October 13, 2012

Plenty of great viewpoints tower above Diamond Lake

Trail to the slopes of Mt. Thielsen on a smoky day
The greatest reward from climbing a mountain is the accomplishment. The second is the view from the summit. Frequently, when topping a Cascade volcano or one’s remnants in Oregon on a clear day, one can see the two sides of Oregon: green stretching as far as they can see to the West and more arid country to the East. Ridges radiate from mountains before flowing and spreading into forestlands. Still at altitudes of 5,000', those forestlands then eventually give way to flatlands of the Willamette Valley and the high desert of Central Oregon.

Ridge leading up Mt. Thielsen
While camped along the Umpqua River near Lemolo Lake, the temptation to climb nearby Mt. Thielsen was too great. Felix (name changed) and his wife, Nel (named changed), my bride and I had spent the previous day driving the loop around Crater Lake. Although spectacular, spending much of that day in a SUV had Felix and I craving a trail. To us, a trek to the top of 9,182' Mt. Thielsen looked like the most interesting undertaking in the area.

View straight down from summit of Mt. Thielsen
After the five mile hike to and up the mountain’s West ridge, which includes an intersection with the Pacific Crest Trail, we came to the base of the final ascent. From there, we scaled the final 80 feet of spire and sat atop Thielsen’s small summit at 9,182 feet with a few other folks.

Unfortunately, lightning had generated wildfires along the crest of the Cascade Range earlier in the week, so the views were limited by all the smoke in the sky. Interestingly, Mt. Thielsen acquired the moniker "lightning rod of the Cascades" after it was discovered that lightning strikes on its summit are more common than other mountains in the Cascade Range. Below us, Diamond Lake was barely visible. On the other side of the lake, we should have been able to view Mt. Bailey, but it was completely walled off by smoke.


Diamond Lake and Mt. Thielsen from Mt. Bailey
A few years later I hiked the five miles up 8,368' Mt. Bailey, located across Diamond Lake from Mt. Thielsen. The day was just as nice as when we climbed Mt. Thielsen, but smoke free. I finally got my view of the area, including a grand view of Mt. Thielsen.
View to Mt. Thielsen from Tipsoo Peak
View of Diamond Lake from Mt. Bailey hole in wall
Another great hike in the area to a viewpoint is the three mile, and fairly easy trail to the top of 8,031 foot Tipsoo Peak. Tipsoo means “grass” or “leaves” “or hay” in Chinook jargon. From the summit of the peak, a picturesque view of the Cascade crest extends to Mt. Thielsen.
Mt. Thielsen(L), Diamond Lake, Mt. Bailey(R)
from Tipsoo Peak
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