Monday, October 13, 2014

Rosary Lakes

The Rosary Lakes are one of my favorite hiking destinations in the Willamette Pass area. As the story has it, the three lakes all lined up in a row resemble beads on a rosary; ergo, the Rosary Lakes. The lakes would not have suggested rosary beads to me as I'm not a particularly religious person,. I probably would have given the lakes a name more closer to my particular world view, like Fart Bubbles in a Tub Lakes, since in my mind the lakes more resemble a stream of bubbles of dubious origin than a string of rosary beads. That's probably why I'm not allowed to name things and besides which, it'd be too long of a name to fit on the topo maps.

Warming fingers by the fire
At any rate, it was a nice cool autumn morning and I eagerly sallied forth onto the Pacific Crest Trail for a moderate hike before winter's arrival shuts down the trails. The trail angled away from busy Highway 58, steadily climbing upwards through the forest as the car noises gradually faded away. So uniform was the trail at this point, it was quite jarring when the trail passed through a small opening in the forest with bright blue sky above, sunlight touched my skin and I'm glad to report I didn't burst into flames...this time.

Lower Rosary Lake
After a couple of miles of sidehilling across the slopes of Peak 6693 (I think the Willamette Pass ski-place calls the peak Eagle Mountain or some facsimile thereof) the Pacific Crest made a left turn to the north as it surmounted a forested bench with some lava flows on it. A short and relatively level walk on the bench then delivered me to to Lower Rosary Lake. 

Pulpit Rock
Any discussion about the Rosary Lakes must mention Pulpit Rock. The prominent point does indeed look like a pulpit from where a messianic zealot can preach to the faithful. It doesn't matter from which of the three lakes the pulpit is viewed, it dominates the scenery above the lakes; no matter where you go, there it is.

View to Maiden Peak
So back to my arriving at Lower Rosary Lake: mountain ash was all yellow leaved around the banks and Pulpit Rock loomed overhead. To the north was the symmetrical cone of Maiden Peak, whose summit I WILL hike to someday. In the middle of the pond was a large flock of ducks that probably numbered in the thousands, if not millions. As I hiked around the lake, the flock rotated around so as to be as far away from me as possible; but that's OK, it sort of reminded me of work.

Middle Rosary Lake
Middle Rosary Lake was next and the lake's main distinction is that it is the closest lake to Pulpit Rock, forever kneeling at the rock's base like a brainwashed devotee. I'll always remember the middle lake for a memorable snowshoe trip that Ray and I did one Valentine's Day (...and don't read too much into that!), the lake was frozen solid and we ate lunch on Middle Rosary Lake's middle.

A fellow hiker out on the trail
A small isthmus separates Middle and Upper Rosary Lakes and at the upper lake it was decision time. I was really feeling walky and it felt like I had arrived at the lakes in mere minutes, so what is an unfulfilled hiker ever to do? Why, continue hiking northward on the Pacific Crest Trail, of course.

My only picture of Maiden Lake
At an intersection with the Maiden Lake Trail, I so wanted to continue on to the lake. However, it was about 3 miles away and the round trip hike would wind up being 14 to 15 miles. I was OK with the distance but the timing would have put me back at the trailhead past sunset and my headlamp was where it didn't belong, namely in the trunk of my car. 

I'm likin' the lichen
I then entertained a notion of hiking to the Maiden Peak Shelter but once I measured the distance from Maiden Peak Saddle (where I had hiked to) it still was going to wind up being the same kind of mileage as presented with the Maiden Lake option. So at that point, I bid farewell to all the unrequited Maiden destinations and returned back the way I came, happy with my nine mile hike.

A sign winter is coming, darn it
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.


  1. Beautiful pics....reminds me of the 50 miler some of us did from the McKenzie to Willamette Hwys years ago. I loved that area!

  2. We did that same backpack trip too, one of my favorite treks!