Tipsoo Peak and Howlock Mountain
August 14, 2004
The Sawtooth Ridge runs roughly north from near Mount Thielsen’s
craggy north face and is comprised of six distinct peaks that all rise
The Wit’s End Road provides excellent, but rough, access to this
high country from highway 138 near Diamond Lake.
The Tipsoo Peak trail head starts at 6500' of elevation where the road
dead ends, and climbs at a steady pace into the Mount Thielsen Wilderness
on a maintained and well graded trail through mountain hemlock forest.
The entire region was heavily overlaid by Mazama ashfall, so the forest
is not very dense, and there is very little undergrowth.
Not far from the summit, the trail crosses meadows and through some stunted
hemlocks before reaching the final lava scramble up the last 100 feet of
rocky trail to the summit.
The view of The Thielsen Wilderness and the Diamond Lake area was wonderful.
We had a quick snack while we studied the peaks of the Sawtooth Ridge
and picked out the true summit of Howlock Mountain, our next destination,
a couple of miles in the distance.
We traveled cross country from Tipsoo Peak southward down through a steep
lava scramble, then into meadows and stunted hemlocks, where we found the
Pacific Crest Trail.
A mile and a half of hiking south on the PCT brought us through some
incredibly scenic country with big hemlock trees and meadows in the shadows
of the towering cliffs and rock formations of Howlock Mountain.
Near the junction of the PCT and Howlock Meadows trail, we left the PCT
and climbed cross country up to a saddle between Howlock Mountain and
unnamed peak 8207' just to the south.
From the saddle it was and easy scramble up onto the summit ridge of Howlock,
and then an easy traverse and scramble eastward up to the true summit, which
is actually heap of stacked Cascade dinner plates.
The true summit rises to 8396' according to the USGS map, and though Howlock
possesses several more impressive peaks, the other summits appear to be much
more challenging climbs on very poor quality rock, and we were quite happy
to have reached the true summit so easily.
We had a quick lunch and began a nervous descent, retracing our route back to
near Tipsoo Peak.
While we were descending, towering thunderstorms began to move in from the east,
and there was frequent thunder and lightning.
We moved quickly, and had only some slight difficulty in navigating the
trailless cross country hike from the PCT to the Tipsoo Peak trail.
A quick stroll down the Tipsoo trail delivered us at the cars only minutes
before the skies opened with hail, down pouring rain, and plenty of thunder
On a side note, according to the Umpqua National Forest, Howlock Mountain is
named for a Paiute Indian Chief who lived in the territory just east of the
Mount Thielsen area, and Tipsoo is a native Chinook word for grassy.
This was a truly scenic hike, enjoyed by guests