This Yolks On You (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 16-Oct-2020

DISCLAIMER: The LovedOne played no part in this hike (she’s busy trying to re-start volunteer activity at the library). Nor did she have anything to do with the title of this post. In fact, she begged me to come-up with a more mature title. But I claimed artistic license. Laughter ensued. And that’s no yolk! 🙄

Goose Nest (not to be confused with Goosenest near Mount Shasta) sits east of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in the Sky Lakes Wilderness. Last August, I made an attempt to hike to its summit from the west. That didn’t work out. 😦 But, staying with the goose theme, I saw the Goose Egg (7,124 feet / 2,171 m) sitting right next to the PCT a little farther to the south. If not the nest, then the egg! So, egged on by thoughts of omelets dancing in my head, I struck off for the Egg today in perfect hiking weather (which is one of those ying~yang, good thing~bad things in these drought-stricken times).

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Smoked Pelican (Southwest Oregon) 09-Oct-2020

Smoked pelican is probably a delicacy somewhere.  Might be a bit fishy tasting. And chewy. Today, however, it was just Pelican Butte (8,036 ft / 2,449 m), a dormant {Heck, why not erupt in 2020 – everything else has!} shield volcano mired in a sea of wildfire smoke. Its northeastern flank was carved into a large, steep cirque by Ice Age glaciers. On one side of this cirque, a little over a mile north of the summit, sit Lakes Gladys and Francis, the two named lakes in the Cloud Lake Group. Plan A, formulated before the onset of this season’s ruinous wildfires, was to drive up to 7,600 feet on the rocky, rutted, high-centered dirt road that services the comm tower on the summit (this road was built in 1934 by the CCC). From there we’d hike the three miles round-trip (with 1,000 feet of gain on the way back) to visit Gladys and Francis. Well, I’ll bet you can guess what happened to Plan A…  

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Judge Waldo Revisited (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 31-Aug-2020

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.

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A Goose Too Far (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 06-Aug-2020

Stretching south from Crater Lake, into the Sky Lakes Wilderness, are a line of small peaks. They were generated by the same volcanic forces that eventually exploded ancient Mount Mazama to create Crater Lake. A couple of years ago, I got to the summit of one of them – Mount Maude – from the south via the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). The tallest one – Goose Nest (not to be confused with the Goosenest near Mount Shasta) – sits just east of the Cascade Crest near the wilderness / park boundary. The shortest approach to Goose Nest is from the east on old logging roads. But I had always wanted to see if it could be reached from the west via the PCT, as had Maude. Map gazing and trip planning ensued…

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Finding the Wickiup Trail (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 24-Jun-2020

I think those of us who hike (and you know who you are) all appreciate a good trail – one that’s well-graded, clear of obstacles, goes somewhere we want to go, and where its mapped incarnation matches its reality on the ground. Think of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Then there are those trails that appear on old maps (and some new ones) but may no longer exist on the ground. Nothing like including one of those in your hiking plans only to find yourself unexpectedly thrashing cross-country for several character-building miles. Still I’m drawn (despite several interventions by The LovedOne) to occasionally (the interventions must be working) look for these old trails. It’s a bit of a geeky obsession. Calling it “hiking archeology” makes it sound, ah, more respectable? 🙄

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Twin Ponds (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 17-Nov-2019

Well, this weekend’s promised storm never arrived and that promise has now been moved to Tuesday or whenever. We have business next week “up north” in the “big city” and The LovedOne went on ahead to troll yarn shops with friends. That left me with a day to fill with – wait for it – hiking! Since the storm never arrived, the high Cascades are still largely devoid of snow. This opened an opportunity to visit one of the more obscure trails on my list – the western end of Twin Ponds Trail #993 in the Sky Lakes Wilderness. The Forest Service lists its usage as light which I’ve learned is code for not much maintained. So, yes, there were some brushy spots, a few small fallen trees to step over or around, and some vague tread. But, overall, it was pretty easy to follow.

