct ascent.

It had been drizzly, but at least I had been below the clouds. That changed, and by the time I reached a clearing (as I had hoped I would) I had no views. Continued up into the clouds, and encountered a series of parallel spines. I was getting nervous. I thought there would be no challenges on the descent, but I now realized it would be possible to cliff out as I came down. With poor visibility, that could be risky. I wondered if I was going to face an arduous hike out in the afternoon.

It occurred to me that this slope really needs a name. What should I call it? Let's see, it's near Cook. Cook Peak has a nice ring to it, but with poor prominence on the north side, "peak" seems a bit ambitious. Same with mountain. It's not really a butte or a bluff. But Cook Hill seems so mundane. Wait, "Cook Hill"? I muttered "Aww, crap, am I hiking up Cook Hill?" I had heard of it, had even posted a comment in somebody's TR. It was on my to-do list, towards the bottom, when I had nothing better to do. Well, so much for adventure. But I did find it reassuring that there must be a trail up there somewhere, which might be helpful when I'm coming down.

Around 2000' my clearings came to an end as I was forced back into forest. I checked the time, and I was shocked at how fast I was ascending. I saw flagging, and a trail. I avoided it, bearing east. The forest was beautiful and open, so I preferred to find my own way. After a brief encounter with a brush band, I found myself on a ridge crest with a parallel clearing to my left. Dropped (just a few feet) and continued up the long tilted corridor parallel to the ridge. The opening was way too wide and tilted to be an old road grade, it was just a natural opening. I had finally hit the snow I was expecting, but it wasn't deep at all, not even enough to slow me down. I came to a high point and realized it had to be the summit.

I was surprised to see a very clear trail dropping along the NW ridge (towards Augspurger). I followed it down to a saddle where I saw what I expected: Power lines, radio towers, lots of roads. So many options. I started off towards Augspurger, but the ridge wasn't as clear as I expected, and it was a bit of a minor bushwhack. I pulled up a map, and realized Augspurger was a long ways off. Not today. Considered following the power lines west to Dog Creek, and following the creek down to the highway. But no, I had no idea what that would entail, and I wasn't willing to risk it.

Decided to head back to Cook summit and try to follow the trail down, exploring a bit along the way. I decided the trail would be a relatively easy safe way to get down, and I was curious to see what route it took. It was faint; I wouldn't want to follow it in 2" inches of snow, but it was totally bare.

When I reached 2000' (where I first encountered the flagged trail on my ascent) I was in for a surprise. Clouds were clearing out quite a bit, and I could see all the way to the river. It was jaring (in a good way) to step out of a dark forest into sun and views. I'd been soggy and chilly all day, and had never even had a dry place to sit, but here I was able to find a dry rock to sit on as I took it all in. One thing I like about hiking is returning to a place I've been to when it was cloudy, or when deep snow was on the ground, and then seeing it later when it's clear/bare. rarely does that happen on the same day; usually I have to wait months, or even years.

I started down that clearing after my 2000' break, trying to retrace my ascent. Never saw the trail again, but didn't care any more. There were a couple spots where I wasn't sure I was on route, but I managed to spot a few distinctive features that offered reassurance.

One of the highlights of my day came when I nearly walked right into a vehicle, inverted, mossy and rusty. Smaller than a modern logging truck, but I don't think it was a car. Probably a small utility truck of some sort. I love finding stuff like that.

By the time I reached the grass/oak band above the falls, I was still running early, and the weather was amazing, so I explored and relaxed until an hour before dark. I want to go back and look for the standard route up to the point where I found the trail. Maybe I'll go up Dog Creek, follow the utility roads over to Cook summit, and play around on the descent.
Attachments
0.jpg
the fun begins here
1.jpg
above the falls, the creek tumbles through a smaller slot which fades to a typical creek gully up there in the forest
2.jpg
looking back down (pic taken much later, on the descent)
3.jpg
this is where I started getting nervous about a low-visibility descent
4.jpg
the open forest above 2000'
5.jpg
getting close to the summit, looked back to see encouraging signs of clearing
6.jpg
Not my highest point of the day, but it was the windiest, and the deepest snow I encountered. I was a bit soggy by this time, so didn't linger in the wind, eager to get started back.
7.jpg
descending out of the forest to the 2000' clearing
8.jpg
Last edited by Chip Down on November 19th, 2017, 6:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
adamschneider
Posts: 2746
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:02 pm
Location: SE Portland
Contact:

Re: I "discovered" Cook Hill

Post by adamschneider » November 19th, 2017, 2:57 pm

Just this morning, I added the Cook Hill "trail" to OpenStreetMap.

