Cottonwood Canyon Pinnacles along the John Day River (3/30/18)

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ElementalFX
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Cottonwood Canyon Pinnacles along the John Day River (3/30/18)

Post by ElementalFX » October 9th, 2018, 5:56 pm

Here's an extremely delayed trip report from a hike I did back at the end of March this year, but I figure the photos might be helpful for future planning for people. Plus, it might make a good late fall or winter hike.



Opening Photo:
Pinnacles_Trail FullResNoWM-9.jpg
Various colors along the John Day River


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We parked at the Murtha Ranch Trailhead, crossed the road, and took a trail up to a junction with the Sage Steppe Trail, and turned right.


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It followed above the road, along a slope for a ways, to a junction for the hiker-biker campground.


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The sign for the hiker-biker camp.


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From there, the trail passed by the Lone Tree Campground, before reaching a sign and map for the Pinnacles Trail.



It was about this time, that we passed by three different small-ish rattlesnakes(?) than scurried across the trail. One person on the way back reported of seeing a very large one rattling near the trail's end.



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The path followed the river, then traversed a section of trail that was carved into the cliff-face below overhanging basalt walls.


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Hiked along basalt cliffs before reaching the junction for the D and H Trail.


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We took a left there, ascending higher above the river below. This trail follows parallel to the Pinnacles Trail and rejoins it later on.



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I stopped taking photos for a while, but we dropped back down to the Pinnacles Trail, and rejoined. The trail meandered along the river's edge, keeping fairly level.


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Gradually, the path slowly wound to the left around a gooseneck peninsula.



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Some bare shrubs on the water's edge made for some fantastic red colors!



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I just love the different layered colors by the river and in the hillsides further away.



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After rounding the major bend of the river (around a 1,000 foot high gooseneck peninsula), the trail started to enter a deeper, steeper, more foreboding canyon.



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Looking across the river to some powerlines.



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The trail then started to curve back to the right again, getting closer to those steep cliffs.



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The trail began to get quite a bit narrower, too, with more debris and rockfall, compared to the road-track that characterized much of the hike in. It was especially here, after seeing some rattlesnakes on the way in, and hearing about that other person's encounter, that we kept an extra watchful eye on the trail. Looking up above the trail, the various pinnacle-like basalt formations stood tall–somewhat separated from the steep canyon walls.



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One of the pinnacles stood apart from the rest, like a medieval watchtower along a castle wall, guarding over the river.



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Some of the local small-scale wildlife showing off their beautiful colors.



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At the end of the official trail, we stopped to have lunch at the gate. The path continues on, and the gate was open, so I ventured a short bit further. It gets increasingly brushy and becomes more of a path over padded-down grass.



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You can still tell there's some sort of trail here, but I didn't venture too much further.


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Flutterbat had to join the hike for the photo op, just as always. If you want to see some photos of the ponies for "Ponies Around the World", you can see them here. I don't want to bore anyone too much with these types of photos, so I'll refrain from posting any more. Normally, we just bring along small figures, but since we decided on making a "PATW" timelapse nature film with the ponies in them, we decided to go all out and bring these bigger items to film. This cute little yellow vampire pony, in particular, was handcrafted/hand-sewn by a well-known artist in the MLP:FiM community.



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On the way back, we took another alternate trail, following parallel to the Pinnacles Trail, and right along the river's edge through some very thick, fairly tall sagebrush.



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Saw this strange looking insect along the riverside hiker's path. :?

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bobcat
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Re: Cottonwood Canyon Pinnacles along the John Day River (3/30/18)

Post by bobcat » October 13th, 2018, 9:22 am

Nice report. March is a nice time to go there although a little early for the flowers.

Your strange insect is a Jerusalem cricket (Stenopalmatus).

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littlefeet
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Re: Cottonwood Canyon Pinnacles along the John Day River (3/30/18)

Post by littlefeet » October 18th, 2018, 3:36 pm

Beautiful! We just took a late season overnighter and were surprised the campground was still FULL!
The John Day River, however.... not so much!
John Day 2018 0928.jpg
Life is too short to wear tight shoes!

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ElementalFX
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Re: Cottonwood Canyon Pinnacles along the John Day River (3/30/18)

Post by ElementalFX » October 18th, 2018, 7:04 pm

bobcat wrote:
October 13th, 2018, 9:22 am
Nice report. March is a nice time to go there although a little early for the flowers.

Your strange insect is a Jerusalem cricket (Stenopalmatus).
Thanks. Might just have to hike that area in March, then, for the flowers.

And thanks for the I.D, too. Either I've never seen a cricket before, or I've never recognized one... because for some reason, I didn't expect them to look like that, haha.


littlefeet wrote:
October 18th, 2018, 3:36 pm
Beautiful! We just took a late season overnighter and were surprised the campground was still FULL!
The John Day River, however.... not so much!
John Day 2018 0928.jpg
Wow. Yeah, that appears much lower compared to spring. Thanks for sharing. :)

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