Blackrock Point (Oregon Coast) 11-Aug-2021

Our second hike on the Oregon Coast brought us back to Blackrock Point, which we’d first hiked in the winter of 2017. At that time, we came at it from the end of the road next to the Cape Blanco airport – the shortest way to the Point. This time we did a lollipop loop starting from the north at Boice-Cope County Park on Floras Lake. There was a bit of beach walking involved but the wind had calmed considerably overnight, so it wasn’t the struggle it was yesterday at Umpqua Dunes.

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Dellenback Dunes Trail (Oregon Coast) 10-Aug-2021

The heat dome returned with a vengeance, ramming air temperatures well into the triple digits (103+°F / 39+°C). Then smoke from a host of local and not so local wildfires poured into our valley, taking air quality to startlingly (200+ AQI) unhealthy levels. It was not a good time to be outside. So it was pure luck on our part that we found ourselves on the Oregon coast, enjoying a few (too few) days of cool, clean, moist coastal air. 😁 We came home to find that little had changed – still too hot, still too smokey. 😒 But least we had those few days on the beach. We’ll always have Paris, etc.

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Siskiyou Peak (Southwest Oregon) 06-Aug-2021

As the Jack, Bootleg, and Lava Fires sputtered (almost) out, they were quickly replaced by the Dixie (an absolute monster), River Complex, Antelope, Monument, and McFarland Fires, plus a host of other wildfires in Northern California and Southern Oregon. Our valley soon filled with smoke and the air quality index soared into the triple digits (not good). Virus cases in the county have been soaring too. It’s becoming hard to tell which might get our lungs first – the Delta variant or smoke particles. 😬

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National Creek Falls (Southwest Oregon) 30-Jul-2021

After our short hike to Spruce Lake, it was still too early for lunch (and, sadly, pie). So we went to visit National Creek Falls. These are not far from the lake and, unlike the lake, are spring-fed and thus richly endowed with water even in drought years. Also unlike the lake, the falls have their own official – and exceptionally well-trodden – access trail (#1053). The Middle Fork of National Creek actually arises from Oasis Spring, which I visited in 2015, just before the National Creek Complex Fire. Fortunately that fire spared both the spring and the falls, so we were able to descend to the coolness of the falls under an intact forest canopy. It was a short hike, the falls were amazing, and, when we were done, it was finally time for pie lunch! 😋

Descending the #1053
National Creek above the falls
Continuing the descent
National Creek Falls
National Creek Falls
Droplets of mist from the falls
National Creek Falls (left)
National Creek Falls (right)

Note to self for August: Less pie, more hiking.

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Spruce Lake (Crater Lake National Park) 30-Jul-2021

Today emerged hot, cloudy, sultry, and hazy with smoke. Thunderstorms drenched us in the afternoon but the morning sprouted only a few pathetic rain drops. These only added to the sultry. A morning outside was about all we were up for. So we did two very short hikes which, when combined with a lunch outside at Beckie’s, made for a morning well spent. That there was pie 🥧 involved had nothing – Nothing I say! – to do with the quality of this day. 😉

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Big Sky Over Roxy Ann (Southwest Oregon) 29-Jul-2021

We’ve been having some peculiar weather lately (but then haven’t we all 🙄). First heat domes, drought, wind, and smoke. Now thunderstorms and rain – one whole day of rain! Today the atmosphere sought to combine heat, smoke, and incipient thunder clouds. The result turned a simple exercise hike up Roxy Ann Peak into a lot of sky ogling. I only had my phone along. It can’t do all the things my “real” cameras can but it does enough – and takes snaps good enough – to sometimes make me feel like a Luddite for still using those “real” cameras. Sigh. Now if I could just figure out how to make the phone’s camera filters make me look 30 years younger. And more handsome too. 🤔

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Boundary Springs (Crater Lake National Park) 26-Jul-2021

Boundary Springs – which emerge from semi-arid terrain in the northwest corner of Crater Lake National Park – are the source of the mainstem of the Rogue River. Many other tributaries and streams contribute to the Rogue before it reaches the sea at Gold Beach, but that river starts here. It’s tempting to think that these springs somehow tap Crater Lake itself but they are, instead, fed only by snowmelt.

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Lake Siskiyou Loop (Mount Shasta, CA) 22-Jul-2021

For our third and last hike in the Mount Shasta area, we needed something scenic but not hard. No big elevation gains or ceaseless ups and downs. While exploring our options, we came across the loop trail around Lake Siskiyou (“Lake Sis”), which is just west of Mount Shasta. At just under 7 miles (11 km), with no appreciable changes in elevation, it was ideal for our purposes (and our diminished leg muscles). The LovedOne had determined (after extensive calculations) that, if we got started early enough and hiked energetically enough, we could reach Ashland in time for lunch at Caldera Brewing. Another pure genius moment on The LovedOne’s part. 😁

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Flume Trail (Castle Crags State Park, CA) 21-Jul-2021

After going high for our first hike in the Mount Shasta area, we decided to go some 4,000 feet (1,220 m) lower for our second. Specifically, a loop formed from the Flume and Bob’s Hat Trails and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in Castle Crags State Park. We got another early start but noticed that the heat built sooner and higher down here than it had up at Boulder Peak. That said, there was plenty of shade and even a few, still flowing, water courses to keep the heat at bay – at least in the morning. But we were back in town – “rehydrating” – before it got too hot. 😅

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Boulder Peak (Trinity Divide, CA) 20-Jul-2021

There were a few hikes we wanted to do west of Mount Shasta, California. Rather than spend hours driving back and forth to individual hikes, we basecamped in a hotel (as even tough and stupid has its limits) in Mount Shasta and did three different hikes from there. Not only did this avoid a lot of driving, it also meant that we could arrive at the respective trailheads way early – in the cool of the morning – without having to roll out at o-dark-thirty. These early starts also got us back to town before the day really heated-up. We were also fortunate that this trip coincided with a brief cooling spell (90°F (32°C) versus 105°F (40°C)) and a wind shift that blew the wildfire smoke eastward (sorry North Dakota 😯), giving us almost clear skies. So something of bright spot in an otherwise trying summer. Not to mention us not having to eat my cooking for a few days. 😉

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Lily Pad Lake (Red Buttes Wilderness) 16-Jul-2021

The Bootleg Fire, which has now exceeded 273,000 acres (110,450 ha), continues to march east, chewing-up the forest and spewing out great volumes of smoke as it does so. Sadly, it is now eating its way into the Gearhart Wilderness, which has a plentiful supply of dead trees to act as fuel. This was another place that we’ve now apparently missed our chance to re-visit. 😥 The smoke from the Bootleg and other fires in Oregon and California is pushed mostly east by the prevailing westerlies. But winds shift, bringing this smoke to us when they do so. That, combined with that heat dome thing, has made cool, smokeless hiking a rare commodity thus far this summer.

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