backcountry travel learn from other trailblazers

Trout Creek Trail to the Rooster Rock Trail

By: Nathan Burch
Trip Date: July 31, 1999

The Trout Creek Trailhead is located on the North side of Highway 20 East of Sweethome, Oregon by about 40 minutes. This is a great place to see elk. So....I left the parking area at Route 20 at about 2:30 pm to hike up to the Menagerie Wilderness Area and spend a night under the stars, as I often do. With an overnight pack and trekking poles, the walk up took around 3.5 hours and was a nice hike. I made it up there in good time and sat enjoying a view of some of the rock outcroppings in the Menagerie Wilderness Area, and noticed 2 rock climbers on some of the rocks near my vista. I soon heard the couple as I passed by them on my way up. I decided to move on along the trail and give the couple more privacy. As I continued, I noticed that the trail sign saying the trail ahead was closed, was no longer there. This was great news indeed, because it meant I could explore further into the wilderness area. This I did and it was a great place to go. The trail goes quite a bit past the Rooster rock outcropping, and up high over spots on the ridge, but you definitely have to scramble. Well, here is where my story gets sketchy, but don't let that worry you. IT IS A GREAT PLACE TO GO. The trail starts to switch back up a ways. When I reached the top of those switch backs, the forest took on a different look. It got much more wild and thick. As I started to move on, there was a loud crashing noise and something was coming right at me. I stood there trying to see what was making this noice but couldn't due to the thickness of the vegetation. I yelled HELLO in the deepest most powerful voice I could muster but the noises didn't even slow down. It dawned on me I should turn back because I had been standing there for almost a minute now and something, about 35 feet away was coming my way. I took off. The walk out up and over Rooster Rock that normally takes 45 minutes, took 15. I was now alone in that same place that I saw the climbers earlier. I had been quite scared earlier and wanted to get as far as I could from whatever had been doing all that thrashing in the trees back there. I questioned whether I was far enough away. I decided I was not and moved on again now back down towards the car to look for a place to camp. The way back offered very few campsites and I was getting really hungry. At that point, I found a small trail that stayed level and looked like it was used mostly as a rest stop for hikers. After going a short way down the trail, I found a nice level, soft, mossy spot that seemed great. I set up my bivy sack and made up some soup and relaxed. It was getting dark now and the mosquitos were swarming me so I got into my bivy and closed the mesh. Just as I was forgetting about the mosquitos, I started hearing something loud back up the main trail coming down towards me. It was getting dark and at those speeds, it (they) might not see me so I shined my flashlight at them and they stopped suddenly. They stood there for a few seconds with the light reflecting in their eyes, then bolted off the trail and down through the trees, making the same loud thrashing sound I had heard earlier. I decided my stalker was elk or deer. As it got darker, more and more elk and deer kept trying to use the trail I had foolishly assumed was a human trail. This went on ALL THROUGH THE NIGHT and the few times I did doze off, the elk came too close for comfort and I awoke afraid of getting trampled by heavy hooves. Morning finally came. I had a nice breakfast and went back to my car and left. It was a good lesson for me and you can learn from it, too. DON'T EVER CAMP RIGHT ON THE SIDE OF A TRAIL, NO MATTER HOW TIRED OR HUNGRY YOU MAY GET!!!!! It may be tempting but don't. It could cost you alot more than just an expensive piece of gear.