Friday, June 2, 2017

Hyatt Lake (from Little Hyatt Lake)

Hello, old friend, it's so nice to see you again! The Pacific Crest Trail (heretofore affectionally referred to as the PCT) and I have been somewhat estranged not because we had an argument or anything like that, but because the PCT has been hiding under a heavy blanket of snow. She's been cold and inaccessible, like a beautiful Russian secret agent in either a spy novel or a U.S. presidential election. But summer is coming and we've been getting the sun and heat to prove it. At the lower elevations (presumably) there just has to be little or no snow on the trail, so it was time for the PCT and I to reconcile. 

So good to be back on the PCT!
The hiking club was going to hike on Soda Mountain on Saturday, so on Friday I drove up for an extra hike in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument before it gets decommissioned by an orange President who does not hike. I figure'd I'd camp near the Soda Mountain Trailhead and meet the group there the following morn. Turned out, they canceled the trip because of snow and I'm thinking "snow, what snow?" as I baked under a warm sun like a well marinated lamb chop.

Prairie smoke
I started at Little Hyatt Lake, and headed north, simply because I'd never been on this part of the PCT. The trailhead was located in expansive Hyatt Meadows and I quickly got my meadow fix hiking uphill surrounded by several zip codes of green grass. Well, not all of the meadows were green, as large parts of the meadows were colored as pink as my cheeks (on my face!) due to dense patches of sea blush blooming in a green meadow under a deep blue sky. The rarely seen (by me, at least) and unusual prairie smoke flower was visited regularly by buzzing bees while small birds twittered in the nearby shrubbery. 

Happy happy joy joy!

At the start, it was a pretty good pull uphill away from the meadows but on the positive side, that was pretty much it for all the uphill I'd have to hike on this day. At least the slope was covered by shady forest and my heavy breathing was a secret kept between me and the trees. Once on the relatively level bench above Hyatt Lake, the trail popped in and out of forest and meadow. All this greenery under a blue sky and my heart was gladdened.

False advertising
About a mile and a half into the hike, the trail crossed the Hyatt Lake Road and there were a number of road signs directing traffic downhill to the lake. The area was heavily wooded so the lake was unseen, despite being in relatively close proximity to the PCT. There is supposed to be a PCT through-hiker camp nearby but I did not see it, just the signs pointing the way. There was also a prominently marked water stop and since my water was on the lukewarm side, I took the short side-trip to the water stop, consisting of a trough and a spigot. Unfortunately, there was more stop than water as the life-giving liquid was not yet hooked up, so lukewarm water it was.

Balsamroot was common in the meadows

What a yellow-staining collomia looks like
From Hyatt Lake, the PCT does a long contour around and well above the lake. I was hiking nearly at 6,000 feet and the meadows were abloom with the usual suspects: balsamroot, miniature onion, waterleaf, Sitka valerian, and larkspur. Because I was on my hands and knees taking pictures (real photographers don't shoot with the LED screen, boys and girls), I found a tiny flower which I later identified as a yellow-staining collomia. Not sure why it's called that but I came home no more yellower than usual.

The only view I had of Hyatt Lake
Eventually, the forest cover thinned out on a rocky meadow and I finally caught a glimpse of Hyatt Lake below the trail. In the distance was Mount Ashland, its ski runs still covered with snow. Nearer and dearer was Soda Mountain, slightly flecked with maybe one or two specks of snow (hear that, hiking club?) on it. I was at 6,000 feet and surrounded by greenery with no snow. Mount Ashland tops out at around 7,500 feet so the line of demarcation for snow had to have been somewhere around 7,000 feet.

Miniature onion
On the way back, I stepped wrong on the uneven trail tread and slightly wrenched my lower back; I was fairly sore by the time I returned to the trailhead several miles later. The decision was made to return to Roseburg instead of camping near Soda Mountain and that is why I'm not bitter about being stiffed by the hiking club. But if I would have been bitter, it wouldn't have lasted long because that would have meant I would have had my old friend the PCT all to myself for one more day.

Lichen graces a tree trunk
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.

No comments :

Post a Comment