Lightweight Backpacking After 60 in the Rogue Valley


Upper Rogue: Oct 19, 2013

Beginning point: Natural Bridge
End point: River Bridge
Total Miles: 8.1
Hikers: Steve W., Mary K., Dianne K., George H., Marian C.

We gathered at Mary K.’s house in Ashland at 9:00 AM and carpooled up to River Bridge on Highway 62 north of Prospect, where we again carpooled to Natural Bridge to facilitate a shuttle. Thanks to Marian and Dianne who shared their vehicles to make the shuttle happen.

We hiked south on the Upper Rogue River Trail, which closely follows the east bank of the river. Fall colors were past their prime, although dogwoods were still showing some red. Quiet pools reflected foliage. Takelma Gorge was its usual spectacular self. We saw only a few mushrooms.

Our starting elevation was just over 3200 feet. Cumulative elevation loss for the trip was 400 feet over 8.1 miles—although the distance seemed shorter. The grade of the trail was nearly level with a few steep uphill pitches and rocky sections.

We started hiking down the trail about 11:00 AM and finished by approximately 3:00 PM. We had a short lunch break at the Woodruff Bridge picnic area which was about 3.5 miles from the start of our hike. We watched a water ouzel in the river and heard others as we hiked. The weather was spectacular Indian summer at its height—temps in the late 60’s to 70’s and a cloudless Upper Rogue

vegetation mirror

Steve fall color

Three Sisters Traverse Backpack Trip: Sep 2013

After four years of trying to backpack through a stretch of the Three Sisters Wilderness, west of Bend, OR, we were finally going to succeed in September 2013. To accommodate Maria’s schedule, we shortened the trip to 5 days and 30 miles.

Three Sisters 5 Day TraverseFigure 1 Planned 5 Day, 30 Mile Sisters Traverse

Alan P., Maria G. & Tysen M. started from Obsidian Trailhead (TH) after spending the night before at nearby Scott Lake Campground. Our trails passed through forest, lava flows and meadows. After we left the forest, we got our first view of North & Middle Sisters. It was sunny but became overcast toward the end of the day.

Since, we did not have a reservation, we could not camp above Obsidian Falls in Sunrise Meadow. Instead, we camped near Obsidian creek having climbed 1700 ft and covered 7.8 miles on the first day in the Wilderness.

The next morning it was foggy as we continued heading south on the Pacific Crest Trail, passing through beautiful alpine meadows. The sun eventually burned off most of the fog but left the Sisters peaks hidden from us.

We had lunch past Reese Lake and then continued on south with a goal of spending the night at Mesa Creek meadows. Around 1:30, we heard a distant thunder clap as we were passing a small sheltered pond. We took advantage of the level area at the north end of the pond to hurriedly set up our tents. Just as we finished , the thunder storm passed over us. While the thunder storm lasted only an hour. the rain would last for 17 hours with heavy rain throughout the night. We had covered 6 miles while maintaining nearly the same elevation today.

The next morning we had a cold breakfast, folded up our wet tents and continued on south in a light rain. Shortly thereafter we reached Mesa Creek meadows and took a break, enjoying a cup of hot coffee & tea. Then we continued on south passing through Wikkiup Plain.

Around noon, we reached a trail fork. One fork led to Moraine Lake, our planned destination that night, while the other led to Devils Lake TH. The latter trail would allow us to abort the rest of our trip. It would also place us within 2 miles of where Alan’s car was parked at the Green Lakes TH near Sparks Lake.

While it had stopped raining and a hazy sun had come out, it was still windy and we still could not see any of the Sister peaks. Hence, we aborted the trip and headed out to the Devils Lake TH. We had hiked 7 miles that day and lost 1000 ft in elevation.

Alan managed to get a ride to his car with a couple of ladies heading back to Bend. After he returned and picked up Maria and Tysen, we drove on to the nearby Elk Lake Resort for a warm snack and warm running water in the bathroom.

