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. 😰

Continue reading “Looping Through the Denman (Southwest Oregon) 06-Apr-2022”

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.

Continue reading “Classic Upper Table Rock (Southwest Oregon) 25-Mar-2022”

Skies Over Upper Table (Oregon) 05-Oct-2021

And so a summer that was too hot, too dry, and too smokey finally comes to a close. It won’t be missed. A change in the weather pattern started today – with dropping temperatures and cloudy skies ahead. And maybe magic sky water too! And there is even crazy talk of a La Niña winter! Oh, rapturous joy! 😂 What better place to celebrate the changing sky than by gazing longingly at it from the flat expanse of nearby Upper Table Rock. 🙂

Continue reading “Skies Over Upper Table (Oregon) 05-Oct-2021”

Wildflowers on Upper Table (Southwest Oregon) 13-Apr-2021

Vernal pools and wildflowers flourish briefly each year on the flat summits of the Table Rocks, two extremely popular local hiking areas. We missed seeing the ponds and flowers last year because of Big V-driven closures. This year we visited Upper Table in February and Lower Table in March, just in time to see the vernal pools form. We promised to come back for the wildflowers, particularly the Dwarf Meadowfoams, subspecies of which are found only here. Yet we kept letting another visit slide. But the rains came late this year and left early and the drought rolled on and temperatures were “above normal” and the vernal pools withered. It suddenly dawned on us that we going to miss the meadowfoams yet again! The LovedOne was busy but I pushed off a Zoom meeting to make an early morning pilgrimage to the top of Upper Table.

Continue reading “Wildflowers on Upper Table (Southwest Oregon) 13-Apr-2021”

And Then A Year Went By… 11-Mar-2021

A year ago today, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a pandemic because the Big V was totally out of control. Some of us probably knew what “pandemic” meant in the abstract, but none of us had a clue what declaring one was going to do to our lives. We’d gone hiking that day only to come home and find falling stocks, closed businesses, and cancellations galore. It’s been a long year since. One of our dearest friends lost her brother to the Big V but everyone else we know has made it this far in decent shape. The biggest hit we took personally was seeing almost all of our big travel plans for last year simply evaporate. We were disappointed but that was trivial compared to the millions employed by the travel industry who suddenly found themselves without work. 😥

Continue reading “And Then A Year Went By… 11-Mar-2021”

Interlude on Upper Table (Southwest Oregon) 10-Feb-2021

We had a nice visit to the Blue Grotto over the weekend, followed by two days of work and volunteering. But walls of water – in the form of a series of storms off the Pacific – are due in starting tomorrow. Today was an interlude. Initially forecast to be foggy, it started that way, then quickly evolved into a bright, clear day. 😎 One that called for yet another visit to a local favorite. Upper Table Rock is always the same place, but never really the same. Nature is dynamic – change is constant – there’s always something fascinating happening at some level. You just have to keep adjusting your frame of reference. So we went for a pleasant 6 mile (9.6 km) walk, gazing at the sky and the ground and in between as we went. Grass widow (Olsynium douglasii) shoots have started to appear, signalling the approach of Spring. It was a good walk on a fine day. 🙂

Continue reading “Interlude on Upper Table (Southwest Oregon) 10-Feb-2021”

Return to Upper Table (Southwest Oregon) 11-Oct-2020

The Table Rocks are another set of compelling hiking areas near us. They’re very popular and best known for the wildflower displays and ecologically-sensitive vernal pools that burst out on their flat summits in the Spring. A visit then in search of new or different wildflowers – or better photos of old favorites – has become a bit of a ritual. Not this year. The Rocks are managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Nature Conservancy, who chose to close this area for several months because of the Big V. The closure was eventually lifted but then there was a lot of heat and smoke in the valley. So the last time we were able to visit was just before Christmas in 2019. But it rained ( 😀 ) yesterday, clearing the air and dropping the temperature. And some artistic clouds appeared! So we headed out to reprise a hike we did in 2019 that took us off the popular paths and through the wild center of the formation.

Continue reading “Return to Upper Table (Southwest Oregon) 11-Oct-2020”

Hiking Southern Oregon: 25 Hikes (February 2020)

To celebrate our 600th post on WordPress, we’re highlighting a select few of the many hikes we’ve enjoyed here in Southwest Oregon.

As we’ve perused lists of Oregon’s greatest hikes, we’ve come to notice that these lists are heavily skewed, with a few exceptions, toward hikes near Portland.  That metro area’s greater population helps if a list is based on some kind of vote.  And proximity to its major airport helps get votes from those who drop in for a brief Western adventure.  Even some of the classics, like the Wallowas in Eastern Oregon or the Three Sisters in Central Oregon, often don’t make these lists because they are too far away.  So a lot of “great” hikes get done near Portland – the state’s most populated town. And then the complaints roll in about how there’s no parking, the trails are too crowded, you need a permit or must pay a fee, it’s raining, etc.

Continue reading “Hiking Southern Oregon: 25 Hikes (February 2020)”

Lower Table Rock Plateau (Southern Oregon) 23-Dec-2019

The horseshoe-shaped Upper and Lower Table Rocks are among the most popular hiking spots in the Rogue Valley. We’ve certainly hiked both of them a bunch. The Spring and early summer wildflower and vernal pool displays on these mesas are particularly attractive. But it’s the winter months, when the luxuriant poison oak, voluminous ticks, and feisty rattlesnakes are on holiday (i.e., not a creature was stirring, etc.), that open-up some off-trail possibilities.

Continue reading “Lower Table Rock Plateau (Southern Oregon) 23-Dec-2019”

Opting Outside Inside Upper Table Rock 29-Nov-2019

I have been a member of REI for a long, long time. Possibly only velociraptors might have had lower membership numbers? They were pretty good hikers too, right up until that unfortunate thing with the asteroid. So sad. 😦 Anyway, when REI came up with the idea (#OptOutside) of closing on Black Friday – so we (and their employees) would likely visit Nature rather than join a mob to buy yet more unneeded stuff (Does Marie Kondo hike?) – we were all in. The LovedOne had some library tasks to perform in the afternoon, so we opted to reprise a short hike we’d done two years ago through the inner reaches of Upper Table Rock. We just reversed the hike’s direction this time.

Continue reading “Opting Outside Inside Upper Table Rock 29-Nov-2019”

A Pond on Upper Table Rock (Oregon) 11-Jan-2019

The Upper and Lower Table Rocks (near Medford, Oregon) are ecologically famous for the seasonal vernal pool habitat that exists on their tops; habitat that is home to some endemic (and rare) plant and animal species. But other types of water bodies, particularly natural ones, are scarce on these mesas. While using aerial photos to scout our recent tour of the Camp White pillboxes, I spotted what looked like a small pond on Upper Table’s northeast slope. Judging from its position on the slope and the lack of disturbance around it, this pond looked to be the only natural one on either Rock. So, of course, we had to go see it for ourselves.

Continue reading “A Pond on Upper Table Rock (Oregon) 11-Jan-2019”