Catherine Creek 4/12/21

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wnshall
Posts: 118
Joined: July 17th, 2009, 10:31 am

Catherine Creek 4/12/21

Post by wnshall » April 13th, 2021, 9:28 pm

On Sunday I explored the slopes between Catherine Creek and Coyote Wall. There are abundant Wildflowers in bloom here, and the more widely you range the more species you'll see. I got a bit of a late start, not arriving at the Catherine Creek trailhead until 10 am. I knew I was in trouble when on I-84 I saw the number of parked cars lining the access road for the Herman Creek trail -- they were lined up on both sides of the road for quite some distance. Similarly, passing by Coyote Wall TH, cars were parked all the way to HW14, and along HW14 itself. As expected, the CC parking area was completely full, but I managed to find a spot just beyond the main parking area. Note to self: get up earlier next time!

I hiked up past the arch and out onto the slopes leading up to Tracy Hill. I walked over to the eastern edge of the plateau and then followed it up.
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The usual suspects were out.
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And here's a non-native interloper:
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Can any of you botanists id this flower?
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Some of the best displays of shooting stars that I can remember -- seemingly huge meadows of them.
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The Balsam Root was mostly located on west facing slopes, and more abundant over by Coyote Wall and the foot of the cliffs on the western edge of the Catherine Creek area, and seemed to be just starting to bloom. Similarly, Lupine was in bloom in some places but not quite ready yet in others.

At the top of the meadow, I followed the trail into the woods towards the top of Tracy Hill. I guess it's been a couple of years since I last hiked up in here. At that time, they were just starting some thinning of the oak-pine forest. Well it looks like it was a huge job that is mostly completed now. The whole forest on either side of the road/trail has been thinned. Also, it looks like there was a fire through the part bordering on the meadow. Most of the young-ish, 20' tall pine trees in the area were burned and dead. Since I think part of the goal of the thinning was to encourage the pine trees in the area, that seems like a loss. Anybody know anything about this fire? I don't recall hearing about it.
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I walked the length of the road/trail to the upper gate, then turned around and headed into the forest, angling towards Catherine Creek below, hoping to find a place to cross the creek and find the abandoned road on the other side of the creek. Since the woods has been thinned, it was quite easy to navigate, and it's laced with game trails. I also seemed to find actual human trails -- sections were flagged and portions showed signs of being "improved" by digging flatter, smoother trail surface. Anyone know if there are plans to put in an actual trail up in that section? It'd be pretty cool to make a loop out of the existing road/trail.

A couple of years ago I scrambled down the steep hillside to Catherine Creek and found a place to cross. This time I wanted to try further up the creek, with the idea that I'd have to do less scrambling down steep hillside. I had the right idea, but started down the hillside too far down the creek. I hit a cliffy part of the creek and had to traverse the steep hillside farther up the creek about half a mile until I found a place I could safely cross. I crossed at this waterfall.
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All along the creek here I found grass widows in bloom, while they are long gone in the dry meadows above.
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Once I scrambled up the old road on the other side, I followed it up-creek to see how far it goes. In about a quarter mile it ends at the creek, which would have been a much easier place to cross. Next time.

I took the old road back to the Catherine Creek trails and headed over to Coyote Wall. By now the sun was getting lower in the west painting the landscape in light and shadows.
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click on this one for best viewing
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The hike back through the Labyrinth and back to the CC parking area was magical in the golden evening sun.

Despite the full parking areas, I crossed paths with very few people -- there's a lot of space to spread out into up there!
Such a special place and really lovely this time of year.

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drm
Posts: 5527
Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Location: The Dalles, OR
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Re: Catherine Creek 4/12/21

Post by drm » April 14th, 2021, 7:03 am

Yes, I think they have always intended to build a trail on Tracy Hill. Note the map below, wouldn't that be CA3? Most of these trails have actual names now.

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wnshall
Posts: 118
Joined: July 17th, 2009, 10:31 am

Re: Catherine Creek 4/12/21

Post by wnshall » April 14th, 2021, 1:02 pm

drm wrote:
April 14th, 2021, 7:03 am
Yes, I think they have always intended to build a trail on Tracy Hill. Note the map below, wouldn't that be CA3? Most of these trails have actual names now.
No, I'm talking about the old 4WD road that leads up from the top of CA3 (I don't remember what they've named it) towards the NFS boundary, the blue line in the map below. The red line is the approximate track of the flagged path I followed. The forest all along the blue path is the area that's been thinned.
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dockd
Posts: 6
Joined: March 16th, 2016, 6:47 pm

Re: Catherine Creek 4/12/21

Post by dockd » April 14th, 2021, 8:42 pm

Is your yellow flower yellow monkeyflower?

wnshall
Posts: 118
Joined: July 17th, 2009, 10:31 am

Re: Catherine Creek 4/12/21

Post by wnshall » April 14th, 2021, 9:16 pm

dockd wrote:
April 14th, 2021, 8:42 pm
Is your yellow flower yellow monkeyflower?
Yes, looks like a good match. Thanks for the pointer.

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