Gold Lake/Salt Creek Falls
February 28, 1993
For several years running, I have intended to lead, then canceled this trip. The reasons ran the gamut from an ice storm in the Willamette Valley to a complete lack of snow at the lower end of the trip. This year, conditions looked promising, although I was somewhat concerned that we might have too much of a good thing, snow-wise. In deep snow years, the trail markers at the mid-point of the trip can be buried below snow level. With compass hanging from my neck, borrowed altimeter on my wrist, maps and a few notes of bearings in my pocket, I hoped I was prepared. To anyone with a sense of direction, this probably seems like overkill. But as a person who has been known to be 180 degrees off, in the middle of downtown, I felt it was the least I could do. On the sign-up sheet, I emphasized a need for stamina and good uphill skills.
We attracted a group of nine, varying widely in age (20s to 70s) and experience, but all tough, enthusiastic and cooperative. Leaving one car at Salt Creek Falls SnoPark (just in case!), we departed from Gold Lake SnoPark at about 10:00 a.m., and gathered up the group at Gold Lake Shelter about an hour later. We had to break trail for a short distance distance to make the tie-in over to Waldo Lake Road and the Fuji Mtn. trailhead. Mercifully, we found visible tracks … recent enough that it looked “do-able”. We decided to go for it. A couple of miles and 800 ft. higher, we ran out of broken trail … coincidentally, just at one o'clock — the agreed-upon time to stop for lunch. The markers had been right at the snow line, and hard to spot … the last one having been seen perhaps a quarter of a mile back. Rather than backtrack in a possibly futile search for more markers, we set out after lunch by map, compass and altimeter. I was more than a little glad to have Marriner along to confer with. After bushwhacking about a mile (through increasingly dense forest), Marriner said: “I think we ought to go up.” I said: “O.K.” Less than five minutes later, came a welcome cry from Matt Laas: “I’ve got blue markers!” Shortly thereafter, we connected with the end of the Fuji Creek Road, and we were home free.
We stopped at Fuji Creek Shelter (about a half-mile down the road) to enjoy the magnificent view of Diamond Peak and several lesser peaks. The day was sunny and windless, and the uphill trail-breaking and path-finding had indeed required “stamina”, so the group found it easy to while away almost an hour, talking and resting up for the remaining four-mile downhill run (a drop of 1,500 ft.) to the highway.
The blue-ribbon group consisted of Betsy Anderson, who thought the “best part of the trip was getting lost”, Barry Greer — by far the best equipped person on the trip who, when Matt broke a ski pole produced a collapsible spare from his pack!, Matt (“eagle-eye”) Laas, Chuck Mitchell who thought it was a “heck of a lot of work”, and Clare Tucker who thought “it was good for him”, Marriner (“pathfinder”) Orum, Teri Simpson — a tough skier and trail-breaker, Gene Thaxton (my partner in Life and crime) and yours truly Bea Fontana (leader).