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig7Figure 2 Scott Lake Campground

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig11Figure 3 Tysen, Maria & Alan at TH

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig12Figure 4 Obsidian TH

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig16Figure 5 Alan on trail to Obsidian Falls

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig23Figure 6 Maria & Alan posing in front of North & Middle Sister

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig24Figure 7 Tysen with North Sister behind him

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig26Figure 8 Passing through lava field

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig27Figure 9 Leaving lava field

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig31Figure 10 Hiking on trail surrounded by flowers

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig41Figure 11 Creek winding through meadow

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig45Figure 12 Crossing Obsidian Creek (Falls not in view)

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig49PAMFigure 13 Obsidian Falls

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig51Figure 14 Creek above Obsidian Falls

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig52Figure 15 Sunrise Meadow with 3 tents in reserved area

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig54Figure 16 Sunset above valley where we camped outside of reserved area, 0.5 mile south of Obsidian Creek trail crossing

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig56Figure 17 Maria checking maps before continuing on next day

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig58Figure 18 Chatting with northbound PCT through hiker in hazy alpine meadow

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig62Figure 19 Finally, the fog has burned off in alpine meadow

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig67Figure 20 Reese Lake around noon with fog returning

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig69Figure 21 Maria munching on sandwich while checking topo map on iPad

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig70Figure 22 Alan relying on old paper topo maps

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig72Figure 23 One of many unique large mushrooms near trail

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig73Figure 24 Continuing on south on PCT through alpine meadow

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig75Figure 25 Another alpine meadow

Satellite Picture of Small Lake north of Mesa Creek MeadowFigure 26 Satellite view of pond where we took cover from thunder storm & spend the night with heavy rain

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig77Figure 27 Mesa Creek meadow

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig83Figure 28 Approaching Wikkiup Plain on PCT

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig86Figure 29 Trail through Wikkiup Plain heading southeast

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig91Figure 30 Lunch stop near trail fork to Moraine Lake or to Devils Lake TH

Sisters Traverse 2013 Fig93Figure 31 Devils Lake TH

Three Sisters Wilderness Short Traverse Actual Topo EditFigure 32 Topo Map: Actual (GPS) track (blue) & planned track (red)

Three Sisters Wilderness Short Traverse Actual Profile EditFigure 33 Actual (GPS) Elevation profile for 3 day, 21 mile trip

Cliff Lake Backpack Trip: July 2013

In July, Maria G., George H. and Tysen M. drove to the Shackleford Trailhead (TH) in the Marble Wilderness. We drove south to Yreka on Highway 5 and then took Highway 3 to Greenview where we turned right to reach the TH after several miles.

After our customary TH photo, we started our 5 mile, 1500 ft elevation gain, hike to Cliff Lake. We took the fork toward to Log Lake, rather than to Campbell Lake, and had lunch there. As we approached Log Lake, we were serenaded with a cow bell concert by a herd of cows grazing in the flower-covered meadows off the trail.

The weather was in the high 70′s or low 80′s and it was getting overcast when we continued. In the middle of the afternoon, it rained for about an hour and we heard a few thunder claps in the distance but continued hiking.

We reached the trail fork at Campbell Lake, turned right and started our ascent up to Cliff Lake. Except for the cows, we had seen no one during this mid-week hike.

As we approached Cliff Lake, we saw a mother with 2 children without packs. They were either day hikers or camped at one of the two lakes.

We finally reached the north end of Cliff Lake and selected one of several available campsites. There, we set up our tents in this spacious campsite. By this time the temperatures had risen into the mid 80′s.

The next morning, after a very warm (mid-70′s) night, we had breakfast and took pictures of this beautiful alpine lake. The full moon, which had come out during the night, was receding to the southwest.

After breakfast, we explored the trail to the south end of the lake. While we saw several other campsites, none of them were occupied.

We returned back to our campsite and then continued on down to Campbell Lake, past a small lillypad-covered lake, to Summit Lake. As the pictures show, Summit Lake was another beautiful lake, although much smaller. After lunch, we returned to our campsite at Cliff Lake where Tysen took a swim, while George just got his legs wet in the cool water.

In addition to a few chipmunks near our campsite, we saw a few dark brown salamanders in the lake. These were more curious than afraid of us as we replenished our water supply.

That night we celebrated Maria’s birthday with a toast of spirits that George had brought along. After dinner, we taught George how to play Farkle using 6 dies. We heard someone chopping wood at one of the campsites toward the south end of the lake, indicating that someone was camping there now.

