Burnt Lake and East Zigzag

Sunday, September 9, 2018

The forecast today was favorable, so Greg and I decided to hike to Burnt Lake and East Zigzag. It took us just two hours to reach Burnt Lake from the trailhead. I was pleasantly surprised to find the lake calm, beautifully reflecting Mt. Hood:

Burnt Lake

Burnt Lake

After stopping for a lake break we continued on the trail, heading towards East Zigzag. The final push to the top:

East Zigzag

This stretch before the summit is actually the best place for views:

View from East Zigzag

The rocky summit used to have clear 360-degree views back in the lookout days, but the trees have grown up now:

View from East Zigzag

View from East Zigzag

East Zigzag

We got a peek at Mt. Adams:

View from East Zigzag

Looking northwest:

View from East Zigzag

Mt. Jefferson:

Mt. Jefferson

View to the south:

East Zigzag

All that’s left of the lookout that once stood here is a few pieces of melted glass from when they burned it in the 1960s:

024 Destruction of East Zigzag fire lookout, Mt Hood NF

We stopped for photo on the way back down:

View from East Zigzag

Greg got stung by a yellow jacket just as we reached the lake on the way back, so while he tended to his wound I went on litter patrol around the campsites. The sites themselves were surprisingly clean, but there was a heck of a lot of toilet paper in the trees behind the sites. I picked it up (wearing a glove) and bagged it for the hike out. While I was over on that side of the lake I got a photo of East Zigzag above the lake:

Burnt lake

A 10-mile day with beautiful weather!

Carl and Table Lakes

Labor Day Weekend 2018

I spent the long weekend exploring some of the east side of the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness, which I’ve never visited before. I started at the Cabot Lake Trailhead, hiked into Carl Lake and stayed there the first night, then hiked to Table Lake for the second night and hiked an abandoned trail up to a viewpoint above Hole-in-the-Wall Park. Then I hiked back to Carl Lake for the third night and did a side trip up to South Cinder Peak. It was great!

Table Lake
Table Lake

I got off work at 1pm on Friday and went straight to the trailhead. I started hiking at 4:30. This area was burned in the 2003 B&B fire, so I was surrounded by a stark burnt landscape. The fact that the wind was blowing so hard that it whistled made everything all the more eerie. Most of these photos are from my hike out on Monday when the light was better:

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

To the north I had a good view of Sugar Pine Ridge. Before the fire there was a trail up there, but it’s totally impassible now:

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

Lava:

Cabot Lake Trail

Fall is well underway up here:

Cabot Lake Trail

At the 1.5-mile mark I left the burn zone and entered the trees:

Cabot Lake Trail

The trail passed this huge dry pond:

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

Then I passed some other ponds:

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

Below is a shot from Monday of the pond above, with Mt. Jefferson peeking up through the trees:

Pond

I reached the east end of Table Lake at 6:50. The wind was coming from the west and blasted off the lake with such force that it nearly knocked me over:

Carl Lake

Normally I pick campsites based on how scenic they are. This time I was looking for one that was protected from the wind. Success:

Carl Lake campsite

The wind blew all night long. My tent was protected so it wasn’t flapping, but the wind still made a racket. Thank goodness I brought I earplugs! While getting ready Saturday morning I saw two deer pass through near my campsite. Got a photo of one of them:

Deer

Carl Lake in the morning. Still pretty windy:

Carl Lake

Carl Lake

Carl Lake

I packed up and headed off for Table Lake. The trail climbs up above Carl Lake:

Carl Lake

Passed through a small burn area:

Cabot Lake Trail

Huge rockslide:

Cabot Lake Trail

The vegetation was turning fall color and it made the ground look pink:

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

This little pond is known as Junction Lake. By no stretch of the imagination is this a lake, and I think the only reason it got a name at all is because the junction with the Sugar Pine Ridge Trail used to be here until that trail was abandoned:

Junction Lake

This is the only indication that a trail once started here:

Sugar Pine Ridge Trail

When my friend Brad hiked here in 2012 that signboard held a “trail not maintained” sign, but it’s gone now:


Photo by Brad Rasmussen

By the way, Brad’s report is worth reading, if for no other reason than to see what happens when a trail is abandoned after a fire.

From here I could see the tip of Mt. Jefferson. I didn’t know it yet, but better views were soon to come:

Cabot Lake Trail

The trail continued passed Junction Lake through some pretty lovely scenery:

Cabot Lake Trail

This is some pretty cool terrain. Here the trail is squeezed between two different kinds of rock (that’s North Cinder Peak in the second photo):

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

Mt. Jefferson views improving:

Cabot Lake Trail

Forked Butte in the background. Notice the mixture of rocks in the foreground:

Cabot Lake Trail

I was surprised to see western pasque flower so late in the season:

Cabot Lake Trail

This stretch was so cool! That’s Forked Butte in the background:

Cabot Lake Trail

The trail reaches a pass before descending down to Patsy Lake. Here’s North Cinder Peak:

Cabot Lake Trail

The view of Mt. Jefferson from the pass is partially blocked by trees:

Cabot Lake Trail

But just down the trail there is a full-on view of the mountain. WOW!

Cabot Lake Trail

Cabot Lake Trail

North Cinder Peak and Mt. Jefferson

Bear Butte is the distant pointy peak; Forked Butte on the right:

Cabot Lake Trail

A closer look at Bear Butte:

Bear Butte

From the pass the trail descends through the forest down to Patsy Lake:

Patsy Lake

Patsy Lake is also the junction with the Jefferson Lake Trail. Sadly after the fire the Deschutes National Forest abandoned that trail to its fate, just as they did the Sugar Pine Ridge Trail. Its super brushy, being very overgrown with snowbrush. You used to be able to do a nice loop involving those two trails, but it’s impossible now that they’ve been taken back by Mother Nature.

Jefferson Lake Trail

The trail climbs again. Looking down on Patsy Lake:

Patsy Lake

Looking east from a spot above Patsy Lake. The abandoned Jefferson Lake Trail is somewhere down there:

Lava

The trail continues

Cabot Lake Trail

One last view of the mountain before reaching Table Lake:

Mt. Jefferson

First look at Table Lake:

Table Lake

Table Lake

The trail crosses the inflow stream:

Little stream

There were hundreds (heck, probably thousands) of these little frogs all around the stream:

Frogs

The water here is a beautiful color:

Table Lake

Table Lake

I picked a campsite:

Table Lake campsite

Then I went off to find Upper Table Lake. This little lake is GORGEOUS!

