Perham Creek blowout on Wygant Trail (Jan 23, 2016)

This forum is used to share your experiences out on the trails.
User avatar
Splintercat
Posts: 8324
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Location: Portland
Contact:

Perham Creek blowout on Wygant Trail (Jan 23, 2016)

Post by Splintercat » January 23rd, 2016, 9:49 pm

TKO had a scouting hike on the Wygant/Mitchell Point trail system today with Oregon State Parks to identify some upcoming volunteer projects -- also attending were folks from Friends of the Gorge. The good news: State Parks hired Northwest Youth Corps to brush out the Wygant Trail well beyond the first viewpoint (just beyond Perham Creek), so the trail is in the best condition in years. If you've hiked there in the past, you probably remember verdant bowers of poison oak crowding the trail -- MUCH better now!

Now the bad news: the bridge over Perham Creek that had been on life support after a direct hit by a tree a few years ago was COMPLETELY blown away by what looks like something akin to a flash flood -- or possibly, the bridge itself obstructed high water enough to form a dam, then was blown out. Either way, the bulk of the structure was simply ripped away from the cable anchor that attached to a large tree on the west side of the creek and summarily dumped upside down on the east bank. Wow!

On the list of improvements via State Parks and TKO are some sprucing up of the Wygant Trail where it could use some tread work, more brushing, especially on the upper reaches of the Mitchell Point Trail and some TLC to the talus section of the Mitchell Point Trail (among others). We're also looking at restoring the Chetwoot Trail, but that will take some time. Lots of bigger plans for new trails in the area, too, courtesy the new Gorge Parks Plan, but that will take awhile to plan and carry out.

Some photos from the trip today:

Steve Kruger from Oregon Parks & Recreation prepping the group for our scouting trip:

Image

At the Chetwoot junction:

Image

Cool (and amazingly perfect) new Chetoot facsimile carved by volunteers last year -- the original by Basil Clark is now safely displayed in the Oregon State Parks offices:

Image

TKO rock starts Elaine and Pat Keavney and Jeff Statt on the grade dropping into Perham Creek:

Image

Pat, Elaine and Jeff at the blown-out bridge on Perham Creek:

Image

The blown-out bridge on the left, remaining chunk on the right side of the creek (still cabled to the tree). Wow!

Image

This is going to take a long time to replace, so in the foreseeable future hikers will need to cross the logs in the distance. Not too bad, but it's a sizable crossing during the west months - use care!

From Perham Creek, we backtracks to the Chetwoot, then headed along the powerline access road to Mitchell Point for a descent of the Mitchell Point Trail. A very nice day in the woods with most excellent company..!

Tom :-)

User avatar
miah66
Posts: 2039
Joined: July 6th, 2009, 8:00 pm

Re: Perham Creek blowout on Wygant Trail (Jan 23, 2016)

Post by miah66 » January 25th, 2016, 9:53 am

Cool, Tom! I've always had this one in mind to check out, but I've been scared off by the doom & gloom reports of the Chetwood section of the loop. Read a recent report of someone who said it was still really sketchy b/c of a slide and they lost their dog on the hike. :( Hope they found it.

Still, good to hear that it hasn't been forgotten and will hopefully one day be revived.
"The top...is not the top" - Mile...Mile & a Half

Instagram @pdxstrider

mandrake
Posts: 389
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Re: Perham Creek blowout on Wygant Trail (Jan 23, 2016)

Post by mandrake » January 25th, 2016, 10:29 am

Splintercat: are the future plans for Wygant posted anywhere? Just curious. Currently Wygant holds the title as the most unpopular destination in the Columbia Gorge. Nice to hear it's getting some attention as IMO it's not beyond redemption.

Old TR from a couple years ago with info on some off-trail routes up Wygant:
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=17662

User avatar
Splintercat
Posts: 8324
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Location: Portland
Contact:

Re: Perham Creek blowout on Wygant Trail (Jan 23, 2016)

Post by Splintercat » January 25th, 2016, 12:12 pm

Well, I don't know if anything has been posted, but Steve Kruger at Oregon Parks & Recreation is a major champion of both restoring the trails in the Mitchell Point/Wygant Peak area and building new trails there -- including a mountain bike connection from the vicinity of the Viento campground/trailhead to the Post Canyon system. That would be a first for the Gorge (river-level access to a mountain bike system), so has a lot of enthusiasm from the mountain biking community. It is envisioned as a shared trail -- something I'm a fan of, as I do both and have had almost entirely positive experiences on shared trails.

The other new trail is a second route to Mitchell Point that would create a loop. Conceptually (in the Gorge Parks Plan), it would follow an open, oak-wooded ridge to the west of the current trail, then join the existing route near the saddle below the final summit pitch. I'm hoping TKO can be involved in planning and building that one, but it's a couple years off.

In the shorter term, TKO is planning to spruce up both the existing Mitchell Point trail and Wygant Peak trail where there are tread and brush issues. But the Wygant Trail is a WORLD better than it was before Steve Kruger brought in a Northwest Youth Corps group to clear the brush (read: poison oak). They have apparently cleared well up the switchbacks on Wygant Peak -- we didn't cross Perham, so I didn't see that myself, but the route to Perham was as clear as any you'd find in the Gorge. Very nice!

