Sunday, August 31, 2014

North Fork of John Day River: Silver Butte day hike

Sunday, August 17, day hike on Silver Butte Trail 3025 - round trip 8 miles

HAPPY 60th BIRTHDAY to MARK!! Sure do love this guy.

It's Sunday so we decide to be like Moses and go "up to the mountain." The Silver Butte trail, just across the river from our campsite, beckons.

 Looking down across the river to our campsite.

It is a steep climb from the outset.

Steep climbs bring wonderful views!

It isn't long before we have climbed higher than the surrounding mountains.

Some places along the trail are almost like tunnels through the new growth of young firs and the underbrush. I am disappointed, a little. If this were mature growth we would have a better view.

We stop on a grassy knoll for our devotional. Mark teaches Sunday School at home, so he shares the weekly lesson. A little bird that says "tock tock" seems to be listening in, fluttering from branch to branch. Everything is so peaceful and quiet. Somehow it is easier to feel close to God's grandeur out here in this wilderness solitude.

After resting and sharing our thoughts, we head to the "top" of the Butte.

Actually, the trail still continues on. I explore it for a bit more while the group settles in for lunch, but it is obvious that I'm not coming to the end, so I turn back. Later, when I have the map in hand, I realize that the Silver Butte trail actually continues another 1-2 miles to Road 5225. 

No matter. We have hiked our 4 miles for today, and after a lunch rest we had back down to camp for a total of 8 miles on our day hike.

Birthday surprise! Ken notices something shiny on the hillside, about halfway back to camp.

It's a birthday balloon for Mark! We count as a tender mercy from a loving Heavenly Father who knows just where we are and what day it is…and arranged to have a balloon from some little girl's birthday party--who knows how long ago or how many hundreds of miles away--land on our hillside and wait for us to find it today as a special acknowledgement of Mark's milestone birthday.

Back in camp we relax and appreciate our beautiful Sabbath surroundings. 

After dinner, of course we have birthday cake…embellished with some of the local delicious huckleberries, naturally.

Then we head to bed. Tomorrow we will load our packs and head back down the North Fork trail.

North Fork of John Day River: Day hike to Tub Spring Cabin

Saturday, August 16 - day hike on trail 3034 - round trip 8 miles

Saturday brings our first FULL DAY of SUNSHINE!

After breakfast we pack our lunches and head out for a day hike on trail 3034, the trail that follows the North Fork of the John Day River.

This is the same trail we hiked in on four days ago, but the river looks different here. It is narrower, shallower, and wilder.

Today's hike brings many surprises. There is frequent evidence of the mining activity in the area from the late 1800s.

 The cables and remains of a derelict cable trolley that crossed the river.

 More piles of rocks like the ones we saw yesterday, but instead of being adjacent to the river, these are nearly 100 feet above river level. Could they be from mining? We cannot imagine a natural process that would have resulted in these piles, and yet we also cannot imagine using hand labor to haul them so high above the river.

Part of the mystery is solved around a bend in the trail when we come across the historical marker for Gutridge Mine. Now we know that this is more mining evidence, but we still do not know why (or how) they hauled the rocks so far.

Soon we encounter what looks like a blaze mark in a tree, but there is more to it…

An old mining claim sign.

It feels like we've hiked about four miles, and all of us are ready for lunch, when we come to a river crossing. No bridge this time, so we settle in to enjoy the view.

 But as we look more closely through the trees…what is that?? Why, it's another cabin roof! We lament that it is across the river. No water shoes with us and we don't relish hiking 4 miles out in wet boots...
After lunch, Dorothy and I can't stand it. We both decide to wade the river barefoot, with the help of Mark & Ken's hiking staves, so we will have 2 each for balance.

We don't trust ourselves with the cameras - we might fall! - so sadly, we don't have any photos of the cabin itself. Meanwhile, the boys amuse themselves with taking photos and videos of our slow progress across the river.

The cabin was the BEST ONE YET! I figured we could find some photos online, but I have not had any success yet. So sad.

The cabin was labeled "Tub Spring." Historical markers indicated that it was a relinquished mining property that dated to 1895. More signs outside the cabin pointed to "Whisker Peak" to the south and "First Gulch" to the west.

This is how I described the cabin in my hiking journal: "The cabin is in good condition - walls sound, roof not too bad. The walls were criss-cross logs with notches cut in the ends. Inside, Dorothy and I found a rough handmade bed attached to one corner, 2 tables attached to walls, a screened-in box attached to the wall - I think for food - and a set of shelves attached to a wall. Misc items - saw, scythe, other tools on wall, large galvanized tubs. Some modern litter (whiskey bottle, spray can of insect repellant, broken lawn chair). It was not trashed, and it was so easy to imagine that I had just walked into Lydia's cabin in The Jump-Off Creek. This cabin was larger than hers would have been, but in the same region and time period. There was even a hand-made ladder up in the rafters."

Wow. Wow. Wow. It was so cool to explore this cabin!! And then we made our barefoot way back across the river.

As we hiked back to camp, the sun was hot and the river pools were so inviting. Finally we couldn't stand it any longer. "Our clothes will dry," Dorothy said, and that was all it took for the 4 of us to enjoy a little "swimming hole."

We also explored a lovely beach campsite just 1/2 hour hike away from Granite Meadow.

 (Ahhh…that glorious blue sky…)

And still, in spite of my worries, no sign of any other campers!! (Spoiler alert - we did not see anyone for the entire eight days that we were in this amazing wilderness area.)

Again we relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon and evening in camp.

I did a little laundry. (Wash clothes in gallon ziplock bag, a few items at a time. Wring out. Rinse 2-3 times in the same ziplock bag. Do not dip the ziplock bag in the river. Bring water from the river in a bucket and pour it into the ziplock bag. Keep the soap out of the river!!)

Then hang up the laundry and sit back and relax!

Another beautiful, peaceful evening in Granite Meadow.

Night falls over the North Fork of the John Day River.