At about 9,100 acres (3,682 ha), Horseshoe Ranch is the largest piece of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument within California. The ranch (officially the Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area) was added to the Monument in 2017. We paid our first visit here late last year and enjoyed a hike up Slide Creek and down along Slide Creek through shrubs, oaks, and conifers. We returned today – in brilliant sunshine and unseasonable warmth – to follow another old ranch road and explore the area around Brushy Creek. We even got a California Lands Pass for this visit.Continue reading “Horseshoe Ranch II (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 23-Jan-2022”
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.Continue reading “Horseshoe Ranch I (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 21-Nov-2021”
Significant rain is forecast for this coming weekend. Maybe (hopefully) it will be enough to squelch some of the wildfires still burning to our south and north. Or at least enough to flush the air clean of smoke. Fingers crossed this actually happens. 🙄Continue reading “Observation Peak Loop (Southwest Oregon) 16-Sep-2021”
For our third and last hike in the Mount Shasta area, we needed something scenic but not hard. No big elevation gains or ceaseless ups and downs. While exploring our options, we came across the loop trail around Lake Siskiyou (“Lake Sis”), which is just west of Mount Shasta. At just under 7 miles (11 km), with no appreciable changes in elevation, it was ideal for our purposes (and our diminished leg muscles). The LovedOne had determined (after extensive calculations) that, if we got started early enough and hiked energetically enough, we could reach Ashland in time for lunch at Caldera Brewing. Another pure genius moment on The LovedOne’s part. 😁Continue reading “Lake Siskiyou Loop (Mount Shasta, CA) 22-Jul-2021”
After going high for our first hike in the Mount Shasta area, we decided to go some 4,000 feet (1,220 m) lower for our second. Specifically, a loop formed from the Flume and Bob’s Hat Trails and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in Castle Crags State Park. We got another early start but noticed that the heat built sooner and higher down here than it had up at Boulder Peak. That said, there was plenty of shade and even a few, still flowing, water courses to keep the heat at bay – at least in the morning. But we were back in town – “rehydrating” – before it got too hot. 😅Continue reading “Flume Trail (Castle Crags State Park, CA) 21-Jul-2021”
There were a few hikes we wanted to do west of Mount Shasta, California. Rather than spend hours driving back and forth to individual hikes, we basecamped in a hotel (as even tough and stupid has its limits) in Mount Shasta and did three different hikes from there. Not only did this avoid a lot of driving, it also meant that we could arrive at the respective trailheads way early – in the cool of the morning – without having to roll out at o-dark-thirty. These early starts also got us back to town before the day really heated-up. We were also fortunate that this trip coincided with a brief cooling spell (90°F (32°C) versus 105°F (40°C)) and a wind shift that blew the wildfire smoke eastward (sorry North Dakota 😯), giving us almost clear skies. So something of bright spot in an otherwise trying summer. Not to mention us not having to eat my cooking for a few days. 😉Continue reading “Boulder Peak (Trinity Divide, CA) 20-Jul-2021”
The Bootleg Fire, which has now exceeded 273,000 acres (110,450 ha), continues to march east, chewing-up the forest and spewing out great volumes of smoke as it does so. Sadly, it is now eating its way into the Gearhart Wilderness, which has a plentiful supply of dead trees to act as fuel. This was another place that we’ve now apparently missed our chance to re-visit. 😥 The smoke from the Bootleg and other fires in Oregon and California is pushed mostly east by the prevailing westerlies. But winds shift, bringing this smoke to us when they do so. That, combined with that heat dome thing, has made cool, smokeless hiking a rare commodity thus far this summer.Continue reading “Lily Pad Lake (Red Buttes Wilderness) 16-Jul-2021”
The winter of 2014-15 in Southern Oregon was one without meaningful snow, even at the highest elevations. The Mount Ashland Ski Area didn’t even open. We did more than a few hikes then that should have either been inaccessible until Spring or have required snowshoes. One of these was the Frog Pond/Cameron Meadows Trail #953 in the California portion of the Red Buttes Wilderness. By rights, we shouldn’t even have been able to drive to the trailhead, much less hike the whole loop in just boots. But we did, going counter-clockwise. Staying on the trail across Cameron Meadow was, despite the large rock cairns, tricky. And the portion of the trail down to the Cameron Meadows Trailhead was choked with brush.Continue reading “Frog/Cameron Loop (Red Buttes Wilderness) 05-May-2021”
Up until 2008, our adventures were retained only as memories and on Kodachromes. While our memories may have faded (just a bit), the Kodachromes haven’t – and we have a lot of them. So we’re digitizing a select few to bring some of our past adventures into the 21st Century. This is one of those.
