Hiking Mount Thiesen - Part 1
My wife was back in the Midwest for a few days visiting, so I decided to take a few days and climb some mountains with Pearl. Originally I planned to hike up Mount Bailey on the west side of Diamond Lake, but the lack of clear directions to the Mount Bailey trailhead combined with the clear directions to the Mount Thiesen trailhead (located on the side of state route 138) convinced me to go ahead and hike up the Mount Thiesen trail instead.
Here is probably more background information than you probably want to know about Mount Thiesen from the best source I know...> Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Thielsen
The day I left the rental house it seeme like it was taking forever for me to get everything all packed up and ready to go, so I didn't leave until about Midnight from the coast. Pearl and I drove over toward the middle of the state to the Umpqua national forest near diamond lake, late at night and carcamped near the trailhead for Mount Bailey so we could get an early start on the hike.
We were staying at port Orford, and so we drove up the 101 to Bandon, and then took Highway 42 over to roseberg on I-5, and then going east from Roseberg, I took highway 138, which winds around east and then south to Diamond Lake. As it turned out, I was unable to find the trailhead for Mount Bailey, so I ended up just doing a distributed camping along the forest road that was supposed to be the route to the Mount Bailey trailhead. Later when I visited a "regional information center" I found out that trailhead was a snowmobile trailhead. The hiking trailhead was located about 7 miles in a different direction. Long story short, I decided to hike Mt. Thiesen instead, since I could find the trailhead and time was a- wasting.
Normally I would not make what seems like such a rash decision, but I had evaluated both mountain trails as options, because I was not familiar with the area, and I've run across problems before where I was unable to obtain the correct information, so I was fully prepared. I'd still like to hike Mt. Bailey some time, but I think I made the right decision at that point in time.
The drive over from Port Orford was interesting. I took a road that I'd never taken before to get through the mountains that line the coast that had just been built from Bandon to Roseburg (Oregon hwy 42), and there is a section that has a steep dropoff on one side instead of a shoulder.
As it turned out, I had not one, but two extremely close misses about 100 miles apart with deer. One I missed by inches after swerving across 3 lanes on a 4 lane road, at about 30mph after a rapid deceleration from 60-ish MPH. The other was the new highway, and I only had to swerve 1 lane out of 2, and missed the deer by about 18 inches after it was going right to left, then as I approached it turned around and ran toward my path, fortunately it was not fast enough to cause a collision, and this was a section with no shoulder on one side.
Fortunately this happened at midnight and 1AM Wednesday , and there was virtually no traffic, enabling me to swerve as much as I wanted / needed to to avoid all the deer traffic I had. Interestingly, I had a third near miss the following evening, again on a highway, where another deer came out into the road, and again I missed the deer. Fortunately I missed by about 2 feet that time.
I stopped the car at about 5AM to get some sleep along the forest road, and slept for about 4 hours until a little after 9AM, and went about getting ready to drive over to the trailhead. I ate some fruit I had packed, and brushed my teeth, and headed over to the trailhead.
Drove over to the trailhead at about 930AM, and Pearl and I set off to hike at least a couple thousand feet of elevation and at least 6 miles. That was the goal for the first day, since I was not acclimated to the higher elevation. We ended up hiking about 2,500 feet elevation and a little more than 9 miles, so a good day overall.
I started about ten minutes behind a twenty- something young woman hiker, and didn't see her again until I was near the intersection of the PCT and the Mt. Thiesen trail. She had been to about 300 feet past the treeline at the apex of her hike, which was a few hundred feet above where I turned around. It was just as well that I turned around there because I had met my goal and the sun would be setting in a couple of hours, so it was time to head back down. Not that it bothers me to hike in the dark, but in an unfamiliar area I prefered to keep it simple, and I also needed to drive down to Mount McLoughlin for the next days hike that evening. Also, it felt like we had a good enough workout to be a good warm up for the mount Mc Loughlin hike the next day.
On the hike, I found myself noticing things and taking pictures of things that are related to my study of the college Geology textbook that I'm currently reading.
The concept that everything on planet earth, or the things that combined to create those things that are familiar to existance on planet earth has been spit out of a volcano really intrigues me. I mean it makes perfect sense, after all, where else could these things have come from otherwise. It's just not an intuitive thought....... for example when I look at lava, and then when I look at a horse or a tree or a table or a car or a person, it's hard to see how lava can become these things, but magma does contain the goodies to create the premordial organic goo, and 4.5 billion years gives quite a bit of time for that goo to through the magic of DNA, to evolve into what we see today, so, hey......why not? In essence, where else could it all have come from? It (everything) must have come from the volcanoes. What a mind boggling thought that is.
In some of the pictures you can see the tail end of the large wild fire just east of Crater lake national park to the south, with the smoldering wisps of smoke in various places. If you look at a few of the pictures, you can see the rim of crater lake in the pictures in the distance to the east of the smoke but it's not intuitive.
Trekking poles are useful on all mountain trails, and should be used on this one. Poles will reduce the stress on your knees on this trail.
The trailhead is large, and big enough for probably about 20 cars or so. It was about half full when I drove up in the late morning.
The good panoramas can't be seen until nearly the treeline. So wait for it, it's definitely worth the wait. I never planned to hike all the way to the summit, but I would imagine if one had the guts / foolhardiness to climb up on that spikey summit, one would be rewarded with an amazing panoramic view in every direction.
The trail crosses the PCT, on the west side of Mount Thiesen, as the PCT winds up north from west of Crater lake.
I averaged a little over 1.3 MPH hiking up the mountain, and about 3 MPH hiking down the mountain, so it took most of the day with the driving, and I like to take a lot of pictures (about 250) and from time to time I stop and rest maybe 3 or 4 times on a hike this long for 5 minutes. I stopped on top for a snack and took quite a few pictures. The hike took about 4.5 hours to go the 4.5 miles up the mountain, and took about 2.3 hours to hike back down that distance, clearly at a faster pace heading down the mountain.
I recommend doing this trail on a day when it doesn't rain in the late spring, summer, or early fall. The views are pretty good depending on the haze on any given day, but it's good exercise and the forest is pretty with lots of trees. Be sure and take lunch with you and plan to make a day of it. Bring plenty of water, say 3 liters per person should be enough for most folks, depending on how much elevation you plan to bag. The summit is over 3,300 feet, and quite a bit of it is in the last very steep 15% of the trail distance.
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Last Update: October 15, 2015
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