Multnomah Basin Trail & Road Clearing

I’ve worked to clear the trails in the Multnomah Basin for over twenty years, but this was the first time I’ve worked with a Trails Club work party. This first group of photos taken on Saturday, November 26th, 2022.

Jeff Lawton invited me along, so I showed up with my trusty battery chain saw and got to work. Here’s Jeff, on the job with his brand-new Makita battery saw and Paul, starting to work with his gas saw, (on the right).

This photo’s staged – Paul finished this one off.

There were some nice messes along the road in the basin.

I think this photo was taken on the road between the brown gate and the green gate.

Lunch camp on the basin road. Glen on the left, then Cindy, and Linda sitting down.

Enjoying a few moments rest before starting back.

A few photos of the work done along the road.


Here’s a few before and after photos during earlier work trips along the trails in the basin. I didn’t start in earnest with this project until I replaced my saw with a back-packable gas saw in 2005. That worked well, but the Stihl battery saw, introduced in 2010 really made the job fun: No problems starting, no hearing protection needed and only ten pounds. Besides, when the battery was done, I was usually tired and ready to stash the equipment and continue on with a hike. I had grown tired of the many downed trees and had to do something about it.

On March 1st, 2020, I went up to the basin with my friends, Guy, Chiyoko, Pascal and Kazuko. Here’s Chiyoko, Kazuko and Guy crossing one of the bridges in the basin.

We had lots of real messes to clean up that day:                                                                                                                                               Guy and Pascal showing off our hard work.

More before and after pics:

A nice rest at the lodge before heading back. We cleared every trail in the basin that day, taking out about 70 logs.

I even lassoed son Paul in on the project the week before: Here’s a few pics from Feb. 26th, 2020:

Having Paul along is great – I cut, he moves!

Here’s a real mess I did alone on Feb. 20th, 2020: The start:                                                                                                                                    Stage One:

Stage Two:                                                                                                                                                                                      Done – except for that big log in the distance:

It was bigger than it looked once I got over there:                                                                                                                    Done!:

This is only a small sampling of work done in the basin. I usually work alone and usually don’t take photos. This last was an exception.

Defiance-Green Point-Nick Eaton Death March with EP and Mayhem – 082011

There’s nothing better than getting together with true TFF’s and hitting the trails. Even better, is turning it into an epic death march hitting major gorge landmarks and living to tell about it.

Saturday, August 20th, 2011, promised to be a perfect day, with clear blue skies and barely a hint of wind. I rendezvoused with Eric (AKA Ragnar or EP) and Mark (AKA Mayhem or Way to GO!) at the Herman Creek TH at 7 AM, way early for me but if pressed, I can do it! The guys moved the start time so I could get my sorry butt out of bed in time to make the date, too. They must have really wanted to see me suffer! To make the day perfect, the Portland high temperature that day ended up at 96 degrees, and likely about the same in the gorge.

We hit the trail at 7:06 with Eric wearing his customary 100 lb. pack (This helps equalize the fact he’s 25 years younger than me). – just kidding, at least about the pack – it’s usually about 30#+ though.!

First, we headed up via the Gorton Creek trail and tagged Indian Point. I don’t remember if I climbed to the top of the spire, just because, but probably.

Here’s Mark taking a selfie at IP:

Afterwards we headed directly to Deadwood Camp and then up to Ridge Camp.

Deadwood Camp:

Ridge Camp:

As we passed by the Wyeth trail junction, we bumped into a guy that Eric and Mark knew, so we all got a picture taken:


A deer posed for us along the way:

Then a long slog downhill 500 vertical feet to the SW trail up to Mt. Defiance passing by North Lake on the way.

We were totally out of water by then, finding Eric’s water purification pump not working properly.

The trail gods smiled on us when we met a guy who had just climbed Defiance with gallons of extra water for training weight. He gave us all we could carry and off we went, confident that we weren’t going to expire from dehydration after all. Our hero:

On the way back down from Defiance:

After coming down from Defiance, we suffered through a mile and a quarter of hot road walk to access the route up to Green Point.

