Wahkeena - Devil's - Basin Rd loop 2020-08-14

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squidvicious
Posts: 316
Joined: May 11th, 2015, 8:41 pm
Location: Troutdale

Wahkeena - Devil's - Basin Rd loop 2020-08-14

Post by squidvicious » August 14th, 2020, 11:40 am

After checking out the Larch Crater and the open section of Larch Mountain Trail earlier, I wanted to get out today and finish a survey of the rest of the connecting trails that have reopened in there.

I see someone's already beat me on Wahkeena, but just to sum: parking is mostly blocked off, trail is good up to the Devil's Rest junction, a mix of slightly messy and pretty brushy beyond that. I actually didn't think it was too terrible, but my threshold for "bad" might have moved a bit recently.

I turned up on the Devil's Rest trail. It's overgrown, especially through the switchbacks, but someone's made an effort to stomp down the prickly stuff. What's left can be thick, but isn't difficult to push through. If it's not tearing my legs I'm happy at this point.

Above that it's a mix of clear and overgrown, but again easy enough to push through and not tearing at you. I did have a thought in the back of my mind that hiking alone in the morning in an area that hadn't seen humans for several months could potentially not go well, especially with heavy brush obscuring my non-tasty human silhouette, but I was ignoring it.

Until I heard a weird noise, like someone chucking a big rock in the woods. No crack like a branch falling, no crunching of something tumbling in the undergrowth, just a single, solid THUMP. Now I'm wondering what a big heavy animal would sound like leaping down on big padded paws. OK, I'm being silly. But I can't shake the creepy feeling. So after a while when I get to a particularly solid clump of brush that doesn't look like anyone's even tried to push through yet, I decide enough. I decide that the dead possum in the middle of the trail a ways back was probably an omen, and this is not really fun anymore. I turned around short of Devil's Rest.

I turned off at the cutoff (perfectly clear) and headed down the Basin Rd. I've always been nervous what would happen if I encountered a car on there. Today it finally happened. Fortunately I was almost through and all the way down at the last bridge, so there was room to get clear, and I heard them coming from plenty far off. They were hauling in construction materials for the trails club, and said they'd be up and down the road all day. That sounds like something that will take more than a single day, so be aware if you're planning on walking through there.

I had intended on taking the Vista Point trail down, but when I got back to the Devil's Rest junction there was a deer and fawn standing there. We had a bit of a standoff while I hung back and waited for them to walk off of their own accord, but they didn't take the hint--even after I clearly explained myself. Eventually the fawn took the initiative and bounced off--straight down the Vista Point trail. I didn't have the heart to follow and seem like I was chasing them, so I stuck to Wahkeena. I did step across the creek at the other end just to have a quick look up and was surprised how clear the part I could see looked, though. I was expecting that to be the most overgrown of all. I'd love to hear if anyone has been through there.

From here is where I started to see people. More than I would have thought there could be based on parking, though by no means crowded. Most seemed to think they were going to Multnomah Falls, based on either what I overheard or what they asked me. There really should be better signage at the trailhead--I did note a closure map there, but it was about the fourth sign down on the post and practically invisible at nearly ground level.

The deer thing was interesting, because I've always thought it strange that I never see deer anywhere in there. Well, I have twice on the paved section of Multnomah Falls, of all places, but not where I'd expect to see them. Two bears and a cougar, but no deer. It was nice, but it also reinforced the idea that there could be a bit more wildlife activity around the trails than usual and my creepy feeling around Devil's Rest might not have been so silly after all.

squidvicious
Posts: 316
Joined: May 11th, 2015, 8:41 pm
Location: Troutdale

Re: Wahkeena - Devil's - Basin Rd loop 2020-08-14

Post by squidvicious » August 26th, 2020, 12:12 pm

Did this again today, Weds 8/26, this time including Vista Point. The Vista Point trail has been worked on and is in great shape. The parts of Wahkeena that were overgrown are still overgrown, although noticeably better after a couple weeks' worth of traffic. Someone has had a rough go at cutting back the Devil's Rest trail, at least in the section I came down. It's not "clear," but it's certainly recognizable as a trail again.

I also popped over to Multnomah Falls hoping to support the gift shop. But it was confusing and stressful (I always seemed to wind up going the wrong way with the arrows on the floor, and I was expecting someone to yell at me if I touched anything with my filthy germ-laden hands), so I gave up on that.

By the time I got back to my car at Wahkeena the parking lot was overflowing and people were getting very aggressive about spaces. Others had parked down at the Mist Falls pullout and, lacking a shoulder, were just walking in the middle of the road. The winding, blinding sun glare road. Horns and yelling. Someone's going to wind up getting killed there.

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