Fawn Lake – Diamond Peak Wilderness

A week after scrapping a planned four day backpacking trip in the Diamond Peak Wilderness due to weather we found ourselves heading to that same wilderness because of weather. Our one available day for hiking this week coincided with the one wet day in the forecast. When that happens we usually look at several different areas to find the one with the best chance to stay dry. This time that appeared to be Fawn Lake in the Diamond Peak Wilderness with just a 30% chance of showers. With our plans set we drove to the Fawn Lake Trailhead near Crescent Lake. To reach the trailhead we turned SW onto NF 60 at a sign for Crescent Lake between mileposts 69 and 70 along Highway 58 (in Crescent Junction). After 2.2 miles we continued on NF 60 where it made a right turn at a sno-park. After an additional .3 miles we turned left at a sign for the Crescent Lake Campground/Fawn Lake Trailhead.

It is an interesting trailhead, the parking area is a day use lot located next to the Crescent Lake Campground. A trail sign at the far end of the parking lot pointed to the Fawn Lake Trailhead.
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We followed this path and in a tenth of a mile came to a crossing of NF 60.
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Another pointer for the Fawn Lake Trailhead lay on the far side of the road.
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A short distance later we arrived at a sign for the actual Fawn Lake Trail and a signboard with self-issued wilderness permits.
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The Fawn Lake Trail set off in a mostly lodgepole pine forest and just after a 4-way junction with the Metolious-Windigo Trail entered the Diamond Peak Wilderness.
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After entering the wilderness the trail climbed gradually for approximately three quarters of a mile through a mix of lodgepole and fir forest to a fork.
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This was the start of a loop past Fawn and Pretty Lakes.
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We went right heading for Fawn Lake which was just over 2.5 miles away. The trail contoured around a ridge end climbing gradually through a nice forest.
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The trail split again at Fawn Lake.
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The left fork was the upper end of the loop, but before we started on the loop we had plans to visit a couple of other lakes in the wilderness so we went right stopping briefly to visit the shore of Fawn Lake. We had driven through a number of showers on the way to the trail but so far the hike had been dry. From the lake Redtop Mountain to the SE was cloud free while Lakeview Mountain to the SW was not.
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IMG_3048Lakeview Mountain (to the right behind clouds)

We continued on around the north end of the lake to the end of the Fawn Lake Trail at a junction with the Crater Butte Trail.
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Here we stayed left and climbed above Fawn Lake.
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A mile from Fawn Lake we came to the Stag Lake Trail.
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It was clouding up at this point and a light mist was falling. We decided to wait on the side trip to Stag Lake which lay at the base of Lakeview Mountain hoping that it would be a little clearer on the way back.
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We followed the pointer for Saddle Lake and continued uphill through the forest.
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After .6 miles the trail steepened as it climbed out of a gully to a saddle.
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After .3 miles of switchbacks we arrived at the saddle where the trail leveled out for a tenth of a mile to Saddle Lake.
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A steady light rain was now falling but not enough for us to need to break out the rain gear.
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The weather and the scenery really let us know that Fall had arrived.
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After a break at Saddle Lake we headed back to the junction with the Stag Lake Trail and turned left onto it.
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This fairly level .4 mile trail passed a small pond before arriving at Stag Lake.
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The clouds had not lifted so our view of Lakeview Mountain was fairly obscured.
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We would get a much better look at the mountain from the car as we were trying to leave (more on that later).

After visiting Stag Lake we returned to the Crater Butte Trail and headed back toward Fawn Lake. Shortly before reaching the lake we turned right on a path we had noticed earlier hoping to pass around the west side of the lake and hooking up with the Pretty Lake Trail to the SW of the lake.
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The open forest made cross country travel relatively easy.
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Using our GPS we made our way to the SW shore of Fawn Lake where the Pretty Lake Trail was just a few feet away in the forest.
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Once we were on the Pretty Lake Trail we turned right for a fairly level .4 miles to the start of a short .3 mile climb.
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The trial then crested a low pass and descended slightly for another .3 miles to Pretty Lake.
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It was a little under 2 miles from Pretty Lake back to the Fawn Lake Trail junction. The trail descended a ridge with a bit of a view of Odell Butte to the north.
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We completed the loop then followed the Fawn Lake Trail back .8 miles to our car. With the side trips to Saddle and Stag Lakes this was a 12.7 mile hike with approximately 1500′ of elevation gain. It would have been nice to have had better views of Lakeview Mountain, but it was still a nice hike and we have a good excuse to go back and redo this hike someday.

The only real negative to the day was as we were headed home. A train was stopped blocking NF 60 and we were informed that it could be a couple of hours before it was able to move. We didn’t have a sufficient road map to figure out which forest roads might bypass the train and after a failed attempt to find an alternate route we returned to the stopped train and waited. As we were driving around though we noticed that Lakeview Mountain was now entirely free of clouds. After sitting at the tracks for a little over an hour the train was finally on its way and so were we. Happy (train free) Trails!

Flickr: Fawn Lake

Tahkenitch Creek

After three nights in Bandon it was time to say goodbye and head home. We woke up early on Sunday to find that it had rained overnight. As we headed north on Highway 101 we passed through a number of showers and began to think that it was going to be a wet hike at Tahkenitch Creek. In fact the heaviest shower began in Reedsport just nine miles south of the trailhead.

