Sunday, July 7, 2013

Lower Eddeeleo Lake

Back in the day, U.S. Forest Service employees Ed Clark, Dee Wright, and Leo McMahon stocked the lakes in the Waldo Lake area. They must have notably done everything together because the Eddeeleo Lakes were named after them in permanent testimonial to their togetherness.  

A hoverfly buzzes a beargrass bloom
Beginning at Forest Road 254 on the western edge of the Waldo Lake Wilderness, the trail ducked into a thick conifer forest and headed downhill into the lake basin. Shade from the trees would be a welcome constant on the hike. Having hiked around Waldo Lake once before in July, I came well-prepared with buckets of industrial strength Deet but oddly enough, the mosquito swarms were on the mild side. Maybe it's because the early and hot summer has impacted the mosquito breeding cycle, but for whatever reason, I was most grateful for the relative lack of airborne vampires.

The rare and seldom seen rhododendron
Beargrass, in full bloom, greeted me at the sunny trailhead but once in the forest, it was all about the rhododendrons. I would be walking primarily on the Six Lakes Trail and the map showed a lot more lakes in the area but the lakes were hard to get to, they should have named it the Rhododendron Trail, instead. They were blooming everywhere and nearly exclusively; my picture collection has grown by several hundred more rhododendron photographs after this hike.

The Six Lakes Trail, somewhere in there
A good map is required as there are many trails criss-crossing each other as they connect all the lakes like nodes on a computer flow chart. In just over a mile, a right turn took me off the Winchester Lake Trail onto the Blair Lake Trail after ignoring the Winchester Ridge Trail turnoff. Then it was another right turn onto the Six Lakes Trail, ignoring turnoffs onto the Quinn Lakes Trail. Confused? That's why maps get brought along on hikes, boys and girls.

Lower Quinn Lake
At any rate, the trail came close enough to Lower Quinn Lake for the lake to be visible through the trees. I worked my way to the shore to snap a few pictures of the lake before continuing on. Somehow, I missed the junction with the Quinn Lakes Trail so I missed Upper Quinn Lake; I came in close proximity to East Quinn Lake but could not see the lake for the trees.

Long Lake
Next up on the lake list was Long Lake, a slender body of water that is nearly a mile long. I bushwhacked to the inlet meadow/marsh, ducking conifer branches intent on removing my eyes. Further on down the lake, I bushwhacked to another viewpoint of the lake for a better view. And this is my complaint about the Six Lakes Trail: all those lakes require a scratchy bushwhack in order to see them. Stay on the trail and you'd never catch a glimpse despite there being lakes all around.  

One of 167,432 rhododendrons seen on this hike
But hey, there were rhododendrons blooming in riotous profusion, offering a floral distraction to grumbling hikers. After traversing some marshes on a newly constructed boardwalk and foot bridge, a hint of blue through the trees gave away the location of Lower Edeeleo Lake.   

Lower Eddeeleo Lake

The guidebook I read said a nice view could be had by walking along the lake's shoreline just past the outlet creek. Peering into the dense growth, I could hear but not see the creek. The undergrowth, consisting mainly of vine maples, was very thick and extremely tedious to get through. I finally reached the shore which abruptly started where the undergrowth ended; I had to cling to the vine maples just to be able to take a one-handed photograph. Whew! Beats me how the guidebook's author made it to the shore viewpoint.

Ed, Dee, and Leo

The trail from my car had been mostly downhill and it just seems wrong to have to hike uphill to the car. Fortunately, the grade was moderate for the 5 miles back to the car. After this hike, I have a better appreciation for the hard work performed by Ed, Dee, and Leo; naming the lakes after them was probably the Forest Service's equivalent of a Purple Heart medal.

One of the few flowers that was not a rhodendron

For more pictures of the rhododendrons, stop by and visit the Flickr album.

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