Nesmith Point 22-Jan-10

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VanMarmot
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Nesmith Point 22-Jan-10

Post by VanMarmot » January 22nd, 2010, 3:52 pm

Nesmith is a good staying in shape hike but falls short in terms of views. Nonetheless, its proximity to Portland made it my objective for today. The day started under heavy clouds (with a trace of rain along I-84), but by the time I’d gotten about 2000’ up the canyon, the clouds eased and there was a good view to the north of the almost snowless Silver Star.

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Tom had posted that there was no snow on the Nesmith Trail but it was still amazing to see it in person. There was no snow, at all, the whole way. Last year at this time, this stretch of trail above 2800’ was snowshoe country. Not this year. The trail wasn’t even particularly wet. It was just a little disorienting to be hiking a “July” trail in January.

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The sun struggled to break through the clouds as I neared the summit but only got out long enough to illuminate the foreground of this view toward Portland.

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This sign has been up here for a LONG time. I suppose one year, given the right amount of saturating rainfall, this sign and the tree to which it’s attached will ride the big mudslide down into the Gorge.

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When I first started hiking Nesmith, this facility was upright and intact (and possibly usable if you didn’t mind sitting with lots & lots of spiders). Now it’s fallen on hard times.

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Rather than simply retrace my steps, I decided to head straight down the ridge to meet the main trail where it first gains the ridge (at 2800’). There’s a very distinct use trail that starts near the fallen loo, heads down the ridge, and remains distinct for several hundred yards before essentially disappearing. Fortunately there’s very little undergrowth on this part of the ridge and the gradient is fairly shallow, so it’s easy to just keep descending at a heading a little east of north – the cliff immediately to the left is also a check on not wandering off course. It’s about 0.8 mi in a nearly straight line from the outhouse to the main trail. About a ¼ mile before the main trail, the ridge steepens considerably and there’s a bit more undergrowth but nothing serious.

On the way down, the clouds eased-up a bit more and I caught a view to the east of snow-free Table Mountain and of Mt. Adams, with its seasonally appropriate snow cover.

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There may be no snow, but it’s still too early for much in the way of flowers or leaves. This lack of cover allowed me to see this tiny mushroom wending its way through the ferns on the forest floor.

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The clouds closed in as I approached the car but the rain held off until the drive home. So another good hike done.
Last edited by VanMarmot on January 23rd, 2010, 6:55 am, edited 4 times in total.

joerunner
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Re: Neismith Point 22-Jan-10

Post by joerunner » January 22nd, 2010, 4:10 pm

Thanks for the report. You might have just helped me decide on where I'm going tomorrow.

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mayhem
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Re: Neismith Point 22-Jan-10

Post by mayhem » January 22nd, 2010, 6:16 pm

I disagree with you on not having good views, but to each his or her own :) Thanks for sharing!
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VanMarmot
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Re: Neismith Point 22-Jan-10

Post by VanMarmot » January 23rd, 2010, 7:00 am

mayhem wrote:I disagree with you on not having good views, but to each his or her own :) Thanks for sharing!
Absolutely, the view is in the eye of the beholder. In the back of my mind I'm carrying memories of views from Observation Peak, Table, Hood, etc., so maybe I was being a little too tough on Nesmith.

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Splintercat
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Re: Nesmith Point 22-Jan-10

Post by Splintercat » January 24th, 2010, 2:36 pm

I had to take a second look at the date on this report -- the snow level (of fresh snow) around Mount Hood yesterday was at about 3200 feet, so I'm surprised that Nesmith was clear. About a foot on the ground at Lolo Pass... did it all come on Friday night?

Speaking of the former views from Nesmith, here are some old photos from back when they were sweeping. First, a view from across the river (Aldrich Mountain), showing the entire gorge face to be quite open:

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Here's a 1931 shot by Al Monner looking the other direction from Nesmith Point:

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And here's one showing the unique lookout tower construction at Nesmith Point, also by Al Monner in 1931:

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It's too bad we lost that one -- quite a landmark, and it would make for a unique and functional destination for hikers today, perhaps providing a view over the tree tops, to some extent! Love the shingle-over-log exterior. That's sturdy!

Tom :)

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retired jerry
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Re: Nesmith Point 22-Jan-10

Post by retired jerry » January 24th, 2010, 3:27 pm

Why were there so few trees in the gorge back then?

Were they cut by humans?

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Don Nelsen
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Re: Nesmith Point 22-Jan-10

Post by Don Nelsen » January 24th, 2010, 4:04 pm

retired jerry wrote:Why were there so few trees in the gorge back then?

Were they cut by humans?
What wasn't cut - and that's most of it - was burned down by forest fires. I find rotting logs cut by crosscut saws and stumps showing notches for springboards in some of the most remote and inaccessable areas imaginable. It was a total free-for-all in the last half of the 19th century continuing until most of the original forest was gone. One of the good things that came of it was the ability to cut trails through places we would (unless some rules are changed) have never been able to access.

dn
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guernica
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Re: Nesmith Point 22-Jan-10

Post by guernica » January 24th, 2010, 6:18 pm

Great report. I've only done Nesmith once and wasn't in as good of shape as I am (getting into) now- I remember having a lot of choice words for that trail at the time. ;) I do remember the climb through the canyon being really beautiful, but I adore those mossy types of areas in the gorge. Planning to get back there sometime soon, see if I still have the desire to rename the trail something inappropriate and pithy.

Really, really interesting to see the pictures of the gorge back in the day. Although we lost the views, the idea of the rampant free-for-all makes me sad. :cry: Hopefully we are learning a bit more humility with nature.
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Splintercat
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Re: Nesmith Point 22-Jan-10

Post by Splintercat » January 24th, 2010, 6:47 pm

Good geology up there, by the way -- the Bretz Floods basically collapsed the northern half of what used to be a shield volcano, similar to Palmer Peak and Larch Mountain, in the vicinity. It really jumps out from the topo view:

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If you look closely at the upper cliffs below Nesmith Point, you can see that it's unconsolidated volcanic cinders and whatnot, as opposed to the layers of Columbia River flood basalt that the volcano sits on. If this were Utah and not Oregon, we'd have quite a colorful show up there!

Tom

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Guy
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Re: Nesmith Point 22-Jan-10

Post by Guy » January 24th, 2010, 7:00 pm

Thanks for the shot of the old lookout Tom,

Whenever I'm at these old lookout points I look at the still existing anchor points and try to figure out how the lookout was constructed. Nesmith really really had me at loss until this photo!!
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