A Very Pleasant Day at Catherine Creek 25-Apr-2013

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VanMarmot
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A Very Pleasant Day at Catherine Creek 25-Apr-2013

Post by VanMarmot » April 25th, 2013, 7:11 pm

Every since I figured out how to cross high on Catherine Creek, a Catherine Ck TH - Coyote Wall loop has been inevitable. Galvenized by Karl & Jim's excellent TR (Catherine Ck), and guided (imperfectly) by the Green Trails Columbia River Gorge East map (#432S), which has the Coyote Wall insert, I left the Catherine Ck TH today under warm and sunny skies. I arrived early but still wasn't the first one there.

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The poison oak was lush, shiny, bright, toxic, and just about everywhere on today's hike. If you leave the trail you may be in for a surprise (in 2 or 3 days).

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I took the CA2 trail over to the CO7 (Labyrinth) trail, with its good view of Hood.

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Along the CO7, there were a lot of flowers (heck, there were a lot of flowers EVERYWHERE!),

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more views of Hood (note that every large plant in this shot is poison oak :( ),

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the falls along the creek,

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more Hood,

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and finally, Coyote Wall.

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I took the CO3, CO4, and CO1 trails up along the wall to intersect with the Atwood Rd Tr at about 1800'. Unforunately the map doesn't show all of the junctions along the Atwood and there are no signs after the CO1 ends, so some XC exploration ensued before I got back to the Atwood at the 1250' level. Curiously, there's a sign there - so if you do this loop counter-clockwise, it may be less confusing. A cruise along the Atwood brought me to those big, wide-open skies views that I love about this hike.

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From the end of the Atwood, I took the old road up Catherine Ck, crossed it (ticks again! :shock: ) and climbed up and over Tracy Hill to the frog pond at 1500'. No more frog choruses, but there are a lot of small tadpoles in the pool.

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Tracy Hill is now a giant meadow of foot high grasses that were rippling in the breeze like waves. Gave me a sense of what the Great Plains might have looked like back in the day before the plow. Little depressions in the meadow must collect flower seeds (at one point, a depression to the left of the trail had yellow flowers, while one to the right had white flowers).

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The CA3 trail starts at the frog pond and descends toward the TH. I took it to the CA3, then that trail past the Arch and over the creek to the TH.

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Excellent day! Loop accomplished (13 mi RT, 2700' EG)! Flowers galore! Now is the time to get out and experience the sublime wonders of Catherine Ck, Coyote Wall, and Tracy Hill. BUT, there are TICKS (some with Lyme Disease :( ) and A LOT OF POISON OAK - so please take proper precautions.

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Peder
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Re: A Very Pleasant Day at Catherine Creek 25-Apr-2013

Post by Peder » April 25th, 2013, 7:26 pm

I am planning to follow in your footsteps as soon as possible (yet again) - I still need to fully incorporate Tracy Hill in my loops! Great TR and some very cool B&W shots.
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Crusak
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Re: A Very Pleasant Day at Catherine Creek 25-Apr-2013

Post by Crusak » April 25th, 2013, 9:33 pm

Even as late as yesterday I was scanning for ticks. :shock:

It appears that your route kept you off private lands. That was your first combination loop of the two areas? It's a nice hike for sure. We saw all that poison oak everywhere and did our best to avoid it. LOL funny thing was I wasn't 100% positive what the stuff looked like until that day. When I saw it I realized it's rather obvious - shiny "leaves of three" - and different than the little oak saplings intermixed with the rest of the ground cover.

Mt Hood! We looked longingly across the river all day at where Mt Hood was and could only see a sliver of Mt Hood between the clouds and the peaks on the Oregon side of the Gorge.

Did you use any bug spray to ward off the little nasties? I used a picaridin based spray which is supposed to ward off ticks and mosquitoes.