Upper Table Lake

Upper Table Lake

I saw two deer across the way and got a photo of one of them:

Deer

I set off for a viewpoint beyond Table Lake. The topo map shows the trail continuing, but the Forest Service has put up a sign at Table Lake that says “end of trail.” As you can see beyond the sign, they’ve covered the trail with rocks and logs:

End of trail

Rocks on trail

The trail DOES keep going beyond that sign. Then it heads off into the trees away from the lake. Here also the Forest Service has covered the trail with debris:

Rocks on the trail

Once you get past those annoying obstacles the going is pretty easy. The trail is obviously abandoned and not maintained anymore, but it was pretty easy to follow, even though it was overgrown in many spots:

Faint trail

You can see the old trail blazes on the trees, which is how they used to mark trail routes:

Old trail blaze

As the trail approaches a pass before descending down into Hole-in-the-Wall Park, it gets pretty faint. With some good route-finding and the help of my GPS I stayed on course. The last stretch to the pass enters the edge of the burn zone and there are downed trees and branches covering the trail:

Faint trail

And then I reached the pass where this old “viewpoint” sign somehow miraculously escaped the flames 15 years ago:

Viewpoint sign

I turned right off the trail towards the viewpoint, seen here on the left (Bear Butte is the pointy peak on the right):

Viewpoint

Any semblance of a side trail that once led up here is totally gone in the wake of the fire, but the distance is short and it’s easy to make your own path to the rocky viewpoint, where a few gnarled dead trees stand:

Mt. Jefferson

The views up here are AMAZING. That’s Goat Peak and Mt. Jefferson:

Mt. Jefferson

That meadow down there is Hole-in-the-Wall Park. You won’t find much about this place online (I found just one online report from someone who had hiked down there) so here’s what I’ve learned. This is from The Mount Jefferson Wilderness Guidebook (1983), by Tony George:

Hole-in-the-Wall Park is over 10 miles from the nearest trail head, and few people take the time to see it. Tucked in a very deep steep-sided glacially carved canyon, the “Park” is an intricate network of wet meadow, ponds and streams. There is a very good viewpoint overlooking the Park on the ridge west of Bear Point. From here, it is easy to see how Hole-in-the-Wall Park got its name.

This is from Northern Oregon Wilderness Areas (1992), by Donna Aitkenhead:

The Forest Service wishes to keep HITW pristine and plans on stopping al maintenance of the trail leading down to this unique region in the near future. one hiker said she through the area looked “like Shan-ri-la” from the saddle and rushed to enjoy its many splendors. We through the same, but instead found lots of mosquitoes and other insects. She found the same. Hiking in mid-September, we wondered what the place was like in July or August when the pesky critters are “supposed” to be bad.

I could understand why the Forest Service might abandon the trail down to the park, but it doesn’t make sense why they have abandoned the trail to this magnificent viewpoint. In any case, both of  those descriptions are of course pre-fire. Here is what Matt Reeder has to say in 101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region (2016):

The Cabot Lake Trail does indeed continue down into Hole-in-the-Wall Park but the trail has fallen into such a state of disrepair that it’s not worth even attempting. Hole-in-the-Wall Park itself is a boggy marsh without a view of Mount Jefferson – so again, it’s not worth it.

Not wishing to lose elevation that I would have to regain, and also lacking a desire to deal with an unmaintained trail through a burn area, I admired the meadow from above and did not venture down there.

Hole-in-the-Wall Park

Looking northeast. The Warm Springs Reservation boundary is at the base of the slope I’m standing on, so none of that is public land out there:

Warm Springs Reservation

Bear Butte to the east. Somewhere around here is where the Bear Butte Fire started in 2003, later joining with the Booth Fire to form the B&B Complex Fires, which ended up burning over 90,000 acres:

Bear Butte

Mt. Jefferson and Bear Butte

Looking southeast:

Meadow

A closer look at that huge meadow down there:

Meadow

Three Sisters to the south:

Three Sisters

Table Lake is out of sight down there. My route up here came out of the trees and up the slope in the foreground:

Viewpoint

A panorama looking west. The trail from Table Lake comes up from the left then drops down the slope at center to Hole-in-the-Wall Park where it ends:

Mt. Jefferson

It was SUPER windy up at that viewpoint, so as much as I would have loved to linger I turned back after spending 25 minutes admiring the view and headed back down. When I got back to Table Lake I made my way over to the west end of the lake to this cool viewpoint. Two guys I had seen earlier said they had camped at this end of the lake, in the trees on the left there, but there’s no trail and I was tired so I didn’t go that far to check it out:

Table Lake

Table Lake

Looking down on Table Lake:

Table Lake

I spent the rest of the afternoon reading Where the Crawdads Sing on my Kindle and enjoying the beautiful warm weather:

Table Lake

I discovered a spot near my campsite where I could see the tip of Mt. Jefferson:

Mt. Jefferson

The sun disappeared behind The Table at the early hour of 5:30 and the wind started dying down. (By the way, there is no trail up to The Table but next time I come here I want to go up there and explore.) Just when I thought I’d have the whole place to myself that night, a family of four showed up around 6:40. I chatted with them a bit and it turns out that hiked in via the Jefferson Lake Trail. I expressed my surprise since that trail isn’t maintained anymore and the dad said, “Oh yeah, it sucked.” They said it was incredibly brushy and they got pretty scratched up. He said 20 years ago he used to be a wilderness ranger here, but of course that was pre-fire so everything would look a lot different now.

The family went off to find a campsite and shortly after that a couple with a black dog arrived. They had hiked all the way over from the Marion Lake Trailhead, via the Swallow Lake Trail, which resulted in a very long day.

That night when I got up at 11:30 the wind had totally died down (thank goodness) and the stars were out. I had not brought my tripod, so I just put my camera on the ground pointing at the sky and gave it a shot:

Starry sky

The overnight reprieve from the wind lasted into the morning, which was such a relief. The lake looked beautiful on this calm morning:

Table Lake

Table Lake

Table Lake

Mt. Jefferson

Table Lake

Loved this mossy log:

Table Lake

Stream flowing into Table Lake:

Table Lake

Floating frog (there were so many of these guys all around the creek):

Frogs

I definitely loved Table Lake better than Carl Lake. I had one more night and I really wanted to climb South Cinder Peak (which was closer to Carl Lake). Plus I didn’t want a 10-mile hike out on Monday. So I reluctantly packed up and headed out. There is a way to make a loop with the PCT, picking up an east-west connecting user path just a bit south of Table Lake, then heading south on the PCT, then picking up another connecting path just north of Carl Lake. About 0.3 mile from Table Lake I saw this path on the left heading off into the heather (main trail at right) and it seemed like it would be correct, but I decided not to try it today and just head back on the Cabot Lake Trail.

