Tunnel Ridge Loop (Southwest Oregon) 15-Apr-2022

Well, last week gave us some of the weather we’d liked to have gotten spread out across January, February, and March – rain, snow, hail, sleet, high winds, etc. But, no, the skies waited and then slammed us with this stuff all at once. Recently brown hills are now green lower down and white higher up. The wildflowers are confused. But magic sky water is most welcome here however and whenever it arrives. More of this celestial moistness is expected in this evening and may then continue for another week. 😁

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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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Singing the Song of Songer (Southwest Oregon) 07-Apr-2022

It rained last Monday and it’s supposed to rain again (with a little snow higher up) next Monday. But yesterday and today it was sunny, clear, and pushing 80℉ (27℃). Ah, Spring in Oregon, how fickle art thou blandishments. πŸ™„ Despite the fact that the world is still a frustrating mess and the drought continues to weigh heavily on the land, we decided to celebrate Spring (or at least the briefly sunny part of it) with yet another hike. This time we sought to revisit Songer Butte near Emigrant Lake just south of Ashland.

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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. 😰

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Mount Ashland (Southwest Oregon) 01-Apr-2022

Mount McLoughlin dominates the eastern horizon here, but it’s Mount Ashland (7,532 ft / 2,295 m) – with its ski area and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and wildflower meadows and views – that draws the crowds. It’s summit is not as distinctly visible as McLoughlin’s but, if you can pick out a giant white ball, you’re seeing Mount Ashland.

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Classic Upper Table Rock (Southwest Oregon) 25-Mar-2022

It was a perfect day – clear, sunny, warm – for a hike. True, the outside world is still a mess. And true, we desperately need a lot more rain. And true, that personal business thing was back in play. But today was, nonetheless, a perfect day for a hike. But only the morning was available. So nearby Upper Table Rock got the nod. We’ve done different hikes at Upper Table, including going across the center of the horseshoe. Today, however, we did the classic out-and-back stroll to the western arm, past the VORTAC station and the old stock pond.

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Flowing Through the Forest (Southwest Oregon) 22-Mar-2022

As of today, and despite a snow dump earlier and a few passing storms more recently, our water year precipitation is still 26% below normal (a term I now use with caution). We’d need almost 10 inches (254 mm) of rain by April 1st to make up the difference and end the drought. Even The LovedOne – a classic glass half full optimist – is becoming reconciled to that (short of an extremely wayward hurricane) not happening. After all, you need something to fill that glass with. We’re bracing for a long, hot, dry summer… 😰

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Baldy Peak (Southwest Oregon) 18-Mar-2022

Because of yet more personal business and more bouts of marginal weather, we had been denied a hike since we visited Whisky Creek over a week ago. πŸ˜₯ At least we got a decent day’s worth of much needed rain out of the last storm system (and another wet storm is upon us as I write). 😊 But today offered us a clear(ish), cool, and sunny 😎 interlude between these storms. And, with our personal business project temporarily in the hands of others, we – fortuitously – had time for a hike.

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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. πŸ˜₯ And part was due to anger and frustration and ultimately despair about what’s happening in Ukraine. πŸ˜ͺ 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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Buck Rock Tunnel (Ashland, Oregon) 28-Feb-2022

The Buck Rock Tunnel is one of the most visible remnants of a rail line that was never built. It was to be part of the Oregon & California (O&C) Railroad Company’s planned route over the Siskiyou Pass and into California. Construction began in 1883, using Chinese labor, and ceased, with the tunnel only partially dug, in 1884. The O&C was acquired soon thereafter by the Southern Pacific (SP) Railroad, who put tracks over the pass via a different route. The Buck Rock Tunnel then sat abandoned and nearly forgotten until a Bureau of Land Management (BLM) employee rediscovered it in 1966. As an important piece of Southern Oregon history, it became part of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in 2014.

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Backdoor to Bolt Mountain (Southwest Oregon) 25-Feb-2022

Sometime in 1939, my mother moved to London from her small hometown in Scotland. She probably looked forward to an exciting life in the big city after a constrained one in the provinces. It just turned-out to be “exciting” in a very bad way. War had been in the air for awhile but after “peace in our time” people thought they’d dodged the proverbial bullet. Then the Nazis manufactured an excuse to invade Poland and WWII was off and running.

Mom stayed in London for the whole war – through the threat of invasion, the nightly bombings of the Blitz, the V1s, the V2s, and the arrival of the Americans (one of whom was an Army Air Corp officer – my dad). Neither she nor he ever spoke much about WWII – they weren’t an overly talkative generation when it came to that. But I nevertheless picked-up some sense of what they – and millions of others at that time – had been through at the hands of an evil aggressor.

So there was just a little dΓ©jΓ  vu as we watched Russia go on and on about not invading Ukraine (“peace in our time” for the 21st Century) and then manufacture a reason (Ukrainians are Nazis!) for doing just that. Supposedly serious people were shocked! shocked! that this could happen. Mom and dad are gone now, but I don’t think they’d have been too shocked to see yet another dictator decide to simply take what he wanted – or at least try to in the face of stiff opposition. I can only hope that supposedly serious people get over being shocked and get on with helping the Ukrainians fight for their freedom and sovereignty.


Hiking (along with a host of other recreational activities) is a triviality in comparison to war. Not that was it ever meant to be serious. It’s simply a pleasure, a diversion, one that eases the anxiety and stress that comes from seeing the world convulse. Maybe by releasing natural endorphins or something.

I needed a brief break from watching Putin try (try!) to dismantle Ukraine. So, with The LovedOne busy at the library (where cellulose fumes apparently substitute for endorphins), I headed to Bolt Mountain (2,180 ft / 667 m) near Grants Pass to finally hike it on a clear and sunny 😎 day. All our previous hikes of it having been plagued by clouds, fog, drizzle, and gloom. 😞

The official trail starts from Fish Hatchery Park ($5 day use fee) but you can also approach from Stringer Gap (no fee). This is the backdoor to Bolt. Two old roads and a web of mountain biker use trails radiate from the Gap – many of these loop back on themselves and do not go to Bolt. But the old road going south and then west eventually becomes a single-track trail that connects with the official trail to Bolt at about 1,600 feet (488 m).

Starting out on one of the old roads
Frozen
Sunshine on an old road
The eastern side (arrow) of Bolt Mountain comes into view
Along the south side of Bolt
A handmade sign marks the junction with the official trail
On the official trail
Looking at a giant clearcut to the west
On the north side of Bolt
Approaching the summit ridge
The top of Bolt Mountain – in sunshine for the first time!
Looking to the southeast through some smoke haze
Looking west toward the Siskiyou Crest
Grants Pass to the northeast
Heading back
Sunlight and shadows
Spring Gold – another early season wildflower
Back on the old road

From the Gap to Bolt and back came to 5.4 miles (8.6 km) with 1,000 feet (305 m) of elevation gain. This was a good break. Then it was back to watching evil try to defeat freedom. More storms are supposedly headed our way so maybe by early next week we’ll be all wet. 😁

My double lollipop hike to and from Bolt
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