Hidden Lake – A Beautiful Hiking and Fishing Destination


Hidden lake is a great little 11 acre lake up the Cougar valley past the reservoir.  The hike in from the road is a short half mile.  If you are going early in the spring the shore line will be very marshy, and it will be difficult to make it to the lake without getting a bit wet. As with all high cascade lakes remember to bring mosquito repellent. The trail ends at the stream outflow to the lake with a nice deep inlet.  The fishing is fairly good all year around in the lake.  Walking around the lake is difficult due to brush so there is a low amount of fishing pressure.  A float tube or a light pontoon boat would be ideal for fishing the lake. The largest fish I have caught from the lake was a nice 12″ cutthroat trout.  The trout in the lake that are easy to catch on lures or flies.  Supposedly there are trout up to 16″ in the lake.  That would be nice to catch on a warm sunny day. Snow is usually on the ground until around June. This is one of the first high lakes in the area that you can get into. Due to the size I recommend catch and release to all fish.  It would not take long to remove a large portion of the population.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADirections: From McKenzie highway 126 take the south fork of the McKenzie road up past Cougar Reservoir to Forest road 1980 (1/2 mile past French Pete campground). Drive west 3 miles on rd 1980 to a right angle intersection with Forest rd 231.  Turn onto NF-231 until there is a left turn onto NF-230 which is the hard left at the intersection. There is a small sign on the left about 500 yards before the road dead ends that marks the trail into the lake. Using a forest service map of the area makes it easier to find your way there.  The back forest roads are easy to get lost on if you are not careful.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMarshy edge of the lake.


Several great books for the local areas:

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How to Install a Watersnake Trolling Motor on a Hobie Outback: A Step-by-Step Guide to DC Wiring

I finally registered my kayak to be able to use the little Watersnake trolling motor I modified to fit into my mirage drive slot. So to make it easier it is time to wire through the hull so that I don’t have wires hanging all over that can get tangled up in a net or a fish. Which happened on my test trolling trip more then once.

Needed materials for the build

For this modification I wanted to make sure that when I am not using the motor that the system has plugs that have a waterproof cap on them. Or if I am using the motor in the rain or heavy swells that it has a tight connection. The best ones I could find were the SAE style of plugs and cables. This entire setup cost me less then $40 to order on Amazon.

My one word of warning on this is that before ever putting holes in a kayak for any reason always make sure that where you cut or drill is where you want them at. Once you cut the holes you cant change your mind to move it around unless you are good at hole patching. For my kayak I wanted a plug in the front that will keep the motor wires away from my feet.

For the first hole I put it up front just below the front hatch. This looked to be a good spot so that the connector from the motor went forward a short distance and should not be in the way to land any fish unless it was a salmon then nothing could be really be out of the way.

One huge thing to keep in mind on using the SAE plugs is to verify that the cord colors match. Going between the two in hull connectors will swap them unless you use an adaptor to swap it back. Which is actually included when you purchase the set of two socket ports.

The second hole that I needed I put just forward of the seat and pointed up. This plug will be used to plug the cable to my pulse modulator and then to my battery. For a watersnake motor it only comes in two speeds and both of those are to fast for trolling. For me high is about 4mph and low is 2mph. But by using a pulse modulator you can turn the motor into a variable speed motor. My original one I built works well, but with the sealed Plano box it is bulky and in the way. So I found one in a metal box that also has an amp meter on one side so you can see the draw coming through. This makes it handy to calculate how long your trolling battery can last. My only worry with the metal box is that it has the vents in the side to keep it cool but that also can let water in. The location I have it setup for is under my leg while fishing but it is something to keep in mind.

Next to find a day where the wind and rain are not to crazy to go out this fall.

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Top 5 Overnight hiking backpacks for under $200

Are you on a budget for your next overnight hiking trip but still need a reliable backpack? No worries! We’ve got you covered with the top 5 overnight hiking backpacks under $200 in no particular order

Teton Sports Scout 3400 Backpack

The Teton Sports Scout 3400 Backpack is an affordable option for those who need to carry a lot of gear. It has a roomy main compartment and several smaller pockets for organization. The backpack also has a built-in rainfly to keep your belongings dry in wet conditions.

Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack

The Kelty Redwing 50 Backpack has a spacious main compartment and several smaller pockets for organization. It also has a padded laptop sleeve and a front pocket with an organizer for smaller items. The backpack has a ventilated back panel and padded shoulder straps for comfort.

High Sierra Pathway 90L

The High Sierra Pathway 90L Backpack is perfect for those who need to carry a lot of gear on their overnight hiking trip. It has a large main compartment and several smaller pockets for organization. The backpack also has a hydration system compatibility and a built-in rainfly.

Outdoor Products Saguaro 2 in 1

The Outdoor Products Saguaro 2 in 1 Backpack is a great option for those on a tight budget. It has a spacious main compartment and several smaller pockets for organization. The backpack also has a ventilated back panel and padded shoulder straps for comfort.

Teton Sports Outfitter 4600 Backpack

The Teton Sports Outfitter 4600 Backpack is perfect for those who need to carry a lot of gear on their overnight hiking trip. It has a roomy main compartment and several smaller pockets for organization. The backpack also has a built-in rainfly to keep your belongings dry in wet conditions.

These are all great overnight hiking backpacks under $200. If you are on a budget or just starting out doing overnight hikes. One of these would be fit to start out. Each one has its own unique features, so choose the one that best fits your needs and budget. Happy hiking!

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Adventures in lapidary – tile saw for rock cutting

My wife and I decided to branch out our skills for our small business and learn some lapidary skills. Both of us have alway loved to wander around and collect agates and then just run them through a rock tumbler to polish. Normally these tumbled rocks just end up in the bottom of the big fish tank or scattered around shrubs outside. But lately we realized that we have been finding some larger rocks then we can fit in the tumbler. Which brings us to the tile saw

If you look around there are tons of reviews and DIY options people have done all over the internet and forums. Depending on your budget you can get a nice oil cooled lapidary saw that can do some very large slabs on the high end or you can get a small tile saw for the smaller pieces on the low end. Since this is our first rock saw of any kind we decided to go with a 7 inch tile saw that can be used to cut rock, tile or ceramics up to two inches thick. Our local Harbor freight had one in stock that we picked up along with a continuous diamond edge saw blade to fit it.

Both of these two below are nearly identical to what we picked up and at nearly the same size: aka the cheaper route

If your budget allows there are some great reviewed rock saws out there. But they are not what I would call cheap. Or really I am cheap.

For the tile saw we picked up it has the same case, water cooling system, and tile fence on the one from Amazon as the one at harbor freight. So many of these kinds of things are made in the exact same factory and all they do is change a color and stick a different label on it.

These saws are very simple to set up and get going. Ours did not come with a blade installed but all it takes is removing 4 screws from the water guard below and then install the blade and tighten with the included two wrenches and then screw the water guard back on. Push the water tray back on and you are good to start up. From all the videos that I could find on it the preferred way to cut a rock is to turn the saw around and then pull the rock towards you as it cuts. This keeps the water from spraying all over you and if you do get a rock bound up in the blade it will toss it away from you. Also with using a continuous blade there is no chance of it cutting you like a wood blade with teeth would do. Using a continuous blade you might get a little skin rubbed off but nothing bad. I used a fresh pair of garden gloves to increase the grip on the rock and if it did slip and I hit the blade it would just rub off a bit of the rubber coating.

slow and steady. Always let the blade do the work and don’t try to push it through harder then it can grind.
Seam agate cut across into a long slender section
I am actually not sure what kind of rock this is but it may polish up nice
out of all we cut on the first time use this red jasper I found while fishing is my favorite. It is a little larger then the blade can do in a single pass so I had to spin it a bit to get it cut.

As a first try at cutting rocks we had fun seeing what was inside. Our next step is to run them through the rock tumbler with some other jasper and agates and see how that does to make them into suitable pieces to create jewelry out of. Once we get some out in a month of tumbling I will get some more pictures of the results.

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Spirit Lake Oregon – An Outdoor Enthusiast’s Paradise

Are you looking for a breathtaking destination for your next outdoor adventure? Spirit Lake, Oregon is the perfect place for hiking, camping, fishing, and more.

