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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A Stroll in the Snow (Denman Wildlife Area) 26-Dec-2021

We did our last hike about a week ago in anticipation of big winter storms. For once we got the timing right as shortly thereafter mighty snows blanketed our surrounding mountains, with some snow even reaching the valley floor! This weather extravaganza, mixed with the usual holiday diversions, kept us limited to snowy walks around the neighborhood.

So we had a very comfy, at home, non-traveling Christmas. 😁 Sofie (our cat) and the tree coexisted, with no damage to either. The traditional dinner was deliciously excessive (for us at least). We’re facing caloric offsets in the form of rice cakes in the week ahead. πŸ˜’ But we had a White Christmas, for the first time in 33 years! So, done and done! But no, wait, it’s still snowing and snowing and seemingly will be doing so for the next few days. Looks like we ordered the deluxe White Christmas package by mistake! And it’s too late to return it! 😲

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Deming~Wolf Gap Loop (Southwest Oregon) 17-Dec-2021

The full conditions we “enjoyed” recently on Roxy Ann brought enough snow – at least to the high country above 6,000 feet (1,829 m) – for our local ski area to open tomorrow. 😊 More storms are expected next week, hopefully bringing more rain πŸ™‚ and more snow 😁 to our still parched region. So we wanted to do a longer hike before being confined to quarters by these oncoming Winter storms. Something long but not too hard, with little or no snow, no cross-country, and no anxiety (Lord knows there’s enough of that going around these days) about route finding. The nearby Sterling Mine Ditch Trail came immediately to mind. πŸ˜ƒ

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Roxy Ann: Full Conditions 15-Dec-2021

The highest point in Scotland is Ben Nevis. At 1,345 m (4,413 ft), it’s not as tall as some mountains but, at 56Β° N, its gullies (and those on other Scottish mountains) “…presented a fearsome, icy sight in winter.” It was in these sinuous and confining gullies that the Scots, lead by the legendary Tom Patey, ushered in ice climbing’s modern era. At those more northerly latitudes, winter storms howling down out of the Arctic can beleaguer the poor ice climber with what came to be termed full conditions. πŸ₯Ά I’ve climbed in such conditions and do not recall the experience as being “fun” by any measure used by a sane person.

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Songer Butte (Ashland, Oregon) 10-Dec-2021

The first major storm of winter is apparently heading our way. Not to get all excited or anything but snow deeper than a tall snail might be in the offing. We wanted to get in a hike before this snowy tsunami arrives. Plan A – Spence Mountain – was shelved because a long hike on a short day ahead of a storm seemed like a sub-optimal idea. Plan B – some explorations at Lower Table Rock – was pulled because dense fog clogged both the valley and the Rock. Plan C – Songer Butte – became a go when we saw sunlight on the traffic camera near it. Plan C also featured the strong selling point of lunch at Caldera Brewing in Ashland. πŸ€—

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Roxy Ann: Light + Fog 07-Dec-2021

Thus far, the powerful atmospheric rivers of wet and wind have all passed to our north. This has left the Bear Creek and Rogue River Valleys mired in fog and stagnant air for days and days. But nearby Roxy Ann Peak often pokes through these mists into sunshine. This morning we had time for a quick exercise walk around the peak’s loop road – which today circumscribed the border between the light above and the fog below. This walk on Pearl Harbor Day proved to be a spectral experience in an otherwise familiar landscape.

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Boccard~Soda Loop (Soda Mountain Wilderness) 03-Dec-2021

After two days of heavy lifting and organizing, a swarm of volunteers (me included) got the library’s long-delayed used book sale ready to go. It’s not technically a sale, as the books are free, but donations are readily accepted. The LovedOne spent today there with other volunteers, running around keeping the cellulose moving out the door. Seems there was a pent-up demand for books (Why would that be?) and donations on this first day were particularly generous. 😁 The sale continues tomorrow and hopefully so will the donations – which are used to fund some of the library’s reading and outreach projects.

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Back to Big Red (Siskiyou Mountains) 29-Nov-2021

The county library’s long delayed used book sale will be held this Friday and Saturday. 😁 But the setting up, running, and taking down of it (all done by volunteers) will consume Wednesday through Sunday. I’ll be helping for two of those days but The LovedOne, as the sale’s organizer, will be all in for all five days. Right now, the weather is foggy on the ground and sunny higher up, but that’s expected to change the day after the sale ends. πŸ€” So I figured we’d better get in a hike together in good weather before the sale hits. Which brought us, yet again, to Big Red Mountain (7,028 ft / 2,142 m) west of Mount Ashland.

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Thanksgiving in the Forest 25-Nov-2021

With Christmas just ahead, we’ve always treated Thanksgiving as a secular occasion. Given all the issues in the world these days, it’s helpful to have a day to reflect on some good things you’re thankful for – whatever they might be. I’m always thankful, as a cancer survivor, for simply being alive and relatively intact. As a couple, we’re thankful for the 30+ years we’ve shared together. And we’re both thankful for our few, stalwart, life-long friends – real ones who’ve made the adventures we’ve had together just that much more interesting.

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Horseshoe Ranch I (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 21-Nov-2021

Although most of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is inside Oregon, the Monument’s expansion in 2017 brought the Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area in Northern California inside its boundary. Horseshoe Ranch covers about 9,100 acres (3,682 ha) of rolling to steep hills festooned with shrubs, oaks, and conifers surrounding Scotch and Slide Creeks and several of their tributaries. Its northern boundary abuts the Soda Mountain Wilderness. As its name suggests, this wildlife area was a working cattle ranch from 1908 to about 1976.

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Porcupine Mountain (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 17-Nov-2021

After we returned from our adventures in Death Valley, The LovedOne threw herself into preparing for the library’s big used book clearance sale – the first one in almost two years (Yeah! πŸ˜ƒ). Lots of books have piled up in those two years, so getting ready has (temporarily) taken her out of action for hiking (Sigh πŸ˜₯). But it’s for a good cause – people get affordable books to read and the library gets some additional funds. That said, today was forecast as a day between storms, so I decided to make use of it for a hike. Porcupine Mountain, which sits just north of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), offers an easy hike with big views. It seemed like a good choice for a morning’s hike.

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