Siskiyou & Smoke (Southwestern Oregon) 14-Aug-2020

Siskiyou & Smoke sounds like some kind of interesting cocktail (one untainted by a parasol). But, sadly, it’s not. It’s the 10,000+ acre (5,000+ ha) Red Salmon Complex Fire in Northern California pouring smoke northward and eastward into the Shasta, Illinois, and Rogue River Valleys. It is (thankfully) not the biggest fire we’ve ever had in our area but it’s a smoker. Add to that a multi-day excessive heat warning, with air temperatures heading for 108°F (42°C), and you’ve got less than ideal hiking weather (I’m practicing my understatement skills here). But with the right destination one can get above a lot of the valley heat and smoke (choose wisely aging hiker…).

So while The LovedOne sat in air conditioning nursing a mildly sprained ankle (thanks to a pothole on the Cow Creek Trail), I went for a 9-mile out-and-back hike on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) to Siskiyou Peak (7,149 ft / 2,179 m). With an early start, it was delightfully cool up there and, while I could often smell the smoke, I wasn’t actually wading through it. But all of the usual big views from this section of the PCT (Mount Shasta is usually conspicuous to the south) were completely lost in the wafting haze. This particular route was not an original choice on my part as I passed at least a dozen other hikers and backpackers (but no obvious thru-hikers) on the PCT on my way to and from the peak. Despite these less than ideal conditions it was still a good leg stretch and there were even some late season wildflowers as happy distractions. 🙂 I also continue to be grateful that getting out on any trail at any time remains an option… 😀

Along the PCT through late season wildflowers
A cold bumblebee awaits the day’s warmth
Oregon Sidalcea
Tall Larkspur with now warm bumblebee
Copeland Owl-Clover
Fading corn lilies at Grouse Gap
Fireweed
Scarlett Gilia (Skyrocket)
Eastwood Daisy
Sulfur-Flower Buckwheat lines the PCT
The smoke from above the West Fork of Grouse Creek
Sulfur-Flower Buckwheat fills the West Fork drainage
Looking north from the PCT into a layer of smoke, with Wagner Butte (1) on the right
Pilot Butte (1) from the West Fork
McDonald Peak (1) and Mount Ashland (2) with wreaths of smoke
Looking west from the summit of Siskiyou
The view south from the summit was just smoke
Heading back through the Buckwheat
To and from Siskiyou Peak
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