A Winter's Trail at Catherine Creek 01-01-2013

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VanMarmot
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A Winter's Trail at Catherine Creek 01-01-2013

Post by VanMarmot » January 1st, 2013, 5:15 pm

The loved one and I went to Hood River yesterday for an end-of-the-year road trip and I threw in a drive-by of Catherine Ck to check conditions. This is everyone's favorite Spring wildflower hike but it has a winter aesthetic too. Also saw on the map that it might be possible to wander E and make a loop involving Tracy Hill. So with the New Year safely rung in (HAPPY NEW YEAR!), and the fortification provided by two large lattes, I was back at the Catherine Ck TH this morning. Fierce winds along I-84 but dead calm at the TH - which was good because the temperature was at or below 32F all day. From the TH, I headed toward Rowland (BM 946) for a view E along the Gorge.

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There were a few icy spots on the trail but not all of the little ponds were iced over.

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Nature's shrubs,

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and ours.

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Pretty soon I came to the dirt road that contours at 1200' over from Coyote Wall and to another view to the E.

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I followed this road E until it turns into the Catherine Creek drainage. From here, I could see across to Tracy Hill - my immediate goal provided I could get across the drainage, which is impressively steep in this area.

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A short distance into the drainage, the road splits - right back to the TH, left deeper into the drainage (past an ancient electric stove) - I went left. About 0.5 mi N on this decrepit road, an even more decrepit and abused old road drops right down to the creek.

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Crossing the creek here was easy but climbing out of the drainage was harder. I just put my trust in Bambi and started following the well-used game trails that contoured out of the drainage. On these, the trodden snow made for better footing than the grass underneath.

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Across the way, the road I'm come in on could be seen (arrows) cutting the slope.

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I eventually contoured E to the crest of Tracy Hill, which is dotted with groves of oaks now shorn of their leaves - this must be a lovely spot in the Spring.

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I followed the crest of the hill down, trending a little right to meet up with the road/trail that passes the bottom of the Arch,

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and goes back to the TH. A short hike (5 mi RT, 1400' EG) but one where I got to explore some new ground and see this area in Winter's grip. Tracy Hill is a definite must-visit come Spring.

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beag
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Re: A Winter's Trail at Catherine Creek 01-01-2013

Post by beag » January 1st, 2013, 6:53 pm

Van. Not sure if you are aware or not but there is a nice loop trail around Tracy Hill which is a nice flower hike.You can make it much longer if you keep going up the hill. Cross Catherine Creek and when you get to the Powerline road make a left and after about 5 minutes you will see a trail uphill on your rightThere is a little pond on theSouth East corner of the meadow. Pass that on your way down and you will find trail through trees to meadow which will take you back to Arch.

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romann
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Re: A Winter's Trail at Catherine Creek 01-01-2013

Post by romann » January 1st, 2013, 10:59 pm

Great pictures Van! That's nice loop idea - I've been thinking about upper Catherine Creek crossing for some time, to make Labyrinth and Tracy Hill into one big loop. That hillside looked very steep from the east; maybe easier to do it in clockwise direction like you went.

There's also used to be a trail east across Tracy Hill (not sure how/if recent re-routing affected it), from left-hand number "24" on topo map to approx. "O" in "Pinchot", and then down to the arch.

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VanMarmot
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Re: A Winter's Trail at Catherine Creek 01-01-2013

Post by VanMarmot » January 2nd, 2013, 8:09 am

romann wrote:Great pictures Van! That's nice loop idea - I've been thinking about upper Catherine Creek crossing for some time, to make Labyrinth and Tracy Hill into one big loop. That hillside looked very steep from the east; maybe easier to do it in clockwise direction like you went.

There's also used to be a trail east across Tracy Hill (not sure how/if recent re-routing affected it), from left-hand number "24" on topo map to approx. "O" in "Pinchot", and then down to the arch.
It's easier to cross the creek if you go as far back in the drainage as I did. Before then, it's really steep on the W side. And, although I was able to contour pretty easily on the snow, I think it would be a lot harder when it's just grass. So, come Spring, I'd probably go straight up from the creek to the top of the hill rather than trying to contour.

I came across a bit of old road right where my track crosses the line dividing the two "24s" on my map. I only followed it a short distance before heading down the ridge but it seemed to keep heading E. Definitely an area with a lot of potential for wandering.

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