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Timberline Trail section hiking: Top Spur to Ramona Falls and back 6/30/19

Posted: June 30th, 2019, 8:20 pm
by huckleberries
Recently I decided to "section hike" the Timberline Trail. There is a long story why this works better for me than backpacking the whole thing in one go which I will dispense with for now. So far I've done Timberline Lodge to Paradise Park, and Cloud Cap to Elk Cove. Today's section was Top Spur to Ramona Falls which I've never been on any part of before.
The wildflowers were incredible. I feel like they were almost as good as anywhere I've seen them on Mt. Hood (however I've not done as many summer excursions there as I'd like). I counted at least 20 types and then gave up counting.
According to my GPS, I hiked about 13.5 miles and over 3000 feet of elevation change. I headed out from the trailhead at 7:15, got to Ramona Falls by 10:30, and back to the trailhead by 2:00pm, as I was worried about being on the far side of Muddy Fork or on the bald part of Bald Mountain during afternoon thunderstorms. I shot a number of 360 VRs which I still have to process. About 250 photos total for the day.
It took me awhile to get across the Muddy Fork. Partly it was the spectacle of it all. Such a dramatic view of Mt. Hood. And I had read about all the blown down trees from 2003 or so, but I was gobsmacked in person.
Mt. Hood from north side of Muddy Fork

Along the stretch from Muddy Fork to the Yocum Ridge turnoff there were three places where very odd sounding animal noises were coming from uphill, I assume they were an animal of some sort which I never got a glimpse of. It was very low frequency and longish, almost like a long snort of a bear, but the length of the sound was more like a whale call. The source of the sound didn't move much as I heard the exact same sounds on the return leg. The first time I heard it I thought it was something in my pack, but when I stopped, it was still there, and the temporarily lost family also heard it.
Trail duff between Muddy Fork and Yocum Ridge turnoff
I didn't see very many people until the Yocum Ridge turnoff. Basically just one person until just before the turnoff. From that point on there were clumps of two or three. I helped get two groups of people back on track to where they wanted to go. So my GPS was actually more useful to other people than to me, as pulling it out and establishing the location was more convincing than me just saying you've past the trail intersection where you needed to turn off. Also interesting that few people seemed to be carrying any maps.
Ramona Falls

My daypack was very heavy at about 23 pounds. I brought my DSLR because I recently had a bad experience with my Android phone deleting hundreds of irreplaceable photos while attempting to sync on evidently unreliable wifi from a Skyline Lake snowshoe trip. So I'll never depend on a phone for priceless photos again. Extra water shoes for crossing streams that I didn't turn out to need. Two bottles of water. Rain jacket. Enough food for two days. etc. This amount of weight is something I really need to pare down.
Zoomed view of Mt. Hood from Bald Mountain.

One of the lessons I learned today was to double check your all your batteries. I pressed the on button on my Steripen water purifier the night before and the charge level looked fine. However when I went to purify some water on the trail, it told me not enough juice. And I had already used up my spare batteries when my GPS ran out of juice post-Muddy fork. While I did have some iodine tablets as backup, I ended up not using the iodized water as I didn't feel confident my iodine works 100%. So I ended up drinking all 64 oz. of water I brought, and was super thirsty the rest of the day.
Some bridge maintenance needed here.

The Muddy Fork crossings were not bad at all. Yesterday I had watched some videos of people crossing it all different times of the summer and given recent thunderstorms I was unsure if I'd be able to cross it safely. Overall there were few mosquitoes.

I really liked this section of Timberline. Much of the trail had wonderful duff that softened every step, and there were no large obstacles, except maybe 100 small rocks and branches that I relocated off the trail.

Some folks at Top Spur asked me as I came out if Ramona Falls was up the trail. I showed them the map and distances involved. I think they got to the wrong trailhead as they were a family with a baby, etc. I mentioned they could get to Bald Mountain relatively easily and have a wonderful view of some waterfalls on the far side of the valley, and Mt. Hood, and wildflowers, and they brightened up.
Waterfalls seemingly tumbling down from upper end of Yocum Ridge.

I expected a sudden strenuous hike like this to wipe me out since I've not been keeping a regular routine of hard hikes, However this evening I'm feeling pretty OK. When I did Big Huckleberry Mountain last summer, I know I was hobbling by the end of the hike and for a day or two afterwards.

Re: Top Spur to Ramona Falls June 30, 2019

Posted: July 1st, 2019, 5:31 am
by retired jerry
that's a good way to do it, as day hikes

the Mazamas does that in September every year, I think it's three days with sleeping overnight in some Mazama lodge or something

Re: Top Spur to Ramona Falls June 30, 2019

Posted: July 1st, 2019, 9:27 am
by Ron Goodwin
PCTA advocates section hiking to help spread people out and less resource damage that way. Com
PCT Days Flyer 2019.JPG
ing up in August is the PCT Days at Cascade Locks where you can meet many Thru-hikers.

Re: Top Spur to Ramona Falls June 30, 2019

Posted: July 1st, 2019, 7:26 pm
by huckleberries
Yes, I've hiked a few sections of the PCT, it makes it manageable when you have a full-time job or otherwise cannot spend half a year through-hiking.

I'll have to look into the Mazamas event -- that sounds reasonable.

The out-and-back nature of my section hiking means I get to do the whole trail twice. I'll be happy to get back to Elk Cove, the last time I was there the wildflowers were a nearly complete wipeout.

I have to admit I was glad the PCT was a parallel trail in this stretch.

Re: Top Spur to Ramona Falls and back June 30, 2019

Posted: July 3rd, 2019, 7:27 pm
by huckleberries
I did forget to turn on my GPS at the trailhead but it was powered up once I got up to the PCT.

Here's the elevation profile generated by TrailRunner, which says it was actually 12.5 miles (12.05 + the missing Top Spur start of 0.5) miles and 3168 feet (2848 + the delta from the beginning) of elevation change:
The resulting map shows how my Garmin didn't get that repeatable of a track coming and going.
The squiggles NE of the Yocum Ridge trail were from stopping to talk to the family that overshot the ridge trail.

It always puzzles me how TrailRunner comes up with a different distance number than the Garmin.

Re: Top Spur to Ramona Falls and back June 30, 2019

Posted: July 4th, 2019, 6:41 am
by retired jerry
I did that recently, that's a nice hike

You can loop back on the PCT if you want to do a loop