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Central Oregon Cascades

Several years ago we set a goal for ourselves to hike all 500 featured hikes in William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes…” series of guidebooks (post). In 2020 we finished the first of his five guidebooks covering the Central Oregon Cascades. The achievement became bittersweet just 10 days after finishing the final featured hike at Erma Bell Lakes (post) when a freak windstorm caused the Lionshead and Beachie fires to explode burning a number of the trails that we had hiked on our journey to complete this goal. On the one hand we were fortunate enough to see these areas before they burned but it also means being more aware of what was lost, at least for the time being. The 2020 fires were not the first to burn trails that we’d hiked in the area, sometimes after and sometimes before. Fire is part of a forest’s cycle but their time frames take much longer than ours.

For this post we want to recap our journey to complete the 100 featured hikes while sharing a little of what the area looked like as we experienced it but first a little context. The area that Sullivan covers in the Central Cascades book, as well as his books for the other four areas, isn’t exactly easy to define. The vast majority of hikes could be fit into a rectangle starting with the upper left hand corner in Salem and extending east to Highway 97 then south to the junction of highways 97 & 58, then west until intersecting with a line due south from Salem. (The imaginary line follows I5 south until Cottage Grove where the freeway jogs SW.) That is over simplification though as that description overlaps at times with hikes described in the NW & Eastern books and excludes two featured hikes west of I5 and two east of Highway 97. The first snip below generally shows the described rectangle with the hiker symbols representing trailheads where we have started hikes (not limited to the featured hikes being discussed here). The second snip excludes any hikes that are included in one of the other areas that Sullivan covers.

The area is home to a variety of landscapes and ecosystems and contains at least parts of nine designated Wilderness Areas: Opal Creek, Bull of the Woods, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, Three Sisters, Menagerie, Middle Santiam, Waldo Lake, and Diamond Peak.

The area has been hit by a number of large fires since 2000. The map below covers the same approximate area as the second map above. The colored areas represent fires with yellow being 2000-2005, light orange 2006-10, dark orange 2011-14, and red 15-19.

Not included in the map above are the Green Ridge, Beachie or Lionshead Fires from 2020. The Green Ridge fire did not burn over any of the featured hikes (it did burn part of the Green Ridge Trail) but the Beachie and Lionshead Fires impacted a number of hikes in the Mt. Jefferson, Bull of the Woods and Opal Creek Wilderness and surrounding areas.

The map below includes the Riverside Fire (large fire to the north), Beachie and Lionshead (center left and right which combined after Labor Day) and the Green Ridge Fire (SE).

We were lucky enough to complete many of the hikes prior to them being burned but we also hiked a number post fire and have seen the recovery in process. I’ve done my best to note below if a featured hike has experienced fire since 2000 with the year and name of the fire.

After all of that here are the 100 featured hikes from the 2012 4th edition of “100 Hikes in the Central Oregon Cascades”:

#1 – Ankeny Wildlife Refuge-Hiked 4/6/2014
Ankeny Wildlife Refuge

#2 – Silver Fall-Hiked 2006, 7/30/2010 & 3/29/2018
Middle North FallsMiddle North Falls

#3 – Shellburg Falls-Hiked 5/23/2011
Burned-2020 Beachie Fire
Shellburg FallsShellburg Falls

#4 – Little North Santiam-Hiked 4/5/2012
Burned-2020 Beachie Fire
Snow on the Little North Santaim River

#5 – Henline Falls & Henline Mountain 7/27/2009 & 6/14/2020
Burned-2020 Beachie Fire
Henline FallsHenline Falls

#6 – Opal Creek 7/4/2010, 7/4/2012, 6/21/2014 & 7/24/2019
Burned-2020 Beachie Fire
Jawbone FlatsJawbone Flats

#7 – Dome Rock and Tumble Lake 7/18/2010
Burned-2020 Beachie Fire
Tumble LakeTumble Lake from Dome Rock

#8 – Battle Ax and Twin Lakes 9/20/2014
Olallie Butte and Mt. Jefferson with Elk Lake belowMt. Jefferson from Battle Ax

#9 – Stahlman Point 5/6/2013
Burned 2020 Beachie Fire
View from Stahlman PointView from Stahlman Point

#10 – Coffin Mountain Lookout 8/2/2013 & 7/4/2016
Coffin Mountain Lookout with the Three Sisters and The Husband beyond

#11 – Three Pyramids 7/18/2020
Meadow along the Pyramids TrailMeadow below the Three Pyramids

#12 – Crescent Mt. 7/6/2014
Beargrass meadow along the Crescent Mountain TrailBeargrass on Crescent Mountain

#13 – Browder Ridge 9/9/2012 & 7/4/2018
Mt. JeffersonMt. Jefferson from Browder Ridge

#14 – Echo Basin and Fish Lake 6/19/2020
Echo Basin TrailBoardwalk in Echo Basin

#15 – Iron Mt. 7/25/2010 & 7/4/2014
Iron Mountain from the Cone Peak MeadowIron Mountain from the trail.

#16 – House Rock 11/8/2014
House Rock

#17 – Rooster Rock 6/12/2016
Rooster Rock from a viewpoint in the Menagerie Wilderness

#18 – Cascadia State Park 6/12/2016
Soda Creek FallsSoda Creek Falls

#19 – Crabtree Lake 9/7/2019
Crabtree Lake

#20 – McDowell Creek Park 2/16/2014
Majestic FallsMajestic Falls

#21 – South Breitenbush Gorge 5/11/2013
Burned 2020 Lionshead Fire
Roaring CreekRoaring Creek

#22 – Jefferson Park 9/23/2011, 10/13/2014, & 8/8/2015
Burned partly in 2017 Whitewater and rest in 2020 Lionshead Fire
Mt. Jefferson from Jefferson ParkMt. Jefferson

