Table Mountain - Another Approach: 1/14

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awildman
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Table Mountain - Another Approach: 1/14

Post by awildman » January 15th, 2014, 10:49 am

I was curious about the snow level on Table Mountain after this weekend's weather and I wanted to see if I could make my way up there via Cedar Mountain, as I had once before as a tag-along who wasn't really paying attention.

First, there is virtually no snow on Table Mountain.

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a dance-worthy trail

Second, as it turns out, I could not make my way up via Cedar Mountain. I zigged at the Cedar Falls junction when I should have zagged, and thusly, a new route to the top of Table Mountain was born: the Hamilton Creek Ascent.

I'm probably not the first. I'm sure elk have done it, as well as Don Nelsen.

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The Hamilton Creek Ascent

We started at the Aldrich Butte trailhead in the powerline corridor and headed west to the trail on the west side of Aldrich Butte, winding our way through the forest to the Cedar Creek crossing. A mossy log provided a good dry-foot crossing opportunity since the creek was flowing at a good clip.

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the mushrooms are good handholds, if necessary

I think I was distracted by Cedar Falls, because I noted the Cedar Mountain trail junction and then ignored it to drop lower to have a better look at the falls. We continued on that path on a right-hand track through a lovely cedar basin and then dropped down to an old road grade that paralleled Hamilton Creek.

I realized that we had gotten off track at the end of the cedar basin, but my hiking partner and I decided to follow this new-to-us trail and see where it led, so we continued gently climbing up the drainage, a couple hundred feet above the creek. The RR grade / trail was delightful and, because it is winter, you can see across the drainage to the impressive waterfalls plummeting off the Hamilton Mountain complex. There was a lot of fresh elk sign along this trail.

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peeking through the trees at some impressive waterfalls

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a crummy photo to illustrate the Hamilton Creek drainage and a little bit of waterfall

The RR grade hugged the 1000' contour of Cedar Mountain, sometimes being obliterated by drainages. Most were easy scrambles down steep banks, but others were steeper and deeper. Those, luckily enough, had ropes to help with the transition.

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a handy rope helper

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one of many cascades that punctuated the Hamilton Creek railroad grade

After 2 or so miles of wandering along this grade, we came to an intersection with a drivable double track (with beer cans). We followed the double track away from the creek and, about a half mile before intersecting the powerline corridor at a large creek, we decided to climb a prominent ridge east to intersect with the PCT.

The bushwacking was steep, but straightforward, and we ended up intersecting the PCT on the west side of Table Mountain, about three-quarters of a trail mile from the road junction to the north. We intersected at least two old logging road grades on our route up the ridgeline, relics of a time when the whole area was littered with infrastructure.

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hiking in the fog on the double track

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an old logging road grade

I thought about trying to find the North Ridge approach to Table Mountain and ascending from that direction, but I didn't know exactly where it was and we were running out of time. We still wanted to get to the top to see what we could see and I had to be back in Portland for an evening engagement. So we turned south on the PCT, walked past the west ridge approach to ascend via the Heartbreak Ridge (east) approach. My partner didn't want to descend through the boulder field and I like loops and what's a little extra fitness anyway?

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the fog is starting to clear

As we gained the summit of Table, the sun came out entirely and we were treated to a golden glow in 360 degrees. We wandered over to the south viewpoint first, then circled around to the north, and finally down the west ridge to the PCT. We both wanted to descend via the North Ridge, now that we could see where it was and where it tied in, but the clock was ticking and we had to dash back to the trailhead. It would have been fun to descend Cedar Mountain as well. Ah well, for another day.

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the golden glow on Table's south viewpoint

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impressive on all levels

This was a really interesting route up to Table Mountain. Don Nelsen was kind enough to provide me with a map of his inventoried trails in the area (post hike) and it looks like you can actually hike to the PCT on old logging roads. No real bushwacking required. Next time I will combine this route with the North Ridge and Cedar Mountain for a grand Table Mountain loop. Next time!

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Rambling on at Allison Outside

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kepPNW
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Re: Table Mountain - Another Approach: 1/14

Post by kepPNW » January 15th, 2014, 12:13 pm

Looks like a great route! And I just love that shot at the summit. (Put that aside for the calendar!)

