Backdoor to Bolt Mountain (Southwest Oregon) 25-Feb-2022

Sometime in 1939, my mother moved to London from her small hometown in Scotland. She probably looked forward to an exciting life in the big city after a constrained one in the provinces. It just turned-out to be “exciting” in a very bad way. War had been in the air for awhile but after “peace in our time” people thought they’d dodged the proverbial bullet. Then the Nazis manufactured an excuse to invade Poland and WWII was off and running.

Mom stayed in London for the whole war – through the threat of invasion, the nightly bombings of the Blitz, the V1s, the V2s, and the arrival of the Americans (one of whom was an Army Air Corp officer – my dad). Neither she nor he ever spoke much about WWII – they weren’t an overly talkative generation when it came to that. But I nevertheless picked-up some sense of what they – and millions of others at that time – had been through at the hands of an evil aggressor.

So there was just a little déjà vu as we watched Russia go on and on about not invading Ukraine (“peace in our time” for the 21st Century) and then manufacture a reason (Ukrainians are Nazis!) for doing just that. Supposedly serious people were shocked! shocked! that this could happen. Mom and dad are gone now, but I don’t think they’d have been too shocked to see yet another dictator decide to simply take what he wanted – or at least try to in the face of stiff opposition. I can only hope that supposedly serious people get over being shocked and get on with helping the Ukrainians fight for their freedom and sovereignty.

Hiking (along with a host of other recreational activities) is a triviality in comparison to war. Not that was it ever meant to be serious. It’s simply a pleasure, a diversion, one that eases the anxiety and stress that comes from seeing the world convulse. Maybe by releasing natural endorphins or something.

I needed a brief break from watching Putin try (try!) to dismantle Ukraine. So, with The LovedOne busy at the library (where cellulose fumes apparently substitute for endorphins), I headed to Bolt Mountain (2,180 ft / 667 m) near Grants Pass to finally hike it on a clear and sunny 😎 day. All our previous hikes of it having been plagued by clouds, fog, drizzle, and gloom. 😞

The official trail starts from Fish Hatchery Park ($5 day use fee) but you can also approach from Stringer Gap (no fee). This is the backdoor to Bolt. Two old roads and a web of mountain biker use trails radiate from the Gap – many of these loop back on themselves and do not go to Bolt. But the old road going south and then west eventually becomes a single-track trail that connects with the official trail to Bolt at about 1,600 feet (488 m).

Starting out on one of the old roads
Sunshine on an old road
The eastern side (arrow) of Bolt Mountain comes into view
Along the south side of Bolt
A handmade sign marks the junction with the official trail
On the official trail
Looking at a giant clearcut to the west
On the north side of Bolt
Approaching the summit ridge
The top of Bolt Mountain – in sunshine for the first time!
Looking to the southeast through some smoke haze
Looking west toward the Siskiyou Crest
Grants Pass to the northeast
Heading back
Sunlight and shadows
Spring Gold – another early season wildflower
Back on the old road

From the Gap to Bolt and back came to 5.4 miles (8.6 km) with 1,000 feet (305 m) of elevation gain. This was a good break. Then it was back to watching evil try to defeat freedom. More storms are supposedly headed our way so maybe by early next week we’ll be all wet. 😁

My double lollipop hike to and from Bolt

Cathedral Hills Park (Oregon) 26-Jan-2022

We had a huge, intense dump of snow over the Christmas holidays. Rejoicing ensued – as this was seen as the start of the promised (and much needed) wet, cold La Niña winter. 😃 Then high pressure settled in – there has been no precipitation, much less snow, for three weeks. 😥 All the snow and cold has skipped over us and gone East, where it won’t be as appreciated as it would be here. A faint odor of trepidation as to the moistness of our future hangs in the air. We need gloomy weather rather than to be gloomy about the weather. It also doesn’t help that, in the spirit of ” fair and balanced” (cue some sarcasm 😏), we got online subscriptions to both the New York Times and the National Review. These weather worries and too much left/right doomscrolling are starting to make our metaphorical glass seem less than half full.

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Again to the Hills (Grants Pass, Oregon) 29-Jan-2021

This is a replacement for an earlier version of this post that had to be retired due to erratic behavior. 😥

After my hike in Cathedral Hills two weeks ago, I promised to come back with The Loved One, start at a different trailhead, and do all of the loops. Today, after several days of welcome rain and snow (welcome around here at least), that promise was fulfilled. Capitalizing on a break in the weather and in The Loved One’s library volunteer schedule, we started from the Skycrest Trailhead (we’ve always started from the Espey Trailhead in the past) and strolled around the Skycrest, Wild Rose, and Outback Loops. The cloudy day squelched the few big views these trails offer. So, when I wasn’t trying to keep up with The LovedOne, my gaze went (again) to the little things near the forest floor. The LovedOne did her share of little thing gazing too. Overall, this excellent leg stretch on great trails came to 7.3 miles (11.7 km) with 1,350 feet (412 m) of gain. As usual, the sun 😎 didn’t appear until just before we got back to the trailhead.