Located in the heart of the Cascade Range, Spirit Lake offers visitors stunning views of the surrounding mountains and crystal-clear waters. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner, you’ll find trails of varying difficulty levels to explore.

The lake itself is a popular spot for fishing, with an abundance of trout waiting to be caught. If you’re a fan of water sports, you can also enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding, or even swimming in the lake’s refreshing waters. As long as you don’t mind the short hike to carry them in.

For those looking for a more immersive experience, there are several campsites in the area where you can pitch a tent and spend the night under the stars. Just be sure to pack warm clothes, as the temperature can drop significantly at night.

Spirit Lake is also home to a diverse array of wildlife, including elk, deer, and various bird species. Keep your eyes peeled for these majestic creatures as you explore the area.

Spirit Lake, Oregon is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. From hiking and camping to fishing and water sports, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Plan your trip today and experience the natural beauty of this stunning destination.

  • Directions: Proceed east from the Oakridge Ranger Station on Hwy. 58 to Oakridge. From downtown Oakridge proceed east on Salmon Creek Road (24) for about 13 miles to the junction of Road 2422. From here proceed left on 2422 for 9 miles to trailhead on right. Across from the Waldo Meadows Trailhead.
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Recommended Season: June – October
  • Elevation change: 169 feet

Hiking books for the area:

Day hike or overnight gear on the cheap side: not the lightest but great for getting into hiking


Nice easy walk to the lake.
Nice easy walk to the lake.

The view of the lake as you come to the end of the trail

The view of the lake as you come to the end of the trail.


Interesting tree growing in the meadow.  looks like it had fallen down and then grown up from the fallen trunk
Interesting tree growing in the meadow. It looks like it had fallen down and then grown up from the fallen trunk.

Lots of fallen trees in the water

Lots of fallen trees in the water.


Katy all ready to return back to the car for lunch
Katy all ready to return back to the car for lunch.

Several great books for the local areas

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Rockhounding Oregon: Santiam river

Rock hounding is a fascinating hobby that is enjoyed by many people around the world. It involves searching for and collecting rocks, minerals, and gemstones from different locations, often in natural settings. If you’re interested in rock hounding and happen to be in Oregon, then the Santiam River is one of the best places to explore. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at rock hounding on the Santiam River and what you can expect to find.

The Santiam River is a beautiful waterway that flows through the Cascade Range in Oregon. The river begins at the crest of the Cascades and flows westward for over 100 miles before joining the Willamette River. Along its length, the river cuts through various geological formations, creating a diverse range of rock types and mineral deposits. This makes it an excellent location for rock hounding enthusiasts.

Oregon Agate

To start your rock hounding adventure on the Santiam River, you’ll need to get a permit. The Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries issues permits that allow you to collect rocks, minerals, and gemstones from the river. These permits are valid for one year and can be obtained online or in person at the department’s offices.

Once you have your permit, it’s time to hit the river. The Santiam River has several locations where you can find a variety of rocks and minerals. Some of the best spots include:

  1. Quartzville Creek: This creek is a tributary of the Santiam River and is known for its deposits of agates, jasper, and petrified wood. The area is easily accessible by car, and there are several pullouts where you can park and explore.
  2. Three Pools: Three Pools is a popular swimming hole on the Santiam River that also happens to be a great spot for rock hounding. You’ll find a mix of agates, jasper, and petrified wood in the area.
  3. Detroit Lake: Detroit Lake is a reservoir on the North Santiam River that is popular for fishing and boating. However, it’s also an excellent spot for rock hounding. You’ll find a mix of agates, jasper, and quartz crystals in the area. As a reminder you cannot rockhound inside the lake boundaries due to restrictions by the Corp of Engineers
  4. Quartzville Road: Quartzville Road is a scenic drive that runs alongside the Quartzville Creek. The road offers several opportunities to stop and search for rocks and minerals.

When you’re out searching for rocks and minerals, it’s important to follow a few basic rules. First, always respect private property and obtain permission before entering any private land. Second, be mindful of the environment and leave no trace of your visit. Finally, be safe and wear appropriate clothing and footwear.

Rock hounding on the Santiam River in Oregon is a great way to spend a day or weekend. With a little bit of planning and preparation, you can find a variety of interesting rocks and minerals that will make great additions to your collection. Just remember to obtain a permit, follow the rules, and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Santiam River.

