Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Last Sunday of January Hike

On Sunday January 28th Troubadour and I decided we needed some exercise and hiking sounded like a fine idea.  As usual, the hardest decision was figuring out where to go.  We knew we didn't want to drive too far away and rain was forecast to the south.  We chose to hike in the Oregon State University (OSU) Research Forest, aka McDonald-Dunn Forest.  It is located north of Corvallis and contains nearly 11,250 acres of forest.  We've been up there many times on our mountain bikes and hiking too.  

On this day we chose a gate located off Tampico Rd.  It is one we've not started from before.  We were going hiking in the Dunn Forest starting on Rd 400. The parking area is the 'P' just to the right of center of the photo below.

(Hiking in Dunn Forest)
We have a book called Corvallis Trails: Exploring the Heart of the Valley, that we reference for hikes in and around Corvallis.  It describes this one as moderate and not busy.  We were thinking of one other trail, but it was listed as difficult and we haven't been out walking much lately.

A 1/4 mile up Rd 400 and we turned right on Rd 420 to do the loop counter clockwise.

( A perfect day for a hike in the woods)

(Notice the mist down the left-hand fork)
We took the left fork thinking it was the correct way.  It ended a half mile down.  As we turned around Troubadour noticed a snail shell on the ground.

(Hello Snail)
We walked back to the fork and took the right hand road.  It is all gravel roads in this area and not trails, but they aren't always marked very well.

The mist was on the move and soon we were in the midst of the mist.

(Misty morning on the mountain)
As fast as the mist rolled in, it rolled on past leaving the sunshine to stream through the trees.

(Sunshine lighting up the forest)
The forestry program at OSU does active logging in both the MacDonald and Dunn forests. Certain areas show evidence of past harvests.

(Nature is reclaiming one of its own)
At one point we turned onto Rd 300 and it was along there, I think, that we came upon a drainage pond of sorts.  There were many salamanders in and near the water.  We had to be careful of where we stepped.

(Salamander heading in for a swim)

(Hello Mr. or Mrs. Salamander)

(Even the Woolly Bear Caterpillars were out - odd to see them this time of year)
Along Rd 300 we came to a ridge where we could see all the way across the valley to the Cascade Mountain Range.  At first we could see the Three Sisters to the southeast and then Mount Jefferson came into view when looking a little further north.

(Left - Mount Jefferson / Right- the Three Sisters)

(A zoomed in view of Mt. Jefferson)

(And the Three Sisters)
At this point we were about half way and at another fork in the road.  We stopped for a few minutes and snacked on Lara Bars before turning to go down Rd 400, which would loop us back to the trail head. 

(Troubadour making a wooden cairn)

(A picture of Troubadour taking a picture)

(Had to have at least one selfie - photo by Troubadour)

(Panoramic by Troubadour)
As we started walking down Rd 400 you could see further north and Mount Hood came into view.

(Left - Mt. Hood / Right - Mt. Jefferson)
We'd been steadily climbing since the trail head.  By our estimations we were about half way through the loop and the gravel road started its winding path down the mountain.  This is where we'd wished we'd have brought the trekking poles with us to make it a little easier on the knees. It was quite a steep grade at first but eventually leveled off to an easy walk down.  There were little uphill rises here and there but it was mostly downhill.

We came upon a little stream running through a culvert under the gravel road.

(Winter rains bring rushing water - a look down stream)

(And a look up stream)
The above picture was taken after Troubadour was down by the water.  He'd spotted something bright pink on the stump.

(Treasure?  Out here in the forest?)
Occasionally when hiking we will see a rock someone has written a motivation phrase on or painted brightly for someone to find.  Troubadour found himself a pink elephant.  

(Smile or 5-mile?  Either way we smiled and were about at mile 5 of our hike)
I played around a little in iPhoto, I think I like the black & white version better even though it isn't as vivid.

(Same photo in black and white)
Another push up a hill and back down again.  Last picture of the day was on one of the uphill sections to show the scale of the trees.

