Bingham Lake (Russian Wilderness) 29-Jun-2016

Russian Wilderness Northern California

As noted in a previous post (Red Butte), we’re hiking/scrambling the highpoints in seven of Northern California’s wilderness areas as further protection from the ravages of sloth. To that end, we decided on a short hike and scramble at the southern end of the Russian Wilderness (details).  This small (12,521 acre) wilderness is wedged between the much larger Marble Mountain Wilderness (225,114 acres) to the north and the Trinity Alps Wilderness (537,360 acres) to the south.  It sits astride a major ridge dividing the Scott River and Salmon River drainages with steep slopes and broad, U-shaped glacial valleys surrounded by granite peaks. It has 22 named lakes, most of them set like jewels in cirques high in the valleys and drained by streams. We opted to approach its highest point, Russian Peak (8,190 feet), via a short trail to one of those named lakes – Bingham Lake, a true emerald jewel of a lake.

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Lake Mountain (Oregon Caves National Monument) 22-Nov-2015

Lake Mountain Oregon Caves National Monument

Late last year, the original 488 acre Oregon Caves National Monument was expanded by about 4,000 acres (becoming a National Monument and Preserve in the process) to better protect the watersheds that feed the underground river in the cave complex. A preserve of this type allows for the continuation of hunting, which is not allowed inside the smaller monument boundary. As a result of this expansion, the monument/preserve boundary has been pushed to the tops of the surrounding ridges and now includes the Bigelow Lakes, Mount Elijah (both of them), and Lake Mountain. Last February, we had explored this new part of the monument by hiking in from Sturgis Fork  to the east. While you can also reach this area from the visitor center to the west, doing so involves a long drive around to Cave Junction and then up to the caves. A little map research found that a hike in from the west was possible – with much less driving – by using the more readily accessible Elk Creek Trail (USFS #1230). So the plan was to use this trail to visit Mount Elijah (again), checkout the old lookout site atop Lake Mountain, and hike another short stretch of the Boundary Trail (USFS #1207). Unfortunately, The LovedOne’s knee starting acting up again, so this became a solo hike. 😥

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Mount Elijah (Oregon Caves National Monument) 16-Feb-2015

Mount Elijah Oregon Caves National Monument Sturgis Fork Oregon

Our original plan had been to visit Stuart Falls on the south edge of Crater Lake National Park. But fallen trees had blocked the main access road (Forest Road (FR) 6205) about six miles from the trailhead. Our attempt to reach the falls via another trail was foiled when we found that trail had been largely obliterated by the 2008 Middle Fork Fire and had not been rebuilt. Sigh. So we kept Stuart Falls on the to do list and opted instead to visit Mount Elijah (actually both of them), which is now in the Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve. In 2014, the Monument was expanded from 488 acres to about 4,000 acres (to protect the watershed that feeds the underground river in the caves), which put Mount Elijah and the Bigelow Lakes within within the National Park system.

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