Some books and equipment that can be helpful. We receive a small advertising fee for anything purchased through links. Any fees go to more fishing trips and more videos and blog posts

Yellow Chanterelle (Cantharellus cibarius)

One of the first mushrooms of the fall is the delicious Yellow Chanterelle. A week or two after the first heavy fall rain small little yellow buttons will start appearing throughout the forest. Since this time of year coincides with hunting season in Oregon it is best for anyone out in the forest picking mushrooms to be wearing bright colors so they are not mistaken for a deer. This has always been one of my personal favorite mushrooms to look for, and is one of the easiest to find. But with every mushroom unless you are 100% certain of what you are picking DO NOT EAT IT! Now for a little about this treasure of the forest.

Since I love using Wikipedia for info here is a little bit of history and uses for this tasty treat:

“Though records of chanterelles being eaten date back to the 1500’s, they first gained widespread recognition as a culinary delicacy with the spreading influence of French cuisine in the 1700’s, where they began appearing in palace kitchens. For many years, they remained notable for being served at the tables of nobility. Nowadays, the usage of chanterelles in the kitchen is common throughout Europe and North America. In 1836, the Swedish mycologist Elias Fries considered the chanterelle “as one of the most important and best edible mushrooms.”

Chanterelles as a group are generally described as being rich in flavor, with a distinctive taste and aroma difficult to characterize. Some species have a fruity odor, others a more woody, earthy fragrance, and others still can even be considered spicy. The golden chanterelle is perhaps the most sought-after and flavorful chanterelle, and many chefs consider it on the same short list of gourmet fungi as truffles and morels. It therefore tends to command a high price in both restaurants and specialty store.”

Over the years I have dried, canned, pickled, and sautéed chanterelles in as many recipes as I can. Other mushrooms might be stronger flavored or different tasting, but this one is the easiest to find in large quantities. There are always several small stands of mushroom buyers around that will pay by the pound for these if you want to put in the time to find large amounts. The only thing about selling them that I never liked is that there is a subspecies of chanterelle that are white that the buyers will never take. I can’t tell any difference in taste between the two so that means more for me to enjoy. On a successful day I have found 20+ lbs of yellow chanterelles with only a few hours of searching.

Identification: The Yellow Chanterelle mushroom has a bright yellow to orange cap, which is funnel-shaped and wavy. The cap can grow up to 10 centimeters in diameter, and the stem is typically short and thick. The underside of the cap features gill-like ridges that run down the stem. These ridges are forked, blunt, and widely spaced.

Harvesting: Yellow Chanterelle mushrooms are typically harvested in the late summer and fall months. It is important to only harvest mature mushrooms with fully formed caps and gills. To prevent damage to the mycelium, it is recommended to cut the stem instead of pulling the mushroom out of the ground. Always carry a mushroom identification guide and ensure that you are not harvesting any toxic or poisonous mushrooms.

Cooking: Yellow Chanterelle mushrooms have a delicate, nutty flavor that pairs well with a variety of dishes. They can be sautéed, grilled, roasted, or added to soups and stews. These mushrooms also pair well with herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and sage.

For more detailed information please check out this link to the full Wikipedia article. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chanterelle

Some of my favorite recipes:

Some great reference books:

All That the Rain Promises and More: A Hip Pocket Guide to Western Mushrooms by David Arora (smaller pocket guide that is excellent to use)

National Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Mushrooms (National Audubon Society Field Guides) (all inclusive but fairly large)

There are also several E-books that can be found on Kindle unlimited

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Jasper rock tumbling with a Tumler tumbler: loading it up

So you like to wander around and pick up random rocks to bring home. But once you get them home what do you do with them? Or in my case my wife brings me rocks, and then I need to figure out what to do with them. Since our ancient Lortone tumbler motor went out and no one seems to have a replacement in stock I ventured out in the market for a new tumbler to do something with my endless supply of incoming random rocks. And yes I do add to the pile but mine are mainly just agate and jasper.

