Big Kitty on the PCT (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 09-Apr-2022

After two days of warm, almost summer-like weather, it’s beginning to look as though a late season, multi-day rain and snow extravaganza is heading toward us. This atmospheric excitement is supposed to start tomorrow and continue well into next week. It won’t be shorts weather for awhile, but we can sure use the water. 😂

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Buck Rock Tunnel (Ashland, Oregon) 28-Feb-2022

The Buck Rock Tunnel is one of the most visible remnants of a rail line that was never built. It was to be part of the Oregon & California (O&C) Railroad Company’s planned route over the Siskiyou Pass and into California. Construction began in 1883, using Chinese labor, and ceased, with the tunnel only partially dug, in 1884. The O&C was acquired soon thereafter by the Southern Pacific (SP) Railroad, who put tracks over the pass via a different route. The Buck Rock Tunnel then sat abandoned and nearly forgotten until a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employee rediscovered it in 1966. As an important piece of Southern Oregon history, it became part of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in 2014.

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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 Ridge and down along Scotch 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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Horseshoe Ranch I (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 21-Nov-2021

Although most of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is inside Oregon, the Monument’s expansion in 2017 brought the Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area in Northern California inside its boundary. Horseshoe Ranch covers about 9,100 acres (3,682 ha) of rolling to steep hills festooned with shrubs, oaks, and conifers surrounding Scotch and Slide Creeks and several of their tributaries. Its northern boundary abuts the Soda Mountain Wilderness. As its name suggests, this wildlife area was a working cattle ranch from 1908 to about 1976.

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Porcupine Mountain (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 17-Nov-2021

After we returned from our adventures in Death Valley, The LovedOne threw herself into preparing for the library’s big used book clearance sale – the first one in almost two years (Yeah! 😃). Lots of books have piled up in those two years, so getting ready has (temporarily) taken her out of action for hiking (Sigh 😥). But it’s for a good cause – people get affordable books to read and the library gets some additional funds. That said, today was forecast as a day between storms, so I decided to make use of it for a hike. Porcupine Mountain, which sits just north of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), offers an easy hike with big views. It seemed like a good choice for a morning’s hike.

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A Brush With Vulture (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 31-Oct-2021

Three peaks straddle the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) due east of Oregon’s Howard Prairie Lake: Brush Mountain (with north and south summits), Old Baldy, and rocky Point 6054 (known locally as “Vulture Rock“). Point 6054 was never the site of a Forest Service fire lookout, while Old Baldy hosted one between 1924 and 1961, and two sat atop Brush Mountain between 1915 and 1930. The lookout on Brush Mountain’s northern summit was probably one of the most unusual ever allowed by the U.S. Forest Service:

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Little Hyatt Loop (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 12-Sep-2021

The fires to the north and south of us are still burning but with less vigor. Magic sky water is predicted for later this week. If it arrives, it will (hopefully) hasten the end of what has been a truly nasty fire season here and in Northern California. Many of these fires were lightning caused. That’s unwanted but natural. But the cause of the River Complex Fire – which burned across trails we’ve enjoyed in the northern Trinity Alps 😢 – has been traced to an untended campfire. A CAMPFIRE! What kind of thoughtless idiot lights a campfire on a windy red flag day during a drought?! 🤬 Human stupidity seems to be our only infinitely renewable resource. 🤪

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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 😀).

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A Major Tom Descent (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 26-May-2021

Much of this hike is on private land managed by the Selberg Institute – you’ll need to contact them for permission to traverse this area.


Sometimes the inspiration for a hike (if hikes can be inspired) comes from several different sources. In 2018, the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council announced they would lead a shuttled trip from a Sound of Music starting point west of Tom Spring Mountain (5,191 feet / 1,582 m), cross-country down the ridge between Cattle and Sampson creeks to lower Sampson Creek just above Emigrant Lake – essentially a traverse of the Sampson Creek Preserve. We tried to sign-up but the trip was already full. Next year we said, as if the future was going to roll out gently before us. 🙄

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Parsnip Lakes (Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument) 23-May-2021

The weather for our hike on the Rogue River Trail had been warm but otherwise wonderful. However, the day after we returned, the weather did a complete reversal, closing in for several days with much lower temperatures, high wind, clouds, sporadic rain, a dash of hail, and general gloom. Snow fell at the higher elevations and stuck. In the middle of May? So time was spent finishing (ha!) a DIY landscaping project, working, volunteering, and doing exercise hikes. When a nice day was forecast, we made plans to return to the trail.

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Box O Ranch Loop (Soda Mountain Wilderness) 15-Apr-2021

Oregon’s Soda Mountain Wilderness is divided into two sections by a high-voltage power line. The western section got the few trails in this wilderness; the eastern section got none. Which, of course, spawned our interest in exploring it. We did a short hike from Randcore Pass to Rosebud Mountain (Rosebud! Rosebud!) in 2017 and then a loop from the pass to the old Box O Ranch in 2018. These explorations were done by connecting old and fading roads with a little cross-country travel. During our loop in 2018, uncertainty about the location of the wilderness’ eastern boundary got us to climb a rocky ridge we didn’t need to climb. True, we got a view of Mount McLoughlin, but it wasn’t worth the effort. Map gazing (and a download of the wilderness boundaries) suggested a lower, easier path for part of the loop. We went out today to explore this revised loop.

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