Viewpoint Mike (Southwest Oregon) 02-Apr-2020

We’re into week two of our shelter-in-place and hiking is still allowed. Provided, of course, you stay 6 feet (2 m) – or more – away from other people. This admonition to maintain a social distance of 6+ feet apparently confused a lot of people, who then gathered in large groups at beaches, in parks, and at trailheads to discuss what it means. 🙄 The powers that be were not amused by this failure to grasp the obvious and reacted by closing our state parks, our one national park (Crater Lake), and a bunch of national forests (mostly the developed parts but some trailheads too). The Bureau of Land Management chimed in with a few closures of particularly popular hikes under their jurisdiction. Sigh. Now we’re keeping our fingers crossed that the social distance message has finally 😡 been received, so that hiking (or any other outdoor activity) isn’t just banned outright. 😥

We’ve adopted a hopeful stance here and compiled a list of hikes that are not overly popular (most of the popular ones are closed now anyway), not too far away, mostly on established trails (some cross-country is allowed if we’ve done it before and it’s short), and not adventurous (now is not the time to need SAR), but still have at least one interesting feature (wildflowers, views, a simple summit, etc.). For obvious reasons, it’s not at all like the list of 25 popular hikes we recently compiled. It’s far more obscure then that. We hope it’s just long enough to keep us responsibly alone outdoors until all of us see the other side of the Big V.

Today we combined a run for groceries and take-out with a two-hour hike to Viewpoint Mike near Lost Creek Lake. The viewpoint and the trail (4.6 miles round-trip; 1,000 feet of gain) to it were constructed by the Corps of Engineers as part of the recreational component of the Lost Creek dam and reservoir project. The trail, which we first visited in 2017, is well graded, easy to follow, passes through oak woodlands and pine forests, and ends at a viewpoint overlooking Lost Creek Lake. As today was a clear, blue, sunny one between Spring storms, the view out over the lake toward Fawn Butte was particularly fetching. A few wildflowers were out but the big bloom is still a few weeks away.

The LovedOne leaves the empty parking lot at the trailhead
On the trail
The Rogue River Valley (Highway 62 on the left, the Rogue on the right)
The Cole M. Rivers Fish Hatchery
Crossing a meadow just below McNeil Creek Road
Grass Widow
Through a pine forest
The Army builds exceptionally sturdy guard rails
Lost Creek Lake from the walled viewpoint at trail’s end
Lost Creek Lake
The LovedOne contemplates the lake
(1) Fawn Butte, (2) Flounce Rock, (3) Blue Grotto
Going back
Clouds over the (red) Highway 62 roadcut
sun, blues skies, and artistic clouds

A two-hour hike doesn’t sound like much but it was a very welcome relief from working remotely, our phones, continually “breaking” news, the confused doings in Washington, and the Big V in general. In the grand scheme of things, if we can go outdoors once in awhile and don’t get sick, we have nothing to complain about. Nothing. 🙂

Our short journey to and from Viewpoint Mike
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2 comments

  1. Thanks! We’ll keep going out as long as we can do it responsibly (and the lockdown isn’t expanded). Right now the weather is helping to keep us in. But once Spring truly starts and the snow starts to clear from the high country, we’ll have access to even more obscure and less popular trails.

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