#23 – Pamelia Lake 9/19/2013 & 9/8/2018
Pamelia Lake

#24 – Marion Lake 10/3/2014 & 9/10/2016
Burned 2002 Mt. Marion, 2003 B&B Complex, 2006 Puzzle, 2015 208SRZ Marion
Three Fingered Jack from Marion LakeThree Fingered Jack from Marion Lake

#25 – Duffy Lake 7/28/2010
Burned 2002 Mt. Marion, 2003 B&B Complex
Mowich Lake and Duffy ButteMowich Lake and Duffy Butte from Red Butte

#26 – Three Fingered Jack 10/13/2012
Burned 2003 B&B Complex
Three Fingered Jack

#27 – Canyon Creek Meadows 7/28/2013
Burned 2003 B&B Complex
The trail aheadThree Fingered Jack

#28 – Carl Lake 9/1/2018
Burned 2003, B&B Complex, 2006 Puzzle
Carl Lake

#29 – Metolius River 7/23/2012
Wizard FallsWizard Falls

#30 – Black Butte 10/13/2013 & 5/28/2018
Burned 2009 Black Butte II
Cupola style lookout on Black Butte

#31 – Alder Springs 8/3/2011
Deschutes RiverDeschutes River

#32 – Scout Camp Trail 5/1/2016
Balsamroot hillside

#33 – Steelhead Falls 5/1/2016
Steelhead Falls

#34 – Smith Rock 7/14/2006, 7/13/2011 & 6/5/2015
Monkey FaceMonkey Face

#35 – Shevlin Park 8/5/2011
Hixson Crossing Covered BridgeHixson Crossing Covered Bridge

#36 – Tumalo Falls 9/27/2014
Tumalo Falls

#37 – Dillon & Benham Falls 8/1/2013
Benham FallsBenham Falls

#38 – Lava Cast Forest and Lava River Cave 5/28/2017
Newberry Crater from the Lava Cast Forest

#39 – Fall River 9/16/2015
Fall River

#40 – LaPine State Park 9/16/2015
Deschutes RiverDeschutes River

#41 – Poxy Falls and Linton Lake 5/3/2014(Proxy Falls) & 6/25/2017(Linton Lake)
Burned (Linton Falls) 2017 Separation Fire
Proxy FallsProxy Falls

#42 – Obsidian Trail 10/14/2012
Burned (tiny portion of trail) 2017 Separation Fire
Obsidian FallsObsidian Falls

#43 – Four-in-one-Cone 10/14/2012 & 8/14/2019
View from Four-in-one ConeView from Four-in-One-Cone

#44 – Benson Lake 10/14/2012 & 8/30/2014
Burned (small section of longer loop trail) 2010 Scott Mt. Fire
Benson Lake

#45 – Hand Lake Shelter 8/30/2014
Hand Lake Shelter

#46 – Little Belknap Crater 9/14/2015
Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, and Mt. Jefferson from Little Belknap CraterMt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, and Mt. Jefferson from Little Belknap Crater

#47 – Matthieu Lakes 7/29/2013
Burned 2017 Milli Fire
South Matthieu LakeNorth Sister from South Matthieu Lake

#48 – Black Crater 10/1/2016
Burned 2017 Milli Fire
Remanants of the lookout tower on Black CraterFormer lookout site on Black Crater.

#49 – Chambers Lakes 8/26/2014
Burned 2012 Pole Creek Fire
South Sister from Camp LakeSouth Sister from Camp Lake

#50 – Park Meadow 8/27/2014
Burned 2012 Pole Creek Fire
Middle and North Sister beyond Golden LakeMiddle and North Sister from Golden Lake

#51 – Tam McArthur Rim 8/31/2013
Broken Top and Broken HandBroken Top and Broken Hand from Tam McArthur Ridge

#52 – Tumalo Mt. 9/27/2014
Trees near the summit of Tumalo MountainTrees near the summit of Tumalo Mountain.

#53 – Todd Lake and Broken Top 8/23/2014
Broken Top from No Name LakeBroken Top from No Name Lake

#54 – Sparks Lake 10/1/2014
South Sister from Sparks LakeSouth Sister from Sparks Lake

#55 – Green Lakes via Fall Creek 9/15/2015
The third Green LakeThe third Green Lake

#56 – Moraine Lake and South Sister 9/1/2013
View from the South SisterLooking north from the South Sister.

#57 – Sisters Mirror Lake 9/19/2015
South Sister from Sisters Mirror LakeSouth Sister from Sisters Mirror Lake

#58 – Horse Lake 8/4/2011
Horse LakeHorse Lake

#59 – Doris & Cliff Lakes 9/29/2014
Doris LakeDoris Lake

#60 – Clear Lake 6/15/2014
Clear Lake

#61 – Sahalie & Koosah Falls 9/9/2012
Sahalie FallsSahalie Falls

#62 – Tamolitch Pool 5/27/2013
Tamolitch Pool

#63 – Rainbow Falls and Separation Lake 5/3/2014
Separation LakeSeparation Lake

#64 – Horsepasture Mt. 7/7/2018
South Sister and Mt. Bachelor from the Horsepasture Mountain TrailSouth Sister and Mt. Bachelor form Horsepasture Mountain.

#65 – Olallie Mt. 9/1/2019
Burned 2017 Olallie Lookout Fire (Lookout burned down winter 2019/20).
Olallie Mountain lookout

#66 – Lowder Mt. 9/1/2019
View from Lowder MountainView from Lowder Mountain.

#67 – Tidbits Mt. 6/29/2019
View from Tidbits MountainView from Tidbits Mountain.

#68 – Castle Rock 6/3/2017
Monkeyflower and pletritisMonkeyflower and plectritis on Castle Rock.

#69 – French Pete Creek 5/16/2015
Burned 2017 Rebel and 2018 Terwilliger Fires
French Pete Creek

#70 – Erma Bell Lakes 8/29/2020
Middle Erma Bell LakeMiddle Erma Bell Lake

#71 – Spencer Butte 2/9/2020
View from Spencer ButteFog over Eugene.

