Backdoor to Bolt Mountain (Southwest Oregon) 25-Feb-2022

Sometime in 1939, my mother moved to London from her small hometown in Scotland. She probably looked forward to an exciting life in the big city after a constrained one in the provinces. It just turned-out to be “exciting” in a very bad way. War had been in the air for awhile but after “peace in our time” people thought they’d dodged the proverbial bullet. Then the Nazis manufactured an excuse to invade Poland and WWII was off and running.

Mom stayed in London for the whole war – through the threat of invasion, the nightly bombings of the Blitz, the V1s, the V2s, and the arrival of the Americans (one of whom was an Army Air Corp officer – my dad). Neither she nor he ever spoke much about WWII – they weren’t an overly talkative generation when it came to that. But I nevertheless picked-up some sense of what they – and millions of others at that time – had been through at the hands of an evil aggressor.

So there was just a little déjà vu as we watched Russia go on and on about not invading Ukraine (“peace in our time” for the 21st Century) and then manufacture a reason (Ukrainians are Nazis!) for doing just that. Supposedly serious people were shocked! shocked! that this could happen. Mom and dad are gone now, but I don’t think they’d have been too shocked to see yet another dictator decide to simply take what he wanted – or at least try to in the face of stiff opposition. I can only hope that supposedly serious people get over being shocked and get on with helping the Ukrainians fight for their freedom and sovereignty.


Hiking (along with a host of other recreational activities) is a triviality in comparison to war. Not that was it ever meant to be serious. It’s simply a pleasure, a diversion, one that eases the anxiety and stress that comes from seeing the world convulse. Maybe by releasing natural endorphins or something.

I needed a brief break from watching Putin try (try!) to dismantle Ukraine. So, with The LovedOne busy at the library (where cellulose fumes apparently substitute for endorphins), I headed to Bolt Mountain (2,180 ft / 667 m) near Grants Pass to finally hike it on a clear and sunny 😎 day. All our previous hikes of it having been plagued by clouds, fog, drizzle, and gloom. 😞

The official trail starts from Fish Hatchery Park ($5 day use fee) but you can also approach from Stringer Gap (no fee). This is the backdoor to Bolt. Two old roads and a web of mountain biker use trails radiate from the Gap – many of these loop back on themselves and do not go to Bolt. But the old road going south and then west eventually becomes a single-track trail that connects with the official trail to Bolt at about 1,600 feet (488 m).

Starting out on one of the old roads
Frozen
Sunshine on an old road
The eastern side (arrow) of Bolt Mountain comes into view
Along the south side of Bolt
A handmade sign marks the junction with the official trail
On the official trail
Looking at a giant clearcut to the west
On the north side of Bolt
Approaching the summit ridge
The top of Bolt Mountain – in sunshine for the first time!
Looking to the southeast through some smoke haze
Looking west toward the Siskiyou Crest
Grants Pass to the northeast
Heading back
Sunlight and shadows
Spring Gold – another early season wildflower
Back on the old road

From the Gap to Bolt and back came to 5.4 miles (8.6 km) with 1,000 feet (305 m) of elevation gain. This was a good break. Then it was back to watching evil try to defeat freedom. More storms are supposedly headed our way so maybe by early next week we’ll be all wet. 😁

My double lollipop hike to and from Bolt
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4 thoughts on “Backdoor to Bolt Mountain (Southwest Oregon) 25-Feb-2022

  1. Great! Thanks to our on-going drought, we’re (again) bracing for a hot, smoky summer. We’re all hoping that this won’t happen, but you should probably factor smoke and heat into your plans.

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  2. We have a camping trip out west scheduled for this summer and this is on our list of places to visit!

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  3. Thanks! There’s no official trail down Bolt’s west side. It’s more of a faint use/game trail that weaves through the buckbrush. Just a shortcut to keep from walking back around the mountain.

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  4. Great pictures. The clearcut is most likely private. Not much federal land to the west and they have a limit on clearcut size. The return route hiking down the ridge on west side of Bolt Mountain – Is there a trail? Dont recall a trail in that location.
    thanks rb

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