Stadter Buried Forest
and the Lost Creek Headwaters
I learned a good lesson on this trip, and that is that my camera will pretend to take photos and only announce that the storage card is not there on the back view panel, which I never look through. So time to keep a spare SD card buried in with my emergency kit that lives in my pack. I had set out towards Paradise Park with my long lens to get photos of the Stadter Buried Forest and found out en route. My cell phone zoom sufficed, and binoculars to get views at the buried trees.
The Stadter Buried Forest is an exposure of trees buried during the Timberline eruptive period, around 1700 years ago, similar to the exposed ancient forests on Mesa Terrace above White River and down along Lost Creek on Old Maid Flat. It is less well known than the others, as it's not viewable directly from a trail, but here's a paper on the buried forests. It's located on the ridge below Illumination Rock at 5850ft just above a waterfall on a short tributary to Paradise Branch. Visting it directly would be quite the excursion, and maybe sometime in the future, but this trip was just to get a view and some pictures. I've stared at this ridge a couple of times without knowing it was there and wanted to view it.
Here's a map view of the Paradise Park area, my wandering the orange track and the red "X" the location of the exposed buried forest. Contours are 40 ft.
Forgetting my camera card guaranteed the absolutely incredible lighting and cloud combinations that I got to witness along the way. I headed to Paradise Park, and left the loop trail heading up the rocky drainage that forms the beginning of the north part of the Lost Creek drainage. Above 6000 ft I cut north out of the drainage and followed the very established user path uphill till 6400ft, and then cut directly north to the steep edge above Paradise Branch and a good view down and across to the forest. The buried forest is very visible, some large logs sticking out of the sidehill, and a very distinctive brownish band of the soil from the forest extends down along the ridge.
I love these fun geologic features that give life to the events that shaped the area. After viewing the buried forest, I headed back to the user trail and continued climbing, until the path becomes less defined heading up towards Mississippi Head. I had come prepared to head up and over the cliffs, but it was shrouded in and out of clouds and I wanted to explore the upper extents of the Lost Creek Drainage instead. Near where the north branch of the creek emerges out of the hillside I found some great patches of glacier smoothed and striated rocks. I crossed over the main branch, and eventually up to the southern Mississippi Head user path. The whole time the light was cutting in through the clouds, with a thick layer out toward the valley and lots of misty movement around the mountain.