When we arrived at the small parking area we were happy to find that it wasn’t raining there, at least yet.IMG_2960

In 2015 (post) we visited the area on either side of this trail but had skipped over this particular trail. The Tahkenitch Creek Trail set off through the forest on the north side of Tahkenitch Creek which it quickly crossed on a footbridge.IMG_2961

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The wet morning hadn’t kept the wildlife from making appearances.IMG_2973

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Beyond the footbridge there was a short section of boardwalk then we came to a junction with a trail map.IMG_2967

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This junction was only three tenths of a mile from the trailhead and marked the beginning of a couple of loop options. We stayed to the right passing a couple of views of Tahkenitch Creek including the site of a possible ford. We had checked out the ford from the other side in 2015 and were no more interested in doing it this time around.IMG_2986

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Possible ford site

The trail spent quite a bit of time away from the creek before arriving at another junction a half mile from the start of the loops.IMG_2991

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A left here would have created a 1 mile loop and a 1.6 mile hike overall, but we stayed right opting for a longer option. The trail continued through the forest for another .8 miles to the next junction. We had been having to watch where we stepped all morning due to the presence of numerous slugs but along this section we also saw a rough skinned newt in the trail.IMG_3000

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We faced another choice at this junction. Simply turning left would create a two mile loop, but a right hand turn would lead us to the Tahkenitch Dunes Trail in just under a mile. We had hiked the dunes trail to the beach in 2015 so we decided to go to that junction to link up the two hikes.IMG_3005

This stretch of trail remained in the forest until the junction. A brief right hand turn onto the Tahkenitch Dunes Trail provided a bit of a view of the creek and of the Pacific Ocean in the distance.IMG_3006

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It would have been another .8 miles to reach the beach on the dunes trail, and since we had hiked that stretch before we decided to turn back here and get home earlier.IMG_3012

We kept right at junctions on the way back passing briefly though a sandy landscape.IMG_3015

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As we exited the sandy area we met a gentleman who was looking for a good view of sand dunes to the south. He said he was working on a photography book of the Oregon Coast and had hoped to get some photos of the fog on some of the nearby lakes but due to the rain there was no fog over the water. We suggested he try the Oregon Dunes Overlook just north of where we were. We wished him luck and continued on.

The rain finally started to come down as we completed the loop so we hustled back to the trailhead and got into the car before we got too wet.IMG_3022

Even with the side trip to the Tahkenitch Dunes Trail this was only a 4.3 mile hike, and the shorter loop options make it a great leg stretch stop or hike for the younger kids. For us it was a nice way to end our mini-vacation and one more featured hike checked off from William L. Sullivan’s “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Oregon Coast & Coast Range” guidebook. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Tahkenitch Creek

Barklow Mountain and Bullards Beach

When we changed our plans from a backpacking trip in the Diamond Peak Wilderness to a long weekend in Bandon one of the more exciting prospects was being able to check off a visit to our 38th Oregon Wilderness Area – the Copper-Salmon Wilderness. We had attempted to visit that particular wilderness in 2017 but a washed out road denied us access to the Barklow Mountain Northeast Trailhead (post)

For this trip we would be using the Barklow Mountain West Trailhead. We used the Oregonhikers.com field guide entry here to reach the trailhead. The guide mentions that the road is prone to rockfall and slides and that it is best to wait for the dry months of Summer to attempt to reach the trailhead. Based on the conditions we encountered along the roads that is not an understatement.
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Prior to reaching the vehicular obstacle course that was the Forest Service Roads we spotted a small elk herd and a number of deer along Elk River Road. It was still a bit dark for pictures but we did our best from the idling car.
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We parked at the small pullout that is the trailhead after a long drive (time wise) that included stopping a couple of times to remove small trees from the road and also at the junction with FR 390 because the 390 post was in the center of a fork and we didn’t want to be on that road but we couldn’t tell which one the post was referring to. (Hint – The left fork was FR 390 so we went right.)
IMG_2791Barklow Mountain West Trailhead

The Barklow Mountain Trail dropped slightly from a closed road bed and quickly entered the Copper-Salmon Wilderness.
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The forest along the trail was a mix of tanoak and madrone and some sections with fir and pine.
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Not unlike the roads to the trailhead there were a few obstacles to maneuver around.
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After a mile and a half of climbing, the trail arrived at a saddle junction.
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The trail to the left led to Johnson Creek Road.
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The trail to the right was the one we wanted. This trail would lead up up to the old lookout site atop Barklow Mountain.
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Approximately .3 miles beyond the junction we came to an unmarked side trail heading downhill to the right.
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This short spur trail led down to the site of a now collapsed shelter.
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Beyond the shelter the trail steepened a bit as it wound beneath Barklow Mountain.
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We passed through a patch of manzanita where we had a nice view south of nearby Copper Mountain.
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A total of .4 miles from the old shelter we arrived at an unsigned junction on a ridge. Here we turned left to visit the lookout site.
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From the lookout site we could barely make out the Pacific to the SW along with Grassy Knob (post).
IMG_2836Grassy Knob is on the horizon just to the left of the near trees.

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After a break we headed back to the car and navigated the obstacle course again. Fortunately we did not encounter any other cars until we were clear of the mess. We then drove back to Bandon, passed through town, and continued north on Highway 101 for three miles to the signed turn for Bullards Beach State Park.

