Collier Glacier (Strawberry Mountain)
September 3-5, 1977
The weather over the Cascades on Saturday was so stormy that we were “blown” far to the east, in fact, all the way to the Strawberry Mtn. Wilderness. We arrived at the trailhead late afternoon and began our backpack to Little Strawberry Lake at 4:00 p.m. We arrived at the Lake at 7:00 although it was only 3½ miles. By the time we set up camp about mile from the Lake and prepared our dinner, we ate at the fashionable hour of 8:00 by candle light. It was a warm, star-studded evening, but we did retire early as we were rather tired after the long drive and the three-hour trek to camp.
The next morning we arose fairly early and were on the trail by 8:30 to explore the Mountain. We could not have asked for nicer weather—sun, cool breeze and clear mountain air. Because the leader is a slow hiker we did not reach the summit until after noon; we hiked about four miles and gained 2,100 feet in elevation. The trip through the pine forest, over grassy meadows, by an old miner’s dilapidated log cabin, up a steep rocky slope, over a long scree slope of the mountain itself plus a quarter mile steep, rocky ascent to the summit was exciting, yet tiring. We were the first on the summit, with three other parties following in hot pursuit. (Some from Heppner, Salem, Portland and Bend.)
It was shirtsleeve weather on top, but a soft breeze became a stronger, cooler wind before we left the top about 2:00. But in the time we spent on top we enjoyed the marvelous view with our sack lunch. You can see for miles from this 9083' mountain—the Greenhorns to the north with the Elk Horns to the northeast, past the Steens to the south, many miles to the west and nearly to Idaho on the east. It is a marvelous vantage point for a good view of the John Day Valley with the farms and ranches scattered about, especially the OxBow Ranch near Prairie City. Then close at hand there is the view of the Wilderness itself with its narrow, glaciated valley. We arrived back at camp near the tarn nestled at the base of the cirque about 4:00 p.m., tired but happy. Views of Strawberry Lake were good, but the lake is so low this year, it doesn’t have the beauty of former trips to that area.
Our camp site was secluded, quiet and inviting to deer. We had several visits from our four-hoofed friends, and they were so interested in us (and we in them) that they would come within 25 feet of us to munch on their forest goodies. We heard quite a bit of chatter from small animals and birds, but there were so few birds that it was noticeable by their absence.
After a second, but slightly cooler night, we packed up our gear and, were on our way by 8:20 a.m. Monday morning. We stopped briefly at the beautiful Strawberry Falls, and were back to the car by 9:30. We left the Strawberry area at 10:00, still in excellent weather to wend our way home, stopping briefly at Sheep Rock, and then having lunch at the picnic grounds in the Painted Hills. Because of lines of campers on the Santiam, we came via Dee Wright with the magnificent Cascades to our right and left. Just over the summit the clouds obscured our view and we knew we were nearly home again, especially when we drove into Eugene after 5:00 with field-burning smoke in our nostrils after three days of pure, clean air.
Our party was small, but Karen and Fred Heiman were marvelous companions for the leader, Lois Schreiner.