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Devil's Rest: Fog, Snow and Charcoal

Posted: December 2nd, 2018, 9:11 pm
by arlohike
Wahkeena trailhead to Devil's Rest is probably my favorite and most frequent hike. I've enjoyed so many good moments absorbing the ambience at Wahkeena Spring or Devil's Rest, or exploring the old logging roads up on the plateau. So I was nervous with anticipation to get back there today.

I got to the trailhead at 8:40 this morning (Sunday) and the parking lot was already full. I must have missed a "real" parking spot by only a few minutes, because hikers were unloading from several cars when I arrived. After driving past the big "park in designated spots only -- others subject to tow" sign near the Bridal Veil freeway junction, I was nervous to park on the shoulder. But in past years I've only seen cars towed that were hanging over the white line onto the roadway, so I took the first spot on the north shoulder. Unfortunately there's only room for about 8 cars here before the shoulder narrows enough to make this unsafe ... and the south shoulder is taken up by the new debris barrier.

There was no visible fire damage around the trailhead area, or headed up the trail to the upper falls, so I suppose that popular casual destination could have been opened earlier. But past the upper falls, singed trees were everywhere, plus a big slide that had been repaired with a hefty load of rocks. All the ground cover had burned off the paved switchback section, making the zig-zag up the hillside more visible than before.

At the top of the switchbacks I entered fog that I'd be in for the next 1500 feet or so of elevation gain. I love hiking in the fog, and the combination of the neat lighting effects plus the fire damage plus seeing all my favorite landmarks for the first time in over a year made for lots of photo stops.

At the last creek crossing, I went up the west side toward Wahkeena Spring, which to my relief was almost untouched by the fire. I lingered there for a bit before heading east to the Devil's Rest junction. Another of my favorite parts of this hike is the section of tall, straight trees on that hillside above the junction. They looked great gazing up from the junction to the south, but after climbing up a few switchbacks and looking back down, I could see the burn damage on the south sides of the trees, and the thick fields of ferns replaced with low foliage and a few baby ferns poking up.

Not long after topping out on this climb, I exited from the fog, and I felt like I was putting on a new pair of prescription glasses. Everything was so crisp after being in the fog for an hour. Then just moments after that, snow started falling, to add to the light dusting that must have come down last night. I re-entered the fog shortly before the summit, and had a mixture of fog and snow there. I checked out the shortcut over to Multnomah Basin Road when I want past, and it was pristine.

After a brief chat, a friendly runner who reached the summit just before me headed back down and left me to look around and enjoy some warm chana masala from my thermos. (I only recently discovered the pleasure of packing a warm meal on a winter hike!) I went a few yards down the Primrose Path to see that the "devil sledding" sign was still intact, then went a few yards down the Foxglove to see that it seemed clear ... although the steep, muddy trench further down and the flat, swampy areas below that are probably where any problems would lie.

Although the Nov. 23 trail map clearly shows the area west of Larch Mountain Trail as open again, comments on this forum have said the areas outside the official trails are still closed, or at least not advisable to travel. So I had planned to return the way I came, and stuck to that plan. But I'd be up for a Foxgrove loop next time, if it is in fact not forbidden. For what it's worth, there were no indications of closures or "off limits" signs at the Foxglove or Multnomah Basin junctions, like the one at the Franklin Ridge junction on the Larch Mountain trail.

Actually I took the Vista Point trail from the Devil's Rest junction, for a slight variation on the way back. This segment is the only place I saw trees that were burned all the way to the top, with all the needles burned off. When I reached the uppermost creek crossing, it looked like a trail crew had moved or added rocks to direct the creek through a narrow channel, so it can now be crossed in one hop rather than picking your way through a five foot wide spread of water.

Almost everyone on the trail was doing the Wahkeena/Multnomah loop, with only a handful of people on the Devil's Rest section. Two parties asked me for info and I recommended they take the short detour over to the spring, because I love that place. Everyone was friendly and happy to be there. With the snow falling and some beloved trails re-opened, it felt like Christmas came early!

