Big Kitty on the PCT (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 09-Apr-2022

After two days of warm, almost summer-like weather, it’s beginning to look as though a late season, multi-day rain and snow extravaganza is heading toward us. This atmospheric excitement is supposed to start tomorrow and continue well into next week. It won’t be shorts weather for awhile, but we can sure use the water. 😂

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Horseshoe Ranch II (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 23-Jan-2022

At about 9,100 acres (3,682 ha), Horseshoe Ranch is the largest piece of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument within California. The ranch (officially the Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area) was added to the Monument in 2017. We paid our first visit here late last year and enjoyed a hike up Slide Ridge and down along Scotch Creek through shrubs, oaks, and conifers. We returned today – in brilliant sunshine and unseasonable warmth – to follow another old ranch road and explore the area around Brushy Creek. We even got a California Lands Pass for this visit.

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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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Horseshoe Ranch I (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 21-Nov-2021

Although most of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is inside Oregon, the Monument’s expansion in 2017 brought the Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area in Northern California inside its boundary. Horseshoe Ranch covers about 9,100 acres (3,682 ha) of rolling to steep hills festooned with shrubs, oaks, and conifers surrounding Scotch and Slide Creeks and several of their tributaries. Its northern boundary abuts the Soda Mountain Wilderness. As its name suggests, this wildlife area was a working cattle ranch from 1908 to about 1976.

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Salt Creek (Death Valley National Park) 13-Nov-2021

After five days of ceaseless adventuring, we faced the long drive home on the morrow. So, for Adventure #6, we decided to visit close-by attractions – Salt Creek and Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes – that we’d previously by-passed in favor of more remote, less crowded destinations. We beat the crowds at Salt Creek but were engulfed by them at the dunes – but we still got to see some interesting stuff.

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Saratoga & Ibex Springs (Death Valley National Park) 12-Nov-2021

We had one more day of 4×4 available to us, so we decided to make Adventure #5 a visit to Saratoga Spring and Ibex Spring at the south end of Death Valley National Park. This proved to be a day of minimal hiking and much off-road driving. We could have gotten to Saratoga with a 2WD car but a high-clearance 4×4 was a definite plus for the short, but lumpy, ride out to Ibex.

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Rogers Peak (Death Valley National Park) 11-Nov-2021

We’d spent yesterday bouncing around in a 4×4, so today we needed to hike. A long, long time ago (i.e., 1974), Wayne, Diane, and I climbed Telescope Peak, the highest point in Death Valley National Park. That proved to be a truly memorable trip but one we weren’t interested in repeating. But, inspired by nostalgia enhanced by memory loss, we decided it would be fun (loosely defined) to hike to a closer, lower peak within sight of Telescope. Rogers Peak (9,993 ft / 3,045 m) is only 5 miles round-trip (8 km) from and 1,800 feet (549 m) above Mahogany Flat. And you can see Telescope from its summit. Plus it’s slightly taller than nearby Bennett Peak. So summiting Rogers became Adventure #4 of our adventures in Death Valley.

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Saline Valley (Death Valley National Park) 10-Nov-2021

When we were tossing around possible adventures for our time in Death Valley National Park, Wayne and Diane mentioned that they’d always wanted to see Saline Valley, which is about 50 miles (80 km) northeast of Furnace Creek. I had been there once before in the mid-1980s; The LovedOne had never been there. Saline Valley is one of the most remote and hard to reach places in the park. While you can make it there and back in a 2WD vehicle (bring extra tires!), a high-clearance 4×4 increases your chances of not spending many unplanned hours stuck in the desert. Since we had access to a 4×4, why not go for a visit?

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Sidewinder Canyon (Death Valley National Park) 09-Nov-2021

Sidewinder and Willow Canyons run next to each other on the west side of the Black Mountains about 30 miles (48 km) south of Furnace Creek. The hike to either starts from a minimally signed gravel pit just off of the Bad Water Road. We hiked to the waterfall (which was running!) in Willow Canyon in 2017 and had planned to hike the slot side canyons in Sidewinder that same day. On that occasion, our car was the only one in the parking lot when we left for Willow. When we got back not too much later, the lot was near to full and lines of people were heading for Sidewinder. We decided to hike it later. We didn’t appreciate at that moment just how much “later” later would prove to be. So Sidewinder became (finally) Adventure #2 for this year’s trip to Death Valley.

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Marble Canyon (Death Valley National Park) 08-Nov-2021

This last week, we went with our long-time friends, Wayne and Diane, on what might best be described as several “multi-modal” adventures in Death Valley National Park. We combined stand-alone hikes with those facilitated by a 4×4 vehicle and threw in some touristy stuff too. This was our first chance to spend time with them since our San Juan raft trip last June (a planned mule-packing trip in September succumbed to a critical medical issue and way too much wildfire smoke 😥). In all, we did six different adventures over six sun-drenched 😎 days, then drove home just in time to meet the next batch of rain and snow aimed at Southern Oregon. 🥶

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A Brush With Vulture (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 31-Oct-2021

Three peaks straddle the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) due east of Oregon’s Howard Prairie Lake: Brush Mountain (with north and south summits), Old Baldy, and rocky Point 6054 (known locally as “Vulture Rock“). Point 6054 was never the site of a Forest Service fire lookout, while Old Baldy hosted one between 1924 and 1961, and two sat atop Brush Mountain between 1915 and 1930. The lookout on Brush Mountain’s northern summit was probably one of the most unusual ever allowed by the U.S. Forest Service:

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