There is a story, possibly apocryphal, of the distinguished British biologist, J.B.S. Haldane, who found himself in the company of a group of theologians. On being asked what one could conclude as to the nature of the Creator from a study of his creation, Haldane is said to have answered, “An inordinate fondness for beetles.”
“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it. The river was cut by the world’s great flood and runs over rocks from the basement of time. On some of the rocks are timeless raindrops. Under the rocks are the words, and some of the words are theirs. I am haunted by waters.”~ Norman Maclean
Last July, I did an out-and-back hike in the Sky Lakes Wilderness from the Nannie Creek trailhead (USFS TH) to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). At the time, it occurred to me that I could use the PCT to loop around Luther Mountain and down past a few of the lakes in the Sky Lakes Basin that we hadn’t visited before. This wilderness, despite its more than 200 pools of water, good camping, and easy hiking, has a deservedly fearsome reputation for hoards of ravenous mosquitos in July and August. But on a crisp, sunny, clear day in early October, with all of these winged pests gone to whatever reward awaits them, there is simply no better place to hike in Southern Oregon. Unfortunately, its also the ideal time for Fall planting and gardening, so my attempts to lure the LovedOne from her botanical tasks failed and I was (once again) left to face the wilderness alone (double sigh).
The Upper Rogue River Trail (USFS #1034) is a National Recreation Trail that closely follows the Rogue River for about 47 miles from its headwaters at Boundary Springs in the northwest corner of Crater Lake National Park to the North Fork Dam Recreation Area outside Prospect, Oregon. The trail can be day hiked in sections between readily accessible trailheads. Today we finished the last section – from River Bridge Campground to the North Fork Dam Recreation Area – of our effort to hike the entire length of the #1034, section by section. As with a previous section, we again went from south to north to accommodate a hike & bike approach.
The Upper Rogue River Trail (USFS #1034) is a National Recreation Trail that closely follows the Rogue River for about 47 miles from its headwaters at Boundary Springs in the northwest corner of Crater Lake National Park to to the North Fork Dam Recreation Area outside Prospect, Oregon. The trail can be day hiked in sections between readily accessible trailheads. Today I finished another section – from Foster Creek to Hamaker Campground, going from south to north to accommodate a hike & bike approach. The LovedOne had a doctor’s appointment plus she was concerned that this section would be the same unmaintained mess as was the Foster Creek to Big Bend section (post), so I was on my own for this one.
Yamsay Mountain is a huge, sprawling (and fortunately now dormant) shield volcano with a glacier-carved crater on its northeast side. It sits 35 miles due east of Crater Lake National Park, at the border of Klamath and Lake Counties. Yet, despite its height and size (it covers 75 square miles), Yamsay is barely visible above the surrounding hills and forests. What makes it interesting as a hike is its size: it’s #73 on the list of Oregon’s highest peaks, #15 of the peaks that share a history of Cascade Range volcanism, and #14 on the list of Oregon’s most prominent peaks (where prominence is the elevation of a summit relative to the surrounding terrain). All this listing makes the peak attractive to peakbaggers and view-obsessed hikers (like us). It’s also a popular winter cross-country ski route. And the recent placement of a geocache near the summit has attracted yet another group of visitors (Yamsay geocache). So it’s a bit obscure but not unpopular.
Last year, we did a loop hike along Thielsen Creek in the Mount Thielsen Wilderness. Our report on this (post) triggered some comments about the spring (shown on the USGS and USFS topo maps for this area) in the large pumice basin immediately east of Mount Thielsen. So, last week, we explored a cross-country path from the Howlock Mountain trailhead to Thielsen Meadows on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and then up to the Sawtooth Ridge overlooking the pumice basin – it’s actually called Cottonwood Creek Basin and is an area with unique botanical species (post). At that time we decided not to press on down into the Basin to actually see the spring. It was the right decision then but it left unfinished the business of actually seeing this fabled spring. So yesterday I went back up there to rectify this situation.
Nine days after this hike, I hiked over the Sawtooth Ridge and across Cottonwood Creek Basin to Cottonwood Creek Springs and Cottonwood Creek Falls, as described HERE.
The 55,151 acre Mount Thielsen Wilderness runs along the crest of the Cascades from the southern end of the Oregon Cascades Recreation Area to just north of Crater Lake National Park. Elevations range from 5,000 feet to the 9,182 foot summit of Mount Thielsen. Born of the same volcanic activity that created Crater Lake, this is an area with a seriously tortured geology. Last year, we did two hikes in this wilderness, one a loop from the Howlock Mountain trailhead (USFS), up the Howlock Mountain trail (USFS #1448) to the Thielsen Creek trail (USFS #1449) and up that to the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). We then took the PCT south to the Mount Thielsen trail (USFS #1456), followed the #1456 west to its junction with the Sprague Ridge trail (USFS #1458) and took the #1458 back to the Howlock Mountain trail and the trailhead. It was screaming hot that day, so this became known as the Beau Geste hike (post). About a month later (and on a much cooler day), I did a trail and cross-country hike to Tipsoo Peak (USFS #1472) and the eastern summit of Howlock Mountain, again using a piece of the PCT to make a loop (post). An upshot from this hike was a question about the spring (what we’re calling “Cottonwood Creek Spring” since it appears to be the source of Cottonwood Creek) in the large pumice basin immediately east of Mount Thielsen.
The Sky Lakes Wilderness stretches for 113, 835 acres along the crest of the volcanic Cascade Mountains from the border of Crater Lake National Park on the north to State Highway 140 in the south. As its name implies, it encompasses a large number of named and unnamed lakes arrayed in three major lake (former glacial) basins, from Seven Lakes Basin in the north, to Sky Lakes Basin (including the Dwarf Lakes) in the center, to Blue Canyon Basin in the south. Fourmile Lake and Mount McLoughlin lie south of Blue Canyon Basin, on the southern border of the wilderness. More than 200 pools of water, from mere ponds to lakes of 30 to 40 acres, dot the landscape. Fourmile Lake exceeds 900 acres. Despite its fearsome reputation for hordes of ravenous mosquitos in July and August, we have done more than a few summer hikes here – including scrambles to the summits of Mt. McLoughlin and Devils Peak – since first moving to Southern Oregon. Our hike last year in via the Nannie Creek trailhead was cut short when The LovedOne’s knee started acting up (post), so we had some unfinished business with exploring the Sky Lakes Basin from that particular entry point. But, unable to convince her that a hike through mosquitos in hotter than usual temperatures would somehow be FUN, I was left to face the wilderness alone (sigh).
The Upper Rogue River Trail (USFS #1034) is a National Recreation Trail that closely follows the Rogue River for about 47 miles from its headwaters at Boundary Springs in the northwest corner of Crater Lake National Park to to the North Fork Dam Recreation Area outside Prospect, Oregon. The trail can be day hiked in sections between readily accessible trailheads. Today we did the ~8 mile section from Natural Bridge Campground, past Woodruff Bridge and the Takelma Gorge, to River Bridge Campground. Unlike other sections of this trail, the trail here was great – and the Takelma Gorge (which we hadn’t visited before) was an amazing sight!