Looping Through the Denman (Southwest Oregon) 06-Apr-2022

The last time we visited the Ken Denman Wildlife Area near White City, Oregon, was the day after Christmas 2021. A Great Winter Storm was upon us then and it was snowing – heavily. We had a magical walk in the snow for a couple of hours, got nicely chilled, then headed home for warming libations. Many saw this big snow dump in December as the start of a much needed snowy and wet winter. But, alas, it was not to be, as the following months were among the driest on record. So the drought persists and the coming summer is looking to be increasingly crispy. ๐Ÿ˜ฐ

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Farewell, Kitty Mack (Rogue River) 10-Mar-2022

Aside from a few exercise walks up Roxy Ann, it’s been 10 days since our last hike. Part of this gap was due to some anxiety-provoking personal business. Part was due to bad weather – which didn’t turn out to be bad enough (in a good way) to pummel us with much needed rain and snow. ๐Ÿ˜ฅ And part was due to anger and frustration and ultimately despair about what’s happening in Ukraine. ๐Ÿ˜ช Seems we’re all getting a harsh lesson in the realpolitik that happens when a delusional dictator is willing to go nuclear if thwarted. So although hiking has always provided us with some respite from the cares of the world, it just seemed somewhat irrelevant.

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Snow on the Mountain (Rogue River) 30-Dec-2021

For six of the last seven years, we’ve made a climb of Stein Butte our last hike of the year (in 2015 we hiked Squaw Butte instead – which became a snow slog of unexpectedly epic proportions ๐Ÿ™„). So we planned to revisit Stein again this year. But mighty winter storms got here first, icing the roads and dumping much, much snow almost everywhere. Our hospitals are (again) packed with plague victims ๐Ÿ˜ฅ – so it’s not a good time to have an accident on slick roads. And all the snow made us think that an attempt on Stein would be a repeat of our tribulations on Squaw in 2015. Plus (Wait, there’s more!) another big storm was on its way. So we turned our thoughts to a lower and closer hike.

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A Stroll in the Snow (Denman Wildlife Area) 26-Dec-2021

We did our last hike about a week ago in anticipation of big winter storms. For once we got the timing right as shortly thereafter mighty snows blanketed our surrounding mountains, with some snow even reaching the valley floor! This weather extravaganza, mixed with the usual holiday diversions, kept us limited to snowy walks around the neighborhood.

So we had a very comfy, at home, non-traveling Christmas. ๐Ÿ˜ Sofie (our cat) and the tree coexisted, with no damage to either. The traditional dinner was deliciously excessive (for us at least). We’re facing caloric offsets in the form of rice cakes in the week ahead. ๐Ÿ˜’ But we had a White Christmas, for the first time in 33 years! So, done and done! But no, wait, it’s still snowing and snowing and seemingly will be doing so for the next few days. Looks like we ordered the deluxe White Christmas package by mistake! And it’s too late to return it! ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

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After the Deluge: Blue Grotto 27-Oct-2021

And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the earth; and all the high hills, that were under the whole heaven, were covered.

Well, the biblical-scale deluge seems to have targeted mainly California. We got what amounted to a passing glance. But still a very welcome glance given our drought and all. Enough wetness to maybe bring some of our smaller intermittent streams to life? Like the unnamed one that feeds the Blue Grotto on the shores of Lost Creek Lake? We try to visit the Grotto in the Spring when winter rains create the waterfall that is at its greenish-blue heart. Although we were there just this February, we thought: “Why not go see what the recent rains have done for it?” Even if it was still dry, the out-and-back hike to it on the North Shore Trail from the Lost Creek Trailhead is a very pleasant one and, at this time of year, one through Fall colors. ๐Ÿ˜Š

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A Clear Day at Denman (Southwest Oregon) 20-Sep-2021

We got 0.75 inches (19 mm) of rain here over the last two days! Just like the forecast promised! Miracles! Less than an inch might not sound like much, but after you’ve gone months and months with practically none, it’s a lot! Enough to squelch the wildfires and wash away the smoke. The fronts that brought this rain had moved on by Sunday afternoon, so today dawned cold, clear, and bright. ๐Ÿ˜Ž

The LovedOne had something this afternoon and we’re busy tomorrow but it just seemed wrong – so wrong! – to not go outside and breathe a lot. So we carved out some time this morning for a brisk walk around the Military Slough Unit of the nearby Ken Denman Wildlife Area. The rain had washed the dust off the trees there just in time for the Fall color display to start. ๐Ÿ˜„

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Boundary Springs (Crater Lake National Park) 26-Jul-2021

Boundary Springs – which emerge from semi-arid terrain in the northwest corner of Crater Lake National Park – are the source of the mainstem of the Rogue River. Many other tributaries and streams contribute to the Rogue before it reaches the sea at Gold Beach, but that river starts here. It’s tempting to think that these springs somehow tap Crater Lake itself but they are, instead, fed only by snowmelt.

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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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Walking the Rogue IV: Paradise Lodge to Big Bend Trailhead 15-May-2021

We had to cover 11.4 miles (18.2 km) on this last day of our trip and we had to do it by a certain time. We had hoped to return to the Galice Resort via the Bear Camp Road but that wasn’t open yet. So we’d have to make the two-hour longer return via Brookings and Highway 199. To get back to our cars at a sorta reasonable hour, we had to be at the trailhead no later than 1330. Because the heat and overly full stomachs had been an issue, The LovedOne and I elected to skip breakfast and start our hike at 0730, right after coffee was served. No one, least of all us, was going to hike uncaffinated! This way we could hike in the cool of the morning and not have to overly hurry to reach the trailhead. Another option was to raft the last few miles to the trailhead. This is faster than walking and half our group availed themselves of this option.

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Walking the Rogue III: Marial Lodge to Paradise Lodge 14-May-2021

This, our third day on the Rogue River Trail, would be our easiest, as only 4.2 miles (6.7 km) of level trail separates the two lodges. The cooling trend had yet to arrive so it was another hot (85ยฐF / 29ยฐC) day. We lounged around Marial Lodge for most of the morning (paying catch with Maggie), then pulled ourselves together and headed out after lunch. Management of the trail passes from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to the U.S. Forest Service at Marial. So soon after leaving the lodge, we passed an historic Forest Service station – which has suffered some damage since we first saw it in 2015.

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Walking the Rogue II: Black Bar Lodge to Marial Lodge 13-May-2021

Our second day on the Rogue River Trail would be our longest: 14.3 miles (22.9 km) from Black Bar, past Zane Grey’s cabin at Winkle Bar, to the lodge at Marial. The weather forecast had indicated a cooling trend but the weather itself hadn’t got the message. So we were looking at another hot (85ยฐF / 29ยฐC), sweaty day. Fortunately, there are several (very welcome) cool, shady stretches along this part of the trail. Most of the small, intermittent, unnamed creeks had already gone dry. But we noticed that many of the named creeks had not – which is probably why they got named in the first place. If you backpack this trail in mid-summer, when it’s really, really hot, these named creeks may be your only (mostly) reliable water sources. Because, while it may be a “river” trail, it doesn’t always take you very close to the cooling waters of the river itself.

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