We parked at the beach access parking lot which is located 1.3 miles from the highway.
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Our plan was to hike a clockwise loop along the Coquille River, the north jetty, and the beach. From the parking lot we headed inland on a paved path signed for the campground.
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We followed this path until we had crossed the entrance to the Bullards Beach Horse Camping Area.
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Just beyond that entrance (.4 miles from the beach parking area) we turned right off the paved path and crossed the paved park entrance road onto a dirt road which led us down to the Coquille River.
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There was no actual trail along the river so we spent most of the next 2 miles walking along the sandy river bank. We were forced inland a couple of times in order to cross water on logs.
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There was a lot of activity on the river between boats and birds.
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As we neared the north jetty across from Bandon’s Old Downtown we turned inland at a sandy gap which led to a gravel road.
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We followed this road for .4 miles staying left at a fork on a grassy track.
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The road bed ended at the Coquille River Lighthouse. An Army Corps of Engineers ship was busily going back and forth near the mouth of the river.
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Once past the lighthouse we continued out along the north jetty for .2 miles.
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It was a much better day visibility wise than the previous one had been and from the jetty we got a decent look at some of the Bandon Islands on the other side of the river.
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The view north was much less rocky.
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After partaking of the view we headed back, hopping off the jetty and onto Bullards Beach.
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After 1.5 miles along the beach we turned inland and climbed over the foredune to the beach access parking area.
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After a shower and change of clothes we found ourselves wandering through the old downtown again. When it was time for dinner we decided to go back to Foley’s Irish Pub. After another good meal there and desert from Pastries and Pizzas we turned in for the night. We had agreed that Bandon had quickly become one of our favorite coastal towns and were already looking forward to our next visit. Happy Trails!

Flirck: Barklow Mountain and Bullards Beach

New River and Bandon Islands

We had changed our mini-vacation plans from a four day backpacking loop around and up Diamond Peak to four days of hiking on the Oregon Coast due to the possibility of wet weather. Wet weather isn’t typically a big deal at the coast and drying off in a motel room is a lot more convenient than trying to keep your backpacking gear dry for multiple days. When we had looked at the forecast for Bandon the best looking day weather wise had been Friday with a forecast of mostly sunny and no chance of showers. We planned a pair of hikes for that day, first at the New River Recreation Area and then a walk along the beach starting at the Bandon South Jetty Park.

The BLM managed New River Recreation Area is located eight miles south of Bandon on Croft Lake Road. We parked near the New River Nature Center which hadn’t opened yet for the day.

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We headed north from the parking area onto the signed North Trail.

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A little over a quarter mile along this forested path we came to a junction with the Ridge Trail.

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We turned right onto this trail which made a .4 mile horseshoe along the top of an old dune now covered in vegetation including some madrone trees.

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At a bench at the end of the Ridge Trail we turned right onto the Huckleberry Hill Trail (If we had gone straight at the North/Ridge Trail junction we would have wound up here in less than a tenth of a mile.)

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We followed the Huckleberry Hill trail .4 miles down an increasingly sandy track to the Ocean View Trail where we turned left (the only choice).

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Huckleberries along the Huckleberry Hill Trail

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After just 430′ on the Ocean View Trail we took a signed spur trail to the right to a viewpoint.

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We arrived at the New River in less than 100 yards. The Ocean was barely visible on the other side of a low rise on the beach between the river and the Pacific.

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We returned to the main trail and continued an additional .2 miles before arriving at the New River Boat Ramp.

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It was a little foggy but we could see quite a few Canada geese and an egret in the river.

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From the boat ramp we followed the road for .2 miles to the Muddy Lake Trail.

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Two tenths of a mile from the road we turned right on the .1 mile New River Spur Trail.

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Instead of burning off we noticed that the fog was getting thicker when we arrived back at the river.

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Canada geese

We headed back to the Muddy Lake Trail which we followed for about 110 yards, crossing over a boardwalk, to a very short spur trail leading to a bird blind at Muddy Lake.

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We were fortunate enough to have a couple of different birds hunting their morning meal near the blind.

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The egret seemed to be having quite a bit of success.

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After watching the birds from the blind we continued on. A little over a quarter mile from the blind we came to another trail junction.

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This first junction wasn’t signed but just over the small hill was a signed junction letting us know that this was the Old Bog Trail.

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This .3 mile trail climbed up and over an old dune to the site of an old cranberry bog.

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After reading the history of the bog we returned to the Muddy Lake Trail and followed it another .2 miles back to the New River Nature Center. Even with all the side trips this was only a 3.6 mile hike making it a good option for the kiddos.

We drove back north to Bandon and used the GPS to guide us through town to the Bandon South Jetty Park located at the end of Lincoln Ave. SW across the Coquille River from the Coquille River Lighthouse.

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We headed down to the beach just south of the jetty. There was a little bit of blue sky to the north and inland to the east.

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That was not the case however to the south where we were headed.

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We would be passing by a series of ocean rocks and islands along a three and a half mile stretch of beach from the jetty to Devils Kitchen. We headed into the fog hoping that it would indeed burn off as the day progressed. In the meantime the tide was out allowing us to get a closer look at some of the rocks. Please note that climbing on any of the rocks and tidepooling is banned so keep your distance and use your binoculars or camera’s zoom.

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We got to see an actual live crab dig itself back into the sand.

