Wahtum Lake Loop

Wahtum Lake, north of Mt. Hood, is a Grand Central Station of hiking trails, and there are many loops that can be made with this lake as the focal point. They tend to range from 25 to 35 miles. I chose a longer one for this trip - 33 miles, with a 3-day, 2-night itinerary. Because it was a longer route, I call it a Fat Wahtum Loop.

We started up the relentlessly steep Ruckel Creek trail and had a nice view of the Columbia River at one point.

Some flowers were blooming as well.

After the steep climb of 4000 feet, we reached a place called Hunter's Camp on the edge of the Benson Plateau. Here is Ruckel Creek.

Soon after we joined the Pacific Crest Trail and had an open area with a nice view across to Tomlike Mountain.

Our goal for that day was Wahtum Lake, and we got a nice camp.

There was still some snow left and lots of mud.

The next morning it is down the Eagle Creek trail for 6 miles.

Then I turned left on the Eagle-Tanner trail and in one mile had to wade across Eagle Creek. It was well over the knee in depth, but the current was not too strong.

Then comes the 2000 foot climb up to Tanner Ridge. Near the top, you cross Thrush Pond on these lotus-leaf stepping stone logs.

The goal for that night was Tanner Butte. I got there at 4pm and it was gorgeous. Here was the view of Mt. Hood.

I had planned to enjoy the sunset and sunrise from that spectacular summit, but the weather had another idea. Clouds moved in and it started raining just before sunset. The butte was in a cloud bank all night, This was my view inside my tent instead.

And instead of camping right on the summit, I found a sheltered spot 50 yards away.

But I was warm and cozy and dry in my tent at least. In the morning the rain stopped but I still had a mostly misty hike back down.