Yep, another year to Diamond Lake, and another year with fires … fires almost everywhere to the west, south, and north. Hwy 58 was deemed too prone to fire delays for the return trip. Temperatures were also >95 in valley and hot on the passes as well, though the early mornings could be ~45. The original plan was 4 nights and 3 big hikes with 1 smaller. Reality was 2 long hikes and 2 shorter.
Day 1 – Fuji Mt (Waldo Lake) on route with friends
Day 2 – PCT from Hwy 138 south to Crater Lake Rim (and back)
Day 3 – PCT from Diamond Lake Resort TH to past Tipsoo Peak (and back)
Day 4 – Mt Bailey via Silent Creek (and back)
Fuji is just a great first-timer hard walk-up with a great view, and the weather held enough not to disappoint – though looking west was another disaster. The PCT to Crater Lake was a check list hike for me, ‘I walked up to Crater Lake’, and my expectations on terrain and difficulty were accurate – dusty, sunny, hot, … but fast! Thielsen Creek area was burnt last year and I was there about 2 weeks before … I had to go back to see the remains. Mt Bailey is just a fun walk-up (hard and 100% characteristic of central cascade >7500 ft mountain.
Diamond Lake is spectacular and this year’s campground is a ‘must go back’ … wildlife observed over the 4 days: fishing osprey 2 different days, bald eagle being chased by 4 ravens, elk (from car), deer (from car), and most amazing, a pair of martens yelling at me from their tree.
Gear thoughts: car camping is so luxurious … used Topo Terra* for climbing and Topo Ultra* for PCT cruising (with duct taped toes on both). Everything worked great!
My companions correctly characterized the hike as ‘long’. It’s a long way up and a longer way down it seems. There are at least 3 different micro-climate forests to the top if one pays attention. Mountain biking tracks were plentiful though we only encountered a handful of other hikers. Getting to the top is all that matters here and looking east or south was worth it.
Looking west showed just how bad the near-by fires were and how important that everyone get one side or the other of the fire.
All made it back to their cars and were off … I ended up at Diamond Lake where after setting up camp, an osprey showed me how to fish – 3 dives, 1 catch (1 ‘pull up’). The smoke was bad that evening
PCT 138 to Crater Lake Rim
The morning was clearer than the night with some stars with a short 5 mile drive to the PCT trailhead off of Hwy 138. Up through the scrub on the plains and onto the shoulder of Crater Lake rim
This section of PCT was like rush hour with hikers passing me (when going south) nearly every 15 min. The haze got progressively worse as the day ended and my back-burners hit to get to the car asap.
PCT Thielsen Creek north
Thielsen Creek trail I did last year but went south on PCT and I knew that last year’s fire was bad in that area. I had to see it again. This time, I went north … but first getting up Thielsen Creek to PCT is just mind blowing, especially thinking that I started here at the lake
It was a short 5 minute drive the trailhead where on the way, I surprised a couple of young elk heading back up the hill after their lake vacation. Then, until the creek ….
How this area around the creek did not burn is a mystery to me, but i was in total awe … that was great water.
After the PCT junction, the trail wind around the big hill (Thielsen) and hits the highest point on the PCT in WA / OR.
Sadly, on the way back down it was thru the burn (again) and all the blowdowns, dust, ash and … flowers.
The night was smokey and today’s hike was a ‘go / no-go’ based on air clarity. At first view, I thought it was too bad to go, but saw things differently.
Getting up a bit of elevation and things changed (Bailey was visible, flowers, and on the way down, I make friends) …
All Trails Map
Fuji Mtn Map
PCT – Hwy 138 to Crater Lake rim (and back)
PCT – Thielsen Creek North (and back)