Categories
Hiking

Diamond Peak Loop Days 3 & 4 – 08/24 & 8/25/2020

Morning of day three was a little less smoky and we were eager to get an early start to try and avoid doing the long climb from Notch Lake to the divide above the Pacific Crest Trail in the afternoon heat. We were up with the sunrise and after coffee and some granola we were back on the Diamond Peak Trail heading north.
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IMG_4678Some blue sky again.

The trail lost 500′ of elevation over the next mile including some steeper drops before arriving at a junction with the Happy Lake Trail.
IMG_4679Happy Lake Trail junction.

We detoured left here for the half mile hike down to Happy Lake.
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Unlike the Blue Lake Trail the Happy Lake Trail was fairly level losing less than 100′ of elevation before passing by a large meadow and arriving at the lake.
IMG_4687Just a small part of the meadow.

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We set our packs down and then followed a path to a hard to see waterfall along the lakes outlet creek.
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It might have been hard to see the whole thing but it sounded wonderful. There were also a lot of wonderfully ripe berries in the area.
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A viewpoint along the cliffs gave us a look at the rocky pillar of Mt. Yoran which we would be passing on the way to the divide later in the day.
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After enjoying the lake and waterfall (and consuming quite a few berries) we returned to the Diamond Peak Trail and continued on. It was a mile and a half to our next trail junction and we were pleasantly surprise to find that this stretch of the trail had seen some recent maintenance which made the going that much easier.
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IMG_4725We think this was Bear Creek. Other than the outlet of Happy Creek no other creek beds had flowing water on this side of the mountain.

IMG_4727Diamond Peak from the trail.

At the junction we left the Diamond Peak Trail and turned right onto the Diamond Peak Tie Trail.
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This trail had also recently been cleared and was lined with huckleberries. It was also apparent that this was a much wetter area than we’d been in so far along the loop which meant mosquitoes which kept us from stopping for long.
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IMG_4740One of several damp meadows.

IMG_4746The creeks were still dry though.

IMG_4749An unnamed lake.

After two miles on the Diamond Peak Tie Trail we arrived at the Vivian Lake Trail. We had been on the other end of this trail when we visited Vivian Lake in 2013 (post).
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We turned right onto this trail and in a quarter mile arrived at rock rimmed Notch Lake.
IMG_4759Small unnamed lake just before Notch Lake.

IMG_4760Another little lake/pond near Notch Lake.

IMG_4761Notch Lake

This was a really neat lake and we would have loved to stick around a bit but all the standing water in the area made for a lot of pesky mosquitoes so we unfortunately had to move on pretty quickly.
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IMG_4775Beargrass

Approximately .2 miles beyond Notch Lake the Vivian Lake Trail veered left and the Mt. Yoran Trail split to the right.
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The Mt. Yoran Trail climbed at an increasingly steep grade over the next 1.7 miles before gaining a ridge and leveling out.
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IMG_4786Diamond Peak from the trail; the smoke was back.

IMG_4791Textured mushroom

IMG_4795On the ridge.

The trail followed the ridge with some small ups and downs for a mile before dropping to Divide Lake at the base of Mt. Yoran.
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IMG_4803Diamond Peak

IMG_4804Lousewort

IMG_4808Mt. Yoran from the trail.

IMG_4814Diamond Peak again.

IMG_4815Mt. Yoran on the left and the divide on the right.

IMG_4820Passing under Mt. Yoran.

IMG_4823Please tell me that’s a seed and not that the ground squirrels have taken up smoking.

IMG_4824Divide Lake

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The mosquitoes weren’t nearly as bad here so we were able to take a nice long break before resuming our trek.
IMG_4846Blue sky making a comeback.

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IMG_4835Diamond Peak from Divide Lake

IMG_4851Climbers trail to Mt. Yoran.

IMG_4853Thank goodness it was a seed.

When it was time to continue we followed the Mt. Yoran Trail around Divide Lake and past two smaller unnamed lakes before making the steep 300′ climb to the divide.
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IMG_4857Beardtongue

IMG_4862Mt. Yoran from Divide Lake

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IMG_4866One of the unnamed lakes.

IMG_4872Starting up to the divide.

