Wahkeena/Multnomah Loop - and trail condition report

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Don Nelsen
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Wahkeena/Multnomah Loop - and trail condition report

Post by Don Nelsen » December 6th, 2023, 6:53 pm

I love getting out in challenging weather so today was a perfect day!

I'd heard there was some slide action on the Wahkeena Trail, so I was interested in seeing that but also, it has been a while since I hiked the whole loop and today, I had it almost all to myself.

I parked at the old highway lot in front of the lodge and headed west on the Return Trail. There's one big tree down on that section but easy enough to step over.

Lower Wahkeena Falls was roaring and as beautiful as ever. The rain was pouring down but even in that short distance, it seemed to be lessening a bit. Good news!

The first damage I saw was on the first set of switchbacks where a few trees were across the trail. This first one was minor compared to what came next: There are a half dozen more like this along my route, besides the big ones that will need a trail work crew.
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After Lemmon's Viewpoint it got more interesting:
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This fine mess slightly truncates the final switchback before Fairy Falls:
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First view of Fairy Falls:
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It was a bit of a challenge to cross but no big deal. The bridge seems intact, though.
https://donnelsen.org/wp-content/upload ... G_1732.mov

I tried to go left at the next junction so as to get a better view down on the falls, but the stream above Fairy Falls was too deep, well over the trail and really deep at the crossing:
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Between the junction to Devil's Rest and the Larch Mt. Trail:
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This logjam appears to have backed the water over the trail causing a fair amount of erosion:
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Here's another log that caused a bit of damage to the trail:
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This small falls was really roaring. I've gone swimming in the plunge pool with my kids back in the day!
https://donnelsen.org/wp-content/upload ... G_1747.mov

A photo of the spot in the video above. Quite the maelstrom!
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About 5 1/2 miles, and 1600' EG, hike # 124
Last edited by Don Nelsen on December 20th, 2023, 7:39 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Everything works in the planning stage" - Kelly

"If you don't do it this year, you will be one year older when you do" - Warren Miller

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idoru
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Re: Wahkeena/Multnomah Loop - and trail condition report

Post by idoru » December 6th, 2023, 10:52 pm

Very neat to see the impacts from this week's weather on the area, thanks for sharing!

squidvicious
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Re: Wahkeena/Multnomah Loop - and trail condition report

Post by squidvicious » December 7th, 2023, 10:15 am

This is kind of funny to me, because a couple weeks ago a guy stopped me as I was headed up the Multnomah Falls trail and gravely told me to be careful, because there were a lot of trees down on the trail. I wasn't strictly doing the Wahkeena loop--I went up to the basin rd, over to devil's rest, explored the new trail work over to palmer mill rd then looped back around to the devil's rest trail again--but I hit all of it except the stretch from the Larch-Wahkeena junction to the Devil's rest junction. In all that--in the entire day, I think--I don't think I saw a single downed tree. At least not one that hadn't been there for some time already.

So I have to conclude that guy was actually from the future, warning me about this week.

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Re: Wahkeena/Multnomah Loop - and trail condition report

Post by squidvicious » December 8th, 2023, 12:57 pm

I'm kind of a sucker for bad trail conditions, so I had to go check this out today.

Excellent info in this post--it was all just as described. If anything I was prepared for worse. Fairy Falls did look a bit alarming as I approached (I was traveling clockwise), but ultimately ok. If I were advising anyone on conditions, though, I would tell them to consider the trail impassible. Unless they're specifically looking for that sort of thing.

There technically were (small, poorly positioned) signs warning of a landslide, but they were unclear about the actual conditions and hard to spot. I stopped a few people who were on their way up Wahkeena and asked if they were aware of the slide. They either had no clue, or knew something had happened but weren't expecting any problems. Nbd if you're starting from Wahkeena, but people starting from Multnomah are going to hit that and think, no way I'm turning around at this point--in their flip flops or whatever. This frustrates me no end, as it should be so easily preventable.

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Petr
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Re: Wahkeena/Multnomah Loop - and trail condition report

Post by Petr » December 12th, 2023, 9:48 am

Fairy Falls bridge out 12112023.jpg
Red Shorts took this picture earlier on Monday Dec. 11, 2023. There was a fast flowing waterfall across the west remaining plank. The east plank has come loose or busted. Luckily, protruding staples had been installed into the wood surface so that boots will not slide off. However the water flow at the time was enough to run up the legs, so even though Red Shorts was wearing waterproof boots and gaiters, he still got wet feet! By the end of the day, water was barely half an inch deep over the plank, but water was still running over the trail at the end of plank. Red Shorts cleared tons of rocks, branches, debris and mud from the trailhead at Wahkenna all the way to most of the way up Primrose Path. Due to extreme hazard (from unstable rockslide) the mess in the picture was NOT dealt with in any way. The other large messes he made sure were passable. One does not need to go off the trail now.
The east wind came up during the day, and trees were again falling. Red Shorts did hear the large tree, at east end of Devil's Cutoff, that broke into thirds, 1/3 left standing, and other 2 sections became logs across the trail!
Be alert out there, more stuff will likely fall.
Well Jim, where to next?

