Berley Lakes

January 23, 2010

The most direct route to Berley Lakes from the Santiam Sno-park heads due north, staying on the lower slopes of a north-south ridge on the right. After about 1.6 miles, the route turns west and drops down to Lost Lake Creek due east of a 650' high volcanic formation with a steep east face. This formation is similar in shape to the tuya volcanoes of Hogg Rock and Hayrick Butte and holds Craig Lake on its flat summit. After crossing Lost Lake Creek, the route generally follows the west edge of the creek canyon for .5 mile where there become two choices for reaching Lower Berley Lake. The shortest is a ¼ mile climb up and through a notch between two 250' high rock piles, followed by a steep drop down to Lower Berley Lake. The longer route follows the creek to the northwest end of the higher rock formation, then makes a sharp left through a tangle of small firs to reach the outlet of the lake.

Up to the point where our group had to choose which route to take to Lower Berley Lake, we were extremely lucky in several respects: First, there were 8 inches of fresh powder, contributing to delightful skiing conditions. Second, another group of skiers had broken trail for us on their way around the north end of the Craig Lake plateau. Instead of going to Berley Lakes however, they continued west toward the Maxwell Butte Sno-park. Finally, we had clear, blue skies with only occasional, thin clouds. The temperature ranged from 30 to 35 degrees during our trip. The clear conditions gave us great views of navigational landmarks, making route-finding easy, and also giving us views of Hoodoo Butte, Mt. Washington, and a beautiful close-up of Three Fingered Jack.

It took just over two hours to reach Lower Berley Lake. The last leg of the trip in required breaking trail up the slope to the notch above the lake with a fast slide down, tempered by the deep, fresh snow. We ate lunch on the lake, then skied to the outlet and down along Lost Lake Creek until we hit our in-bound tracks. Plenty of downhill sections made the trip out that much more fun. Overall, we spent about 4 hours on the trail. Participants, all Obsidians, were Dick Hildreth, Ed Lizewski, Randy Sinnott, Chris Stockdale, Charlie Van Deusen, and Brian Hamilton (leader).

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