Friday, October 9, 2009

Saddle Mountain Attempt

This morning the dogs and I headed out along Highway 26 to go hike the trail to Saddle Mountain. This trail was rated as difficult and just over 5 miles long round trip. Unfortunately my little GPS unit is out of commission at the moment, so I wasn't able to track our mileage accurately.

It was a beautiful fall day heading out, with hardly any traffic on the road. I do wish that we had seen a little more color change in the leaves on the way out, but it was still a really beautiful day!

When we got to the parking lot and I saw a mini transport bus, I should have known that it was not going to be a good day to hit the trail, but I'll get to that in a moment. We headed out of the parking lot on foot and immediately starting climbing through the 10 super cute camp sites that they had at the beginning of the trail.

Once we got a good distance between us and the camp sites, I let the dogs off leash to have a little fun!

About every quarter mile or so there were these really cute little mile markers.
There were some beautiful views along the way!

The climbing is definitely the main reason why this trail is rated as difficult. There's a fair amount of steeper sections and some switchbacks thrown in for good measure.:)
Along the way we had met an elderly woman and her son on their way back down and we stopped and chatted for a bit. They loved the dogs and thought they were just great. The woman mentioned how her friend was just going to LOVE seeing the dogs because she was a total dog nut. I thought that was a little bit odd, because she made it sound like her friend was there, but it was just the woman and her son on the trail with me. I didn't think too much on it and just continued on our way. As we started into the switchback section I could hear a few voices carrying down to us, but they were still a ways ahead of us. When we caught up to the other hikers who were taking a break, we chatted with them for a bit too. It turns out that they were all with a group from Illinois doing some hiking. It was some seniors group of about 25 people that decided to do a few hikes in Oregon as part of a trip. I think that's great and all, but I'm not sure who the brilliant person was who came up with the idea to take a group of 25 senior citizens (the majority looked to be 70+) on a trail that was rated difficult. That just doesn't seem like a good idea to me!

One of the women who was making her way back down the trail to where we were hanging out, turned out to be the dog lover friend of the woman I had met earlier. She was very pleased to see the dogs and also loved that I had their toe nails painted!:) She warned me that the trail probably wasn't going to be too great for the dogs for very much longer because someone had put metal fencing down on the trail to either help stop erosion or help with traction. I figured that I'd at least go check it out and see what the dogs thought of it and what it felt like to walk on. She advised me that it was over a pretty long stretch of trail and then intermittently along the rest of the way. She kept referring to it as chicken wire and I figured that wasn't too bad. Especially if it was at least partially burried, that wouldn't bother the dogs to walk on. Unfortunately this was much thicker than chicken wire fencing. The dogs weren't initially bothered by it, but I'm pretty sure they'd get annoyed after a while. Not to mention that I felt it definitely didn't help me with traction!
We were only about a mile and a quarter into the hike and I decided to turn around and head back to the truck. Not only was the trail surface annoying, but I still had roughly 19 people left in that visiting group of hikers that were still ahead of me on the trail. I had a few forest service roads in mind that I could hit up with the dogs instead and I knew we wouldn't be bothered on those, so I wasn't entirely heart broken to turn around.

On our way back down the group of four people that we had just left had already started their descent. Once we caught up to within a reasonable distance of them, I halted the dogs so that the people could find a good spot to wait so that we could pass them (one of the ladies seemed pretty unstable on her feet and I was actually a little concerned that one of the dogs even just lightly brushing past them would topple her over!).
On the way back down I remembered to look for the little side trail about a quarter mile from the parking lot, that was supposed to lead to a pretty cool view point! The view point just happened to be on the top of a rock. The "trail" up the rock didn't seem too bad and I knew that the dogs could handle it. However, the thought of them going back down it made me decidedly nervous! So unfortunately, that part of the hike was a bust as well!:(

Once we got back to the parking lot, I got the dogs loaded, who seemed to be quite put out that their hike was so short and they had to be on leash for the last half of it to boot! We headed off back towards the highway to go find the forest service roads that I had as our back up plan. When we pulled off and I let them out, they were sooooooooooo happy to get to run and play in the forest!

We found so many other roads branching off of the main one! We'll definitely have plenty to explore this winter! Along the road, we found a little trail leading off to a wonderful little creek so that the dogs could "freshen up."

Along the road, we got glimpses of I believe is Saddle Mountain and our failed attempt at that actual hike!

I was absolutely in love with the trees in the area! I can't for the life of me remember what they're called. I want to call them either alders or aspens, but that doesn't seem right. My dad would have totally been able to tell me right off the bat if he had been along, but I'm not as nature savvy as he is! I took a few pictures with the trees in the background because they were just so pretty!

As we moseyed along the road, we came to an abrupt end of that section of the road. It had apparently been washed out at some point!
We had been abling along for over two hours at that point, so we turned to make our way back towards the truck. Along the way we made a little stop at one of the culverts under the road. The tubes were HUGE!!

While our intended hike up Saddle Mountain wasn't successful, the day turned out really well and the dogs got plenty of exercise!


MurphyDog said...

You guys are so lucky! That looks like a really fun hike. Mom likes to take me hiking too, but since we are in Southern California its prety dry and brown, not all green like where you are. I hardly ever find water to romp in either, unless its the ocean (which I dont mind at all!)

wags, wiggles & slobbers

Abbey said...

Disappointing at first but thats what hikings all about. We had a brilliant place where only locals went which ends in a waterfall. They paved, bridged and put fencing in and now bus tours like you describe go there... price of progress so we have to look further afeild.

What I like about hiking is its not dull for the dogs, they get to explore and run... yours looks a brilliant place.. very similar to what we have.. I think its also the solitude I like, just me and the dogs.

Weird stuff to put on the path. Definitely and OH&S risk. The would close a trail like that here till it was fixed.. especially with oldies on it... love seeing a little of your world
ps left comment yesterday but it got lost i think

The PR Gang said...

You have such choice of trails and forest areas to hike! Looks like so much fun.

The PR Gang said...

Those trees you commented on look like some sort of birch. White or paper birch maybe.

Meg said...

Deb and I had taken Bella up Saddle Mountain last summer, State Parks was out repairing the trail. It had been pretty much destroyed in places after the storms the previous winter. Deb of course had to find out why they were using the rock, chain link combination. According to the guys working there, it was the most cost-effect way to fix the trail in places. Bella didn't have to much trouble, although it was funny watching her try not to step on the wire.

The trail to the top is somewhat decieveing, it actually winds around with switch-back and stairs in the really rough spots. There is a fence around the top, I would imagine to keep people from falling.