April 5, 2011

Putting the “Lost” back in Lost Lake – Chapter 2

Filed under: Hiking — Tags: — geezerwriter @ 9:06 pm
Heading away from Raptor Ridge

Heading away from Raptor Ridge

On Thursday the Trailblazers are scheduled for a hike “Pine & Cedar Lakes / Raptor Ridge – 10 miles”. I don’t exactly remember what we had in mind when we made the schedule but the only way I can think of to stretch that hike to 10 miles would be to start at the Pine & Cedar trailhead and end at Arroyo Park, shuttling cars as necessary.

I’ve never been thrilled with that hike since the last half is on the Hemlock Trail which is a nice name for the old logging road that extends from California Street into the hills. And getting 10 miles might be a bit of a stretch, too

And I’ve been hearing about a new trail from Raptor Ridge to Lost Lake (or was it “to Lost Lake Trail”?) and thought maybe we could have a bit of fun checking that out. So I went up today to explore it.

I started up the Pine & Cedar Lakes trail at about 9:30 and got to Raptor Ridge at about 11:00. The weather was mostly dry with an occasional light shower. The only person I saw was another solitary man who passed me about halfway up the steep part of the trail – and then I ran into him again on the Raptor Ridge spur trial as he was coming down. I asked him if he knew anything about the new trail and he said “No” and that he hadn’t seen anything new. I had just a vague recollection of a conversation I’d had some time ago, but I recalled that the new trail started pretty close to the end of the trail, so I kept on going and kept my eyes open.

And Lo! at the point where the trail takes the last little left-hand turn, about a hundred feet from the viewpoint on the Ridge, there was the suggestion of a track forking off to the right. It didn’t look like much, maybe just a spur where hikers leave the trail to commune with nature, but I could see some flagging tape off in the distance. When I got to the flagging, I could see more of it heading off to the south in a small valley. As the picture above shows, the “trail” was basically a marked bushwhack – little or no actual tread. I had to pick my steps carefully but there was plenty of flagging and no huge obstacles, so I had little fear of getting lost and forged ahead eagerly.

Now I had it in my mind that this trail would go to Lost Lake. My GPS has a waypoint at the lake’s outlet into Oyster Creek from our last hike there (from the opposite direction) so I set it to point there. It indicated that it was 1.59 miles as the crow flies – and only a very drunk or stupid crow indeed would follow a route anything like what I was doing. And a bit later it said 1.70 miles – I was going down a series of broad switchbacks, usually aiming either north or south, but with the only actual progress being to the west. So I doubted that I was going to end up at the lake itself, and would at best come out on the North Lost Lake trail.

Looking ahead...

Looking ahead...

... and turning around

... and turning around

The trail got better in fits and starts as I proceeded. Some portions are pretty well cleared and built up, others not so much. I was on a very good section when I came to a pile of rocks and the sight in the picture on the left – just a piece of flag tape or two and some fresh stumps to mark the way. I turned around and took the picture on the right – a very nice trail, indeed.

The only problem occurred about halfway along when I came to a little open swale where the best looking track headed off to the west, but the flagging seemed to lead to the north. I putzed around for quite awhile trying one dead end after another and finally came across, largely by accident, a beaten track heading in a likely direction. A few steps along that track I caught sight of a bit of flagging in the distance and was back on the trail.

The rest of the trail is mostly in very good shape, except for one stretch that is pretty primitive (to put it mildly) but well flagged. The last half mile seems to be a finished, even mature, trail.

And it does come out on North Lost Lake trail (another old road). And my GPS still read about 1.5 miles to the Lost Lake outlet. I had gone about 4.25 miles at that point – I didn’t know it at the time but that point is much closer to the Madrona Crest and Salal trails than it is to Lost Lake.

On the way back I filched some old pieces of flagging that had fallen on the ground (on parts of the trail that no longer needed them) and used them to mark the tricky spots. So now I think it would be reasonable to bring the Trailblazers here on Thursday – we have to earn our name now and then!

I can see a number of possibilities for incorporating this new trail, but I’ll have to look the maps over carefully tomorrow to confirm that the distances are reasonable.

  1. Do what I did today – 8.5 miles out and back, a couple thousand feet of gain. I got to Raptor Ridge (the second time) at about 1:15, so we would probably be there close to noon for lunch.
  2. Do the 4.25 miles that I did today, and then take Lost Lake trail north to a car shuttle at Arroyo. This might be a bit skimpy, but we could pass by Madrona Crest and take the Hush-Hush trail to add some distance.
  3. Like #2, but after Madrona Crest head back up the Hemlock Trail and do a lollipop back to the Pine & Cedar trail. I like the idea of this one, I do have to check the distances.
  4. Head up to Lost Lake for lunch and back to Arroyo. This might get up into the 11-12 mile range, with a lot of hard road surface.

1 Comment »

  1. Any of these except for #4 appeal to me, Al. Glad we have such an intrepid leader that he goes out to check the veracity of the rumored trail! How cool is that? See you tomorrow on a (hopefully) dry Thursday.

    Comment by DJan — April 6, 2011 @ 6:09 am

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