Payette Trail (Southwest Oregon) 11-Feb-2022

Daytime temperatures have been unseasonably warm (70℉ / 21℃) here for some time now. So much so that the weather people on the TV are no longer gushing about all this sunny weather. It is supposed to rain – for one day – early next week. Which will be – if it happens – the first time we’ve experienced magic sky water in over a month. We like warmth and sunshine as much as anyone but both can be overdone. Now is supposed to be our snowy and wet season, when we store-up water to see us through the blistering summer ahead. So where we are now – at least weather-wise – is not good, not good at all. 😧 Our glass half full happiness metaphor is in jeopardy! Our hopes for moisture are now pinned on a late winter round of strong storms to top-up our dwindling reservoirs. We’ll see…

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Stein Butte (Southwest Oregon) 20-Jan-2022

Since 2014, with one fraught exception, Stein Butte has been the hike that closed out our hiking year. 2021, however, ended in the midst of a giant snow storm. Driving was treacherous. Emergency rooms (should a hike go bad) were clogged with plague victims. Even if these hadn’t been concerning issues, there was absolutely no enthusiasm for miles of post-holing up through deep drifts of fresh snow. None. So Stein was postponed.

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Witcome-Payette Loop (Applegate Lake) 21-Mar-2021

Applegate Lake is actually a reservoir, built and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Their design, way back in the 1970s, included fences to keep free-roaming cattle from reaching the lake and cavorting wantonly in the shallows. Since the lake isn’t much there most of the year, it was more likely to keep cattle from getting stuck in the mud. Anyway, the Corps built a road – a stock driveway – behind one of these fences so they could collect and remove errant cows. In the intervening years, the need to collect stray cows seems to have dissipated and today this driveway is more trail than road. It shows on today’s Forest Service maps as a trail paralleling the Payette Trail #970 between the Payette and Manzanita Trailheads. I first hiked a loop using the Witcome in 2016 and have done so a couple of times since. But the last time for me was in 2017 and The LovedOne had never hiked it, so today we went out to see how the driveway was holding-up.

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Grouse Loop (Applegate Lake, Oregon) 02-Mar-2021

The Grouse Loop Trail #941 is another one of those short trails in our area that we’ve previously overlooked. We had planned to do it, along with the Latgawa Peninsula Loop and the Gin Lin Trail, as an “Applegate Trifecta” but got distracted. Today was forecast as the second to the last of the bluebird days granted us before the next wave of storms. So after our dental appointments this morning (these aren’t nearly as anxiety-provoking as they used to be thanks to us having found a truly excellent dentist), The LovedOne headed off to do some library volunteering and I went to see what the #941 was all about.

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Gin Lin Trail (Applegate Valley) 22-Feb-2021

There is nothing good about the Big V. Nothing. But dealing with it has kept us more local and that has made us consider trails, however short, that we’ve overlooked in years past. One of these is the very short (0.8 mile (1.2 km)) Gin Lin Mining Trail, located a little north of oft-visited Applegate Lake. Despite its brevity, it’s actually a National Recreation Trail that was developed to recognize Gin Lin, a Chinese immigrant who through hard work, innovative thinking, and a good business sense – and despite rampant racism – became a notable and respected personage during Southern Oregon’s early days. He is credited with introducing hydraulic mining to the area. The most successful gold mines in Southern Oregon all used this method. This trail winds through the remnants of the last of his mines, the Palmer Creek hydraulic mine, which operated from the mid 1870s to about 1885.

Gin Lin c1880 (Southern Oregon Historical Society)
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