Willow Prairie: North Loop (Southwest Oregon) 03-Nov-2021

Last year’s (and, sadly, part of this year’s) virus-driven theme was staying local. But as last year surged to a close, we became increasingly challenged to find local hikes that were new to us. Meeting this challenge was why I found myself (The LovedOne being busy with the library) late last year exploring some of the 19 miles (30 km) of equestrian trails emanating from the Willow Prairie Horse Campground located about 25 miles (40 km) east of Medford.

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Observation Peak Loop (Southwest Oregon) 16-Sep-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. 🙄

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Grayback Mountain (Southwest Oregon) 18-Aug-2021

Wildfires seem to have gotten worse around here since 2014 and this year is no exception. Our valley has been filled with varying concentrations of smoke for weeks from wildfires raging to the north, east, and south of us. Yesterday’s morning of clarity in the Bear Creek Valley was an exception, since, by afternoon, the smoke was back. So it’s entirely on me for not doing an air monitor check before driving all the way to a trailhead. 😥

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Spruce Lake (Crater Lake National Park) 30-Jul-2021

Today emerged hot, cloudy, sultry, and hazy with smoke. Thunderstorms drenched us in the afternoon but the morning sprouted only a few pathetic rain drops. These only added to the sultry. A morning outside was about all we were up for. So we did two very short hikes which, when combined with a lunch outside at Beckie’s, made for a morning well spent. That there was pie 🥧 involved had nothing – Nothing I say! – to do with the quality of this day. 😉

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Little Silver Creek Lake (Galice, Oregon) 09-Jul-2021

A landslide lake is – as the name suggests – a body of water formed when a canyon wall slides or slumps to dam a creek or stream. These aren’t created very often, as major slides are not common events. Nor do they usually last very long, as the dam is typically swept away by subsequent rain events. Little Silver Creek Lake is unique in that it is a landslide lake that has survived for over 100 years – it is one of the only landslide lakes to survive in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest. This made it a worthy destination in the ongoing search for, and exploration of, trails not previously hiked.

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Brandy & Fish Hook (Agness, Oregon) 04-Jun-2021

Those who have been fortunate enough to raft the Rogue or Illinois Rivers, or backpack these river’s namesake trails, have likely experienced Bear Camp Road. Also dubbed Forest Road (FR) 23, this narrow, twisty – but paved – road runs between Galice on the Rogue River, over the mountains, to Agness, near the confluence of the Rogue and Illinois Rivers, not far from the Pacific Ocean. It’s not open year-round, but in the summer, it’s the quickest way back to the Rogue Valley from a take-out at Foster Bar or trail’s end at Oak Flat. It was still closed when we did our trips on the Rogue and Illinois this year, so an extra two hours or so were added to our returns from these trips.

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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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Willow Prairie: Rye Flat (Southwest Oregon) 29-Oct-2020

How hard can it be for a hiker to follow what’s described as an equestrian trail?
Somewhat harder than it would seem.

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Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trail ~ Southwest Oregon (October 2020)

UPDATE
The #1470 from Yellow Jacket Camp to the Rocky Rim Trail #1572 was restored by the Siskiyou Mountain Club during July and August, 2021.

The Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trail (#1470) runs, as its name suggests, for some 30 miles between Huckleberry Gap and Three Lakes along the divide between the Umpqua and Rogue River watersheds.  The Forest Service describes it as the primary route through the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Wilderness. We’ve spent the last five years hiking almost all of it in sections. By doing so, we got to experience the #1470 directly and also ponder the future of our trails that aren’t social media darlings. So here are some thoughts about the #1470 as a whole, with particular emphasis on where the Service’s sometimes overly hopeful descriptions of it depart from its reality. But let’s be clear here: this is a personal reminiscence, not a guidebook and should not be relied on as such. Just saying…

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Castle Point (Crater Lake National Park) 20-Sep-2020

Our first ever mule packing trip was suitably adventurous but plagued by smoke for four of its six days. We came back to civilization to find that fire had ravaged (and is still ravaging 😥 ) a goodly part of our Oregon. We drove home in thick, acrid, choking smoke. And were then confined to our house (which we are thankful is still standing) by this foul miasma for all the next week. Finally, finally, last Friday the winds shifted a bit and we could breathe outside. By today the smoke had thinned enough – but not gone away, there are still fires burning – to allow for a short visit outside. Nothing dramatic, just anything other than staring out our living room window at drifting swirls of yellowish particulates and fetid vapors. 🙄

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Vulture Rock (Southwest Oregon) 15-May-2020

A few years ago, we were hiking north on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) north of Howard Prairie Lake when we passed a small sign aside the trail that said “Vulture Rock 0.5 mi” with an upward pointing arrow. On a subsequent walk here, we turned at this sign and embarked on a brief cross-country walk and easy scramble to the rocky summit of Point 6054 (“Vulture Rock”). There used to be a fire lookout on nearby Old Baldy but it was removed years ago and trees now obscure the views from that summit. Not so for Vulture Rock where, weather permitting, the views are expansive. Today was forecast (and turned-out to be) a bluebird day between storms so off we went to see what we could see from the Vulture.

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