Lightweight Backpacking After 60 in the Rogue Valley


Little Bald Hills, Jun 20-21, 2018

Hikers: Nancy “Mystic Forest” B., Terry T., Barb “Bashenka” S., Mary “Fireweed” K., Shanti “dog”

We drove over to the Redwood National Park Visitor Center at Hiouchi on Hwy 199 about 10 miles east of Crescent City on the morning of Wed the 20th –it took about 2-1/2 hrs. We watched the 12-minute park service video and learned several things about the redwoods, which we promptly forgot after being distracted by a 5 year-old with ADD sitting in front of us. We got a permit for camping at the Little Bald Hills backcountry camp and were on our way.

We parked a car at Sand Camp on the Smith River and shuttled back to the Little Bald Hills trailhead. It was foggy and overcast, but I was hopeful that when we hiked up the ridge we would get above the fog. This wasn’t to be. The fog enhanced the walking experience through the tall redwoods and Port Orford Cedars. We got into camp at 2 PM. The ghostly fog stayed all day. We built a fire when we got into camp after we set up our tents under the huge douglas fir trees and had hot drinks. Lots of good conversation.

We identified about 14 species of wildflowers on the first day of the hike. Many Douglas Iris, Western rhododendron and purple Brodiaea. The only fauna we spotted were a couple of banana slugs.

On Thursday we were on the trail by about 9:15 am and quickly emerged above the fog layer into sun, where we spent the rest of the hike. Dozens of spiderwebs in the meadow grass were laced with dew from the recent fog.

We identified about 20 more species of wildflowers, including the rare Bolander lily. We also passed a little seep with a large clump of darlingtonia (pitcher plants) and California ladyslipper.

The fauna spotting highlight of the trip was a very small bear cub who quickly clambered up to the top of a 50 foot pine tree next to the trail after spotting us. He/she was making all kinds of small growling and hissing noises. I got a video* of the tiny cub descending the tree when we made motions to leave, not wanting to encounter his mom. He disappeared into the brush up the hill. [*admin note: since our WordPress account won’t upload videos, still frame included in slideshow]

Another highlight of the descent to the Paradise Trailhead was walking through a gauntlet of fragrant azaleas and rhododendrons. There was a panoramic view of the Siskiyou wilderness as well.

We arrived at the Paradise Trailhead by the Smith River after 2 PM — about 6 miles of walking. Terry shuttled us back to the trailhead at Stout Grove but our adventure wasn’t over. As I was starting to drive away I noticed a plastic bag shrouded piece of paper pinned under one of my windshield wipers. A parking ticket!! We stopped by the Park Visitor center in Hiouchi and were able to practice the four things the redwoods taught us (which we finally remembered in entirety after Terry and Barb re-viewed the park video):

1. Tenacity: we waited to wade through the tourists crowding around in the information desk at the visitor center to appeal our ticket
2. Patience: while waiting for the park ranger to get in touch with someone in law enforcement
3. Resilience: we didn’t lose our cool at this obvious miscarriage of justice
4. Respect: we thanked the ranger after he assured us the ticket was cancelled

Terry and Barb returned to Ashland and a solstice party and Nancy and Mary travelled on to Brookings.

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Canyon Creek, Jun 18-21, 2018

Hikers: Maria G.; Steve W.; Nanci C. — and Linda and Dan F. (not BIG members)

Canyon Creek is a popular early season destination for BIG (2011; 2013; 2014; 2015): 5th time for Maria; 4th time for Steve; 1st time for Nanci, Linda and Dan (2 SF Bay Area friends). The dates for this trip overlapped with Chiyemi’s memorial service — we remembered her from our first trip in 2011.

