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”
Today the snow telemetry (SNOTEL) site at Billie Creek Divide indicated a snow depth of just 25 inches – less than half the historical median depth for this day. But we deemed it enough to snowshoe some of the Jackson Klamath Winter Trails near Billie Creek. These trails are old roads that wind their way through the forest starting from the Summit Sno-Park off Highway 140. We sketched out a figure-8 loop on the Petunia, McLoughlin, and Lower Canal Nordic Trails with the Summit Shelter as our goal (and turn-around point).Continue reading “Summit Shelter Snowshoe (Oregon) 06-Jan-2020”
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”
It took a few days following the Great Storm for the weather to return to being abundantly clear and sunny and for us to feel the urge to try out the volumes of snow the Storm had dumped on us. Having made the short snowshoe out-and-back to the South Brown Mountain Shelter before the Great Storm, we thought we’d try a little longer trip to the Summit Shelter. This shelter sits in a cluster of Nordic trails (more details here) just north of Highway 140 near Lake of the Woods, Oregon; trails that are readily accessible from the deluxe (it has ample parking AND a pit toilet) Summit Sno-Park. It was clear, sunny, and about 12ºF when we pulled in to the Sno-Park, with its great view of Brown Mountain to the south.
Here the Nordic trail maps are not much more than simple sketches showing the names and approximate alignments of the various trails. Fortunately, the trails themselves are well signed and marked with the usual blue plastic diamonds. The Powerline Trail leaves going east right from the Sno-Park and we took that trail for 0.25 miles over to its junction with the Lower Canal Trail, the major north-south connector trail.
Pretty soon, we came to a junction with the McLoughlin Trail and turned east (right) on to that trail. There had been ski and snowshoe tracks (this area is closed to snowmobiles) on the Lower Canal Trail, which made travel easier, but once we got on the less-tracked McLoughlin, we quickly found out just how soft, deep, and unconsolidated the snow was. Even with snowshoes, we would sink-in at least 8 inches all the time and much, much deeper in selected spots. Snowshoeing is SOOO much more aerobic than just hiking on dirt! Soon the word consolidated lost all meaning…
It was work, but the day was clear, sunny, and bright, and the forest was amazingly quiet and fully decorated in all manner of snow fittings and sculptures. Truly stunningly beautiful! We passed a junction with the Petunia Trail and stomped on to where the McLoughlin Trail crosses the Pitt View Trail. Here we turned north (left) on to the Pitt View and were almost immediately rewarded with the only clear view we’d get of Mount McLoughlin all day.
The Pitt View Trail climbs a bit, and gently at that, but with the snowshoes it felt a lot steeper (still, we’d gain only 500 feet the whole day). About 0.5 miles up the Pitt View, we came to its junction with the Petunia Trail and after consulting our sketch map,
we turned northeast (right) and headed up the Petunia,
past the Big Mac Trail junction, and on to the junction of the Petunia and McLoughlin Trails (the McLoughlin continues past where we left it earlier in the day and curves around to this junction and beyond),
and then swung south (right) on the McLoughlin for the last 0.25 miles to the shelter.
Local snowmobile and Nordic clubs maintain the Brown Mountain, Summit, Four Mile, and Big Meadow shelters, making sure they are stocked yearly with firewood for use by snowmobilers, cross-country skiers, hikers, and snowshoers. The shelters are open winter months to use to warm-up or in case of an emergency. The layer of snow on the shelter’s roof gives you an idea of what the Great Storm brought us!
The shelter was clean, neat, and fully stocked with wood but the stove was, sadly, not lit, otherwise we might have lingered for awhile. But, nay, after a cold snack, we started the return stomp, back down the Petunia to the Pitt View, and then northwest (right) on to the Pitt View Trail toward the Lower Canal Trail. On the way down the Petunia, we passed some other snowshoers coming up, so our track going down was considerably firmer than it had been coming up. The tracks of the other snowshoers made it easier for us all the way back to the Lower Canal Trail and then along it all the way back to the Summit Sno-Park.
Hard, but rewarding, work (6.3 miles; 500 feet of elevation gain) on a beautiful day through snow-blanketed, quiet forests, with a visit to a classic snow cabin thrown in for good measure. A long stretch of rainy, gloomy weather is forecast for the days ahead, so it felt good to get out and enjoy a full bluebird day!BACK TO HOME PAGE
Mount McLoughlin, at 9,495 feet, is the lowest in Oregon’s chain of six major Cascade Range volcanic peaks (the others are Mount Hood, Mount Jefferson, and the Three Sisters, all above 10,000 feet). Viewed from the northwest (i.e., from Interstate-5), Mount McLoughlin’s strikingly symmetrical shape is the dominant landmark of the Rogue River Valley. After waiting out this year’s truculent El Niño-driven weather, I got myself back up there yesterday. Thanks to the heavy snowfall we had this winter, today’s climb was on dirt to about 8,000 feet and then on Spring snow from there to the top. An interesting mix of summer and winter conditions, all on a near perfect bluebird day.Continue reading “Mount McLoughlin (Sky Lakes Wilderness) 19-Jun-2016”
After waiting out a freezing fog (again), we had time for a short end-of-the-year snowshoe hike into the Sky Lakes Wilderness. The LovedOne had gotten new snowshoes and poles – once we were sure there would actually be snow this winter. 😀 We also wanted to scout the winter route to Mount McLoughlin from the Summit Sno-Park. Some climbing guides suggest parking right along Highway 140 at Mile Post 31 and heading north toward McLoughlin from there – presumably just to save the $5 use fee. Maybe. But we couldn’t see how you could park on the highway since the snowplows leave almost (or no) shoulder. Plus the Fremont-Winema National Forest now has no parking signs on its part of the highway…Continue reading “New Year’s Eve in the Sky Lakes 31-Dec-2015”