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Re: Wahkeena/Multnomah Loop - and trail condition report

Post by squidvicious » December 13th, 2023, 8:20 am

Be alert out there, more stuff will likely fall.
I've heard and seen quite a few trees come down recently, fortunately none too close to me. Except...

The other day as I was rounding a bend on Wahkeena I heard one. Came around just in time to see a tree rolling down the hill and across the trail a couple dozen yards in front of me. Not a little log, like an entire trunk. No idea how it found a clear enough space to roll without hitting other trees, but it went full-length straight across the trail. I don't think I would have had any chance to get out of the way if I'd been a little further along. Yikes.

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Petr
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Re: Wahkeena/Multnomah Loop - and trail condition report

Post by Petr » December 14th, 2023, 8:56 am

Big tree west of W Springs 12132023.jpg
Red Shorts was up before dawn on Wed. Dec.13, 2023 and cleared a rock and debris dam at west plank, that had occured hours earlier, after massive east wind gusts blew down many trees such as this one just west of Wahkeena Springs. He confirmed that the east plank has broken. He spent an hour removing branches, etc.. and rearranging rocks for an easier passage. No wet feet! For now...
Well Jim, where to next?

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Petr
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Re: Wahkeena/Multnomah Loop - and trail condition report

Post by Petr » December 16th, 2023, 11:04 am

FFalls east plank 12152023.jpg
Red Shorts again went up Friday Dec. 15th in very windy conditions (gusts approching 70 MPH). This is current state of east plank at Fairy Falls. Pretty easy to navigate crossing now during low water.
Upper log sawed 12152023.jpg
Lower log sawed 12152023.jpg
So glad to see the logs sawed out on switchbacks below Fairy Falls, thanks for whoever did this, very professional job!
PP tree on boulder reroute 12152023.jpg
Red Shorts has now rerouted Primrose Path and renamed the horrid upper section Devil's Slide. For obvious reasons. He has observed many a glissade track when snow covered. Flowing dust when dry. A slippery muddy slide on one's behind when wet. No longer anticipated to be maintained so Devil's Slide may ultimately be history once the salmonberry and fireweed returns.
Devil's Rest area 12162023.jpg
This is now live on Thunderforest Outdoors GPS maps. The rerouted section does go to the top of the bluff for great views, take care for dogs and children as there is a cliff behind the downed big tree! Trail fairies have made a short connection from Primrose Path to the 420c Devils Rest Trail which connects in just above the viewpoint trail. If one desires, a true "crater rim" loop can be had by going up Primrose Path and then taking 420c or vice versa. One can see all the viewpoints along this loop and get a great perspective of this impressive feature by looking across at the cliffs you were just on top of.
Red Shorts thought it would fun to give this short connector trail a fun and very unique name: S?Y Devil.
The name allows for freedom of expression and creativity in describing one travels. Just insert a single or multiple letters in place of the "?". Those in on the name game will know what trail you took when you say "I took the Sky Devil loop" a clockwise rim loop. Or the Shy Devil that avoids the top, by going up the Primrose Path and then east for a counterclockwise loop. Sly Devil approaches from the east, avoiding the boring upper 420c trail. SPY Devil comes down from the top and goes east (reverse of Sly Devil). Some woodburned picture signs may have been put up, in homage to Basil Clark, the builder of the Primrose Path. One can describe one's experience on the trail "Snowy" "Soggy" "Sucky" "Smokey" "Slippery" "Sweaty" "Snarly" "Snarky Devil" , etc.. many possibilities!
An early Christmas present courtesy of El Nino, which kept the upper area snow free so far. Enjoy!

P.S. more work will be done on Primrose Path reroutes lower down. But none as big as this major reroute!
Well Jim, where to next?

squidvicious
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Re: Wahkeena/Multnomah Loop - and trail condition report

Post by squidvicious » December 20th, 2023, 6:08 pm

Coming down Wahkeena this morning, I was between the two bridges when I heard a loud boom of rockfall further up the trail. Well, I eventually worked out that it was up the trail--my first thought was that I was about to be crushed by a falling boulder.

I backtracked to the upper bridge to see what I could see, especially since a couple had passed me headed up not too long before. Apart from some dust in the air nothing obvious jumped out, though. It sounded like something quite big broke loose, but I couldn't say if it was actually on the trail or not. TBH at that point I wanted to get clear of there, so I didn't investigate too closely. But a good reminder not to take for granted that anything's really stable in there, even with no rain or wind today.

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retired jerry
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Re: Wahkeena/Multnomah Loop - and trail condition report

Post by retired jerry » December 21st, 2023, 8:38 am

Nice work on trail clearing.

Technicality - if you saw a branch, throw it off trail at least 6 feet from center of trail

And saw it such that the remaining branch stub is at least 3 feet from center. Although it looks better if you saw it flush with tree

That's what sone forest service guy told me who was clearing trail

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