Monday, July 2, 2012

A Day Hike to Lake Pamelia

Wild Rhododendrons in bloom around the lake.
Trying to get in better shape, I recently took my kids on a day hike to Pamelia Lake in Oregon's Mt. Jefferson Wilderness Area.  It was a lot of fun, and I thought I'd offer some quick notes to readers (and reminders for myself) who may be interested in trying it in the future.

The first thing to bear in mind is that this is a limited access area.  This means that a special wilderness use permit must be picked-up first at the Detroit Ranger Station.  You will also need a parking permit for the trailhead.  As of 2012, the use permit was free, but the parking pass was five dollars.  If you don't like surprises, you may want to call ahead to reserve the permit.

The Pamelia Lake Road, leading to the trail head, is located about fourteen miles east of the ranger station off of Highway 22.  It's paved most of the way, but it is a single lane.  Use caution also due to the irregular road surface which can cause underside damage if you try to go to fast.  (No comment on how I know this.)  

The hike itself is not that difficult, but it's probably not fair to call it easy either.  Moderate difficulty is probably the most accurate description.  Make sure that you bring more food and water than you think you'll need, and remember that weather conditions can change quickly, so bring appropriate clothes (and sunscreen).  The pleasant sound of Pamelia Creek accompanies the hiker for much of the way--a good reminder to stay hydrated!

Two and a half miles later, the winding trail deposits the hiker on the lake's west side with impressive views of Mt. Jefferson to the northeast and wild rhododendrons gracing the lake's shoreline.  It's a great place to sit and relax for a while.

It may be helpful for the reader to pause here and take a quick look at our journey online, bearing in mind that there is no GPS signal in these woods, so the iPhone's mileage figures are not as exact as usual.  You'll see that we went around to the east side of the lake for quite some distance.  This was an enjoyable hike, with picturesque waterfalls and geese gathered on the lake's eastern shore, but we lost the trail completely at the end of that stretch.  

A more experienced hiker would have been able to successfuly ford the streams and follow the trail's path beyond and up the steep foothills to where the path intersects with the Pacific Crest Trail.  (You'll note that this section of trail is actually running parallel to the PCT, which lies a short distance to the east.)

The only last suggestion I'd offer is to watch your way carefully. There are a number of poorly marked and intersecting trails on the lake's western side.  It's easy to get a little turned around and find yourself going in a circle--not exactly filling the hiker with wonderful feelings of accomplishment.  If you get confused or lost, it's best to return to the lake to regain your bearings.  

I hope the reader finds this information of some value.  It's a great little hike for those of us in the beautiful Willamette Valley.  

(Here is one more link that may prove useful!  Particularly good explanation of the trails in this area.)

New:  You may also enjoy "Injured and Alone."  

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