Winter here got off to a strong start, with a magnificent snow dump over the Christmas holidays. This encouraged what were, perhaps, optimistic expectations. We thought that this first big snowfall would settle, additional snow would follow, and then we’d go snowshoeing under “ideal” conditions. But after that big one, it’s been nothing but clear skies, warm days, cold nights, and dry, dry, dry. That earlier snow has been melting and compacting for weeks. So, rather than wait for mythical “ideal” conditions, we decided to just put on our snowshoes and go.Continue reading “Burton Butte (Southwest Oregon) 06-Feb-2022”
Siskiyou Peak (7,149 ft / 2,179 m) sits just south of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) about 3 miles (5 km) west of the Mount Ashland Ski Area. In the summer months, reaching it is an easy and pleasant stroll along a mellow stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) through meadows gushing with wildflowers and big views of Mount Shasta to the south. When it’s snow-covered, as it is at the moment, getting to it is more work, particularly if you’re clumping along wearing snowshoes. So we decided to give it a go today on the not completely absurd assumption that consolidated Spring snow conditions would make the journey doable sans snowshoes. Well, almost…Continue reading “No Shoes On Siskiyou (Mount Ashland, Oregon) 31-Mar-2021”
March? So soon? One day we’re buying our annual Sno-Park pass and the next the snow is melting. More storms are forecast but they’ll increasingly bring rain (if we’re lucky) rather than snow. Winter isn’t a protracted business here – our local ski area typically closes at the end of April. In just another month or so, we’ll be going on and on about wildflowers – which, although very good things, are not snow. So although we had some longer hikes in mind for today, we decided instead to do a short, but aerobic, snowshoe sprint to the summit of Mount Ashland. Get the blood flowing. Feel a cold wind in our faces. Discover seemingly bottomless voids in the snow cover. Totter over steep slopes with boards strapped to our feet. Take in the view. Further amortize our snow pass. And so on…Continue reading “Mount Ashland Snowshoe (Southwest Oregon) 03-Mar-2021”
The weather had alternated between wet and dry for a few days, with an inversion fog in the valley. Then a really big storm blew through yesterday, leaving in its wake a nice layer of fresh powder snow in the high country. We’d been confined to town by volunteering, work, and the weather. But when today dawned bright and clear and our schedules were (suspiciously) empty, we took the opportunity to head up to the Deadwood Junction Sno-Park for a snowshoe hike near Daley Creek. This particular route had been on our to do list for a few years, ever since we saw it on the Ashland Hiking Group’s website.Continue reading “Daley Creek Snowshoe (Ashland, Oregon) 04-Feb-2021”
We had a nice, big (for Southwest Oregon) snowstorm at the start of 2021. This allowed us a first-of-the-year snowshoe below Mount Ashland through wonderfully fluffy powder snow. Since then, however, not much frozen joy has fallen from the sky. What has descended is a little more rain at warmer temperatures. We are, of course, hoping for colder temperatures and more snow before Spring – mainly because that snow is our water supply. In the interim, we figured it would be prudent to do some snowshoeing on what snow we have. In addition, getting above the thick fog (again) shrouding the valley seemed like a great idea. Plus, we could slap a little more amortization on this year’s annual Sno-Park permit. 🙂Continue reading “Brown Mountain Snowshoe (Southwest Oregon) 18-Jan-2021”
Finally, finally, 2021 has arrived and the year that will no longer be named is gone. We’re all hoping the year ahead will be better and brighter. And we’re willing to believe it will – in time. But the Big V is still loose in the land, and the vac jabs are running late, so there’s likely to be more suffering to endure before it’s over. We’ll get there. In the meantime, we’re not going to heap so many “wonderful” expectations on still fresh 2021 that it suffers performance anxiety and disappoints. It’s fine with us if it just ends up being – gasp! – boring. 🙄Continue reading “Bull Gap Snowshoe (Mount Ashland) 05-Jan-2021”
Yes, we’ve had plenty of snow this winter. Plenty of snow. So one would think we’ve been snowshoeing like crazy these past few months. No. The snow this year came in waves, plastering the mountain roads each time. By the time the roads were clear, or at least not too exciting to drive, the next storm hit. The snow itself was beautiful, soft, DEEP powder – superb for skiing, not so for snowshoeing. So we waited until the storms eased, the roads were clearer, and the snow had settled some. Looking for something different, we spied Burton Butte (6,090 feet), sitting about a mile southeast of the Pedersen Sno-Park on the Dead Indian Memorial Highway. There’s an old road (Forest Road (FR) 3862) that runs almost to its broad summit – a road we thought might work with snowshoes. So on a cold, but otherwise bluebird morning, we drove up to the sno-park,
and headed south on the snow-covered Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), following a few blue blazers and an obvious divot in the snow. The snow – of which there was A LOT – was powdery, soft, and totally untracked – an amazingly pristine experience in a crowded world.
