GoalTechHikes Mt Defiance - Eagle Creek Burn - 052018

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mjirving
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GoalTechHikes Mt Defiance - Eagle Creek Burn - 052018

Post by mjirving » May 20th, 2018, 9:49 pm

2018.11 - Mt Defiance
“Into the Fire” 


5/20/18
Rating: 4 Stars


Miles: 14.0
Time: 8 hrs, 45 min
Avg MPH: 1.6
Elev Min: 145’
Elev Max: 4,934’
Total Ascent: 5,450’
Steps: 33,200
Flights of Stairs: 480
Time Up: 3:30am
Sleep Hours: 6
Start Time: 5:00am
Temp Low: 53
Temp High: 70
Other hikers: 34
Female/Male hiker ratio: 35% / 65%
Longest time without seeing a hiker: 4:00
Wildlife: Birds, Hawks, Dead deer
Parking Permit Required: No
Parking Lot: 24 spaces + 2 handicap 
Bathrooms: Powered with running water


Starvation Ridge * Warren Lake * Mark O. Hatfield Trail * Mt Defiance Summit * Eagle Creek Fire Burn * Lancaster Falls * Starvation Falls


Opening Shot: Eagle Creek Fire burn on Mt Defiance Trail
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I read yesterday that Mt Defiance is open! My lazy Sunday plans were quickly changed! I got to the Starvation Creek trailhead so I could start my hike at civil twilight at 5am sharp. I was met this this sign that hopefully wasn’t a harbinger of things to come.
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As I started down the Historic Columbia River Highway and up the Starvation Ridge Cutoff trail I saw the amazing gift of the dawn of a new day…this makes the 3:30am alarm worth it!
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Going up the cutoff trail it was what I call tippy-toe-steep in that my heels weren’t touching the ground on each step. Once I got up to the Starvation Ridge Trail, it wasn’t as steep…I do like it when my heels touch the ground when I hike. :-)  This beauty was my first flower of the day. Any help with the name?
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Up I went, switchbacking up the power line path, in and out of the trees, getting views down the Columbia. There was Lupine toward the top,
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and Arrowleaf Balsamroot…with Wind Mountain doing a photobomb.
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Once reaching the ridge, I headed straight up the ridgeline of Starvation Ridge. I have the names of these guys somewhere, but I can’t recall…any help?
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It was like walking down the center aisle of the church with the trees in the pews…straight up.
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These white flowers were perfect…but I don’t have their name either…anyone know?
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At about 2,000’ in elevation I entered the cloud layer…hoping that it wouldn’t be cloudy at the top. A 5,000’ climb is a long way to go to stare at clouds!


Prairie Star was next, 
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and this stuff, which kind of looks like Bear Grass, but I don’t think that’s it (no grass, and skinnier flower…any help?
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I crossed some talus and saw this stately, giant tree in the fog.
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Red-flowered currant was next,
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and Oregon Anemone.
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After getting to the top of the lower ridge, I was at 2,700’ as the sun started breaking through. I hike through an area that I remember from my hike 3 years ago that had been decimated in a fire, with no life. This time through I could hardly tell, as new Doug Firs and other green life were growing like weeds. That’s encouraging.


Next I saw Drops of Gold/Hookers Fairybell.
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It was so nice to finally have a relatively “flat-up” section as I traversed west toward Warren Lake and Mt Defiance. I finally got my first look at this tallest mountain in the Gorge.
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I passed Warren Lake, with its nice campsites, and saw these white beauties. (Name??)
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Most of the Western Trillium was past its prime, but up higher in elevation I did see just a few.
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Curling around and up past Warren Lake I caught a view of it.
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Just a bit further, I connected to the Mt Defiance Trail that comes up the ridge to the west. I headed up and saw my first snow shortly thereafter at 4,350’ in very limited patches. At the next junction, I stayed left to go straight up to the summit. At 8:50am, I topped out on the 4,934’ summit of Mt Defiance. There are only good views to the east, as the others are blocked by trees, but that provides perfect views of the crown jewel of Mt Hood.
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I finally ran into my first other hiker. He arrived just minutes after me from the Mt Defiance Trail route. What took me 3 hours and 50 minutes took him 2 hours. He was an ultra-runner who had some water and maybe a bite to eat and had hiked/ran up the trail. That was impressive! Here is what the tallest mountain in the Gorge gets to have on top…radio equipment! This ain’t no wilderness up here! (It’s conveniently just south of the border of the Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness.)
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Here’s a video clip from the summit.
2018-05-20 Defiance Summit from Michael Irving on Vimeo.


After a 1/2-hour break, I headed down the south side and had the most snow of the hike (there was none on top). This picture is looking at the trail behind me, back up to the summit.
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I quickly curled around the west side of the mountain, which afforded me my missed views to the west from the summit. This is Bear Lake. You can also see the Eagle Creek Fire burn area on the next ridge over.
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Here is a video clip to get a better feel.
2018-05-20 Bear Lake Burn from Michael Irving on Vimeo.


