Southern Oregon’s Mountain Lakes Wilderness (the U.S.’s only wilderness with a perfectly square boundary) was once believed to be the caldera of one huge collapsed volcano (like Crater Lake to the north). But more recent research suggests it was created from calderas of four overlapping shield volcanoes. Eight prominent peaks – and several lesser ones – remain on the rim of these calderas. Aspen Butte (8,208 ft / 2,501 m) is the highest point in the wilderness but there are several other rocky summits that offer spectacular views of the surrounding area and as far south as Mount Shasta. Today we decided to take advantage of some excellent weather to take in the views from Point 7703 located between Whiteface Peak and Greylock Mountain.
Starting from the Clover Creek Trailhead, we went up the Clover Creek Trail #3722, past Clover Lake, to the Mountain Lakes Loop Trail #3727, followed that one to the rim south of Whiteface Peak, and then around to just below Point 7703. Mosquitoes were a nuisance until we got to the rim.
Once on the north side of Whiteface, we walked through the forest toward Point 7703 and then picked our way up its loose upper slopes to its summit. Most of the treeless summits around here are composed of a loose talus that sounds (a high pitched tinkling) and feels like you’re walking on a pile of broken porcelain. There’s nothing particularly stable about these rock piles so we had to go carefully less we put our ankles (or other body parts) at risk.
For whatever reason, people have constructed pits (and piles of rocks from the pits) on the summit. If these were on Silver Star Mountain (near Mount Hood) they’d likely be “vision pits” constructed by Indigenous Peoples. Here, probably not. Someone built a one-tent site (with a flat flagstone floor) and an associated pit for shielding a stove from the wind – which was blowing pretty good during our visit. It looked like a pretty cool place to camp for a night given it’s unobstructed view of the night sky, along with the sunrise and sunset. We too had an unobstructed 360 degree view on this most bluebird of hiking days! 🙂
The summit of Point 7703 had been breezy but cool and mosquitoe-free. But too soon, it was time to head back – which is, fortunately, downhill almost all the way. Things had heated-up some since we’d come up in the cool of the morning. While this lead to some healthy sweating, it also almost completely discouraged the mosquitoes. 🙂
We had seen three backpackers at the trailhead, saw three more coming is as we were going out, and also passed two runners and four hikers. When we got back to the trailhead (after 9.6 miles and 1,900 feet of gain), we found it almost full of cars and trucks! Well, it was a very nice day for a hike (or an overnight back pack)! 😀HOME