Sky Lakes Wilderness 8/15-17/2011

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OneSpeed
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Sky Lakes Wilderness 8/15-17/2011

Post by OneSpeed » August 23rd, 2011, 8:44 am

I am working on a revision of my Oregon PCT guidebook -- and if you've never heard of it, don't worry, seems like nobody has, based on sales -- so last week, under the guise of "work" and "research," I decided to go do a hike in the Sky Lakes Wilderness just north of Klamath Falls. This is about 20 trail miles south of Crater Lake National Park, and is a lovely little gem of a wilderness: forest, lakes, fishing, some fine ridge walking, and easy terrain. Check it out sometime; it's maybe a six-hour drive to the trailhead we used, Cold Springs on the south end of the area. That's about 10 miles on a good gravel road off Highway 140 near Lake of the Woods.

So, the first day was three miles, virtually flat, to a camp at one of the Heavenly Twin Lakes. And I defy you to find a better name for two lakes! Most campsites are off-limits due to over-use, but we found a quiet little corner and had the two lakes to ourselves for two nights. This is all around 6,000 feet, and it was snow-free. Mosquitoes, on a scale of 1 to 10 -- with 1 being nude sunbathing and 10 being lighting the forest on fire to *#@%$!ing kill them all! -- were around a 6.

Typical forest scenery, a combination of mountain hemlocks and lodgepole pine.
SkyLakes06.jpg
The view from camp:
SkyLakes07.jpg
First trophy of the 2011 hunting season:
SkyLakes10.jpg
The next day, the goal was to explore the main lake basin, then get up on the ridge and follow the PCT to a saddle with terrific views. Turned out to be a 16-mile day, making us wish we had gotten up earlier, or driving faster, or hiked longer into the evening the day before. Why can't Daytime Paul ever convince Morning Paul to get up sooner and move faster?

Some scenery from along the way, starting with Trapper Lake, one of the big ones in the heart of the wilderness. This is 5 miles in from Cold Springs.
SkyLakes13.jpg
Not sure what kind of tree this is, but we were totally impressed by the cones:
SkyLakes18.jpg
Headed up the Divide Trail now, bound for the PCT, looking back down towards two of the many lakes. The PCT skips all this to keep the crowds and horses away from the lakes. The Sky Lakes Trail is the main path through it, following the old Oregon Skyline Trail route.
SkyLakes22.jpg
Mt. McLoughlin, just south of the wilderness.
SkyLakes25.jpg
You can see Shasta from up here, as well. That's something like 90 miles to the south. (This is an attempt at major digital zoom with my new camera.)
SkyLakes28.jpg
The trail on the way up:
SkyLakes29.jpg
After a couple very scenic miles on the PCT along the ridge, we're almost to the 7,349' saddle between Devils Peak and Lee Peak (on the right).
SkyLakes33.jpg
And some views from the saddle, first looking north to the peaks around Crater Lake:
SkyLakes35.jpg
Zooming in a little now. Left to right is Union Peak (in the NP south of Hwy 62), then Mt. Bailey above Diamond Lake, a very faint Diamond Peak barely visible, then the peaks around the rim, with Mt. Thielsen showing up right in the middle.
SkyLakes36.jpg
Looking to the SE now, at the upper reaches of Klamath Lake. Foreground is northern section of Sky Lakes Wilderness.
SkyLakes42.jpg
And now we're heading back to camp, south on the PCT, after chatting up some thru-hikers who, with 1,800 miles under their belts, were saying how easy the Oregon miles are and how they can't wait to take a "zero day" at Crater Lake. One guy, for perspective, was telling us at 3 pm that he intended to knock out another 10 miles today so he could do 10 more in time to have breakfast at Mazama Village!
SkyLakes48.jpg
It's a beautiful area, perfect for a two- or three-night relaxing backpack. The drive isn't that bad, there's plenty of off-trail lakes to camp at, and I hear the fishing is excellent. And you can see that the scenery is top-notch. Might want to go after mosquito season, though.

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OneSpeed
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Re: Sky Lakes Wilderness 8/15-17/2011

Post by OneSpeed » August 23rd, 2011, 9:01 am

I forgot to include maps. This one shows the whole route:
Sky Lakes Map.png
And here's a detail showing the heart of the lake area. The saddle is to the north of this, trailhead to the south.
Sky Lakes Detail.jpg

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retired jerry
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Re: Sky Lakes Wilderness 8/15-17/2011

Post by retired jerry » August 23rd, 2011, 9:12 am

Hmmm...

I think I'm going to write a book about hiking so I can write off expenses :)

But, I suspect IRS would be unhappy if you didn't have income from book sales to balance expenses

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Charley
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Re: Sky Lakes Wilderness 8/15-17/2011

Post by Charley » August 23rd, 2011, 9:22 am

Hey Paul,
I've got the PCT book!

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OneSpeed
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Re: Sky Lakes Wilderness 8/15-17/2011

Post by OneSpeed » August 23rd, 2011, 9:24 am

Charley wrote:Hey Paul,
I've got the PCT book!
Cool, Charley, thanks! See, I do have some income! I think I got 70 cents when you bought that book.

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CampinCarl
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Re: Sky Lakes Wilderness 8/15-17/2011

Post by CampinCarl » August 23rd, 2011, 10:12 am

Awesome, thanks for the great report! My wife and I are headed down there on Friday, DEET is definitely on the packing list. We are starting near Fourmile Lake going up the Badger Lake Trail... by the way, I think Mt. McLoughlin is just inside the southern part of the wilderness. Anyway, thanks again for the update :)

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Born2BBrad
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Re: Sky Lakes Wilderness 8/15-17/2011

Post by Born2BBrad » August 23rd, 2011, 10:28 am

Paul, great TR. This is on my short list of new places to go. It’s good to see that that area is accessible.

I’m surprised I have never heard of your book. Every time I am at an outdoor store I look for new hiking and backpacking books. One can never have too many of them and I like to see the different writing styles and formats. I will consider purchasing it.
Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.
- Jean Luc Picard

Thor the Deer

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OneSpeed
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Re: Sky Lakes Wilderness 8/15-17/2011

Post by OneSpeed » August 23rd, 2011, 12:14 pm

Born2BBrad wrote:I’m surprised I have never heard of your book. Every time I am at an outdoor store I look for new hiking and backpacking books. One can never have too many of them and I like to see the different writing styles and formats. I will consider purchasing it.
For some reason, it just never took off. In my experience at markets, it's the word "overnight" that spooks the general public. I think any backpacking-oriented book has a limited audience. Anyway, I think it's pretty good, and I hope you enjoy it.

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funhog
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Re: Sky Lakes Wilderness 8/15-17/2011

Post by funhog » August 23rd, 2011, 4:30 pm

I have your book (raising hand...) In fact, mine is even autographed!

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Crusak
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Re: Sky Lakes Wilderness 8/15-17/2011

Post by Crusak » August 23rd, 2011, 9:13 pm

Looks like a great hike. And your book is at a great price, I see. ;) That 'one-click' button on Amazon is so easy to use!

That tree is one fertile plant - so many cones!

It's good to see that I'm not the only one who has thought of 'big fire' to keep the pesky bugs at bay. :lol:

Great report, and you have some great pics too. That new camera - I remember that you were testing out a new one, something in between an SLR and a pocket camera, right?
Jim's Hikes

Solvitur Ambulando

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