#72 – Mt. Pisgah 10/5/2019
Summit of Mt. PisgahSummit marker on Mt. Pisgah.

#73 – Shotgun Creek 2/9/2020
Shotgun Creek

#74 – Fall Creek 3/31/2013
Burned 2003 Clark and 2017 Jones Fires
Fall Creek

#75 – Mt. June 6/2/2013
Sawtooth TrailSawtooth Trail

#76 – Goodman Creek 11/10/2013
Small Falls on a branch of Goodman Creek

#77 – Patterson Mt. 5/5/2018
Lone Wolf MeadowLone Wolf Meadow

#78 – Tire Mt. 6/8/2014
Wildflowers along the Tire Mountain TrailWildflowers along the Tire Mt. Trail.

#79 – North Fork and Buffalo Rock 5/10/2020
Buaffalo Rock from the North Fork Willamette RiverBuffalo Rock from the North Fork Willamette River

#80 – Grasshopper Meadow 7/8/2017
Grasshopper Meadow

#81 – Blair Lake and Wall Creek 6/11/2015
Beargrass MeadowBeargrass meadow along the Blair Lake Trail.

#82 – Chuckle Springs 5/24/2020
Burned 2009 Tumblebug Complex
Indigo SpringsIndigo Springs (These springs have not burned.)

#83 – Spirt, Moon, and Pinard Falls 6/17/2020
Moon FallsMoon Falls

#84 – Brice Creek 5/5/2014
Upper Trestle Creek FallsUpper Trestle Creek Falls

#85 – Bohemia Mt. 8/15/2020
Bohemia Mountain

#86 – Eddeeleo Lakes 8/25/2018
Lower Eddeeleo LakeLower Eddeeleo Lake

#87 – Waldo Mt. 9/7/2013
Mt. Hood, Mt. Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, The Three Sisters and Broken Top from Waldo MountainView from the Waldo Mountain Lookout.

#88 – Lillian Falls 8/30/2019
Lillian Falls

#89 – Fuji Mt. 10/6/2013
View from Fuji Mountain

#90 – South Waldo Lake 8/22/2015
Waldo Lake

#91 – The Twins 9/14/2019
View north from the south summit of The Twins

#92 – Rosary Lakes and Maiden Peak 9/3/2016
Pulpit Rock from Middle Rosary LakePulpit Rock from Middle Rosary Lake

#93 – Salt Creek Falls 7/4/2013
Salt Creek Falls

#94 – Midnight & Yoran Lakes 10/18/2014
Yoran LakeYoran Lake

#95 – Diamond View Lake 8/22/2020
Diamond Peak from Diamond View LakeDiamond Peak from Diamond View Lake

#96 – Fawn Lake 9/22/2018
Huckleberry BushesHuckleberry Bushes along Saddle Lake.

#97 – Divide Lake 8/24/2020
Notch LakeNotch Lake

#98 – Blue and Corrigan Lakes 8/23/2020
Diamond Peak from Corrigan LakeDiamond Peak from Corrigan Lake

#99 – Marie Lake and Diamond Peak 8/23/2020
Climbers trail to Diamond PeakDiamond Peak

#100 – Timpanogas Lake 9/17/2016
Sawtooth Mountain from Timpanogas LakeSawtooth Mountain from Timpanogas Lake

In addition to the 100 featured hikes we’ve manged to add other hikes from Sullivan’s addtional hikes located in the back of his book. In doing so we have also completed all 100 featured hikes in the 3rd edition and are just 2 hikes short of completing the 5th edition as well. There were 14 hikes from the 3rd edition that were not featured hikes in the 4th edtion while the 5th edition contains 12 new featured hikes from the 4th edition (Three of these had been featured hikes in the 3rd edition.) Even with all of the hikes we’ve done, and the areas lost to fire in 2020 there are a number of trails in the Central Cascades we have yet to explore. We will continue to work those into our plans as we strive to explore as many different places as possible while we can.

 

Happy Trails!

Scout Lake and Mt. Jefferson

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.
IMG_4667

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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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IMG_4693

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.
IMG_4713

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.
IMG_4717

IMG_4721

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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IMG_4731

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_4734

IMG_4736

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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IMG_4755

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_4769_stitch

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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IMG_4778

The Mt. Yoran Trail climbed at an increasingly steep grade over the next 1.7 miles before gaining a ridge and leveling out.
IMG_4780

IMG_4784

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.
IMG_4801

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

IMG_4828

IMG_4829

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.

IMG_4831

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.
IMG_4855

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.
IMG_4879

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.
IMG_4882PCT

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.
IMG_4965

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_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.

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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

Categories
Diamond Peak Area Hiking Trip report

Diamond Peak Loop Day 1 – 08/22/2020

Four of the five remaining featured hikes from William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Central Cascades” (4th edition) were scattered around Diamond Peak in the Diamond Peak Wilderness. To check these off our to-do list we decided to hike a four day loop around the mountain visiting most of the highlights of those four hikes. We started our trip at the Trapper Creek Trailhead, a trailhead that we were familiar with having started our Yoran Lake hike there in 2014 (post). After crossing some railroad tracks we arrived at the actual trail and set off into the Diamond Peak Wilderness.
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IMG_4155The writing on the sign made us chuckle, it says “If you need a map you should stay home”. All kidding aside you should always carry a map and refer to it as often as necessary.

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Two tenths of a mile from the railroad tracks we arrived at the Yoran Lake/Whitefish Trail junction where we had turned right in 2014. Posted on this sign (as well as before the railroad tracks and on the signboards at the start of the trail) was a notice that the Trapper Creek Bridge was closed due to damage. That was our return route for the final day but we knew there was an established ford so we weren’t too concerned about it.
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We stayed left on the Whitefish Creek Trail which climbed gradually following Trapper Creek.
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IMG_4190Breakfast time.