That night it was a little cooler (mid 60′s) which was refreshing. The next morning, we packed up after breakfast and headed back down the mountain. Our return route took us past Campbell Lake. Again, we saw very few people nor any occupied campsites. However, several groups of backpackers were heading in as we headed back to the TH.

At the TH, the temperatures were in the mid-80′s. As has been our custom in the past, we headed down to Etna on Highway 3 for lunch and a cold one at the Etna Brewing Company since the temperatures were now in the high 90′s.

FIG 0 Cliff Lake Backpack Trip Topo Map

Shackleford TH to Cliff Lake Topo Map

FIG 1 George, Maria & Tysen at Shackleford TH of Marble WildernessGeorge, Maria & Tysen at TH

FIG 2 Log LakeLog Lake

FIG 3 George & Maria eating lunch at Log LakeGeorge & Maria enjoying lunch at Log Lake

FIG 4 Serenaded with Cow BellsWe were serenaded with Cow Bells

FIG 5 On the trail to Cliff Lake through flower covered meadowsOn trail through flower-covered meadow

FIG 6 Maria crossing streamMaria crossing creek

FIG 13 Cliff Lake looking SouthCliff Lake looking south

FIG 12 View Southeast from Campsite of Cliff Lake in morningCliff Lake view east from campsite

FIG 7 Maria at Cliff Lake campsite preparing her breakfastMaria preparing breakfast at Cliff Lake campsite

FIG 8 George enjoying his breakfastGeorge enjoying breakfast

FIG 9 Maria's TentMaria’s tent

FIG 10 Campsite with Tysen's Tent at rightView of campsite with Tysen’s tent on right

FIG 11 George's TentGeorge’s tent

FIG 14 Picturesque Cliff LakeBeautiful Cliff Lake

FIG 15 Maria & George on day hike to West end of Cliff LakeMaria & George on trail to south end of Cliff Lake

FIG 16 Maria admiring flowerMaria admiring flower

FIG 17 Cliff Lake, View NorthView north from south end of Cliff Lake

FIG 18 Maria & George on day hike to Summit LakeMaria & George on day hike to Summit Lake

FIG 19 Maria hiking through wild flowersMaria standing among wild flowers

FIG 20 Small Lillypad covered lakeSmall lillypad covered lake near Campbell Lake

FIG 21 Summit Lake looking southSummit Lake with view to southwest

FIG 22 Summmit Lake looking northwestSummit Lake with view to northwest

FIG 23 Summit Lake looking  south from north endSummit Lake looking south

FIG 24 Large Mushroom growing on treeLarge mushroom growth on tree

FIG 25 Maria getting water at Cliff LakeBack to Cliff Lake

FIG 26 Happy Birthday Maria!Happy Birthday, Maria!

FIG 27 Chipmunk what all the commotion is aboutWhat’s all the commotion about?

FIG 28 View northeast from campsite with late afternoon sunLate afternoon view to northeast from campsite

FIG 29 View southeast in late afternoonView to southeast

FIG 30 View south in late afternoonBeautiful Cliff Lake in late afternoon

FIG 31 So how do you play FarkleMaria teaching George the fine points of Farkle

FIG 32 Morning view of Cliff Lake with receding full moonCliff Lake in the morning

FIG 34 Salamender in Cliff Lake curious about what's going onCurious Salamander near shore

FIG 35 Last morning at Cliff LakeOur final view of Cliff Lake before leaving

FIG 36 View north of Campbell LakeSouth end of Campbell Lake

FIG 37 View South of Campbell LakeCampbell Lake from north end

FIG 38 Another view south of Campbell LakeCampbell Lake

FIG 39 Trail back to Shackleford TH through flower-covered meadowsThrough flower-covered meadows back to the TH

Bear Basin, Trinity Alps Trip July 14-16, 2013

This trip is half of the Bear Basin-Granite Lake Loop in the Trinity Alps. We did the Granite Lake part last year (link). We day-hiked to Seven Up Pass. With the day hike from Granite Lake that we did last year, we completed the loop around Seven Up Peak.

