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Hiking

Diamond Peak Loop Day 2 – 08/23/2020

We woke up early on the second day of our loop around Diamond Peak and as the Sun was coming up we realized that it had gotten a little hazy overnight.
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IMG_4404Diamond Peak in the morning.

Our plan for the day was to leave camp and hike to the summit of Diamond Peak then come back, pack up, and continue on our loop. We hoped to make it as far as Blue Lake but were also ready to stop at Corrigan Lake if necessary. We took breakfast with us as we set off to the north on the Pacific Crest Trail.
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We followed the PCT for approximately 1.2 miles to a rocky viewpoint where we stopped to cook breakfast.
IMG_4410The viewpoint from below on the PCT.

We should have been able to see Summit Lake and Mt. Thielsen to the south from the viewpoint but after a smoke free hike the day before our luck ran out.
IMG_4412Summit Lake and a lot of smoke.

At least the sky above Diamond Peak was still fairly blue.
IMG_4420The north flank and route up Diamond Peak.

After eating we continued 50 feet up the trail to a bunch of cairns marking the summit path.
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IMG_4419Fireweed catching the morning sunlight.

IMG_4422Cairns on the left side of the trail marking the route.

IMG_4427Chipmunk inspecting some bleeding heart.

We turned up the well worn path and began to climb steeply through the trees and then onto rocks.
IMG_4431Summit Lake and the route up through the trees.

IMG_4433Here come the rocks.

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The path soon split into multiple user routes with cairns, flagging, and green paint marking the way.
IMG_4444Cairn on top of the big rock on the right.

IMG_4446A carin and paint on a rock along the route and some pink flagging on the tree down to the left.

It was approximately a mile between the PCT and the false summit of Diamond Peak and over 1800′ of elevation gain. After leaving the trees the climb got even steeper. Through the loose rocks a few flowers could be found.
IMG_4452Looking up at the false summit.

IMG_4447Paintbrush

IMG_4449Buckwheat

IMG_4455Patches of penstemon.

IMG_4459Seed heads of Drummond’s anemone

As we climbed we passed a couple of small snow patches and gained more views which were all dominated by smoke.
IMG_4461Dark smoke to the SW

IMG_4462A snow patch below the false summit.

IMG_4467Final pitch to the false summit, still pretty blue.

At the false summit we were at 8421′ and could finally see Mt. Thielsen, at least the very top of it’s spire at least.
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We had been backpacking there just two weeks prior (post) and were thankful that it hadn’t been this weekend. Looking around, it wasn’t just smoky to the south.
IMG_4487Looking west to a wall of smoke.

IMG_4477Smoke to the east.

IMG_4478Smoke to the NE too.

IMG_4479NW also equals smoke.

20200823_090207Smoke starting to drift in from the east.

We were still .4 miles and 350′ from the 8777′ true summit of the mountain and to reach it we would need to pass three gendarmes that block the ridge between the summit and false summit. Sullivan describes having to use your hands and “lots of caution” to work around them to the clear path on the other side. We started out and got to the first gendarme where I got up too high following a path. I had to back track and work my way down to Heather who had taken a different track but we still seemed too high. By this point the uncertainty of the best line to take had given us time to really think about where we were and the nerves kicked in. We wound up listening to them and headed back to the false summit deciding that it wasn’t worth the risk on such a smoky day where we wouldn’t get much in the way of views. We expected the view north that we would have had from the summit to be just as smoky given the fact that from the false summit we could see the top of the South Sister which was also appeared to be surrounded by wildfire smoke.
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After making the decision to turn back we were able to relax and enjoy the jaunt back down to the PCT focusing on flowers and critters along the way.
IMG_4492One of several Clark’s nutcrackers.

IMG_4496Buckwheat

IMG_4499Paintbrush

IMG_4500Penstemon

IMG_4502Basin with a number of flowers.

IMG_4503Mountain heather

IMG_4510Partridge foot

IMG_4509Another paintbrush

It was slow going but we made it back to the PCT where we noticed the smoke a little more than we had earlier that morning.
IMG_4511A little smoke in the trees.

