Stein Butte (Southwest Oregon) 20-Jan-2022

Since 2014, with one fraught exception, Stein Butte has been the hike that closed out our hiking year. 2021, however, ended in the midst of a giant snow storm. Driving was treacherous. Emergency rooms (should a hike go bad) were clogged with plague victims. Even if these hadn’t been concerning issues, there was absolutely no enthusiasm for miles of post-holing up through deep drifts of fresh snow. None. So Stein was postponed.

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Lily Pad Lake (Red Buttes Wilderness) 16-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.

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Swan Mountain (Red Buttes Wilderness) 06-Jul-2021

Swan Mountain (6,272 ft / 1,912 m) sits on the Siskiyou Crest just north of the Oregon unit of the Red Buttes Wilderness. I’d first reached its summit on a cold, crisp day during the snowless winter of 2015. The summit is an easy walk up from the Boundary Trail #1207 and the views from the top are – weather permitting – excellent. We tried for its summit last summer but were turned back by – what then – seemed like excessive heat (if we’d only known what was coming 😓). But in 2020 we’d gotten a late start due to the long drive to the western trailhead on Sucker Creek. This year we figured, what with the heat dome still pressing on us, to go for an earlier start from the eastern trailhead on Steve Fork. It worked, but just barely.

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Frog/Cameron Loop (Red Buttes Wilderness) 05-May-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.

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Grouse Loop (Applegate Lake, Oregon) 02-Mar-2021

The Grouse Loop Trail #941 is another one of those short trails in our area that we’ve previously overlooked. We had planned to do it, along with the Latgawa Peninsula Loop and the Gin Lin Trail, as an “Applegate Trifecta” but got distracted. Today was forecast as the second to the last of the bluebird days granted us before the next wave of storms. So after our dental appointments this morning (these aren’t nearly as anxiety-provoking as they used to be thanks to us having found a truly excellent dentist), The LovedOne headed off to do some library volunteering and I went to see what the #941 was all about.

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