Trail

Got a good view of North Cinder Peak above Patsy Lake as I descended down:

North Cinder Peak

The long climb back up to the pass from Patsy Lake was not fun, but I finally made it. More fall color:

Fall color

Fall color

Descent to Carl Lake:

Carl Lake

Carl Lake

As I feared, since it was Sunday of a holiday weekend, Carl Lake was FULL. I had trouble finding a campsite. I was on my to Shirley Lake to look there when I found a flat spot near a pond on the right side of the Shirley Lake Trail. I made camp and headed south towards South Cinder Peak. I topped to check out Shirley Lake on the way:

Shirley Lake

Someone camped there had llamas!

Llamas

More fall color as I trudged up the Shirley Lake Trail towards the PCT. It was warm and I was tired:

Fall color

I reached the PCT and crossed it, heading west on the Swallow Lake Trail. My first view of South Cinder Peak:

South Cinder Peak

A better view of South Cinder Peak from Swallow Lake Trail, my path up clearly visible now:

South Cinder Peak

View of Mt. Jefferson from the spot where I left the trail to head up the peak:

Swallow Lake Trail

It was a hot trudge up that shadeless peak, but I made it.

South Cinder Peak

The views were amazing. It’s been such a smoky hazy summer that I almost forgot what clear blue skies looked like. This is looking north at Mt. Jefferson and an unnamed lake far below:

Mt. Jefferson

South Cinder Peak view

Looking northwest:

Burn view

Looking west; that’s Marion Lake down there:

Mountains

Looking southwest; that’s Jorn Lake in the Eight Lakes Basin, where I camped a few weeks ago (the distant smoke is from the Terwilliger Fire):

Eight Lakes Basin

Looking south to Black Butte, Broken Top, Three Sisters, Mt. Washington, and Three Fingered Jack:

Mountains

It was sobering to be up here looking down on huge swaths of burned forest from the 2003 B&B fire, which burned such a huge chunk of the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness. It’s one thing to see it from the trail and quite another to see it from above.

I headed back to Carl Lake and filtered water:

Carl Lake

Back at my campsite I cooked up dinner and then discovered my spoon was missing! I turned my pack inside out and searched pockets, but no spoon. I figured I must have set it down somewhere at Table Lake that morning and missed it when I was packing up. (Later my sister said to me “I bet the wilderness is full of people’s lost spoons”.) I had no idea how to improvise eating my pasta. I was not above eating with my hands but that meant burning my fingers on the hot pasta or waiting for it get cold so I could eat it without getting burned. I ended up cutting off the top part of the pouch and folding it into a sort of scoop. It did the job and I was able to eat dinner:

Dinner improv

I slept well. I skipped my hot cereal and just had salmon jerky and tea for breakfast. I saw some deer across the pond. Third day in a row I saw deer! I packed up and hit the trail at 8. I stopped at the east end of the lake for photo a on the way out. Once again, it was quite windy. Was it just my timing, or this just a windier lake than Table Lake? I never experienced a lack of wind at Carl:

Carl Lake

Carl Lake

Despite the campfire ban, I caught the whiff of campfire smoke at Carl Lake before I left. Never saw the fires, just smelled them. On the hike out I took the short side trail to Cabot Lake, which I had skipped on the way in on Friday:

Cabot Lake

I got back to the car at 10:50. My total mileage for the trip was 28 miles, with 4,400′ elevation gain. What a great weekend! It was SO wonderful to have clear blue skies and to see a gorgeous corner of the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness that I haven’t seen before.

TableLakeMap

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Sunday, August 26, 2018

While staying at Gold Butte Lookout, Greg and I had wanted to hike up Battle Ax Mountain. But it was far too cloudy, so we opted for a forest hike instead. We drove to Elk Lake and set off down the Elk Lake Creek Trail into the Bull of the Woods Wilderness. I’ve never seen such a plain wilderness boundary sign before:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

It had rained the night before:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

We were pleasantly surprised to discover we had hit peak huckleberry ripeness. There were THOUSANDS of them:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Elk Lake Creek Trail

We were hiking through a nice old forest with big tall trees. Love it!

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Elk Lake Creek Trail

There were a number of downed trees we had to detour around, under, over:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Elk Lake Creek Trail

At the point where we crossed a section boundary we saw this old sign on a tree:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Still in the trees:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Old withered candy stick:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

The trail started losing elevation as it descended towards creek level:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Crossed an old bridge:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

I don’t think this boardwalk has been maintained in a LONG time:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

And then we arrived at the junction with the Mother Lode Trail. This is a big open area that is clearly very popular with backpackers:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Elk Lake Creek Trail

The Battle Creek Shelter once stood here somewhere, but collapsed from heavy snow several decades ago. In 100 Oregon Hiking Trails (1969) it says “The three-sided shelter is well-preserved and has a concrete fire pit and a steel grate.” I could find absolutely no sign of the old shelter. No bits of lumber and no remnants of the concrete fire pit. It is thoroughly gone.

We sat and enjoyed a snack and listened to the sound of nearby Elk Lake Creek:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

Elk Lake Creek Trail

The trail keeps going to another trailhead on Road 6380 but we weren’t going that far. We headed back and on the way I spotted an old phone line insulator up in a tree. Lookouts and guard stations were connected by phone line in the pre-radio days. These insulators were put in trees and the phone line strung between them:

Elk Lake Creek Trail

It was 8.5 miles when we were all done. It was cold and cloudy at Elk Lake when we got back. Time to return to our warm lookout!

Elk Lake

Dome Rock

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Greg and I had reservations at Gold Butte Lookout this weekend and before heading up there on Saturday we decided to do the short hike up to Dome Rock from the upper trailhead on Road 2223. Even from the road we had a good view:

View from Dome Rock Trailhead

Before we even started the hike I was standing at the trailhead waiting for Greg to finish getting ready at the car. An unleashed black and white dog came down the trail and started barking and growling and acting aggressive. A few moments later a group of about six or seven hikers came up behind. I said “You might might want to leash your dog if he’s not friendly.” One of the hikers said in a sarcastic tone “That’s a novel idea” and continued to his car. Meanwhile the other unleashed dog – a pug – was jumping on me over and over again. Another of the hikers kept repeating “Stop it! Leave it!” But the dog paid no attention and only stopped when he was picked up and carried away. No one apologized for the behavior their dogs. What if that pug had jumped on someone who hated or feared dogs and (I would NEVER do this) what if that person had kicked the dog and injured it? I love dogs, but I do not want to be barked at, growled at, and jumped on by your out-of-control dogs. The lack of apology, the assumption that they have nothing to apologize for, just made it all the worse.

