Backpacking journey to the supply of the Umpqua River comes with ups and downs
Photograph by Lee JuilleratDiane Miller pauses to benefit from the forest alongside the path to Maidu Lake.
Photograph by Sharon LeedhamA frog peeks from the shallows alongside Maidu Lake.
Photograph by Lee JuilleratA view of Howlock Mountain from Maidu Lake.
Photograph by Lee JuilleratCheryl Brown dons her mosquito netting on a backpacking journey to Maidu Lake.
MAIDU LAKE — The candy, delicate sounds of nature woke us up early, nicely earlier than daybreak.
Likewise, unheard sounds of nature pressured us to forego savoring night sunsets from lakeside viewpoints and, as an alternative, brought about us to take refuge inside our tents.
The primary evening at Maidu Lake our foursome retreated about 7:30, lengthy earlier than sundown. Why? As a result of because the welcoming breeze light, silent hordes of mosquitoes flew kamikaze fashion round our heads and faces whereas others quietly drilled their needle-like proboscises into uncovered pores and skin. The swarms have been intense, however we principally stored them from getting in tents.
As soon as settled inside and protected, different sounds of nature, these of croaking frogs — or have been they toads? — penetrated the calm. Typically they sang in a refrain of blended harmonies. Extra usually it was an abrupt cacophony of competing, out-of-sync, deep-throated belches. And different occasions a single croaker expelled elongated, low-pitched guttural groanings. And when it stopped, the silence was deafening.
Mornings inside our tents, we woke to sounds of nature waking up. Earlier than the sky brightened we heard the thrilling, trilling melodies of unseen music birds. Then, because the sky lightened, extra sounds resonated — the onerous edged “caws!” of crows, the deep-pitched screeches of who-knows-what, and the rat-a-tat hammerings of woodpeckers.
Leaving our tents that first morning, it rapidly dawned on us that being outdoors required coatings of mosquito repellent. The critters have been annoying, however principally controllable. Not the second morning — they have been voracious. Sharon Leedham complained about skitters in her cereal.
“They’re hungry,” agreed Diane Miller.
After gobbling her breakfast, Cheryl Brown fashionably coated her head and shoulders with a mesh curtain of mosquito netting.
We knew we’d tangle with mosquitoes, that are infamous in Southern Oregon’s Cascades from June into August. However, skitters be damned, we wished to maintain alive a beforehand deliberate three-day, two-night backpack to Maidu Lake.
Reaching Maidu requires a four-plus-mile hike from the Digit Level Campground at Miller Lake, 12 rumpy, unpaved miles off Freeway 97 simply north of Chemult.
The hike to Maidu is pleasant. The primary mile ambles alongside the shores of gorgeous Miller Lake, recognized for its common swarms of skitters, however over this lengthy weekend it was amazingly bug-free. Footbridges alongside the path cross a sequence of bubbly lake-feeding creeks.
Simply steps previous the Night Creek bridge is a junction the place the Miller Lake Path continues its five-mile circuit. We adopted the spur, nearly instantly getting into the Mount Thielsen Wilderness and passing via stands of combined conifers because the path climbs to an intersection with the Pacific Crest Path. We crossed the PCT, persevering with west almost a downhill mile via stands of lodgepole pine to Maidu Lake.
Maidu is gorgeous 20-acre lake almost completely circled by bushes. Two backpackers, the one different folks we noticed throughout our three days, have been camped the place the path meets the lake, the place the view options gorgeous sights of semi-snow-covered Cascades peaks.
We hiked east, making camp the place the lake circuit path meets the North Umpqua Path. Maidu is the supply of the North Umpqua River. However on the outlet the place Maidu feeds the river, it’s baffling to assume the trickle of water that filters via a marshy space is the headwaters of a 110-mile river, one which finally merges with the South Umpqua on its journey to the Pacific Ocean.
We arrange tents and picked a lakeside cooking-eating spot. The selection proved prophetic, offering views of geese performing all types of shenanigans — zooming in pairs like fighter jets on reconnaissance missions, generally uttering quacks that echoed throughout the lake. Twosomes paddled side-by-side or merged to flotillas of 4 or 5 and, appropriately, ducked underwater in search of snacks.
However, wait, there was extra.
Near shore, eyes of curious frogs watched us from the weeds. A snake slithered previous. And, after all, we felt greater than noticed the ever-present mosquitoes.
The mosquitoes proved to be motivators. The primary morning they spurred us to depart camp and head down the North Umpqua Path. A detour took us to close by Lucile Lake, Maidu’s lovely little sister. The second morning they hastened our return again to Miller Lake. That morning we discovered why one author calls Maidu “the Grand Central Station of mosquitoes within the Cascades.”
The hike alongside the North Umpqua Path was engaging, however difficult. We had encountered a couple of fallen bushes on the hike from Miller Lake to Maidu. However from Lucile on, previous the place the forest boundary adjustments from the Fremont-Winema to the Umpqua Nationwide Forest, we confronted dozens of obstacles — bushes we needed to climb over, detour round and even slither beneath. The reward was bucolic locations the place bridges crossed over lush, usually mossy creeks flowing to the unseen North Umpqua. After lunch we retraced our steps again to Maidu to get pleasure from mid-afternoon sightings of elusive frogs and snakes, and showing-their-stuff cavorting geese.
Because the mosquitoes reminded us, nothing in nature is ideal. However, because the overriding magnificence and experiences proved, all the pieces in nature is ideal.
Attain freelance author Lee Juillerat at email@example.com or 541-880-4139.