North and Wahtum Lakes, PCT loop

Wahtum Lake is a crossroads in the foothills south of the Columbia River Gorge where many trails meet. So it forms a nexus for many 2-3 day backpacking loops, even though some of them never get to the actual shore of Wahtum Lake and may never see it through the trees, even though it is less than a mile away. That was the case in this loop, though I did finally see Wahtum Lake from the top of Chinidere Mountain.

My loop went up the Wyeth Trail (one of those 4000 feet in 4 miles trails common to the Gorge) to North Lake on day 1. Day 2 was mostly flat. I connected to the Rainy-Wahtum trail, then to the Pacific Crest Trail to the Benson Plateau for the second night at Hunter's Camp. Day three was the return down the PCT, turning right at the Herman Bridge trail and finally connecting to Wyeth via the Gorge 400 trail. It was hot and sunny the whole time.

A nice little creek high on the Wyeth Trail.

Some paintbrush next to the trail.

After 3 hours of hiking 4000 of vertical gain in the peak afternoon heat of the warmest day of a July heat wave (temps in the 90's at the start, probably low 80's at 4000 feet), I got to North Lake, here at dusk.

And here is North Lake in morning light. There were mosquitoes here, but the breeze off nearby Green Point ridge was enough to keep them at bay.

The next day I hooked into the Gorton Creek trail, which is on the ridgetop at the point, and had this nice look down at Rainy Lake.

And just past that, I ran into this flat spot on the ridge, to the side of the trail. Along with the view of Mt Hood, it has the same view of Rainy Lake as the previous picture. Although dry, it will make a nice camp one of these days, with easy access from Rainy Lake campground.

The Rainy-Wahtum trail is an old road.

That's Woolly Horn Ridge in the foreground, which splits the east and west form of Herman Creek, leading up to Tomlike Mountain on the right. In the background is the ridge with the Pacific Crest Trail, with the flat area on the right being Benson Plateau, where I will camp this night.

A good view of Mt Hood from Rainy-Wahtum

Indian Mountain from Chinidere Mountain

Benson Plateau and (vaguely) Mt. Saint Helens from Chindere.

Looking north from Chinidere, you can see, from the left, St Helens, Rainier, and (barely) Adams

Wahtum Lake from Chinidere

Hunter's Camp on Ruckle Creek - one of 3 or 4 camping sites at this location

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