Flowing Through the Forest (Southwest Oregon) 22-Mar-2022

As of today, and despite a snow dump earlier and a few passing storms more recently, our water year precipitation is still 26% below normal (a term I now use with caution). We’d need almost 10 inches (254 mm) of rain by April 1st to make up the difference and end the drought. Even The LovedOne – a classic glass half full optimist – is becoming reconciled to that (short of an extremely wayward hurricane) not happening. After all, you need something to fill that glass with. We’re bracing for a long, hot, dry summer… 😰

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A Good, Cold Walk… (Southwest Oregon) 23-Feb-2022

A forecast “big” storm actually rolled through our area over the past few days. It brought a lot more cold than water (we’re still 27% below historical normal precipitation 😥) but was welcome nonetheless. Then it was gone and the sun popped back out. While the valley floor got only a light (very light) dusting of snow, 8 inches (20 cm) had fallen up on Mount Ashland. So we surmised that there might be some snow on the trails in Forest Park. Inquiring minds wanted to know…

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Woodlands & Sunshine (Oregon) 01-Feb-2022

Our faithful readers know that we make frequent visits to nearby Jacksonville Forest Park. Very frequent. But not so much so to its literally across-the-street cousin – the Jacksonville Woodlands. The trails in the Woodlands are shorter, less hilly, and usually busier than those in the Forest. They are also more of an urban experience as they wend through and around private land and past people’s houses. We’ve gone there only on occasion, mostly to look (thus far in vain) for a rare lily – the Gentner Fritillary. But as now is the absolute nadir of anything wildflower, our goal on this cold, clear, sunny day was simply to log 5 miles (8 km) worth of exercise. Which we did and it was good. 😊

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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. 🙄 Well, that first hike soon blossomed into a love affair 🥰 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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Trails of Leaves (Jacksonville, Oregon) 08-Oct-2021

We have a few higher altitude hikes planned for before (hopefully) the snow flies. But we have other plans for next week that we don’t want to mess-up by doing a face-plant on some remote trail. So back to Jacksonville Forest Park for the first time since our smoke-challenged August. This is another quiet time in the forest – no wildflowers, few mushrooms, just a trickle in Jackson Creek (and even that is amazing considering the drought). Fall colors are starting. Some trees have already shared their leaves with the trail, while most of those on the big-leaf maples are still hanging on. But the inexorable march of the seasons will soon, so soon, strew the trail with their leaves too.

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The Air We Breathe (Jacksonville Forest) 31-Aug-2021

Days of smoke. Days of smoke. One of our local TV weather people, who (being from the traditional always put a happy face on the weather school of forecasting) has, for weeks, only mentioned smoke in passing. This week they finally caved and got a set of smoke symbols for their nightly forecast. ☁ That’s how bad things have become. Wildfire smoke will likely plague our valley until either rain kills the fires raging north and south of us or there are no forests left to burn. 😥

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Crispy is the Forest (Jacksonville, Oregon) 14-Jul-2021

Well, this year’s trifecta of oppressive heat, foul smoke, and destructive conflagration got off to an early, and strong, start. Air temperatures over 100°F (37°C) in late May and onward from there. And it looks like this trifecta is going to be with us for awhile. 😢 If we want a shot at hiking in clearer air and cooler temperatures, we’ll have to go high and hope that the ever shifting winds don’t push smoke at us.

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Hot in the Forest (Jacksonville, Oregon) 01-Jun-2021

We did our hike of Tom Spring Mountain just five days ago. The temperature then was warm (80°F / 26.6°C) but manageable. Today it’s headed to 104°F (40°C); if it makes it that far, it’ll break a record set in 1924. Great weather for worrying about wildfires – we’ve had several so far but none (thankfully) very big. Not great weather for hiking. Seems a bit much for the first of June, but the weather is officially warmer these days. :/ Still, we figured with an early start and a judicious choice of the shadier trails, we could get in a short hike before our brains fried. So, on to the Forest. 🙂

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Wake-Robins in the Forest (Southwest Oregon) 28-Apr-2021

Our recent trip down Oregon’s Illinois River was excellent. But it did reveal some flagging of the old rafting muscles, as it’s been nearly two years since our last go with the flow. So between paddling (not optional on the Illinois), sinew clenching plunges into dang cold (50°F (10°C)) water, pushing and pulling of rafts off rocks, and helping a little with hauling gear, we were a tad sore. We got home and (being tough & stupid) immediately got on with a yard project that’s been next week for a year now. Magnificently heavy mountains of dirt, grass, bark, and pavers got heaved hither and yon over hills and dales of our own making. We were just two pavers short of having recreated the Great Pyramid of Giza when the project was finally finished. I say “finally” secure in the knowledge that such projects never actually finish until the house is sold or burns down during a project involving blow torches.

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Spring Touches the Forest (Jacksonville) 04-Apr-2021

“If we had no winter, the Spring would not be so pleasant:
if we did not sometimes taste of adversity,
prosperity would not be so welcome.”

Anne Bradstreet (1612 – 1672)

We’re now part way to vaccinated, but not all the way there just yet. Nonetheless, we’ve got our first big adventure for 2021 coming up at the end of this month. It’s local (no airplanes, for the moment) and all outdoors (generous social distancing), so, as with our mule trip last September, we’re not anticipating any after effects. Still, it’ll be better than good to finish with the vaccinations. We realize that these are controversial for some but for those of us who grew-up facing the very real threats of polio and smallpox or needed immunization certificates to travel, they’re simply not. So, until the jabs are done, we’re still sticking with local hikes, which, fortunately, always seem refreshingly different every time we do them.

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Water in the Forest (Southwest Oregon) 07-Mar-2021

All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. Ecclesiastes 1:7

It’s now the season when water flows visibly and robustly in Jacksonville Forest Park’s creeks. For a brief time, this essence of life makes its way to the sea with a pleasant melody of bubbles and gurgles and splashes and swooshes. It’s the most alive thing in the forest at the moment. But, in a few short weeks, when the first leaves and grasses and wildflowers of Spring emerge, the waters will have begun to recede. By summer surface flows will largely be gone. But their passing will have set the stage for the biotic abundance that is the Forest in Spring and Summer. Life will go on.

Along the Pipsissewa Trail
Below Granite Falls
Cantrall Creek
Cantrall Creek
Jackson Creek
Jackson Creek
Jackson Creek
Norling Creek
Cantrall Creek
Norling Creek
Cantrall Creek
Jackson Creek
Jackson Creek