The Bear Creek Valley (Bear Creek is a small tributary of the Rogue River) had been blanketed in a cold, damp inversion fog for several days. So we thought we might as well go high and look down, rather than up, at it. Wagner Butte (7,255 ft (2,211 m)) was an obvious choice for a high perch. It’s been two-and-a-half years since either of us did this locally classic hike up to the old fire lookout site on the prow of the ridge north of the butte’s true high point. Time to get reacquainted with an old friend! 🙂 Of course, we awoke to find that the fog we were planning to get above had completely disappeared overnight and we were faced with having to hike under totally bluebird conditions. 😎 Such are the sacrifices hikers have to make. 😀

The hike itself was about 10 miles (16 km) round-trip, with 2,200 feet (670 m) of gain, all on good, mostly moderately-graded trail. There was some (icy in the morning) snow on the trail past the site of the 1983 mudslide, but not enough to impede walking. Substantial views didn’t appear until we were past Wagner Glade Gap; the big payoff in views came when we reached the old lookout site on this almost totally clear day. Although we dressed for cold weather, it proved to be as warm on the trail and the summit as it was at home down below! One could almost think the climate was warming. 🙄

Starting up the steep, old road part of the trail
Crossing the 1983 mudslide
This bridge around a muddy seep is starting to sag in the middle
The first big patch of snow was just past the slide area
Arriving at Wagner Glade Gap
Onward from the Gap
To the west from the trail: (1) Dutchman Peak, (2) Red Buttes, (3) Siskiyou Crest, (4) Grayback Mountain & Big Sugarloaf Peak
Past the old horse trough at Cold Spring…
And across the sagebrush flat just below the old lookout site
The scramble to the top, with Mount McLoughlin in the distance
To the west: (1) Grayback & Big Sugarloaf, (2) fog covering Grants Pass, Anderson Butte in the foreground
To the north: (1) Medford, (2) Table Rocks, (3) Roxy Ann
To the east: Mount McLoughlin
To the south: (1) Pilot Rock, (2) Mount Ashland, (3) Mount Shasta, (4) McDonald Peak
Homeward bound

We enjoyed the views, ate a snack, listened to something crashing around in the brush below our rocky promontory, and decided it was time to head back. We passed four hikers on the way down, two with no visible gear other than what they were wearing, and two who were equipped but had decided to pass on the summit today due to their late start. We had a great day hiking! We might even go so far as to give (reluctantly) a passing (socially distanced) nod to the Big V for encouraging us to once again visit this old classic. 😐

On the trail to and from Wagner Butte