Saturday, May 21, 2016

Little Hyatt Lake

This Friends of the Umpqua hike was sparsely attended, probably because of the cold rain and/or baking hot sun in the forecast. Or more likely, the sparse attendance was due to the fact it was led by yours truly. Whatever the reason for staying at home, the weather was simply schizophrenic, changing every 10 minutes or so. I tried to keep up, putting on and taking off rain gear with the changing climes but eventually I gave up and just left the rain gear on, guaranteeing I'd be sensibly attired at least half the time.

Henderson's fawn lily
Leaving Greensprings Summit on Highway 66, the Pacific Crest Trail ambled through intermittent meadows and forest. Regardless of the terrain, the vegetation was always lush and green. Spring was in full song and wildflowers soon kept my camera busy and me lagging at the tail end of the hiking queue, but what else is new? The meadows were soggy, making the PCT a muddy and gooey mess in places. The general consensus of PCT thru-hikers is that this particular stretch of the venerable trail is boring and uninteresting but I beg to differ. I do love my meadows and am definitely a fan of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. 

What's a hike without an obstacle or two?
After crossing gravel Hyatt Lake Road for the second time, the trail perambulated around Greensprings Summit. In several places, a few chunks of snow were still hanging around from winter but we didn't need to break out the snowshoes and crampons just yet. Once the PCT got onto the western slopes of Greensprings Mountain, the really cool stuff started to happen. The slopes were bald and green, just like me, and provided limited but still pretty awesome views of Bear Creek Valley. 

View to Bear Creek Valley
Bear Creek Valley contains the towns of Ashland, Phoenix, and Talent with the I-5 freeway linking them all together. Sounds pretty urban but the valley is mostly rural and surrounded by mountains. On this day, the mountains were all hidden by clouds but the valley was enjoying a sunny morning as were we, and the views of the valley stretching north to Medford were impressive.

Hyatt Meadows blushes with sea blush

After enjoying just under a mile of meadows and views, the PCT ducked back into the forest and once again we crossed Hyatt Lake Road. The next item on our PCT sampler was Hyatt Meadows which is actually one incredibly large meadow. I think the entire principality of San Marino could fit in Hyatt Meadows, it's so big. The sun cooperated with us as we crossed and the meadows were tinted pink with thick patches of sea blush in bloom.

Little Hyatt Lake
A series of ups and downs brought us to Keene Creek, flowing fast and clear over the Little Hyatt Lake dam. We all plopped down for rest and relaxation next to the scenic little lake but not so fast duckies! Before we could get fully relaxed, ominous dark clouds scudded over, the wind picked up, and the temperature plummeted. Quickly, we packed up and headed back the way we came and of course 5 minutes later the sun came out again, baking us in our own rain gear like so many foil-wrapped potatoes on an oven rack.

Storm's a comin', Ma!

Despite the inermittent warm sun, the weather trend was toward the rainy and when we returned to the western slopes of Greensprings Mountain, Bear Creek Valley was barely visible in the doom and gloom. A steady rain over the last two miles made sure we were all wet. And of course, just before we arrived at the trailhead, the sun came out and the meadows steamed in the afternoon light. Darn weather was more psychotic than an ex-spouse.

Mission bell
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.

Oregon grape

Striped coralroot


  1. Rain or shine or both, still looks like you had some great views and lots of wildflowers!