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The rocky islands were neat but with the fog limiting visibility they weren’t as impressive as they should have been. For one thing we could only see the ones close by and couldn’t get a feel for just how many and how big they were.

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Near the two mile mark below the Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint there were a few sea caves present at Grave Point.

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Beyond Grave Point the number of sea stacks and islands dwindled as the beach flattened out. In the next 1.9 miles we crossed Johnson Creek and passed Fish Rock before arriving at Crooked Creek and Devils Kitchen.

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Fish Rock aka Haystack Rock

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Devils Kitchen

We climbed up to the Devils Kitchen parking lot.

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We made use of a bench at a viewpoint above Devils Kitchen where we had a snack and took a break.

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We were still hoping that the fog would burn off as promised as we headed back along the beach but alas it was not to be.

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By the time we’d gotten back to the car we had decided that we would be trying this hike again the next time we were in the area. We have a few more hikes left to complete between Bandon and Coos Bay and the Bandon Islands will be a part of that trip.

After cleaning up in the motel we walked across Highway 101 into Bandon’s Old Town and did a little shopping. They were having a farmers market where we came away with a few goodies. After a hitting the farmers market and a few of the shops we stopped into Bandon Brewing for a beer and an appetizer, at least that had been the plan. We ordered the small Spinach Artichoke Stix from the bradsticks section of the menu. We had expected a few breadsticks with some dip, but it turned out to be more like a pizza and was quite a bit larger than we’d anticipated. That wasn’t a bad thing as they were delicious and we had no problem finishing them off. It ended up being our dinner which was fine because we had also picked up some pastries from Pastries and Pizzas which was located dangerously close to our motel.

The pastries hit the spot that night and we went to bed satisfied and ready for another day of hiking on Saturday. Happy Trails!

Flickr: New River and Bandon Islands

Taylor Dunes, Lake Marie, and Umpqua Dunes

We’d been fortunate this year having only been forced to change plans due to weather twice, in February due to snow in the coast range and at the end of our trip to the Elkhorns when thunderstorms forced us to cancel our plans to visit the lookout atop Mt. Ireland. For the third time in the last four years our September vacation coincided with a forecast for snow in the mountains. We had planned a four day trip around and up Diamond Peak, but with a chance of rain or snow showers all four days we decided to turn to our alternate plan which was a trip to Bandon, OR on the Oregon Coast.

We had three stops planned in the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area on our way down to Bandon. Our first stop was at the Taylor Dunes Trailhead located seven and a half miles south of Florence.IMG_2286

From the small parking area the trail immediately crossed a paved road and passed by Taylor Lake.IMG_2287

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After .4 miles we arrived at a viewpoint above the dunes.IMG_2305

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From the viewpoint we followed the trail through the sand for half a mile to a signed junction.IMG_2311

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We turned right here on a half mile trail that passed through a forest behind a foredune before arriving at the Pacific Ocean.IMG_2313

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After reaching the ocean we returned to the junction and turned right to complete a loop through the Carter Lake Campground.IMG_2338

Carter Lake

The final .4 miles of the loop was along the paved campground road.IMG_2339

Our second stop was at Lake Marie, about 18 miles south of Taylor Dunes, in the Umpqua Lighthouse State Park. We parked at the Lake Marie Trailhead and set off on the 1 mile loop clockwise around the lake.IMG_2340

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The fishermen around the lake had some competition from the local wildlife.IMG_2352

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Just under a mile around the lake a short spur trail led to a viewpoint overlooking more dunes.IMG_2372

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We completed the loop and then decided to walk the tenth of a mile up Lighthouse Road to see the Umpqua River Lighthouse.IMG_2381

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A viewpoint at the lighthouse looked out to the mouth of the Umpqua River.IMG_2383

There was also a gray whale jawbone nearby.IMG_2387

After visiting the lighthouse we returned to our car and continued south on Highway 101 for another 5.5 miles to the signed John Dellenback Dune Trailhead.IMG_2390

The trail left the parking area and immediately crossed Eel Creek on a footbridge.IMG_2391

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The trail passed a marshy area where a great blue heron was looking for breakfast.IMG_2401

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At the quarter mile mark the trail crossed a paved road in Eel Creek Campground.IMG_2403

In just .2 more miles the trail left the trees and entered the dunes.IMG_2407

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Poles marked the route of the trail through the shifting sands of the dunes, but we began to doubt that we were really supposed to follow the poles when they began to veer to the north (right) of a tree island. The GPS appeared to show the trail passing to the south (left) of that island.IMG_2418

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There were footprints leading to both sides of the trees so we decided to trust the GPS and headed to the left.IMG_2428

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When we reached the vegetation of the deflation plain just under two miles from the trailhead we were unable to find any sign of a trail. We did however find a lupine still in bloom.IMG_2442

We attempted to locate some sign of a trail in the area shown on the GPS but each time we thought we might have found a way through the brush it got too dense to continue. We worked our way north along the edge of the vegetation for nearly half a mile where we finally spotted some signs.IMG_2443

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For the next three quarters of a mile the trail passed through a variety of scenery before reaching the ocean.IMG_2445

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We followed the beach south for about a mile before turning back.IMG_2460

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On the way back we followed the posts along the north side of the island.IMG_2476

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We took a side trip up the tallest of the dunes before reaching a junction at the edge of the trees.IMG_2490