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While several lakes including Yoran, Karen, and Diamond View drain into Trapper Creek they are seasonal flows yet Trapper Creek was flowing nicely. The main source of water for the creek is a spring between those lakes. As we continued up the Whitefish Trail the sound of running water faded and the forest shifted to dustier lodgepole pine.
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IMG_4203Unnamed lake along the Whitefish Trail

Just under 5 miles from the trailhead we arrived at Diamond View Lake. It had been overcast when we began our hike but the clouds were burning off fast and as we sat at the lake taking a break the clouds lifted and gave us a full view of the east side of Diamond Peak.
IMG_4209Arriving at Diamond View Lake

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IMG_4221Diamond Peak with Mt. Yoran to the right.

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IMG_4240Sharing our break spot with a butterfly

IMG_4252Crossbill near Diamond View Lake

We continued past Diamond View Lake passing a couple small lakes and ponds before arriving at a 4-way junction with the Crater Butte Trail a total of 5.7 miles from the trailhead.
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From the junction the Whitefish Trail continues for 3.9 miles to Crescent Lake. The 13.7 mile Crater Butte Trail starts at the Crater Butte Trailhead on the east side of Odell Lake and passes Fawn and Saddle Lake (post) prior to the junction and then continues on to the Pacific Crest Trail. That was where we were headed so we turned right on the Crater Butte Trail which promptly crossed a mostly dry bed of Whitefish Creek.
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There were some markers along the trail, possibly mile markers and after two miles on this trail we passed the signed junction for the Snell Lake Trail.
IMG_4273Mile marker?

IMG_4277A lone lupine

IMG_4284Nice looking sign for the Snell Lake Trail.

IMG_4285It didn’t look like the Snell Lake Trail sees much use, at least at this end.

Beyond the Snell Lake Trail junction the scenery became a little more green with heather filled alpine meadows and an unnamed lake with a great view of Diamond Peak.
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IMG_4294The heather was all done blooming but there was a lot of dried blossoms.

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IMG_4307The summit of Diamond Peak.

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One and a quarter miles from the Snell Lake junction we crossed the small but pretty Mountain Creek before a short steep climb.
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After the climb the trail returned to its gradual grade with a few ups and downs.
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Just over 5 miles after turning onto the Crater Butte Trail we arrived at the PCT.
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Our plan was to set up camp near the junction as we hoped to summit Diamond Peak the next morning from the PCT before continuing on our loop. With COVID-19 significantly lowering the number of thru hikers we weren’t too concerned about taking spots from them so we picked one a bit off the trail and set up our tent.
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As it wasn’t quite 1:00 yet we could do some exploring after getting camp situated. We briefly contemplated attempting to summit that afternoon but decided against it due to heat and needing water so instead we headed for Rockpile and Marie Lakes by taking the Rockpile Trail which continued across the PCT from the Crater Butte Trail.
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We would be going this way when we continued on our loop but both of the lakes are a bit off the trail and visiting them now gave us the opportunity to relax by the water before turning in for the night. A half mile down the Rockpile Trail on the left we found the signed .1 mile spur trail to Rockpile Lake.
IMG_4350Diamond Peak from the Rockpile Trail

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IMG_4355Rockpile Lake

There were a few camps set up along the south side of the little lake. We decided not to stay long here as kids throwing rocks into the lake might be fun but it isn’t exactly relaxing so after checking it out we returned to the Rockpile Trail and turned left toward Marie Lake. After 110 yards we came to a junction with the Rockpile Trail continuing to the left while a spur trail continued .2 miles to Marie Lake.
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We followed a trail along the south side of the lake to a view of Diamond Peak. While there were people camped here too the lake was bigger and we found a spot along the lake shore to sit and relax.
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From our spot we could see the false summit of Diamond Peak and the route that we would be taking the next morning.
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IMG_4383Hikers on the trail to the right coming down from the false summit.

As the afternoon turned to evening more people showed up including some bathers, some floaters and a couple of skinny dippers. We kept the photos to the non-humans at the lake though.
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IMG_4391Dragon fly

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We had dinner by the lake then pumped water before heading back to our tent. We spent a little time exploring the area around camp and picked some huckleberries before turning in for the night. We had planned on hiking somewhere in the area of 12 miles but we wound up showing 14.3 on our GPS units (they actually agreed this time). It had been a beautiful day, not too warm and pleasantly smokeless given the number of wildfires in California and Oregon. We were hoping that the rest of the trip would be equally nice and turned in looking forward to the next days adventures. Happy trails!

Flickr: Diamond Peak Loop Day 1

Categories
Hiking Uncategorized

Progress Report – Oregon Wilderness Areas

In our last post we wrote about our ambitious (possibly overly so) goal of completing 500 “featured” hikes in William L. Sullivan’s guidebooks. The topic of this post is another one of our goals, visiting all 45 of Oregon’s accessible designated wilderness areas (Three Arch Rocks and Oregon Islands are off limits to all visitors). This goal should be quite a bit easier to accomplish given the much smaller number of needed hikes and the fact that the wilderness areas aren’t changing every few years. (There is legislation pending that would create the Devil’s Staircase Wilderness in the coast range between Reedsport and Eugene.)

The inspiration for this goal came from a fellow hiker and blogger over at Boots on the Trail. This smaller goal fit well into our 500 featured hikes goal too as thirty nine of the wilderness areas are destinations of at least one of the featured hikes. The remaining six: Copper-Salmon, Lower White River, Rock Creek, Cummins Creek, Bridge Creek, and Grassy Knob were still included in the books but as additional hikes in the back. Between the hike descriptions in the guidebooks and Boots on the Trail’s trip reports we’ve had plenty of information to work with.

This was an appealing goal too. Wilderness areas are dear to our hearts and home to many of our favorite places. These areas are the least affected by humans and we feel best reflect God’s work as Creator. To me they are akin to a museum showcasing His finest artistry. Just as we would in a museum we admire and enjoy the wilderness but we do our best not to affect it meaning adhering whenever possible to Leave No Trace principles.

We have made pretty good progress on this goal so far and as of 12/31/18 we had visited 38 of the 45 accessible areas (and seen the other two from the beach). We’re currently on track to have visited them all by the end of 2020.

