Rhyolite & Porcupine (Southern Oregon) 13-Nov-2019

Thus far we’ve had a near record driest Fall. Storms are, however, forecast for this coming weekend (…the weather check is in the mail…promise!). So, with a vague nod toward Butch & Sundance (or any other two name duo you’d like), we did an easy (recovery is almost officially over!), but visually rich, loop in both the Soda Mountain Wilderness and the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument (this is possible because the monument overlaps the wilderness). This loop around Rhyolite Ridge with an out-and-back to Porcupine Mountain on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) affords views of Mount Ashland, Mount Shasta and surrounding peaks, Pilot Rock, Soda Mountain, and Mount McLoughlin. Maybe – just maybe – this was our last dirt hike of the season and frozen goodness will soon fly from the sky. Anything to stop the piteous whining coming from our snowshoes in the garage. 🙄

Cresting Rhyolite Ridge
The view from Rhyolite Ridge [The Whaleback (w), Mt. Shasta (s), Black Mountain (bm), Black Butte (bb), Mount Eddy (e), China Mountain (c)]. The haze filling the valley is from slash pile burns and uncertified wood stoves. 😦
Mount Shasta from Rhyolite Ridge
Pilot Rock from below Rhyolite Ridge
A bear paw in the clouds over Porcupine Mountain
Pilot Rock and clouds from Porcupine
A snow-free Mount McLoughlin from Porcupine
A snow-free Mount Ashland from Porcupine
Returning along the PCT near Point 5241
Our track to and from Porcupine (camera symbol is Rhyolite Ridge)
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Boccard Point (Soda Mountain Wilderness) 11-Aug-2019

Well, the big thunderstorms came and went, leaving behind some much needed rain and (thankfully) no big wildfires. We thought to capitalize on the cool, but clearing, weather that followed the storm by hiking out to Boccard Point in the Soda Mountain Wilderness. If the sky cooperates, big views of Mount Shasta to the south can be had from there. Plus, we hadn’t been to the point together since 2016 and then it was snowing! o_O

To make a day of it, we parked at the Hobart Bluff Trailhead and hiked south on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from there – passing a dozen or so thru-hikers along the way. Just before the PCT starts its descent to Baldy Creek Road, we dodged downhill to the southeast for a short distance to intersect the primitive trail out to the point. We were surprised to find a half mile of that trail obliterated by what looked to us like a recently cut fire break. If so, why now? The world wonders…

Past this damage, the trail was encroached on only by seasonal vegetation and was easy to hike (even though the still wet veg soaked our boots). The day had started out overcast but the clouds were starting to break-up and become picturesque by the time we gained the point. Big views for Shasta, Pilot Rock, and Soda Mountain. The sun joined us for the journey back, which we shortened by going cross-country over a gentle ridge to connect with the PCT near a small pond. A very good day to be outside. Seven or so miles on rich loamy earth, with cedar and pine aromas, senescent meadows, scampering chipmunks, and gorgeous views. 🙂

Clouds starting to break-up over the Hobart Bluff Trailhead
Going south on the PCT
Very early Fall colors
A fire break (?) disrupts part of the trail out to the point
And then the trail returned to being slightly over-grown
That brave hiker smile on Boccard Point, with Pilot Rock in the background
Pilot Rock
Mount Shasta and Iron Gate Reservoir
Soda Mountain
Starting back
On the primitive trail
Here we left the primitive trail and went straight over the low ridge ahead
View north from the crest of the low ridge (the PCT is at the bottom of the meadow)
The small, spring-fed pond just northwest of the PCT
Along the PCT just before the trailhead
Our track to and from Boccard Point
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“Rhyolite Point” (Soda Mtn. Wilderness) 12-Nov-2018