When we got back to camp we packed up and realized that we’d consumed quite a bit of our water already so we decided to stop by Rockpile Lake again to refill our reservoirs before continuing on our loop.
IMG_4521Slightly smokier Rockpile Lake.

After refilling our water supply we continued to the junction with the spur trail to Marie Lake (.5 miles from the PCT) where we turned left to stay on the Rockpile Trail (at a pointer for the Diamond Peak Trail) and climbed steeply up the side of Diamond Rockpile.
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It wasn’t as much of a rockpile as the named implied as it was mostly forested with a single viewpoint near the high point along this portion of trail.
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IMG_4526Summit Lake out there in the smoke.

The trail then dropped a bit on the west side of Diamond Rockpile to a 4-way junction with the Diamond Peak Trail 1.2 miles from the Marie Lake junction.
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While there were plenty of signs along the trails they often didn’t identify the trail itself but rather pointed you in the direction of other trails or features. This junction was a good example as one sign identified the Rockpile Trail while another directed you to Rockpile Lake and Road 2160.
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There were no signs naming the Diamond Peak Trail but there was a pointer to the south for Ruth Lake and a pointer to the north for the Pioneer Gulch Trail (which we thought was the name of this trail at first).
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We need to go north so we followed the pointer for the Pioneer Gulch Trail and headed north.
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The Diamond Peak Trail rolled up an down for nearly 1.5 miles before arriving at a junction with the actual Pioneer Gulch Trail on the left.
IMG_4542One of the uphill sections.

IMG_4546Note again that the sign is letting you know what is in the different directions but not identifying the trail name.

We stayed on the Diamond Peak Trail heading for the Corrigan Lake Trail which was just over 2 miles further along. These two miles had not been maintained so there were a few obstacles to get around but nothing too difficult. We also regained a view of Diamond Peak along this stretch which was now behind a thin layer of smoke.
IMG_4548Typical obstacle for this stretch.

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We turned left down the Corrigan Lake Trail when we arrived at the junction.
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It was a little over half a mile and 300′ down to the lake which had a nice view of Diamond Peak.
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IMG_4565Lots of insect husks on the plants along the lake.

We took a nice long break at the lake where another couple of groups of backpackers appeared to be planning to spend the night. Our plan was to push on and try and find a spot for our tent near the Diamond Peak Trail junction with the Blue Lake Trail. We were hoping to get down to that lake in the evening but didn’t want to haul our full packs up and down the steep 400′ of elevation change.

We left Corrigan Lake to the other backpackers and climbed back up to the Diamond Peak Trail and continued on our clockwise loop around the mountain. This next section of trail was clearer and in just under a mile we came to the Bear Mountain Trail junction.
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IMG_4574Fleabane

IMG_4575Bear Mountain Trail junction.

IMG_4576Look a named trail!

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From the junction the Diamond Peak Trail climbed a ridge before leveling off above Blue Lake which was hidden in the trees.
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The Blue Lake Trail was .8 miles from the Bear Mountain junction and just before reaching it we spotted what we had been hoping for, an open flat spot for our tent. We set up camp between the Diamond Peak and Blue Lake Trails and then headed down to the lake for dinner and to get more water.
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There was a decent amount of blowdown along the upper portion of the .9 mile stretch to the lake which followed a ridge crest (with a view NW down to Happy Lake) before dropping steeply down the opposite side of the ridge via a series of switchbacks. The hillsides had quite a few wet areas and several flowers were still in bloom.
IMG_4590Starting to drop off the ridge.

