The season turned, rain and then snow coursed over the hills, and we started tuning-up the snowshoes for another snowy winter. Well, not yet little hikers. Those first snows were badly melted by several days of unusually high (in some cases record-breaking) temperatures. Then high pressure settled in, diverting our snow to the East Coast, and leaving us with a multi-day run of clear, cold, sunny, but otherwise snowfree weather. There’s snow up at Crater Lake National Park and in the High Cascades but not so much closer to home. So time to do some local hikes on dirt while waiting for the National Weather Service’s prognostications about our snowy future to come to fruition. The Ashland Hiking Group had made their recent hike to Porcupine Mountain look interesting, so I headed-out to see it for myself. The LovedOne’s recent ascent to treasurer of the county library Friends has rendered her less available for hiking – so my pride in her accomplishments is mingled with missing her on hikes.
Having been granted a foul weather reprieve for one more dry visit to the Oregon Coast this year, we headed there to walk on the beach and enjoy a few short hikes. The third and last of these was a loop (5.5 miles roundtrip; 300 feet of elevation gain) – on a section of the Oregon Coast Trail (OCT) – from a trailhead at Cape Blanco State Airport to Blackrock Point in the Floras Lake State Natural Area. The viewless walk through the enveloping coastal forest was rewarded by expansive views from the Point and also from other viewpoints along the loop on yet another bluebird day! What a way to wrap-up our imprompu, but spectacular, visit to the coast in winter.
Having been granted a foul weather reprieve for one more dry visit to the Oregon Coast this year, we headed there to walk on the beach and enjoy a few short hikes. The second of these was an out-and-back (3.6 miles roundtrip; 1,000 feet of elevation gain) – on a section of the Oregon Coast Trail (OCT) – from the viewpoint atop Cape Sebastian (the highest point on the Southern Oregon Coast) to Hunters Cove. This hike in the Cape Sebastian State Scenic Corridor was a great one through stands of Sitka spruce past a wave-pounded rocky promentory to the wide beach at the Cove. Along the way we had stunning close-up views of the rugged coastline on yet another bluebird day!
When the first waves of winter wet arrived in November, we thought we’d missed our chance for one more dry visit to the Oregon Coast this year. But then high pressure took control ( a somewhat unusual occurrence) and the coastal forecast came up with 10+ days of clear, sunny, and mild conditions. So we headed to the coast to walk on the beach and enjoy a few short hikes. The first of these was an out-and-back (3.6 miles roundtrip; 800 feet of elevation gain) from the House Rock Viewpoint to Cape Ferrelo on a section of the Oregon Coast Trail (OCT) in the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor. This proved to be a wonderful hike through stands of old growth spruce and red alder to the grassy top of the cape for breathtaking views of the rugged coastline on the most bluebird of days!
The Mule Mountain Trail (USFS #919) used to be one of the most popular trails in the Upper Applegate Valley. Then the Forest Service lost its easement through private property to the low-altitude start of the trail on public land. The Forest Service’s suggested alternative, the Charlie Buck/Baldy Peak Trail (USFS #918), starts higher up, where it might be closed by snow in the winter, and involves a heart-wrenching 1,200 feet of gain in its first mile from its northern trailhead! Having done this before (post), I thought it might be easier to reach the Mule Mountain and Mule Creek (USFS #920) Trails from the #918’s southern trailhead at the end of Forest Road (FR) 2010-300. There was just time to give this a try ahead of an incoming stretch of hiking-unfriendly weather. The LovedOne has always maintained that hiking should be fun rather than character building, so she buried further under the covers and offered up a muffled “good luck with that” as I headed off into the freezing fog outside our garage. Continue reading →
Whatever else you might say about 2017, it was a great year for new trails in Southern Oregon! Several hiking, biking, and equestrain trails came online in Prescott Park, Phase I of the Jack-Ash Trail was opened by the Siskiyou Upland Trails Association, and then the Applegate Trails Association weighed in with the East Applegate Ridge Trail, another addition to the still developing 50-mile long Applegate Ridge Trail (ART) system. It’s hard to keep up with all this trail activity and we were out fiddling with Point 5648 when Glenn & Carol and Richard ventured out along the new east ART trail. I hesitate to say that they “gushed” about their hike (even though it did rain some) but they were clearly captured by its smooth tread, vast views, open meadows, and transits of oak, madrone, and pine forests. We were consumed with envy. When today looked to be (and was) an amazingly bluebird perfect break in the atmospheric river of wet that has been coming our way lately, I went for it. The LovedOne stayed behind to make a dent in her growing number of fiber art projects, thus missing a great hike. So sad…
An Armistice Day sunbreak in the wet wave trains of early winter gave us a chance to do a pre-snowshoe season reconn of trails at the south end of the Buck Prairie Winter Recreation Area (WRA), which is – for the moment at least – now part of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. This WRA an immensely popular winter play area, particularly at its north end where the majority of its nordic ski and snowshoe trails are concentrated. The fewer trails at its southern end looked (based on the BLM’s small map from 2003) like they were longer, more remote, and offered views. But we wanted to see what was there – and record our own gpx track – before everything was covered in snow. Better to hike dirt now than flounder in snow later! It being Veterans Day, the library was closed, and the LovedOne was thus free to wander the woods with me.