Back to Big Red (Siskiyou Mountains) 29-Nov-2021

The county library’s long delayed used book sale will be held this Friday and Saturday. 😁 But the setting up, running, and taking down of it (all done by volunteers) will consume Wednesday through Sunday. I’ll be helping for two of those days but The LovedOne, as the sale’s organizer, will be all in for all five days. Right now, the weather is foggy on the ground and sunny higher up, but that’s expected to change the day after the sale ends. πŸ€” So I figured we’d better get in a hike together in good weather before the sale hits. Which brought us, yet again, to Big Red Mountain (7,028 ft / 2,142 m) west of Mount Ashland.

We were last on Big Red in June, as we sought refuge (however briefly) from the heat and wildfire smoke that had already descended on the Bear Creek Valley (and which would be with us for weeks and weeks πŸ˜₯). In olden days, there would have been just enough snow (20-30 inches / 50-76 cm) by now to close the forest roads (FR 20 and 22) leading to the trailhead at Siskiyou Gap. But no snow of any permanence has yet to fall from the sky and we had no issues (except for some gigantic water-filled potholes on FR 20) driving right to the trailhead. There it was clear, sunny, calm, and suspiciously warm (50℉ / 10℃).

On past hikes here, we’ve gone out on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), crossed back over the summit of Big Red, and returned on the PCT. Today, to dispel the notion we’re stuck in some sort of rut, we left the PCT, climbed to the ridge near Point 6739, then followed Big Red’s east ridge over the summit, then down the north ridge, and back via the PCT. We were surprised (but probably shouldn’t have been) to discover an unmapped section of the dirt road coming up from FR 20.

Sunshine and artful clouds near the trailhead
No snow, but a small iced waterfall
Ice
On the PCT
Bear 🐻 paw prints on the PCT
We leave the PCT for the ridge near Point 6739
Toward the ridge
The big meadow above Wymer Glade
On Big Red’s east ridge

Once we reached Big Red’s open east ridge, the views from there were their usual expansive selves – heightened by the juxtaposition of the clear skies (with a few artful clouds) above and the fog-chocked valleys below. All the valleys we could see to the north, south, and east were filled with fog and stagnant air.

Mount Shasta rises above the fog
On the east ridge with Dutchman Peak in the distance
Almost to the summit
Looking northeast from the summit
All the valleys to the north were fog-filled
To the east: (1) Medford in the fog, (2) Wagner Butte, (3) Mount McLoughlin, (4) Mount Ashland, (5) Pilot Rock
Leaving Big Red, with Mount Shasta (1) on the horizon

After reaching the summit – and finding the summit register (which is not on the summit exactly), we descended Big Red’s north ridge, over Point 6987, to the PCT. Had we continued descending a little farther north, we would have come to the remains (a cable, an old ore bucket, and some collapsed adits) of the Red Mountain Mines just below the PCT.

Big Red’s north ridge
Over Point 6987
Tree with clouds
Almost back to the PCT, with Wagner Butte and Mount McLoughlin in the distance
Back through last summer’s bear grass
Mount Shasta from Siskiyou Gap

This was a short (5.4 miles / 8.6 km; 1,150 feet / 350 m of gain) but good hike of an old favorite in mellow and photogenic weather.

Our track (blue) to and from Big Red; red dots are an unmapped dirt road; “M” is the Red Mountain Mines

The weather was perhaps a bit too mellow given that we need snow so that Mount Ashland can open and, more importantly, our reservoirs can fill. That “atmospheric river” that has been flooding points from Portland north has mostly by-passed us. So our drought continues and we still need all the magic skywater we can get! πŸ’§πŸ’§πŸ’§

The drought doth persist…
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8 thoughts on “Back to Big Red (Siskiyou Mountains) 29-Nov-2021

  1. Do you have a post that includes the mine area? Wonder how much of the old mine operation can be seen.

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