Last fall I published a blog post about hiking to the old Kinzel Mine in the Badger Creek Wilderness. Since then I have had multiple questions and requests for more information about the area.
The following is a remembrance of a hike taken there in the summer of 2010.
The pungent scent of pine needles, open meadows, views extending far to the east, mule deer, an amazing diversity of wildflowers and an old deserted log cabin with a nearby mining shaft.
The last Saturday of May I was hiking on the eastern slopes of the Cascades. The Trailhead was east of Tygh Valley at roughly an elevation of 2,000 feet.
Blessed with sunshine and no wind, I headed northeast along Little Badger Creek enjoying the pleasant sounds of the stream flowing along the valley bottom. Soon the Badger Creek Wilderness was entered and the trail moved above the creek along the higher canyon walls travelling under mature ponderosa pines with blackened bark from a long ago forest fire.
After four miles the trail returned to a pretty campsite by the stream with the remains of the Kinzel Cabin nearby. An old rusted bedstead was about the only thing remaining in the cabin.
Following the trail along the creek for another few hundred yards led to an old mine shaft entering the canyon wall for about 80 feet.
Now the trail became serious, gaining 800 feet to a ridge top in a little over one-half mile through a series of mature juniper trees. But, it was worth it.
The views at an old heli-spot extended over Pine Hollow Reservoir and the irrigated farmlands to the east.
The trail continued heading westerly gaining elevation in fits and starts. In another three miles I was above 5,000 feet post-holing through deep snow drifts.
I had seen little evidence of fresh bear, elk or cougar tracks, so turned around and began the long trip back to the trailhead.
The landscape on the ridge was a combination of lodgepole pines and oak trees interspersed with pillow-like basalt rock formations, manzanita, huckleberry bushes, balsamroot, and many grass-covered meadows.
There is always something soothing about hiking on the eastern slopes of the Cascades. Maybe I’m a little biased, having been born and raised in similar surroundings.
Hiking the last several miles along the creek I couldn’t help pausing over and over again to enjoy the find of a calypso orchid, or a wild lily, or just to let my mind drift with the cold, spring flow of water.
All in all the hike was 14 miles in length with 3,800 feet of elevation gain.
What a fun day! (Oh, did I mention finding two ticks wandering around on my pants? They are sure sneaky critters.)