My first trip to California’s High Sierra was on a backpack in 1968. That started, haltingly, a granitic attraction to The Range of Light that has now endured for more than 50 years. The first “real” mountain I ever climbed was (appropriately) Mount Hood in 1972. I did a NOLS Mountain Guide course the next summer during which our attempt on Gannett Peak (Wyoming’s high point) was foiled by a blizzard. My first attempt at mountaineering in the High Sierra was on Mount Morrison (12,241 ft (3,731 m)) in 1974. That was the start of an eleven year long saga of uninformed optimism.
Mount Morrison’s pointy summit, and the truly impressive couloir bisecting its northeast face, are both clearly visible from Highway 395 near Convict Lake. Morrison is a lot more visible from afar than is the Sierra’s most famous peak, Mount Whitney. I think it was this visual proximity which first drew me to Morrison in general and specifically to its couloir. It looked so doable – from a distance.
So, in 1974, I got some members of our tiny university mountaineering club to join me on an attempt of this couloir, then innocuously named the Northwest Couloir. We had a good hike on snow to camp, then a nice snow climb up to the base of the couloir, then a sudden burst of common sense, followed by a nice hike back to camp. After a night on the snow, we hiked out and went home.
With a changing cast of climbing partners, I would try climbing this couloir six times over the next eleven years, failing miserably each time. On our best and last try, in 1985, got us to the top of the lower rock band before we were forced off by snow cascading down the chute. Never before, or since, have I spent so much time and effort on one route.
By 1999, the guidebooks were clearly stating that this couloir (now called (perhaps more accurately) the Death Couloir) is only climbable with minimal safety when filled with snow from top to bottom. Which it rarely is. And which it never was during any of our attempts. If I’d only known. 🙄
In 1983, Larry and I lead a weekend Sierra Club snow climb up Morrison’s comparatively gentle Eastern Slope. We hiked in the first day to a great campsite nestled in a broad gully, then did a not-too-difficult, but very fun, climb to the summit the next day. The group was competent and congenial, the weather perfect, the snow just right for climbing, and the view from the summit magnificent. This climb was everything that trying to climb the Death Couloir was not.
You don’t always know how magic a moment was until you look back.
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Hidden Beach sits within Redwood National Park along the California coast some 15 or so miles south of Crescent City. As its name implies, it’s only accessible by trail. One of these starts near the Trees of Mystery parking lot and the other – part of the California Coastal Trail – from the Lagoon Creek Picnic Area off Highway 101. Having just visited the Trees, we elected to start from the picnic area. After passing the beach, the Coastal Trail continues on to the drive-in Klamath Overlook (which gives you a view of the mouth of the Klamath River). So our plan became to hike out-and-back to the overlook (or near it), visiting the beach along the way.Continue reading “Hidden Beach (Redwood National Park) 20-Oct-2020”
My parents were very hard workers; not given much to frivolous (in their eyes) expenditures. Exceptions could be made (rarely) for Disneyland. But visits to smaller kitschy tourist attractions, no matter how iconic, were off the table. And certainly we were not going to drive the length of California to see some trees, regardless of their degree of mysteriousness. So a visit to the Trees of Mystery, a small attraction in the redwoods just south of Crescent City, California had to wait its turn. And wait and wait and wait. But, past a certain point, this waiting wasn’t on my parents. Although I must have driven past it numerous times over the years, I had other places to go and no time for a tourist trap. Well times change (don’t they ever!). Now I had some time and not a lot of other places to go. So we started a short hiking trip to the coast with a long delayed visit to the Trees of Mystery.Continue reading “Trees of Mystery (Klamath, California) 19-Oct-2020”