Sunday, April 6, 2014

Opal Creek Hike

En route to my parent's place on the coast, I decided to stop about halfway and do one of the hikes that I've been meaning to do during the three years I've been back in Oregon. There is so much hiking available in the greater Portland area that at times it's challenging to convince myself to drive elsewhere. I was debating between the Mackenzie River Trail and finally going to Opal Creek. In the end Opal Creek won out...but I'm not going to lie, this hike was very different than I had expected.
I'm not sure why I had envisioned something else but this hike was a very good reminder of many things when it comes to my hiking.
1) I absolutely must ensure that I eat well the night before AND the morning of. At about mile 6, I felt myself tanking and even after finishing the rest of the food in my pack, I was pretty exhausted and hungry by the time it was finally over.
2) It'd be a great idea to print maps from online or secure detailed paper maps prior. I've gotten SO spoiled by the signage and maps that are available at the trailheads in Tillamook Forest. The above picture was the only map at any of the trailheads and it's severely lacking in detail...and the signage on this hike was way less than what I've gotten used to.....all this to say for the first time ever while hiking, I headed in the wrong direction, wound up looping back around but added an extra 3 miles more than I intended, and had to retrace steps when I couldn't find the "other" trail the map was showing. I also was slightly paranoid as I was the only person at the trailhead and for some reason was sort of spooked this day alone in the woods.
Leading to 3) It'd be a really, really smart idea if I not only carried more food, but made sure to let someone know (before I lose cell service) where I'm going and a general range of time when they should hear from me that I'm back out of the woods. If I'm going to continue going solo, then I need to take more precautions. (Although I do already have a whistle and knife in my day pack...those won't help me if I fall off a hillside :))

Anyway....the hike is definitely beautiful and I can see why it's completely packed in summer. The water is crystal clear and amazingly gorgeous. And even though I was tired, hungry, confused, and a lil worried for most the 11.7 total miles, it was interesting to discover just how happy I look in the pictures I took. Funny how hindsight is 20/20...and just goes to show that part of what I thought about on trail was exactly accurate: Life the Life You Love, Love the Life You Live.....

Without further ado, the onslaught of pictures :)
One thing I didn't expect was the presence of old, rusting mining equipment and old mine shafts...just goes to show that in the end nature will win, even if we're not around to know it. :)

The dogs exploring an old building along the creek.

Crossing over the creek.

One of the few signs (Stony Creek trail is not on the map and both of these options are shown as one and named something else on the map....).

Water trickling down from the mountains.

Looking down on the creek from the trail. Look at that turquoise blue! Pretty amazing water no?!

Opal Pool 

I love Anna's grin in the background as she watches over snack time.

Downed trees covered part of the trail that the dogs and I navigated around.

What a great spot for lunch & a swim on a hot summer day!

Altogether, very pretty and a great work-out. I'm glad I made the stop to finally check it out, especially since it allowed for a break in the four hour drive. Plus, it was a great learning experience all around....and actually made me feel like I'm wanting to try out backpacking again this season. :)


  1. Wow, those photos are gorgeous! What a cool hike. And it's good that you learned some lessons on this hike. They are all important lessons but the letting someone know you are hiking and when you plan to be back one is especially important for us single girls, IMO. I have even tried to be better about that when I go out running because if I went missing on a run, and no one knew I was running, I could honestly go missing for days as there aren't many people I 'talk' to every day... and the people I do talk to every day are thousands of miles away. So yah. It's always a good idea for us to let people know when we are off doing things so that they will know to worry if they don't hear from us!

    1. Definitely agree. Somehow I "know' this but putting what I know into practice can sometimes be a different story :) SO, SO, SO glad that you got the clear to train for the half and the one you selected sounds awesome. Maybe instead of returning to MN, you should come rent the front room for a 6-9 month sabbatical :) Ha! Sending you a big hug Lisa--hope you have a great week ahead.