We hadn’t planned to go to Bear Basin. We were on our way to Mumford Meadows from where we would day-hike to Horseshoe and Ward Lakes. We changed our minds (it was easy with just 2 of us (Mary E. and Maria) on the trip) based on reports from folks we talked to at the trail head, who raved about the wild flowers at Bear Basin Meadow compared to the lesser number at Mumford Meadows. It was 3.4 miles up Swift Creek to the turn off to Bear Basin. NOTE: After Parker Creek crossing, at the junction, you continue straight to go to Bear Basin. To continue on the trail up Swift Creek to Mumford Meadows, you take a sharp right turn.

From the junction, it was another 3.2 miles and 1500’ elevation to Bear Basin. We were disappointed since there were only a few wild flowers. We were also told it was relatively flat, when actually it was a consistent although fairly gradual climb. In hindsight, folks were talking about the trail in general. Yes, once at the basin, it is flat and the wild flowers on the hike to Seven Up Pass were, indeed, incredible. Along with many flowers we are used to seeing, there were three or four we have yet to identify. Most notable were orange leopard lilies, along with two or three varieties of paintbrush.

We were hiking in on a Sunday and many backpackers were coming out, especially from Granite Lake, but we saw only two people hiking out from Bear Basin and we saw no one on our day hike to the pass. We saw a group of horse-packers going into Mumford Meadows on Sunday, another reason we decided to go to Bear Basin instead. As it turned out, it was a group of scientists being taken to Mumford by the Forest Service to do research at Horseshoe Lake. It would have been interesting to talk to them.

When hiking out, we met a party of 11, which included 4 generations, going to Mumford for a family reunion. They were staying 4 days and, no doubt, doing it in style given the gear being taken in on horses. It did also mean that great grandma and some of the children only needed to carry daypacks.

All in all, it was a most delightful trip.

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Canyon Creek Trail to Boulder Creek Lake: June 10-12, 2013

The Canyon Creek trail in the Trinities leads you to Canyon Creek Lake (5637 ft) and Boulder Creek Lake (5753 ft). BIG hiked the trail in July 2011 to Canyon Creek Lake. This time, our end point was Boulder Creek Lake. In 2011, the group camped the night before the hike at Ripstein Campground, which is a good idea. This year, we weren’t able to leave the day before, and with the 3-1/2 hour drive from Ashland and a stop for lunch in Weaverville, we didn’t get on the trail until 2 pm.

Boulder Creek Lake is at one end of a large area rimmed with high sawtooth ridges all around. The setting is awe inspiring. Here is a 360 degree movie (external link since our free version of WordPress does not support embedded videos). The lake itself is created by shallow depressions in the white granite, so rather than being one contiguous body of water, it is a series of different sized pools. The landscape is stark, with a very few trees and wildflowers making their living from the cracks in the rock, again very beautiful. Camping is not allowed here.

From the parking lot (3180 ft), we hiked 5 fairly gradual miles to our campsite (4534 ft), passing Lower Canyon Creek Falls. Our campsite was the first in a series of flat, comfortable sites built along the creek, at a point where the trail first becomes level with the creek. Before that, the creek was mainly below the trail or fairly far away and inaccessible, although we could hear it all the way and sometimes see rapids and very blue, clear water. The forest we walked through is full of beautiful old-growth trees. We arrived at our campsite at 5 pm.

The next day we walked to Boulder Creek Lake. From our campsite, it was about 2 miles to the Boulder Creek Lake turn-off, which is .4 miles past Middle Canyon Creek Falls. From the turn-off, it was 1.5 miles to the lake. The trail to the lake was gradual at first, but then gained altitude. Before the lake we pushed our way up a series of switchbacks on a very narrow, shrubby trail. Then we followed cairns over white granite to the lake. We began hiking at 9 am and arrived at the lake at 1 pm.

There were not a lot of wildflowers, although certainly some. The dogwood would have been in its prime a week or two earlier. However, earlier means lots more water. We crossed Canyon Creek without boots to go to Boulder Creek Lake. There are other creek crossings in the area that are more problematic in May when the creeks are high, but we had no problem in June. We were thrilled to see striped coral root, which never grows in abundance. Mary K. pointed out to us *Brewer spruce in the high country on our way to the lake. There was lots of primo stone crop at the lake.

