Judge Waldo Revisited (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 31-Aug-2020

Our first try at finding the inscription Judge Waldo left on a (now dead) tree in the nearby Sky Lakes Wilderness wasn’t successful. We found it on our second try in 2015. That was the last time we managed to visit the tree or the Blue Lakes Basin. 😦 It’s odd how that visit years ago seems like it happened just last week (of course, five months ago now seems like another world, but I digress…). So when the weather offered-up a dry front that temporarily dropped the air temperature and pushed the wildfire smoke south, we took it as a favorable augury for another Waldo visit. And it proved to be a superb day for a hike – mostly cool with an easy breeze, full sunshine, just a little on the warm side in the afternoon, and no mosquitoes (fiends this wilderness is unfortunately famous for). There were a few fallen trees but otherwise the trails were in good condition despite having missed a year (or two or three) of maintenance.

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Hiking Southern Oregon: 25 Hikes (February 2020)

To celebrate our 600th post on WordPress, we’re highlighting a select few of the many hikes we’ve enjoyed here in Southwest Oregon.

As we’ve perused lists of Oregon’s greatest hikes, we’ve come to notice that these lists are heavily skewed, with a few exceptions, toward hikes near Portland.  That metro area’s greater population helps if a list is based on some kind of vote.  And proximity to its major airport helps get votes from those who drop in for a brief Western adventure.  Even some of the classics, like the Wallowas in Eastern Oregon or the Three Sisters in Central Oregon, often don’t make these lists because they are too far away.  So a lot of “great” hikes get done near Portland – the state’s most populated town. And then the complaints roll in about how there’s no parking, the trails are too crowded, you need a permit or must pay a fee, it’s raining, etc.

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McKee Lake (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 14-Oct-2019

The 117 square mile Sky Lakes Wilderness extends north and south along the Cascades between Crater Lake National Park and Highway 140. Within this wilderness are over 200 lakes both scattered across the area and gathered in three major (Seven Lakes Basin, Sky Lakes Area, Blue Canyon Group) and two smaller (McKee, Dwarf Lakes) lake basins. Established trails provide access to the three main lake basins and human use can be heavy in those. Hence my interest has been drawn to outlying lakes (like Lake Ivern at the northern end of the Seven Lakes Basin) and those in the smaller, trailess basins (like the Dwarf Lakes). Today was McKee Basin’s turn for a visit. Sans The LovedOne, who had to attend a library board meeting instead. 😦

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Upper South Fork Trail (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 03-Jul-2017

Upper South Fork Rogue River Trail Sky Lakes Wilderness Oregon

The South Fork Rogue River, a 25-mile tributary of Oregon’s Rogue River, rises in the Blue Lake Basin of the Sky Lakes Wilderness and flows generally northeast to its confluence first with the Middle Fork and then with the main Rogue slightly upstream of Lost Creek Lake.  The South Fork is bordered for part of its length by three hiking trails: the Lower South Fork Trail between Lower South Fork Bridge and Imnaha Creek (USFS #988), the Middle South Fork Trail between the Upper and Lower South Fork Bridges (USFS #988), and the Upper South Fork Trail from near Upper South Fork Bridge to the Blue Lake Basin (USFS #988).  Both the Lower and Middle trails are locally popular and are also described in almost every hiking guidebook for this area.  The Upper trail is rarely mentioned (if at all) in local guidebooks and is described by the Forest Service as a minimally maintained primitive trail, one not recommended for horses, and a challenging workout for hikers.  This made a hike of it sound intriguing for one last venture into the Sky Lakes until the end of mosquito season in September.

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Judge Waldo Tree (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 22-Jul-2015

Judge Waldo Tree Sky Lakes Wilderness Oregon

About three weeks ago, I did a long loop in the southern Sky Lakes Wilderness involving Fourmile Lake and managed to miss the famous Judge Waldo Tree. I’d vowed to return in the Fall to rectify this miss but dropping temperatures and a freakish absence of mosquitos in this wilderness (which is/was infamous for its biting hoards in July and August) encouraged us to look for this tree sooner. Although the hike in from Fourmile Lake to the south has its charms, we decided instead to try using the Blue Canyon Trailhead coming from the west side (Hike #46 in Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon guide (3rd Edition)).

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