Three weeks ago, I attempted to hike to Devils Peak in the northern Sky Lakes Wilderness. This is the wilderness immediately south of Crater Lake National Park and not to be confused with the Mountain Lakes Wilderness further south. At that time, conditions were less than optimal as the trail going out to Devils Peak was still covered in snow. I had to settle for a snowy scramble up nearby Lucifer. Family visiting from the East gave me the chance to reprise this hike under ideal conditions – cool, clear, sunny weather, with no bugs to speak of once we were away from the trailhead. Surprisingly, all the snow clogging the trails had melted completely away in just three weeks!
We hiked up the Seven Lakes Trail (USFS #981) past Frog Lake, which looked like this today,
and like this three weeks ago.
We caught our first view of Devils Peak from the Seven Lakes Trail / Devils Peak Trail (USFS #984) junction. Unlike before, the entire hike to this point is now snow free but there are still some major trees down on it.
From there, we continued on the Seven Lakes Trail as it descended toward South Lake, trying not to step on the hoards of little toads that kept hurling themselves across the trail.
I eventually came across a much larger version of the same toad and came to realize that the first toad to get slightly larger gets to refer to the smaller toads as “snacks.” 😯
We went past South Lake,
and then on past Cliff Lake,
to a junction with the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), which we followed south, back up toward Devils Peak. This segment of the PCT climbs easily past meadows,
with a view of Devils,
before breaking out of the trees for a rocky, but largely snow-free, climb to the saddle.
Along the way, I freed a dragonfly that had got stuck in what snow there was. After drying on my finger and posing for a photo, it was off and away…
What 10 years ago had been a rough scramble trail up to the summit is now a well-defined use trail that runs from one side of the summit to the other, completely by-passing the PCT in between. We were soon on the summit, with its BIG views in all directions.
From the summit, we dropped back down to the PCT and followed it south to its junction with the Devils Peak trail. The most snow we encountered was where this trail passes below Juniper; but it was not hard to either by-pass the snow or just punch steps in it.
What amazed me on the way back was how quickly the snow that covered the trail just three weeks ago,
was now completely gone.
Overall, a great hike (13.5 miles round-trip; 3,100 feet of elevation gain) that totally impressed the Easterners with the beauty of Oregon. I failed to mention that neither the weather nor the bug count are always this nice but why kill the buzz? I’d say that from now and July 4th would be an ideal time to visit this wilderness area, either for a dayhike (or two) or better yet, a 2-3 night backpack involving the Seven Lakes Basin or the basin to the south. Something to think about. 😀