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.
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:
I crossed the dry North Santiam River:
And after 3.5 miles I reached Duffy Lake, with Duffy Butte towering above:
At one campsite I saw a car camping stove and four canister of propane fuel. That’s heavy!
I also saw a raft:
I walked around to the west end of the lake to get a view of Three Fingered Jack:
Back on the trail I crossed the dry lake outlet:
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:
Mowich Lake is next:
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:
The other side of Duffy Butte is also visible:
The pearly everlasting were everywhere!
Interesting to see how the forest is recovering post-fire. This section of hillside was covered in millions of 15-year-old trees:
Next up was tiny Alice Lake, which was more like a pond:
At the south end of Alice Lake a user trail heads off into the trees. I believe this is the route up Red Butte:
Shortly before the trail started descending beyond Alice Lake I got a peek at Mt. Jefferson through the trees:
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:
I went right, then followed a user trail down to the shore of Jorn Lake. Beautiful!
I pitched my tent in the trees:
Then I set off to do some exploring. I hiked half a mile further down the Bowerman Lake Trail to 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:
Then I headed up the Blue Lake Trail, which passes the west end of Jorn Lake:
Then starts climbing above it:
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:
Three Fingered Jack:
From the lakeshore you can’t see that there’s an island, but up here I got a good view of it:
0.8mi past the junction at Jorn Lake is Blue Lake:
The forest here burned pretty thoroughly and now there is only one campsite, and it doesn’t have much shade:
On the way back from Blue Lake I happened to spot two bushes full of 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:
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:
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:
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:
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:
It was hot hiking through the 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.