Lowder Mnt/Walker Creek
July 4, 1983
What a marvelous day Independence Day turned out to be! Eight eager hikers left the very full parking lot (cars parked for the shuttle to Butte-to-Butte run) at 7:40 a.m. Since this hike was a ‘shuttle’ we left in three cars, arrived at the Echo boat landing rest area about 9:00 a.m., took two cars the rough four miles to end of Walker Creek Trail and left one. We returned to Echo to pick up the folks left there, and proceeded up the East Fork Road to beginning of the Lowder Mountain Trail.
At 10:15 we were on our way up the few switchbacks of the trail, climbed over a huge downed tree, then walked along the fairly level trail until we reached the ‘rock garden’. We enjoyed looking at the beautiful wildflowers growing there—paint brush, two kinds of penstemon, phlox, etc., viewing the magnificent snowcapped peaks, and having a leisurely snack. As we progressed along the trail we viewed many points of interest including Diamond Peak along the skyline, and French Pete Valley at our feet. We soon came to the steep ascent up the mountain, but once there the stroll across the top to the opposite side was more relaxing. We sat on my favorite rocks above the two jewel-like lakes where we had lunch. The view was magnificent viewing Mt. Hood, Jefferson, Three-Fingered Jack, Washington, Three Sisters, Broken Top, Bachelor and all the lesser peaks in between; the weather superb being just the right temperature with plenty of sunshine and shadow; the flowers blooming profusely; and the birds including a humming bird and a soaring hawk delightful. We didn’t want to leave, but there was, still a lot of hiking ahead of us.
We didn’t find the trail off the mountain down Walker Creek right away, but after a bit of scouting our two nonmembers (and first timers with us) found the right path. It is a wonderful narrow primitive trail snaking down the mountain toward Walker Creek. Eventually we came to a large meadow where we lost the trail. With a bit more scouting around we found the narrow path through the high meadow grasses and plants (thanks to our nonmembers, again. Guess we better sign them up right away; they would make excellent Obsidian leaders as well as followers.) and were on our way, again. This trail has not been used much in recent years (I hadn’t been on it for many years) and has lost some of its tread in a few places, but was passable. There were a few trees down, too, but we managed to climb over them without much difficulty. The beautiful, narrow streams dropping from the steep Sawtooth ridge were a sight to behold. There is a good resting place near one stream that I call Maidenhair Fern rest stop because so many of those fern plus other kinds too grow on the very moist slope. It was idyllic.
After hopping moss-covered rocks across a few similar streams, trudging up and down the slope high above Walker Creek, inching our way along the up-hill side of the trail when the trail had actually disappeared downhill, and all the time admiring the surrounding vegetation, we arrived at a very sharp switchback which was our clue not to continue straight on the old trail, but to snake down the hillside to the Walker Creek Road and the car. We arrived there at 4:45 p.m. having spent nearly four hours from the top of Lowder. But the day was not over. The drivers piled into the car and went back to the Lowder Mtn. trailhead to get the other two cars. We didn’t get back to pick up the ‘gang’ until nearly 6:30. (Lois had an overheated car, but we eventually got everyone home.) The last of us arrived back in Eugene at 8:15 p.m., a bit tired, but exhilarated by the marvelous experience of the excellent weather, the magnificent views, the primitive trail, and the good sports who made the trip a memorable one. Lowder Mountain/Walker Creek shuttlers were Rachel Major, Gladys Grancorvitz, Chris and Gregg Olson, Ethel, Robin and Suzanne Steussy, & leader Lois Schreiner.