Last April, we did a short hike to Rhyolite Ridge, one of the many odd little destinations tucked away in Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon (4th Edition). This location is on the south side of Point 5401 just west of Pilot Rock. Which raised the question: If a Rhyolite Ridge, then why not a Rhyolite Point? 💡 After all, there must be views from the open, rocky top of Point 5401. Right? We sought an answer to this perplexing question with a hike along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) starting from where it crosses Old Highway 99 near Siskiyou Summit.  The PCT was its usual great self, and we were soon rounding the west side of Point 5401. Here we went cross-country uphill, past an excellent viewpoint for Mount Shasta, to the rocky summit. From here there were views of Pilot Rock looming to the east, of Mount McLoughlin to the north, and, of course, Mount Ashland. There’s a cairn and a register on the summit. Coming back, we followed the ridge to the north to intersect an old road, which we descended for a short distance to where it crosses the PCT, and hence back to the trailhead. Combining the ridge and the point makes for a nice little hike with views in all directions. 🙂

Continue reading ““Rhyolite Point” (Soda Mtn. Wilderness) 12-Nov-2018″

Porcupine Mountain (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 21-Oct-2018

Porcupine Mountain Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Oregon

Last December, after the Ashland Hiking Group made it look interesting, I did my own hike to Porcupine Mountain and really enjoyed it.  The LovedOne couldn’t come on that one 😥 owing to library business but I thought she’d enjoy it too. So today I pried her from amidst the stacks of cellulose and got her on the trail with me 😀 to Porcupine.  It was another great day for a hike and this one played-out the same (and as well) as the first one. The weather was hiker-optimal, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) was in fine condition, and the views from the summit were superb (except in the direction of Mount Shasta, which was obscured by haze). The only difference this time was that the old road (shown on the map as a trail) going from Porcupine Gap over Porcupine Mountain’s south ridge has now been very aggressively decommissioned.  The old road prism is littered with turned earth, rocks, downed trees, and piles of dead brush. A use trail is forming but it’ll be an awkward walk for a while longer.

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Lone Pine Ridge (Soda Mtn. Wilderness) 07-May-2018

Lone Pine Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon

I’d hiked the Lone Pilot Trail in 2015, not too long after it had been brushed out of old ranch roads by the Siskiyou Mountain Club. The Lone Pilot was (and still is) about the only way to visit the interior of this wilderness’ western half without having to thrash your way cross-country. I did the Lone Pilot counter-clockwise starting from the Pilot Rock Trailhead, returning along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT).  The last two miles of the trail before it reaches the PCT run along an old road atop Lone Pine Ridge. Maps show this old road also running down the ridge, into the Dutch Oven Creek drainage, and on east to the Skookum Creek drainage. I got curious as to how far down the ridge you could go on that old road before running into a nasty wall of Ceanothus. Today, with The LovedOne busy being a volunteer treasurer, was my chance to find out (I doubt she would have joined me for a potentially tick-infested bushwhack regardless). Continue reading “Lone Pine Ridge (Soda Mtn. Wilderness) 07-May-2018”

Box O Ranch Loop (Soda Mtn. Wilderness) 26-Apr-2018

Box O Ranch Soda Mountain Wilderness Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Oregon

Oregon’s Soda Mountain Wilderness is divided by a powerline corridor into two pieces. The larger, western piece hosts some of the best known hikes in both this wilderness and in Southwestern Oregon: the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), the Lone Pilot Trail, the Pilot Rock Trail, and the Boccard Point Trail. The eastern piece, where oak and pine forests transition into the state’s eastern desert, has no formal trails and is less well known.  Jenny Creek, which has been suggested for Wild & Scenic River status, and the former Box O Ranch are perhaps the best known of the eastern area’s offerings.  Last December, we did a short exploratory hike to the summit of Rosebud Mountain on the edge of the Oregon Gulch Research Natural Area, which is within the wilderness. Today we explored the heart of the wilderness with a longer loop hike to the former Box O Ranch and Jenny Creek.

