Cowed Again by Point 5648 (Southern Oregon) 01-Oct-2017

Point 5648 Southern Oregon

A few days ago, I did a loop hike that included a brief visit to Point 5648, a surprisingly interesting rock formation just downslope from Vulture Rock in Southern Oregon.  My attempt to reach the spot elevation on this Point was rebuffed due to risk aversion (or common sense, one is never quite sure which), but a later look at Google Earth suggested that maybe that spot wasn’t the highest point on the formation.  Vows were made to return!  As luck would have it, today’s unsettled weather coincided with The LovedOne’s temporary release from library volunteerism to form the perfect excuse to spend a couple of damp hours conducting further explorations around the Point.  The exertions associated with those explorations would then serve as justification (as if we needed any) for a restorative lunch with beverages at Caldera Brewing in Ashland, Oregon.  So, win-win!

Point 5648 lies just off Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Road 38-4E-35.5, downslope of both Vulture Rock and the Pacific Crest Trail about 25 miles east of Ashland, Oregon.  It’s clearly visible on Google Earth but almost invisble from ground level.

Point 5648 Southern Oregon
Where things are at

The drive to a spot on BLM Road 38-4E-35.5 adjacent to the Point occurred under cloudy skies, through a mist enlivened with occasional spurts of rain.  This is the second day of deer hunting season here but all we saw were some too-small-to-hunt deer and a herd of large cows (which you can’t hunt either).

Point 5648 Southern Oregon
Through the mists

The Point’s rock formation runs downhill along a roughly north-south axis, with a subsidiary ridge in the middle that pushes out from it to the southwest. The spot elevation is on a pile of rocks where this side ridge joins the main ridge. One thing that’s fascinating about this Point and its rock formation is that they’re largely invisible until you reach the edge of the forest and then – pow, there they are – looming in front of you like the hull of an oil tanker from sea level.

Point 5648 Southern Oregon
Passing below the base of the subsidiary ridge

Per Google Earth, if there was to be a higher point, it would be on the ridge south of the spot elevation. So we worked our way around the subsidiary ridge, through an “arch” (there are several of these below and along the ridge),

Point 5648 Southern Oregon
Under the arch

and up some moderate (easy if the rock had been drier) scrambling,

Point 5648 Southern Oregon
Climbing up to the ridge

to the highest point on the ridge south of the spot elevation. The LovedOne is brightly dressed for deer hunting season.

Point 5648 Southern Oregon
Topping-out on the ridge

Looking north from our perch on the ridge it was immediately obvious that we were still lower than the rock tower hosting the spot elevation. Oh, well…

Point 5648 Southern Oregon
Looking north toward the highest point

Looking south, it was equally obvious that if we didn’t get off this thing soon we were only going to get wetter,

Point 5648 Southern Oregon
More rain squalls were moving in on our position

so down we went,

Point 5648 Southern Oregon
Downclimbing from the ridge

past some Fall colors at the base of the high point,

Point 5648 Southern Oregon
Leaves turning below the summit tower

and through the forest to the road.

Point 5648 Southern Oregon
Through a forest that has been thinned

A very short hike but some fun scrambling on a unique rock formation that you have to go out of your way to see – but definitely worth a visit. In better weather, there would be views from here but those from Vulture Rock above are likely better (and certainly easier to get to). Whatever emotional pain we suffered by not actually reaching the highest spot was fully assuaged during our later visit to Caldera.

Point 5648 Southern Oregon
Our tracks to Point 5648: This visit (red), previous visit (blue)

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