Well, last week gave us some of the weather we’d liked to have gotten spread out across January, February, and March – rain, snow, hail, sleet, high winds, etc. But, no, the skies waited and then slammed us with this stuff all at once. Recently brown hills are now green lower down and white higher up. The wildflowers are confused. But magic sky water is most welcome here however and whenever it arrives. More of this celestial moistness is expected in this evening and may then continue for another week. 😁
The first hike we ever did down here, way back in 2013 when life seemed simpler 🙄, was a short loop on the Sterling Mine Ditch Trail between the Tunnel Ridge and Bear Gulch Trailheads, with a return on Little Applegate Road (4.9 miles (7.8 km); 550 feet (167 m) of elevation gain). So, when this morning offered us a brief break in the stormy weather, we took that as an omen to take a walk down memory lane and reprise this hike.
The Tunnel Ridge Trail ends right at the non-natural feature – a hand dug tunnel – which gives both the trail and the ridge their names. By boring 100 feet (30 m) or so through the ridge, the ditch builders avoided having to dig some 1,700 feet (518 m) of ditch around the ridge.
One of the biggest (maybe the biggest?) madrone we’ve ever seen around here lives next to the ditch trail. In nine years, it seems to have lost a little bark on its main trunk but otherwise looks to be healthy.
This was a good, pleasant hike when we first did it back in 2013 and it’s still such a hike today. It was certainly the hike that got us thinking about the outdoor possibilities in Southwest Oregon. We were lucky to be able to revisit it on a day that, for about 3 hours, gave us perfect hiking weather. And thus we came full circle on our almost nine years of hiking in Southwest Oregon and Northern California. 😁