Oregon Lakes Marmot Hike June 26, 2021

Oregon Lakes Trip Report  June 26, 2021

This trip was part of the Marmot Madness proposal described at http://hs.umt.edu/umzm/marmots.php.

Here is the trip proposal that I posted on the Rocky Mountaineers calendar:

We will look for marmots in the vicinity of the Oregon Lakes. We will hike about a mile of the state line trail, and then climb down a steep slope to upper Oregon lake while looking for hoary marmots. We should be able to visit all 3 of the Oregon Lakes which are reported as fair fishing for brook trout.
Class 1/2.  Estimated distance:  6-7 miles,  elevation 1500′.
Equipment:
10 essentials
binoculars if you have them
fishing equipment if you want to fish
lunch and water
Leader: Alden Wright alden@rockymountaineers.com

No one signed up for this trip, so I went by myself.

I drove up to the Missoula Lake campground on Friday night.  On the way, I saw a marmot running across the road which I am almost sure was a hoary marmot.  I only saw it running away from me for a few seconds, but it seemed to be gray in the front and brown or darker in the rear.

The place I camped was bare, but there was snow a few feet away.

On Saturday morning I drove up to the Cascade Pass.  The road was partly covered with snow, and it looked like it had not been drivable for more than a couple of days.   I started hiking out the state line trail at about 7 am.  After about a mile, I stopped to see where I was by using the GPS app on my phone, and my phone was not in my pocket.  I had it when I stopped a little ways from the car, so I thought it must be where I sat down, so I went back to the car looking for it.  At the car I changed from my boots to my running shoes and shed some layers, and hiking back out the trail was much easier, but I did not find my phone and I am assuming it is lost.  I got to where I could look down to Upper Oregon Lake, and I spent quite a bit of time looking with and without binoculars on the steep slopes for marmots, but did not see or hear any.  I did not think that the slopes were all that good as marmot habitat.  I considered hiking down the steep slope, but was not at all confident this would enable me to see marmots that I hadn’t seen, so  I decided against it.

The marmot that I had seen the evening before was on the road to the Oregon Lakes trailhead, so I drove to this trailhead, and hiked up the trail.  The lower lake was only half a mile of very steep trail.  There were a couple locations that I thought looked like good marmot habitat, and I looked closely at these for marmots.  No luck.  I continued on to the middle lake.  Here the trail deteriorated and no longer seemed to be a Forest Service trail.  About 2/3 of the way around the lake, I came to a spot that required an easy rock climb to proceed.  Being very tired and by myself, I decided to turn around without seeing any more good marmot habitat.

When I got back to the car, I went back to where I had seen the marmot the evening before, and found some of the area had large rocks making it more plausible as a location for hoary marmots.  I did a little climbing through the very thick brush, and on the way out, I found what looked like marmot droppings, and I collected one and took a picture.

Location  47.07072   -115.0929   elevation 5464’ 18:42:15 26-JUN-21

I had a great hike in beautiful country.

Alden Wright

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