What are you using to map the track with? That is some sharp background map data, there!
Karl
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Don Nelsen
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Re: Table Mountain - Another Approach: 1/14

Post by Don Nelsen » January 15th, 2014, 12:22 pm

Allison, great report and especially the photos. Careful - you might get addicted to hiking that area! ;)

dn
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awildman
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Re: Table Mountain - Another Approach: 1/14

Post by awildman » January 15th, 2014, 1:49 pm

kepPNW wrote:What are you using to map the track with? That is some sharp background map data, there!
Caltopo with the "US Forest Service" map as the base map.
Don Nelsen wrote:Careful - you might get addicted to hiking that area!
Indeed! There's certainly a lot to explore! Thanks again, Don!
Rambling on at Allison Outside

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Peder
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Re: Table Mountain - Another Approach: 1/14

Post by Peder » January 15th, 2014, 4:27 pm

Alison you will also have to visit the Cedar Creek Waterfall, that is another cool place to see. As Don says, it can be addictive in the Hamilton drainage... :D
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Eric Peterson
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Re: Table Mountain - Another Approach: 1/14

Post by Eric Peterson » January 15th, 2014, 4:59 pm

Very cool! :)

Might you have a GPS track I could snag from you?

Danka!

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awildman
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Re: Table Mountain - Another Approach: 1/14

Post by awildman » January 15th, 2014, 8:15 pm

Eric Peterson wrote:Very cool! :)

Might you have a GPS track I could snag from you?
Yes! Send me a PM with your email address.
Peder wrote:Alison you will also have to visit the Cedar Creek Waterfall, that is another cool place to see. As Don says, it can be addictive in the Hamilton drainage... :D
It's definitely on my "must-see" list now.
Rambling on at Allison Outside

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acorn woodpecker
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Re: Table Mountain - Another Approach: 1/14

Post by acorn woodpecker » January 15th, 2014, 8:37 pm

Great photos and report! Hamilton Creek is a beautiful under appreciated area! Crossing all those side creeks is fun! Good thing the ropes are there, especially on that last steep drainage with ropes on both sides.
awildman wrote:It looks like you can actually hike to the PCT on old logging roads. No real bushwacking required. Next time I will combine this route with the North Ridge and Cedar Mountain for a grand Table Mountain loop.
Coincidentally, I was exploring this area last Friday and did a figure eight variant of your next adventure there! I went up Cedar Mt the same way you intended to and dropped into Hamilton Creek from the saddle north of Cedar's summit on an old road grade that becomes a rough trail traversing north toward the Hamilton drainage. Early along this route there is a cut out log step where someone has carved "PH" into it. Don Nelson, was that you?! I have no way to upload pictures right now, unfortunately. From Hamilton Creek I followed an old logging road up to the PCT and on to the the Northwest Ridge of Table to its summit. Then, dropped on the Westway Trail and continued down the upper Cedar Mt. ridge back into the saddle, following the same rough trail back into Hamilton Creek and followed it south. Finished up by going to Cedar Falls and climbing back up the way I came. This is a grand figure eight of the area. I saw no one!
Don Nelsen wrote:Careful - you might get addicted to hiking that area!
He isn't kidding! I've been to the Table area 6 times since October. I just keep going back, especially to Cedar Mt and Hamilton Creek. This long excursion was a way to link up this areas with Table Mt.

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awildman
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Re: Table Mountain - Another Approach: 1/14

Post by awildman » January 15th, 2014, 8:48 pm

acorn woodpecker wrote:This is a grand figure eight of the area. I saw no one!
This is almost the exact route I want to do! I'm hoping that the good weather sticks around next week so I can get back there soon.

AW, did you have any trouble finding the old logging road from the bottom of the "Cedar Saddle" trail?
Rambling on at Allison Outside

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acorn woodpecker
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Re: Table Mountain - Another Approach: 1/14

Post by acorn woodpecker » January 16th, 2014, 11:13 am

awildman wrote:AW, did you have any trouble finding the old logging road from the bottom of the "Cedar Saddle" trail?
No trouble. After descending off of Cedar's summit into the saddle where terrain flattens and the trail turns right, you bear left slightly. The road grade is hidden by oregon grape but it's there. After a few dozen yards a narrow trail does open up and the road becomes more apparent. Then you come across the log step with "PH" carved into it! You follow this road for a few hundred more yards until a narrow trail deviates right as the road descends. Take this trail and you traverse slopes north/northwest as you slowly descend into Hamilton Canyon. This rough trail peters out from time to time but bears evidence of recent light maintenance as well as older log cuts along it. Definitely not used often, though. I popped out onto an old flat road grade before a prominent side creek about a quarter mile before meeting the ATV double track hairpin turn.

Romann has some pictures of this route he inadvertently stumbled across last summer: http://www.portlandhikers.org/forum/vie ... 10&t=15720

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