Having ascertained via interpretation of the Forest Service wording and my conscience, such as it is, that it would be O.K. to do the loop return from Devils Rest and post about it, I set out at 8:15 on a freezing Thursday morning from the Angels Rest parking lot. I was already the 10th car there, but met most of the earlier arrivals coming down and assume they were sunrise bathers although, on this morning, the romantic tinges of orange creeping over the landscape were ardently enhanced by a steady sub-zero gale.
Since it had been dry and cold for a few days, the tread up to Angels Rest was reasonably solid but less so once things had thawed out on the way back. Once at the top, my stay on the promontory was brief as I leaned against the wind and observed the whitecaps on the river below. Visibility was almost perfect (I could see the tall buildings in downtown Portland), but low clouds over the Cascades obscured the high mountain peaks.
(Run your mouse over the pictures to see “captions” (file names).)
I passed the west end of Foxglove Way, and headed east on the Angels Rest/400 Trail, immediately entering a crown fire burn as I hiked the rim above the Dalton Bowl. Devils Creek (at least that’s what I call it) was running in its little grove of old growth cedars, Douglas-firs, and hemlocks. Then it was across more slopes scorched by the 1991 fire and reincinerated in 2017. The maples and thimbleberries have no trouble coming back from their roots, however. This section of trail has not been worked on yet, but boots have crushed the native blackberry carpet to a pulp already. I found the east end of Foxglove Way, the path here overgrown with baby maples, and crossed the singed footbridge over Mist Creek. At Wahkeena Springs, I ran into a TKO work party led by Josh Durham – somehow I knew all of these characters (I’ve been doing trail work in the Gorge since last February).
Then it was up the Devils Rest Trail, which like the rest of the Wahkeena Bowl, had experienced a less intense fire. On the Palmer Mill plateau, I gazed jealously over at the sunbathed Washington side as the Oregon face was still blanketed in frozen shade. I stopped off at the two viewpoints, but didn’t hesitate much at Devils Rest itself, the coldest point on the route, and plunged down the Devils Fork-Upper Foxglove-Foxglove Way route.
It turns out this whole section was only affected by the fire in its lower reaches and there only barely. The Basil Clark signs, as well as later more primitive editions, were in place at all the junctions. I could see that both the Devils Fork and Foxglove Way going east from their respective junctions were overgrown with salmonberries and young alders and maples. A few vine maple boughs have been sawed off at the lower end of Foxglove, but the western leg of the Devils Rest trail labyrinth is smooth sailing all the way down to Angels Rest.
Coming back down from Angels Rest, I finally got some Oregon sunshine, which brought out the colors in the fire zone, the 1991 snags now coal-black columns on a slope that offers commanding vistas. At the parking lot, the large sign saying ‘Park only in official spaces’ had been ignored by several drivers who had lined up along the highway. Don’t even think about arriving here after 9:00 a.m. on a weekend!
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