(Tall trees in the forest)
We made it back late in the afternoon.  When all was said and done we'd hiked 7.2 miles (11.58 km).  Not bad considering we forgot to warm up or stretch before setting out.  And yes we were a little sore the next day or two, but it is the beginning of the year and the hiking will get easier.

- Au Revoir

" And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul." - John Muir


  1. Wonderful, the only thing missing was a Tudor Tea room!

    1. We aren't as lucky as Sonja and Roland. No stops for tea along the way, sigh.

    2. We might have the tea rooms along the way, Brandy but you guys certainly get the better views, with the snow capped mountains.

    3. I think it is prettier from far away. I like your views better. Maybe we just need to visit each other and go hiking.........

  2. Salamanders are one kooky looking animal. I can't get over how green and lush it is there. I guess all that rain has some effect then?

    1. I've heard that salamanders on the east coast are called "mud puppies" I thought that was interesting. It is usually green and lush because of all the rain. Last winter we broke records for rainfall which has made this year seem almost dry. I am sure we'll pay for it and the rains will return next month in the spring.

  3. Love the pics in the bush! The trails look rideable too...

    Not too many salamanders around here either.

    1. The gravel roads are perfect for the TW and DRZ, but no motorized vehicles allowed except for the forestry crew. Bummer!

    2. So you can take the bicycles?

    3. Yes yes. Bicycles are welcome year round on the gravel roads. The single track trails only in the summer. About April 1st to Nov 1st. They are forbidden on the trails in the winter due to mud and concerns over wrecking the trail.

  4. 7.2 miles! That’s a pretty good hike. The trails look to be in pretty good shape. Maybe a bit muddy. Any geocaches?

    1. We sure were feeling the hike by the end of it. It didn't really seem muddy because of the gravel. Decomposing leaves were a little slippery in some areas.

      We didn't even think to check for geocaches. Doh! Next time.

  5. Glorious photos as always! Just love the Woolly Bear caterpillar and salamanders. Given that there are all sorts of animals in North America that would eat your face given half a chance, is there anything in the forests in your neck of the woods which could turn a nice hike into a hospital visit?

    1. Thanks Geoff. There have been cougar sightings in the forest as well as coyotes and even bears. Luckily nothing recent, I don't think. When there are they usually post a warning at the trailhead.

  6. The mist and sun in the forest photos look like something from a dream! What a nice hike.

    We have a program here in our small town called 'Dahlonega Rocks' where people paint and hide rocks for people to find and then hide!

    1. Thanks Lynne. It was pretty up there that day. I love the painted rock idea. Hubby put the elephant back on the stump. Hopefully a little kid will find it and be tickled pink....

  7. I'd love to see a salamander in the flesh. I hear they're here and there in Utah, but have yet to spot one (maybe it's an urban legend)...

    If I may play amateur art analyst here, I agree with you about the smile pics: Though the pink does pop, the grayscale can put one in a melancholy state of mind and force one to think about the "smile" sentiment--it's a nice, subtle juxtaposition. :-)

    1. Thank you for the kind words. I agree that while the pink is bright there is just something about the black and white.

      Do you think salamander hunts are like snipe hunts in Utah?

    2. :D :D :D I wouldn't be surprised...

  8. What a lovely post. Thank you for taking us along. Hope you and hubby are well.

    1. Thank you Chris. I was just wondering how you two were doing. I haven't seen a blog post from you two in ages. We are doing well and motoring right along.

      Hugs to you and Pat.

  9. Lovely hike and day for it you two. As kids we'd find salamanders in the window wells. Now I do not remember when I last saw one.

    Had to look at the map again to see your proximity to Mt. Hood. A good friend (recently bought a white Guzzi) makes annual visits to a ranch near John Day. 'Got my bearings again. :)

    1. We are a fair ways south of Mt. Hood but as you can tell from the pics, on a clear day we can say "the mountain is out."

      John Day is further east and is hot in the summer. We rode through there with Bobskoot on our last blogger meet up.