After the Deluge: Blue Grotto 27-Oct-2021

And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.

Well, the biblical-scale deluge seems to have targeted mainly California. We got what amounted to a passing glance. But still a very welcome glance given our drought and all. Enough wetness to maybe bring some of our smaller intermittent streams to life? Like the unnamed one that feeds the Blue Grotto on the shores of Lost Creek Lake? We try to visit the Grotto in the Spring when winter rains create the waterfall that is at its greenish-blue heart. Although we were there just this February, we thought: “Why not go see what the recent rains have done for it?” Even if it was still dry, the out-and-back hike to it on the North Shore Trail from the Lost Creek Trailhead is a very pleasant one and, at this time of year, one through Fall colors. 😊

At first, it looked like the low clouds would lift by the time we reached the trailhead. But, alas, that was not to be. The hike out to the Grotto was under a leaden sky that muted, but did not fully diminish, the Fall colors blazing from the oaks along the trail. At least it wasn’t raining and the trail wasn’t muddy (except in a few spots).

Not far from the trailhead
Moist
View from the trail
Fall colors and a much diminished Lost Creek Lake
All the oaks were flashing a spectrum of Fall colors
Along the trail
A bridge over no waters
More colors
Low clouds over a low lake, with slumping in the foreground

We came to where the lake had receded to the point where we could see its slumping shoreline. Slumping like this has created a ledge in the trail where it rounds the point just before the junction with the side trail to the Blue Grotto. We noticed that the ledge has been by-passed by a new trail carved up the hillside. We decided to explore this diversion on the way back.

Almost to the grotto

We arrived at the Grotto to find that its stream was flowing enough to produce a meager waterfall. Not a gusher like we’d have found if we were delusional enough to stand here in the middle of a rainstorm but good enough for today.

The Blue Grotto in Fall
Fall colors and a tiny waterfall
Green rocks and yellow leaves
Falling waters

After some snaps and a snack, we headed back. We hadn’t even gotten as far as the trail junction when the low clouds began to break apart. Within 30 minutes of leaving the Grotto all was sunny and warm enough to induce shedding of clothing layers.

The clouds relent
The clouds parted and the waters were revealed
The lake is low, very low

We explored the new by-pass trail around the slump-induced ledge in the current trail. It’s complete except that it could use a layer of gravel to keep the sticky mud at bay.

On the trail back
Sunny skies and Fall colors
Rounding the point before the trailhead
Toward the trailhead
One last splash of color

This excellent out-and-back is 7.2 miles (11.5 km) with only about 150 feet (45 m) of elevation gain. This approach to the Blue Grotto is our favorite if we want to stay entirely on established trails. Our favorite partially off-trail route is the one around Fawn Butte. More rain is expected tomorrow. We can only hope that this magical sky water will continue to appear throughout the winter (as it did back in the day). Then we’ll be able to visit a gushing waterfall in the Blue Grotto come Spring. 😁

Our route to (blue) and back (red) from the Blue Grotto (G); (1) is where the new trail diversion is located
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4 comments

  1. Never been to Lost Creek Lake? That surprises me given how adventurous you two seem. But then it took the pandemic for a lot of people to realize what cool stuff they had in their own (metaphorical) backyards. Still, people might read this thinking I’m messing with your decision to stay in Florida. I’m not, as where you live now is pretty beautiful too. Here, cool Fall weather and vibrant colors only slightly make-up for last summer’s too much heat, too much smoke, and too little water. We’re hoping that the La Nina now in progress brings us snow and rain, or at least snow…

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  2. Absolutely gorgeous!! And we’ve never been there. Oh, how I wish that we had been living in Ashland when you were writing these wonderful posts. Autumn in Southern Oregon is far more colorful than most people realize.

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