We set off down Tumble Creek Trail #3380:

Hiking to Dome Rock

We passed the side trail to Tumble Lake (we’ll do that another day) and then reached the spur trail up to Dome Rock. Just 1.25 miles from the trailhead we were up on the summit and wow, what views! It was a cloudy day but fortunately the clouds were high and we could still see the mountains.

Looking west to Tumble Lake and Sardine Mountain:

Dome Rock

iPhone panorama to the west:

Dome Rock view - west

This is one of those early lookout sites where panorama photos were taken. This is looking the same direction as above in 1933:

North:

Dome Rock

iPhone panorama to the north:

Dome Rock view - north

In 1933:

South (that’s Detroit Lake down there):

Dome Rock

iPhone panorama to the south:

Dome Rock view - south

In 1933:

Notice the Three Sisters, and to the right of them the Three Pyramids:

Dome Rock

Olallie Butte and Mt. Jefferson:

Dome Rock

Mt. Jefferson:

Dome Rock

Battle Ax Mountain to the west:

Dome Rock

Dome Rock

The lookout was built in 1929, pictured here in an undated photo:

Although it was removed sometime in the mid 1960s, there are a few remnants still:

Dome Rock

Dome Rock

There was a lot of broken glass around from the long-gone lookout:

Dome Rock

Dome Rock

Where the lookout once stood:

Dome Rock

Dome Rock

After enjoying the summit for awhile we hiked back down:

Dome Rock

What a great spot! I can’t believe I’ve never hiked here before. I’ll definitely come back on a sunny day.

Dome Rock

Eight Lakes Basin

Saturday, August 18 – Sunday, August 19, 2018

I wanted to go backpacking last weekend but Greg wanted to stay home. So I loaded my pack and set off for the Eight Lakes Basin solo.

Eight Lakes Basin sign

Even though it’s longer, I hiked in from the Duffy Lake Trailhead instead of the Marion Lake Trailhead. Duffy Lake is popular and busy, but Marion Lake is way worse and I wanted to avoid that zoo. The first three miles were pleasant forest walking:

Duffy Lake Trail

Duffy Lake Trail

I crossed the dry North Santiam River:

Duffy Lake Trail

And after 3.5 miles I reached Duffy Lake, with Duffy Butte towering above:

Duffy Lake

Duffy Lake

At one campsite I saw a car camping stove and four canister of propane fuel. That’s heavy!

Campstove at Duffy Lake

I also saw a raft:

Raft at Duffy Lake

I walked around to the west end of the lake to get a view of Three Fingered Jack:

Duffy Lake

Duffy Lake

Back on the trail I crossed the dry lake outlet:

Duffy Lake

Then I turned left on the Blue Lake Trail. The trail enters the burn zone from the 2003 B&B Fire, then re-enters the trees:

Blue Lake Trail

Mowich Lake is next:

Mowich Lake

You can see Red Butte from here. There’s an unofficial trail that goes up there, but I didn’t do that on this trip:

Red Butte

The other side of Duffy Butte is also visible:

Mowich Lake

The pearly everlasting were everywhere!

Mowich Lake

Red Butte

Interesting to see how the forest is recovering post-fire. This section of hillside was covered in millions of 15-year-old trees:

Burn

Next up was tiny Alice Lake, which was more like a pond:

Alice Lake

Alice Lake

At the south end of Alice Lake a user trail heads off into the trees. I believe this is the route up Red Butte:

Trail up Red Butte

Shortly before the trail started descending beyond Alice Lake I got a peek at Mt. Jefferson through the trees:

Mt. Jefferson

Green Peak, Saddle Mountain, and Marion Peak

Green Peak, Saddle Mountain, and Marion Peak

After seven miles of hiking I reached this junction where the Blue Lake Trail continues to the left and the Bowerman Lake Trail heads to the right:

Trail Junction

I went right, then followed a user trail down to the shore of Jorn Lake. Beautiful!

Jorn Lake

I pitched my tent in the trees:

Campsite

Then I set off to do some exploring. I hiked half a mile further down the Bowerman Lake Trail to Little Bowerman Lake:

Little Bowerman Lake

Little Bowerman Lake

The trail beyond that point is supposedly pretty challenging with a lot of blowdown. It sounds like the Forest Service has abandoned it. I turned back to Jorn Lake, heading down a side trail to Bowerman Lake on the way:

Bowerman Lake

Bowerman Lake

Bowerman Lake

Then I headed up the Blue Lake Trail, which passes the west end of Jorn Lake:

Jorn Lake

Then starts climbing above it:

Jorn Lake

This area of the burn was totally different. Some vegetation is coming back, but there are very few young trees are growing here, unlike the burned area near Mowich Lake:

Burn area

Burn area

Three Fingered Jack:

Three Fingered Jack

Jorn Lake

From the lakeshore you can’t see that there’s an island, but up here I got a good view of it:

Jorn Lake

0.8mi past the junction at Jorn Lake is Blue Lake:

Blue Lake

Blue Lake

Blue Lake

The forest here burned pretty thoroughly and now there is only one campsite, and it doesn’t have much shade:

Blue Lake

On the way back from Blue Lake I happened to spot two bushes full of huckleberries:

Huckleberries

Throughout the afternoon a layer of haze had been building up to the east and north, which I could see through all the burned trees. Back at Jorn Lake it hovered around Mt. Jefferson:

Jorn Lake

Back at my campsite I was surprised to discover I had neighbors, a group of nine teens with two leaders from the Opal Creek Ancient Forest Center. They had been backpacking through the wilderness all week and this was their last night. Turns out I had camped in the one area that could accommodate all their tents and hammocks. If I had known they were coming I would have chosen a different site, but of course how would I have known?

I sat by the lake with my Kindle, reading until it was time to make dinner. At one point a helicopter flew overhead:

Helicopter

The Opal Creek group was not being noisy, but the background chatter of 11 people was not what I wanted to be listening to. Nor did I want to be the jerk who ruined these kids last night in the wilderness by being a wet blanket. So I took my dinner and my Kindle further down the lake shore and enjoyed the peace and quiet there as dusk fell:

Jorn Lake

Jorn Lake

Jorn Lake

Most of the group went for a little walkabout; I could see them working their way along the shore. So I headed back to my campsite and soon after I arrived I saw a doe and her young on the shore nearby. Cool!

I slept great and woke to a beautiful morning. The lake was glassy calm:

Jorn Lake

Jorn Lake

Jorn Lake

Jorn Lake

After breakfast I packed up and hit the trail. I took the side trail to visit Red Butte Lake, which I had not visited the day before:

Red Butte Lake

Red Butte Lake

It was hot hiking through the burn:

Burn

I got back to the trailhead about 1:30. My total mileage for the weekend was about 19 miles. Great hike! This is a beautiful area, even with so much of it burned.

