Nerstrand~Big Woods State Park (Minnesota) 14-May-2022

Our temporary quarters are fine but a little claustrophobic. This closeness continues to encourage us to go outside as often as possible. Fortunately, after its excesses of last week, the weather seems to be settling down to some approximation of “normal” (whatever that means these days). Hence today was warm and sunny, not humid, and with no bugs (yet). Ideal conditions under which to get on with our state park quest.

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Lost Creek Lake (Southwest Oregon) 09-May-2021

Our friend Jennifer is a Southern Oregon native and her parents and brother still live in Medford. When she’s in town visiting them, and our schedules mesh, we try to do a hike with her. Today being Mother’s Day and all, there was just time for a short hike together in the morning. An out-and-back at Lost Creek Lake – between the Lewis Road Trailhead and the Blue Grotto – was deemed just the right length (4.5 miles / 7.2 km). The Grotto’s waterfall is now dry. This is, however, that fleeting moment in the annual water cycle when the reservoir is near full. For a couple of months, it will actually look like a lake, rather than like a mud-ringed bathtub (it’s now at 83% full and that may be as good as it gets this year). Plus there are some different wildflowers in bloom now. So we went out-and-back, enjoying views of the lake, catching-up on gossip, trying to identify odd wildflowers, and dodging (hopefully) the massive growths of poison oak bordering the trail. It was two hours well spent, with plenty of time remaining afterward for Mother’s Day festivities. 🙂

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Wake-Robins in the Forest (Southwest Oregon) 28-Apr-2021

Our recent trip down Oregon’s Illinois River was excellent. But it did reveal some flagging of the old rafting muscles, as it’s been nearly two years since our last go with the flow. So between paddling (not optional on the Illinois), sinew clenching plunges into dang cold (50°F (10°C)) water, pushing and pulling of rafts off rocks, and helping a little with hauling gear, we were a tad sore. We got home and (being tough & stupid) immediately got on with a yard project that’s been next week for a year now. Magnificently heavy mountains of dirt, grass, bark, and pavers got heaved hither and yon over hills and dales of our own making. We were just two pavers short of having recreated the Great Pyramid of Giza when the project was finally finished. I say “finally” secure in the knowledge that such projects never actually finish until the house is sold or burns down during a project involving blow torches.

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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.

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Spring Touches the Forest (Jacksonville) 04-Apr-2021

“If we had no winter, the Spring would not be so pleasant:
if we did not sometimes taste of adversity,
prosperity would not be so welcome.”

Anne Bradstreet (1612 – 1672)

We’re now part way to vaccinated, but not all the way there just yet. Nonetheless, we’ve got our first big adventure for 2021 coming up at the end of this month. It’s local (no airplanes, for the moment) and all outdoors (generous social distancing), so, as with our mule trip last September, we’re not anticipating any after effects. Still, it’ll be better than good to finish with the vaccinations. We realize that these are controversial for some but for those of us who grew-up facing the very real threats of polio and smallpox or needed immunization certificates to travel, they’re simply not. So, until the jabs are done, we’re still sticking with local hikes, which, fortunately, always seem refreshingly different every time we do them.

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Mount Ashland Meadows (Southwest Oregon) 30-Jun-2020

The wildflower season is gaining speed in the lush meadows that ring Mount Ashland. From now through August, there will be changing displays of flowers of different heights, sizes, and colors. The bumblebees will be particularly active in August, as would, in a “normal” year, numerous PCT thru-hikers (but probably not this year 😦 ). We started from where the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) crosses the Mount Ashland Ski Road about two miles short of the ski area and hiked the PCT west to Grouse Gap and back. This is an easy six miles (with no appreciable gain) through patches of forest and swaths of meadows, with occasional views of Mount Shasta. A Lazuli Bunting and a Western Tanager made colorful cameo appearances, as did a doe with two spotted fawns and a nest of noisy baby woodpeckers. But this venture was about flowers and, by focusing on them, we stretched what’s usually a three-hour hike into a four-plus hour one. This was easy to do on a day that offered clear, sunny, and cool hiking weather. 🙂 We had the trail to ourselves going out but “distance-passed” more than a few hikers on the way back.

Morning along the PCT
Siskiyou Penstemon
Azure Penstemon
Western Wallflower
A doe among the lupines
Along the PCT
Daisy Fleabane
Blue Stickseed
Greene Goldenweed
Western Bistort
Hiking through the corn lilies
California Corn Lily
California Corn Lily
Mount Shasta
Orange Agoseris
Richardson Geranium
Eastwood Daisy
Scarlet Gilia
White Bog-Orchid
Arriving at Grouse Gap

Circling the Ditch (Southwestern Oregon) 29-May-2020

The Sterling Mine Ditch Trail is undoubtedly one of the best known trails in Southwestern Oregon. For some 21 miles, it follows the route of an old ditch dug (in the 1870s) to supply water from the Little Applegate River to a hydraulic mine in Sterling Gulch. Because of its linearity, doing a loop hike involving a long stretch of it requires some improvisation. So back in 2015, we figured how to do such a loop from the Deming Trailhead by combining a little road walking with the then newly opened connector trail from Wolf Gap. Although today was forecast as a hot one (some 20°F (12°C) above whatever passes for normal these days), the weather in the days ahead was forecast to involve exciting bursts of water and electricity, so we ventured forth today to repeat this loop.

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Applegate Lake (Southwest Oregon) 20-May-2020

The Big V has (mercifully) only lightly touched our county thus far, so we were allowed to start re-opening last week. But a late season storm and some remote work conspired to keep us “in place” since our stroll to Vulture Rock five days ago. There’s an old saying that summer in Oregon doesn’t really start until the Fourth of July – and last week may be proof of that. 🙄 But when today was forecast to be an artistic mix of sun and clouds, we decided to go see if Applegate Lake looked like a lake yet.

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Beaver Dam Trail (Southwest Oregon) 10-May-2020

We first came across this little trail on the Hiking Project, then found a description of it on the Forest Service’s website (#1001). This description is one of the longest and most effusive we’ve seen recently on a USFS website, so we decided to go see this trail for ourselves. We also hoped that now we’d miss any lingering snow (there was none) but still be in time for a few wildflowers (we were).

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Little Things (May 2020)

“There is nothing, Sir, too little for so little a creature as man. It is by studying little things that we attain the great art of having as little misery and as much happiness as possible.”

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
California Ground-Cone flowers
A Forget-Me-Not Moth caterpillar feeds on Great Hound’s Tongue flowers
Mountain Strawberry
Little claws
Slender-Tubed Iris
Tolmie’s Pussy Ears (a Spring favorite)
Striped Coral-Root (with tiny gnat – on second pedal up on right)
Calypso (Fairy Slipper) Orchid (with small, but fierce, crab spider – beneath first pedal on left)
New beginnings…

One Day on Upper Table Rock 03-Mar-2018

Upper Table Rock Medford Oregon

The weather forecast for today was not extending the hand of hiker friendship. In fact, it was petulant and gloomy. If I’d bought into its warnings and watches, what proved to be an exceptionally nice day on Upper Table Rock would have been forsaken. With The LovedOne entangled in the skeins of the annual Rose City Yarn Crawl, some geocaching seemed like an appropriate way to fill the void. Poking around looking for little slips of paper in small containers has its moments, which are all that much better when the weather surprises you with niceness. Hunting for the caches took me into seldom visited (and ecologically fascinating) areas of the plateau and I didn’t see anyone else until I got back to the main trail.  There is a lot of water up there, not just in the vernal pools, but everywhere; which speaks well for an exuberance of wildflowers in April and May.

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