Below is a chronological list of the wilderness areas we’ve been to (or seen) as well as any subsequent year(s) we’ve visited with some links to selected trip reports.

Opal Creek – 2009, 10, 11, 12, 14, 18

Battle Ax CreekBattle Ax Creek – 2014

Mt. Jefferson – 2010, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18

Mt. Jeffferson from Russell LakeMt. Jefferson from Russell Lake – 2016

Drift Creek – 2010

Drift CreekDrift Creek – 2010

Mt. Washington – 2011, 12, 14, 15, 16, 17

Mt. Washington and Mt. Jefferson from the Pacific Crest TrailMt. Washington from the Pacific Crest Trail – 2015

Three Sisters – 2011, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

The Three Sisters from the edge of the plateauThe Three Sisters – 2014

Three Arch Rocks – 2011, 18

Three Arch Rocks WildernessThree Arch Rocks from Cape Meares – 2018

Mark O. Hatfield – 2012, 14, 15, 16

Triple FallsTriple Falls – 2012

Mt. Hood – 2012, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17

Mt. Hood from the Timberline TrailMt. Hood – 2015

Oregon Islands – 2012, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18

Bandon IslandsBandon Islands – 2018

Mill Creek – 2012

Twin PillarsTwin Pillars – 2011

Mt. Thielsen – 2012, 14

Howlock Mountain and Mt. ThielsenHowlock Mountain and Mt. Thielsen – 2014

Table Rock – 2012, 15

Table RockTable Rock – 2015

Salmon-Huckleberry – 2013, 14, 15, 17, 18

Frustration FallsFrustration Falls – 2018

Diamond Peak – 2013, 14, 18

Small waterfall on Trapper CreekTrapper Creek – 2014

Waldo Lake – 2013, 15, 18

Waldo LakeView from Fuji Mountain – 2013

Roaring River – 2013

Serene LakeSerene Lake – 2013

Badger Creek – 2014

Badger Creek WildernessBadger Creek Wilderness – 2014

Middle Santiam – 2014

Donaca LakeDonaca Lake – 2014

Bull of the Woods – 2014, 15, 18

Emerald Pool on Elk Lake CreekEmerald Pool – 2018

Soda Mountain – 2015, 17

Looking west from Boccard PointView from Boccard Point – 2015

Red Buttes – 2015

Red Buttes, Kangaroo Mountain and Rattlesnake MountainRed Buttes – 2015

Oregon Badlands – 2016

View from Flatiron RockOregon Badlands Wilderness – 2016

Kalmiopsis – 2016

Vulcan Lake below Vulcan PeakVulcan Lake – 2016

Menagerie – 2016

Rooster Rock from a viewpoint in the Menagerie WildernessRooster Rock – 2016

Eagle Cap – 2016

Glacier LakeGlacier Lake – 2016

Mountain Lakes – 2016

Mt. McLoughlin, Whiteface Peak, Pelican Butte, and Mount Harriman from Aspen ButteView from Aspen Butte – 2016

Sky Lakes – 2016

Mt. McLoughlin from Freye LakeMt. McLoughlin from Freye Lake – 2016

Lower White River – 2016

White RiverWhite River – 2016

Rock Creek – 2017

Rock CreekRock Creek – 2017

Spring Basin – 2017

Hedgehog cactusHedgehog Cactus – 2017

Bridge Creek – 2017

View to the north from the Bridge Creek WildernessBridge Creek Wilderness – 2017

Wild-Rogue – 2017

Hanging RockHanging Rock – 2017

Grassy Knob – 2017

View from Grassy KnobView from Grassy Knob – 2017

Clackamas – 2017

Big BottomBig Bottom – 2017

North Fork John Day – 2017, 18

Baldy LakeBaldy Lake – 2017

Cummins Creek – 2017

Cummins Ridge TrailCummins Ridge Trail – 2017

Rogue-Umpqua Divide – 2018

Hummingbird MeadowsHummingbird Meadows – 2018

Steens Mountain – 2018

View from the Pike Creek TrailView along the Pine Creek Trail – 2018

Strawberry Mountain – 2018

Slide LakeSlide Lake – 2018

Copper-Salmon – 2018

Barklow Mountain TrailBarklow Mountain Trail – 2018

The remaining areas and year of our planned visit looks like this:

2019 – Hells Canyon, North Fork Umatilla, Wenaha-Tucannon
2020 – Boulder Creek, Black Canyon, Monument Rock, Gearhart Mountain

If the Devil’s Staircase is added in the meantime we will do our best to work that in (it is currently on our list of hikes but not until 2023. For more information on Oregon’s wilderness areas visit Wilderness.net here.

Happy Trails!

Categories
Diamond Peak Area High Cascades Hiking Oregon

Fawn Lake – Diamond Peak Wilderness

A week after scrapping a planned four day backpacking trip in the Diamond Peak Wilderness due to weather we found ourselves heading to that same wilderness because of weather. Our one available day for hiking this week coincided with the one wet day in the forecast. When that happens we usually look at several different areas to find the one with the best chance to stay dry. This time that appeared to be Fawn Lake in the Diamond Peak Wilderness with just a 30% chance of showers. With our plans set we drove to the Fawn Lake Trailhead near Crescent Lake. To reach the trailhead we turned SW onto NF 60 at a sign for Crescent Lake between mileposts 69 and 70 along Highway 58 (in Crescent Junction). After 2.2 miles we continued on NF 60 where it made a right turn at a sno-park. After an additional .3 miles we turned left at a sign for the Crescent Lake Campground/Fawn Lake Trailhead.