EightLakesBasinMap

Evergreen Mountain

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Today was the last day of our trip and we had to drive home to Portland. But before we headed south we squeezed in one last short hike: Evergreen Mountain. We packed up camp at Beckler River Campground and headed up to the trailhead. We had an unfortunate encounter with a local about a mile from the trailhead. A HUGE pickup was coming down as we were driving up. It was a narrow brushy stretch and it was clear he felt he had the right-of-way, so I backed the car up a bit and partially off the road into the brush. It was enough room for him to pass if he was willing to go in the brush a bit too. He approached and stopped and seemed reluctant to proceed. He was making hand gestures that didn’t make any sense. Finally he gunned it and as he passed he shouted “learn how to drive, you idiot!” Since he was being the road hog with his huge rig this really made me mad.

Anyway, the drive up there is along a winding cliff-hugging road with views of the mountains. Looking through old hiking books, this road seems to have an interesting history. This is from 100 Hikes in Western Washington (1971):

Until the forest fire of 1967, this was a long day’s hike from the valley, but now a road built to salvage the burned timber has pushed far up the mountain and made the trip an easy afternoon.

This is from 55 Hikes Around Stevens Pass (2003):

Built in the 1960s to access marginal high-elevation timber, the Evergreen Mountain road far exceeded the value of the wood that was cut. Subsequent repairs consumed even more money until the road blew out massively in 1990. Displaying a remarkable willingness to keep repeating the same mistakes, in 1998 the Forest Service took money intended for watershed rehabilitation and instead used it on yet another attempt to keep this road open. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent, but gravity can be defied for only so long… The Forest Service will not be able to keep spending the kind of money it would take to keep road 6554 open over the long term. Sooner or later reason will prevail, the road will be decommissioned, and the original trail from Rapid River to the lookout will be reopened, a longer but more rewarding and far less costly hike.

The road was in good shape for our visit and we had no trouble reaching the trailhead in our Outback. A sign at the trailhead noted that the 1967 fire was “inadvertently set by loggers” and that it burned up the south face of the ridge within several hundred feet of the lookout. We set off up the trail, which is a lot steeper than it looks in this photo:

Evergreen Mountain Hike

Although we were met with mountain views right away, unfortunately smoke had rolled in overnight and the skies were incredibly hazy:

Evergreen Mountain Hike

Climbing up:

Evergreen Mountain Hike

Looking back down the trail. That’s the Beckler River valley beyond:

Evergreen Mountain Hike

Entering the Wild Sky Wilderness:

Evergreen Mountain Hike

Almost there!

Evergreen Mountain Hike

Evergreen Mountain Hike

Mountain harebell:

Mountain harebell

The views got better as we climbed. Damn smoke!

Evergreen Mountain Hike

There is a fire lookout up here. It was built in 1935 and was staffed until the road washed out. Now it is part of the rental program, but hauling your gear (and heavy water) up that steep trail would not be fun:

Evergreen Mountain Hike

Evergreen Mountain Hike

Evergreen Mountain Hike

There was a hunter up there but otherwise we had the place to ourselves. Oh, except for the mosquitoes, which were absolutely horrible. We could tell the views would be nice on a clear day:

Evergreen Mountain Hike

We could barely see Glacier Peak through the smoke:

Evergreen Mountain Hike

Looking north:

Evergreen Mountain Hike

The same view in 1934:

Looking east:

Evergreen Mountain Hike

Same view in 1934:


Looking south:

Evergreen Mountain Hike

Looking back along our route and down the Beckler River:

Evergreen Mountain Hike

That same view in 1934:

Looking northwest, which had the least amount of smoke:

Evergreen Mountain Hike

The trail keeps going along the ridge for a little ways, but we didn’t explore. In the 100 hikes book it says “If a longer hike is desired and transportation can be arranged for a one-way trip, an old and sketchy trail continues along Evergreen Ridge, then drops to some small meadow ponds, beyond which maintained trail descends to Rapid River Road.” I see this trail shows up on old topo maps, so it must have been abandoned after the road was built.

Between the smoke and the bugs we were not inclined to linger so we headed back down:

Evergreen Mountain Hike

Back at the trailhead looking up at the mountain:

Evergreen Mountain Hike

Someone had been car camping at the trailhead when we arrived but they were gone when we got back. Their trash wasn’t, though:

Amazing how they went to the trouble to bag most of it up, then stashed the bag in the bushes!

Despite the trashy end to our hike and the smoke and mosquitoes, I’m still glad we hiked up there. It’s always cool to visit lookouts!

Johnson Ridge and Scorpion Mountain

Saturday, August 4, 2018

With better weather in today’s forecast we decided to hike the Johnson Ridge Trail out to Scorpion Mountain. The trailhead is at the end of a gravel road:

Scorpion Mountain Hike

The hike starts out on old road in a recovering clearcut that – based on historical Google Earth imagery – dates back to the late 1980s. It is surprisingly steep and this stretch is a slog:

Scorpion Mountain Hike

Scorpion Mountain Hike

At 1.3 miles we crossed the wilderness boundary. Frankly, I had never heard of the Wild Sky Wilderness before this trip:

Scorpion Mountain Hike

As we climbed up towards Sunrise Mountain, we got a glimpse through the trees over to nearby Evergreen Mountain. The white speck is the lookout:

Scorpion Mountain Hike

We also got a nice view of the some of the surrounding mountains:

Scorpion Mountain Hike

The trail passes right over the top of Sunrise Mountain, which is nothing more than a patch of bare ground surrounded by trees:

Scorpion Mountain Hike

If you move around Sunrise Mountain a bit you can get some views. Here is Glacier Peak to the north:

Scorpion Mountain Hike

I believe this peak to the south is Mt. Fernow.

Scorpion Mountain Hike

After a VERY steep descent from Sunrise Mountain (apparently the trail-builders didn’t believe in switchbacks) we continued along the ridge, passing through meadows and forest:

Scorpion Mountain Hike

Scorpion Mountain Hike

Some heather was blooming:

Scorpion Mountain Hike

Scorpion Mountain, our destination:

Scorpion Mountain Hike

The last stretch of trail traverses a meadow. Wow!

Scorpion Mountain Hike

Scorpion Mountain Hike

Scorpion Mountain view

The trail reaches an unsigned junction. One way descends to Joan Lake but we turned left and headed up to Scorpion:

Scorpion Mountain Hike

After four miles and 2,000′ elevation gain we made it!

