Gnarl Ridge / Meadows / Falls Loop, 4-Aug-2013

This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
User avatar
kepPNW
Posts: 6410
Joined: June 21st, 2012, 9:55 am
Location: Salmon Creek

Gnarl Ridge / Meadows / Falls Loop, 4-Aug-2013

Post by kepPNW » August 7th, 2013, 6:15 am

Exhausted last Saturday, I took a day off, only to charge back out again on Sunday when the sun did indeed return in full force. I've been hearing about Elk Meadows for a long time, and had gotten as far as Gnarl Ridge once after peaking out at Cloud Cap last summer, so I had a "back pocket" hike in mind that I wanted to do.

The general plan was to start at Hood River Meadows, head up to Elk Meadows, roam around a bit there, close the gap up to Gnarl Ridge from below this time, then on the way down divert over towards Mount Hood Meadows, before finally dropping the rest of the way back past Umbrella and Sahalie Falls. Whew! Only potential chinks in the plan was that I'd slept in to the ungodly hour of almost 6am, hadn't gotten any sort of prep done the night before, and needed a new Forest Pass. Yikes! Long story, short, I pulled into the Hood River Meadows trailhead about 10am, and was underway before 10:15.

TL;DR: The day was pretty warm; the sun fairly intense, when not hiding behind occasional clouds. Elk Meadows was something of a disappointment; I think I must've missed the big bloom already? Lots of black flies made the trek up to Gnarl Ridge quickly-paced and essentially non-stop. If you go there, be sure not to stop before you can see the waterfall! The lupine is over (early?). Wish I'd scrambled up Lamberson Spur, in retrospect. Newton creek's crossings are overly talked up. More surprising crossings on Clark and Heather creeks. Mount Hood Meadows is seriously under-appreciated by the colorful weed contingent! This loop would've been better started earlier, or done in reverse.

Hard to choose a classic "opening shot" for this one. The trail was just so varied. I suppose if anything though, it was the unexpected crossings on two forks of Clark Creek (one more commonly known as Heather Creek), to the south of Newton that provided more interest than anticipated. So, ...

Image
Heather Creek appeared a bit ominous from across the valley. The trail wraps up above the spectacular falls. It ended up a non-issue.


Heading up towards Elk Meadows as a pleasant jaunt through the forest, with a bit of a hill just past the lower Newton Creek crossing. It was clear the beargrass would've been spectacular here a few weeks ago! Saw some stuff that has become "familiar" to me just from reading TRs here. But wasn't paying much attention when I got the perimeter trail, and took a turn to the left, winding all the way around to the Gnarl Ridge cutoff before realizing I was circling the silly meadow. Jeeez. Okay, so I kept going a bit farther, hoping to find an ingress, and ultimately did. From there, I just wandered across the meadow, enjoying all of it, before egressing the other side and looping the lower perimeter back to the cutoff. In a word, explored! :)

Image
The lower Newton Creek crossing was very nicely bridged with an assortment of driftwood. Totally stable. Poles will help those unsure of themselves.


Image
I wonder if we'll ever have a forester/biologist(?) drop in and explain WTH happened to this tree?


Image
I'd really like to know what these are going to be! Bumblebees were even crawling into the closed ones. EDIT: Gentian. Thanks, Bella!


Image
Another fairly interesting big pink thing?


Image
Aster was probably the most dominant flower out there. (Shot of the day?)


Image
Overall though, the meadow just wasn't all that colorful. (Do you see the underwear tree?)


Image
There was a young family camped out behind the shelter. Guess the kids had gotten a bit wet. :)


Image
There is a resonance in the heart of any Viking fan, when in a sea of purple ...


Image
... and gold, though!


Image
The meadow was wetter than it looked! Wandering aimlessly tended to produce wet socks!


As I said earlier, the flies pretty much gave me every reason not to take any pictures between the meadow and the ridge. Sheesh, stopping just long enough to let someone pass in the other direction was all the time they needed!

Image
As I was just about to the timberline, I passed the ruins of what must've been a nice shelter "back in the day."


Image
But wait! What's this? Someone climbing up Tie-In Rock? Maybe fellow PHer, Guy???


Image
Nearing Gnarl Ridge, there's this fabulous outcropping of exquisitely fractured basalt. Very shale-like in appearance. Scree in the making!


Image
I took way, way too many photos of this stuff!


Image
These ancient whitebark pine skeletons are just stunning. The thought that someone might burn them just devastating.


Image
Gnarly!


Image
For the second time today, I ran into fellow PHer Trailmom! We spent some good time chatting trails, before I headed farther up.


Image
The burnish on some of these snags is incredible. Still a little lupine blooming way up here, too!


Image
Gnarl Ridge offers a head-on view of what remains of the Newton Clark Glacier.


Image
On arriving at the toothpick cairn, I'd closed the gap in GPS tracks, and hit my lunchspot!


Image
Lunch with a view! I hung out at/around "Tom's Throne" for probably 30-45 minutes. Don't stop at the first overlook on Gnarl Ridge!


Image
Tom's Throne - one helluva bench at one helluva lunch spot! The wind kept the flies away here.


