Day off run: Green Canyon blowdown extravaganza

Susan, Ann, and Mt Hood at Devil's Peak
Susan, Ann, and Mt Hood at Devil's Peak

For our June day-off run, we were ready for Salmon River, one of our favorite routes over the years. Ann had read some reports of manageable snow and downed trees, but since there's a part of the route that always has a number of trees to climb over, we assumed that the folks who report just might not be used to it. We were wrong.

Sunbeams through the trees on the steep slope of Green Canyon
Sunbeams through the trees on the steep slope of Green Canyon

We decided to do the loop backwards from our usual, starting up Green Canyon to get the blowdown out of the way, ending with the Salmon River Trail so there'd be water for Cedar during the hotter part of the day. Green Canyon is so steep that we can't even run part of it downhill, our normal direction, so hiking up it wasn't that bad. Then we hit Hunchback and the adventure began. There were some trees down across the trail. It wasn't that bad. We climbed over them.

Fairy slipper orchid
Fairy slipper orchid

But soon it wasn't just trunks. It was branches and debris and everything everywhere, and not only was it difficult to find a way through, it was tough to see the trail let alone find it again once you did get around. 

Cedar has no shame when it comes to snow
Cedar has no shame when it comes to snow

Climbing, wayfinding, scrambling, getting scratched up… we came across one hiker with his dog, who asked if the trail got any easier to follow ahead. We laughed and said no. And then we hit snow, which completely obliterated the trail. Luckily, we were close to Devil’s Peak with it’s old fire lookout. We took our requisite break there, enjoying the stunning views of Mt Hood and Jefferson. 


Downed trees and snow hide the trail
Downed trees and snow hide the trail


Then we were off for the easy, downhill portion of the run. Except not. The snow was deep, the hillside steep, all the trees and brush were strewn about wildly. There was no trail. We bushwacked through, Ann periodically checking the map and our relative location on it. 



Historic fire lookout on Devil's Peak
Historic fire lookout on Devil's Peak


I started to worry we’d have to turn around and make our way back through that awful mess, straight downhill to the car. And then we were out of the trees a bit, on snowy slope. And then we caught sight of the trail!



Yellow amanita
Yellow amanita


Once on the trail, we still had some difficult stretches of snow and downed trees to clamor over, but it was easy to keep track of where we were going. We got down to Kinzel Creek for our out-and-back, and agreed that after how long the Green Canyon/Hunchback mess had taken us, we would cut it down from 9 to 4 miles. That trail is always a bit overgrown, and the scraggly Oregon grape scraped at my very scratched-up and bruised legs as I shuffled past. 



Nearing the Salmon River viewpoint
Nearing the Salmon River viewpoint

We laughed at how banged up we were and enjoyed Cedar’s enthusiastic antics, even when he grabbed a stick from a stream and pushed past me on the trail, adding yet another scrape to my beat-up legs. It was lovely to end with the Salmon River rushing past, stopping at our campsite from last summer, and seeing people arrive for weekend camping and backpacking. It was a bigger adventure than we had originally bargained for, and took a lot longer for fewer miles, but Salmon River never disappoints.


Blue windflower (Oregon anemone)
Blue windflower (Oregon anemone)


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