It is an interesting trailhead, the parking area is a day use lot located next to the Crescent Lake Campground. A trail sign at the far end of the parking lot pointed to the Fawn Lake Trailhead.
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We followed this path and in a tenth of a mile came to a crossing of NF 60.
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Another pointer for the Fawn Lake Trailhead lay on the far side of the road.
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A short distance later we arrived at a sign for the actual Fawn Lake Trail and a signboard with self-issued wilderness permits.
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The Fawn Lake Trail set off in a mostly lodgepole pine forest and just after a 4-way junction with the Metolious-Windigo Trail entered the Diamond Peak Wilderness.
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After entering the wilderness the trail climbed gradually for approximately three quarters of a mile through a mix of lodgepole and fir forest to a fork.
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This was the start of a loop past Fawn and Pretty Lakes.
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We went right heading for Fawn Lake which was just over 2.5 miles away. The trail contoured around a ridge end climbing gradually through a nice forest.
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The trail split again at Fawn Lake.
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The left fork was the upper end of the loop, but before we started on the loop we had plans to visit a couple of other lakes in the wilderness so we went right stopping briefly to visit the shore of Fawn Lake. We had driven through a number of showers on the way to the trail but so far the hike had been dry. From the lake Redtop Mountain to the SE was cloud free while Lakeview Mountain to the SW was not.
IMG_3047Redtop Mountain

IMG_3048Lakeview Mountain (to the right behind clouds)

We continued on around the north end of the lake to the end of the Fawn Lake Trail at a junction with the Crater Butte Trail.
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Here we stayed left and climbed above Fawn Lake.
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A mile from Fawn Lake we came to the Stag Lake Trail.
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It was clouding up at this point and a light mist was falling. We decided to wait on the side trip to Stag Lake which lay at the base of Lakeview Mountain hoping that it would be a little clearer on the way back.
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We followed the pointer for Saddle Lake and continued uphill through the forest.
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After .6 miles the trail steepened as it climbed out of a gully to a saddle.
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After .3 miles of switchbacks we arrived at the saddle where the trail leveled out for a tenth of a mile to Saddle Lake.
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A steady light rain was now falling but not enough for us to need to break out the rain gear.
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The weather and the scenery really let us know that Fall had arrived.
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After a break at Saddle Lake we headed back to the junction with the Stag Lake Trail and turned left onto it.
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This fairly level .4 mile trail passed a small pond before arriving at Stag Lake.
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The clouds had not lifted so our view of Lakeview Mountain was fairly obscured.
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We would get a much better look at the mountain from the car as we were trying to leave (more on that later).

After visiting Stag Lake we returned to the Crater Butte Trail and headed back toward Fawn Lake. Shortly before reaching the lake we turned right on a path we had noticed earlier hoping to pass around the west side of the lake and hooking up with the Pretty Lake Trail to the SW of the lake.
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The open forest made cross country travel relatively easy.
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Using our GPS we made our way to the SW shore of Fawn Lake where the Pretty Lake Trail was just a few feet away in the forest.
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Once we were on the Pretty Lake Trail we turned right for a fairly level .4 miles to the start of a short .3 mile climb.
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The trial then crested a low pass and descended slightly for another .3 miles to Pretty Lake.
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It was a little under 2 miles from Pretty Lake back to the Fawn Lake Trail junction. The trail descended a ridge with a bit of a view of Odell Butte to the north.
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We completed the loop then followed the Fawn Lake Trail back .8 miles to our car. With the side trips to Saddle and Stag Lakes this was a 12.7 mile hike with approximately 1500′ of elevation gain. It would have been nice to have had better views of Lakeview Mountain, but it was still a nice hike and we have a good excuse to go back and redo this hike someday.

The only real negative to the day was as we were headed home. A train was stopped blocking NF 60 and we were informed that it could be a couple of hours before it was able to move. We didn’t have a sufficient road map to figure out which forest roads might bypass the train and after a failed attempt to find an alternate route we returned to the stopped train and waited. As we were driving around though we noticed that Lakeview Mountain was now entirely free of clouds. After sitting at the tracks for a little over an hour the train was finally on its way and so were we. Happy (train free) Trails!

Flickr: Fawn Lake

Categories
Diamond Peak Area High Cascades Hiking Oregon Trip report

Cowhorn Mountain and Indigo Lake

For our final multi-night backpacking trip this year we planned on hiking up a pair of lesser known Cascade peaks located between the Diamond Peak and Mt. Thielsen Wilderness Areas. At the center of our plans was 7669′ Cowhorn Mountain which we would ultimately make a loop around. Our first trail would be the Pacific Crest Trail which passes within .4 miles of Cowhorn Mountain’s summit. We planned on accessing the PCT from the Windigo Pass Trailhead located along Forest Road 60 at Windigo Pass. Forest Road 60 runs between Crescent Lake along Highway 58 and Highway 138 north of Diamond Lake. We came from Crescent Lake and decided to park 3/4 of a mile from the Windigo Pass Trailhead at the Oldenburg Lake Trailhead instead since this would be the trail we used to return on the final day of our trip and we prefer starting with a road walk over ending with one.
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We hadn’t been on the PCT long before we took our first off-trail detour of the day. We wanted to check out one of the Windigo Lakes which are located off the PCT to the east. Using topographic maps and our GPS we found our way to the first of the two Windigo Lakes where we had a nice view of Cowhorn Mountain.
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We left the lake and headed back uphill toward the PCT. We were aiming for a switchback about a mile from where we had left the PCT. The climb up to the switchback was a good deal steeper than the slope we had originally come down to reach the lake and as we neared the PCT we encountered some tightly packed young trees which dictated where we were able to go. We managed to regain the PCT maybe a hundred yards from where we had been shooting for.
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When we reached the switchback that we had been aiming for we could see the lake below.
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It was approximately 3.3 miles from the switchback viewpoint to the summit trail. The PCT stayed near the top of the ridge offering several views to both the north and south as well as our next goal.
Cowhorn Mountain
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Sawtooth Mountain
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Mt. Thielsen
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Diamond Peak
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The unofficial trail to the summit was marked by rock cairns on the shoulder of Cowhorn Mountain.
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The trail was worn enough to be fairly easy to follow as it crossed a cinder ridge.
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Halfway along the ridge was an outcrop made of black rock followed by another cinder covered section of ridge. We had our full backpacks on up until this point but we decided to ditch them before crossing the final cinder ridge and left them by a stunted pine tree. The climb to the summit is a class 2/3 scramble to the current high point. The mountain lost it’s spire top in a 1911 storm.
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We had a great 360 degree view from the summit. To the west was Sawtooth Mountain which we were planning on hiking up the next day.
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To the north the view included nearby Diamond Peak, the Three Sisters, Broken Top, and Mt. Bachelor.
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Maiden Peak was in front of the Three Sisters and it was interesting to see how close they looked to that peak from our current location. We had just recently been on Maiden Peak and even though those mountains had been mostly hidden by clouds they seemed further away from that peak than they did now.
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To the south Mt. Thielsen and Mt. Bailey rose above several other Cascade peaks.
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Tipsoo Peak, Howlock Mountain, and Mt. Thielsen
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Mt. Bailey
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We had brought a snack with us up to the summit and had hoped to take a nice long break up there but we wound up not staying as long as we planned due to there being quite a few yellow jackets flying around. Heather (and the rest of my family) can tell you I am not a bee person and I am especially uncomfortable around yellow jackets and wasps. I have been doing better the last couple of years with honey bees and bumble bees but I have no use for yellow jackets and can only handle their buzzing around me for a short time before I start to go crazy, and I really didn’t want to do something stupid on the top of a mountain, so we headed back down, retrieved our backpacks, and returned to the PCT.