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McKee Lake (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 14-Oct-2019

The 117 square mile Sky Lakes Wilderness extends north and south along the Cascades between Crater Lake National Park and Highway 140. Within this wilderness are over 200 lakes both scattered across the area and gathered in three major (Seven Lakes Basin, Sky Lakes Area, Blue Canyon Group) and two smaller (McKee, Dwarf Lakes) lake basins. Established trails provide access to the three main lake basins and human use can be heavy in those. Hence my interest has been drawn to outlying lakes (like Lake Ivern at the northern end of the Seven Lakes Basin) and those in the smaller, trailess basins (like the Dwarf Lakes). Today was McKee Basin’s turn for a visit. Sans The LovedOne, who had to attend a library board meeting instead. 😦

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Lake Ivern Loop (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 01-Sep-2019

Lake Ivern sits by itself at the north end of the Seven Lakes Basin in Oregon’s Sky Lakes Wilderness. While South, Cliff, and Middle Lakes get a lot of visits (particularly from hikers on the nearby Pacific Crest Trail), Ivern’s location two miles down a one-way trail leaves it kind of isolated. I wanted to visit it but was put off by the long out-and-back which that would entail.

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Rogue Wolf Loop (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 14/15-Jun-2018

Rogue Wolf Loop Sky Lakes Wilderness Oregon

In 2015, the Siskiyou Mountain Club (SMC) resurrected the Wild Rogue Loop from neglected trails in the Wild Rogue Wilderness. We backpacked that loop in 2017 and had a great trip. This year the SMC announced the rehabilitation of a 27-mile loop in the Sky Lakes Wilderness, around the headwaters of the Rogue River’s Middle Fork. With a lot of help from the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, the  Fremont-Winema National Forest, the High Desert Trail Riders – Back Country Horseman, the Pacific Crest Trail Association, and REI, the SMC removed about 5,000 logs from portions of existing trails that had become impassable after acute wildfire damage and years of neglect. So, of course, we had to do it.  Unfortunately, The LovedOne’s knee, while getting better, wasn’t ready for a trip like this. We could have waited, but I was anxious to do this loop while the weather was still relatively cool and before any (hopefully none) wildfires closed areas or spoiled the air (like they did last year). 

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Maude Mountain (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 29-May-2018

Maude Mountain Sky Lakes Wilderness Oregon

Sometime in the 1930s, Forest Service employee Lee C. Port named three volcanic peaklets along the Cascade Crest north of Sevenmile Marsh after his wife (Maude) and two daughters (Ethel and Ruth). These names became official when they appeared on the 1955 edition of the topographic map for this area. Maude is the tallest peak on the Crest between Crater Lake National Park and Devils Peak, and thus seemed like it could offer some great views. This hike was planned for last year until the Blanket Fire blew-up, closed the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and burned south to Maude’s western flank.  So today’s hike was a lonesome (The LovedOne was mulching the garden) twofer: summit Maude for the view and check-out snow conditions along the PCT and the Crest. 

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Dwarfed by Fire (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 27-Oct-2017

Dwarf Lakes Area Sky Lakes Wilderness Oregon

The Sky Lakes Wilderness stretches north to south along the Cascade Crest between Crater Lake National Park in the north and State Highway 140 in the south. Three major lake basins (Seven Lakes, Sky Lakes, and Blue Canyon) occupy this wilderness and we’ve so far hiked in all of them.  But the Dwarf Lakes Area, a subsidiary of the Sky Lakes Basin, had gone unvisited, and I’d planned a first visit for earlier this Fall.  But then a host of wildfires (the High Cascades Complex) blew-up, keeping this wilderness closed until the end of September.  One of the complex’s component fires, the North Pelican, had burned its way west off the slopes of Pelican Butte and into the southern end of the Sky Lakes Basin.  Then an early season blanket of snow put an end (mostly) to this reign of fire, opening the way for a late-in-the-season visit to the Dwarf Lakes.  With the LovedOne busy at the library, I approached this hike solo with a lot of trepidation about what I would find the North Pelican had done to this basin.

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