Day 1: Departed Ashland at 6:30am. After a couple of stops, we were hiking by 11am. Parking lot was surprisingly empty, and most hikers we saw were heading out. We easily avoided poison oak during the first few miles. We had one short detour around a trail slide. Sherry W. had backpacked here a few weeks earlier, so we knew that creek crossings & slide would not be a problem. Temperatures on Monday were moderate, increasing later in the week (when our packs would be lighter for day hikes or return). After ~6 miles, we reached a spacious campsite (same as 2014) near junction with Boulder Creek Lake trail. Enjoyed cocktail hour with 1 shared can of Caldera Ashland Amber, which Steve carried in. No Tysen to play poker, so played Farkle.

Day 2: Dayhiked to Lower & Upper Canyon Creek Lakes — and beyond. We forded the knee-deep outflow at end of Upper Canyon Lake, and hiked toward L Lake. From previous years, Steve had his eye on a saddle, which might have afforded views of Emerald and Sapphire Lakes. The rest of the group decided to join him on this adventure, so we began by working our way up the relatively open slope. When bushwhacking got too extensive and unpleasant, we diverted to L Lake, and then back to campsite — too hungry & tired for cocktail hour and games.

Day 3: Dayhiked to Boulder Creek Lakes — and beyond. After immediate shin-deep ford of Canyon Creek, we ascended ~2 miles. We decided to explore the end of the lake near a waterfall, but opted to skip a cross-country circumnavigation along a ridge. After lunch, Maria, Nanci and Steve relaxed in the lake, while Dan and Linda cross-countried to Forbidden Lake. Cocktail hour this day was 1 shared can of Caldera Pilot Rock Porter with after-dinner tent open-house, medical kit show-and-tell, and Farkle.

Day 4: Backpacked out. In Weaverville, both La Grange Cafe and Stagecoach Pizzeria were closed (maybe permanently?), so we enjoyed lunch at Mamma Llama Eatery and Cafe, before heading home.

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North Umpqua, Jun 14-17, 2018

Hikers: Barb S. — and Jan, Bernadette (not BIG members)
Route: 30 miles from Kelsay Valley to Soda Springs Dam, East to West

We hiked this section of trail, in three sections, having made arrangements with Last Resort to shuttle our car from Kelsay to Soda trailheads. We drove from Ashland near Diamond Lake and took Rd. 2610 to find Kelsay Valley trailhead in a campground. We went along trail #1414 through a densely wooded area, crossed a highway, searched a bit for the trail when we crossed a river, and then proceeded through a burned section with plenty of mosquitoes. By 1:30, Bernadette was not well, feeling unable to hike on, so we called her husband to pick her up and we hiked slowly toward Lemolo Lake where he met us and took her home. Just two of us proceeded through a lovely waterfall-bestowed part of the trail. We had to make camp on a bridge, as we didn’t get to the good tent sites just 15 minutes away, which we found the next morning. However, we made camp and were serenaded by trickled water from seeps.

The second section is termed Dread and Terror and was the most spectacular part of the hike, as the BIG hikers in 2012 found also. We went up and down, but it seemed like mostly up, through seeps and ferns and lovely waterfalls. It was very special. We found a good campsite on the river just two miles shy of the Umpqua Hotsprings, as the Forest Service did not allow camping any closer than that and held fast to that rule. The next morning on our way to the baths, the campsites we passed were just great but empty, as they were within the two mile range.

The third section was deemed difficult as we were going steeply uphill more than down. It went by Toketee Campgrounds and Toketee Reservoir, and was near the waterfalls. We were able to have a nice soak in the hot springs and found the night’s campsite easily, just 2 miles shy of our destination. That campsite was mossy and tree-covered, by the river and pretty wonderful.

The last day was a short hike down to the car, where the columnar hexagonal rock formations were majestic. Of course the huge Pacific Power Plant was there too, reminding us that everything comes with a cost, lovely trails were made with their help, and we were able to see the astounding rock formations, which we may not have had the power plant not have made it accessible to all of us. We had a fine coffee in Glide and carried on home, glad to have seen the Scenic Byway with backpacks.

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