During World War II, my mother (who was born in Scotland) served with the British Red Cross in London. There she apparently met some members of the Royal Engineers (site) who had been attached to the 51st Highland Division (site). The Division had fought a fierce rearguard action to protect the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) at Dunkirk but was eventually cutoff and forced to surrender to overwhelming enemy forces at Saint-Valéry-en-Caux (history). One of these Royal Engineers, Captain Christopher D. Waters, gave her a detailed written account of his (with others) escape from France back to England via Spain and Gibraltar between 12 June 1940 and 23 September 1940. I have no idea if she was supposed to give it back to him and didn’t, or perhaps couldn’t, but after 76 years of it being largely forgotten in various boxes and storerooms, I thought it deserved to finally see the light of day. The original text of this true story is reproduced here.
The original document has now been placed with the Imperial War Museums in London, cataloged under the name of Lieutenant Colonel C. D. Waters, MBE (Documents.26270) and is available for study there. Continue reading →
Last year, my adventure hiking partner – Brad – and I did a partially on-trail, partially cross-country figure-8 loop (post) around the Three Sisters in Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness (details). That was such a successful trip that we talked about doing something similar this year and, after some back-and-forth with ideas, settled on a similar on/off trail loop in Oregon’s largest wilderness area, the Eagle Cap Wilderness (details). This time around we would try to reach the three most promient summits in the wilderness: Sacajawea Peak (9,843 feet), its the highest point; Matterhorn (9,834 feet), and Eagle Cap (9,572 feet), the iconic centerpiece of this wilderness and the Wallowa Mountains (it might also be one of the most photographed peaks in the Wallowa Mountains if not in the entire state). Our basic plan was to start at the Hurricane Creek trailhead, go up Thorp Creek, then over Scajawea and Matterhorn, then over the divide between Ice and Razz Lakes into the Lake Basin, then up Eagle Cap, and out via Hurricane Creek. The trip worked out almost as planned but there was still plenty of room for adventure to be a big part of what actually happened. For an different take on how this trip went, look HERE.
Continuing with our endeavor to hike/scramble the highpoints in seven of Northern California’s wilderness areas, I went for a long, steep hike up to the summit of Boulder Peak (8,299 feet), the highest point in the 225,114 acre Marble Mountain Wilderness that is just west of the town of Fort Jones, California (details). Boulder Peak sits across the Canyon Creek drainage from Marble Mountain, a long, curving, escarpment of stark, red-and-gray marble rock (often referred to as the Marble Rim), and the namesake of this wilderness. There are three trailheads giving access to Boulder Peak: Boulder Creek, Shackleford Creek, and Big Meadows (the easiest if you can figure out the logging roads leading to it). Boulder Creek is the one used most frequently and is the one I used. Previously, we’ve hiked to Marble Valley from Lovers Camp (post) and to Campbell Lake from Shackleford Creek (post) but this was my first visit to Boulder Creek.
Last year, we did a loop hike through Thielsen Meadows in the Mount Thielsen Wilderness. Our report on this (post) triggered some comments about the spring (shown on the USGS and USFS topo maps for this area) in the large pumice basin immediately east of Mount Thielsen. I was also interested to find that this topic had been brought up on the Oregon Hiker’s site back in 2011 (post). So, last week, we explored a cross-country path from the Howlock Mountain trailhead to Thielsen Meadows on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and then up to the Sawtooth Ridge overlooking the pumice basin – it’s actually called Cottonwood Creek Basin and is an area with unique botanical species (post, post). At that time we decided not to press on down into the Basin to actually see the spring. It was the right decision then but it left unfinished the business of actually seeing this fabled spring. So yesterday I went back up there to rectify this situation.
As we’ve noted in previous posts, we have a project underway to at least visit all of Oregon’s 47 established federal wilderness areas (less the two – Oregon Islands and Three Arch Rocks – that are closed to public entry). Now that summer is here, the snow has retreated (mostly), and the trails are open (mostly), we were able to visit, and actually hike in, two wilderness areas in the High Cascades: Diamond Peak and Waldo Lake.
Nine days after this hike, I hiked over the Sawtooth Ridge and across Cottonwood Creek Basin to Cottonwood Creek Springs and Cottonwood Creek Falls, as described HERE.
The 55,151 acre Mount Thielsen Wilderness runs along the crest of the Cascades from the southern end of the Oregon Cascades Recreation Area to just north of Crater Lake National Park. Elevations range from 5,000 feet to the 9,182 foot summit of Mount Thielsen. Born of the same volcanic activity that created Crater Lake, this is an area with a seriously tortured geology. Last year, we did two hikes in this wilderness, one a loop from the Howlock Mountain trailhead (USFS), up the Howlock Mountain trail (USFS #1448) to the Thielsen Creek trail (USFS #1449) and up that to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). We then took the PCT south to the Mount Thielsen trail (USFS #1456), followed the #1456 west to its junction with the Sprague Ridge trail (USFS #1458) and took the #1458 back to the Howlock Mountain trail and the trailhead. It was screaming hot that day, so this became known as the Beau Geste hike (post). About a month later (and on a much cooler day), I did a trail and cross-country hike to Tipsoo Peak (USFS #1472) and the eastern summit of Howlock Mountain, again using a piece of the PCT to make a loop (post). An upshot from this hike was a question about the spring (what we’re calling “Cottonwood Creek Spring” since it appears to be the source of Cottonwood Creek) in the large pumice basin immediately east of Mount Thielsen.
The Sky Lakes Wilderness stretches for 113, 835 acres along the crest of the volcanic Cascade Mountains from the border of Crater Lake National Park on the north to State Highway 140 in the south. As its name implies, it encompasses a large number of named and unamed lakes arrayed in three major lake (former glacial) basins, from Seven Lakes Basin in the north, to Sky Lakes Basin (including the Dwarf Lakes) in the center, to Blue Canyon Basin in the south. Fourmile Lake and Mount McLoughlin lie south of Blue Canyon Basin, on the southern border of the wilderness. More than 200 pools of water, from mere ponds to lakes of 30 to 40 acres, dot the landscape. Fourmile Lake exceeds 900 acres. Despite its fearsome reputation for hoardes of ravenous mosquitos in July and August, we have done more than a few summer hikes here – including scrambles to the summits of Mt. McLoughlin and Devils Peak – since first moving to Southern Oregon (post). Our hike last year in via the Nannie Creek trailhead was cut short when the LovedOne’s knee started acting up (post), so we had some unfinished business with exploring the Sky Lakes Basin from that particular entry point. But, unable to convince her that a hike through mosquitos in hotter than usual temperatures would somehow be FUN, I was left to face the wilderness alone (sigh).