Return to "Badlands Basin" (Aug 3)

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Splintercat
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Return to "Badlands Basin" (Aug 3)

Post by Splintercat » August 5th, 2008, 9:52 pm

On the way down from Cloud Cap on Sunday, I had planned a detour to re-shoot the view across the "Badlands Basin" toward Shellrock Mountain and Hood with some soft, evening light. But darn it, impatience got the best of me, and I ended up descending into the Badlands for a bit of exploration, and got a much better feel for this bizarre area. Here are some highlights, starting with a map of the area that shows my earlier trip to Shellrock, the Surveyors Ridge Trail and the Badlands Basin:

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The first stop was a close-up view of the uppermost rock in the southern draw -- I compared it to a couple of elephants from behind, but upon closer inspection, it's clearly a hippo! From this view part way down the descent, you can see the cool, ramp-shaped "catbird seat" that was my destination, right in front of the rock:

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Once down on this viewing platform, I finally had a good look at the formations up-close, including a near view of the "hippo", and a bit of a startling drop-off from this viewpoint - more sketchy than I'd guessed from above, with a sheer 120 foot drop off to the right:

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A closer look at the rock also revealed that these formations are not just ash deposts, but actually an interesting pyroclastic flow breccia, with tell-tale sharp-edged fragments of what is probably andesite in an ash matrix. I don't know the geology of the area, but since this is a long fault scarp this could be an early Mount Hood volcanic deposit that has been exposed through upthrust - need to do more research on this! Here's a sample of the rock:

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Another view from the "catbird seat", this time looking down Cat Creek canyon to Highway 35 and the East Fork Hood River, and beyond, to Owl Point -- the high spot on the horizon. The north slope of Hood drops in from the left:

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Also from this viewpoint, a closer look at what I ended up calling "Grizzly Rock" for obvious reasons - a very impressive group of 150-foot spires rising out of the south draw of the canyon:

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After poking around a bit in the southern draw, I climbed back out of the canyon, and hiked north, to this drop-in spot in the northern, much more rugged draw:

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In this area, you get a fine view of the many goblins and hoodoos that form the core of the Badlands formation - very rugged, but more easily explored than I would have guessed, with steep meadows surrounding most of the rock outcrops:

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The north edge of the northern draw is defined by the "iguana", an enormous spine running from th bottom of the basin nearly to the lip of the canyon:

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Another view of the "iguana", showing the lizard's head:

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After exploring the upper reaches of the Badlands a bit more, I climbed back up to the lip of the canyon for some landscape view with my big camera. Here's the view of Shellrock Mountain rising above the Badlands in early evening light, with the "hippo" rising from the trees in the upper left, and the main group of pinnacles in the lower right:

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Here's another, wider view, showing the very rugged terrain with Mount Hood as the backdrop. Within the Badlands Basin, you can see the "hippo" on the left, rising out of the trees, the main complex of hoodos and goblins in the center and the "iguana" in the lower center, beyond the big pine:

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Really a fun and beautiful area to explore! Watch for bikes on the Surveyors Ridge trail, though - hikers are in the minority here, and the cyclists aren't expecting them. Walking along the bike trail was probably the most dangerous part of this trek, as a result..!

Tom :D

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-Q-
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Re: Return to "Badlands Basin" (Aug 3)

Post by -Q- » August 5th, 2008, 11:40 pm

Fantastic scenery, thank-you Tom!
Love the iguana formation!!!

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Re: Return to "Badlands Basin" (Aug 3)

Post by fettster » August 6th, 2008, 6:49 am

Boy, it was almost as fun reading the names picked as seeing the pictures. What a great day out! I take it you didn't find any evidence of old trails through that terrain?

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Re: Return to "Badlands Basin" (Aug 3)

Post by Splintercat » August 6th, 2008, 7:13 am

Nope, unfortunately, no trails -- but I do plan another visit to explore the old Rimrock Lookout site, just to the north, where the maps show old trails once existed (in addition to Surveyors Ridge trail). BTW, this area is adjacent to the Gibson Prairie OHV proposal that the Mount Hood National Forest is considering -- that's part of my interest in exploring, and what I've seen confirms (in my mind) that it would be hard to keep OHVs from going off-trail and into some really sensitive terrain.

There is a surprising amount of wildlife for a relatively barren area. There are a lot of ground squirrels and other rodents, and judging by various circling raptors above, this is like a drive-thru for them! There were numerous game trails criss-crossing the area, too. I watched my step, because there was also a fair amount of rabbit brush among the rocks, and that's sort of my indicator that I might be in rattlesnake country. This is still pretty high, but so close to prime rattlesnake habitat to the east and north (on lower slopes) that I was a bit cautious where I planted my feet... :)

Tom

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Re: Return to "Badlands Basin" (Aug 3)

Post by pyles_94 » August 6th, 2008, 9:12 am

i LOVE that last shot! awesome scenery, great scouting tom!
Jamey Pyles

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Re: Return to "Badlands Basin" (Aug 3)

Post by airdrum » August 6th, 2008, 10:34 am

Very cool area Tom, I don't have enough of an affinity for evening light mountain shots to ever go and seek out my own, but this very interesting area I think has changed my opinion. I'll bet there are a ton of cool evening light possibilities down in those formations. By the way, are the formations delicate, like could you take a quarter and carve one's name in quickly, or are they harder rock? I'm curious because obviously that has implications regarding the future use of the surrounding area. Thanks for the report!
Andy

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Re: Return to "Badlands Basin" (Aug 3)

Post by Splintercat » August 6th, 2008, 2:57 pm

Good question, Andy - the formations, themselves, are quite sturdy (a result of being heat-fused pyroclastic material, I think), but I didn't push my luck in relying on them for hand-holds! The steep meadows surrounding the formations are on very soft, sandy soils, and wouldn't survive much abuse from OHVs - hopefully, that won't ever happen. For hikers, there's enough dry meadow vegetation to make it very low impact to explore the area, and it's very easy to navigate between the groups of pinnacles -- the views I captured are just the top tier, and there are more formations below. No technical requirements, just the standard huffing and puffing of a canyon crawl..!

Tom :)

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Re: Return to "Badlands Basin" (Aug 3)

Post by greglief » August 6th, 2008, 6:33 pm

Terrific report and photos!!
Greg Lief
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