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. 😥 And part was due to anger and frustration and ultimately despair about what’s happening in Ukraine. 😪 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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Whisky Creek Cabin (Rogue River) 12-Mar-2021

We backpacked the Rogue River Trail in 2015 and have returned almost every year since to make the shorter journey from Grave Creek to Whisky Creek Cabin and back. This is mainly because this is a wonderful low-altitude, early-season hike. We also like to visit the final resting place of Kitty Mack, the beloved cat of the cabin’s last owner. We last did this hike almost exactly a year ago, just as the impacts of the Big V were starting to become clearer. Last year two private raft trips were starting out from Grave Creek (permits are not required until mid-May) but there weren’t many hikers. This year there were no rafts but lots more hikers – hiking have become immensely popular as a counter to the Big V’s depredations. We added something extra to this visit by going up for a quick look at the Reno Mine, which metastasizes a slope above the cabin.

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A Visit to Kitty Mack (Rogue River) 19-Mar-2020

Today was the first day of Spring here in the Northern Hemisphere; the earliest arrival of the spring equinox in 124 years. Spring, with its feelings of rejuvenation, renewal, and regrowth, is, across many cultures, generally a happy time. While absolutely acknowledging the challenge that Big V poses to our health and our economy, we were not going to let it diminish the positive feelings that come with Spring. So we decided to celebrate its arrival with a seven-mile (round-trip) walk on the iconic Rogue River Trail to the Whisky Creek Cabin, a National Historic Place and the former home of Lou Martin and Kitty Mac.

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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.

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Whisky Creek Cabin (Rogue River Trail) 03-May-2018

Whisky Creek Cabin Rogue River Trail Oregon

The plan had been to explore the trail from Hobson Horn toward Silver Peak and the Illinois River. To do so required that the Bear Camp Road – the usual shuttle route for Rogue River backpackers and rafters between Grave Creek and Foster Bar – be open. It wasn’t. It’s still closed by snow (from where?) and may not open until after the Memorial Day holiday. This tidbit of information didn’t surface until after we’d driven to Galice. But it was a beautiful day – one that DEMANDED a hike – so Plan B quickly became an out-and-back hike to visit Kitty Mack at the Whisky Creek Cabin, about 3.6 miles downstream of the put-in at Grave Creek. Yes, Plan B posed some challenges – sunny weather with an artistic hint of clouds; gentle cooling breezes; numerous birds cheeping melodiously; wildflowers blooming; an iconic river flowing; cold, clear side-streams gushing; an obvious tread; no ticks; poison oak well off the trail – but we met these with tightened laces and an extra ration of salmon jerky!

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Whisky Creek Cabin (Rogue River Trail) 13-Jan-2017

Whiskey Creek Cabin Rogue River Trail Oregon

Whisky Creek Cabin is the oldest known still standing mining cabin in the remote lower Rogue River canyon. It sits just above the iconic Rogue River Trail (BLM, USFS, Our Trip) about 3.5 miles downstream of the put-in at Grave Creek. It makes a great goal for a moderate and educational dayhike in all but the summer months, when it can be brutally hot in the canyon. With the remnants of the Great Storm of 2017 (now referred to locally as the “Big Dump”) still stifling access to higher elevations, we figured, based on a previous hike there (post), that the Rogue River Trail, which is south-facing and at an elevation of only 600 feet, would allow us to do a snow-free out-and-back hike to the cabin. The drive over to the trailhead was on roads disconcertingly lined with a foot or more of snow but when we got to Grave Creek, we found it and the trail almost entirely clear of snow! The added bonus for hiking at this time of year was a chance to see the Rogue at high water – it had come down some since being in flood just two days ago but was still impressively high.

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Whisky Creek Cabin (Rogue River) 16-Feb-2016

Whisky Creek Cabin Rogue River Oregon

When we backpacked the Rogue River Trail last year, we were so anxious to get on with that long-awaited backpack that we blew right past the Whisky Creek Cabin historic site. On reflection, we came to realize that we should have slowed it down and done a visit. So, thus chastened, we used a rare break in the waves of storms rolling over Southern Oregon (and elsewhere) to remedy that oversight.

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