Mount Ashland (Southwest Oregon) 01-Apr-2022

Mount McLoughlin dominates the eastern horizon here, but it’s Mount Ashland (7,532 ft / 2,295 m) – with its ski area and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and wildflower meadows and views – that draws the crowds. It’s summit is not as distinctly visible as McLoughlin’s but, if you can pick out a giant white ball, you’re seeing Mount Ashland.

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Observation Peak Loop (Southwest Oregon) 16-Sep-2021

Significant rain is forecast for this coming weekend. Maybe (hopefully) it will be enough to squelch some of the wildfires still burning to our south and north. Or at least enough to flush the air clean of smoke. Fingers crossed this actually happens. 🙄

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A Moment On Big Red (Siskiyou Crest) 29-Jun-2021

In 1968 – the year I first went backpacking – the atmosphere’s CO2 content was 323 ppm (up from 285 ppm in 1850). Last month it reached 419 ppm. A 96 ppm increase in 53 years may not seem like much but, at the scale of an entire planet’s atmosphere, it’s a lot. More than enough to set in motion natural forces which are going to affect us regardless of one’s political or ideological or religious persuasion(s) or whether one believes in them or not.  In a contest between belief and atmospheric physics, bet on the physics and hang on.

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No Shoes On Siskiyou (Mount Ashland, Oregon) 31-Mar-2021

Siskiyou Peak (7,149 ft / 2,179 m) sits just south of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) about 3 miles (5 km) west of the Mount Ashland Ski Area. In the summer months, reaching it is an easy and pleasant stroll along a mellow stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) through meadows gushing with wildflowers and big views of Mount Shasta to the south. When it’s snow-covered, as it is at the moment, getting to it is more work, particularly if you’re clumping along wearing snowshoes. So we decided to give it a go today on the not completely absurd assumption that consolidated Spring snow conditions would make the journey doable sans snowshoes. Well, almost…

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Big Red (Siskiyou Crest) 04-Aug-2020

The air temperature here has eased off some – at least for a few days. There is also a little less wildfire smoke about. We decided to take advantage of this less heat / greater visibility moment. During previous hot, smokey summers, the out-and-back hike to the summit of Big Red Mountain (7,028 feet / 2,142 m) has proved restorative. This elongated lump of a mountain – think loaf of sourdough bread – lies along the Siskiyou Crest west of Mount Ashland. We typically reach its rounded top via the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from Siskiyou Gap. This is one of The LovedOne’s favorite hikes – offering as it does open meadows, shady forest patches, wildflowers, rocky outcrops, cavorting chipmunks, and views with a breeze. It’s also short – a feature that would allow us to finish it before the heat of the day arrived.

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A Cold Day on Big Red 09-Oct-2019

We got our first snow a few days ago. Not too much. Just an inch or less above 6,000 feet. But enough for turn our thoughts toward old snowshoes and a new Sno-Park pass. Before things went that far (and this thin snow evaporated), we decided to see what an old favorite – Big Red Mountain – was like with a dusting of snow.

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Big Red Mountain (Siskiyou Crest) 13-Jul-2018

Big Red Mountain Siskiyou Crest Oregon

Last August we enjoyed a hike along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) to Big Red Mountain as a brief respite from the smoke and excessive heat then plaguing the valley floor.  Today found us once again on a hike to Big Red trying to beat excessive heat, which had arrived some weeks earlier this year. Despite Big Red Mountain’s 7,064-foot elevation and an early start, we could feel the heat right from the trailhead at Siskiyou Gap. Fortunately, it’s a scenic, but short, hike, so we were done with it before the heat got really oppressive. The winter of 2017 had been wet and snowy and had put enough moisture in the soil to support thick fields of white Beargrass along the trail for our hike that year. This year we found only dry stalks – either this winter had been too dry or we were too early for the blooms. But a cute family of ground squirrels and some colorful butterflies stepped-up in place of the absent Beargrass to fill our Nature quota for this hike. We were also fortunate to have blue, cloud-enhanced skies on the hike out, as opposed to the milky overcast we labored under on the way back. Overall, an excellent short hike – one well worth doing at different times of the year (when Forest Road 20 is open).

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Hiking the Mule Mountain Loop from Above 19-Nov-2017

Mule Mountain Mule Creek Trails Oregon

The Mule Mountain Trail (USFS #919) used to be one of the most popular trails in the Upper Applegate Valley. Then the Forest Service lost its easement through private property to the low-altitude start of the trail on public land. The Forest Service’s suggested alternative, the Charlie Buck/Baldy Peak Trail (USFS #918), starts higher up, where it might be closed by snow in the winter, and involves a heart-wrenching 1,200 feet of gain in its first mile from its northern trailhead! Having done this before (post), I thought it might be easier to reach the Mule Mountain and Mule Creek (USFS #920) Trails from the #918’s southern trailhead at the end of Forest Road (FR) 2010-300.  There was just time to give this a try ahead of an incoming  stretch of hiking-unfriendly weather. The LovedOne has always maintained that hiking should be fun rather than character building, so she buried further under the covers and offered up a muffled “good luck with that” as I headed off into the freezing fog outside our garage.

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Split Rock Trail (Ashland, Oregon) 28-Oct-2017

Split Rock Trail Ashland Oregon

I first became aware of this trail from a 2013 Ashland Hiking Group post and then later found it posted as that on the Hiking Project.  In both posts, the trail was described as indistinct, brushy, and hard to follow in places.  Yet I could see it as part of a hike and bike loop – perhaps the last one of the 2017 summer season – involving it, Forest Roads 20 and 22, and the Wagner Butte Trail. So I girded myself for some bushwhacking and route-finding and set-off on a perfect bluebird day to explore this variation on the classic hike to Wagner Butte.  As this loop progressed, I would be pleasantly surprised to find that the Ashland trails plan that has been in the works for years had finally come to fruition for this tread.

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A Day in the Snow (Mount Ashland, Oregon) 16-Dec-2016

Mount Ashland Oregon

Mount Ashland is our local ski area and also a Sno-Park.  Thanks to the ski area, the Sno-Park, despite its being at 6,600 feet, is usually readily accessible with little, if any, winter driving drama.  The two days of the week when the ski area is closed is a perfect time to use the Sno-Park as the starting point for cross-country skiing or (in our case) snowshoeing on the forested slopes and snow-covered meadows along the Siskiyou Crest to the west.  Last winter (2015-16), thanks to the plentiful snow brought by an El Niño, we were able to do several snowshoe trips from here to the Grouse Gap Shelter, Grouse Creek, and the summit of Mount Ashland (post).  A La Niña (El Niño’s flip side) now seems to be settling in, bringing with it substantial early season snow (the ski area opened a week early) and starting the winter of 2016-17 toward (we hope!) being as much frozen fun as was last winter!

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Siskiyou Loop Road (Forest Road 20) 21-Aug-2016

Siskiyou Crest Drive Forest Road 20 Oregon

The recent run of 100+ÂşF days on the valley floor has been sapping our enthusiasm for hiking, even at altitude.  It hasn’t been cooling off as much at night, so even elevations above 6,000 feet have been getting pretty warm before noon.  So, if actual hiking wasn’t an appealing option, then we could at least drive around and look for places to hike once the weather moderated.  The drive we chose is called (at least by the U.S. Forest Service) “The Siskiyou Loop” (USFS brochure).  The most interesting, and largely unpaved, part of this loop is Forest Road 20 (FR 20), which runs along the scenic crest of the rugged Siskiyou Mountains between the Applegate Valley to the west and Mount Ashland to the east. FR 20 provides access to several trailheads along the crest – including the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in several places.

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