Looping Through the Denman (Southwest Oregon) 06-Apr-2022

The last time we visited the Ken Denman Wildlife Area near White City, Oregon, was the day after Christmas 2021. A Great Winter Storm was upon us then and it was snowing – heavily. We had a magical walk in the snow for a couple of hours, got nicely chilled, then headed home for warming libations. Many saw this big snow dump in December as the start of a much needed snowy and wet winter. But, alas, it was not to be, as the following months were among the driest on record. So the drought persists and the coming summer is looking to be increasingly crispy. 😰

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Old Trails on Lower Table Rock (Oregon) 29-Jan-2022

The Upper and Lower Table Rocks are arguably among the most popular hiking destinations in Southern Oregon. The current official trails to the plateaus atop both rocks are well marked and very well used. We have a weakness for Upper Table because longer hikes are possible there; for example, an out-and-back to the VORTAC station on old Pumice Road or a little cross-country (staying on game trails) across the valley between the two arms of its plateau. Lower Table always seemed a little less interesting, mainly because its main trail only goes to the old landing strip (built in 1948) and to a few use trails to views out over the Rogue and Bear Creek Valleys. But there’s a little more to Lower than just this strip and those views – as I first discovered on a hike there in 2017.

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And Then A Year Went By… 11-Mar-2021

A year ago today, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic because the Big V was totally out of control. Some of us probably knew what “pandemic” meant in the abstract, but none of us had a clue what declaring one was going to do to our lives. We’d gone hiking that day only to come home and find falling stocks, closed businesses, and cancellations galore. It’s been a long year since. One of our dearest friends lost her brother to the Big V but everyone else we know has made it this far in decent shape. The biggest hit we took personally was seeing almost all of our big travel plans for last year simply evaporate. We were disappointed but that was trivial compared to the millions employed by the travel industry who suddenly found themselves without work. 😥

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Low Clouds on Lower Table (Southern Oregon) 14-Dec-2020

The weather finally turned colder, wetter, and snowier. Which, considering our drought status, is a very good thing. The Big V is, on the other hand, still out there, wrecking havoc. That is a very bad thing. So, what with the weather, the virus, and a little work (volunteer and paid), we’ve been inside a lot. Then the weather service threw us the promise of a little sun and no rain. So we went outside to hike another local classic.

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Hiking Southern Oregon: 25 Hikes (February 2020)

To celebrate our 600th post on WordPress, we’re highlighting a select few of the many hikes we’ve enjoyed here in Southwest Oregon.

As we’ve perused lists of Oregon’s greatest hikes, we’ve come to notice that these lists are heavily skewed, with a few exceptions, toward hikes near Portland.  That metro area’s greater population helps if a list is based on some kind of vote.  And proximity to its major airport helps get votes from those who drop in for a brief Western adventure.  Even some of the classics, like the Wallowas in Eastern Oregon or the Three Sisters in Central Oregon, often don’t make these lists because they are too far away.  So a lot of “great” hikes get done near Portland – the state’s most populated town. And then the complaints roll in about how there’s no parking, the trails are too crowded, you need a permit or must pay a fee, it’s raining, etc.

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Lower Table Rock Plateau (Southern Oregon) 23-Dec-2019

The horseshoe-shaped Upper and Lower Table Rocks are among the most popular hiking spots in the Rogue Valley. We’ve certainly hiked both of them a bunch. The Spring and early summer wildflower and vernal pool displays on these mesas are particularly attractive. But it’s the winter months, when the luxuriant poison oak, voluminous ticks, and feisty rattlesnakes are on holiday (i.e., not a creature was stirring, etc.), that open-up some off-trail possibilities.

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Denman Wildlife Area (Oregon) 24-Nov-2018

Much needed rain and snow arrived (aptly) on Thanksgiving. A welcome relief from the drought and a dry, way-too-smokey summer. It felt great to breathe particulate-free air again. And to see crisp blue sky. Then we got a break in the weather. While The LovedOne was doing her usual Saturday shift at the library, I went for a short stroll at the nearby Ken Denman Wildlife Area. This is one of those places we’ve driven by a lot – on the way to the Upper and Lower Table Rocks – but never stopped to visit.

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Upper Lower Table Rock (Southern Oregon) 21-Dec-2017

Lower Table Rock Medford Oregon

After our exploration last week of the inside of Upper Table Rock, we (or at least I) thought it would be fun to do the same at Lower Table Rock. But there was a problem. The inside of Lower Table is covered by a conservation easement that does not allow for public access. So we couldn’t use the old road through there to reprise our Upper Table experience. BUT we could walk along the top of Lower Table since this is Nature Conservancy land open to public access. On Lower, however, there’s no old road on top, as there is on Upper, to make travel easy.  So when I mentioned that this would be more of an adventure hike, the LovedOne decided going to the hairdresser was the smarter move and left me to face the wilderness alone.  Sigh.

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Hiking in the Time of Caching (November 2017)

Geocaching Upper Lower Table Rocks Oregon

Stormy, fractious, blustery, peevish, squally, turbulent, gusty, truculent, garrulous! The current political climate? Perhaps but this humble hiking blog isn’t going anywhere near that. No, it’s the change of seasons here in Southern Oregon as we move from what was a hot, dry summer into what will be (hopefully) a wet, but not too wet, snowy, but not too snowy, winter. This time of year leaves us stuck between too much rain for a long hike and too little snow to justify unleashing the snowshoes. What to do, other than binge watch Blacklist? Well, we’ve started doing some geocaching.

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Fall’s Gold on Upper Table Rock (Southern Oregon) 14-Oct-2017

Upper Table Rock Medford Oregon

The Upper and Lower Table Rocks are well known (and well used) hiking and wildflower venues just north of Medford, Oregon.  They present different, but always attractive, short- and long-distance vistas throughout the year. By Fall, the expansive wildflower meadows that graced the plateaus in Spring have gone fallow.  Any surface water has been supplanted by hardened soil and the color palette has shifted from multiple colors to various muted hues of yellow and gold.  Reasons enough for a return visit (one of many to date) to Upper Table Rock.  This Rock is horseshoe shaped, with the legs of the “shoe” pointing south.  Popular guides to this area usually mention only the short hike (3 or so miles round-trip) to the tip of the eastern leg.  But you can craft a longer (8 or more miles roundtrip) and more varied hike by venturing over the top of the shoe and out to the tip of its western leg.  So, on a day with near perfect weather for hiking, I (today being one of The LovedOne’s library volunteer days) set out to enjoy the colors of a different season, and a longer hike, on Upper Table.

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Desecration on Lower Table Rock 14-Jun-2017

Lower Table Rock Oregon

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently let us know that they’ve repaired as much of this damage as possible and are taking steps to (hopefully) prevent it from happening again.

The Table Rocks – both Lower and Upper – have been favorite year-round short hike destinations for us ever since we moved south.  One of the many pleasures of these hikes is to observe the seasonal round of the vernal pools that are unique to these locations. These pools are a rare habitat that supports a Federally-listed threatened species of fairy shrimp and a state-threatened plant called the dwarf wooly meadowfoam, a flowering plant currently, and historically, only known to exist around the edges of these pools.  The existence of these rare species and their habitat is what caused the Table Rocks to be designated as an Area of Critical Environmental Concern by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

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