Image
There were some unusual flowers up here, that you just don't see down lower. No idea what they are.


Image
Cool rock gardens.


Image
No marmots or pikas today; plenty of chippys though.


Image
Heading back down, I gaze into the canyon wondering where this Newton Crossing that I've heard so much talk of may be.


Image
I also started scrambling up Lamberson Spur, then realized time was running against me if I wanted to do the full loop.


Image
Looking back at Lamberson Spur from down in the canyon, it really is quite majestic! Wish I'd allowed more time to get up there!


Image
Crossing Newton proved uneventful. Little rock piles led me straight to the "bridge," which was fairly stable and only partly underwater.


Image
And a solitary flag marked the scramble route back up to the trail. I was okay with that, really.


Image
Just past Newton Creek (N45.35311 W121.64878) was a lovely little natural spring that another hiker told me he routinely refilled from.


Image
Never noticed this spire near the summit before! Always something new to see on Hood!


Image
Farther on, the trail winds down another loose-ash canyon towards Clark Creek.


Image
A fair bit of water coming down the Clark, there is! Nice falls.


Image
Looking across the canyon, at Heather Creek, I'm certainly seeing and hearing a lot of water!

As I'm taking these waterfall shots, another hiker catches up with me going my way. She'd left Timberline at 4am in hopes of circling the mountain with friends, gotten to the Elliot, and plans went awry. So she'd been sent back for the car. Ugh! We both felt it good to have someone else "just there" while making the next couple crossings. She also knew approximately where they'd done it much earlier that morning. Unfortunately, one of those just wasn't an option anymore, due to much higher afternoon water levels. A little exploring found dry-shoe opportunities, though!

Image
One giant step for Rachel, before yet another, across Clark Creek.


Image
Looking upstream mid-crossing of the Heather Creek. This was 100' or so above the falls, and easily hoppable.


Image
Getting back to the trail meant traversing a 30° rock "retaining" wall right up to the edge of the falls, though.


Image
The trail then wends through Mt Hood Meadows ski area. I'm sure many would call this ugly, but I sure didn't think so!


Image
Sun was very low, so good photos were hard, but the place was alive with wildflowers. Far more so than Elk Meadows!


Image
Another probably stunning display of beargrass. A few weeks ago.


Image
The old Blue chairlift; one I used to ride a lot in the 70s. Sure was weird seeing the runs without snow! Lots of deja vu all over.


Image
MHM offered the best displays of paintbrush all day long!


Image
Aster fans in the house? Lots of it happening up there now.


Image
No way to resist that shot!


Image
Rachel and I parted ways at the far side of MHM. Her stamina, after 35 miles, was inspiring.


Image
As I headed down the Umbrella Falls trail, the forest was beginning to darken.


Image
The (original) reason for extending the loop. Umbrella Falls. Marvelous!


Image
Umbrella Falls


Image
Getting a good view of Sahalie Falls wasn't as easy. The bridge was under re-construction!


Image
Not that a little bridgework would get in the way, of course! Sahalie Falls.


Image
As I returned past Hood River Meadows, the last rays of sun were shining over Hood.


Image
And I also passed the only huckleberry bushes I'd seen all day that were still full of berries!


All in all, just a fabulous day in the woods! The GPS trip computer said I'd gone 19.76 miles when I got back to the jeep. The downloaded track, a more generalized view of the day, said about a mile less. Overall EG was just about 4500'.

I'd highly recommend this loop! But as I said earlier, you may want to consider going the other direction, if you'd like to see the wildflowers at Mount Hood Meadows in their best light. The show there far exceeds that in Elk Meadows presently.

Image
Right-click, View-Image, for full-sized map.


Image


http://gpsfly.org/gps_map.php?gps_id=2692&w=645&h=440

And, just in case you haven't seen enough photos, here's the full slideshow. :D
Last edited by kepPNW on August 7th, 2013, 11:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
Karl
Back on the trail, again...

User avatar
retired jerry
Posts: 14000
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Gnarl Ridge / Meadows / Falls Loop, 4-Aug-2013

Post by retired jerry » August 7th, 2013, 6:50 am

Nice report!

I bet the flies will be gone in a few weeks. And the streams will be much easier to cross.

User avatar
bellaj1018
Posts: 109
Joined: May 27th, 2010, 9:32 am

Re: Gnarl Ridge / Meadows / Falls Loop, 4-Aug-2013

Post by bellaj1018 » August 7th, 2013, 9:05 am

The blue flower is a gentian flower. They're lovely:)

User avatar
mjuliana
Posts: 397
Joined: July 23rd, 2012, 2:32 pm

Re: Gnarl Ridge / Meadows / Falls Loop, 4-Aug-2013

Post by mjuliana » August 7th, 2013, 9:45 am

Been waiting for this TR after seeing your GPS track on gpsfly Sunday night. :D I really like that 2nd picture of Umbrella falls. I can't wait to read about your next adventure... what's up next?
Thanks,
Mike J

User avatar
Trailmom
Posts: 34
Joined: June 22nd, 2011, 8:40 pm

Re: Gnarl Ridge / Meadows / Falls Loop, 4-Aug-2013

Post by Trailmom » August 7th, 2013, 10:30 am

You did quite a trek! Beautiful photos. Makes me wish we would've went in the direction of Meadows instead. Nice to meet you on the trail.
"Life is a daring adventure, or nothing" - Helen Keller

See what I've been up to at Linda's Lens

pablo
Posts: 1451
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm

Re: Gnarl Ridge / Meadows / Falls Loop, 4-Aug-2013

Post by pablo » August 7th, 2013, 10:41 am

What a great set of photos and nice loop - never been there and I'm inspired to follow your footsteps later this month. Maybe do that Lamberson spur thing you mention.