IMG_4598Arnica

IMG_4600Fleabane

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IMG_4612Pearly everlasting and fringed grass of parnassus

IMG_4613Aster and fringed grass of parnassus

IMG_4659Scouler’s bluebells

The trail brought us to an open hillside on the east side of Blue Lake where a landslide left a large meadow.
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IMG_4621Lots of coneflower

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IMG_4626Fireweed and coneflower

IMG_4622Owl’s clover

We appeared to be the only humans at this lake but we were greatly outnumbered by a legion of little frogs.
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IMG_4649Dragon fly and a bunch of frogs

IMG_4637Chatty squirrel

We spent most the evening at the lake before heading back to the tent when the Sun started dropping.
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Despite not making it up to the summit of Diamond Peak, and it being too smoky to get any views even lower, it had been a good day. It had also been a long day. We had been planning on it being somewhere in the 14.5 to 15 mile range assuming that we made it all the way to the summit but our GPS units put us just over 16 miles for the day without the extra .8 out and back between the false summit and summit. We slept well apart from me waking up for a moment when I heard some coyotes followed by a couple of hoots from owls. They weren’t bothering me I just stayed up to listen to them for a bit until they stopped. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Diamond Peak Loop Day 2

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High Cascades Hiking Mt. Jefferson Area Oregon Throwback Thursday Trip report

Throwback Thursday – Duffy Lake

We’re going all the way back to July 28, 2010 for this weeks throwback hike. This was our first visit to the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness as well as the first time we attempted an off-trail scramble. We started at the Duffy Lake Trailhead taking the Duffy Lake Trail toward Duffy Lake.

Duffy Lake Trail

The trail followed along the North Santiam River which was running real low but not yet dry for the season.

Wildflowers along the North Santiam River

North Santiam River

We passed the a junction with the Turpentine Trail at the 1.5 mile mark and crossed the river just over a mile later before reaching another junction in a meadow near Duffy Lake. Although we couldn’t see the lake from there Duffy Butte rose above the trees.

Duffy Butte

A number of trails were present in the Duffy Lake area. The first junction after crossing the river was with the Maxwell Butte Trail which forked to the right. Before reaching Duffy Lakes outlet creek we took the next fork to thw right which was a short connector trail to the Santiam Lake Trail which we then turned right on following it for about 3/4 of a mile through wildflower meadows to Santiam Lake and a great view of Three Fingered Jack.

Santiam Lake Trail

Three Fingered Jack and Santiam Lake

Three Fingered Jack from Santiam Lake

After visiting the lake shore we headed back the way we had come for .6 miles then turning right on the Dixie Lakes Trail at a pointer for the Eight Lakes Basin.

Trail sign at the Dixie Lakes Trail

This 1.8 mile trail would lead us pass the small Dixie Lakes before joining the Blue Lake Trail. Much of the trail passed through forest burned in the massive 2003 B&B Fire.

A Dixie Lake

South Dixie Lake

A Dixie Lake

North Dixie Lake

Beargrass

Junction with the Blue Lake Trail

The trail junction was near Alice Lake which was where our off-trail scramble up Red Butte would start.

Red Butte

Red Butte

Alice Lake

Alice Lake

Being our first off-trail experience we weren’t exactly sure what we were supposed to be looking for but we knew that the route started on the west side of the lake and headed up the butte. It was quite the adventure. Just when we thought we might be following a use trail we’d lose it. Some of the butte had been burned in the fire so there was plenty of downed trees and limbs to navigate. The good news with that was we knew we could follow the edge of the burn downhill and we’d wind up back on the trail near Alice Lake so we weren’t too concerned with getting lost. As we neared the summit of Red Butte the vegetation began to give way to more and more cinder where it was much easier to pick out the use trail.

Snow on Red Butte

Looking down from the summit we could see little Alice Lake below.

Alice Lake from Red Butte

To the south we had a great view of Three Fingered Jack and beyond that loomed Mt. Washington, North Sister, Middle Sister, and The Husband.

Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, The Three Sisters and The Husband

The Three Sisters and Mt. Washington

Mt. Washington in front of the North & Middle Sister (with the summit of South Sister behind them all)

Around to the north was Mt. Jefferson.

Mt. Jefferson

Just to the SW of Red Butte was Duffy Butte and Mowich Lake.

