Snow, But No Shoes (Mt. Ashland, Oregon) 12-Dec-2018

The Mount Ashland Ski Area opened last week, with about 24 inches of snow on its upper slopes.  Our one (and only) snowshoe last winter had been a flounder-fest to the top of Mount Ashland through snow too soft and thin to keep us out of the underlying brush. We ended-up shuffling back along the plowed road. 😥 So, would there be enough snow lower down to support an out-and-back snowshoe to the Grouse Gap Shelter? Only field work could address this conundrum.

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McDonald Peak Snowshoe 30-Jan-2017

McDonald Peak 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. Thanks to plentiful snowfall these last two years (the current base is over 100 inches!), we’ve been able to use it for several snowshoe trips involving Grouse Gap Shelter and the summit of Mount Ashland.  Last December, we started out for McDonald Peak, which is west of Grouse Gap and just north of the Siskiyou Crest, but stopped short once we saw the peak enveloped in clouds.  With today predicted (correctly) to be a full bluebird day above the stagnant air clogging the valley floor, I (The LovedOne being preoccupied with sewing a sleeve on a sweater) headed up to the Sno-Park to have another go at McDonald.

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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+ºF 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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Mount Ashland Meadows 16-Aug-2016

Mount Ashland Meadows Oregon

Mount Ashland is our local ski area and this winter – thanks in large part to El Niño – there was plenty of snow and it was open on its regular winter schedule.  On the two days of the week it’s normally closed, we used the Sno-Park next to it as the starting point for three snowshoe hikes in the snow-covered forests and meadows to the west: one out-and-back to the Grouse Gap Shelter (post), one just to the summit of Mt. Ashland when a storm was rolling in, and, finally, a loop over the summit, out to the Shelter, and back partially cross-country on some steep snow (post).  But we’d never been up there in the summer!

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Mount Ashland Snowshoe 30-Mar-2016

Mount Ashland Oregon

Mount Ashland is our local ski area and also a Sno-Park.  During the last two drought years, it suffered mightily from a lack of snow – to the point where it didn’t open for skiing at all in 2015 and had to get an emergency loan to survive.  This winter – thanks in large part to El Niño – there was plenty of snow and the lifts were running on a regular schedule.  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) a snowshoe hike in the forests and snow-covered meadows to the west.

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Grouse Gap Snowshoe (Mount Ashland) 27-Jan-2016

Grouse Gap Shelter Mount Ashland Oregon

With predictions of an “atmospheric river” (one forecaster dared say “Pineapple Express”) incoming, we decided to take advantage of what sunlight remained for a quick snowshoe hike up on Mount Ashland. Unlike the last two years, when there was essentially no snow on the mountain, this year, thanks to El Niño, we have a 100-inch base!

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