South Waldo Lake

South Waldo Lake is a hike that had been bumped for the schedule the past two years for various reasons. Last year it was due to the nearby Deception Creek Fire which caused the area to be rather smokey at times. Smokey conditions were exactly what prompted us to move this hike up two weeks on our schedule and finally do it. We had originally planned on making our first visit to the Indian Heaven Wilderness in Washington but scrapped those plans when the forecast called for a shift in wind direction that would flood that area with smoke from the Cougar Creek Fire near Mt. Adams. The forecast for the Waldo Lake Wilderness looked quite a bit more appealing. It called for hazy skies but it didn’t appear that smoke from any of the numerous fires would be heading directly for that area.

It was a beautiful morning as we began our hike from the Shadow Bay Boat Launch on Waldo Lake.
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There was a little haze on the horizon but the skies were blue overhead. There was a good bit of wind blowing which made for a cold morning as we headed along the Shore Trail.
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Occasional glimpses of Waldo Lake revealed the clear blue waters of the second largest natural lake in Oregon.
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At the 1.7 mile mark we arrived at the South Waldo Shelter. It was one of the nicest and well stocked shelters we’d visited.
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Just beyond the shelter after crossing a footbridge we arrived at a junction with the South Waldo Trail. Here we left the Shore Trail and entered the Waldo Lake Wilderness.
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We followed this trail through the wilderness for 1.6 miles passing small meadows and a pond to a four way trail junction.
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The trail left the wilderness just before reaching the junction. At the junction there were signs and flagging up for a trail run that was happening that morning. We had seen the runners preparing for the race when we were driving to the trailhead and had wondered where their course was. A runner was just passing the junction as we arrived and we cheered him on before continuing. We were a little distracted by the signs and runners and wound up taking the wrong trail. We had meant to take the first trail on the right but had not seen the correct one as the race organizers had laid some branches down across it so the runners wouldn’t take a wrong turn. We were on the race course now heading in the opposite direction of the runners. We moved and offered support as they passed by. We hadn’t gone too far before we both began to get the feeling we had taken the wrong path at the junction. A quick check of the GPS confirmed our suspicions and we hustled back to the junction.
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This time we saw the partly obscured path and headed toward Black Meadows. We reentered the wilderness and climbed up and over a ridge.
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The trail led down to Black Meadows at the base of Fuji Mountain (A hike we did in October of 2013 https://wanderingyuncks.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/fuji-mountain/).
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On the far end of the meadows we arrived at the High Divide Trail. This trail starts at Road 381 and leads to the Shore Trail along Waldo Lake.
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We turned right on the High Divide Trail toward Waldo Lake and began to climb up toward Bingo Lake. The trail had quite a few downed trees across it but none were too difficult to go over or around.
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As we climbed we could see Fuji Mountain behind us.
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In front of us was a forest that showed signs of an old burn and was now filled with berry bushes.
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We stopped at Bingo Lake which was a peaceful little lake and a great place for a break.
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The High Divide Trail headed downhill from Bingo Lake to its junction with the Shore Trail along Waldo Lake.
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We turned right on the Shore Trail passing the shelter in .6 miles and arriving back at the trailhead after another 1.7 miles. Along the way we stopped along the lake shore to take in a view of Twin Peaks and the Middle and South Sister across the lake.
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It had turned out to be a really nice day with only a slight amount of haze on the horizon and we were really glad that we had decided on this hike. We were even happier with our choice when we arrived back in the Willamette Valley to find it inundated with smoke. Eastern winds had funneled smoke from fires as far east as Idaho down the Columbia Gorge and then into the valley. It was a stark contrast to the blue skies above the Waldo Lake Wilderness. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157655297413233

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