Well, 2021 started out bleak, then got happier, then got sad again. This was thanks to the two V’s – variants and vaccinations. Too much of one, not enough of the other. But we survived (yet again), with The LovedOne remaining as elusively photogenic as ever. But, thanks to being vaccinated, we were able to have a few big adventures without expiring.


JANUARY: Once again, we found ourselves confined to our local area. 🤨 Fortunately, Nature stepped-up with a generous dump of snow (mostly above 6,000 feet (1,828 m)), thus allowing us to do a great snowshoe hike near Mount Ashland (Bull Gap). We also paid two visits to the history-soaked Buck Rock Tunnel south of Ashland.

Mount Ashland from the road to Bull Gap

FEBRUARY: We were again kept close to home by yet another surge. We got in one good snowshoe hike (Daley Creek), reached the summit of Songer Butte, and visited a part of Oregon’s history (Gin Lin Trail) that we’d neglected in years past.

Beating the crowds near Daley Creek

MARCH: Another month spent around home but one considerably enlivened by the arrival of our new cat – Sofie. She replaced our previous cat, Sweetpea, who had been with us for 13 years but had passed late last year from natural causes. Aside from playing with Sofie, we did manage a few hikes, most notably to the Denman Wildlife Area, the Layton Mine Ditch, and Siskiyou Peak.

Sofie

APRIL: After three months essentially confined to quarters, we broke free for a long delayed and very fun 4-day rafting trip on the highly technical waters of the nearby Illinois River. We also got in another visit to the Box O Ranch and found a different way to Rhyolite Ridge.

The brave rafter smile appears on the Illinois River

MAY: We left home yet again for a 4-day lodge-to-lodge, raft supported hike along the Rogue River from Grave Creek to Big Bend. We hadn’t planned to do a deluxe trip like this – which was nonetheless absolutely great – but it was the only way to recoup the non-refundable payments we’d made last year, on the very day the state locked-down. 😢

At Shady Creek on the Rogue River Trail

JUNE: By now, with the pandemic “almost over” 🤣🤣😢🥺, we felt reasonably safe leaving home for rafting trip on the San Juan River in Utah with our friends Wayne and Diane. The river was very scenic (if a bit shallow) and our OARS guides were wonderful, as were the other people on the trip. Every day was, however, thanks to a heat dome, just a bit too hot (100+℉ / 37+℃) for comfort.

The broiled rafter smile on the San Juan River

JULY: We stuck close to home for most of this month but did spend a few days hiking around Mount Shasta (Boulder Peak, Lake Siskiyou). We also went on a hike with the Ashland Hiking Group, our most active assemblage of local hikers.

On the summit of Boulder Peak

AUGUST: Wildfires were bad again this year and our valley spent weeks and weeks mired in choking smoke. We escaped to clean air at the coast for a few days (Dellenback Dunes, Floras Lake) and also sought temporary refuge in clearer air atop some nearby mountains (Grayback Mountain).

Crossing the dunes at the Oregon Coast

SEPTEMBER: The wildfire smoke was thick as ever for first half of the month, making hiking too painful. So we went to Seattle for a few days. The smoke was better when we got back, so we did a few more local hikes (Observation Peak, Union Peak), then went to Fargo, North Dakota where we hiked across the tallgrass prairie and looked at wood chippers.

On the Sheyenne National Grassland, North Dakota

OCTOBER: We did a late season climb of Devils Peak in the Sky Lakes Wilderness, then personal business took us to Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio. There we managed to squeeze in hikes at the iconic Hocking Hills State Park and along the shore of Lake Erie.

Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

NOVEMBER: Our big adventure this month was the week we spent with our friends Wayne and Diane in Death Valley National Park. We visited places that we hadn’t been to before and revisited others that held fond memories. Locally, we paid our first visit to Horseshoe Ranch in Northern California.

Marble Canyon, Death Valley National Park

DECEMBER: We had thoughts of squeezing in another adventure before year’s end, but winter’s storms and more virus arrived, encouraging us to (again) stay local. 🙄 So we revisited Songer Butte and Boccard Point and wrapped-up our hiking year with a unexpectedly snowy hike at Mountain of the Rogue.

“Full conditions” on Roxy Ann

Despite 2021 not hosting all the happy times we’d anticipated, we still somehow managed to not catch the virus, do a few big adventures, spend quality time with friends, and tote-up 571 miles (917 km) of hiking! We’ve given-up on predicting the future, so next year will be whatever it is. We’ll just try to stay as active and outdoorsy as we can, wherever we are, come what may. 😜

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