30% chance of precipitation, wind gusts up to 25 mph, snow level 3300′ rising to 4000′ in the afternoon. I must not have seen THIS weather forecast when I scheduled the hike up to Eagle’s Nest from Skull Hollow. Perhaps fortunately, only one person showed up at the parking lot and since I knew him I was not really concerned; I mean we could always turn around if the weather got bad. The plan was to drive past Skull Hollow campground about a mile, park in a little clearing by the cattle troughs, hike straight up the ridge even though the trail was not visible, then hike along the ridge up and down, past some nice rock formations, down a steep, gravelly slope then back up a couple of times to reach Eagle’s Nest. The return would be across an exposed slope to a saddle, then down a nice gully back to the car
Once we got up onto the ridge, the hike was pretty pleasant. The main issue was the cold wind, but fleece was sufficient to block it as we hiked.
Views from the west appeared more frequently as we put a couple of miles behind us. Most spectacular was Black Butte, which was framed nicely between a couple of smaller hillocks.
My favorite flower, the Bitterroot with no apparent leaves, was rampant along the trail though six days earlier it was absent. Rock formations were intriguing, so we had to make a diversion to investigate. This is not a flower hike, but flox, wallflower, and even a wash of Larkspur surprised us.
The brisk gusts were not bad ascending the last two climbs to the Eagle’s Nest. Lunch was taken behind a wind block of rock. But what was amazing was the view we peaked at from the Nest. Slightly to the east you could see the canal from the Deschutes cross over the Crooked River canyon on an aqueduct the Romans would love. Then turning a bit west, we see Smith Rock with the zig zag scar of Misery Ridge trail and below, the canal tunneling under the Burma road.
The return hike was (mostly) downhill, but endured sharper, colder gusts and a few nodules of corn snow. After a long traverse below the ridge we had hiked, we entered a peaceful gully with taller juniper, green grass, and a few different flowers; including my second favorite, the bullhead globe flower. Somehow, we had missed the rain showers the dark clouds presented!