2021 ~ Adventures with The LovedOne

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.

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Boccard~Soda Loop (Soda Mountain Wilderness) 03-Dec-2021

After two days of heavy lifting and organizing, a swarm of volunteers (me included) got the library’s long-delayed used book sale ready to go. It’s not technically a sale, as the books are free, but donations are readily accepted. The LovedOne spent today there with other volunteers, running around keeping the cellulose moving out the door. Seems there was a pent-up demand for books (Why would that be?) and donations on this first day were particularly generous. 😁 The sale continues tomorrow and hopefully so will the donations – which are used to fund some of the library’s reading and outreach projects.

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Mystic Lake (Mountain Lakes Wilderness) 19-Oct-2021

Last September, Lee Juillerat wrote a piece for our local paper, the Mail Tribune, reminiscing about a trip he’d made to Mystic Lake, which sits at 7,200 feet (2,195 m) in the nearby Mountain Lakes Wilderness. I had passed near this little lake when I did the Mountain Lakes Loop in 2015 but didn’t have time to divert then for a visit. So I put Mystic on the seemingly bottomless hikes to do list, intending it for a late summer hike. Then heat, smoke, other hikes, other adventures, and personal business intervened and voilà it was mid-October. And La Niña was back – bringing with it rain and the first snows of winter. Was it now too late to reach Mystic without snowshoes?

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To the Devil (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 06-Oct-2021

Devils Peak (7,582 ft / 2,311 m) sits on the divide between the Seven Lakes and Sky Lakes Basins in the Sky Lakes Wilderness. It’s not the highest point in the wilderness but from its summit you have an expansive 360° view, plus a unique view north toward the Crater Lake Rim. Four years had passed since our last visit and it was certainly time for another. An attempt this August was foiled by choking clouds of wildfire smoke. 😥 But it’s rained a few times since, the fires are out, and the air is now clear. Another wet cold front went through last night, further clearing the air and dropping temperatures (and a tiny bit of snow); it was time for another go at Devils. 🙂

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Mark O. Hatfield Trail ~ Oregon (June 2010)

The Mark O. Hatfield Wilderness covers some 65,436 acres (26,481 ha) along the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. It hosts numerous named and numbered hiking trails (including a piece of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT)). Linking these various extant trails into a continuous west-east (or east-west) route may have occurred to someone in days past. But my first awareness of such a possibility came in 2009 when Beer Town Bill explained how he’d backpacked through the wilderness from Starvation Creek to Multnomah Falls. The next year, Tom Kloster floated a proposal to formalize a similar route – to be called the Mark O. Hatfield Trail.

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Swan Mountain (Red Buttes Wilderness) 06-Jul-2021

Swan Mountain (6,272 ft / 1,912 m) sits on the Siskiyou Crest just north of the Oregon unit of the Red Buttes Wilderness. I’d first reached its summit on a cold, crisp day during the snowless winter of 2015. The summit is an easy walk up from the Boundary Trail #1207 and the views from the top are – weather permitting – excellent. We tried for its summit last summer but were turned back by – what then – seemed like excessive heat (if we’d only known what was coming 😓). But in 2020 we’d gotten a late start due to the long drive to the western trailhead on Sucker Creek. This year we figured, what with the heat dome still pressing on us, to go for an earlier start from the eastern trailhead on Steve Fork. It worked, but just barely.

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Box O Ranch Loop (Soda Mountain Wilderness) 15-Apr-2021

Oregon’s Soda Mountain Wilderness is divided into two sections by a high-voltage power line. The western section got the few trails in this wilderness; the eastern section got none. Which, of course, spawned our interest in exploring it. We did a short hike from Randcore Pass to Rosebud Mountain (Rosebud! Rosebud!) in 2017 and then a loop from the pass to the old Box O Ranch in 2018. These explorations were done by connecting old and fading roads with a little cross-country travel. During our loop in 2018, uncertainty about the location of the wilderness’ eastern boundary got us to climb a rocky ridge we didn’t need to climb. True, we got a view of Mount McLoughlin, but it wasn’t worth the effort. Map gazing (and a download of the wilderness boundaries) suggested a lower, easier path for part of the loop. We went out today to explore this revised loop.

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Snow on the Siskiyous (Southern Oregon) 11-Nov-2020

In November of 2016, we hiked out to Boccard Point from the (then new to us) trailhead on Baldy Creek Road. It was snowing when we started, the Point was packed in clouds when we got there, and the sun only appeared when we were on our way back. 🙄 In May of this year I used this same trailhead to hike west on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) to Porcupine Mountain. The views along this route were impressive – perhaps even a little more so than from the Point. Scroll forward to today and the first snows have fallen on this section of the PCT. With more and bigger snows expected soon, today seemed like the moment to reprise the views experienced on that May hike, this time on walkable snow and with The LovedOne. ❤

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This Yolks On You (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 16-Oct-2020

DISCLAIMER: The LovedOne played no part in this hike (she’s busy trying to re-start volunteer activity at the library). Nor did she have anything to do with the title of this post. In fact, she begged me to come-up with a more mature title. But I claimed artistic license. Laughter ensued. And that’s no yolk! 🙄

Goose Nest (not to be confused with Goosenest near Mount Shasta) sits east of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in the Sky Lakes Wilderness. Last August, I made an attempt to hike to its summit from the west. That didn’t work out. 😦 But, staying with the goose theme, I saw the Goose Egg (7,124 feet / 2,171 m) sitting right next to the PCT a little farther to the south. If not the nest, then the egg! So, egged on by thoughts of omelets dancing in my head, I struck off for the Egg today in perfect hiking weather (which is one of those ying~yang, good thing~bad things in these drought-stricken times).

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Buckneck Mountain (Rogue-Umpqua Divide) 05-Oct-2020

The Forest Service bills the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trail #1470 as the primary route through the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness. Two week’s ago we hiked the section from Forest Road (FR) 37 toward Three Lakes, the trail’s northern end. Despite this section of the trail having been ceded to motorcycles, that hike went well. That left just one major section (there are a few minor one’s we’ll likely never hike) left – the one past Buckneck Mountain between Fish Creek Camp on FR 870 and FR 37. We set out to do that today, ahead of real rain forecast to arrive (ha!) later this week.

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Rim Rock (Umpqua National Forest) 27-Sep-2020

The Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trail (#1470) runs, as its name suggests, for some 30 miles between Huckleberry Gap and Three Lakes along the divide between the Umpqua and Rogue River watersheds.  I have a love/sadness relationship with this trail.  Sections of it are in good condition with big views, while others are viewless brush-choked slogs that haven’t seen maintenance in years and years.  We’ve spent the last five years hiking it in sections.  Today’s effort was to explore the section north from Forest Road (FR) 37 to Three Lakes.  The LovedOne was joining me on this ramble and I worried that we’d experience one of those brushy slogs she detests.  But no worries.  This section of the #1470 is outside the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness and the Umpqua National Forest has opened it to motorcycles.  So, in short, thanks to use by responsible motorcyclists, this section of the #1470 proved to be brush-free and easy to follow, with only deep ruts in a few places.  It had obviously been ridden recently but we encountered no motorcycles during today’s visit.

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