On June 23, after a rest/unpacking day after climbing Mt Shasta, we leave our quiet site by the river and drive North intending to go climb Mt Mc Loughlin and Mt Thielsen, two minor volcanoes in the area. They should provide easy conditioning hikes.
On the way to Mt Mc Loughlin, we stop in Yreka, CA and in Ashland, OR for some sightseeing. Yreka is a very small town with a few interesting buildings. Ashland is much bigger. It is a pleasant small town along I-5, which is known primarily for its Shakespeare "Festival". Actually not really a festival but a near permanent showing of three Shakespeare plays, mostly for tourists it seems. Probably decent shows but not what we had hoped for, i.e. an outdoors festival. The only outdoor theater (out of 3) is a deep stadium with just a bit of sky instead of a roof… The town is nice; old buildings and a lively commercial downtown, but as usual it feels more like a tourist attraction than a real town.
The next day, we drive the last few miles to the neighborhood of the trailhead. We spend a couple of hours driving around to find a spot for the bus, then end up settling on site #2 at the Doe Point Campground, by Fish Lake. It is a pretty nice campground; large sites, paved and level, spread out in an open forest of huge pine trees. Clean and pleasant… if only we didn't hear the highway so clearly.
On June 25, we climb Mt Mc Loughlin. A really nice hike - about 4000 ft, 6 miles. It takes us about 3 hours from the parking lot to the summit. We follow a trail to 6,100 ft then the Pacific Crest trail for a while up to 6,200-6,300 ft. We then make a left at a fork (sign). Most of the hike is through the trees and you can't see the mountain before the last 2,000 ft. The last portion of the hike follows a rocky ridge. There are some patches of snow, but we end up not needing our crampons or ice axes. At about 6,500 ft, the trail becomes inobvious (we lost the trail there on the way down). Keep your eyes open for flagging tape and wands especially if the trail is snow covered. The views from the summit are great. It is a beautiful sunny day - though a bit hazy - and we can see Mt Shasta, Lassen Peak, the Three Sisters and Mt Thielsen.
We get back to the campground, then, in the afternoon, leave for Diamond Lake. We visit Crater Lake NP (impressive site) along the way. We look around a bit for a place for the bus. The trailhead parking lot itself seems feasible. We also check out the campgrounds, which are fairly cheap ($9) but not so attractive: in the woods, very shady… well maintained, but so-so. We end up going back to the trailhead parking lot; a nice flat spot. Still used to police states like CA, CO, and NM, we expect to be kicked out very quickly, but nothing happens. We forgot this is Oregon, the do-what-you-want state! We end up spending two nights there without any trouble.
We spend the next day resting (we're still a bit tired from Mc Loughlin and the drive, and the packs are not ready). We hike around Diamond Lake to check out Mt Thielsen. It is certainly a very inspiring peak! 4000 ft of relief, a classic cone base, and a really impressive looking knob at the top! Plus we were able to see it very clearly from Crater Lake, so it is definitely a wanted objective.
On June 27, we climb Mt Thielsen. From the trailhead at 5,550 ft, we follow the easy trail through timberline and keep going straight at 6,300 ft. The trail leads to a ridge at 7,400 ft and joins the Pacific Crest trail. From there, we follow the loose scree up the ridge to just below the summit pinnacle. A short 4th class scramble on solid rock puts us on the summit. We're carrying lightweight harnesses, a 30m by 8mm rope, and a few nuts and hexes but end up not using any of that gear. We spend about an hour and a half on the pointy summit. It's Sunday and nobody else is around. Beautiful sunny day. Great views to the South of Mt Shasta, Mt Mc Loughlin and Crater Lake, to the North of Mt Bachelor, the Sisters and Jefferson.
On the way down, we meet these two young climbers from Portland (Shirley and Radek). They recognized our bus on the parking lot, then us when we run into them some distance below the top (we are coming down, they are going up). Apparently they are big fans of our site, and very motivated and enthusiastic climbers! They push it just as hard as we have, travelling far away to climb every weekend. They are also both engineers, not too thrilled about their jobs, and hesitant about children… sounds familiar. We spend over an hour talking about the climbing life. It's amazing how they have exactly the same outlook on life as we do. Hopefully some day they'll take a long break as well…
Mt Mc Loughlin-Crater Lake-Mt Thielsen
|Downtown Yreka, CA - a cute town on our way to Mt Mc Loughlin.|
|Old building ceiling in dowtown Yreka.|
|Parked at Doe Point Campground - our basecamp to climb Mt Mc Loughlin.|
|Mt Mc Loughlin in the background (from near Crater lake).|
|The upper part of the route follows a rocky ridge.|
|Near the top, the ridge is still covered with snow.|
|Looking back toward the ridge leading to the summit.|
|On the summit on Mt Mc Loughlin.|
|Pretty rolling hills on the way to Crater Lake.|
|Parked on a pull-out above Crater Lake.|
|Panoramic view of Crater Lake.|
|Another shot of Crater Lake.|
|Mt Thielsen seen from Crater Lake.|
|Close-up view of Mt Thielsen|
|Mt Thielsen - a good looking peak.|
|Strange basalt formations.|
|Hiking up the scree field with Mt Mc Loughlin in the background.|
|The rocky ridge leading to the summit pinnacle.|
|Great views from the ridge.|
|Just below the summit pinnacle.|
|The final scramble to the summit.|
|Fulgurites on the summit of the "lightning rod" of the Cascades.|
|Eric resting on the summit.|
|More views of Mt Mc Loughlin on the way down.|
|Heading back to the car.|