Lightweight Backpacking After 60 in the Rogue Valley


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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Emerald and Sapphire Lakes, Trinity Alps, Aug 2012

Emerald and Sapphire Lakes from Sawtooth Ridge

Steve W., Maria G., Denise F. and Tysen M. traveled down to the southeastern end of the Trinity Alps, about 13 miles north of Weaverville the first week in August. Our goal was to make a 4 night, 5 day backpacking trip into the Emerald-Sapphire Lakes area of the Trinity Alps.
Before the start of our backpack trip, we spent the night at the Minersville Campground on the northwest end of Trinity Lake.

The next morning, we started our backpack trip at the Stuart Fork of the Salmon River trailhead. That day, we climbed a distance of about nine miles with a net elevation gain of 1600 ft. However, with all the ups and down, it was actually an elevation gain of 2700 ft and a loss of 1100 ft, making this a moderately strenuous trek.

We found a campsite at the south end of Morris Meadow with a beautiful view north to the Sawtooth Ridge behind which hid Caribou Lake. Our campsite was also located near a delightful confluence of a meadow stream and the South Fork river.

The next day, we continued our upward ascent, reaching Emerald Lake in about 4 miles with an elevation gain of 1200 ft. Due to the high temperatures (mid-80’s), we selected a campsite at the east end, and below Emerald Lake in a stand of trees.

The next morning, we set out for a day hike to Mirror Lake. Hence, we had to hike along the northern shore of Emerald Lake and climb up to the ledge that held Sapphire Lake. From here, we had to follow a barely visible trail along the north shore of Sapphire Lake that involved a lot of rock scrambling and bush whacking.

When, we reached the west end of Sapphire Lake, Tysen decided to stay there and wait for the others to return. Steve, Maria and Denise continued, climbing up toward the ledge that contained Mirror Lake.

As the going got rougher, Denise decided to stop at a waterfall and let Steve and Maria continue on. Finally, Steve and Maria encountered a near vertical wall that involved a 3rd-class ascent of a steep gully to reach Mirror Lake, which Maria was able to complete with Steve’s assistance.

They were rewarded with a great view of beautiful Mirror Lake as well as a vista of Sapphire Lake below. Finally, 3.5 hours later, everybody reconnected again at the west end of Sapphire Lake and continued on down to our Emerald Lake Campsite, very exhausted.

The next day, we headed back down the mountain. Our goal was a riverside campsite that we had seen on the way up shortly after passing a turnoff to Alpine Lake. We were able to find this site unoccupied, placing us within a three hour hike from the trailhead.

The last day, we successfully reached the trailhead and headed to Etna for a late lunch. Since the Etna Brewing Company, our favorite haunt was closed that day, we enjoyed a great lunch at the Etna Deli.

Stuart Fork Trailhead to Emerald – Sapphire Lakes Area

Tysen, Denise, Steve and Maria at Stuart Fork Trailhead

South Morris Meadow Campsite looking north to Sawtooth Ridge

Hiking north along Morris Meadow

Heading west along trail up to Emerald Lake, surrounded by flowers

East end of Emerald Lake with Dam on left

Northeast end of Emerald Lake

Outflow from Emerald Lake and great swimming hole!

Stand of trees below Emerald Lake where we camped

Emerald Lake campsite, with Maria and Steve

Morning View of Emerald Lake with Cairns

Maria taking picture of Folk Art consisting of abandoned mining equipment, below Sapphire Lake

Maria and Steve hiking past east end of Sapphire Lake

Day hike along Sapphire Lake on way to Mirror Lake

Rock scrambling and bushwhacking our way to west end of Sapphire Lake

Steve getting cooled off at water fall just below Mirror Lake

Maria, also enjoying the refreshing waterfall

Mirror Lake

Sapphire Lake seen from Mirror Lake

Returning along Sapphire Lake back to our campsite

Trinity Alps Panorama to west from Morris Meadow

Stuart Fork River campsite north of Alpine Lake turnoff

River View below campsite

Trinity Alps: Granite Lake; Aug 14-16

Backpackers: Linden C., Maria G., Mary E.

(trip report to follow; photos added — captions to follow)