The Big V has (mercifully) only lightly touched our county thus far, so we were allowed to start re-opening last week. But a late season storm and some remote work conspired to keep us “in place” since our stroll to Vulture Rock five days ago. There’s an old saying that summer in Oregon doesn’t really start until the Fourth of July – and last week may be proof of that. 🙄 But when today was forecast to be an artistic mix of sun and clouds, we decided to go see if Applegate Lake looked like a lake yet.

Applegate Lake is actually a reservoir designed to capture runoff from rain (of which we’ve had too little) and snow (of which we’ve had barely enough). My last visit there was in March – before the Big V was fully upon us – when the reservoir was at low ebb. Since then it’s filled to within 30 or so feet of full pool but, barring an unlikely huge late-season rainstorm, it might not make it to full this season. Still, it’s filled enough to almost look like a lake.

We parked at the Dagelma Trailhead, went up the Prospectors Loop Trail, and then down the Sinns Bar Trail to the Payette Trail along the lake. We hadn’t gone 100 feet from the trailhead when shrill screeches alerted us to a pair of ospreys nesting atop a dead tree. Quixotically the lake had been stocked with 15,000 trout while it was closed to fishing thus creating a giant, human-free, osprey buffet. 🙂

Guarding the nest
A triple madrone at the Sinns Bar Trail junction
The lake with clouds from the high point on the Sinns Bar Trail
Red Columbine
The lake from the Payette Trail
Hooker Indian Pink
‘Schrooms in the dirt
The lake at the mouth of Salmon Arm
Along the Payette Trail (the part that’s an old road)
Looking west over Salmon Arm
Woolly Sunflower
The amazingly stout bridge over Squaw Creek
Woodland Phlox
Bell-Shaped Catchfly
The head of Salmon Arm from Harr Point Camp

We took the Payette Trail around Salmon Arm to Harr Point Camp, where we found two people camped – the only people we saw on land the whole day (there were some in boats on the lake). Today we saw more lizards than people! It was also good to see that the picnic tables at the camp had been refitted with new – extremely robust – wooden tops and seats. There were even stacks of toilet paper in the outhouse! Miracles in cellulose!

I am NOT an osprey and, yes, something ate my tail

After gazing at this wondrous offering of TP from afar (as this outhouse is also well stocked with spiders), we retraced our steps back to the Osprey Trail and then took that one up to the trailhead. An almost full lake, sunshine 😎 with artistic clouds, wildflowers, and two nesting ospreys made this a fun and invigorating hike ( 6.2 mile loop; 600 feet of gain).

Going back on the Osprey Trail
Our loop at Applegate Lake