Sunday, August 28, 2011

Of Trout and Bicycles - Diamond Lake 2011

Though I would love to be more thorough in writing about our recent family vacation to Diamond Lake, I'm really busy with work for the next few weeks. The following summary should suffice for now, and, as I have time, I'll continue to update the photo gallery with new images and captions. Enjoy!

Diamond Lake is a 3,000 acre alpine lake nestled in the mountains of Umpqua National Forest in southern Oregon (elevation 5,100'). Over the years, it has become our traditional family camping destination, and for good reason! The campground provides ready access to the lake for trout fishing, a series of bike paths and adjoining roads for cycling, mountains for climbing, a little store stocked with candy, areas for swimming, kayaking, canoeing, and more. I vaguely remember the last two times we've gone there but this trip is sure to stand out in my memory as one of the best yet. Here are some of the highlights.

We arrived on Monday afternoon in the middle of a brief thunderstorm, but the weather soon cleared up and for the rest of the week it was absolutely perfect. After nearly half a dozen tents were set up and other campsite prep work was done, we had dinner and went out on the lake to fish for a few hours. This was our first time fishing here since 2007 so we weren't sure what to expect. That evening we pulled in 7 nice fish and over the next few days came to realize that this would be one of the most productive fishing trips we've ever had.

Joshua looking quizzical. This little guy had a blast!

Zach in his element

Tuesday really stands out in my memory. I spent the morning on my road bike scouting for the Mt. Bailey trailhead; you'll remember from my last post that Mt. Bailey is one of two mountains standing on either side of Diamond Lake, the other being Mt. Thielsen. The signs indicated that it was just a short 1.5 mile hike/ride to the lower trailhead from the road so I returned the campground confident that it would take a mere 15-20 minutes to get there. When the fishermen returned with their catch (21 trout, I think), Daniel, Mike and I got ready to go climb Bailey that afternoon. I had all my typical climbing gear (minus the ice axe and crampons) in a fairly heavy daypack, along with my camera. It weighed about 25 pounds altogether. I was also wearing my climbing pants, which, incidentally, are not well-suited for cycling - but it was supposed to only take us 20 minutes to get there so I didn't care.

To make a long story short, we went 13.3 miles on gravel roads, halfway around the mountain (it seemed) and never encountered the expected trailhead. I don't know how we missed the lower trailhead, but after concluding that we must have missed it we continued on to look for the upper trailhead. The route involved a lot more climbing than I preferred and we were probably riding for 1.5 hours before we decided to call it a day and abandon the attempt. Since we weren't on a reality TV show and couldn't be airlifted off the premises we had to make the difficult climb back over the hills we had previously descended. Ironically, on the way down, we found the mangled remains of a sign pointing us toward a road that connected with the Mt. Bailey trail. It was too late in the afternoon to consider climbing.

It was disappointing to admit failure, but I later learned that the Mt. Bailey trail had not been maintained  this year and was in pretty rough shape. Regardless, I know that if we could have found the trailhead we could have made the climb. Bailey is a relatively mild mountain compared to many others in the Cascades. Oh well, we still pulled off almost 27 miles of mountain biking so that's got to count for something!

Mt. Thielsen, directly across the Lake from Mt. Bailey
On Wednesday I decided to get a one day fishing license and got out in the boat for both the morning and evening trips. I enjoyed a rousing fight with a nice big trout and managed to pull in 4 total between both trips. Mike and I also rented a canoe and attempted to fish two lines out of it that afternoon. If you've every tried this you'll understand just how difficult it is to manage an un-anchored craft in light waves and attempt to manage your line. In the event that we had gotten a bite I don't know if we would have managed to get the fish in the boat (though we had a net). We gave up on that idea and instead gave some of the kids boat rides for the rest of the hour.

Evening on the lake

Thursday was epic. Dad, Daniel and I rode from the campground out to Crater Lake and around the rim. I'll write more about it later when I pull my photos off my iPhone, but for now let me say it was the longest, hardest ride I've ever done - 65 miles with about 5,000 feet of climbing and some crazy descents.

Mt. Scott, the highest point on the rim of Crater Lake (we rode past it) viewed from Diamond Lake
Friday morning I had planned to climb Mt. Thielsen (on the east side of Diamond Lake), but was too exhausted from the ride around Crater to consider more climbing. It was a bummer because Thielsen has been on my hit list for a while now, but I'm 100% sure we'll be going back one of these years so there will be more opportunities to climb it.


Jenna D. said...

sounds like you guys had tons of fun and excellent weather! Beautiful photos!

JessicaCynthia said...

You got some pretty amazing shots here, Ben. I especially like the one of Zack. -so him! I'm glad you guys had a blast, and that the mosquitoes didn't eat you guys alive down there. We should try to camp with your family next year. I don't think we ever have, so it should be lots of fun. Maybe bring canoes, and have a race. Or have a fishing contest....You never know how much fun you'd have with another family to compete against. ;-)