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We went right at the junction for a half mile to complete a loop back to the trailhead.IMG_2498

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With our wandering around this hike came in at 8 miles giving us a total of 12.7 on the day. We ended the day in Bandon where we explored the old downtown and had a wonderful dinner at Foley’s Irish Pub. A good start as far as backup plans go. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Taylor Dunes, Lake Marie, and Umpqua Dunes

Pamelia Lake Overnighter

As I mentioned in our recent Table Lake Loop Trip Report (post)we had plans to visit Goat Peak, a 7159′ peak just south of Mt. Jefferson. We had obtained a Pamelia Limited Area Entry Permit in May when they became available for September 8th and 9th. It was a roll of the dice not knowing what the wildfire or weather situations would be four months down the road but it ensured that we would be able to go if conditions permitted it. Aside from a slight chance of showers the morning of the 8th the forecast looked good so that morning we drove to the Pamelia Lake Trailhead and set off.IMG_1945

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We had been here once before in 2013 on a long loop to Hunts Cove (post).

From the trailhead the Pamelia Lake Trail travels just under two and a quarter miles to the lake. Along the way the trail passes through some very nice forest scenery with several views of Pamelia Creek.IMG_1948

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Just prior to arriving at the Pamelia Lake the trail veers left at a junction with the Grizzly Peak Trail which heads to the right.

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Our original plan for this trip had been to take the Pamelia Lake Trail to the Pacific Crest Trail via the Hunts Creek Trail and follow the PCT up to Coyote (aka Mud) and Shale Lakes where we would set up camp before attempting to reach Goat Peak. After some additional consideration though we decided that setting up camp at Pamelia Lake might be a better option. Setting up camp there would eliminate the need to haul our heavy backpacks up the PCT while also leaving us with a hike out the next day of less than two and a half miles. It did mean we would be adding nearly 4.5 miles to Saturdays hike, but on paper it would still only be around 15 miles. The designated campsites at the lake were all along its left (north) side so we followed a use trail straight ahead from the junction and started looking for an open site.

We wound up choosing site #3 which kept us relatively close to the Grizzly Peak Trail junction as well as the Hunts Creek Trail junction.IMG_1966

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After setting up camp we briefly visited the shore of Pamelia Lake then we headed up to the Hunts Creek Trail.IMG_1967

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We turned left onto the Hunts Creek Trail and followed it around a ridge for nearly three quarters of a mile to its end at a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail gaining a view of Mt. Jefferson along the way.IMG_1975

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On our loop to Hunts Cove I had taken the short side trip north on the PCT to see Milk Creek but Heather had not so we turned left at the junction and followed the PCT for a tenth of a mile through vine maple donning its fall colors to a viewpoint above the creek of Mt. Jefferson.IMG_1983

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After checking off the viewpoint we turned around and headed south on the PCT which climbed gradually through a varied forest.IMG_1990

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Along the way some movement in a fir tree caught our attention. At first we thought it might be a medium sized mammal of some kind but it turned out to be a squirrel harvesting cones that were crashing down through the limbs after being detached.IMG_1995

Approximately four and a quarter miles from the junction we arrived at Mud Hole Lake. (On some maps it is identified as Coyote Lake but on the USGS Topographic Map the name Coyote Lake is assigned to another lake on the west side of the PCT.)IMG_2010

We turned off the PCT just before the lake on an unsigned but clear trail leading NE through a meadow.IMG_2014

We were using “75 Scrambles in Oregon: Best Non-Technical Ascents” by Barbara I. Bond as our reference for the hike. This was our first time using this particular guidebook but so far everything was going smoothly. The book did not mention that there was a clear trail to follow but we were headed straight for Goat Peak and we’d turned off the PCT at the right spot so we figured we were good to go.IMG_2016

Our intended route would lead us up above a talus slope to the north (left) of Goat Peak where we would then bend to the south at about 6800′.IMG_2020

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It was a lovely area with red huckleberry leaves and a few butterflies still flying about.IMG_2027

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The tread petered out for a bit in one meadow in particular but small cairns helped lead the way.IMG_2030

The unexpected presence of the well marked trail got us off our guard and we weren’t paying enough attention to the fact that our heading was drifting further north than we’d intended. In the meadow where the trail grew faint the cairns led to the left of a rocky ridge end. In order to reach Goat Peak we should have veered to the right here to find the correct gully uphill.IMG_2031

Instead we continued to follow the trail as we now were hearing other voices ahead. The trail began to climb away from the meadow passing more rock covered hillsides.IMG_2035

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It started seeming really odd that we seemed to be heading directly at Mt. Jefferson but kept thinking that maybe the trail would bend right around some geologic feature.IMG_2042

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I really started to question things when we caught up to the group of gentleman who were ahead of us. They asked how high we were planning on going which is when I became fairly certain we were on a climbers route and not the scramble route to Goat Peak. I replied “as high as our legs will take us”, knowing that if this wasn’t the right way to Goat Peak we’d gone to far to correct it by then. Shortly after we crested a rise and left the tress. We were now at the bottom of a boulder filled gully.IMG_2046

There wasn’t much we could do at that point other than go back or continue on so up we went.IMG_2048

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Cliffs on the right side of the gully.