Oh, and when I got back to the trailhead, a lot of cars were parked far more questionably than mine, plus a few cars just idling, waiting for someone to leave. With the pent-up demand for these trails, it sure would be nice if that lower parking area could be opened.
Looking up from the north shoulder.
Moss on the wall was a good sign.
Fog started at the top of the paved section.
Most live trees seemed superficially singed, but this one's bark was pretty deeply scarred.
The first bridge was unchanged, including the big tree that's been lying across here for years.
The second bridge has been rebuilt with much more heft.
But the third bridge has been slimmed down to just one board!
The junction for Angel's Rest was undamaged...
IMG_7960.jpg was Wahkeena Spring. Whew!
Hello, old friend.
This shows how dead versus live trees resisted the fire.
This poor thing was burned to within a few inches. I'll be curious to see how long it takes to blow down.
Pretty good view looking up!
Damage is more obvious looking down.
Some new earthworks on a switchback.

Re: Devil's Rest: Fog, Snow and Charcoal

Posted: December 2nd, 2018, 9:19 pm
by arlohike
The remaining branches on this log reminded me of rock cairns.
This is the only tree I noticed where the fire reached the lower branches, but didn't go higher.
At the fog line: looking back...
...and looking forward.
A few items have already been stashed under the Devil's Rest rocks.
Looking back down the trail from the summit.
The new summit sign.
The old Primrose sign.
Looking down Foxglove.
Coming back down, looking across the plateau toward Multnomah Basin Road. There was actually a lot of green visible back there, despite the charred foreground.
The new undergrowth on Vista Point was showing fall colors.
This was the only section of fully burned trees.
Looking across the Wahkeena Creek canyon, a few more dead trees were visible.
The new channel at the uppermost creek crossing.
Dropping out of the fog again, the green across the river reflected nicely in the water.

Re: Devil's Rest: Fog, Snow and Charcoal

Posted: December 3rd, 2018, 6:01 pm
by mjanardh
nice report. The day looks about the same as Saturday, fog, mist.

Re: Devil's Rest: Fog, Snow and Charcoal

Posted: December 3rd, 2018, 6:07 pm
by mjanardh
that primrose sign .. where exactly is it? I'll look for it next time ...

Re: Devil's Rest: Fog, Snow and Charcoal

Posted: December 3rd, 2018, 9:36 pm
by arlohike
Go around the summit rocks to the east and you'll see the faint path headed north. Right about where it starts descending, check the trees on the left of the path above eye level.

Re: Devil's Rest: Fog, Snow and Charcoal

Posted: December 3rd, 2018, 11:33 pm
by squidvicious
arlohike wrote:
December 2nd, 2018, 9:11 pm
I checked out the shortcut over to Multnomah Basin Road when I want past, and it was pristine.
I headed up towards Devil's Rest today, but I was moving kind of slowly. When I hit the cutoff to the Basin Rd I made a last-minute call that doing the big loop down to Larch via the Basin Rd would be a better use of my limited time than the out-and-back to Devil's Rest.

The cutoff was pristine, the road is in perfect shape, and the bridges are untouched. The gate was even open, so I didn't have to dip down into the mud to go around. The cutoff is still easily spotted coming from the other direction, as well.

Even if you don't bail on Devil's Rest, that remains a nice option for adding some miles to your hike while the Foxgloves are off the table.

Re: Devil's Rest: Fog, Snow and Charcoal

Posted: December 4th, 2018, 5:05 am
by donaleen
So happy to see your report. I like many of the hikes that start at Wahkeena. I call doing the variation past Vista Point the Lollipop. Thanks.

Re: Devil's Rest: Fog, Snow and Charcoal

Posted: December 9th, 2018, 7:51 am
by arlohike
I’m at Wahkeena again today, and the lower parking area is open!