Big Kitty on the PCT (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 09-Apr-2022

After two days of warm, almost summer-like weather, it’s beginning to look as though a late season, multi-day rain and snow extravaganza is heading toward us. This atmospheric excitement is supposed to start tomorrow and continue well into next week. It won’t be shorts weather for awhile, but we can sure use the water. πŸ˜‚

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Horseshoe Ranch II (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 23-Jan-2022

At about 9,100 acres (3,682 ha), Horseshoe Ranch is the largest piece of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument within California. The ranch (officially the Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area) was added to the Monument in 2017. We paid our first visit here late last year and enjoyed a hike up Slide Ridge and down along Scotch Creek through shrubs, oaks, and conifers. We returned today – in brilliant sunshine and unseasonable warmth – to follow another old ranch road and explore the area around Brushy Creek. We even got a California Lands Pass for this visit.

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Boccard~Soda Loop (Soda Mountain Wilderness) 03-Dec-2021

After two days of heavy lifting and organizing, a swarm of volunteers (me included) got the library’s long-delayed used book sale ready to go. It’s not technically a sale, as the books are free, but donations are readily accepted. The LovedOne spent today there with other volunteers, running around keeping the cellulose moving out the door. Seems there was a pent-up demand for books (Why would that be?) and donations on this first day were particularly generous. 😁 The sale continues tomorrow and hopefully so will the donations – which are used to fund some of the library’s reading and outreach projects.

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Horseshoe Ranch I (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 21-Nov-2021

Although most of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument is inside Oregon, the Monument’s expansion in 2017 brought the Horseshoe Ranch Wildlife Area in Northern California inside its boundary. Horseshoe Ranch covers about 9,100 acres (3,682 ha) of rolling to steep hills festooned with shrubs, oaks, and conifers surrounding Scotch and Slide Creeks and several of their tributaries. Its northern boundary abuts the Soda Mountain Wilderness. As its name suggests, this wildlife area was a working cattle ranch from 1908 to about 1976.

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Green Mountain (Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument) 13-Jun-2021

We made a modest donation to the Soda Mountain Wilderness Council and they sent us a newsletter, which, among other things, listed four off-beat hikes in the Monument and Soda Mountain Wilderness. We’d done three of the four but the fourth, a loop past Green Mountain (not to be confused with Green Springs Mountain) from the road to Boccard Point, was new to us. It looked like a 4 mile (6.4 km) loop that would fit neatly into the pleasant morning of a day forecast to end with clouds, wind, and rain (which it did πŸ˜€).

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Box O Ranch Loop (Soda Mountain Wilderness) 15-Apr-2021

Oregon’s Soda Mountain Wilderness is divided into two sections by a high-voltage power line. The western section got the few trails in this wilderness; the eastern section got none. Which, of course, spawned our interest in exploring it. We did a short hike from Randcore Pass to Rosebud Mountain (Rosebud! Rosebud!) in 2017 and then a loop from the pass to the old Box O Ranch in 2018. These explorations were done by connecting old and fading roads with a little cross-country travel. During our loop in 2018, uncertainty about the location of the wilderness’ eastern boundary got us to climb a rocky ridge we didn’t need to climb. True, we got a view of Mount McLoughlin, but it wasn’t worth the effort. Map gazing (and a download of the wilderness boundaries) suggested a lower, easier path for part of the loop. We went out today to explore this revised loop.

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Backdoor to Rhyolite Ridge (Soda Mountain Wilderness) 09-Apr-2021

Rhyolite Ridge is a bench that curves around below Point 5401 (“Rhyolite Point”) on the western edge of the Soda Mountain Wilderness. We first learned of it from William Sullivan’s Southern Oregon hiking guides. It’s a short diversion, on what was is now a much faded old ranch road, from the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Going out to it gives you sweeping views of the peaks (most notably Mount Shasta) and valleys to the south. Its south-facing aspect also encourages early season emergence of some unique wildflowers such as the Dwarf Hesperochiron and Yellow Fritillary. We’ve hiked out to the Ridge several times from the PCT, as have others judging from how a single-track has now formed in the old road.

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Point 5321 & Hey Bear! (Southern Oregon) 28-Nov-2020

Our last hike to Rhyolite Point (Point 5401 on the map) west of Pilot Rock was in April of this year. The first wave of the Big V had just broken over Southern Oregon. There was confusion about whether you could go outside and, if so, where and when and with whom. Eventually outside was deemed acceptable. But it was judged best if you stayed local, distanced, and didn’t try anything epic where rescuing your sorry ass might tie-up resources needed elsewhere. So we did a short loop around Rhyolite Point on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) for wildflowers and views. We saw lots of wildflowers but only three people (at a distance) and had a nice hike. πŸ™‚

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Snow on the Siskiyous (Southern Oregon) 11-Nov-2020

In November of 2016, we hiked out to Boccard Point from the (then new to us) trailhead on Baldy Creek Road. It was snowing when we started, the Point was packed in clouds when we got there, and the sun only appeared when we were on our way back. πŸ™„ In May of this year I used this same trailhead to hike west on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) to Porcupine Mountain. The views along this route were impressive – perhaps even a little more so than from the Point. Scroll forward to today and the first snows have fallen on this section of the PCT. With more and bigger snows expected soon, today seemed like the moment to reprise the views experienced on that May hike, this time on walkable snow and with The LovedOne. ❀

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East Fork Camp Creek (Soda Mtn. Wilderness) 03-Jun-2020

In the United States, wilderness areas were not established just so we could go hiking in them. They were created to serve higher purposes – such as securing the benefits of wilderness for present and future generations, preserving areas untrammeled by humans, protecting a community of life, etc. So one shouldn’t expect to find trails in these areas. It’s nice if there are some but that’s just sprinkles on life’s doughnut. So when the Soda Mountain Wilderness was designated in 2009, there were no formal trails in it other than the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), which skirts its northern edge. There were, however, several old dirt logging and ranching roads. The Siskiyou Mountain Club turned some of these into hiking trails – most notably the Lone Pilot Trail and the Boccard Point Trail. This was great work on the Club’s part but it left more than a few of the old tracks unexplored. Inconceivable! Previous efforts on our part lead to explorations of Scotch Creek and Lone Pine Ridge. Today it was Camp Creek’s turn.

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Boccard~Soda Loop (Soda Mtn. Wilderness) 26-Apr-2020

The hike out to the big views from Boccard Point in the Soda Mountain Wilderness is one of the classics here in Southwestern Oregon. You can reach it in two ways: as an out-and-back along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from the Hobart Bluff Trailhead or from a more informal trailhead at the end of the Baldy Creek Road, one we first found out about from the Siskiyou Mountain Club. We’d hiked in from Hobart Bluff last year and so decided to venture in from Baldy Creek this year. We made a loop out of it by adding a short, easy cross-country transit over the summit of Soda Mountain. The views from both the point and the mountain were superb on this day of most excellent hiking weather. πŸ™‚

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