Bull Gap Snowshoe (Mount Ashland) 05-Jan-2021

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. 🙄

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 😎 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. 🙂

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. 😀

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. 😉

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

  1. As you know, here you can visit the snow when you want – you don’t have to live with it for months and months. 🙂 Florida is nice too – if you don’t want any snow and can tolerate humidity.

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  2. That looks so beautiful! A winter wonderland, indeed. And challenging!. I’ve grown accustomed to Florida in the past year, LOL.

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  3. Mid Atlantic here, so even in the mountains our snow tends to be wet, short- lived and not terribly deep. I’ve never found it to be consistently snowy enough to justify the equipment (micro spikes, though, are a different story! Lots of ice! ). I need to spend some time in the Adirondacks, Vermont, New Hampshire… then maybe I can throw in some cross country skiing too! I wouldn’t have thought much about the trip hazard, good to know…

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  4. Funny, I always thought of the East Coast as more snow-oriented than us. We probably wouldn’t have any snow close-by if we weren’t surrounded by mountains 5000-8000 feet high. You should definitely do some snowshoeing. It’s pretty straightforward as long as you remember what’s strapped to your feet. Early on I managed some heroic crashes by either catching a toe or turning too quickly or misjudging a slope angle. But snowshoes beat post-holing all to heck. 🙂

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  5. Beautiful snow. I’ve still not had the opportunity to actually USE snowshoes – plenty of times when I needed them, mind you. Looking forward for some good winter weather here (east coast).

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  6. Yeah, that sign was so honest we couldn’t stop laughing! 😀 Thanks on the photos – hopefully 2021 will continue to be better for my non-artist artistic endeavors.

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  7. Thanks! It was more beautiful than expected. Last year wasn’t too unhappy for us (mostly disappointment over things we’d planned to do but couldn’t), but we really hope that 2021 will (eventually) be happier for us all. 🙂

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