After crossing the divide the trail dropped down to the Pacific Crest Trail.
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We turned left here and followed the PCT downhill for 2 miles.
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Along the way we bumped into another backpacker who was doing the same loop in the other direction. We were able to let him know about the trail conditions ahead and he let us know that the Yoran Lake Trail now continued past Yoran Lake all the way to the Pacific Crest Trail. When we had done our Yoran Lake hike in 2014 (post) we had bushwacked from Yoran Lake to Lils Lake and the PCT so this was welcome news.
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IMG_4887Diamond Peak from the PCT.

IMG_4888Lakeview Mountain

IMG_4890New looking sign at the newly extended Yoran Lake Trail.

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IMG_4893Huge tree mushroom at the junction.

The Yoran Lake Trail passed by Lils Lake and arrived at Yoran Lake in .4 miles.
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IMG_4903Diamond Peak from Yoran Lake.

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We had originally intended to set up camp here but there were already a number of people at this lake and we weren’t (I wasn’t) feeling all that sociable so we decided to press on to Karen Lake which was less than a quarter mile away. I don’t have a lot of patience to begin with and my Garmin had quite working at Divide Lake due to the memory being too full (at least that’s what I hoped it was, and it was) and that had put me on edge.
IMG_4912Dry creek bed (this feeds Trapper Creek).

IMG_4913Right hand fork to Karen Lake.

Things were much more solitary at Karen Lake aside from a lone duck patrolling the waters.
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We had camp set up by 3pm and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening enjoying the lake (and the decreasingly smoky skies).
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IMG_4922Dragon fly visit.

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IMG_4950A little bird joining the duck on the rocks.

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IMG_4963Is this a tadpole? We first thought it was a newt then a fish but it’s got feet.

While the smoke was clearing there were more clouds coming and going, but we had kept a close eye on the forecast before leaving and there hadn’t even an inkling of a chance for precipitation for the trip or the next couple of days.
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IMG_4968The moon was really showing up well over the mountain.

We had just gotten settled in the tent for the night when the light outside turned orange. I threw my clothes back on to try and catch the sunset which was spectacular.
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After a whole lot of picture taking I got back into the tent and we tried to sleep. It didn’t come easy though. I don’t know if knowing we had less than 5 miles the next day before heading home had us excited or if our spot just wasn’t all that comfy but we had a hard time falling asleep. Then just after 4am we both woke up for some reason. Heather was the first to realize why when she asked why her quilt was wet. It took a moment to register but it was raining! Luckily we always carry our rain fly even if there isn’t any rain in the forecast for just such an occasion. We hopped out of the tent and threw it on before it really started to come down which kept everything pretty dry. We heard a couple of rumbles of thunder in the distance and I never could fall back asleep. The showers had mostly stopped by 5:30 am when we decided to start packing up.
IMG_5017Rainfly deployed

IMG_5015Diamond Peak a little after 6am.

IMG_5019Another light shower passing over as we were leaving.

After some coffee we were on our way. It was before 6:30 so it wasn’t very light but it was plenty light for hiking.
IMG_5025Some funny looking beargrass along the trail.

A half mile from Karen Lake we crossed the dry bed of Karen and Yoran Lakes outlets.
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In another half mile we passed a small unnamed lake.
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We encountered a little blowdown along this trail but nothing too bad.
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Two miles from the little unnamed lake we were passing a large meadow on the left when we noticed another lake at it’s end. I decided to go check it out and left the trail. As I neared the meadow a deer jumped up and splashed off into the grasses.
IMG_5049The lake doesn’t show a name on the map but West Bay Creek flows out of it (of course it too was dry at this time of year).

Over the next three quarters of a mile we encountered two little girls hats laying in the trail. We picked them up and left them at the junction with the Whitefish Creek Trail not knowing if the owners were still at one of the lakes and if so which way they’d come from.
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We turned left at this junction following the pointer for the Trapper Creek Trailhead. It was just under half a mile to the closed bridge over Trapper Creek.
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While the bridge didn’t appear to be in that bad of shape we honored the posted closure signs and made our way down to the ford.
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The water was cold but it was an easy ford and with only .2 miles left to get back to the car we didn’t have to deal with wet feet for long. We completed our loop having covered 13.1 miles on the third day and 4.7 on the final day for a grand total of 48.4 miles. The trip allowed us to cross the Diamond View Lake, Marie Lake and Diamond Peak, Corrigan and Blue Lakes, and Divide Lake hikes off of our featured hikes to-do list leaving us with just the Erma Bell Lakes hike to complete the 100 featured hikes in Sullivan’s Central Cascades book. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Diamond Peak Loop Day 3 & Day 4

Categories
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