Monthly Archives: June 2017

Wild Rogue Loop Backpack 20/22-Jun-2017

Wild Rogue Loop Trail Rogue River Oregon

Oregon’s Rogue River flows some 215 miles from its headwaters at Boundary Springs within Crater Lake National Park to the Pacific Ocean at Gold Beach, Oregon. Although not as large as the Columbia or the Willamette, it is nonetheless one of Oregon’s iconic rivers.  It’s been in our hearts for years but only recently have we had the time to give it the attention it deserves. Between 2012 and 2016, we hiked (in sections) the entire Upper Rogue River Trail (USFS #1034) as it roughly parallels the river from near Boundary Springs to Prospect, Oregon.  In 2015, we backpacked the famous Rogue River Trail (USFS #1160) from Grave Creek and Foster Bar (post) and also did a rafting day trip from Robertson Bridge to Grave Creek.  In 2016, we bolstered the local economy again with a multi-day rafting trip on the Wild and Scenic Rogue from Grave Creek and Foster Bar (post).  After attending a presentation earlier this year by Gabriel Howe of the Siskiyou Mountain Club on their 2015 restoration of the Wild Rogue Loop, we knew we had to hike it.  With lingering snow keeping us from the High Cascades and parts of the Siskiyou Crest, now seemed like just the time to do this lower-altitude loop.

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A Hop to Rabbit Lake (Siskiyous) 18-Jun-2017

Rabbit Lake Siskiyou Crest Oregon

The trail up Kerby Peak from the White Creek Trailhead is steep and challenging but well graded and rewards your efforts with wonderful views of the Illinois Valley, the Siskiyou Crest, and beyond.  We’ve hiked it before (post) and even tried (unsuccessfully) to summit it in winter (post). But, while contemplating the map for another hike of Kerby, I saw a small lake – Rabbit Lake – just below the ridge running south from the peak.  Lakes are a rarity in the Siskiyous so checking-it out quickly took precedence over yet another hike of Kerby.  I found a description of the use trail to Rabbit on the Highway 199 website and the short out-and-back hike discussed there seemed ideal for what was going to be (finally) a sizzling hot day in Southern Oregon.

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Sterling Mine Ditch to Grub Gulch 16-Jun-2017

Sterling Mine Ditch Trail Oregon

The Sterling Mine Ditch Trail – despite its somewhat industrial name – is one of the most popular and most publicized trails in Southern Oregon. It’s open year-round, is accessible to hikers, mountain bikers, and equestrians, and features wildflowers in the Spring and colorful foliage in the Fall. The original 26 mile long “ditch” was constructed by hand in 1877 to convey water from the Little Applegate River to a huge hydraulic mine in the upper reaches of the Sterling Creek drainage. The mine and the town it spawned (Sterlingville) are now gone but the ditch remains. Thanks to the efforts of the Siskiyou Upland Trails Association (SUTA) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), 18 miles of the ditch have been reclaimed as a valuable recreational resource.  Since 2013, we have been able to hike (more than once) all parts of the trail with one exception: the segment between the Deming Gulch and Grub Gulch Trailheads.  Yesterday, I (the LovedOne being too consumed by a backlog of fiber and gardening projects to join me) set out to remedy this omission.

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Desecration on Lower Table Rock 14-Jun-2017

Lower Table Rock Oregon

It pains us deeply to have to make this post but to leave what we found today unremarked would be a crime in its own right.

The Table Rocks – both Lower and Upper – have been favorite year-round short hike destinations for us ever since we moved south.  One of the many pleasures of these hikes is to observe the seasonal round of the vernal pools that are unique to these locations. These pools are a rare habitat that supports a Federally-listed threatened species of fairy shrimp and a state-threatened plant called the dwarf wooly meadowfoam, a flowering plant currently, and historically, only known to exist around the edges of these pools.  The existence of these rare species and their habitat is what caused the Table Rocks to be designated as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

During a hike today on Lower Table Rock, the LovedOne and I noticed what looked like posts off to the left of the trail about halfway to the South Viewpoint.  On closer inspection, these proved to be rocks stacked into spires or cairns between a foot and four feet tall and placed all over what used to be one of the largest vernal pools.  There were also stacks and rock walls built in the remains of the smaller vernal pool to the south.

Lower Table Rocks Medford Oregon

Constructed rock cairns desecrating rare vernal pool habitat

Lower Table Rocks Medford Oregon

Construction of the cairns trampled the vernal pool habitat

Lower Table Rocks Medford Oregon

Close-up of the rock cairns and the trampled habitat

Whoever made these abominations had dug the rocks out of the pools and, in the process, had destroyed the pool bottoms, which the plants and animals, found nowhere else but here, need to survive during the dry summer months.  Aside from selfishness and stupidity, we have no idea what motivated the cretinous vandals who unleashed this destruction nor do we care, as there is simply no justification, whatsoever, for this wanton desecration of these rare and unique natural features.

We’ve reached out to both the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and The Nature Conservancy – as they manage different parts of the Table Rocks – about this situation and we hope that they will follow-up on the federal and state crimes committed here.  Whether restoration is an option, or whether the destruction has just been too great, remains to be seen.

In the end, to have come upon something like this in a place we’ve come to cherish, is sad and disheartening almost beyond imagining.



Tettegouche Lakes Loop (Minnesota) 09-Jun-2017

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

Our second to last day on the North Shore suffered less than optimal weather, necessitating excessive sitting around, so we decided to do a longer, more involved hike on our last day to compensate for such sloth.  The rest of the family decided that sloth, or perhaps golf (?), worked better for them and that we were on our own for this romp in the woods. After consulting Andrew Slade’s Hiking the North Shore guidebook (2014 edition), we settled on the Tettegouche Lakes Loop (his Hike #24) because it seemed to offer some wide views interspersed with close-ups of lakes.  At 10 miles of hiking and 900 feet of elevation gain (depending on how you measure it), plus a scramble up the “Drainpipe,” it seemed like a great way to further fritter away our golden years.

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Isle Royale National Park 07-Jun-2017

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

Since we’d all journeyed way up to the North Shore, almost everyone agreed that we needed to behoove ourselves of this oppotunity for a daytrip to Isle Royale National Park. The park is only accessible by boat and we lucked-out in that the transportation boat, the Seahunter III, was starting its season the week we would be visiting.  The Seahunter III is a 65-foot twin diesel vessel that provides passenger service between Grand Portage, Minnesota and Windigo, Michigan, the park headquarters on the southwest end of the island.  There was some trepidation about riding a small boat across a large lake but conditions on our day of travel were sunny, clear, and glass smooth.

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Superior Gondola Hikes (Minnesota) 06-Jun-2017

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

To honor the 73rd anniversary of D-Day, we decided to squeeze two short, but different, hikes into one day: a gondola-facilitated hike around Mystery Mountain on the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT)  (Hike #35 in Andrew Slade’s Hiking the North Shore guidebook (2014 edition)) and another on the SHT to big views from the summit of Carlton Peak (Hike #32 in his guidebook).  For the first hike, I think we just wanted the novelty of a gondola ride to the top of Moose Mountain.  For the second hike, it seemed essential to soak in the views being offered to us by the run of clear, sunny, cloudless weather we were experiencing here on the North Shore (unlike the rain and snow we’d be enduring if we were back home).

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