As we gained elevation the views to the south opened up and the Three Sisters joined Three Fingered Jack on the horizon.IMG_2049

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We were well above the summit of Goat Peak by the time we reached the lip of the gully where stunted white bark pines clung to the steep slope.IMG_2057

Anxious to see what spectacular view awaited I charged up the final pitch only to find a second albeit smaller gully.IMG_2059

At least it had a view of Mt. Jefferson. There were a couple of bivouacs here and I waited for Heather to decide our next course of action. When she reached the second gully I decided to continue on and told her I would wave her up if I thought there was something that she just had to see. From where we were I could already see the top of Goat Peak below to the south as well as The Table and Cathedral Rocks.IMG_2060

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Goat Peak

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The Table

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Cathedral Rocks

Getting out of the second gully was much easier than the first and I soon found myself walking along a snowfield.IMG_2066

Later research would reveal that we were indeed following a climbers trail to the South Ridge Route up Mt. Jefferson. I ended my climb at the top of the snowfield but did a little exploring to the high points on either side of the gully.IMG_2069

Climbers trail continuing up Mt. Jefferson

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View south from the ridge to the north of the gully.

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Looking out along the ridge.

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Where we had intended to be.

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View from below the snowfield.

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Paintbrush below the snow.

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Looking south from the opposite ridge top.

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Wildflower atop the ridge.

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Bear Butte along the nearest ridge.

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Looking back at Mt. Jefferson

The views were nice but I didn’t think they warranted waving Heather up so I headed back down to where she was waiting. After a short break and a snack we began the half mile decent down the lower gully.IMG_2114

We passed the other group, who were still on their way up the lower gully, just after starting our descent. When we’d finally gotten back to level ground in the meadow we decided to check out the other side of the ridge to see if we find any sign of a trail we’d missed.IMG_2128_stitch

There wasn’t anything we could see, but based on all the information in the book including the map and GPS coordinates we definitely had wanted to be on this side of the ridge. Once we had gotten into the area we noticed that there were several ponds/lakes showing on the map to the south. The terrain appeared to be level enough to make a cross country jaunt inviting.IMG_2137

We used the map and GPS to locate several of the ponds but they were all dry save one unnamed lake. We did get some really nice views of Goat Peak though.IMG_2139

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We took another break at the lake.IMG_2162

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There were some tents set up nearby in the trees so we thought that there might be a trail somewhere nearby and set off looking for it when we left the lake. It didn’t take us long to spot the clear tread.IMG_2182

This path led us west between Mud Hole and Shale Lakes and back to the PCT.IMG_2186

Mud Hole Lake

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Shale Lake

We turned right on the PCT and continued a short distance until we spotted another use trail heading further west. We followed this path past more dry (or nearly dry) ponds to Coyote Lake.IMG_2190

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Our urge to explore was now satisfied and we returned to the PCT and headed back to Pamelia Lake, which looked like it was way, way down below us.IMG_2206

It was closing in on 6pm when we finally made it back to camp. We went down to the lake to get water then cooked dinner and relaxed in our camp chairs.IMG_2223

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Ouzel

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Marty, a wilderness ranger, stopped by to check our permit and make sure we were aware of the campfire ban. She seemed relieved that we had a permit and knew about the ban. We got the feeling that a fair number of folks aren’t as friendly as we were which is a shame.

Even though we hadn’t made it to Goat Peak and we’d hiked much further than originally intended (19.4 miles) it had been a great day. It helped knowing that we only need to hike 2.5 miles the next day to reach our car.

The next morning we were up before 5am and on the trail by 6:30.IMG_2265

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We made it home just after 9am which gave us plenty of time to unpack, clean up, and do some laundry. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Pamelia Lake Overnighter

Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Days 2 & 3 – Table Lake Loop

After turning in early the night before we were up before the Sun which wasn’t such a bad thing.
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IMG_1511_stitchCarl Lake

For the second day of our trip we planned on taking the Cabot Lake Trail to Table Lake and then on to a viewpoint above Hole-in-the-Wall Park before returning to Carl Lake. We were still debating our return route though. We could simply follow the Cabot Lake Trail back, or we could complete a loop described in Matt Reeder’s “101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region”. The loop option would require using what is believed to have been an old Native American trail, not shown on any of our maps, to reach the Pacific Crest Trail. We could then follow the PCT south to the Shirley Lake Trail which would take us back down to Carl Lake. One of the things we really like about Reeder’s book is that most of the suggested hikes have an accompanying GPS track overlaid on a topographic map which can be really helpful.

We decided to wait and see how the day was going before making a final decision about our return route. One thing we did know was that we didn’t want to try and walk around the north side of Carl Lake to hook up with the Cabot Lake Trail after having come back on that side the day before (post). It would have been shorter than taking the Cabot Lake Trail around the southern and western ends of the lake but certainly not easier so we proceeded as we had the day before only this time we went right when we arrived at the junction with the Shirley Lake Trail.
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As we followed the trail around the west end of the lake we noticed that the water at this end was completely calm. It was the only time during the entire weekend that any of the water in the lake was still.
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When we made our way around to the point where we had left the trail to cross the rock outcrop the day before we found the most of the campsites were now occupied which was another good reason for us to not have tried coming from that way.