There are great views in this area. I curled back towards the east a bit before going down and go this view looking toward Mt Adams, which was hiding behind the clouds.
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Here is a video clip to get a better feel of it.
2018-05-20 Defiance to NE from Michael Irving on Vimeo.


Looking to the north, I was actually looking down to the summit of the very popular Dog Mountain.
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Dropping down through the trees, I popped out at a viewpoint to get a better view of the burn. You can see it go down the ridge and also to the joined Shellrock Mountain (2,090’). You can also see the burn coming up to my ridge down in the lower part of the picture.
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Here is a video clip to see it in better perspective.
2018-05-20 Shellrock Burn from Michael Irving on Vimeo.


At 4,100’ in elevation, I entered into the 2017 Eagle Creek Fire burn area.
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Here is a walking video clip as I entered the burn.
2018-05-20 Entering Burn on Defiance from Michael Irving on Vimeo.


This upper portion of the burn was the most intense. The trail and ridgeline was kind of a firebreak. There was burn to the right certainly, but it was much more minor. The burn to the left was much more thorough, with many of the trees completely crowned-out with burn. Here is one of the crispier trees.
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That being said, there was new green growth in almost all areas of the burn that I saw. I was also a bit surprised that the ground felt like it still had a healthy level of organic material in it as it was covered in pine needles and firm underfoot. So many times, in hot burns, the ground is completely burned and sterilized to the point where all that remains is a sandy dirt. So I was encouraged by this too.


As I dropped down, the intensity of the burn are was decreased. It was interesting to see this very common sight where just the bases of the trees were burned black, but nothing else. It was as if all the ground cover burned, but it didn’t advance up the trees.
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Also, there was much more canopy in this section, even with the burned-out lower portions of the forest.
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At about this point, I met Pablo, who is a fellow contributor on the OregonHikers.org site that I participate in on a regular basis. It’s always so fun to meet these on-line personalities out on the trail. Great to see you Pablo!


Here is another video clip of another part of the burn section.
2018-05-20 Defiance 2nd Burn from Michael Irving on Vimeo.


It was so surreal to actually see THROUGH these trees to see sky, the river and the mountains on the other side of the Gorge…a very weird experience with all my time hiking in the Gorge in the “green tunnel” of all our Doug Firs and other tall, and green trees.
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Here is a view up, to see the crowned-out trees that were burned pretty severely.
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Here’s a lone Stream Violet, fighting its way back, in the shadow of tall firs, stripped of their greenery by fire.
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This picture was a typical one as I got lower. It didn’t burn as thorough or hot here, which actually resulted in the most challenging part of the hike. There was a lot of dead brush and blowdown in this area. It wasn’t terrible to get through, but certainly slowed the pace. To be frank, it doesn't appear that any significant maintenance has been done on this trail (a million apologies in advance if I just don't know and didn't see the "before"). As a result, you do have to wind your way around and over blowdowns and through dead brush quite a bit. Not terribly technical, but not easy either.
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I also saw several examples of trees that had their root structure burned out underground.
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As I got lower, I started to see carpets of green with new growth, including ferns sprouting up out of the brown and black ground.
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I got another viewpoint to the west, which shows a lower angle of Shellrock Mountain to the left and Wind Mountain to the right.
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At about 800’, was the lower boundary of the burn. As I got back down to the power lines, and open spaces, the wildflowers started showing up again. I saw this purple guy. (Name?)
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This picture shows the hiding Shellrock Mountain, and more importantly, the new view upwards to the ridge above it.
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This orange flower is a new one for me, perhaps more rare? (Name?)
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Not sure what this is either…a type of Phlox??
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I always love the Columbine, such a gorgeous flower.
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I caught this bee eating lunch.
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Not sure what these yellow guys are either??
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Not much Paintbrush on this hike, but here is one with Wind Mountain in the back.
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**Warning - dead animal ahead**


I rounded the next switchback and just about jumped out of my skin as a dead deer was laying in the trail, staring at me. Normally I wouldn’t put a picture of a dead animal in here, but this one puzzled me. There were no bugs on it or no appearance of injury or attack. It looked as if it had just laid down on the trail and died. Even its eyes still looked “alive”. I have no idea, but I’m guessing this was VERY fresh. Not that they would, but no hiker mentioned it to me as I approached, which I’d think they would. (I definitely warned the people coming my way, after I passed it, particularly since I was getting in the the short-day-hiker-family-hikes crowd.
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These gold beauties were in the power line alley,
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and Scotch Broom.
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I crossed Wonder Creek and Lancaster Falls.
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I opted to take the upper trail to connect back to the Starvation Cutoff Trail since I hadn’t done that section before, rather than take the lower trail, down through the trees, back to the trailhead. Oh my, that wasn’t what I was bargaining for…there were some serious ups! Just when I thought I was almost done! In the end, I’m glad I did it, as it did afford some nice views that I wouldn’t have seen down in the trees. This shot is to the east. You can see the power line alley on the other side. That’s what I switchbacked up this morning to start my hike. The packed trailhead is down at the bottom. (No surprise that I was the first car this morning.)
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Here is a video clip for more perspective.
2018-05-20 Defiance Low View from Michael Irving on Vimeo.


