A Very Short Welcome Lakes Outing


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Bull of the Woods Wilderness

On a beautiful Sunday morning, I began the hike to Upper Welcome Lake in the Bull of the Woods Wilderness, less than 60 miles southeast of home as the crow flies. I was somewhat apprehensive due to my experience hiking to the summit of Whetstone Mountain in late July. It’s also in the Bull of the Woods. That trail had not been maintained for quite awhile, making for a tough and long hike.

Bee enjoying a Fireweed (lots of pollen)

I had done the 10-mile put-and-back, 2,200-foot gain hike three years ago and found that a 2010 wildfire had burned the area around the Lakes significantly. However, the lower part of the trail had been in fine shape, going through an old growth forest with large, old hemlocks and Douglas fir trees.

To my surprise, I began running into the impacts of another wildfire in less than one-quarter mile. Many of the old growth trees were now burned snags, and way too many had fallen over the trail on the steep hillside. And, what I feared had come to pass – – – there had been no trail maintenance.

After another one-quarter mile or so, I gave up crawling over and around fallen trees over the trail and returned to the trailhead.

For some added enjoyment I drove over Graham Pass on the way back home.

A hint to the wise, when it comes to dangerous things for solo wilderness hikers to do, dealing with large blowdowns over trails on steep hillsides is up there with fording high streams.

Entering the area burned by a fairly recent wildfire

Deadfalls over the trail (I turned around shortly afterward)

More deadfalls over the trail

Fireweed, Daisy and Oregon Grape

Lower Welcome Lake before the wildfires (taken on a hike in 2007)

 

Categories: Oregon CascadesTags: , ,

2 comments

  1. I hiked down from Welcome Lakes in 2014 – apparently this was between the two fires. The area around the lakes was a devastated, as was a short part of the #554 down from the lakes. But the switchbacks were still clear and easy to hike – nothing like mess of uncleared, fallen trees you encountered. Your photo from 2007 makes me realize this is another place (like the Kalmiopsis) that I didn’t get to visit before a fire struck. 😦

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    • Before the wildfires, the Lakes were a beautiful place to visit. I suppose in another century or so they will be again.
      In the meantime, I hope to see trail maintenance resumed in the Bull of the Woods Wilderness. Many of the trails are a mess.

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