Scorpion Mountain Hike

The mosquitoes were amazingly abundant here. We put on long sleeves, bug spray, and headnets to protect ourselves. There are not 360-degree views from the summit due to the trees, but if you move around you can get views in most (not all) directions. We sat down at a spot with a view to the west and north, surrounded by lupine, heather, and valerian wildflowers:

Scorpion Mountain Hike

Scorpion Mountain Hike

Glacier Peak again:

Scorpion Mountain Hike

Scorpion Mountain Hike

I wandered around getting pictures of other views. Looking southwest:

Scorpion Mountain Hike

Looking south:

Scorpion Mountain Hike

Looking northeast:

Scorpion Mountain Hike

Joan Lake, far below. We did not make the side trip to visit that lake because we didn’t want to regain the elevation we’d lose hiking down there, plus we knew the mosquitoes would be even worse down there:

Scorpion Mountain Hike

Scorpion Mountain Hike

After an hour on the summit soaking up the awesome views, we’d had enough of the bugs and we started heading back. Trekking back across the meadow:

Scorpion Mountain Hike

The last bit descending steeply back to the trailhead on the old road through the clearcut was a punishing descent and we were glad to get back to the car. We enjoyed a relaxing evening at our Beckler River campsite:

Beckler River Campground

Beautiful hike! Even with some clouds, we still had very nice views. The Washington Cascades are way more rugged and spectacular than the Oregon Cascades. What a treat!

Deception Creek

Friday, August 3, 2018

Friday was forecast to be cloudy with maybe even a bit of rain, so we decided to hike Deception Creek. The trail goes for nearly 12 miles all the way to Deception Pass. Some people use it to access Deception Lakes (which is actually over by the PCT), but that is about 10 miles one-way. Obviously we’d be doing neither of those. We planned to hike however far we felt like it then turn around.

Heading off through the trees:

Deception Creek Trail

Deception Creek was beautiful and clear:

Deception Creek Trail

Deception Creek Trail

I loved this little nurse stump:

Deception Creek Trail

Soon we entered the Alpine Lakes Wilderness:

Deception Creek Trail

The trail crosses Deception Creek on this very unique footbridge:

Deception Creek Trail

Deception Creek Trail

What a beautiful creek:

Deception Creek Trail

And then things got rough. The trail was in pretty bad shape with many exposed roots and rocks. Sometimes the trail looked like this:

Deception Creek Trail

But more often than not it looked like this:

Deception Creek Trail

Not only that but the trailside vegetation was wet from rain the night before and it deposited all that water onto our pant legs as we hiked by. Before long we were both soaked from the waist down, including our boots. We decided to turn back after just two miles. It just wasn’t worth it. There wasn’t much to see anyway because the trail had climbed away from the creek. We did see this cool – and very determined – tree:

Deception Creek Trail

One quick note: the huckleberries were ripe and there were LOTS of them. That was an awesome silver lining!

The day was young so we decided to head to the dry side of the Cascades and drove 45 minutes east to Leavenworth where the sun was indeed shining. This is a cute and strange little town. In the 1960s the town was struggling and decided to adopt a Bavarian theme as a way to revitalize the community. It worked and now it’s a booming tourist town.

Leavenworth

It wasn’t even the weekend and there were SO MANY PEOPLE everywhere. So we went to a place off the main drag, Blewett Brewing, and had lunch. We walked around a bit and visited the bookstore before returning to the car before our parking meter ran out. We drove down Icicle Road a little ways then turned around and headed back towards the cloudy side of the mountains. On the way back we stopped at the Bygone Byways interpretive site:

Bygone Byways Interpretive Site

This is a cool little interpretive trail that explores parts of old routes that were once used to traverse this area: an old 1892 wagon route known as the Tote Road, the Great Northern railway line, and the 1925 Cascade Scenic Highway.

This is the collapsed remains of a stone oven, probably built by immigrant railroad workers from southern Europe to bake bread:

Bygone Byways Interpretive Site

Looking down on Nason Creek:

Bygone Byways Interpretive Site

This is the old Cascade Scenic Highway, the first road to cross Stevens Pass. Back when this road was opened in 1925 the drive from Wenatchee to Everett took more than six hours (today it takes 2.5). This segment was abandoned in 1930 and eventually the entire route was replaced by the highway that exists today:

Bygone Byways Interpretive Site

The campground was hopping that night with lots of people arriving in the evening looking for a site. We were glad to have the river right behind us to drown out the noise of our numerous neighbors.

Iron Goat Loop

August 2, 2018

The first half of the week we backpacked to Ice Lake. Originally our plan for the second half of the week was to head to the Blue Mountains west of Baker City. But the forecast called for a lot of smoke there so we decided to head north into Washington instead. (Later we would learn that the forecast was wrong and the smoke cleared out of that area.)

Baker City Forecast

After a very long day of driving across Washington we crossed Stevens Pass on Highway 2 and pulled into the Beckler River Campground where we grabbed a campsite (boy, it’s so much easier to find a place to camp on a weekday than on a Friday night!)

The forecast today called for partly sunny, which in the mountains usually means “mostly cloudy, so forget about any views.” So we decided to hike the Iron Goat Trail, a nice interpretive trail that was brought about thanks to the efforts of the now defunct Volunteers for Outdoor Washington, and others. (A wonderful guidebook can be found online.) A sign at the trailhead informed us:

In 1990 Volunteers for Outdoor Washington established a partnership with the USDA Forest Service to construct, maintain, and interpret the Iron Goat Trail. Many other organizations worked with them in this endeavor. Hundreds of volunteers working thousands of hours built the Iron Goat Trail.

This big red caboose greets hikers at the trailhead:

Iron Goat Trail

Interpretive signs at the trailhead explained how John F. Stevens looked for a railroad route over the Cascades by following creek after creek to its headwaters and encountering a lot of impenetrable terrain. He finally identified a promising route over the pass that would later bear his name. The Great Northern Railway opened the new rail line in 1893; it was considered a great engineering feat. They employed the use of switchbacks, tunnels, and snowsheds to get their trains safely through Stevens Pass.

It wasn’t an easy job, though. When coal-fired steam engines got stuck in a tunnel the exhaust could overpower the passengers and crew.

In one disastrous incident, nearly all of the passengers and crew were overcome by exhaust. With the engineer and most of the passengers unconscious, a crew member was able to unlock the brakes and roll the train back out of the tunnel, narrowly averting a tragedy.

After that the tunnel section was electrified. But that wasn’t the only problem. After 96 passengers and crew were killed when an avalanche swept two snow-bound trains off the tracks in February 1910, the Great Northern built seven miles of snowsheds and tunnels to protect their trains. But the cost of maintaining them and keeping the line open in winter led to the construction of the 7.8-mile-long Cascade Tunnel at a lower elevation, which was completed in 1929. The completion of the Cascade Scenic Highway in 1925 allowed cars to also travel this route.

