Wagner Butte (Southwest Oregon) 02-Dec-2020

The Bear Creek Valley (Bear Creek is a small tributary of the Rogue River) had been blanketed in a cold, damp inversion fog for several days. So we thought we might as well go high and look down, rather than up, at it. Wagner Butte (7,255 ft (2,211 m)) was an obvious choice for a high perch. It’s been two-and-a-half years since either of us did this locally classic hike up to the old fire lookout site on the prow of the ridge north of the butte’s true high point. Time to get reacquainted with an old friend! 🙂 Of course, we awoke to find that the fog we were planning to get above had completely disappeared overnight and we were faced with having to hike under totally bluebird conditions. 😎 Such are the sacrifices hikers have to make. 😀

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McDonald Peak (Siskiyou Crest) 21-Nov-2019

While we were up north on business, a small storm swept through Southern Oregon, leaving a few inches of snow at the higher elevations. Supposedly bigger storms are forecast for next week (or the week thereafter or whenever). But with some snow on the ground, we thought it would be fun to do a short (6 mile round-trip; 900 feet of gain) hike to McDonald Peak just west of the Mount Ashland ski area (Sno-park permits had gone into effect on the 1st so this hike started amortizing that seasonal expense). My last trips to this peak had been on snowshoes or while exploring the Split Rock Trail (which goes from Forest Road 20 to McDonald and on down to Wagner Glade Gap). The LovedOne had not been to this peak before.

From the Mount Ashland Sno-park, we went out along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and came back along Forest Road (FR) 20 (mainly to avoid the chunks of ice that were melting out of the trees). Absent a truly big storm, snow depth is bipolar at this time of year – respectable in the shade but scant to non-existent out where the sun shines. And it was shining, which took the edge off the cold, breezy air. With no flowers, mushrooms, or madrones around, I let myself get distracted by abstractions in the frozen puddles along FR 20. 🙄 We capped off the day with sustenance at Kaleidoscope Pizza, home to some truly great slices! 🙂

Going out along the PCT
Skimpy snow at Grouse Gap
Climbing the PCT to the ridge south of McDonald
It almost looked like winter on the shady side of the ridge
Mount McLoughlin from the summit of McDonald
To the west: Observation Peak (O), Dutchman Peak (D), and still snowless Grayback Mountain (G)
To the north: Anderson Butte (A) and Wagner Butte (W.), with its true high point (a) and the old lookout site (b) reached by a trail
Coming back along Forest Road 20
Ice I
Ice II
A binary in ice
Soon (hopefully) this sign will be buried in snow (Mount Shasta on the horizon)
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High on Wagner Butte (Talent, Oregon) 14-May-2018

Wagner Butte Ashland Oregon

The views from the old fire lookout site at the north end of Wagner Butte make the trail to it (USFS #1011) one of the most popular in the Rogue Valley.  Yet that site, at about 7,080 feet, even though it commands a great view of the Bear Creek and Rogue River Valleys, is not the actual high point on the butte. That honor belongs to Point 7255, about a half-mile to the south. So, for sometime different, I took the opportunity (The LovedOne had a library board meeting – still a volunteer but this is beginning to feel like work) to seek a true high on Wagner. So, up the #1011 to just below the point, then cross-country up to the ridge, then north along it around rock gendarmes and across sagebrush flats, to the pile of lichen-blackened rocks that is the high point. Scrambled up the rocks to find the summit spotted with clusters of swarming Convergent Ladybugs (cute little critters that I took great pains not to step on). Big views in all directions from here.  Explored the ridge a bit, then descended a brushy slope to the #1011, and returned on that (8.5 miles round-trip; 2,400 feet of elevation gain). Clear trail, no snow, and excellent weather. Going down, passed a dozen hikers of their way up! Continue reading “High on Wagner Butte (Talent, Oregon) 14-May-2018”

Split Rock Trail (Ashland, Oregon) 28-Oct-2017

Split Rock Trail Ashland Oregon

I first became aware of this trail from a 2013 Ashland Hiking Group post and then later found it posted as that on the Hiking Project.  In both posts, the trail was described as indistinct, brushy, and hard to follow in places.  Yet I could see it as part of a hike and bike loop – perhaps the last one of the 2017 summer season – involving it, Forest Roads 20 and 22, and the Wagner Butte Trail. So I girded myself for some bushwhacking and route-finding and set-off on a perfect bluebird day to explore this variation on the classic hike to Wagner Butte.  As this loop progressed, I would be pleasantly surprised to find that the Ashland trails plan that has been in the works for years had finally come to fruition for this tread.
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