UPDATE: We hiked a more direct version of this loop in 2021. Continue reading “Box O Ranch Loop (Soda Mtn. Wilderness) 26-Apr-2018”

Jenny Creek Falls (Northern California) 24-Apr-2018

Jenny Creek Falls Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument California

Jenny Creek – which has been proposed for designation as a Wild and Scenic River – flows south out of Howard Prairie Reservoir in Southwestern Oregon for approximately 22 miles until it empties into Iron Gate Reservoir on the Klamath River in Northern California. Along the way, the creek passes through the eastern edges of both the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and the Soda Mountain Wilderness. Jenny Creek and its tributaries (Keene, Corral, Johnson, and Beaver Creeks) are separated from the Klamath River by two waterfalls (a 15-foot lower and a 40-foot upper) that were created as the creek carved through a lava flow that occurred approximately 5 million years ago. By separating the upper reaches of the watershed from the river, these falls have given rise to the Jenny Creek redband trout, a unique lineage of trout found only in the upper creek. Hence many good reasons to appreciate these falls in person. Only one tiny problem – how to reach them? Continue reading “Jenny Creek Falls (Northern California) 24-Apr-2018”

“Rhyolite Ridge” (Soda Mtn. Wilderness) 08-Apr-2018

Rhyolite Ridge Soda Mountain Wilderness Pilot Rock Oregon

The desire to test a new pack (Zpacks Nero), a tender knee, a break in our fickle Spring weather, and the need for some outdoors put us on a short hike to one of the many odd little destinations tucked away in Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in Southern Oregon (4th Edition). In this instance it was to a viewpoint he calls Rhyolite Ridge, set on the side of Point 5401 just west of Pilot Rock off the Lone Pilot Trail. We could have made this a ridiculously short hike by starting at the Pilot Rock Trailhead but instead made it slightly longer by starting where the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crosses Pilot Rock Road (BLM Road 40-2E-33). Continue reading ““Rhyolite Ridge” (Soda Mtn. Wilderness) 08-Apr-2018″

Hobart Bluff (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 14-Jan-2018

Hobart Bluff Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Oregon

Last winter – the one with snow – we did a fun and not-too-hard snowshoe hike to Hobart Bluff in the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument from Green Springs Summit on Highway 66.  In summer or a snowless winter, 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. Rather than pine (or whinge) endlessly for snow, we opted to hike from Green Springs Summit to the Hobart Bluff Trailhead via the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), then return via the Soda Mountain  Road with a mountain bike-assist.

Continue reading “Hobart Bluff (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 14-Jan-2018”

Hiking with Citizen Kane (Soda Mtn. Wilderness) 17-Dec-2017

Rosebud Mountain Soda Mountain Wilderness Oregon

The Soda Mountain Wilderness, which was established in 2009, is divided by a powerline corridor into two pieces. The larger, western piece hosts some of the best known hikes in both this wilderness and in Southern Oregon: the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), the Lone Pilot Trail, the Pilot Rock Trail, and the Boccard Point Trail. The eastern piece, where oak and pine forests transition into the state’s eastern desert, has no formal trails and is less well known.  Jenny Creek, which has been suggested for Wild & Scenic River status, and the former Box O Ranch are perhaps the best known of the eastern area’s offerings.  Having hiked extensively in the western piece, we decided to take advantage of our no-snow-yet-December to do a short reconn hike in the eastern piece, to the summit of Rosebud Mountain on the edge of the Oregon Gulch Research Natural Area, which is within the wilderness.

Continue reading “Hiking with Citizen Kane (Soda Mtn. Wilderness) 17-Dec-2017”

Porcupine Mountain (Cascade-Siskiyou NM) 11-Dec-2017

Porcupine Mountain Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument Oregon

The season turned, rain and then snow coursed over the hills, and we started tuning-up the snowshoes for another snowy winter. Well, not yet little hikers. Those first snows were badly melted by several days of unusually high (in some cases record-breaking) temperatures. Then high pressure settled in, diverting our snow to the East Coast, and leaving us with a multi-day run of clear, cold, sunny, but otherwise snowfree weather. There’s snow up at Crater Lake National Park and in the High Cascades but not so much closer to home. So time to do some local hikes on dirt while waiting for the National Weather Service’s prognostications about our snowy future to come to fruition. The Ashland Hiking Group had made their recent hike to Porcupine Mountain look interesting, so I headed-out to see it for myself.  The LovedOne’s recent ascent to treasurer of the county library Friends has rendered her less available for hiking – so my pride in her accomplishments is mingled with missing her on hikes.

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