July 29, 1981
It was cool, breezy and cloudy when five hikers left Eugene, and we found it the same when we reached the Lowder Mountain trailhead on the East Fork Road. It was a pleasant change from the much warmer weather experienced on recent hikes. As the day progressed many of the clouds disappeared, the sun shone brightly, but the temperature was very pleasant to make the trip enjoyable.
The hike was a leisurely one as we stopped along the trail to admire the remaining flowers; the season was too late to find the profusion of blooming plants on the favorite rock garden. The views from the “garden” to the mountains were obscured by clouds, but by the time we reached our lunch spot on the cliffs of Lowder the clouds had parted and we had good views from Bachelor to Three Fingered Jack, with intermittent views of Jefferson. My favorite jewel-like lakes at the base of Lowder were lovely to see from the cliffs above. I have my own names for these unnamed ponds—“Emerald” and “Jade.” We did not see any wildlife, but there was plenty of evidence of bear on top of the mountain. Another thing we noticed was that the trail is apparently not being used much this summer as there is a lot of overgrowth on the trail crossing the meadows, although there was evidence that someone had cut some of the vegetation here and there, but nothing consistent.
There was some talk of going to Quaking Aspen Swamp on an abandoned trail leading through one of the meadows along the Lowder Trail, but because of the profusion of hip-high vegetation decided the trail tread would be difficult to find. (Such an attempt needs to be done in late spring or early summer before the plants have matured.) However, we did go into the swamp via the unused trail beginning at the road. There are several logs across the trail and a profusion of vine maple to fight your way through, but it’s worth it, especially since we found a marvelous patch of wild strawberries to feast upon.
We returned to Eugene by continuing on the East Fork Road where we had expansive views of the Cascades and the Three Sisters Wilderness area, skirted the base of Horsepasture and O’Leary peaks continuing down the Wapita Road to Horse Creek Road, then McKenzie Bridge and eventually to Eugene by 6:30 p.m. Ed Andrews, Gwynne Schultz, Fred Schepman, Ted Stern and leader Lois Schreiner enjoyed the outing.