We continued north on the PCT just over a quarter of a mile to a signed junction with the Cowhorn Traverse Trail.
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We left the PCT here and took the Cowhorn Traverse Trail downhill for .3 miles to another junction, this time with the Windy Pass Trail.
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We were now in the Oregon Cascades Recreation area, the largest unprotected roadless area left in the Cascades. We headed left on the Windy Pass Trail which followed a ridge west toward Sawtooth Mountain for approximately two miles to a junction with the Indigo Extension Trail.
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The Windy Pass Trail continued to the left passing behind Sawtooth Mountain. We would be taking that trail the next day when we climbed Sawtooth Mountain but for now we headed right toward Indigo Lake. The trail passed a nice viewpoint of Sawtooth Mountain before beginning a steeper descent toward the lake via a series of switchbacks.
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We decided to take another detour off-trail prior to reaching Indigo Lake to see if we could get to a small unnamed lake shown on the map. We left the trail when we appeared to be at a comparable elevation to the lake and managed to find it without much difficulty. The little lake was a beautiful green and had a nice view of Sawtooth Mountain.
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There was also a nice area for a tent so we called an audible and decided to set up camp here instead of down at Indigo Lake.
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After getting our camp set up we switched to our day packs and headed back to the trail to go see Indigo Lake. After a few more switchbacks we arrived at the lake’s primitive campground.
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We didn’t see anyone else there as we made our way counter-clockwise around the lake.
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At the south end of the lake was a talus slope where we spotted a couple of pikas.
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The southern end of the lake also provided a glimpse of Diamond Peak.
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We finished the loop around the lake and then sat at one of the wooden picnic tables for a bit.
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After our break we climbed back up to the unnamed lake and decided to walk around it as well. There weren’t any other people there either but we were far from alone.
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We spent the rest of the evening at the little lake watching the sunset after having dinner and then turning in for the night.
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Happy Trails!

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Diamond Peak Area High Cascades Hiking Oregon Trip report

Midnight & Yoran Lakes – Diamond Peak Wilderness

Our final October hike brought us to the Diamond Peak Wilderness for our second ever visit. This 52,611 acre wilderness is home to numerous lakes and 8,744′ Diamond Peak. Our plan for this visit was to start at the Trapper Creek Trailhead and take the Yoran Lake Trail to Yoran Lake then head cross-country to the Pacific Crest Trail returning on a loop past Midnight Lake. It was a rainy drive for most of the morning but we arrived at the West Odell lake Access off Highway 58 under clouds that were beginning to break up. Parking for the trail is located across from the Shelter Cove Resort next to some railroad tracks.
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The actual trail started on the far side of the tacks and quickly entered the wilderness.
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Just a short while after entering the wilderness the trail split. The left fork led to Diamond View Lake and the right to the Yoran Lake Trail.
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We took the right hand fork which briefly followed Trapper Creek passing a small waterfall just before crossing the creek on a footbridge.
Small waterfall on Trapper Creek

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The trail split again at the Yoran Lake Trail which headed uphill to the left while the path on the right led to Pengra Pass and the PCT. We began the steady climb up to Yoran Lake as a little fog rolled through the forest.
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Yoran and Midnight Lakes were only two of several lakes we were going to be visiting on the hike as well as a number of smaller ponds. We came to the first small lake after 3 miles on the Yoran Lake Trail.
Unnamed Lake along the Yoran Lake Trail

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In another mile we arrived at Karen Lake.
Karen Lake

On a clearer day we would have had a great view of Diamond Peak but we had to settle for some briefs peeks of the peak.
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Just to the NW of Karen Lake we found Yoran Lake at the end of the Yoran Lake Trail. Diamond Peak was again hidden by the clouds, but we had a little better view of Mt. Yoran.
Yoran Lake

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Yoran Lake

We made our way around the lake to the northern end where there was a pair of small islands.
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We left the lake shore when we passed the second island, crossing a pretty little inlet creek, and headed true north toward the PCT.
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At first we were following a faint path but we lost the tread as we passed by a pair of small ponds.
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A couple of quick checks of the GPS showed we were on course to arrive at Liles Lake which lies next to the PCT. Our guidebook said to go around the left side of the lake but we arrived closer to the right side. We picked up a trail going around the lake and decided to just follow it around that side.
Lils Lake

