Saturday, August 29, 2020

Fawn and Stag Lakes

Forgive me if I start fawning over Fawn Lake. Sometimes, it feels like mountain lakes in the Cascades are a dime a dozen but Fawn Lake is arguably one of the better ones. Situated in a high mountain pass at the base of several cragged and jagged peaks, the postcard view of the lake is a ready made advertisement for hiking in the Diamond Peak Wilderness. To top it off, there is a large rocky bench overlooking the lake with just the perfect backpacking campsite atop it. Be it day hike or backpack trip, Fawn Lake is most definitely a worthy destination. 

These guys!

Doe Lake is nowhere to be found but never fear, Fawn Lake is not an orphan because a protective and nurturing Stag Lake keeps watch from nearby. I can relate to that because I single-parented my kids for seven years, and how about a tip of the hat to all the stags out there raising fawns all on their own. Anyway, after hiking to Stag Lake, I'm all about stagging over Stag Lake because Fawn Lake comes in a close second best, scenery-wise. And if you think I overplayed the cervine puns and references, “Oh, deer!” is all I’ve got to say. By the way, my mother's sister Lerna has always gone by the name of Ler for short, but us kids just call her Aunt Ler. Oh, deer, once again.

Let's go hiking!

This was the final day of our campout at Odell Lake so it stood to reason that our last hike had better be a good one. We disembarked from our vehicles at the Crescent Lake boat ramp parking lot and in a hiking oddity, we had to hike a short distance to the actual Fawn Lake Trailhead. In other words, we had to hike from the trailhead to the trailhead, and that made about as much sense as the Electoral College. We were going to Fawn Lake of course, but the Metolius-Windigo Trail also departs from the same trailhead. Curious about this trail, I did a little research and found out the MWT is about 100 miles long and runs from the Mount Jefferson Wilderness to Windigo Pass in our own Umpqua National Forest. I'm game, who's with me on this? 

An easy walk through gorgeous woods

But back to the subject at hand, I'm supposed to be writing about the hike to Fawn Lake and not about enticing 100 mile long trails that call to me. In keeping with the volcanic legacy of the Diamond Peak Wilderness, the trail was dry and dusty and surrounded by a lush and healthy forest that gradually transitioned to a forest of scrawny lodgepole pine trees as we gained elevation. The grade was always uphill but never what I would call steep so it was a pleasant walk through the woods and volcanic dust on the way up to Fawn Lake. 

The gawking begins at Fawn Lake

After three miles of easy hiking, we arrived at peaceful Fawn Lake. The lake reposed poetically in a forested bowl surrounded by tall mountains. At the opposite end of the lake, loomed craggy Lakeview Mountain, Peak 6892, and Redtop Mountain which was mostly tucked around a corner of the lake. The air was fairly still so all the aforementioned peaks reflected nicely on the lake's surface. I had been here before but none of my ducklings had been, so it did my heart good to hear all the oohing and aahing from my appreciative brood. 

Part of the hike up to Stag Lake

After a requisite stop for a view soak, we grabbed the Crater Butte Trail which rounded the north shore of Fawn Lake. The path climbed steadily through thin woods and low scrub, the view of the lake improving until it eventually receded from view. The trail was seemingly heading straight to Peak 6892 but before we crash landed on the peak, so to speak, we made a right turn onto the Stag Lake Trail. 

The Stag Lake impostor

"Is that all there is?" we collectively wondered as we gazed at a very unimpressive semi-stagnant pond with lily pads floating on the surface. All that work to get here and it was sad indeed to get so disappointed by an underwhelming pond until John noticed a continuation of the trail. And me with a GPS that I didn't even think to consult with! Fortunately, the trail did continue to a lake that just had to be Stag Lake. Just to be sure, I checked my GPS this time. 

All the magnificent scenery still cannot
prevent me from acting like an idiot

Stag Lake sits right at the foot of craggy and impressive Lakeview Mountain, the gray rock looking as formidable and unassailable as a medieval redoubt. The symmetrical cone of Peak 6892 was also looking down upon Stag Lake, just not from front and center like Lakeview Mountain was doing. Lake, mountains, and forests were all reposing under a clear and deep blue sky spread out above. Such magnificent scenery just demanded a lengthy and reverential contemplation stop and we so obliged. 

Missy hikes through a lodgepole forest

After an hour-long view soak, lunch, and general all-around lollygaggery spent lazing in the sunshine with maybe a nap or two by a hiker or two, it was back the way we had come. On the way back, we made sure to retrieve some of our friends who stayed behind at Fawn Lake for a shorter hike and I’m glad to report we finished the hike with the same amount of hikers we started out with. I’m also glad to report that the weather was absolutely glorious, unlike my only other outing here where I had to run down the trail dodging lightning bolts hurled by weather gods using me for target practice. Some experiences don’t need to be relived. 

Part of that great campout at Odell Lake

All present agreed this had been a grand hike and the whole campout at Odell Lake had been an unqualified success. For more photos of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.

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