This view of Broken Top from “No Name Lake” is one of the top scenic views in Oregon.
 photo by Craig Eisenbeis
This view of Broken Top from “No Name Lake” is one of the top scenic views in Oregon. photo by Craig Eisenbeis
The recent kerfuffle involving newly imposed camping restrictions at so-called “No Name Lake” on the eastern slopes of Broken Top is yet another example of impact resulting from irresponsible user abuse in local wilderness areas. The new restrictions impose a quarter-mile setback for wilderness campers using the area. Such campsite setbacks are not uncommon at other wilderness lakes.

Jean Nelson-Dean, public affairs officer for the Deschutes National Forest said, “People can still enjoy the location, but we’re asking them to camp in a more appropriate location where waste can be disposed of, so they can follow the ‘leave no trace’ principle.”

The “traces” being left behind are what have caused the problem, specifically human waste improperly disposed of. The lake has become an unexpected and popular mecca for backcountry travelers, with scores of overnight visitors setting up camp right on the shores of the fragile lake.

According to Nelson-Dean, the human waste being deposited in the area has left the place “smelling like a sewer.” The margins of the lake are made up of a glacial moraine composed of rock and gravel, which is not conducive to the digging of waste disposal “cat holes” or to the organic decomposition of the waste.

“Day hikers are not affected,” said Nelson-Dean, “but everyone needs to adhere to appropriate backcountry behavior.”

Inappropriate user behavior has been an increasing problem in local wilderness areas, as evidenced by sweeping new wilderness trail restrictions slated to be imposed on a wilderness-wide basis next year. The No Name Lake area is one of the many areas slated to require limited-entry fee permits starting next year.

The term “No Name Lake” is actually something of a misnomer. Although the lake has no officially designated name, it actually has several names. Some have referred to it as Bend Glacier Lake; it sits beneath the snout of Bend Glacier on Broken Top. Others refer to it as Broken Top Lake, and it’s also been called Iceberg Tarn.

The character of the lake is such that the glacial meltwater escapes through a deep gash in the relatively “fresh” moraine that Bend glacier pushed up in the not-too-distant geologic past.