By all rights, the easy but scenic Green Springs Mountain Loop Trail, which is now within the expanded Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument, should be under snow. But it’s not. Which meant that I could include it as part of a bike-assisted dirt hike from Green Springs Summit on Highway 66 to East Hyatt Lake Road near Hyatt Lake. The hardest part of this hike was convincing myself to leave the house into a cold, zero-visibility fog secure in the perhaps foolish belief that there was sunlight up there somewhere. The dark and fog were too much for The LovedOne, who buried yet more deeply under the covers and mumbled something about don’t disturb the cat on your way out. Not that the cat as evidenced any interest in going hiking, ever. Sigh.
From Green Springs Summit, I drove up Old Hyatt Prairie Road to where the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crosses it very near Little Hyatt Lake. I had climbed out of the fog shortly before reaching the summit and blue sky was actually visible here and there. But the lake was still frozen and shrouded in mists.
After hiding the bike at an undisclosed location near the PCT, I drove back to Highway 66, parked the truck where the PCT crosses it, and started hiking north on the snowless PCT under an increasingly blue sky.
The PCT crosses Old Hyatt Prairie Road in about 1.4 miles, then crosses Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Road 39-3E-32 in another 0.4 miles. Shortly after that, I came to a signed trail junction. The trail to the right (north) is the Green Springs Mountain Loop Connector Trail, while the one to the left (south) is the north-bound PCT going around the west side of Green Springs Mountain. When the PCT followed the path of the connector trail, it was viewless. Re-routing the PCT out west around the mountain was meant to inject some views into the “green tunnel” that some thru-hikers disparage. I went left, and after some more time in the trees, came to the first big meadow, only to discover that clouds were going to have their opaque way with my views.
After the first meadow came a stretch of forest,
and then another big meadow beset by clouds. Having seen the Rogue Valley from above more than a few times, I was actually enjoying the texture and depth that the ever-changing cloud formations brought to the scene.
Then I left that meadow,
went back into some more forest, passed the signed junction with the other end of the connector trail (the old route of the PCT),
and came out on another meadow with – wait for it – more clouds!
After that, the PCT started swinging east, crossing back over BLM Road 39-3E-32, through a meadow (marked with cairns) that drains into the Right Fork of Sampson Creek,
then undulating over a couple of broad ridges before crossing a stout bridge over Keene Creek right below Little Hyatt Lake’s dam, and coming to Old Hyatt Prairie Road.
This dam was constructed in 1923 for the Talent Irrigation District. At that time, water was diverted to the Rogue Basin for irrigation (the PCT actually crosses the old irrigation canal just before it reaches the bridge). When the Bureau of Reclamation built Keene Creek Reservoir and the Green Springs Hydroelectric Plant downstream from Little Hyatt Reservoir in the 1950s, Little Hyatt’s use for irrigation purposes came to an end. The dam is showing its age and, in 2009, the BLM proposed its removal for safety reasons. Obviously, they still have some work to do on that.
Once safely past the dam, I checked my bike hide, and then continued north on the PCT toward Hyatt Lake. The PCT climbs here, giving me a nice view out over one of the arms of Hyatt Meadow.
After its climb, the PCT continues ascending very gently through the forest,
under some high tension lines (likely conveying power to the server farm that hosts this blog),
to a meeting with East Hyatt Lake Road near Hyatt Lake. The most snow I saw on this whole hike was the mound of it piled at the entrance to the (closed) lakeside campground.
I turned around, followed the PCT back down to my bike, got on it, and pedeled back down Old Hyatt Prairie Road, getting a good view of Hyatt Meadow proper along the way.
In the end, 8.5 mellow miles on the PCT (with 1,300 feet of elevation gain) and 2.8 miles of biking on a wet, muddy road. But nice. The weather cooperated, the clouds provided texture, and I had the trail (almost) all to myself. But not enough snow along the trail to cool a cocktail. I suppose there’s still a chance for the Great Blizzard of ’18. I guess we’ll see…