Payette Trail (Southwest Oregon) 11-Feb-2022

Daytime temperatures have been unseasonably warm (70℉ / 21℃) here for some time now. So much so that the weather people on the TV are no longer gushing about all this sunny weather. It is supposed to rain – for one day – early next week. Which will be – if it happens – the first time we’ve experienced magic sky water in over a month. We like warmth and sunshine as much as anyone but both can be overdone. Now is supposed to be our snowy and wet season, when we store-up water to see us through the blistering summer ahead. So where we are now – at least weather-wise – is not good, not good at all. 😧 Our glass half full happiness metaphor is in jeopardy! Our hopes for moisture are now pinned on a late winter round of strong storms to top-up our dwindling reservoirs. We’ll see…

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Witcome-Payette Loop (Applegate Lake) 21-Mar-2021

Applegate Lake is actually a reservoir, built and operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Their design, way back in the 1970s, included fences to keep free-roaming cattle from reaching the lake and cavorting wantonly in the shallows. Since the lake isn’t much there most of the year, it was more likely to keep cattle from getting stuck in the mud. Anyway, the Corps built a road – a stock driveway – behind one of these fences so they could collect and remove errant cows. In the intervening years, the need to collect stray cows seems to have dissipated and today this driveway is more trail than road. It shows on today’s Forest Service maps as a trail paralleling the Payette Trail #970 between the Payette and Manzanita Trailheads. I first hiked a loop using the Witcome in 2016 and have done so a couple of times since. But the last time for me was in 2017 and The LovedOne had never hiked it, so today we went out to see how the driveway was holding-up.

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Latgawa Peninsula Loop (Applegate Lake) 22-Feb-2021

Most of the geographic features at Applegate Lake (actually a reservoir) don’t have official (USGS) names but some have local names. A peninsula, bounded to the north by French Gulch (official name) and to the south by Squaw Creek Arm (local name), juts out from the east side of the lake. I’ve taken to calling this the Latgawa Peninsula simply because there’s a campsite (actually just a flat spot next to the trail) on it by that name. The USGS spells it “Latgawa” but the Forest Service’s opportunity guide spells it “Latagawa” (and shows the campsite as a trailhead, which it’s not unless you have a boat or want to walk across a mud flat at low water). All this cartographic wizardry aside, the peninsula does harbor some pleasant, low-altitude trails ideal for a winter leg stretch.

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Applegate Lake (Southwest Oregon) 20-May-2020

The Big V has (mercifully) only lightly touched our county thus far, so we were allowed to start re-opening last week. But a late season storm and some remote work conspired to keep us “in place” since our stroll to Vulture Rock five days ago. There’s an old saying that summer in Oregon doesn’t really start until the Fourth of July – and last week may be proof of that. 🙄 But when today was forecast to be an artistic mix of sun and clouds, we decided to go see if Applegate Lake looked like a lake yet.

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On Applegate Lake (Oregon) 12-Mar-2020

Well, these are trying times. Today we cancelled our long-planned trip to Cuba. The virus of course. Going anyway would have been inconsistent with helping to “flatten the curve” through social distancing (something we’re quite good at actually), avoiding crowds, and no unnecessary travel. As much as we wanted to, visiting Cuba at this time was clearly unnecessary. Not going proved costly, however, as the virus had invalidated our travel insurance.

And then there’s the stock market’s search for the bottom. Watching your life savings evaporate on a daily basis is bracing to say the least. And then there’s that clown car of elected federal officials in Washington who only seem capable of making the Big V’s effects worse. Those poor benighted buggers couldn’t find their arseholes with both hands and a compass. Sigh. So we’re staying home, protected by walls built of the immense supply of toilet paper we seem to have mysterious accumulated. 🙄

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A Peninsular Loop at Applegate Lake (Oregon) 19-Feb-2019

Once you’ve managed to injury yourself on the trail, you have two options: wait it out on the couch with a supply of crisps and beer or keep moving (judiciously). While the first option certainly 🙂 has its points, I knew that the second was what needed to be done – but not overdone. Try roaring back into long hikes with a bad back, exacerbate 😦 the injury, and the couch will become a permanent home. So, I’ve been staving off ambulatory senescence with some short, but fun, local hikes. The current weather pattern of one or two nice days interspersed with days of storm and gloom has helped to enforce some rest and recovery time between days with increasing levels of hiking activity.

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Latgawa Peninsula (Applegate Lake) 05-Jun-2018

Payette Trail Applegate Lake Oregon

With The LovedOne busy at the library, Plan A was to drive to where Forest Road (FR) 1055 intersects the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) at Cook and Green Pass on the Siskiyou Crest and then do some exploring along the PCT toward Kangaroo Springs. Uh, no. FR 1055 up from the Oregon side is closed indefinitely (there are locked gates at the bottom and at the pass)  because of damage sustained during the 2017 Abney Fire. It apparently won’t reopen until the Forest Service is able to deal with the burned snags that have fallen (or could fall) across it.

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You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grippe… 28-Jan-2018

Applegate Lake Southern Oregon

Well, after our banging on about how there wasn’t enough snow for snowshoeing (or any other kind of snow fun), we finally got a week of gloomy, wet, turbulent, hiking-unfriendly weather ending in a big snow dump. Yeah! Mount Ashland, our local ski area, was finally able to open! Yeah! So we hustled out to the garage to give our snowshoes the good news, only to find Mr. Grippe waiting for us. Oh, the horrors! Oh, the phlegm! Think of two sock puppets (us) in a room with a dozen Jack Russell terriers (flu virus) for a week and then put yourself in the puppet’s socks. We’re still leaking stuffing…

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Applegate Lake at Full Pool 29-Apr-2017

Appelgate Lake Oregon

Since we moved to Southern Oregon, we’ve done any number of hikes around and near Applegate Lake, a reservoir  at the head of the Upper Applegate River Valley, owing to the accessibility of its trails almost all year round.  But for any number of reasons, we’ve never visited the lake when its near to full; that is, when it looks like a lake and not giant mud-rimmed bathtub. The desire to see it at least once as a lake was strong, so when its pool elevation reached 1983.17 feet, with 1987.00 feet being full pool (dam hydrograph), it was time for a visit to view the waters.  The LovedOne’s library volunteer duties kept her off this hike, so we’ll be doing another one here soon so she too can see the waters.

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Viewpoint Trails (Applegate Lake) 25-Feb-2017

Viewpoint Trails Applegate Lake Oregon

With clear gaps between active weather patterns seemingly reduced to a few hours, our (or at least my) attention has been forced toward some of the shorter, lower altitude trails that in less “active” years we avoided in favor of longer trails. This has meant finally hiking all of the trails around Applegate Lake in the Upper Applegate River Valley.

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Latgawa Peninsula Trails (Applegate Lake) 26-Jan-2017

Latgawa Applegate Lake Oregon

While the Great Storm has made the Mount Ashland ski area (and Nordic skiers and snowshoers) ecstatic, it has had a dampening effect on simple snow-free hiking. On the upside, all this snow has given me permission, so to speak, to hike some of the shorter, lower altitude trails that have been overshadowed by longer trails in less snowy years. So we’ve done more hikes around Applegate Lake than ever before.  A couple of weeks ago I did a somewhat snowy hike out to the western tip of the lake’s Squaw Arm and that got me thinking about finishing hiking all of the trails on the Latgawa Peninsula across the water to the north.  We had done one of those trails early in 2016 but never got back to do the rest.  So, with The LovedOne preoccupied with finishing her quilting class homework, it fell to me to make my way to the Payette Trail’s Payette Trailhead at the head of Squaw Arm to finish these hikes.

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