After a suspiciously warm and sunny winter, we now seem to be settling in for a clear day surrounded by days with cold fronts, clouds, rain, and (hopefully) a bit more snow. After a trip to the coast (with one sunny day) and a pro bono business trip to Portland (where it rained), I (The LovedOne stayed behind to contemplate gardening – yes, it’s that warm!) took advantage of today’s bluebird conditions to explore the southern end of the Siskiyou-Boundary Trail from Cook and Green Pass (Hike #68 in Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon (3rd Edition). I also wanted to check-out the condition of Forest Road (FR) 1055, which provides road access to the pass. I should note – before any map geeks go ballistic – that none of this hike is actually in the Red Buttes Wilderness. It should be, but it isn’t 😡 – likely because of the usual political compromises involved in wilderness designation. In fact, most of this hike is through a still active surface mining claim for chromite. 👿 Hopefully that claim will never come to fruition. 😕
FR 1055 to Cook and Green Pass was in decent condition – there are now only a couple of spots where a sedan might have an issue. From the pass, the PCT heads west,
where flowering is already starting.
After about a mile, the Red Buttes came into view,
then the turn-off to Echo Lake, and then, after about three miles, Bee Camp Spring (water & camp sites). The brown line across the slope is a service road for a mine that was never constructed and the proposed site for which is now within the Red Buttes Wilderness. There seems to be an on-going controversy over why the road has yet to be fully decommissioned so as to further protect the wilderness area. Yet it remains open and the PCT intersects it at Bee Camp.
From Bee Camp, either the PCT or the road takes you to Lily Pad Lake – I took the PCT going out and the road coming back.
A little over four miles from the pass, I came to delightful little Lily Pad Lake, nestled in a bowl below the trail. Lakes are relatively rare in the Siskiyous and this is one of the few on the south-facing, warmer side of the divide. It was sporting a contingent of ducks who were not happy to see me arrive.
Meanwhile, up on the road, I came across a number of low stone walls – this one with a small gate. Apparently it’s still possible to run cattle to the south of the Red Buttes Wilderness and these walls and gates are supposed to keep them from wandering into the wilderness. We assume the cows know that (or can’t open gates)?
The plan had been lunch at the lake but that was set aside because I wanted to see what the Boundary National Recreation Trail (USFS #12W47) looked like, so I continued west on the PCT, with its expansive views,
to Kangaroo Springs (water & camp sites),
and then on to the PCT / 12W47 junction in an area impacted by the 2012 Goff Fire. The 12W47 looked to be in pretty good condition heading north but I’ll be checking that out once we get 2-3 days of clear weather in the forecast. Update: In 2017-18, the Siskiyou Mountain Club cleared and maintained the Boundary Trail from here to Lonesome Lake.
Two new PCT signs now replace those destroyed by the fire. From here, the PCT drops almost 4,500 feet, in only about three miles, to the Seiad Valley, with little or no shade.
Preston Peak – with a tiny patch of snow – stood out on the horizon beyond the recovering survivors of the Goff Fire.
Then it was back to Lily Pad Lake for lunch,
where the yellow lilies were just starting their journey to the surface.
After feeding, it was back to the trailhead at the pass, with Mount Shasta on the southeaster horizon,
and my truck a tiny white spot at Cook and Green Pass below.
A very mellow hike, with the elevation gain spread out along the excellent tread of the PCT. So 12 miles round-trip, with 2,000 feet of elevation gain, for some exploration and fact-finding on a warm and sunny bluebird day – unbeatable! 😀