Singing the Song of Songer (Southwest Oregon) 07-Apr-2022

It rained last Monday and it’s supposed to rain again (with a little snow higher up) next Monday. But yesterday and today it was sunny, clear, and pushing 80℉ (27℃). Ah, Spring in Oregon, how fickle art thou blandishments. πŸ™„ Despite the fact that the world is still a frustrating mess and the drought continues to weigh heavily on the land, we decided to celebrate Spring (or at least the briefly sunny part of it) with yet another hike. This time we sought to revisit Songer Butte near Emigrant Lake just south of Ashland.

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Uhtoff & Lewis (Ashland, Oregon) 06-Apr-2021

Five years. Five years and change since our first and only hike of the Mike Uhtoff Trail on the south edge of Ashland. Then we got distracted by other trails and other adventures. Unless trying to find toilet paper and hand sanitizer count, we’ve been real short of other adventures for the last year or so. Sigh. Staying with the staying local theme and all that, we decided it was time to revisit the Uhtoff. In the intervening years, the Ashland Woodlands and Trails Association has constructed an interactive trail guide with maps that you can use to make sense of all the hiking and biking trails south and west of Ashland. We used that to piece together a route from the Oredson-Todd Trailhead to the Lewis Loops and back.

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Songer Butte + Loop (Ashland, Oregon) 24-Feb-2021

It was just a year ago that did we our first (and only) hike on the peninsula formed in Emigrant Lake (actually a reservoir) by Songer Butte (2,693 ft / 821 m). That now seems like a lot more than a year ago. During that hike in the Before Times, we circled the peninsula but, fearing private property, didn’t try for the butte’s summit. We subsequently learned from Rich Stickle (Ashland Hiking Group) that, while the summit is on private property, the owner doesn’t mind hikers going up to it. So today we combined our previous loop with a side trip to Songer’s summit. More wet weather is expected soon, but today was all cool air, blue skies, and sunshine. 😎

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Buck Rock Tunnel: East Portal (Ashland, Oregon) 23-Jan-2021

Two weeks ago, we journeyed just south of Ashland to explore a tunnel started by the long-defunct Oregon & California Railroad. Their tunnel under Buck Rock was only partially-completed and has been abandoned since 1884. We climbed Buck Rock and found the tunnel’s West Portal but not its East Portal. Today was one of The LovedOne’s volunteer days at the library, so I headed out solo to visit the East Portal and bring closure to our Buck Rock saga.

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Buck Rock Tunnel: West Portal (Ashland, Oregon) 07-Jan-2021

In the early 1880s, the then Oregon & California (O&C) Railroad was trying to extend its tracks south to the California border. So they surveyed a route that looped around Buck Rock south of Ashland. This particular route crossed difficult terrain that would require multiple tunnels and tall bridges. The O&C had just started on the tunnels (including the Buck Rock Tunnel – O&C Tunnel No. 13) on their route when they were acquired by the Southern Pacific Railroad. That railroad’s civil engineers had a different, shorter, less expensive route to California in mind. So the half-completed Buck Rock Tunnel was abandoned where it was in the ridge south of Buck Rock. It’s still there and intact after 140 years and has recently become something of a popular local hiking destination, accessible mostly on abandoned roads and an obvious use trail. It now lies within the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) built a small parking lot at the end of the dirt road you can use to access it.

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Wonder Bear! (Ashland, Oregon) 10-Jun-2020

The LovedOne was determined to finish the gardening that had been cut short by this weekend’s storm. So I looked around for a nearby hike that I hadn’t done before. Tablerocktrekker had alerted me to a new piece of trail – the Lower Wonder – near Ashland and also to the Ashland Woodland & Trails Association’s trail search feature. After consulting that oracle, I decided to do an out-and-back hike on the new Lower Wonder and the old Upper Wonder to Lunch Rocks, starting from the Fairy Ponds Trailhead. I was a little concerned that these quasi-urban trails – they start right at Ashland’s city limits – might be a little crowded but they weren’t. I saw two hikers at a distance and socially distanced from eight more, so no issues with crowding this day. Except, of course, for the bear.

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Emigrant Lake (Ashland, Oregon) 10-Mar-2020

The last time Jennifer (former colleague and long-time friend) and I did a hike together was when she introduced me to the Mountain of the Rogue in 2018. This week she was down here helping her parents and reached out to see if we could do a hike. Absolutely! I’d been in a bit of a hiking dry-spell for the last few days what with work (my side hustle has its moments), fiendishly fickle weather (I’m going to rain; no, no I’m not, just cloudy; no, wait, how about some snow; no, no snow, let’s just do overcast gloom and a little drizzle, shaken not stirred…), the library’s quarterly book sale, and vague concerns about “the virus.” So it was definitely time for the boots again. The LovedOne was sidelined with a publicity meeting for the library. 😦

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Songer Butte Loop (Ashland, Oregon) 12-Feb-2020

Sign for the Songer Wayside outside Ashland, Oregon

Today was forecast to be the last sunny day before a multi-day weather event arrived. It had been sunny for the past two days but The LovedOne had managed to spend those in meetings at the library. I vowed that she must again see the light of day! Using the heady cellulose-rich scent of old paperback books (old romance novels are particularly fragrant) to lure her into the car, I then drove wantonly to Emigrant Lake outside Ashland, Oregon. By the time the cellulose fumes wore off, we were standing at the start of the Songer Butte Trail at the end of the Old Greensprings Highway under crisp, clear, sunny skies. πŸ™‚

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Clouds Over Mount Ashland (Oregon) 28-May-2019

We had a good winter. Copious amounts of snow in the high country. A full season at our local ski area. Reservoirs full – but not too full – for the dry months ahead. But winter seemed reluctant to say good-bye. 😦 Fits of rain, snow, and gloom plagued the holiday weekend. Then – in a day – it snapped over to sunshine and heat. 😎

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Snow, But No Shoes (Mt. Ashland, Oregon) 12-Dec-2018

The Mount Ashland Ski Area opened last week, with about 24 inches of snow on its upper slopes.Β  Our one (and only) snowshoe last winter had been a flounder-fest to the top of Mount Ashland through snow too soft and thin to keep us out of the underlying brush. We ended-up shuffling back along the plowed road. πŸ˜₯ So, would there be enough snow lower down to support an out-and-back snowshoe to the Grouse Gap Shelter? Only field work could address this conundrum.

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