One of the last hikers I met before finishing asked me, “Is it further?” Thinking he was talking about the summit, which is A LOT further, I asked him, “Is what further?” He then mentioned the waterfall. Ha! “Okay…you’re right on track, only a 1/2 mile ahead!” :-)


Finally I dropped back down to the Historic Columbia River Highway for a nice easy cruise, into the finish.
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But wait! More flowers first! These (Poppies?)
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Getting back to the start, I went just a hundred yards further to see the gorgeous Starvation Falls. A perfect end to the hike!
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The trailhead was spilling over with cars with almost twice as many parked along both curbs, all the way out to the interstate. What struck me as unique about this hike is that it actually took me a little longer to get down than it did to go up! That is usually not the case with hikes like these. I think what makes the difference is that it’s just steep enough that you have to break your speed with every step down. It did feel like almost as much work coming down as it was going up…well…except the hard breathing part! :-)

Summary:
This is a hard and long hike…both ways! It was really cool to explore the burn area, and the views from the top were great. It was a little early in my season to push one this hard, but it was worth it for the “opening day views” as it just opened yesterday I believe. A gorgeous and perfect day for a hike.

Favorite experience of the day:
Experiencing the remnants of the Eagle Creek Fire for the first time.

Least favorite experience of the day:
Navigating the brush at the bottom of the Mt Defiance Trail

Today's elevation:
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Google Earth with Track:
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GPS Track:
https://www.gaiagps.com/public/A0VIlJVtp3jvhSjco38wiaYt

-GoalTech (aka Mike)
www.GoalTechHikes.com
@goaltechhikes (Instagram)

pablo
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Re: GoalTechHikes Mt Defiance - Eagle Creek Burn - 052018

Post by pablo » May 20th, 2018, 10:28 pm

Nice report, flower photos, and fire photos - dead deer is strange.

The burned part of the Defiance trail could benefit from the application of loppers and a hand saw. I don't recall anything particularly big. Starvation Ridge needs to be logged out.

I was out near Lindsey Creek, geez, the route around Shellrock to Wyeth is going to be nice.

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

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aiwetir
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Re: GoalTechHikes Mt Defiance - Eagle Creek Burn - 052018

Post by aiwetir » May 20th, 2018, 11:02 pm

Nice report.

That deer looks like it has some injuries to its ears and neck, cougar kill? Major injuries on the underside?
- Michael

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retired jerry
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Re: GoalTechHikes Mt Defiance - Eagle Creek Burn - 052018

Post by retired jerry » May 21st, 2018, 6:07 am

34 other hikers? I guess that's what happens when that's about the only open gorge trail :)

Interesting to see burn areas, thanks

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mjirving
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Re: GoalTechHikes Mt Defiance - Eagle Creek Burn - 052018

Post by mjirving » May 21st, 2018, 6:46 am

I’d day only half of those were on the mountain. The rest were on the lower traverse just out to the falls and back.

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Chip Down
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Re: GoalTechHikes Mt Defiance - Eagle Creek Burn - 052018

Post by Chip Down » May 21st, 2018, 7:59 am

Nice report, Mike. I should get in there before it gets too hot. If I were to go up to the Warren junction and the return via Starvation, would I see all the burn? Is there anything new to see above the Warren junction? Starvation is all green, right?

To be pedantic, the tower complex is below the true summit :geek:

That deer experience must have felt really weird. Somebody should get it off the trail soon.

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Bosterson
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Re: GoalTechHikes Mt Defiance - Eagle Creek Burn - 052018

Post by Bosterson » May 21st, 2018, 9:23 am

mjirving wrote:Image
Wow.... I was up there on March 31, so a little over a month and a half ago. (Note: I did not use trails from the Starvation TH - there was a legal way up there skirting the closure boundary via the road running south of Warren Lake.) The snow was so high that the fence at the back of this building was almost completely covered. You probably could have grabbed the edge of those buildings on the left side of your pic and climbed up onto them rather than using the ladder. I'm shocked how fast that melted out.

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Will hike off trail for fun.

squidvicious
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Re: GoalTechHikes Mt Defiance - Eagle Creek Burn - 052018

Post by squidvicious » May 21st, 2018, 10:03 am

I really like your trip reports.

Thuja
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Re: GoalTechHikes Mt Defiance - Eagle Creek Burn - 052018

Post by Thuja » May 21st, 2018, 10:27 am

.
Last edited by Thuja on March 8th, 2019, 7:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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mjirving
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Re: GoalTechHikes Mt Defiance - Eagle Creek Burn - 052018

Post by mjirving » May 21st, 2018, 11:14 am

Chip Down wrote:
May 21st, 2018, 7:59 am
Nice report, Mike. I should get in there before it gets too hot. If I were to go up to the Warren junction and the return via Starvation, would I see all the burn? Is there anything new to see above the Warren junction? Starvation is all green, right?
Thanks! It's all below the junction. The top part is almost exactly at the Hatfield Wilderness boundary which is marked by a "pin" on my GoogleEarth image.

...and yes...you are being pedantic. ;-)

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