We started off in a green forest:

Iron Goat Trail

We soon came to one of the walls of an old snowshed, which was a third of a mile long. The Great Northern built 6.4 miles of snowsheds along 9 miles of track to protect their trains from avalanches. This one was built in 1913, and although the wooden roof and second wall are long gone, this concrete wall remains:

Iron Goat Trail

Iron Goat Trail

Iron Goat Trail

The first of several tunnels we would encounter:

Iron Goat Loop

Iron Goat Loop

This little “tunnel” is called and adit and was used to gain access to the center of the train tunnel:

Iron Goat Loop

We passed the Twin Tunnels.

Iron Goat Loop

Obviously most of these are not safe to enter anymore:

Iron Goat Loop

Iron Goat Loop

I loved this footbridge:

Iron Goat Loop

We took the Corea Crossover Trail which went uphill and connected to the upper part of the old rail line, then headed back east. We followed a spur trail to this timber spillway that was built in 1910 as part of the Great Northern’s fire protection system. It was accidentally discovered by a work party in 1910:

Iron Goat Loop

The vegetation opened up and we got some views of nearby mountains:

Iron Goat Loop

This tunnel was filled with debris from a rockslide above:

Iron Goat Loop

Passing another snowshed wall with views beyond:

Iron Goat Loop

This rock arch was strange. There was no sign here telling us what it was.

Iron Goat Loop

Between 1892 and 1913 trains had to slow to a crawl as they rounded Windy Point. But when the Windy Point Tunnel was finished in 1913 the trains could travel faster. The quarter-mile-long tunnel reduced the curvature, shortened the distance, and protected trains from avalanches.

Iron Goat Loop

Iron Goat Loop

Before we took the connector trail back down to the lower trail we took a side trip and went out to Windy Point where we could look down on Highway 2 and the current railroad tracks as they entered the 7.8-mile-long Cascade Tunnel. According to the sign, “it was completed in 1929 by thousands of laborers working around the clock for three years.”

Iron Goat Loop

Iron Goat Loop

An iPhone Pano of the scene below:

Iron Goat Loop

For some reason there was a composting toilet at the viewpoint:

Iron Goat Loop

Iron Goat Loop

Then we took the long steep Windy Point Crossover Trail back down to the lower trail and to our car. Nice little hike! Seven miles total. Once again the forecast was wrong and it ended up being a whole lot sunnier than they said it would be. We would have had views if we had done a hike up to a peak. But this historical hike was still interesting.

Ice Lake and the Matterhorn

Sunday, July 29 – Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Greg and I have been wanting to do the hike to Ice Lake for quite awhile and we finally made it happen this summer.

Ice Lake panorama

On Saturday the 28th we left Portland and headed east, arriving in Enterprise at 3:45pm and driving down Hurricane Creek Road to look for a campsite. All the dispersed sites were taken, so we just pitched our tent at the Hurricane Creek Trailhead. This trailhead is used by equestrians, so it was a bit stinky, but it was just for one night. The cooler temps sure were nice! It had been in the mid-80s in Enterprise but back in the canyon it was in the mid-70s.

Campsite

The trailhead parking was a little bit above the creek. We grabbed our chairs and headed down there to chill out. Very pleasant!

Hurricane Creek

Hurricane Creek

We could see Sacajewea Peak up the canyon:

Hurricane Creek

Sunday morning we broke camp and headed over to the Wallowa Lake Trailhead where we parked the car, put on our packs (mine was 33.5 pounds, Greg’s was 32.4), and hit the trail at 9:40am. The first few miles are along the West Fork Wallowa River:

Hiking to Ice Lake

Hiking to Ice Lake

Passing the wilderness boundary:

Ice Lake Trail

Occasionally we had a good view of the river:

Hiking to Ice Lake

But mostly we were just in the brush:

Ice Lake Trail

Stopping to admire the peaks above:

Ice Lake Trail

After hiking for 90 minutes and 2.9 miles we reached the junction with the Ice Lake Trail:

Ice Lake Trail

We crossed the river on this log bridge:

Ice Lake Trail

There used to be a much bigger bridge at this crossing but it was wiped out in 2011:


Photo by John Sparks

Downstream of the current bridge is a mess of logs and trees and I think maybe parts of the old bridge are in this mess:

Broken bridge

This video shows a crew putting in the new bridge in the fall of 2012. Wow, what an undertaking!

The trail switchbacks up through a grassy meadow:

Ice Lake Trail

Ice Lake Trail

Ice Lake Trail

We saw some burnt trees from the 2014 West Fork Fire:

Burnt trees

We were pleasantly surprised by all the wildflowers we saw, which lasted pretty much the whole way to Ice lake:

Ice Lake Trail

Ice Lake Trail<

Ice Lake Trail

Ice Lake Trail

Ice Lake Trail

Ice Lake Trail

At 12:20 we had hiked 4.5 miles and stopped for a break above a waterfall. According to the Northwest Waterfall Survey there are four waterfalls on Adam Creek: Lower Adam Creek Falls, Beauty Falls, Middle Adam Creek Falls, and Ice Falls. I believe this one is Lower Adam Creek Falls:

Ice Lake Trail

Then we continued climbing. Thank goodness for the numerous switchbacks and the well-graded trail, which made the elevation gain more bearable:

Ice Lake Trail

Ice Lake Trail

Ice Lake Trail

We passed another waterfall. I think this one is Beauty Falls (and off in the distance you can see another waterfall further upstream on Adam Creek, which may be Ice Falls):

Ice Lake Trail

Ice Lake Trail

Ice Lake Trail

At 5.7 miles we crossed a gurgling creek in a beautiful meadow. We stopped to rest and filter water:

Ice Lake Trail

Ice Lake Trail

Wildflowers

From the meadow we could see the slope up which the trail would soon be switchbacking:

Ice Lake Trail

And soon enough we were up there looking back down at the meadow:

Ice Lake Trail

The higher we got, the more impressive things looked:

Ice Lake Trail

Ice Lake Trail

Ice Lake Trail

Unfortunately the trail is showing signs of heavy abuse here. Every single switchback has at least one eroded shortcut:

Ice Lake Trail

Ice Lake Trail

I see the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest is still improperly using quotation marks on their fire ban signs, which we have seen elsewhere in this wilderness:

Ice Lake Trail

Air quotes

After nearly eight miles we’ve reached the lake!

Ice Lake Trail

The campsites are to the left, which requires crossing Adam Creek. There’s no bridge so I just plowed across and got my boots wet. I was too tired to care.

