Finally, finally, 2021 has arrived and the year that will no longer be named is gone. We’re all hoping the year ahead will be better and brighter. And we’re willing to believe it will – in time. But the Big V is still loose in the land, and the vac jabs are running late, so there’s likely to be more suffering to endure before it’s over. We’ll get there. In the meantime, we’re not going to heap so many “wonderful” expectations on still fresh 2021 that it suffers performance anxiety and disappoints. It’s fine with us if it just ends up being – gasp! – boring. ๐Ÿ™„

Starting on New Years Eve, several storms rolled across Southwest Oregon bringing much needed rain to the valley and snow to the surrounding mountains. Today offered a (short) break in these storms and thus the chance to do 2021’s first snowshoe hike. We picked the Bull Gap Nordic Trail (Forest Road 2080 in summer) because we’d never done it before and because the map made it look easy. And so it was. We started out in sun ๐Ÿ˜Ž but the sky clouded over before we reached Bull Gap, so we only did 4.6 gently-sloping miles (7.4 km) out-and-back, breaking trail the whole way. Hiking is good exercise but it doesn’t seem to work on all of your leg muscles. So this short snowshoe proved to be a good way to alert certain slacker leg muscles that it was now snow plow season. ๐Ÿ™‚

The LovedOne confronts the berm
On the trail/road
The forest was fully decorated
First tracks
Contemplating our (limited) options
We go on…
Low clouds spill over the Siskiyou Pass beneath Pilot Rock (arrow)
We thought blue sky might be breaking out but this was just a tease
Weather coming…
Soda Mountain (black arrow) and Pilot Rock (red arrow)
Mount Shasta
Just about ready to call the hike and head back
Mount Shasta (again)
Mount Ashland with a good coating of snow
Some artistic clouds before a solid overcast formed
The beautiful symmetry of snow fallen on pines

Although not epic, this hike proved to be beautiful. We made first tracks in 12-16 inches (30-40 cm) of fresh powder over a solid base through a delightfully snowy forest. We even got some views to the east and south of Soda Mountain, Pilot Rock, and Mount Shasta! We were the first car at the Bull Gap Sno-Park but it was three-quarters full when we returned. On the trail out we were passed by two Nordic skiers (with their insanely enthusiastic young dog) but coming back we passed lots of kids and their parents playing in the snow. So we think it’s fair to say that a good day was had by all. ๐Ÿ˜€

On the way home on the Mount Ashland Ski Road, we passed this sign at its junction with Colestin Road. In 2019, thirteen drivers were informed by their GPS units that Colestin is an alternative route when Interstate-5 is (briefly) closed by snow. Colestin is a twisty, gravel, snow-choked, not-maintained-at-night, country road that is in no way an alternative to I-5. All these drivers got stuck overnight and the county sheriff had to go to great efforts to extract them. We took this sign as a usefully cautionary warning as to the limits of technology. So, although we now use a GPS a lot while hiking, we still carry paper maps and compass and the knowledge of how to use them. An occasional flash of common sense helps too, which is why we no longer accept financial advice from our toaster. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Your GPS is useful – up to a point (like this one)