The trail veered away from the lake and began a half mile climb via a series of short switchbacks. As we made our way up the hillside we spotted a doe and her two fawns coming down the trail.
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Near the top of the climb we had a decent view of Carl Lake below.
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The trail then leveled out in a forest accentuated with small ponds and rock formations.
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Approximately 1.75 miles after turning away from Carl Lake we arrived at tiny Junction Lake.
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There was a small wooden sign here marking the now lost Sugar Pine Ridge Trail which was abandoned after the 2003 B & B Fire.
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What had already been a scenic hike got even better over the next mile and a half as the Cabot Lake Trail passed through an increasing volcanic landscape.
IMG_1573Mt. Jefferson and Forked Butte poking up over the trees.

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Our favorite part of this section was when the trail passed between a jumble of white rocks on the left and the dark lava from the Forked Butte Lava Flow.
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The contrasting colors and textures made for some excellent scenery.
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IMG_1596Moraine below the Waldo Glacier on Mt. Jefferson.

The trail wound around the lava flow where we found a small patch of western pasque flowers that had gone to seed and the remains of a lone clump of aster.
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The trail crested a cinder hillside with spectacular views of North Cinder Peak and Mt. Jefferson and began to descend toward a green forest.
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As we came down and around we got a good look at pointy Bear Butte poking up from a ridge to the right of Mt. Jefferson. Our turn around point for the day was at a viewpoint below and to the left of that butte.
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At the end of this 1.5 mile stretch the Cabot Lake Trail reentered the forest and began a 350′ drop down to Patsy Lake. This .4 mile section was fairly steep as it dove down via one long switchback.
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A signed junction at Patsy Lake announced the location of another abandoned trail – the Jefferson Lake Trail.
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Patsy Lake was forested except for on the northern side where a rock field dipped down into the water.
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We got ourselves a little confused here about where the trail was and wound up following a use trail clockwise around the little lake. By the time we realized our mistake we were at the NW end of the lake at an inlet creek.
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We decided to finish the loop and passed through a couple of decent campsites where we stopped for a short break before having to cross the rock field.
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After picking our way across the rocks we arrived at the lakes dry outlet creek. It was here that we could see where we’d made our mistake. The Cabot Lake Trail continued on the other side of a downed tree after sharing tread briefly with the Jefferson Lake Trail. It also didn’t follow the lake shore but instead veered away from the lake on the opposite side of a ridge. The trail then began to regain much of the elevation it had lost on its way down to Patsy Lake.
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IMG_1652The Jefferson Lake Trail used to come up this valley.

The trail leveled out again this time passing through a series of alpine meadows and over dry creek beds.
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We were keeping our eyes open for the unofficial trail in case we decided on returning via the loop option which was what we were leaning towards. Approximately .6 miles from the trail junction at Patsy Lake we spotted what appeared to be a trail leading off into a meadow to the west.
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I marked that spot on our GPS so that we wouldn’t miss it on the way back. A short distance later Heather spotted a second possible trail heading off toward that same area. We had forgotten to bring a copy of Reeder’s GPS track with us so we couldn’t be sure which one was correct, but we had memorized his route description so we knew if we aimed between a cinder cone and The Table we should be okay. The Table is an unmistakable large plateaued feature south of Mt. Jefferson.
IMG_1661The end of The Table to the left of the trail.

The trail descended a bit as it passed by The Table on its way down to Table Lake.
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Our first look at Table Lake confirmed that this was going to be another nice one.
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We passed a backpacker who had stayed at the lake the night before and was now heading to Carl Lake. She told us where to find a view of Mt. Jefferson from the lake so we made our way to the spot she had suggested.
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After checking out the viewpoint we continued along the Cabot Lake Trail crossing above a spring feeding into the lake and then an inlet creek where we had to watch our step due to the presence of hundreds of little frogs.
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After crossing over the creek we decided to try to make our way back to a smaller unnamed lake shown on the map which the creek flowed out of.
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We followed a clear path past a large campsite and along the creek for a bit (Watch out for frogs!) then came to a wall of small pine trees. It took a little effort to get through the thicket of trees but the reward was worth it.
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With no where to sit along this lake we headed back toward Table Lake and picked up the Cabot Lake Trail which we followed to a sign apparently marking the current “end” of the trail.
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If the Forest Service has indeed abandoned the remainder of the trail it would be shame. The final portion of the trail down to Hole-in-the-Wall Park has been lost for years since the B & B Fire but we hadn’t heard that they had given up on the section between Table Lake and the viewpoint below Bear Butte.

