Wednesday, August 5, 2020

June Lake

If it's called June Lake then why did I hike it in August? Or, if I hiked it in August, then why isn't it called August Lake? Probably because I don't matter when it comes to naming geographical stuff. Besides which, that would also give the lake a moving target name-wise, depending on which month the lake gets visited. Anyway, nonsensical ramblings from your merry blogster aside, I made two August sorties to June Lake: once to scout the route and once to lead a Friends of the Umpqua venture there.

Little Timpanogas Lake

The route to the trailhead is a long and convoluted drive on dusty gravel roads encroached by scratchy vegetation. Part of the scouting trip's purpose was simply to remember how to get there. Once there, most hikers begin hiking at nearby Timpanogas Lake and continue on to Indigo Lake with good reason, for the small lake resides below Sawtooth Peak in a spectacular setting worthy of National Geographic. As a result, forlorn June Lake does not get nearly as much trail love from the hiking crowd. But hey, that's OK with me because June Lake is a beautiful mountain lake 
in its own right, nestled in a lake basin surrounded by forest. On the plus side, you are not likely to see very many hikers on the trail or at the peaceful lake.

This way or that way, or all of the above

In keeping with the avoidance of people theme, I parked not at busy Timpanogas Lake but at the lonely Middle Fork Trail, so named because Timpanogas Lake is the source of the Middle Fork Willamette River. In fact, the trail follows the nascent river downstream for about 35 miles or so, a backpack trip that is on my radar for some future epic. But today, I went upstream for a short utilitarian walk to the June Lake Trail, sideswiping scenic Little Timpanogas Lake as I did so.

Prince's pine flowered on the forest floor

In this locale, the most visited lakes are Timpanogas, Little Timpanogas, June, and Indigo. However, lakes Opal, Amos, and Andy are nearby, along with dozens upon dozens of little ponds and stagnant wet spots not worthy of a name. Naturally, with all this standing water just loitering in the area, it stands to reason there would be a healthy and vibrant population of mosquitos clogging up the airways, so to speak, and they were only too glad to see me. Even though I applied plenty of Deet, they still managed to find those hard to reach places like that particular spot behind the armpit that you just can’t bend your arm enough to get to.

There's lots of forest and mosquitoes between all the lakes

The trail to June Lake inclined uphill from Little Timpanogas Lake as it it went up and over a broad forested ridge 
in the course of several miles. At one spot, a brief view of the impressive Middle Fork Willamette canyon was offered up at an opening in the trees. But mostly there were no views, just a bunch of trees and one lone hiker doing battle with the winged insect vermin swarming all around him like a black cloud of wicked coal dust motes.

June Lake, from my aborted bushwhack around the lake

Just past a trail intersection with the tie-in trail to Indigo Lake, the track dropped steadily for over a mile before arriving at June Lake. My map showed a trail circumnavigating the lake and that seemed a good way to tack some mileage onto a shortish six mile hike, so around the lake I attempted to go. That worked only for about another half-mile when the path unceremoniously ended in the brush. I briefly entertained the notion of bushwhacking around the shore anyway but after about ten unpleasant yards of flailing at brush and mosquitoes both, that notion was summarily abandoned. 

Another sign we are on the right track

Scouting trip mission accomplished, several days later I returned with John, Joe, and Coreena in tow for the official hike. 
After a few pointed barbs about the long and rough road were slung in my direction, we set out on the trail and walked a lot quicker than I had done a few days prior. I didn’t take as many photos this time out just so I could keep up with this hardy crew. Amazingly, even though this hike was just three days later, there was a noticeable decrease in the amount of mosquitoes I had to contend with on the scouting trip. Most unfair! Lunch was eaten at peaceful June Lake before we headed back the way we came.

Postcard view at Indigo Lake

However, instead of returning to the trailhead, we opted to hike over to Indigo Lake for the sole purpose of oohing and aahing at the magnificent postcard view of Sawtooth Peak looming over the lake. On the way out, we made a perfunctory visit to Timpanogas Lake, turning this hike into a four-laker.

Timpanogas Lake

Because of my inane calendar-related blog intro, I did do a little bit of calendar research on the Internet. Apparently 2020 is the Year of the Rat, according to the Chinese Calendar
. Fitting to be sure, because 2020 has so far been ever so ratlike. Taking individual months into consideration, then certainly August should be Month of the Mosquito. But honestly, Rat Lake doesn't sound all that inviting and Mosquito Lake(s) are a dime a dozen in Oregon. June Lake sounds nice, neat, and concise just as is, so we’ll leave the name exactly the way we found it.

Celestial bodies

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

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