Mystic Lake (Mountain Lakes Wilderness) 19-Oct-2021

Last September, Lee Juillerat wrote a piece for our local paper, the Mail Tribune, reminiscing about a trip he’d made to Mystic Lake, which sits at 7,200 feet (2,195 m) in the nearby Mountain Lakes Wilderness. I had passed near this little lake when I did the Mountain Lakes Loop in 2015 but didn’t have time to divert then for a visit. So I put Mystic on the seemingly bottomless hikes to do list, intending it for a late summer hike. Then heat, smoke, other hikes, other adventures, and personal business intervened and voilà it was mid-October. And La Niña was back – bringing with it rain and the first snows of winter. Was it now too late to reach Mystic without snowshoes?

Continue reading “Mystic Lake (Mountain Lakes Wilderness) 19-Oct-2021”

Getting to the Point (Mountain Lakes Wilderness) 11-Jul-2020

Southern Oregon’s Mountain Lakes Wilderness (the U.S.’s only wilderness with a perfectly square boundary) was once believed to be the caldera of one huge collapsed volcano (like Crater Lake to the north). But more recent research suggests it was created from calderas of four overlapping shield volcanoes. Eight prominent peaks – and several lesser ones – remain on the rim of these calderas. Aspen Butte (8,208 ft / 2,501 m) is the highest point in the wilderness but there are several other rocky summits that offer spectacular views of the surrounding area and as far south as Mount Shasta. Today we decided to take advantage of some excellent weather to take in the views from Point 7703 located between Whiteface Peak and Greylock Mountain.

Continue reading “Getting to the Point (Mountain Lakes Wilderness) 11-Jul-2020”

Clover Creek (Mountain Lakes Wilderness) 23-Aug-2019

This has been the first August in two years that has not been blighted by smoke from huge wildfires burning to the west, south, and north. This year’s fires have been either small or quickly suppressed (we now have an air tanker base at our local airport). Otherwise it’s just hot here in August (as it should be) and that heat can sap ones enthusiasm for hiking. But we wanted to get out and figured that a stroll along shaded Clover Creek in the nearby Mountain Lakes Wilderness would be cool enough since it starts at around 6,000 feet and goes up to over 7,000. 😎

Continue reading “Clover Creek (Mountain Lakes Wilderness) 23-Aug-2019”

Lake Waban Loop (Mountain Lakes Wilderness) 05-Aug-2019

We caught a break the other day after a wildfire started near Lake Harriette in the Mountain Lakes Wilderness. In previous years it might have been left to burn “naturally” – thus likely spreading across this fuel-rich wilderness area. But after two summers of devastating 100,000+ acre wildfires and thick, choking smoke in the valleys, just letting fires go isn’t the program anymore. Instead, ground crews and helicopters were on the Harriette fire almost immediately. Despite the difficult terrain, they held it to just 8 acres. The pros and cons of this approach to wildfire management are subject to debate. In the mean time, however, I’m glad we still have a wilderness with green trees in it. 🙂

Continue reading “Lake Waban Loop (Mountain Lakes Wilderness) 05-Aug-2019”

Crater Mountain (Mountain Lakes Wilderness) 27-Jul-2018

Crater Mountain Mountain Lakes Wilderness Oregon

Wildfires, many started by lightning two weeks ago, continue to burn (and, in some cases, grow) to the west and north of here. They’re still pouring smoke into the Rogue Valley, continuing a choking miasma that has lost any connection (if it ever had any) to the charms of a campfire. The town of Redding, California, some 150 miles to the south, is under siege from a human-caused wildfire that has grown from a spark to almost 50,000 acres in only a few days, fueled by hotter and drier weather, high winds, and the consequences of a lingering drought. Similar wildfires burn elsewhere in the world.  Hikes we did just within the last few months have burned and others have burned yet again. Pundits, particularly the ones who are ideologically challenged, resist calling wildfires of this scope and intensity “the new normal” as though we’ll soon (if we cross our fingers and hop on one leg long enough) be right back to a cool, green, smoke-free world.  Well, sorry, we won’t. Science can help but this is ultimately a political – that is a purely human – solution, not a scientific one. We’ve dithered past any hope for a quick fix and it looks like it’s going to take some time for the occupants of the political clown car to craft a long fix; so, in the interim, we’ll need to get on with adapting.

Continue reading “Crater Mountain (Mountain Lakes Wilderness) 27-Jul-2018”