Image

User avatar
Chip Down
Posts: 1356
Joined: November 8th, 2014, 8:41 pm

Re: I "discovered" Cook Hill

Post by Chip Down » November 19th, 2017, 5:42 pm

Hi Adam. I see you show a bold line from Jackson to the utility saddle, with a fainter loop to the east. I gather that eastern trail is what's called the Jolley trail. I saw that road (among many) at the utility saddle, and wondered if it was the same as the road I crossed lower. Looks like it is. Interesting.

I forgot to post the following pics, which are mostly for the benefit of Bosterson, who loves seeing my hardware finds. :D
Attachments
hdwr20171118_105105.jpg
hdwr20171118_140317.jpg
hrdwr20171118_142731.jpg

User avatar
adamschneider
Posts: 2746
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:02 pm
Location: SE Portland
Contact:

Re: I "discovered" Cook Hill

Post by adamschneider » November 19th, 2017, 6:52 pm

Chip Down wrote:Hi Adam. I see you show a bold line from Jackson to the utility saddle, with a fainter loop to the east. I gather that eastern trail is what's called the Jolley trail.
It's not that I drew it as bolder; how the lines are displayed depends on who created the map tiles. But the western part is tagged as a "track," which is a kind of road. The eastern part is a "path." On a different OSM rendering, they might have a different appearance altogether.

(Whether or not the old road should be downgraded to simply a "trail" at this point is up for debate. I think it should be marked as a track road that isn't open to motor vehicles, because it certainly still feels like a road in most places.)

Webfoot
Posts: 967
Joined: November 25th, 2015, 11:06 am
Location: Troutdale

Re: I "discovered" Cook Hill

Post by Webfoot » November 20th, 2017, 11:49 am

adamschneider wrote: (Whether or not the old road should be downgraded to simply a "trail" at this point is up for debate. I think it should be marked as a track road that isn't open to motor vehicles, because it certainly still feels like a road in most places.)
Are these non-drivable track roads apparent as such in any of the standard OSM renderings?

User avatar
adamschneider
Posts: 2746
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:02 pm
Location: SE Portland
Contact:

Re: I "discovered" Cook Hill

Post by adamschneider » November 20th, 2017, 12:00 pm

Webfoot wrote:
adamschneider wrote: (Whether or not the old road should be downgraded to simply a "trail" at this point is up for debate. I think it should be marked as a track road that isn't open to motor vehicles, because it certainly still feels like a road in most places.)
Are these non-drivable track roads apparent as such in any of the standard OSM renderings?
I know that in the openstreetmap.org tiles, completely closed roads and trails have their appearance altered — they show up as a dull gray instead of red or brown.

Image

But if it's still publicly accessible to at least one mode of transportation, it'll show up on the map like a normal track road.

Webfoot
Posts: 967
Joined: November 25th, 2015, 11:06 am
Location: Troutdale

Re: I "discovered" Cook Hill

Post by Webfoot » November 20th, 2017, 3:24 pm

highway=path says:
highway=path is a generic path, either multi-use or unspecified usage, open to all non-motorized vehicles. The path may have any type of surface.

If a path is wide enough for 4-wheel-vehicles (width > 2 m), and it is not legally signposted or otherwise only allowed for pedestrians, cyclists or horseriders, it is often better tagged as a highway=track or highway=service.
(emphasis mine)

By my reading this means that closed/decommissioned roads should be tagged path rather than track.

From Path_controversy:
Things that all agree on

highway=path:
  • Something not wide enough for four wheeled vehicles
  • OR where motorvehicles are forbidden (unless otherwise indicated by snowmobile/agricultural=designated or similar).
It's too bad there's not a specific rendering for track-closed-to-motor-vehicles, as that's a fairly common feature.

User avatar
aiwetir
Posts: 417
Joined: December 10th, 2014, 11:54 am
Contact:

Re: I "discovered" Cook Hill

Post by aiwetir » November 20th, 2017, 4:18 pm

One day everyone will agree what a path, track, service road is or they'll define them more clearly for what you have in your region. I've yet to see an agreement on what a logging road is. You can find posts saying that it's supposed to be one thing based on the documentation and then you'll find other posts saying that we're doing this other thing now, then your regional editors will say to do something different.
- Michael

User avatar
Chip Down
Posts: 1356
Joined: November 8th, 2014, 8:41 pm

Re: I "discovered" Cook Hill

Post by Chip Down » November 20th, 2017, 6:49 pm

It amuses me that there's so much discussion of roads/trails/whatever here in the off-trail forum. :lol:
I guess I did kinda start it though, so that's cool.
I find myself wondering if my Cook Hill trip would have been more or less fun if I had never encountered a trail/road. Probably more fun, but I do admit there's a bit of appeal to be had in encountering an unexpected trail and seeing where it goes.

Post Reply