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It looked like the right side might be difficult to go around earlier in the year when the water level would have been higher but we had no problem following the path and hooking up with the PCT on the north side of the lake. We turned right and started downhill passing some small ponds and passing through some interesting forest.
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The next lake we came to was Hidden Lake.
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We passed several more pretty little ponds between Hidden Lake and the next named lake which was Arrowhead Lake. It was pretty clear why this forest is full of mosquitoes most of July and August with ponds and lakes seemingly everywhere.
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We almost passed by Arrowhead Lake waiting for a clear path to it, but when we didn’t find one we made our own. We were glad we did because this lake had some of the prettiest water we had seen that day.
Arrowhead Lake

Continuing down the PCT from Arrowhead Lake we passed a rock that Heather dubbed Gorilla Rock due to it’s interesting shape. She thought it looked like a gorillas head and arm.
Gorrilla Rock - named by Heather

Shortly after passing the rock we spotted movement through the trees further down the trail. I thought we’d seen another person or dog coming up the trail and then we saw a second flash of color which we could tell was an elk. A total of four elk cows had crossed the trail and passed in virtual silence through the forest and over a small ridge. I was snapping pictures every time one appeared through the trees but I never got more than the back half of one.
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The final named lake we visited was Midnight Lake.
Midnight Lake

We stopped at one final unnamed lake/pond before arriving at Pengra Pass.
Small lake/pond along the PCT in the Diamond Peak Wilderness

We left the PCT at Pengra Pass and followed an old road right .4 miles where a trail split off from the right hand shoulder.
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It was only another .6 miles back to the Yoran Lake Trail and .7 more back to our car. On our way home we made a pit stop at Salt Creek Falls, the previous hike we’d taken in the Diamond Peak Wilderness. https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2013/07/07/salt-creek-falls/
Salt Creek Falls

All the lakes were very nice and we are hoping to do some backpacking in the area sometime. Diamond Peak is a non-technical climb and there are trails all the way around the mountain making for numerous possible destinations. More ideas for future trips 🙂 Happy Trails!

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Diamond Peak Area High Cascades Hiking Oregon Trip report

Salt Creek Falls

It’s July and that means mosquito season in the Cascades. We had our first real run in with the pests on our 4th of July hike at Salt Creek Falls. Through June I had seen only one mosquito which managed to get me on top of Salmon Butte. For the next month or so we will be faced with a dilemma, brave the hoards of bloodsuckers in order to see some of the best wildflower displays of the year, or play it safe and wait them out missing the best of the flowers.

We chose to brave the danger (annoyance at the very least) for this waterfall hike. At 286′ Salt Creek Falls is Oregon’s second tallest and is conviniently close to Hwy 58 making it easy to make a quick stop. We tend to avoid quick and easy but trails leading past Salt Creek Falls head up into the Diamond Peak Wilderness passing a couple of lakes and two additional waterfalls giving us a good excuse for a visit.

We were the first car in the parking lot and apparently the mosquitoes were waiting because I had one land on me almost immediately after I got out of the car. Luckily we had come prepared. We were all wearing long pants/sleeves and sported less than fashionable bug net hats. After a good dousing in DEET (a necessary evil) we headed down the short path to the Salt Creek Falls viewpoint.
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After viewing the falls we headed for the Vivian Lake which was 4 3/4mi away and our turnaround point. Shortly after crossing Salt Creek the trail split making a loop to Diamond Creek Falls possible. We headed right and soon came to Too Much Bear Lake. Despite the name we saw no sign of bears but the pretty lake was lined with blooming rhododendrons and reflecting the surrounding trees.
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As we continued toward Diamond Creek Falls several signs announced viewpoints. Perhaps we had been spoiled by the views on our last few hikes, but the view from these viewpoints was a bit of a let down. Diamond Creek Falls on the other hand was lovely. A short side path led down into a narrow canyon and across Diamond Creek on a footbridge. Not long after the crossing Diamond Creek Falls came into view through the trees. It was an impressively sized 100′ cascade that fanned out over the rocks as it fell into a cozy grotto.
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We returned to the main trail and continued past an upper viewpoint of Diamond Creek Falls to a second fork in the trail. The left fork would take us back to the parking area while the right continued on toward the wilderness and Vivian Lake. Before we made it to the wilderness we crossed Diamond Creek on a road bridge and passed over the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks. When we reached the sign board announcing the start of the Diamond Peak Wilderness we found that there were no self-serve entry permits left in the box, but there were plenty of mosquitoes buzzing around. The forest was full of white flowers, bunchberry, anemone, and queens-cup with an occasional beargrass thrown in. Many of the rhododendron were in bloom as well. The trail followed Fall Creek up to a viewpoint of Fall Creek Falls, a smaller 40′ cascade lined at the top with pink rhododendron blooms. The viewpoint proved a good place for a brief rest as it was an exposed rocky outcrop and almost devoid of mosquitoes.

Another mile of climbing brought us to Vivian Lake but before we would reach the lake shore we had to cross a “meadow”. The meadow was still quite damp from recent snow melt but we did our best to stay on the driest part of the trail. Shooting star and heather blooms dotted the green meadow while frogs hopped toward the water where they joined tadpoles that had not yet emerged. Unfortunately it was also a perfect spot for mosquitoes and a large number of them swarmed the air just waiting for us to stop so we quickly made our way across to drier ground and followed the trail to the shore of Vivian Lake. We worked our way around the shore until we got a good view of the top of Mt. Yoran which reflected in the water. This would have been a wonderful spot for lunch if we hadn’t been on the menu. We stayed long enough to snap a couple pictures then headed back to the viewpoint above Fall Creek Falls where we had a better chance of a mosquito free lunch.
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We made great time on the way back to the car as we tried to stave off the skeeters but we did stop when we spotted a golden mantled squirrel and later a cascade frog. We saw only one other hiker on the trail but the parking area was full of people and cars when we got back. Heather got the worst of the bites but still only about a half dozen, Dominique had a couple and I miraculously escaped with only one. Hopefully our next few hikes will have less mosquito activity, but we’ll be ready for the little buggers if need be. Happy Trails

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