Collings Mountain Loop (Southwest Oregon) 18-Dec-2020

The Friends of the Medford Library (all volunteers) hold book sales, do on-line sales, and run a small bookstore to raise funds to augment the library’s budget. The books sold are those donated to the library. But that was in the Before Time. The library itself was fully closed for a while and is still mostly so. Only recently have limited services once again become available. This has allowed the Friends to resume on-line sales and open the bookstore a few hours a week. So The LovedOne, as a member of the Friend’s board and its treasurer, is once again volunteering in the Cellulose Jungle 🙂 and not available for every hike that comes along. 😦

But the hike must go on, so while she was selling books, I went out to do a loop above Applegate Lake on the Da-Ku-Be-Te-De and Collings Mountain Trails. Library or not, The LovedOne only really likes the walk along the lake part and is not enamored of the part going over Collings Mountain – too much work for too few views. And she’s seen the world famous Sasquatch trap enough too. So I’d have been doing this classic low-altitude winter hike solo no matter what. But today was a pause between storms (just “disturbances” really) and I needed the exercise, so it was off to do the loop, the wonderful, wonderful loop…

Along the Da-Ku-Be-Te-De Trail

Applegate Lake is actually a reservoir, designed specifically to capture rain runoff. It gets drawn down at the end of each year in anticipation of being refilled the next Spring. So today it was a big, muddy bathtub of a lake. But, in its own way, pretty scenic. Some artistic high clouds and the now snow-covered Red Buttes at its south end helped with the scenery.

Looking north toward the dam
Vegetation reclaims the mud until next year
The Red Buttes rise over the south end of the lake
Snow on the Red Buttes
The town of Copper once resided on the valley floor

I left the Da-Ku-Be-Te-De Trail at the Watkins Campground (closed), crossed the road, and started up the Colllings Mountain Trail. The LovedOne is right, as there are really only two viewpoints between here and trail’s end past the trap. On a previous hike I went off-trail up to the actual summit of Collings Mountain – no view from there either. So the little things on the forest floor got some attention.

Last season’s fern
View #1 to the east: Little Grayback Mountain (L), Dutchman Peak (D), Observation Peak (O)
A lichen loving our recent rains
On the Collings Mountain Trail along the ridge
View #2 to the west: Steve Peak (S), Grayback Mountain (G), Big Sugarloaf Peak (B)
The only color on the forest floor were these very late season mushrooms
On the Colllings Mountain Trail between the trap and the trailhead

Despite a solid fog when I left the house, the weather was almost perfect during the hike. Sunny with some artistic clouds but none of that photo-killing opalescent overcast that we seem to have had a lot of this year. Few views but otherwise good exercise (9.8 mile (15.7 km) loop, with 1,800 feet (549 m)) of gain), all on clear, good trails. I didn’t see or hear anyone else the whole day – not on the trail, not at the trailhead, not even at the trap (a popular short hike from the trailhead). And not even a Sasquatch… 😐

Blue track: Da-Ku-Be-Te-De Trail; Red track: Collings Mountain Trail
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