Exploring Upper Catherine Ck 28-Feb-2014

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VanMarmot
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Exploring Upper Catherine Ck 28-Feb-2014

Post by VanMarmot » February 28th, 2014, 4:57 pm

Early last year, I found a way across Catherine Ck so that it was possible (without too much steep hill climbing) to make a loop from Atwood Road to Tracy Hill (Crossing the Creek 2013). The old road continues past the fork down to the creek and I always wondered how much further it went. With bad weather predicted for the weekend, it seemed like today was a good day to explore this road. This was one of those odd days when it was foggier in the Gorge than in Portland and so I spent the day (uncharacteristically) under a gray blanket of gloom.

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It was an exploration day, which was good because taking photos without sunlight isn't ideal.

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I took CA2, then C07 to 850', where an unmarked trail (more than a use trail) snakes eastward up to Atwood Rd. I took Atwood to the old road (past the stove) that goes up Catherine Ck, and followed that road past where I usually turn-off to cross the creek. The old road is more overgrown further N, with more uncleared blow downs, but not hard to follow. Initially it climbs away from the creek but after about 0.5 mi, levels off and contours back to only 50' above the creek. This high up, the creek was pretty easy to cross.

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After crossing, I headed straight-up so as to cross an old road on the ridge above within the national forest boundary. There's private land to the N and I didn't want to pop out of the trees into someone's backyard. The slope here is much less steep than the one at the lower creek crossing. On the lower slopes, I ascended through a charming forest of old, mossy oaks.

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But I got to the ridge to find that the old road was now a logging road for a partial logging operation - basically take the commercial timber and leave the rest.

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Hmmm. Land of many uses... I headed down the road and at about 1800' the logging stopped and the "old" old road came back.

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Nice burl.

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The old road soon becomes a trail heading out on to the meadows,

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past the old stock (now frog) pond,

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and on down the sloping meadow to the TH. Flocks of robins and stellar jays but no flowers other than some grass widows. But things are starting to sprout...

The red line is today's route, the black line ("Loop Here") is the path I've used before and which misses the logging, and the white line ("Possible Path??") is my guess that the old road continues - in a tawdry and broken down manner - on up to the plateau at 2000'. It was fun to see where the old road went but with all the logging on the ridge, this particular route - despite the walkable road and easy creek crossing - isn't worth a repeat. Better to cross the creek lower down and pretend there are still trees up the hill somewhere. 8.8 mi RT, 1800' EG.

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mileagemike25000
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Re: Exploring Upper Catherine Ck 28-Feb-2014

Post by mileagemike25000 » February 28th, 2014, 7:01 pm

Great TR and I especially love the black and white pictures! It's too bad about all the logging, but good timber is always a target. :x We visited the Tracy Hill area back at the end of September and were appalled by the logging operation. The equipment was idle that weekend day, but the magnitude of the mess was appalling! The once needle covered road was a muddy mess and was like walking on jello. I don't think we want to visit the area again, but your investigation opens up some areas we haven't been to before. :)
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And we even found a blind in one of the trees just outside a large meadow.
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Take care and thanks for the great TR!

Mike

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-Q-
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Re: Exploring Upper Catherine Ck 28-Feb-2014

Post by -Q- » February 28th, 2014, 8:22 pm

another great trip report van marmot :P

curious on the tick situation?? get any hitchhikers today??

i have used your lower catherine creek crossing a few times (thanks again for the discovery) and have encountered the same "angry nest" of ticks that you also found. yikes :shock:

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MarsIsCobra
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Re: Exploring Upper Catherine Ck 28-Feb-2014

Post by MarsIsCobra » February 28th, 2014, 9:01 pm

beautiful pics sans the logging

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VanMarmot
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Re: Exploring Upper Catherine Ck 28-Feb-2014

Post by VanMarmot » March 1st, 2014, 6:53 am

-Q- wrote:another great trip report van marmot :P

curious on the tick situation?? get any hitchhikers today??

i have used your lower catherine creek crossing a few times (thanks again for the discovery) and have encountered the same "angry nest" of ticks that you also found. yikes :shock:
Thanks! All is currently quiet on the tick front - probably still a little too cold. That crossing is the only place at Catherine Ck where I've encountered ticks in any great abundance.

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drm
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Re: Exploring Upper Catherine Ck 28-Feb-2014

Post by drm » March 1st, 2014, 8:03 am

Since this is scenic area land, not national forest, I wasn't aware that there was logging on that public land. I wonder if it might have been private land.

I also wonder if you've ever seen a route to continue your explorations into the Major Creek drainage. I explored it a bit from the north a few years ago. As far as I know it's a wild and trailless section of land.

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VanMarmot
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Re: Exploring Upper Catherine Ck 28-Feb-2014

Post by VanMarmot » March 1st, 2014, 9:00 am

drm wrote:Since this is scenic area land, not national forest, I wasn't aware that there was logging on that public land. I wonder if it might have been private land.

I also wonder if you've ever seen a route to continue your explorations into the Major Creek drainage. I explored it a bit from the north a few years ago. As far as I know it's a wild and trailless section of land.
You'd think a scenic/recreation area would offer some respite from logging, but this is the "land of many uses." Could be the logging is on private land - it's quite a land use checkerboard up there - but it's flagged like a USDA timber sale, so I'm guessing it's federal. You'll find this same flagging along Atwood Road which is a bit worrisome.

The Major Creek drainage is attractive but coming in from the S poses two problems (for me at least): you'd have to cross seceded tribal land and there's a house/private land further up the road. The N looks to be mainly federal land and may offer more opportunities for exploring - if you work your way in from the N (as you've already done) or down to Major Creek Rd N of the tribal land from an established trail like Ca3 (going XC here didn't look too hard).

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But I like views across those big open meadows...

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Girl Flora
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Re: Exploring Upper Catherine Ck 28-Feb-2014

Post by Girl Flora » March 1st, 2014, 3:19 pm

Fortunately, it's a little bit more difficult to log on federal, state or private lands within the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Act Area, which Catherine Creek is within (not sure how far north that protection extends, typically it's a visual limitation). I know the USFS was planning to do some controlled burns in the area, but hadn't heard if this had been done. Wonder if the logging was in conjunction with this burn. I will check my sources and see if I can dig up some more info. Catherine Creek is one of my favorite areas for sure!
-Sage

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awildman
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Re: Exploring Upper Catherine Ck 28-Feb-2014

Post by awildman » March 1st, 2014, 4:10 pm

Great photos, Van! I really like the reflection shot and the wood details. I'd like to check this area out soon, before all the of the ticks wake up. Thanks for the inspiration!
Rambling on at Allison Outside

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adamschneider
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Re: Exploring Upper Catherine Ck 28-Feb-2014

Post by adamschneider » March 2nd, 2014, 9:03 am

Up until the first week of February, it was looking like it might be an EARLY year for Gorge wildflowers. But after the big snowstorm and the generally crappy weather for the last few weeks, it looks like the opposite might be true. There have been years when I've been out there in early March and the grass widows had already peaked!

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