Our first try at finding the inscription Judge Waldo left on a (now dead) tree in the nearby Sky Lakes Wilderness wasn’t successful. We found it on our second try in 2015. That was the last time we managed to visit the tree or the Blue Lakes Basin. 😦 It’s odd how that visit years ago seems like it happened just last week (of course, five months ago now seems like another world, but I digress…). So when the weather offered-up a dry front that temporarily dropped the air temperature and pushed the wildfire smoke south, we took it as a favorable augury for another Waldo visit. And it proved to be a superb day for a hike – mostly cool with an easy breeze, full sunshine, just a little on the warm side in the afternoon, and no mosquitoes (fiends this wilderness is unfortunately famous for). There were a few fallen trees but otherwise the trails were in good condition despite having missed a year (or two or three) of maintenance.

The north side of Mount McLoughlin from below the trailhead

We started from the Blue Canyon Trailhead, went south on the Cat Hill Way Trail, then dropped into the lake basin on the Meadow Lake Trail. Then eastward along the popular Blue Canyon Trail, past Horseshoe and Pear Lakes, to the Judge Waldo Tree on the south shore of Island Lake. The railing around the tree could use some work but the Judge’s inscription is still somewhat readable if you stare at it long enough. After a snack there, we followed the Blue Canyon Trail all the way back, past Blue and Round Lakes, to the trailhead.

Starting out on the Cat Hill Way Trail
Mount McLoughlin from the Cat Hill Way Trail
Horseshoe Lake
Light on the waters
Pear Lake
Through the huckleberry fields 🙂
Along the Blue Canyon Trail
A still green meadow along the trail
The Judge Waldo Tree

The inscription was partially vandalized years ago with an axe. It reads in full:
Judge J.B. Waldo
William Taylor
H.P. Minto
E. J. Humason
F. W. Isherwood
September 13, 1888

Island Lake
Island Lake
Island Lake
Going back on the Blue Canyon Trail
Meadow Lake
Blue Lake
Climbing toward the trailhead
Round Lake

We saw two people from afar at Pear Lake and a car was pulling-out of the trailhead just as we returned, otherwise we had the wilderness to ourselves for the day. 🙂 This reverse lollipop loop came to 11.4 miles, with 1,000 feet of gain. Our usual pace was slowed considerably by the abundance of plump, sweet, tart huckleberries in bushes along all of these trails. 😀 We felt it was our duty to repeatedly sample these tasty morsels – strictly for quality control purpose of course. 🙄

Our route to and from the Judge Waldo Tree (.W)