Horseshoe Ranch II (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 23-Jan-2022

At about 9,100 acres (3,682 ha), Horseshoe Ranch is the largest piece of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument within California. The ranch (officially the Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area) was added to the Monument in 2017. We paid our first visit here late last year and enjoyed a hike up Slide Creek and down along Slide Creek through shrubs, oaks, and conifers. We returned today – in brilliant sunshine and unseasonable warmth – to follow another old ranch road and explore the area around Brushy Creek. We even got a California Lands Pass for this visit.

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Songer Butte (Ashland, Oregon) 10-Dec-2021

The first major storm of winter is apparently heading our way. Not to get all excited or anything but snow deeper than a tall snail might be in the offing. We wanted to get in a hike before this snowy tsunami arrives. Plan A – Spence Mountain – was shelved because a long hike on a short day ahead of a storm seemed like a sub-optimal idea. Plan B – some explorations at Lower Table Rock – was pulled because dense fog clogged both the valley and the Rock. Plan C – Songer Butte – became a go when we saw sunlight on the traffic camera near it. Plan C also featured the strong selling point of lunch at Caldera Brewing in Ashland. πŸ€—

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Grizzly Peak (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 24-Sep-2021

The rains came and flushed the smoke and damped the wildfires. But the wet didn’t kill all of them. The McCash Fire in Northern California came back to life, an arsonist started a fire near Lake Shasta, and two fires in Central California are still busy devouring some staggeringly ancient Sequoias. πŸ˜₯ More rain is expected early next week. Hopefully, that will knock some more stuffing out of some of these fires. πŸ™‚Β In the meantime, we’re supposed to be getting some of their smoke – but none of that seems to have arrived yet (it would be totally fine if it doesn’t – totally fine). Right now it’s more than clear enough for a short hike before we hit the road next week.

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Lake Siskiyou Loop (Mount Shasta, CA) 22-Jul-2021

For our third and last hike in the Mount Shasta area, we needed something scenic but not hard. No big elevation gains or ceaseless ups and downs. While exploring our options, we came across the loop trail around Lake Siskiyou (“Lake Sis”), which is just west of Mount Shasta. At just under 7 miles (11 km), with no appreciable changes in elevation, it was ideal for our purposes (and our diminished leg muscles). The LovedOne had determined (after extensive calculations) that, if we got started early enough and hiked energetically enough, we could reach Ashland in time for lunch at Caldera Brewing. Another pure genius moment on The LovedOne’s part. 😁

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Green Mountain (Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument) 13-Jun-2021

We made a modest donation to the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council and they sent us a newsletter, which, among other things, listed four off-beat hikes in the Monument and Soda Mountain Wilderness. We’d done three of the four but the fourth, a loop past Green Mountain (not to be confused with Green Springs Mountain) from the road to Boccard Point, was new to us. It looked like a 4 mile (6.4 km) loop that would fit neatly into the pleasant morning of a day forecast to end with clouds, wind, and rain (which it did πŸ˜€).

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Backdoor to Rhyolite Ridge (Soda Mountain Wilderness) 09-Apr-2021

Rhyolite Ridge is a bench that curves around below Point 5401 (“Rhyolite Point”) on the western edge of the Soda Mountain Wilderness. We first learned of it from William Sullivan’s Southern Oregon hiking guides. It’s a short diversion, on what was is now a much faded old ranch road, from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Going out to it gives you sweeping views of the peaks (most notably Mount Shasta) and valleys to the south. Its south-facing aspect also encourages early season emergence of some unique wildflowers such as the Dwarf Hesperochiron and Yellow Fritillary. We’ve hiked out to the Ridge several times from the PCT, as have others judging from how a single-track has now formed in the old road.

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Green Springs to Hobart (Southern Oregon) 01-Nov-2020

Today we fell back. In time that is. We may soon be falling back to the Dark Ages but that’s still to be decided. The ostensible purpose of this “falling back” and “springing forward” (Could we even do this without these catchy phrases?) is to give us more daylight in the summer months thus saving energy and reducing crime (True, you hardly ever see Time Bandits wandering around during summer.). Of course doing so completely messes with our primordial circadian rhythms (note: not a jazz quartet) leading to confusion, grumpiness, intemperate emails, and utterly artful (but still shameful) exposures during Zoom meetings. So sad. πŸ˜₯ I’ll bet the Neanderthals would still be around if they hadn’t decided that daylight saving (not savings) time would give them an extra hour to hunt cave bears (or visa versa as it apparently turned out). Frankly, I think it’s a waste of time doing all this falling and springing. Let’s just pick a time and stick with it! And damn the Time Bandits!

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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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Winter on Grizzly Peak (Oregon) 03-Jan-2020

Looking north from the viewpoint on Grizzly Peak, Oregon

Welcome to our first post of the New Year (and the new decade)! First off, we won’t be burdening you with our resolutions because there aren’t any (our contribution to the new minimalism). These noble, but ephemeral, intentions seem best at producing a January spike in diet book sales and gym memberships. So we’ll just go hiking and eat lots of plants and keep busy and not resolve to do anything special. πŸ™‚

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Sugar Lake (Russian Wilderness) 01-Oct-2019

A cold storm rolled through our area last weekend. It brought with it the first, fleeting snows of the coming winter. Elevations above 6,000 feet were nicely dusted with powdery white stuff. The storm passed. It left behind the cool, cloud-flecked, sunny weather that warms the soles of Fall hikers in our area. We decided to celebrate with a short (6.2 mile round-trip; 1,200 feet of gain) hike to Sugar Lake in Northern California’s Russian Wilderness. This beautiful little lake is nestled just below Eaton Peak over the ridge from Big Duck Lake. After Taylor Lake, Sugar is probably the easiest lake to reach in this wilderness. What makes the stroll to the lake special is your passage through the “Miracle Mile” of very high conifer diversity – some 18 species having been identified in the Sugar Creek drainage. We weren’t up to identifying them all but it was good to know they are here and that special places like this still exist. πŸ™‚

Driving directions to the trailhead abound but the trailhead itself is marked with only one small sign. Once we found the trail it was clear and easy to follow all the way to the lake. About 1.3 miles in we passed a three-rock cairn beside the trail that marks the junction with the now long-abandoned trail to South Sugar Lake. This trail last appeared on maps in 1986 and going to South Sugar now is mostly a cross-country adventure. Mushrooms have taken over for wildflowers and we spent time on the forest floor marveling at the variety of fungal colors and shapes. After reaching the lake and gazing at it admiringly, we snacked, then ambled back. This excellent day in the woods was accentuated with a simple dinner at Caldera on the way home. πŸ˜€

Starting up the Sugar Lake Trail #5584
Entering the wilderness
Fall leaves
An easy trail through a variety of conifers
Some really big fallen trees had been cut to keep the trail clear
Sugar Creek
One of the many kinds of fungus along the trail
First snow of the season!
Sugar Lake with a dusting of snow on the Salmon Mountains
Sugar Lake
Sugar Lake
Sugar Lake with clouds
The granite outcrops of Eaton Peak loom above the lake
Ponderosa abstract
Strolling back through the conifers