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.
Some 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.
Happy Lake Trail junction.
We detoured left here for the half mile hike down to Happy Lake.
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.
Just a small part of the meadow.
We set our packs down and then followed a path to a hard to see waterfall along the lakes outlet creek.
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.
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.
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.
We 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.
Diamond Peak from the trail.
At the junction we left the Diamond Peak Trail and turned right onto the Diamond Peak Tie Trail.
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.
One of several damp meadows.
The creeks were still dry though.
An 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).
We turned right onto this trail and in a quarter mile arrived at rock rimmed Notch Lake.
Small unnamed lake just before Notch Lake.
Another little lake/pond near Notch 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.
Approximately .2 miles beyond Notch Lake the Vivian Lake Trail veered left and the Mt. Yoran Trail split to the right.
The Mt. Yoran Trail climbed at an increasingly steep grade over the next 1.7 miles before gaining a ridge and leveling out.
Diamond Peak from the trail; the smoke was back.
On 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.
Mt. Yoran from the trail.
Diamond Peak again.
Mt. Yoran on the left and the divide on the right.
Passing under Mt. Yoran.
Please tell me that’s a seed and not that the ground squirrels have taken up smoking.
The mosquitoes weren’t nearly as bad here so we were able to take a nice long break before resuming our trek.
Blue sky making a comeback.
Diamond Peak from Divide Lake
Climbers trail to Mt. Yoran.
Thank 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.
Mt. Yoran from Divide Lake
One of the unnamed lakes.
Starting up to the divide.
After crossing the divide the trail dropped down to the Pacific Crest Trail.
We turned left here and followed the PCT downhill for 2 miles.
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.
Diamond Peak from the PCT.
New looking sign at the newly extended Yoran Lake Trail.
Huge tree mushroom at the junction.
The Yoran Lake Trail passed by Lils Lake and arrived at Yoran Lake in .4 miles.
Diamond Peak from Yoran Lake.
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.
Dry creek bed (this feeds Trapper Creek).
Right hand fork to Karen Lake.
Things were much more solitary at Karen Lake aside from a lone duck patrolling the waters.
We had camp set up by 3pm and spent the rest of the afternoon and evening enjoying the lake (and the decreasingly smoky skies).
Dragon fly visit.
A little bird joining the duck on the rocks.
Is 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.
The 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.
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.
Diamond Peak a little after 6am.
Another 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.
Some funny looking beargrass along the trail.
A half mile from Karen Lake we crossed the dry bed of Karen and Yoran Lakes outlets.
In another half mile we passed a small unnamed lake.
We encountered a little blowdown along this trail but nothing too bad.
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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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