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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Stein Butte (Southwest Oregon) 20-Jan-2022

Since 2014, with one fraught exception, Stein Butte has been the hike that closed out our hiking year. 2021, however, ended in the midst of a giant snow storm. Driving was treacherous. Emergency rooms (should a hike go bad) were clogged with plague victims. Even if these hadn’t been concerning issues, there was absolutely no enthusiasm for miles of post-holing up through deep drifts of fresh snow. None. So Stein was postponed.

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Windgate Pass / Bell Pass (Arizona) 15-Jan-2022

I’m trying to be diplomatic here, but we’re just not big fans of the Phoenix metroplex, regardless of how many people seem determined to move there. Or maybe all its freeways and traffic and frenetic activity are off-putting simply because we haven’t lived in a “big” city in years. How sadly provincial we must seem. Whatever. πŸ™„ But direct flights to Phoenix allow us to visit friends who live elsewhere in Arizona, so we cope with the metroplex for those friends and some hiking. 😊

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Cathedral Rock (Sedona, Arizona) 14-Jan-2022

A long, long time ago, my friend Carol and I were among a group of mountaineers centered in Los Angeles. We did a few climbs together in the Sierra Nevada and at Joshua Tree. Then life took her one way and me another. We’ve kept in touch over the years with very occasional visits – the last being during a 2017 train trip to Washington DC (where Carol was working at the time). Mostly we exchanged Christmas cards – Carol was renowned for having hers arrive by Fourth of July of the following year πŸ™„. Until her 2020 card arrived – suspiciously before Christmas – we thought she’d retired to the Delaware coast. She had but then she decided Sedona was a better deal (and closer to her daughters), so she moved. We found this out just in time to add a visit with her to this year’s Arizona trip. 😎

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Goldmine Mountain (Arizona) 13-Jan-2022

After San Xavier and Titan II, we had time for a short hike on our way into Scottsdale. San Tan Mountain Regional Park sits on the very southern edge of the Phoenix metropolitan area and features a viewpoint overlooking the southern end of greater Phoenix. We reached this county park on a mix of controlled access and country roads – we knew we were getting close to Phoenix when the traffic thickened considerably. We paid a $7 day use fee to enter and park at the park’s Phillips Road Trailhead.

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Dutch John Spring (Mount Wrightson Wilderness) 12-Jan-2022

The last time we were able to visit our friends Heidi and Bob in Arizona was in early 2020. Then the virus struck. Bob turned 100 last year πŸ˜€ and, while a bit frail, is still sharp. They are both deeply concerned about contracting the virus, so we worked out a non-contact protocol for a short visit. We stood (masked) in the their backyard, said hello to Bob through the window, and talked with Heidi (also masked) from a distance of over 10 feet (3 m). We only stayed for a half-hour or so. Not like our visits in the Before Times, but at least we got to see and talk to them in person. 😁

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Benched at Lost Creek Lake (Oregon) 09-Jan-2022

The William L. Jess Dam impounds the Rogue River about 8 miles (13 km) northeast of Shady Cove, Oregon. The resulting reservoir is called Lost Creek Lake – one whose waters rise and fall with the seasons. This is the low season and the waters are now surrounded by a magnificent ring of mud. A good trail circles the lake – part of which we’ve used repeatedly to visit the Blue Grotto on the lake’s north shore. But we’d never repeated our first hike at the lake – from Takelma Park to the Blue Grotto in 2016. Possibly because, due to a tiny navigation error on my part, it’s remembered as an epic 15 mile (24 km) slog, the mention of which still induces eye-rolls in The LovedOne. πŸ™„

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Yet Again…The Forest (Oregon) 06-Jan-2022

We were down here three years before we did our first hike in Jacksonville Forest Park. Maybe because there were so many other “bigger” hikes to do first. Maybe because we were being hiking snobs – as in: it’s just a “local” park with “short” hikes. πŸ™„ Well, that first hike soon blossomed into a love affair πŸ₯° with this little park which sees us going back there many times a year in all seasons. The trails always go to the same places but the scenery constantly changes. Water flows (or not), leaves flourish or fall, wildflowers appear, mushrooms erupt or rot, views are there (or not), critters come and go. It has become a place of both wonder and refuge. To say it has been an godsend during the recent plague years would be a vast understatement.

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Roxy Ann: Between the Storms 02-Jan-2022

We’re going to take it as a good omen that the first two days of 2022 have been the two sunniest days we’ve had here since mid-December. 😎 They were preceded by falling temperatures and howling snow storms and will shortly be followed by rising temperatures and torrents of magic sky water. 😊 Snow levels will vary, but it’s a good bet that this rain will soon send snow at lower elevations on its way to the sea. So we did a short stroll to absorb some sunshine and bid farewell to Roxy Ann’s surprisingly deep blanket of snow.

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2021 ~ Adventures with The LovedOne

Well, 2021 started out bleak, then got happier, then got sad again. This was thanks to the two V’s – variants and vaccinations. Too much of one, not enough of the other. But we survived (yet again), with The LovedOne remaining as elusively photogenic as ever. But, thanks to being vaccinated, we were able to have a few big adventures without expiring.

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Snow on the Mountain (Rogue River) 30-Dec-2021

For six of the last seven years, we’ve made a climb of Stein Butte our last hike of the year (in 2015 we hiked Squaw Butte instead – which became a snow slog of unexpectedly epic proportions πŸ™„). So we planned to revisit Stein again this year. But mighty winter storms got here first, icing the roads and dumping much, much snow almost everywhere. Our hospitals are (again) packed with plague victims πŸ˜₯ – so it’s not a good time to have an accident on slick roads. And all the snow made us think that an attempt on Stein would be a repeat of our tribulations on Squaw in 2015. Plus (Wait, there’s more!) another big storm was on its way. So we turned our thoughts to a lower and closer hike.

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