Ice Lake Trail

Greg tried this log:

Ice Lake Trail

The next day we would discover a big logjam at the lake outlet that is much easier to use for crossing:

Ice Lake outlet

Then we followed the lakeshore over to the campsites:

Ice Lake Trail

Since it was Sunday afternoon and the weekend crowd had cleared out, we had plenty to choose from. We found one we liked and called it good. We were too tired to explore around and find the “perfect” campsite. Besides, this one had a pretty good view.

Ice Lake Trail

Ice Lake Campsite

Ice Lake

We went down to the shore and enjoyed the cool water.

Ice Lake

This is a great swimming lake and Greg did just that.

Ice Lake

There were even some wildflowers (including heather!) blooming along the lake near our campsite:

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

We made dinner and enjoyed watching the lake:

Ice Lake

Ice Lake

We crawled into the tent before 8 to escape the mosquitoes. It never got very cold overnight, which was weird since we were at such a high elevation. Monday morning was gorgeous and as soon as I got out of the tent I grabbed my camera and started taking photos.

Ice Lake

Ice Lake

Ice Lake

We ate breakfast and hit the trail, heading off for the Matterhorn. From the east side of the lake we had a view of our destination, the white hump up there:

Ice Lake

Ice Lake

Matterhron

We crossed Adam Creek and turned left to follow the trail along the north shore of the lake.

Ice Lake

Ice Lake

Ice Lake

The wildflowers were beautiful!

Wildflowers

Hiking up the Matterhorn

Hiking up the Matterhorn

We left the lake and started climbing steeply:

Hiking up the Matterhorn

Hiking up the Matterhorn

Hiking up the Matterhorn

This hardy tree made a go of it for a long time, but didn’t make it. It’s still pretty, though:

Hiking up the Matterhorn

More wildflowers:

Hiking up the Matterhorn

Hiking up the Matterhorn

Hiking up the Matterhorn

Hiking up the Matterhorn

Hiking up the Matterhorn

We got high enough that we could look down on Ice Lake:

Hiking up the Matterhorn

By now we were well above treeline:

Hiking up the Matterhorn

Hiking up the Matterhorn

That’s the Matterhorn on the right:

Hiking up the Matterhorn

Looking back down at where we’ve been:

Hiking up the Matterhorn

There was a tarn way below the trail. We didn’t go down there because we didn’t want to have to climb back up to the trail:

Hiking up the Matterhorn

Almost there! You can see the trail as it enters the granite area of the mountain:

Hiking up the Matterhorn

Matterhorn

It’s hard to tell from this picture, but this side of the Matterhorn is actually riddled with user trails:

Hiking up the Matterhorn

And then we were at the top! At 9,826′ this is the second-tallest peak in the Wallowa Mountains. (Sacajewea is right next door and at 9,838′ it is the tallest. It is also Oregon’s tallest peak outside the Cascade Mountains.) We were disappointed to see that it was very hazy all around us. We had a signal on our phones so we learned that all this smoke was from hundreds of miles away, from southern Oregon and even Redding, California. All of Oregon was covered in smoke. Yuck. I cleaned up this shot in Photoshop, but the rest are straight out of the camera:

View from the Matterhorn

Looking northwest. That’s Hurricane Creek way down there:

View from the Matterhorn

View from the Matterhorn

Looking across to Granite lake:

View from the Matterhorn

And Billy Jones Lake:

View from the Matterhorn

Looking north. You can just barely make out the farmland of the Wallowa Valley out there, but it’s so hazy it’s hard to see:

View from the Matterhorn

Looking south. The peak on the right is Eagle Cap, which we hiked up in 2013:

View from the Matterhorn

Here is the view from Eagle Cap looking north to the Matterhorn on that rainy 2013 visit:

Looking north

Panorama:

Matterhorn View

There are two summits on the Matterhorn and we weren’t sure we were on the true summit. It looked like the other one might be taller, so we headed over there:

View from the Matterhorn

View from the Matterhorn

But once we were up there and looked back, we thought maybe the other one was the true summit. In any case, we never found a survey disk or a summit register on either summit.

More view shots:

Matterhorn View

Matterhorn View

Matterhorn View

After sitting and enjoying the view for awhile and having a snack, we headed back down. The whole time we were up there we only saw one other hiker.

Matterhorn View

Matterhorn View

On the way back down the views of Ice Lake were better since the sun was now behind us:

Matterhorn View

Ice Lake

Ice Lake

More wildflower shots:

Wildflowers

Wildflowers

And then finally we were back down to lake level. This scene was just too lovely!

Ice Lake

Hiking back along the north shore of the lake:

Ice Lake

Ice Lake

Ice Lake

Untitled

Wildflowers

Crossing the lake outlet:

Untitled

After a little more than four miles round-trip (it sure felt longer than that!) we were back at our campsite. Greg went swimming again and I waded. It felt good to relax and cool off after our steep hike:

Time for dinner! We drank the rest of the wine we’d packed in, which we “chilled” in the lake. (It didn’t actually get very cold.)

Time for dinner

Chilling our wine

That evening I wandered around about a bit to see what there was to see. Our campsite was on the peninsula you can see in the photos I took from above, so there was a cove back there that provided some lovely photo ops:

Ice Lake

Ice Lake

Campfires are not allowed at Ice Lake at any time, yet I saw evidence of them anyway. I spent ten minutes dismantling this fire ring. I forgot to take a “before” shot, but here’s the after:

Illegal campfire

It was another not-cold night, and when we woke up Tuesday morning we found that after 24 hours of smoke drifting into the area we now had super hazy skies. Some clouds had rolled in too.

Ice Lake

Ice Lake

We enjoyed a quiet breakfast with just the sounds of a few birds and the lake water. Very peaceful.

Backpacking breakfast!

We packed up, said goodbye to Ice Lake, and started heading down:

Ice Lake

These rocks weren’t fun going up and they weren’t any more fun coming down.

Ice Lake Trail

Hazy skies and clouds made for humid hiking:

Smokey skies

We paused under the log bridge for a break before the final push back to the car:

West Fork Wallowa River

We had a room (and hot shower!) waiting for us at the Indian Lodge Motel in Joseph:

Post-hike hotel

After a most-refreshing shower we drove over to Enterprise and had dinner at Terminal Gravity:

Terminal Gravity

Great trip! It was fantastic to finally visit this gem and it was REALLY awesome to not be there on a weekend so we could enjoy some peace and quiet. Ice Lake is truly even more gorgeous than I had imagined, and it was cool to hike up the Matterhorn even though we had to deal with some smoke. In total we hiked 20 miles!

Happy backpackers