Mowich Lake and Duffy Butte

Mowich Lake

We had a much easier time following the use path on the way down and successfully completed our first scramble. We turned right when we arrived back at the Blue Lake Trail and followed it for a mile to the southern end of Mowich Lake where we could look back across the water to Red Butte.

Mowich Lake

Another 3/4 miles along the trail brought us a junction with the Santiam Lake and Duffy Lake Trails.

Trail junction near Duffy Lake

We took a moment to visit Duffy Lake and Duffy Butte.

Duffy Butte from Duffy Lake

We walked along the lake to its outlet where we picked up the Duffy Lake Trail and headed back toward the trailhead. A nice lollipop loop with a couple of side trips to Santiam Lake and up Red Butte the total distance was a little over 13 miles with approx 2000′ elevation gain. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157632953676368

Categories
High Cascades Hiking Mt. Jefferson Area Oregon Trip report

Eight Lakes Basin

After three straight overnight trips it was time for a day hike. Our destination was the Eight Lakes Basin in the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. The two most common routes to the area are from either the Duffy Lake Trailhead to the SW or theĀ Marion Lake Trailhead to the north. The basin is a little closer to the Marion Lake Trailhead so this was where we decided to begin our hike.
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We were surprised at the number of cars already parked at the trailhead when we arrived at 6:15am. Later we realized much of it was due to it being the opening weekend of hunting season. We had visitedĀ Marion Lake once before in October of 2014 on our way home from Central Oregon, but this time we would be continuing past the lake 4 miles to reach the Eight Lakes Basin and returning on a wide loop.

