Monthly Archives: February 2017

Viewpoint Trails (Applegate Lake) 25-Feb-2017

Viewpoint Trails Applegate Lake Oregon

With clear gaps between active weather patterns seemingly reduced to a few hours, our (or at least my) attention has been forced toward some of the shorter, lower altitude trails that in less “active” years we avoided in favor of longer trails. This has meant finally hiking all of the trails around Applegate Lake in the Upper Applegate River Valley.  In December 2016, I hiked an old road between the Payette and Manzanita Trailheads on the east side of the lake and this January, finished the various trails on the lake’s Latgawa Peninsula.  What remained were a collection of short trails (the Viewpoint Trails) on the western tip of the lake’s Squaw Arm.  So, with the LovedOne busy volunteering at the library, I took advantage of today’s break in the active weather to head out to the Payette Trailhead and finish these hikes.

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Around Roxy Ann on the New Trail 24-Feb-2017

Prescott Park Roxy Ann Medford Oregon

Yesterday was almost a bluebird perfect day here in the valley.  I know that because I could see blue sky and puffy white clouds from the reclining chair in my dentist’s office, where I was contemplating the subtle pleasures of modern dentistry.  My dentist is both deft and painless, but I would be needing a different kind of professional help if I thought dentistry was as much fun as hiking.  By the time it was all done, there was more gold in my mouth than in my wallet, and it was a bit late to be starting a hike.  Sigh.  So the truly bluebird skies that greeted me this morning were seen as a redemptive opportunity.  With another active weather pattern predicted to be kicking-in by noon, I needed someplace close but still interesting – like  Prescott Park.  Back in November we’d tried out the newest trail there, but hadn’t been able to do it as a continuous loop. It can be too muddy to hike in winter, but I figured that with an overnight temperature of 20ºF, the gumbo-like mud would be stiff enough to walk on.  Well, almost…

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Lower Monarch Canyon (Death Valley NP) 15-Feb-2017

Death Valley National Park California

Unlike our first three hikes, all of which are located in the Black Mountains south of Furnace Creek, Monarch Canyon is in the Funeral Mountains to the north.  The principal attractions of a hike into its lower canyon is its relative remoteness and the journey it offers through tortured metasedimentary rocks and polished mosasics, capped off by small pools at the base of a 110-foot perennial waterfall. These features drew us to lower Monarch as our fourth (and last) hike during our 2017 visit to Death Valley National Park.

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Golden Canyon (Death Valley NP) 14-Feb-2017

Death Valley National Park California

Per Digonnet’s hiking guide, Golden Canyon is “…one of the most easily accessed and busiest hiking destinations in the park…” (which may explain why it’s never been high on our list of hikes).  But having vowed to hike where we have not hiked before,  we selected the Golden Canyon~Gower Gulch Loop – including tourist-rich Zabriskie Point – as the third hike for our 2017 visit to Death Valley National Park.  Having noticed on our way back from Willow Canyon that the Golden Canyon trailhead parking was overflowing by early afternoon, we resolved to get an early start for this loop.

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Ashford Canyon (Death Valley NP) 13-Feb-2017

Death Valley National Park California

We selected Ashford Canyon as our second hike during our 2017 visit to Death Valley National Park. We were attracted to its offerings of a narrows, climbable falls, extensive beds of polished conglomerate, Archaen metamosphic basement rocks (the oldest rocks in Death Valley), and a well-preserved mining camp high in the more open upper canyon. The dirt access road is a little bumpy and it’s not a real easy hike from the parking area, which may explain why the old mine camp buildings are in as good a shape as they are. Although we were here ahead of the Spring wildflower season (which could be great again this year), we did find an early blooming wildflower high in the canyon!

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Willow Canyon (Death Valley NP) 12-Feb-2017

Death Valley National Park California

As wave after wave of wet storms swept across Southern Oregon, we began to yearn for sunnier climes. Eventually it occurred to us that we hadn’t been back to Death Valley National Park since 2013. As few places say “sunnier” than Death Valley, we made some arrangements, and were soon heading south. As luck would have it, our five days in the Park coincided with a spell of utterly clear, cool, dry weather wedged in between storms (to even out this good karma, we got to drive home in one of the worst rainstorms to hit California in a decade). For this visit, we decided to do hikes we hadn’t done before, rather than reprise old favorites like Darwin Falls.  After pouring through Michel Digonnet’s excellent guide (Hiking Death Valley, Second Edition, 2016), we settled on four hikes, the first of which was to the seasonal waterfall in Willow Canyon.

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Death Valley Days (February 2017)

“…the first impression remains a just one. Despite variety, most of the surface of Death Valley is dead … a land of jagged salt pillars, crackling and tortured crusts of mud, sunburnt gravel bars the color of rust, rocks and boulders of metallic blue naked even of lichen.” ~ Edward Abbey

“No place is ever as bad as they tell you it’s going to be.” ~ Chuck Thompson


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