Cottonwood Creek Falls (Mt. Thielsen Wilderness) 15-Jul-2016

Last year, we did a loop hike along Thielsen Creek 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. 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). 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.

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Thielsen Creek Divide (Mt. Thielsen Wilderness) 06-Jul-2016

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.

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West of Miller Lake (Mt. Thielsen Wilderness) 19-Sep-2015

Miller Lake Mount Thielsen Wilderness Oregon

After hiking the classic Thielsen Creek Loop and scrambling up Howlock Mountain earlier this summer, I got intrigued by the lack of trails on the southeast side of the Mount Thielsen Wilderness. This is the part of this wilderness considered by the Forest Service to be “pristine” as opposed to merely “primitive.” I couldn’t discern any enthusiasm on The LovedOne’s part for a hike that might involve lots of brush thrashing, so I was left to experience pristine by myself. Sigh. 😥

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Tipsoo & Howlock (Mt. Thielsen Wilderness) 27-Jul-2015

Tipsoo Peak Howlock Mountain Mount Thielsen Wilderness Oregon

Mount Thielsen is, justifiably, “the” summit in the the Mount Thielsen Wilderness and is the focus of much of the scrambling/climbing activity in that area. But it sits near the end of the north-south ridge that divides this wilderness and which is itself studded with peaks and peaklets. One of these, Tipsoo Peak, has its own easy trail to its summit (and to some grand views). The other, multi-summited Howlock Mountain, is a short but intense exercise in cross-country trail and scrambling over loose rock and scree. But the views to be had – wow!

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Thielsen Creek Loop (Mt. Thielsen Wilderness) 29-Jun-2015

Mount Thielsen Wilderness Oregon

Having climbed Mount Thielsen a while back, we decided it was time to explore some trails on the west side of the Mount Thielsen Wilderness. We sketched out a variation of Hike #17 in Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon (3rd Edition). As an aside, there are essentially no trails on the east side of this wilderness, which suggests the possibility of some fun cross-country exploration/travel or maybe a wilderness traverse? Why we decided to hike on one of the hottest days of the year (so far) is not clear; suffice to say that the return part of our loop was a little like a torment-in-the-desert scene from the classic film Beau Geste. Sigh. But that was later.

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