The first 1.8 miles of trail was familiar but some things had changed since our previous visit including the condition of the wilderness sign.
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About a half mile prior to reaching Marion Lake the trail passes smaller Lake Ann.
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On the far side of a lake a Great Blue Heron landed on a log along with some ducks while numerous other ducks could be seen on the water.
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Shortly after Lake Ann we came to a split in the trail where the Marion Lake Trail headed left and the Marion Outlet Trail went right. Both trails lead to Marion Lake but the the Outlet Trail is .5 miles longer. They also lead to different portions of the lake, the Marion Lake Trail arrives at the northern end of the lake while the Marion Outlet Trail meets the Blue Lake Trail at the lake’s northwestern tip.
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The main reason to take the Marion Outlet Trail though is to take a short unsigned side trail and visit Marion and Gatch Falls.
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The trail down to the falls is somewhat steep in places but the views are wonderful. After visiting the falls we hiked to the Blue Lake Trail junction and crossed Marion Creek on the footbridge. Just beyond the footbridge the trail crosses a rock slide where the vine maple was starting to show its Fall colors.
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After entering the trees again we took a trail down to the lake to get a view of Mt. Jefferson across the water.
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We continued on the Blue Lake Trail which soon entered the forest burned by the 2003 B & B Fire.
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The B & B Fire burned over 90,000 acres of forest and we would be spending a large portion of the day hiking through the burn. Some areas though were spared and one of those areas was a mile up the Blue Lake Trail at a junction with the Pine Ridge Trail.
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By taking the Pine Ridge Trail we could have climbed up Marion Mountain, but we were leaving that for another time. Just beyond the junction a small pond reflected the rocky summit of that peak.
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It was three miles from the Pine Ridge Trail junction to the next trail junction at Jorn Lake in the Eight Lakes Basin. A little over a mile from the pond was Jenny Lake.
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Beyond Jenny Lake the forest around the Blue Lake Trail had all been burnt by the 2003 fire. The lack of live trees allowed for some big views through the silver snags and it was interesting to see how the forest was at work recovering. Small trees were working on replacing those lost and white pearly everlasting flowers made a nice contrast to the red huckleberry leaves dotting the ground.
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The lack of trees also caused the trail to be exposed to the Sun which had come back with a vengeance after the previous weekends cooler temperatures. A short way from Jenny Lake the trail began a series of switchbacks as it climbed up and over a ridge before dropping down into the Eight Lakes Basin. The full exposure made this a really warm climb, but when we reached a saddle on the ridge the view of Three Fingered Jack with the basin below was worth it.
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From this direction the first lake in the basin that we reached was Blue Lake.
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We headed down to the lake where we were able to find a little shade on a rock along the shore.
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After having a snack and cooling down we continued on following the Blue Lake Trail further downhill toward Jorn Lake.
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Before checking out Jorn Lake more closely we wanted to continue past our planned loop a short distance to visit Red Butte Lake. We had scrambled up Red Butte in 2010 when we had taken a hike from the Duffy Lake Trailhead. We had turned around after climbing up the butte and not made it as far as Red Butte Lake so we figured this time we’d check it out. We wound up following a series of unofficial trails between Jorn and Red Butte Lakes which passed several nice looking campsites before finally bringing us to the shallow little lake.
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We found a log to sit on and tried to watch some ducks enjoying the lake but it was just too hot to sit out in the sunlight so we decided to head back to Jorn Lake where some of the trees had been spared from the fire.
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We took the official Blue Lake Trail back down to a junction with the Bowerman Lake Trail near Jorn Lake.
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Before we turned onto the Bowerman Lake Trail we went down to Jorn Lakes shore.
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While we were sitting by the lake a doe came down to the eastern end of the lake.
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After she disappeared behind some trees we began to walk along the shore toward where she was since that was the direction we would be heading on the Bowerman Lake Trail. On the way a frog and a garter snake went from the shore into the water.
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The best view of Mt. Jefferson came at the SE end of the lake.
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We left the lake and briefly returned to the Bowerman Lake Trail but then quickly left it to check out a series of ponds between Jorn Lake and Bowerman Lake.
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It was at Bowerman Lake that we realized it was opening weekend of hunting season when we ran into a gentleman who was resting by the lake.
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Bowerman Lake was the last lake in the Basin that the trail passed and we were soon back into the snags.
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The trails up until this point had been well maintained but the next 2+ miles on the Bowerman Lake Trail became increasingly difficult as numerous snags covered the path.
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We spent quite a bit of time going over, under, around logs. Often times it was just easier to walk on top of them. Conditions improved after we reached the Minto Pass Trail where someone else had apparently encountered the obstacles over the Bowerman Lake Trail.
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We were now following the Minto Pass Trail two miles to Marion Lake. Many of the vine maples along this trail were in full Autumn mode.
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The trail crossed several springs and creeks as it neared the lake including the very pretty Mist Creek.
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When the trail approached Marion Lake we walked down to the lake shore for one final rest stop. Three Fingered Jack rose above the lake on the horizon and we were joined by a number of tortoiseshell butterflies and a friendly Stellar’s blue jay.
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The Minto Pass Trail had been recently rerouted, adding a couple of switchbacks, just before arriving at a three-way junction with the Lake of the Woods and Marion Lake Trails.
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Back on the Marion Lake Trail we followed it for a half mile passing a trail to the lake’s day use area and continuing another .3 miles to the Marion Outlet Trail junction where we had begun our loop. We retraced our path from the morning spotting a garter snake and a large western toad along the way.
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Unfortunately not all of the wildlife encounters were so nice. Between spotting the snake and the toad we had paused at Lake Ann for a moment and Heather was almost immediately stung by a yellow jacket. Several more were buzzing around and we ran to the end of the lake to avoid any additional stings.

What was supposed to be a sort of “easier” hike than what we’d been doing lately turned out to be a little more taxing than planned. Between the warm temperatures and exposure in the burn area and the stretch of trail covered in downed snags we were feeling pretty tired by the time we made it back to the trailhead. We had also managed to turn the 15.2 miles we had planned on into 17.9 miles by visiting the falls, Red Butte Lake, and doing some other off-trail exploring. It had been worth it though. The colors were amazing, we’d seen a lot of wildlife, and despite the full parking lot hadn’t seen very many other people along the way. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157673717910585