One Year Later: Mount Thielsen

Mount Thielsen from the Pacific Crest Trail 2011
September 18, 2011 I was nearly 2000 miles into my thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail. During this day we had incredible views of Mount Thielsen all day, I ended up having dinner along Thielsen Creek, Ramen with bacon. After trying to figure out a good place to backpack for my birthday my girlfriend suggested we summit Mount Thielsen, it wasn't something I had thought to do, because I assumed it would require actual rock climbing. While looking around on the web I came across a few not so inspiring tales of people falling and being seriously injured while attempting the summit. With that being said this hike should only be attempted by those who have extensive outdoor experience and even though it's a short hike make sure you're prepared to stay the night.




There are a few different routes one can take to summit Mount Thielsen, but the normal day hiking route begins at a large parking lot trailhead along Highway 138. There is a 5 dollar day use fee, permits are sold at the trailhead.

Entering Mount Thielsen Wilderness

Diamond Lake from the Mount Thielsen trail

The first four miles of this trail are well maintained and a steady but easy climb, you traverse through a few different kinds of forest. It's always awesome to me to see which trees dominate the landscape as you climb in elevation. As you reach the Pacific Crest Trail you will notice a trail that heads straight towards Mount Thielsen, this is the trail you want. We made the mistake of taking a trail that went slightly south away from the ledge, it was very loose scree which isn't easy to walk on with boots let along FiveFingers. Progress was slow and breaks were frequent  both because it was strenuous, and also to take in the increasingly beautiful vista back towards Mount Bailey and Diamond Lake.

Mount Bailey and Diamond Lake from the Mount Thielsen trail

Smokey view north near the summit of Mount Thielsen
As you scramble up the various trails do your best to stay as close to the ledge or to the left as you go up. The rock there is harder and slightly better to walk up. There is even a small campsite for one person overlooking the west side of Mount Thielsen.

Campsite of last resort

The view back down the scramble
As you near the summit the rocks become large and it's much easier to move across than the scree you were on before. There is a small flat below a Pine just before the 80 foot near climb to the top. I hadn't decided if I was going to climb this last part because danger involved, but once I was below it, it didn't look all that bad.





After signing the trail log and soaking up the glorious views all around I slowly made my way down the near vertical rocks. Besides the massive drop below it wasn't bad at all coming down. Progress down the scree slopes was relatively slow, because of having our FiveFingers filled with rocks, it happened so quickly it almost wasn't worth dumping them.


Overall this is a great hike it will get your heart pumping and provide you with some incredible views. After getting off the scree we finished the last 4 miles within an hour, not sure if it was the easy trail or knowing we would soon be at 10 Barrel in Bend, but we flew off the mountain. Even if you don't want to climb the last 80 feet this is definitely a great hike and worthy of the drive here from anywhere.

Directions from Bend: Follow Highway 97 for 74.5 miles, turn right onto Highway 138 follow for 20 miles. The trailhead will be on your right, it's well signed.

Hike Distance: 10 miles

Hike Type: Out and Back

Elevation Gain: Approximately 3,700 feet

Highest Point: 9,182

Usage: Light

Difficulty: Overall 5 out of 5. First 4 miles is a 2 out of 5

Fees: 5 dollars or a Northwest Forest Pass



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