Smoked Pelican (Southwest Oregon) 09-Oct-2020

Smoked pelican is probably a delicacy somewhere.  Might be a bit fishy tasting. And chewy. Today, however, it was just Pelican Butte (8,036 ft / 2,449 m), a dormant {Heck, why not erupt in 2020 – everything else has!} shield volcano mired in a sea of wildfire smoke. Its northeastern flank was carved into a large, steep cirque by Ice Age glaciers. On one side of this cirque, a little over a mile north of the summit, sit Lakes Gladys and Francis, the two named lakes in the Cloud Lake Group. Plan A, formulated before the onset of this season’s ruinous wildfires, was to drive up to 7,600 feet on the rocky, rutted, high-centered dirt road that services the comm tower on the summit (this road was built in 1934 by the CCC). From there we’d hike the three miles round-trip (with 1,000 feet of gain on the way back) to visit Gladys and Francis. Well, I’ll bet you can guess what happened to Plan A…  

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Climbing to Breathe (Mount McLoughlin) 01-Sep-2017

Mount McLoughlin Sky Lakes Wilderness Oregon

After two partially successful attempts – hikes of Aspen Butte and Mount Ashland – to get above the wildfire smoke that has been choking Southern Oregon and Northern California for several weeks, we were finally faced with Mount McLoughlin, the sixth highest Cascade peak in Oregon.  At 9,495 feet, it just had to be high enough to be above the smoke.  It just had to be!  😨 If I (The LovedOne having demurred on a grueling ascent in favor of air conditioning at home) got above the smoke, I would (hopefully) be rewarded for the nearly 4,000 of elevation gain this summit demands (making it one of the toughest hikes in Southern Oregon) with BIG VIEWS in all directions.  It would also be the first time in many years that I’d climbed it under totally snow-free conditions – which, to me, makes the climb both easier and harder for different reasons.

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