In any case we continued on to a rock outcrop above Table Lake where we took a snack break.
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From Table Lake the trail climbed gradually save for about 100 yards of switchbacks after three quarters of mile. The trail was a little crowded with brush and had a few downed trees over it but nothing too challenging as it passed through a mix of meadows, trees, and huckleberry bushes.
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Shortly before the switchbacks the trail passed a large boulder leaning up against a pair of trees. It looked like the rock was going to be flat and thin from the direction we were coming but it turned out to not be flat on the other side at all.
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Beyond the switchbacks the trail leveled out again for about a quarter mile with a view south of the Three Sisters in a gap between Sugar Pine Ridge and Forked Butte.
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After the quarter mile of more level trail the Cabot Lake Trail headed steeply up a gully arriving at a saddle with a view of Mt. Jefferson after another quarter mile.
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The viewpoint that we were aiming for was to the right of the saddle visible atop the ridge below pointy Bear Butte.
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A straight forward cross country walk brought us to the top of the rocky outcrop.
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The view of Mt. Jefferson was spectacular. In the valley below was green Hole-in-the-Wall Park with Mt. Jefferson on the other side. Along the ridge to the left of Mt. Jefferson was Goat Peak, a feature we are hoping to visit someday in the future.
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The view south wasn’t too bad either despite the presence of a little haze.
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To the east was Bear Butte.
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To top it off the sound of crashing water filled the air. Heather spotted the series of cascades creating all the noise well before I did.
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After soaking in the view we returned down to the saddle and sat in the shade of some trees while we had another bite to eat. We then hiked the 1.5 miles back down to Table Lake and refilled our water supply from the inlet creek where there was clearly a frog convention occurring.
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With our water replenished we left Table Lake and hiked back along the Cabot Lake Trail approximately a quarter mile to the side trail we had marked earlier.
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As I previously mentioned there was another side trail that probably would have been the better option about 30 yards north of where we turned. The trail we chose started clearly enough but soon was lost in a meadow.
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We knew from the description in the guidebook that the trail passed between a cinder cone and The Table so we just headed in that direction and were able to once again locate an obvious path.
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As we neared the cinder cone the trail climbed up along its side as it squeezed between the cone and the rocky hillside of The Table.
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This area looked like it should be full of pikas and although we heard a few “meeps” that let us know they were there, all we spotted were golden-mantled ground squirrels and chipmunks.
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As the trail passed by the cinder cone views ahead opened up to a large valley below the Cathedral Rocks.
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All the climbing along the side of the cinder cone was now lost as we dove downhill into the valley.
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The GPS track we’d seen showed the trail passing to the left of two ponds then to the right of a third in this area. The tread was fairly easy to follow here and there was at least one recent set of shoe prints leading the way.
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IMG_1809First pond on the right.

The traverse around the second pond was a little tricky. The cinder hillside was loose and sharply angled and there was no clear trail around to the left save for at the far end.
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It may have been a better option to have gone around on the other side but we managed to make it around the second pond and then the trail dropped into a dry creek bed where the tread disappeared. Fortunately someone had placed a small cairn on the other side though so we knew where to exit.
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The trail was now passing along the left hand side of an enormous rock field.
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Keeping track of the actual route here was near impossible but we kept our eyes out for cairns and footprints which were just frequent enough to keep us on track until we found the clear path again entering a hillside of huckleberry bushes.
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It wasn’t until we had climbed a bit above the rock field that we were able to spot the third pond that had been on our left.
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The climb out of the valley and up the Pacific Crest Trail only lasted a half mile but it was steep through the huckleberry bushes gaining 400′ in a little under .4 miles.
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Things began to level out a bit once we were back into the trees though.
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One item of note here was that the location of the Pacific Crest Trail shown on the topographic map, the Garmin, and the one in our guidebook is incorrect in this area. Thankfully we had noticed that the GPS track on the map in the guidebook crossed over the supposed location of the PCT before turning south and eventually rejoining the trail shown on the map as the PCT rounded a ridge end. If we hadn’t noticed that we might have wasted some time searching for it amid the small pines that were growing where the Garmin showed the PCT should be.
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The actual location of the PCT was about a tenth of a mile to the west of its location on the maps near some much larger trees.
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We turned left (south) on the PCT and began the 4.3 mile stretch to the Shirley Lake Trail.
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After about a quarter mile on the PCT we arrived at the first of several excellent viewpoints of Mt. Jefferson and some of the areas we hiked through earlier.
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IMG_1886Cabot Lake Trail along the Forked Butte Lava Flow

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We were surprised by the amount of climbing the PCT did along this stretch gaining over 750 unexpected feet in all as it passed a wide variety of scenery.
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A little under 3 miles along this stretch we got a look at Carl Lake below to the east.
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Not long after we got a good look at South Cinder Peak to the south with Mt. Washington peaking up over a ridge.
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When we finally arrived at the Shirley Lake Trail junction we turned left and headed back down to Carl Lake just as we had done the day before.
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We headed down to the lake shore again and this time went counter-clockwise around the shore to complete the loop we had started the previous day.
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Much like the day before our time at the lake was plagued by a chilly breeze (The only place that we experienced any significant breeze the whole weekend.) and glare from the sun.
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We spent most of the evening sitting near our tent behind the trees facing east until it was time to turn in for the night. The mileage for our hike came in at 17.4 miles for the day which included the unintended loop around Patsy Lake and the side trip to the unnamed lake near Table Lake.

Another early bed time led to another predawn wake up on Labor Day.
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We used the light of the moon and our Luci inflatable lantern to work on packing up and cooking breakfast while we waited for enough light to begin our hike out of the wilderness.
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We were on our way a little after 6:30am, saying our goodbyes to Carl Lake and beginning our descent to Cabot Lake.
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IMG_1936Cabot Lake in the trees below and Mt. Jefferson in the distance.

As we reentered the snowbrush covered landscape of the B & B Fire we noticed quite a bit of smoke in the Metolius River Valley.
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It gave us a little cause for concern as we wondered if some new fire had started nearby but it was smoke from some more distant wildfire that had settled in the valley. We completed the 4.9 mile hike back to the car in about 2 hours and were headed back home before 9am, but not before one last look at the mountain.
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Happy Trails!

Flickr: Table Lake Loop and Carl Lake to the Cabot Lake THTable Lake Loop and Carl Lake to the Cabot Lake TH