Starting out on the Skycrest Trail
Madrone abstract
On the Skycrest Loop
Madrone abstract
An old oak leaf hangs on
A tiny lichen and moss garden fills a cleft in a madrone
Bone lichen
Near the Walker Trail
Mushroom and leaves
An orange jelly fungus sags
Wood grain in a madrone
Listening for birds on the Backside Loop
A pond in a leaf
Moldy madrone leaves
On the Wild Rose Loop
New life from an old madrone
Mushroom and tiny leaves
Droplets and whiskers
On the Outback Loop
Stacked tree fungus
Back to the trailhead
Madrone abstract
The clouds parted over Grants Pass 10 minutes before we finished the hike 🙄
We hiked all the parts of Cathedral Hills

Return to the Hills (Grants Pass, Oregon) 11-Jan-2021

Young 2021 seems to be off to a, uh – difficult – start. The Big V is still raging, vac jabs are in short supply, political anarchy is lurking about, and a pathetic fantasist is pouting. 😦 But this sea of troubles is out there. In here, we’re going for a little walk through little bits of Nature in a little local park (no, not that park, a different one). Are we thus unmindful of the world’s travails? Are we just pollyannas on the trail? Well, no, we’ve never been accused of excessive optimism. We just figure that you can read or hear about the world’s troubles in plenty of other places. No need for that here too. Our posts are, hopefully, just little respites. Think of them as taking up arms against that sea of troubles. 🙂

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Bolt Mountain (Southwest Oregon) 24-Nov-2020

Bolt Mountain (2,241 ft / 683 m) pops-up just southwest of Grants Pass, Oregon. Access to it is managed jointly by Josephine Country Parks ($5/day parking fee) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). It’s a low-altitude hike (6.6 miles (10.3 km); with 1,270 feet (387 m) of gain) that we typically save for early winter when the weather is dubious and there’s not yet enough recreational snow at higher altitudes. There are supposedly good views from its summit. But we have yet to coordinate our visits with clear days. Thus we have gotten some excellent views of dreary grayness. Today’s hike up Bolt was no exception. A good hike to murky views. Of course, as we were driving home the clouds parted and sunlight burst forth. Oh, the irony! Oh! Oh! 🙄

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Mountain of the Rogue (Oregon) 11-Mar-2020

Today was a grand conflation of an absolutely perfect day for a hike with no duties for The LovedOne at the library. Yes, Dorothy, there are (small) miracles. Jennifer introduced me to the Mountain of the Rogue trail system in 2018 and I’ve done several hikes there since – just not with The LovedOne. So today we set out to remedy that omission.

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Dollar Mountain (Southern Oregon) 24-May-2019

Dollar Mountain rises just to the west of downtown Grants Pass, Oregon. The hike to its summit from the trailhead on B Street is short but a little steep in places (2 miles round-trip; 800 feet of gain). The summit isn’t really the point here since it’s graced with a delightfully obnoxious communications tower and there are no views from there. Those can be had from openings along the trail as it climbs through a beautiful oak and manzanita forest. If you time it right (we just missed the peak of the bloom) there will be an understory of wildflowers to distract you.

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Mountain of the Rogue (Rogue River, Oregon) 06-Oct-2018

Mountain of the Rogue Rogue River Oregon

Jennifer – a friend and former co-worker (now retired too) – was in town to celebrate her dad’s 91st birthday 🙂 and wanted to get in a short hike before the festivities started. With The LovedOne fully involved (over-volunteered) with the library’s quarterly book sale, I was available for a hike too. Jen suggested the Mountain of the Rogue, a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) trail system not far from where her parents live. I hadn’t been there before and a new trail is always interesting. 

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Sorry Hike, But Nice Flowers (Selma, Oregon) 11-Mar-2018

Illinois River Deer Creek Selma Oregon

We awoke under an overcast sky to find an hour missing from our lives (actually just borrowed – it would be returned in the Fall). All of the electronics in the house already knew this and had pro-actively deducted that hour for us. Something eerie about this – a wisp of the Singularity? But at least we didn’t have to remember how to reset our few remaining digital clocks (…push the left button twice, while simultaneously holding the middle button down, then push…). Anyway, we responded to this sleep deprivation from the onset of Daylight Savings Time by picking a new (to us) hike right out of a guidebook. The hike’s write-up did warn us that it would be along a road that gets really rough, but we’d be going along the scenic Illinois River, so how bad could it be?

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Cathedral Hills Park (Grants Pass, Oregon) 05-Feb-2017

Cathedral Hills Park Grants Pass Oregon

It was the driest of times; it was the moistest of times.  Well, mostly moistest lately.  So when the forecast shifted abruptly to “possibly clear” for the morrow’s morning and early afternoon, we felt compelled to seize the moment.  But what moment and where?  After consulting the oracles (and Glenn & Carol’s website), it was decided that we should make our first visit to the 400 acre Cathedral Hills Park just southwest of Grants Pass, Oregon.  Using the park’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) map, we sketched out a double lollipop with the Skycrest Loop to the north, the Outback Loop in the middle, and the Wild Rose Loop to the south.

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Whisky Creek Cabin (Rogue River Trail) 13-Jan-2017

Whiskey Creek Cabin Rogue River Trail Oregon

Whisky Creek Cabin is the oldest known still standing mining cabin in the remote lower Rogue River canyon. It sits just above the iconic Rogue River Trail (BLM, USFS, Our Trip) about 3.5 miles downstream of the put-in at Grave Creek. It makes a great goal for a moderate and educational dayhike in all but the summer months, when it can be brutally hot in the canyon. With the remnants of the Great Storm of 2017 (now referred to locally as the “Big Dump”) still stifling access to higher elevations, we figured, based on a previous hike there (post), that the Rogue River Trail, which is south-facing and at an elevation of only 600 feet, would allow us to do a snow-free out-and-back hike to the cabin. The drive over to the trailhead was on roads disconcertingly lined with a foot or more of snow but when we got to Grave Creek, we found it and the trail almost entirely clear of snow! The added bonus for hiking at this time of year was a chance to see the Rogue at high water – it had come down some since being in flood just two days ago but was still impressively high.

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