Thursday, September 5, 2013

Hiking Grizzly Peak in Southern Oregon

August 30th, 2013

Due to rain in the forecast we ditched our original with plans with Tim and Amanda to head to one of my favorite places in Oregon, Floras Lake. Instead we made alternative plans, pretty much on a whim, to pack up the camper and head south to southern Oregon- specifically to the southern Oregon Cascades near Ashland. We pretty much looked at a map and a weather forecast and picked a spot. We ended up at Fish Lake. The area is very beautiful with your typical high mountain fauna. It's a bit different than the central Cascades where I spend much of my time because it's drier. We brought plenty of beer, plenty of food and way too much warm clothes. Although it did chill down quite a bit at night so bring a warm sleeping bag!
Fish Lake started as a natural lake- a dam was added in 1902 to collect water for irrigation for the Rouge Valley. While we were here the lake itself wasn't much use to us. It's pretty but the water level was very low exposing the stumps from a bygone era. There were signs posted about warning about an algae bloom. I didn't see drastic evidence of this but I did see a ring of stinky water plants surrounding the lake's edge. The camp host told us she had never seen the water level this low. On the other hand, the Milky Way fucking blew my mind- I stood by the lake's edge with my binoculars and got dizzy with the thought of it all!

Setting up camp. First things first: Gina grabs a beer!

We scoured our hiking guide books, including the fascinating tome Where the Trails Are by Bill Williams (excellent cover, Bill!) that Tim bought in Ashland at an outdoor store, and decided that Grizzly Peak would be up our alley and fit our mood.  Under 700 feet in elevation gain and around 5 miles (5.4.) I guess other people had the same idea as I counted 16 cars in the parking lot on this Saturday!

This sign reminds me of a joke my brother, a former commercial fisherman, used to enjoy telling. I can't remember the exact verbiage but the point was land lubbers are more assholes than sea goers are. How often do you see a sign shot up in the waterways? Funny! I think I'm missing part of the joke...

The trail begins in some cool forest.

The first of many rad meadows we passed through.

At the loop intersection we turned left- shortly we took a short spur trail which led to a nice view southwest.

Mount Shasta, Pilot Rock and Immigrant Lake. 

Can't wait to look at this later!

We then traversed through some of the Antelope Fire. It burned some 1800 acres in 2002.

That;s the top... almost..... there...

Looking east from the summit.

Tim contemplating. Why he hangs out with us. That's Ashland at the foot of the hills towards the right of the photo.

Dry. Bring water! Not pictured: the 4 PBRs we brought with us.

Heading down the hill we pass through more burned trees.

A massive fucking meadow. Gina can't believe it!

Finished... what else? An Alchemy Ale from Widmer straight from the icy cooler in Tim's trunk! I enjoyed this hike and would recommend it if in the area. And you were in the mood I was in before we started. Not much work and some nice views.

Gina and I decided to cut over to highway 97 to head home. We took some gravel back roads on the map and found this beautiful spot. It's called the Jackson F. Kimball Recreation Site and I had never heard of it. It's the headwaters of the Woods River and is mind blowingly pretty. We saw 5 or 6 people in kayaks tooling around and there was a small campground too.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sailing Big Lake and Hiking Sand Mountain

August 24th, 2013

We headed to one of my favorite areas of Oregon, Santiam Pass, to do some casual sailing and hiking. I find this region to be one of the prettiest in Oregon. Although motor boats are allowed on Big Lake we only saw one or two zooming around at any given moment and most of the time there were none in motion. The lake is big enough that they weren't obnoxious. This area is also a hotbed for, as the signs say, OHVers (off highway vehicles.) But much like the boats, in our particular campsite we weren't bothered by them. Here's a great PDF map of the area that shows Big Lake in relation to Sand Mountain.

David's insane Sol Cat.

David cooking with Mt. Washington in the Background.

Beer thirty indeed!

Just fucking flying! Look at that wake!

My turn at the rudder. My name is Ishmael!

Our route via GPS. That's what I call tacking!
In all its glory!

Back in the campground: I wish we could have seen these heroes in action!

After sailing for a couple of hours we decided to drive over to the Sand Mountain Trail. This is one of those trails in William Sullivan's book that doesn't warrant a 1 through 100 spot but instead comes in at number 127. I didn't care. The book says it is short enough at under 2 miles round trip and it's only a few miles drive down some dirt roads from Big Lake to the trail head. Let's do this!
Dirt Road on the way to the Sand Mountain trail head.

WTF? At the turn we are supposed to make we discover a locked gate! According to a sign posted the gate only adds 1.3 miles each way. Now we wish we had brought more beer.

Walking up the road we see the Sand Mountain lookout tower at the peak. 1.3 miles? Really?

The end of the road- a parking area with one car parked. I'm not joking here: Gina is pointing at a case of beer someone left at the trail head.

Mt. Boob... err, I mean Washington.

On the deck you can see the guy who has staffed this look out for 9 seasons. His name is Blake. At first he seemed to give us a canned mini-speech about the immediate area and the tower but once we talked to him a bit he opened up. In fact, I got a little worried that he might not get to talk to many people and he might be a little over whelming. He was great though and it was interesting to find out he had just been to Ketchikan for 4 days. He said over each 10 day period he is on the mountain on average around 10 people visit in groups of 2 or 3. He also said he wasn't sure he could do the job forever as he wants to buy a house someday and it's hard when you spend 4 or 5 months a year deep in the woods.

Blake takes a group shot of some studs. Mt. Washington peaks (pun intended) out behind us.

Looking into the cinder cone crater and beyond!

Three Fingered Jack in the distance with Hoodoo Ski Area in the close right.

To get a good feel for it check out this interactive 360 view! It's like you're there!

A feature I didn't realize was there is a full blown cinder cone that you can circumnavigate.

The crater is on the right.

David and Gina off in the distance with the crater to the right. This is part of the bad boy cinder cone series that blocked a spring that formed super cool Clear Lake some 3000 years ago. Rad!

Wilco and Gina walking down the trail back to the car. Over all I would highly recommend this hike. It falls into the low effort/high reward type trail. We estimated it came in around 4 miles round trip with the gate closed. We barley worked up a sweat! We only brought one beer each though and it's more of a two beer per person hike. Great views of many of the surrounding peaks and lakes!

This is unrelated, but as we pulled onto Highway 20 from the road to Hoodoo we pulled in across the street right at the Santiam Pass and I got a chance to check out this old lodge type building. I had seen it many times before through the trees and was always curious about it. It's a massive building that from what I can tell by some cursory Googling of 'Old Santiam Lodge' was leased by the United Presbyterian Church from the Forest Service until the 1960s. I'm not sure if that's what it started as but it's definitely a cool old building. And scary too.