After about 0.75 miles on the PCT, we turned east into an area that aerial photographs show as an old clear cut, now some 20 years or so into regrowth. Unlike the more open PCT, here we had to thread our way through smaller, more tightly packed trees, each laden with snow blobs. The LovedOne also managed to collapse a snow-covered air pocket, almost getting her snowshoe stuck under a buried tree as a result.
After less than a half mile of wending our way through this young forest, we came to FR 3862, which was also totally untracked. We’re guessing that it may not appeal to snowmobilers since it doesn’t connect directly to any other roads.
As we went up the road in the brilliant sunshine, we noticed that the snow was losing its powdery quality and becoming “stickier” so that it now clung to our poles and shoes. Our hike was becoming seriously aerobic as muscles not used to repetitively lifting clots of snow came into play. Our original plan had been to follow FR 3862 to FR 3862-240, follow that to near the top of the butte, and then go cross-country to the top. But, as we rounded the butte’s southwestern ridge, we decided it would be easier (or no harder) to just leave the road and strike directly up the very gently sloping ridge. We took the appearance of a dynamically balanced snow sculpture as affirmation of this decision…
Going up through the trees was somewhat easier than working through the softening snow on the road and we soon emerged in to a big open meadow now thickly covered with a smooth blanket of absolutely pristine snow. Wonderful! This is probably a wildflower paradise in late spring and early summer.
Had this been a dirt hike, we’d have just been getting started (these meadows are only two miles from the sno-park). But breaking trail in soft and sticky snow had taken its toll. Continuing on might have ruined an otherwise stellar day through overexertion. Plus the actual top of the butte is tree-covered and viewless. So we enjoyed the meadow a bit more, then headed back.
Despite being only 4.3 miles round-trip with 500 feet of gain, this hike had given us quite a work-out (certain muscles echoed this sentiment until silenced with ibuprofen). But this minor suffering was well worth it for the opportunity to cross untracked snow on a beautiful day to a big snowy meadow! 😀 And, with all this snow, there may be more than a few weeks left in the snowshoe season. And time for the snow to settle just a little bit more. 🙂BACK TO HOME PAGE
The Summit Shelter is nestled in the forest southeast of Mount McLoughlin, the most striking peak in Southern Oregon. In winter, the shelter can be accessed via a network of old roads converted to Nordic trails. The last time we visited the shelter was during the BIG snow winter of 2017. Snowfall thus far this year hasn’t been nearly that epic, but the Billie Creek Divide snow telemetry site (the closest one to the shelter) currently shows 30 inches on the ground. Plenty for snowshoeing if we stayed on the trails. So when the weather gurus promised us a full-on bluebird day, we had little choice but to unlimber the shoes and head for the forest.Continue reading “Summit Shelter Snowshoe (Oregon) 13-Jan-2019”
The Mount Ashland Ski Area opened last week, with about 24 inches of snow on its upper slopes. Our one (and only) snowshoe last winter had been a flounder-fest to the top of Mount Ashland through snow too soft and thin to keep us out of the underlying brush. We ended-up shuffling back along the plowed road. 😥 So, would there be enough snow lower down to support an out-and-back snowshoe to the Grouse Gap Shelter? Only field work could address this conundrum.Continue reading “Snow, But No Shoes (Mt. Ashland, Oregon) 12-Dec-2018”
As the latest manifestation of this winter’s active weather pattern wound down on Tuesday, the forecast said we would be granted two sunny, clear days during which we could renew our weather-burdened spirits. A not-too-hard snowshoe hike with a view seemed about right, so we selected Hobart Bluff in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument as our goal. Hobart Bluff, reportedly named after a local rancher, is part of the first national monument to be protected solely on the strength of its biodiversity. It’s where the Cascade, Klamath, and Siskiyou mountain ranges converge, creating a region of unusual biological diversity and varied landscapes. In summer, reaching Hobart Bluff is an easy, pleasant three or six mile (round-trip) day hike through white fir and oak/chaparral forests and high-country meadows to the Bluff’s craggy basalt cliffs with their expansive views of such peaks as Mount Shasta, Mount McLoughlin, and Pilot Rock. Getting to the Bluff in winter is another matter and our Plan A did not survive first contact with the snow.Continue reading “Hobart Bluff (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 01-Mar-2017”
Mount Ashland is our local ski area and also a Sno-Park. Thanks to the ski area, the Sno-Park, despite its being at 6,600 feet, is usually readily accessible with little, if any, winter driving drama. Thanks to plentiful snowfall these last two years (the current base is over 100 inches!), we’ve been able to use it for several snowshoe trips involving Grouse Gap Shelter and the summit of Mount Ashland. Last December, we started out for McDonald Peak, which is west of Grouse Gap and just north of the Siskiyou Crest, but stopped short once we saw the peak enveloped in clouds. With today predicted (correctly) to be a full bluebird day above the stagnant air clogging the valley floor, I (The LovedOne being preoccupied with sewing a sleeve on a sweater) headed up to the Sno-Park to have another go at McDonald.Continue reading “McDonald Peak Snowshoe 30-Jan-2017”