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.
IMG_4401

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.
IMG_4405

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.
IMG_4417

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.

IMG_4437

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.
IMG_4469

IMG_4470

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.
IMG_4485

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.
IMG_4522

IMG_4524

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.
IMG_4525

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.
IMG_4534

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.
IMG_4535

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).
IMG_4536

We need to go north so we followed the pointer for the Pioneer Gulch Trail and headed north.
IMG_4537

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.

IMG_4550

We turned left down the Corrigan Lake Trail when we arrived at the junction.
IMG_4557

It was a little over half a mile and 300′ down to the lake which had a nice view of Diamond Peak.
IMG_4558

IMG_4560

IMG_4564

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.
IMG_4573

IMG_4574Fleabane

IMG_4575Bear Mountain Trail junction.

IMG_4576Look a named trail!

IMG_4578

From the junction the Diamond Peak Trail climbed a ridge before leveling off above Blue Lake which was hidden in the trees.
IMG_4583

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.
IMG_4588

IMG_4586

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

IMG_4602

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.
IMG_4615

IMG_4618

IMG_4620

IMG_4621Lots of coneflower

IMG_4625

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.
20200823_182113

IMG_4643

IMG_4648

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.
IMG_4634

IMG_4654

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.
IMG_4152

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.

IMG_4157

20200822_073035

IMG_4159

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.
IMG_4160

We stayed left on the Whitefish Creek Trail which climbed gradually following Trapper Creek.
IMG_4164

IMG_4179

IMG_4190Breakfast time.

IMG_4192

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.
IMG_4195

IMG_4198

IMG_4199

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

IMG_4214

IMG_4221Diamond Peak with Mt. Yoran to the right.

IMG_4234

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.
IMG_4254

IMG_4256

IMG_4257

IMG_4260

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.
IMG_4265

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.
IMG_4287

IMG_4294The heather was all done blooming but there was a lot of dried blossoms.

IMG_4301

IMG_4305

IMG_4307The summit of Diamond Peak.

IMG_4313

One and a quarter miles from the Snell Lake junction we crossed the small but pretty Mountain Creek before a short steep climb.
IMG_4317

After the climb the trail returned to its gradual grade with a few ups and downs.
IMG_4327

IMG_4330

Just over 5 miles after turning onto the Crater Butte Trail we arrived at the PCT.
IMG_4340

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.
IMG_4345

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.
IMG_4344

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

IMG_4352

IMG_4353

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.
IMG_4359

IMG_4361

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.
IMG_4366

IMG_4378

From our spot we could see the false summit of Diamond Peak and the route that we would be taking the next morning.
IMG_4372

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.
IMG_4387

IMG_4391Dragon fly

IMG_4394

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