Nice TR, Bruce.
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VanMarmot
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Re: A Very Pleasant Day at Catherine Creek 25-Apr-2013

Post by VanMarmot » April 26th, 2013, 7:55 am

Crusak wrote: Did you use any bug spray to ward off the little nasties? I used a picaridin based spray which is supposed to ward off ticks and mosquitoes.

Nice TR, Bruce.
Thanks! Years ago, I did some field work in Montana's Flathead Valley which seemed like tick central - every opening had to be taped shut and squirming bands of ticks still formed around your boot tops, pant legs, sleeves, etc. Only full strength (military grade) DEET seemed to discourage them some but it's nasty stuff - for both your gear and you - so I stopped using it. Now its just be aware, brush them off if you see them, and check yourself like crazy when you get home.

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Re: A Very Pleasant Day at Catherine Creek 25-Apr-2013

Post by kepPNW » April 26th, 2013, 8:27 am

Looks like you had a wonderful day to be there! And I really like that loop extension that includes Tracy Hill. Wish we'd known about that possibility. Is there a trail up from the creek to the meadow, or was that a bushwhack? Looks a little steep on contours!

Nice report! We certainly saw plenty of the poison oak (in fact, I'm starting to wonder if I brushed into it - ugh! :?), but I can't say we saw a single tick. Were you actively looking for them out there, or were they the ones seeking you out? :)
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drm
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Re: A Very Pleasant Day at Catherine Creek 25-Apr-2013

Post by drm » April 26th, 2013, 9:16 am

I generally avoid the Tracy Hill portion because of ticks. They say it is relatively safe if you remember to check yourself, but I don't always remember.

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Re: A Very Pleasant Day at Catherine Creek 25-Apr-2013

Post by VanMarmot » April 26th, 2013, 2:14 pm

kepPNW wrote:Looks like you had a wonderful day to be there! And I really like that loop extension that includes Tracy Hill. Wish we'd known about that possibility. Is there a trail up from the creek to the meadow, or was that a bushwhack? Looks a little steep on contours!

Nice report! We certainly saw plenty of the poison oak (in fact, I'm starting to wonder if I brushed into it - ugh! :?), but I can't say we saw a single tick. Were you actively looking for them out there, or were they the ones seeking you out? :)
There is an old road up along Catherine Ck, with a good use trail for awhile and then evidence of the start of trail work. A short old spur road leads down to the creek. On the other side, it's a pretty steep up for 200-300', then it eases off. Everything on the E side of the creek is mostly XC over to the frog pond, but you will come across old roads and good use trails from time to time.

Ticks are drawn to my warm, generous, critter-loving personality - then I kill them. :twisted:

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Re: A Very Pleasant Day at Catherine Creek 25-Apr-2013

Post by -Q- » April 26th, 2013, 3:32 pm

VanMarmot wrote:
kepPNW wrote:Looks like you had a wonderful day to be there! And I really like that loop extension that includes Tracy Hill. Wish we'd known about that possibility. Is there a trail up from the creek to the meadow, or was that a bushwhack? Looks a little steep on contours!

Nice report! We certainly saw plenty of the poison oak (in fact, I'm starting to wonder if I brushed into it - ugh! :?), but I can't say we saw a single tick. Were you actively looking for them out there, or were they the ones seeking you out? :)
There is an old road up along Catherine Ck, with a good use trail for awhile and then evidence of the start of trail work. A short old spur road leads down to the creek. On the other side, it's a pretty steep up for 200-300', then it eases off. Everything on the E side of the creek is mostly XC over to the frog pond, but you will come across old roads and good use trails from time to time.

Ticks are drawn to my warm, generous, critter-loving personality - then I kill them. :twisted:
I did this exact loop a few weeks back based on one of your earlier TRs VanMarmot.
I as well found a few ticks on me after the crossing of Catherine Creek.
That area certainly does have its fair share.

Seems like a bad year for ticks. So far they have found me at Tracy Hill, Bald Butte (Hood) and on the Elk-Kings grand loop :evil:

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