Out of the Fog (Rogue River) 03-Dec-2019

During my first sojourn in Oregon years ago, the wet weather used to start in late September and drizzle-on steadily into May. Now the weather seems to arrive (or not) in forcefully wet (or snowy) rushes, interspersed with periods of dry calm. Here in the Rogue Valley these calm moments are often accompanied with a ground fog of penetrating gloominess. But, select the right hike, and it’s possible to climb above this gloom into the sunshine. Crossing the boundary between fog and sun is pretty amazing and the resulting looking-out-over-a-sea-of-clouds view is classic. It’s one I fondly remember seeing from Camp Muir during climbs of Mount Rainier. All I needed to do was pick the right hike.

The Mountain of the Rogue Trail System, managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), just popped into my head as that right hike. Its trailhead (with toilet!) is not far away and is easily accessible. And its mixed-use trails are graded for mountain bikes, which makes for smooth, easy hiking.  The high point in the trail system is Tin Pan Peak, which rises to 2,300 feet – well above the top of today’s fog layer. Perfect! But when I pitched this fog-escaping hike to The LovedOne, she demurred in favor of spending the day baking. Downside: I’d be hiking alone. 😦 Upside: There would be piles of fresh baked cookies ready when I returned. 🙂 Downside: Those cookies would seek out my waistline and settle there. 😦 Upside: I’d have to do more hiking. 🙂

I left the trailhead on the RAT Pack Trail under full noire conditions, which clung to me until I reached about 1,600 feet on the Sasquatch Trail. Then the transition from fog to sun began – accompanied by a fog rainbow! – and then I was over the sea of clouds. Wonderful. The climb on the Darkside Trail to the abandoned comm site atop Tin Pan was in full sunshine. Above the fog, the view was expansive, particularly the one east to a freshly snowed Mount McLoughlin. With a tiny bit of cross-country, I was able to return via the Easy Street and RAT Pack Trails, for a 7.3 mile loop with 1,300 feet of gain. The fog started to burn off about half-way down and, by the time I reached the trailhead, all was sunny. 😎 And the cookies? 😀 😀

Starting up the RAT Pack
Leaves of a madrone
Bedraggled
Approaching the top of the gloom
Almost to the sunshine…
A rainbow in the fog (fogbow?)
Tin Pan Peak appears
The fog laps at Tin Pan’s slopes
Above and beyond
Sun over a sea of fog
On the Dark Star Trail to the summit
Looking north toward Grants Pass, with Fielder Mountain on the right
The old comm shack on the summit
Mount McLoughlin from the roof of the old shack
Lightly frosted
Descending the RAT Pack
A leaf in winter
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4 comments

  1. It’s a good hike – smooth grade, some views, and a summit – all within a 30 minute drive. On weekdays there are fewer bikers. As for hiking & food – the best is pie! 🙂 We’ll need to do a winter hike near Beckie’s. Maybe the Rogue Gorge Trail?

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  2. Nice to have places to hike in your back pocket that are close by. We need to get out there again before the bkikers and ticks return. Somehow hiking and eating go hand in hand, whether it’s cookies, pizza, or?

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  3. Thanks, Greg, for this photo of river fog (and maybe a little marine fog) on the Rogue. That river runs right below the MOTR trail system and likely adds its fog to the inversion fog that is endemic here in the winter.

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  4. Reminds me of the fog we saw in the Rogue River valley coming down the Clay Hill Trail from the Wild Rogue Loop in May 2016.

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