We enjoyed seeing and talking with a crew of young CCC (California Conservation Corps) men and women, who were doing trail work. They were camped close to Middle Canyon Creek Falls, which was their daily shower. They will be living and working in these woods and other places for 4 months. They were strong and seemed knowledgable and committed to their goals.

We would like to do this hike again next year early in the season as a 4 day venture, plus camp the night before at Ripstein Campground. This way we could day hike to both Canyon Creek Lake and Boulder Creek Lake.

*Brewer spruce is an uncommon conifer endemic to the Klamath-Siskiyou Bioregion which means they are native to and confined to this whole region. It’s range is about 140 miles from Iron Mountain, Oregon to East Weaver Lake, CA. They like the warm, dry summers and cool, wet winters of the Klamath area. These trees are remnants of larger populations that existed thousands of years ago. Climate change has reduced their habitat to pockets within this area. — from Conifer Country, by Michael Kauffman.

(click on a photo to start slideshow; 360 degree movie near Boulder Creek Lake

North Umpqua Camping – Flowers, Ferns and Fire

Mary E., Chiyemi D., Bill D., George H. and Terry D. spent three days on the North Umpqua River in Douglas County, a couple hour drive northeast of Ashland. One hesitates to call this backpacking even though it was enjoyed as much and the preparation was identical. I suppose it was the 0.5 mile hike in to the campsite. If you forgot your sunglasses, it was easy enough to walk back to the cars to get them.

There was an abundance of water, both cold and hot: river and hot springs respectively. Water made the moss and ferns luxuriously deep and glowing green everywhere one looked. Two hikes: one upriver an hour (where we found the dragon – see picture) on the first afternoon and then to the hot springs arranged in a series of 5 or 6 hot-tub sized pools the next morning where bathing suits were definitely optional.

Chiyemi gave fire-building lessons and all enjoyed the warmth in the cool evenings and mornings. Very light sprinkle the second (and last) night but always bright sun-shiny days. The canyon of the river kept light out of the campsite until 10am and the sun disappeared over the western ridge early in the long midsummer evenings.

Bailey the wonder-dog accompanied us and was a delight to all with his friendliness and love of attention: petting was required by all. The final stop was at Beckies in Union Creek for lunch on Tuesday. See the last chair photos. A gallery of photos is below the slideshow if you want to enjoy just a few pictures.

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Upper Rogue River Dayhike – Oct. 20, 2012

Beginning point: Natural Bridge End point: River Bridge Total Miles: 8.1
Hikers: Steve W., Maria G., Mary E., Suzanne M., Dianne K., Chiyemi D., Terry D., Jack R., Lynn R., Connie, Mary K.; Dogs: Bailey and Chiloquin

This trip was originally going to be a three day backpack. This was shortened to a day hike because the campgrounds where we were going to camp (Natural Bridge and River Bridge) closed early and people also expressed concern over the long hours of fall darkness.
We gathered at Mary K.’s house in Ashland at 8:30 AM and carpooled up to River Bridge on Highway 62 north of Prospect, where we again carpooled to Natural Bridge to facilitate a shuttle. Thanks to all who shared their vehicles to make the shuttle happen. After a short trip across the Rogue River to look at Natural Bridge, we re-crossed the river and hiked south on the Upper Rogue River Trail, which closely follows the east bank of the river. Fall colors were at their height—red and yellow splashes of color lined the river.

The trail passed through canopies of bright yellow trees that seemed to light up the trail. Takelma Gorge was spectacular. Jack and Lynn looked for mushrooms and found one chanterelle. It was a little early for the mushroom harvest—which maybe better after the next storm. Our starting elevation was just over 3200 feet . Cumulative elevation loss for the trip was 400 feet over 8.1 miles—although the distance seemed shorter. The grade of the trail was nearly level with a few steep uphill pitches and rocky sections. We started hiking down the trail at about 10:45 AM and finished by approximately 3:45 PM. We had a short lunch break at the Woodruff Bridge picnic area which was about 3.5 miles from the start of our hike. The weather was unsettled and cool—it was lightly raining as we drove through Medford on our way to the trailhead in the morning, but stopped before we got to River Bridge. The weather remained unsettled but the sun came out sporadically in the afternoon, which heightened landscape photography interest.
—-submitted by Mary K.

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