As for the creek crossing, this time of year it would be challenging for less-experienced hikers, but the log crossings are nothing worse than what you might cross elsewhere in the Gorge where bridge-less crossings are located. It's similar to the Starvation Ridge crossing of Warren Creek, for example -- also navigated via logs during high water, and carrying the risk of wet boots. So, I think it will likely stay that way for awhile, until Steve and State Parks can cobble funding together to build a new structure. That's a couple years off, in all likelihood, but it doesn't mean that work can't continue on restoring the trails -- the creek crossing is inconvenient, but isn't a deal-killer for more experienced hikers.

The Chetwoot Loop is a different story. That one will take some time, but there's a lot of interest in bringing it back to life from both trail advocates and State Parks staff, so… the future looks good!

Tom :-)

justpeachy
Posts: 3066
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Location: Portland, OR
Contact:

Re: Perham Creek blowout on Wygant Trail (Jan 23, 2016)

Post by justpeachy » January 25th, 2016, 12:18 pm

Welcome news! It's nice to see trails being cleared and plans being made for new trails. Too often we hear the opposite news about overgrown or washed-out trails being abandoned.

User avatar
bobcat
Posts: 2753
Joined: August 1st, 2011, 7:51 am
Location: SW Portland

Re: Perham Creek blowout on Wygant Trail (Jan 23, 2016)

Post by bobcat » January 25th, 2016, 4:40 pm

Nice to see the TKO crew bosses out scouting a trail to repair!

User avatar
-Q-
Posts: 1433
Joined: July 5th, 2008, 10:42 pm

Re: Perham Creek blowout on Wygant Trail (Jan 23, 2016)

Post by -Q- » January 25th, 2016, 10:44 pm

This is most excellent news indeed.
Many thanks to everyone involved.

I have hiked the wygant-chetwoot loop a few times, the last being just after the major storm that did all the damage. Thousands of trees were down. I would see a patch of tread maybe every 30 feet or so. Major landslides on the chetwoot left the trail completely gone. Traversing those newly formed slopes was not only super dangerous, but very stupid. The wygant then welcomed me with a downed tree cluster nightmare.
I learned many good lessons that day, both in what I can do, and what I shouldn't do ;)

User avatar
romann
Posts: 2416
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Location: Vancouver, WA

Re: Perham Creek blowout on Wygant Trail (Jan 23, 2016)

Post by romann » January 25th, 2016, 11:18 pm

Great news! I've been to Mitchell Point a few times (most recently this Sunday) but still have to check out Wygant trail. Poison oak reports held me from going there.

User avatar
kepPNW
Posts: 6411
Joined: June 21st, 2012, 9:55 am
Location: Salmon Creek

Re: Perham Creek blowout on Wygant Trail (Jan 23, 2016)

Post by kepPNW » April 12th, 2016, 12:48 pm

We hiked all around this area last Saturday, and I gotta say the trail up to Wygant was in great shape! Really impressive how good, in fact, given all the doom and gloom I'd heard about it. Lots of poison oak in the lower stretches, but no real risk of contacting it in most places if you're paying attention. Crossing the creek is pretty trivial, now that all the snow has melted.
  • Image
    "Do a yoga pose!", they yelled. If I can do this... over a creek... jest saying...
The upper stretches still include many dozens of log hops, all but a few extremely trivial. The couple that we had to crawl under invariably resulted in the need for immediate tick checks. (Tis the season; we picked dozens off each other throughout the day!) Most of the fallen logs had beautiful notches chopped into them, making the footholds very confident. Not everyone took advantage of them at every opportunity, of course.
  • Image
    Easy way to avoid ticks -- don't crawl under the logs!?
One thing we did find curious about the trail work up high, was the "enhancement" of numerous new "viewpoints." For example...
  • Image
    See the fresh-cut stumps and branch stubs?
I mean, if you're gonna enhance a view, why not this one? :lol:
  • Image
    It's dead already, for pete's sake! No reason to wait for the next windstorm... Who's got an axe?
The bugs have already done the hard work, killing that sucker. And look, river to volcano view! Dang...
  • Image
    Okay, maybe two or three dead trees... C'mon, now, TKO!
Finally, while some things should probably remain a mystery, those not hiking with Pat & Vanna will definitely appreciate knowing that continuing beyond the wonderful new car, err, cairn will yield quite a reward indeed! :D
  • Image
    Not quite as impressive as Devil's Rest, but with a presentation like that who can argue?
Would love to see the Chetwoot restored as well, to make a mo'betta loop on that end! :)
Seriously, thanks for all the good work on this trail so far!
Karl
Back on the trail, again...

User avatar
woodswalker
Posts: 835
Joined: November 25th, 2012, 4:51 pm

Re: Perham Creek blowout on Wygant Trail (Jan 23, 2016)

Post by woodswalker » April 12th, 2016, 1:15 pm

Love that jump over the log!
Woodswalker

Post Reply