Lower Table Rock (Southern Oregon) 10-Dec-2016

Lower Table Rock Oregon

Euphemism: A mild or indirect word or expression substituted for one considered to be too harsh or blunt when referring to something unpleasant.  This season’s euphemism is “an active weather pattern” as in: “Gosh folks, it looks like we can expect an active weather pattern for the remainder of the week…”  It’s used by weatherpersons to let you know (gently) that, while they can’t decide exactly how bad the weather is going to be, it is nonetheless going to be bad (for truly awful weather, they dispense with the euphemisms and come up with a catchy phrase like “Polar Vortex”).  So, while our active weather pattern is bringing us much appreciated snow and rain (from a water-we’ll-need-next-summer perspective), all this precip does mean having to work a little harder to find some rain/snow-free exercise opportunities.  A couple of weeks ago we were at Upper Table Rock, a favorite local hike, so when a gap in the pattern presented itself, I went for a short (5 mile round-trip) hike up Lower Table Rock, making this yet another of the many times one or both of us have visited the Rocks in all seasons.

The trail up Lower Table is wide, obvious, mostly gravel, with only a few muddy spots (until you get to the top).

Lower Table Rock Oregon
The Lower Table Rock Trail

The weather briefly dispensed rain at the trailhead, then held off with the waterworks after that, but couldn’t shake its interest in clouds and fog. So the usually expansive big sky view that you get when you first reach the top was lost in the mists.

Lower Table Rock Oregon
A foot bridge crosses an area of vernal pools

I went out to the eastern escarpment to see Upper Table Rock rising just barely about the valley fog that I’d climbed through from the trailhead.

Lower Table Rock Oregon
Upper Table Rock floating on the valley mists

From the eastern escarpment, on a clear day, there’s usually a great view of Mount McLoughlin to the east. Today, not so much.

Lower Table Rock Oregon
A cloud-truncated Mount McLoughlin

But all I had to do was turn around 180 degrees from where I was standing on the escarpment to see blue sky above!  More of a crazy weather pattern than just an “active” one and one also influenced by how the air currents swirl around the Rocks.

Lower Table Rock Oregon
Just turn around to see blue sky

It took me only about 10 minutes to go west back toward the center of the Rock and by then the clouds had parted and that big sky view was almost its old self.  Almost.

Lower Table Rock Oregon
Big Sky!

The top of Lower Table was big enough and flat enough (with a little help) to have been used as a runway starting in 1948 and continuing until it was closed in 1990.

Lower Table Rock Oregon
The trail follows the old runway out to the southern tip of the Rock

Now it’s home to the vernal pools that support wildlife and plants unique to this area.

Lower Table Rock Oregon
Vernal pools on Lower Table Rock

The rain and snow that were replenishing the vernal pools were also making the trail out along the old runway into a watery, muddy obstacle course, so I passed on a visit to the south end (this time) and headed back down.  We’ll undoubtedly be back more times this winter but will definitely be back in March and April for the wildflowers!  Every year we make a point of looking for the Dwarf Woolly Meadowfoam (found only here), in large part because its common name is so verbally voluptuous!

Lower Table Rock Oregon
Pools and mud on the runway trail

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