Thx,

--Paul
The future's uncertain and the end is always near.

User avatar
kepPNW
Posts: 6410
Joined: June 21st, 2012, 9:55 am
Location: Salmon Creek

Re: Gnarl Ridge / Meadows / Falls Loop, 4-Aug-2013

Post by kepPNW » August 7th, 2013, 11:31 am

Thanks for all the kind words!
retired jerry wrote:I bet the flies will be gone in a few weeks. And the streams will be much easier to cross.
The flies weren't too awful, though they did keep me in "training mode" on the climb up! I tried putting on a bit of picaridin while up on Gnarl, and that seemed to do a fair job at keeping them away for the rest of my loop. And the crossings really only required a bit of thought. I hope I didn't make them sound too bad. Given some consideration of the best options, and some poles for balance and/or to test the stepping points, dry feet were definitely an option. :)
bellaj1018 wrote:The blue flower is a gentian flower. They're lovely:)
Ahhh, sure! I've even heard of those. They were eye-catching, indeed. Thanks!
mjuliana wrote:I can't wait to read about your next adventure... what's up next?
Not sure, exactly. Goat Rocks? Spirit Lake loop coming up, for sure!
Trailmom wrote:You did quite a trek! Beautiful photos. Makes me wish we would've went in the direction of Meadows instead. Nice to meet you on the trail.
That was really a great loop! Just the right size. I'm surprised I haven't seen more reports for MHM, really. Tom/Roy did one last week, gushing about it, which kinda confirmed for me it oughta be part of this loop. I suspect a lot of folks would be turned off by the ski lifts and support structures, but the area is really nice regardless, and (IMHO) seriously under-appreciated for its wildflowers and many beautiful streams.

Wonderful meeting you, and your friends, out there, too! (I really like your avatar! ;))
pablo wrote:What a great set of photos and nice loop - never been there and I'm inspired to follow your footsteps later this month. Maybe do that Lamberson spur thing you mention.
That just looked like a nice little side adventure. Probably wouldn't add even an hour, tops, to the entire loop. My late start, and a bit of needless wandering around Elk Meadows, made me opt out. As it was, I got back to the jeep 37 minutes before sunset. I suppose I could've cut it just a bit tighter afterall! :)
Karl
Back on the trail, again...

ishredsnow
Posts: 13
Joined: July 23rd, 2013, 6:29 pm

Re: Gnarl Ridge / Meadows / Falls Loop, 4-Aug-2013

Post by ishredsnow » August 7th, 2013, 10:50 pm

I actually did the short Umbrella Falls, Sahalie Falls loop at the end of July, but my pictures were too large to post so I gave up! The bridge was just beginning construction, but I also made it down for a few pics.

We also heard a chainsaw across the way at the start of the trail and later on saw evidence of where trees had been freshly cut and moved across the trail. Very cool for whoever was taking care of that :)

I'm planning on doing a bigger loop, the 9.9 hood river meadows loop I found on here to get across the resort. So amazing standing amongst wildflowers and other brush that is covered with feet of snow in the winter that I happily ride all over :)

Great pics and info!

User avatar
Roy
Posts: 2824
Joined: January 25th, 2010, 6:35 pm

Re: Gnarl Ridge / Meadows / Falls Loop, 4-Aug-2013

Post by Roy » August 8th, 2013, 7:55 am

Very nice tr I really want to explore more up there.It was so GREEN after being down in Medford and Mc Laughin the week before I gotta get to Cooper spur but on that easy lovely Tom,Dick and Harry trip my stupid motorcycle knee is the size of an elephant so now I'm getta to the park and ride work and thats a lot right now. My Doc refuses to drain it we are in a stand off where he says its replacement time typical surgeon!

I just cant bare to go to the er but urgent doctors cant do it you need a orthopod. If I was a NFL player they would have drained and numbed it MORE THAN ONCE with in a day. Enough of my wows.

Nice tr its lovely up there and so many options for hikes.
The downhill of the mind is harder than the uphill of the body. - Yuichiro Miura

justpeachy
Posts: 3039
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Location: Portland, OR
Contact:

Re: Gnarl Ridge / Meadows / Falls Loop, 4-Aug-2013

Post by justpeachy » August 8th, 2013, 8:10 am

Great pictures! That bumblebee + aster shot is AWESOME!

I wonder what they're doing with the bridge at Sahalie Falls. The only reason to put that much work into restoring it is if they plan to reopen it to traffic again.

Post Reply