|Ready to hike!|
Two years ago, while hiking into Broken Top Mountain's Crater, my brother mentioned existence of an unnamed glacial lake on the peak's north side. He'd hiked there once before with a friend and described a gorgeous aqua-blue water body the locals dubbed "No Name Lake." Ever since then, I've seen numerous online trip reports of this elusive lake, featuring gorgeous photos. A trip to No Name Lake became high on this year's hiking list.
|First view of Broken Top|
So after getting our daughter's stuff all moved, my hubby and I left her to unpack and headed for the mountains. I talked my brother Dale into joining us on a quest to find No Name Lake.
|Mt Bachelor rises behind us|
To access the lake's trailhead, hikers can choose between an easy drive and a long climb, or a difficult drive and short trek. Since Dale offered to drive his old truck and likes four-wheeling on sketchy roads, we chose the second option.
|Crossing an empty pumice plain|
Off we went one chilly mid-September morning. Following the Cascade Lakes Highway, I looked longingly at Mt. Bachelor as we drove by, her slopes nearly barren of snow. In a couple of short months, I'd be skiing there once again. Dale turned into the road leading to Todd Lake. This was where people with low-clearance vehicles parked to start their trip up the mountain. But we continued on the rough, narrow track to the upper trailhead.
|Rest and view break|
Dale's truck bumped along on that horrible, rocky road, lurching and swaying, my hubby and I's heads nearly hitting the roof. The road was barely one lane wide, and were extremely lucky not to meet any vehicles on the way up. At such a slow pace, traversing this nearly five mile road seemed to take forever. Luckily the adjacent scenery provided a good distraction.
|Hiking towards Broken Hand|
Finally arriving at the trailhead, we pried our fingers off the truck seat and breathed a sigh of relief. Then, shouldering our backpacks, Dale, my hubby, and I started out for the lake, following the Broken Top Trail. Our trek began along a barren pumice field lined with a few hardy, gnarled trees.
|Still some of last season's snow|
After a half mile, Dale directed us to a fork in the trail. We crossed a small creek, nearly dry from the past summer's heat, and wandered through a lovely alpine meadow, its grasses now golden brown. Broken Top Mountain's colorful crater walls began to loom above the skyline, and I stopped to snap several photos.
|Final push up a steep, rocky slope|
Then we climbed another mile and half, through barren rocky plains. Another smaller mountain, named Broken Hand, became visible and it acted as our guide. We walked past a couple of tiny snowfields, the final remnants from last winter. Above the snowfields sat a steep, sandy moraine. A small stream of water gushed out of a notch near the top. Dale said No Name Lake was just beyond that notch.
|The lake was breathtaking!|
Up we went, climbing that steep, rocky slope. Some of the sandy soil wasn't very stable, and we had to watch our footing. Several times I slid backwards, and once stepped on a rock that tumbled away. I was glad for my trekking poles.
|Following the gravelly shoreline|
But finally we made it to the top. And - oh - what breathtaking scenery awaited! The lake's aquamarine waters glistened in the late morning sun. Broken Top's steep, craggy cliffs rose straight up from the water's surface, a few glaciers still clinging to its slopes. No Name Lake was as lovely as I'd imagined.
After sitting on the rocky beach and snapping a bunch of photos, I noticed several people following the lake's shoreline around a bend. Curious what lay beyond, I grabbed my camera and went to investigate.
|More perfect reflections|
Wow - there was another entire arm of this lake! It extended past Broken Top's colorful crater walls, ending at another tall moraine. The mountain made a perfect reflection in the lake's still waters. Jaw-dropping! Another frantic photo session ensued.
|Lots of people posed on this small rock|
As I snapped away, my hubby and Dale wandered by. They noticed a large amount of people continuing up the slope of an adjacent moraine above the lake. Figuring there must be something up there to see, both my companions decided to check it out.
|Amazing Three Sisters view from Broken Saddle|
My hubby started ascending the slope at a quick pace. He's normally a fast walker, and I struggled to keep up (I briefly considered slipping a few rocks in his backpack to slow him down!) Cresting the moraine's ridge, he stopped and gazed, then gestured for me to follow.
|All the Cascade Peaks lined up|
Puffing up this second steep slope, I hoped it would be worth it. Reaching the top, I realized it was! We'd reached a high saddle (I later learned called "Broken Saddle") that provided an amazing panoramic view of the Three Sisters mountains, most of Central Oregon, and all of the northern Cascade Peaks, lined up across the horizon.
|Rare photo of hubby and I on a hike|
Oh, this surprise viewpoint was almost better than No Name Lake itself! And we were so lucky to be up here on a sunny, clear day.
|Glad we had a clear day|
While my hubby and Dale explored a little bit higher, I proceeded to photograph this amazing panorama from as many angles as I could think of.
|Looking toward Broken Top's summit|
And I didn't forget to look back down at the lake. My perch high on the moraine provided a great view of it's L-shaped outline.
|Aerial lake view|
No Name Lake was created from melting snow and ice off Broken Top Mountain. It's unique milky turquoise hue is due to the abundance of glacial silt from the mountain's slopes.
|Ripples on the water|
After photographing more images than I knew what to do with, I put my camera away, ate a Cliff bar, and just enjoyed the view. Afternoon winds made sparkling ripples on the lake's surface, which was mesmerizing to watch.
|Heading back down|
By early afternoon, most of Bend had woke up, and they all seemed to be hiking to No Name Lake. Watching group after group of people circle the lake and ascend Broken Saddle, my hubby, Dale and I decided it was time to go. So down the sandy moraine we slid, taking in the spectacular views while retracing our steps.
|Admiring the fantastic view|
Passing by No Name Lake once again, it's shoreline was now packed with people. We didn't linger, and this time trekked right by the crowds. But I did capture a few final images of this truly gorgeous area.
Another hike checked off my bucket list! I came away totally impressed with this lovely mountain lake. Following Dale and my hubby back down the rocky path, Mt Bachelor rising above the skyline, I realized how lucky I am to live so close to this special place.
Stats: 5 miles round trip, 1200 feet elevation gain