Eric, enjoying the road slog:

The view back towards Defiance from Green Point:

We survived, tagging GP and now it was all downhill for the 9.4 miles of the rest of the trek. We passed by Ridge Camp once more and hiked a couple of minor uphills to tag the HP of Nick Eaton Ridge.

HP of Nick Eaton Ridge:

Scene along the ridge: I remember thinking: this has a ton of dead trees, it’s going to be bad when this burns as it inevitably will.

Yep, it burned up in the fire of 2017:

Then it was down the steep, narrow Casey Creek trail to the Herman Creek trail and back to our cars. I had to get back home by 7, so after okaying my plan with Mark, ran back to my car the remaining four miles.

This turned out to be 28.1 miles and 7,328′ EG, 11 hours, 8 minutes.

Nesmith Point on a Snowy Day

I’ve been Jonesing to get back to Nesmith for a couple of weeks since I learned that the trail is open again. Closed since the 2017 Eagle Creek fire, I was curious to see how it has fared and how some of my favorite old-growth forest icons were doing. Sadly, none of my favorite oldest and gnarliest trees survived. The good news, however, is that the trail is in decent shape, all but a couple downed trees are gone from the route, and it’s been brushed out in its entirety.

One of the more majestic of the old-growths in better days:

How it looked on the 3rd:

Here’s what’s left of a 10′ diameter cedar. (The stump in the center of the photo) It appears the top has completely burned away, and the remnants have fallen into the canyon:

The Nesmith Trail always was rocky and also steep in many places and that hasn’t changed but there are a few new stone steps here and there and that’s an improvement.

The trail has burned up to about the 3200′ level and after that it’s just as it was before the fire.

I was expecting a little snow over the trail higher up so was surprised to see it starting at under 2k’, intermittent until about 2400′ and continuous after that, reaching a depth of 7 or 8 inches by the summit. I wished I’d thought to bring my micro spikes for traction, but I survived, even on the return when I really needed them. It was about 40 degrees at my start time of 8:15 and just below freezing at the summit with a light breeze, just enough to make me zip up my jacket.

Snow laden vine maple still with a full complement of green leaves!

I was making the first tracks as I approached the summit. The entire way, for that matter. This final bit to the summit is part of an old road leading to the fire lookout that once graced the highest spot.

Here’s the view at the very summit:

On the return, it started raining lightly about a mile and half from the TH, but it wasn’t too bad.

9.1 miles out and back and about 3920′ EG. hike # 103.

Eagle Creek Trail – On Ice

The gorge is an amazing place at any time but even more so on those choice occasions when the thermometer heads for the basement. The first couple of weeks in January, 2017 were noteworthy with a persistent cold weather system keeping the gorge especially chilled. I concentrated on the Eagle Creek trail, logging 65 miles and over 10k’ EG over seven days. Then the increasing accumulation of ice and snow forced the road to be closed and that was that for a few days. This is the story of one of those days, Thursday, Jan. 5th, 2017.

By the 5th, the cold had been continuous since early on the 1st, below freezing all day and dipping in to the mid to low teens overnight. I wanted to hike as far as I could on the trail, taking in what I knew would be some great views of icy waterfalls.

Unusual for Eagle Creek, the TH was deserted but at 14 degrees on a weekday, not unexpected! On the way, I paused briefly at Horsetail falls for a photo presaging what I’d see later:

At the start of the trail the icicles were growing:


The trail became increasingly difficult less than halfway to Tunnel Falls:

After over 6 miles, I finally made it to Tunnel Falls, and it was amazing. This was the first time I’d ever seen it so iced up. I walked through the tunnel and took a couple of apprehensive breaths before continuing:

Here’s a short video:

Tunnel Falls on ice – YouTube

Here are some still shots taken after passing through the tunnel:

Now the trail got even worse, but I wanted to see the next falls before I headed back.

A quarter mile farther is Criss-Cross Falls:

Above Criss-Cross falls, the trail got decidedly narrow and even slipperier, so I called it a day.

One last look at the inside of the tunnel:

A look back:

13.3 miles RT, 1,880′ EG.