If you are ever in the market for a new rock tumbler there seems to be an endless amount by different brands out there available. The most common seem to be the small hobby models that hold about three pounds of rocks. For most people this would be the perfect size. But for us we would either need several of those or get a bigger one which is what I did. Thumbler Tumbler has a nice 15 pound model that while a bit spendy it is easy for find replacement parts for if anything wears out. Many of the smaller models are very hard to replace any worn out parts.

To polish rocks you really just need a couple things:

and really that is all you need. Put in rocks, add grit and water. Then plug it in and wait a week for stage two. For this one we are just doing the first stage only. The video below has the full process to load and go for this first stage of rock tumbling.

The model B is nice and sturdy and very quiet to run
My partial pile of jasper to tumble
Sliced and ready to go along with a bunch of smaller rocks

Grafting an Apple Tree: Tips for a Successful First Attempt

Grafting is a popular technique used for propagating fruit trees such as apple trees. If you’re a beginner looking to try grafting, you’re in the right place. In this post, I’ll share my experience of attempting to graft an apple tree for the first time, along with some tips and insights that I learned along the way. Read on to learn how to graft an apple tree successfully and boost your chances of a bountiful harvest.

Since I have never grafted anything before I searched the internet, and a couple books to see what the basics are for doing a graft. From everything I could see it is really a fairly simple process. Cut a small branch from the tree you want and put a V cut in the bottom. Then find the same size branch on the tree you want it and cut another V fork in it for the graft to fit in. According to my uncle the more bark that touches the better the graft takes. Since I prefer not to cut myself and I know I would I went to amazon and found this handy grafting kit. https://amzn.to/3HsddLA

First cut your two pieces that you want to fit together
Push your ends together and wrap it many times with the wrap that came with the kit. You want enough of it wrapped that it wont come apart.
To add some stability and support I also took a small branch and wrapped it also around the graft.
Since I had a cut off branch I also tried a different method where you peel back part of the bark and then insert a small piece into it.

I made a total of three grafts using the existing Fuji I have. Nice and sweet and crisp but not my favorite. I plan on getting some cuts from several old homestead apples to see if I can get them grafted to the seedling and maybe a couple others onto the existing Fuji. In a couple months I will see if the grafts took and write up another blog.

Short video on my grafting:

Update: Out of all the grafts I did I only had one of them take. I did learn that after you cut the branches you should not touch the cut wood or bark edges. The oils from you skin will block it from taking also

Flooded Oregon – Blakelyville (Eula)

The Willamette valley is home to 13 major dam’s in the Willamette basin. Most of these dam’s are used for flood control, power generation and irrigation. But in the time before these dam’s were built there were many small towns that dotted these area’s and once the dam’s were completed they were swallowed up and lost to time and all that is left is the history of the location and a few pictures that may have been taken.

While out on a fishing trip this January I stumbled across the foundations of what was once the little town of Blakelyville. With a little research it looks like there were five towns at one point under what is now Lookout point reservoir. Carter, Eula, Landax , Signal , and Blakeyville have all been flooded, and become one with the mud of the lake bottom. The first settler in the area was John Blakey who was a stowaway on a ship from Ireland at the age of 12 in 1829 to the United States and then settled in Oregon . He found his way to set up his homestead between Lowell ,Or. and Oakridge along the Willamette River in 1867 . The community which he called Blakeyville covered an area of five or six miles. A post office was established and ran from 1910 to 1918 in what was once the general store ran by John Clark. During this time the postal officials renamed it Eula which was the name of the Blakely’s daughter. Later the railroad changed it again to Armet because Eula was to much like Eola located in Polk County.

Old graded area which I used to think was the old road but it was for the old railroad
Really not a lot left that the mud has not reclaimed.
Old fireplace that finally collapsed
Edge of what I assume was a boardwalk at the old Armet train station

Just a little bit of Oregon history that is only uncovered in rare low water times at the reservoir. Most of the other 12 reservoirs in the Willamette basin also have flooded areas under them that can sometimes be seen in extreme low water. With as much mud has built up around the remaining foundations in the last 70 years it does not look like it will really be much longer before they are completely covered and lost to history. Hopefully at least these picture and others like them will remain and show a reminder what was once a thriving community.

A longer article on the area with some pictures:


And if you are interested some books on Oregon’s history: