Friday, June 16, 2017

Revisiting a Favorite: Ashland, OR

We've stayed in Ashland, OR twice before and loved every minute of our time in this beautiful area just a few miles north of the California border (2013, 2014). This past week was no exception. Once again we stayed at Emigrant Lake County Park and enjoyed seeing the lake almost full; we've always stayed here in the fall when the lake is very low due to summer irrigation needs. (My campground review.)

We started our week off right with happy hour at Caldera Brewing, just a couple miles down the road from the county park.

Tasty brews at Caldera!

Lithia Park is always on our "must see" list when we visit Ashland. We just missed a riot of rhododendron blooms, but the creek and the gorgeous plantings in this 100 acre park are always a delight.  The park is especially stunning in the fall.

Not even a cold, wet morning could keep us away from Lithia Park.

So many lovely scenes in the Japanese Garden.

Thanks to former Ashlanders' Laurel and Eric for the tip on the Jacksonville Woodlands Trails. We got in a nice five mile hike through forested, rolling terrain, then a walk through the sweet town of Jacksonville.

Many of the forests in SW Oregon are full of madrone trees and lots of poison oak.
This particular Madrone was the largest we've ever seen!

Jacksonville is a historic tourist town, with some beautiful old buildings and a variety of nice shops to browse.

Historic Jacksonville, OR.

There's a large network of trails that can be hiked right from Ashland. The Oredson-Todd Woods Trails begin in a neighborhood on the south end of town and climb, often steeply, the lushly forested hillsides.

I think this is the largest mushroom we've ever seen!

This beauty posed just for us!

Living yard art.

Our most interesting hike of the week was a section of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). Starting at Little Hyatt Reservoir about 15 miles from our RV park, we hiked south on the PCT and added on the Green Springs Mountain Loop for a total of about 7 miles (map). The route took us through forests of pine and oak with scatterings of spring flowers and a couple of incredible view sites.

On the PCT bridge over Keene Creek as it leaves Little Hyatt Reservoir.

The forest was full of spring flowers including masses of these sweet little beauties.

Though most of the trail was through lush forest, a couple of times we broke out to long distance views of Mt Ashland, and Emigrant Lake.

There were some really exquisite flowers blooming at this time of year!

On the drive home we had an exceptional view of 9,495 ft tall Mt McLoughlin over Hyatt Prairie Reservoir.

We've moved on to Myrtle Creek for a month of family time on the banks of the South Umpqua River.

Our back yard view for the next month.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Hiking 10,000 Year Old Black Butte

Due west of Mt Shasta and right next to Interstate 5 stands Black Butte. 10,000 years ago a volcanic eruption caused a crater where Black Butte now stands. Lava the consistency of toothpaste began oozing from the vent, and, through a series of four of these oozing eruptions, ultimately formed the 6,325 ft high plug dome that is Black Butte.

Black Butte viewed from the south along I-5.

The trail up Black Butte gains 1,875 feet over 2.5 miles, crossing the oldest eruption and the second eruption. Fortunately the incline is never too steep, the hardest part about this trail is how rocky it is, sometimes treacherously so. We were glad we had our trekking poles for stability on both large boulders and loose scree.

Black Butte viewed from the east.

The trail head is reached via a series of old logging roads with few signs, good directions are a must. The roads are in okay shape, just a few large potholes and one rutted section, a passenger car should be able to make it, very carefully.

The trail starts climbing through forest on the NE side of the butte and soon breaks out onto intermittent talus covered slopes. We were glad we'd waited for a cloudy day with cooler temps to make this trek.

A couple of lenticular clouds forming over Mt Shasta.

Those with a fear of heights should probably avoid this trail...the exposure is much worse than this, higher up.

Vibrant penstemon was a bright spot in an otherwise gray morning.

The dogwood were blooming too.

Coming around to the west side of the butte we were treated to views of the Eddy Range, residential areas of Mt Shasta City and several lava plugs along the north side of the main butte.

Looking straight up from the trail.

The trail clearly passed from one eruption to another and, as we climbed the north face of the main butte,
became much rockier. Care had to be taken with every single step.
Here, we are looking east as Mt Shasta starts to come back into view.

Looking back west towards Mt Eddy.

The summit is still quite a ways above us.

One must stop to appreciate the views, otherwise eyes on the trail at all times!

About half a mile or so from the summit the trail crosses a very loose scree field with steep and seemingly endless drops.
Here is a shot of a gabion retaining wall that has slipped. We had to work our way around it very was even harder coming back down the mountain!

We made it!
It was pretty windy and cool on top so we didn't stay long.

I'm happy because I'm almost finished with the hard parts!

This was an amazing hike...challenging, with drop dead gorgeous views. We're glad to be able to say we did it but I don't know that we'd do it again...there were some very treacherous spots where one wrong move could prove disastrous. What an experience!

We finished our day with happy hour at the home of new friends Brice and Elaine and saw this lovely lenticular cloud over Mt Shasta. A fitting end to a wonderful week in the shadow of a great mountain.

Friday, June 9, 2017

A Week in the shadow of Mt Shasta

We've spent the past week in Mt Shasta City, an area we love and have explored some in the past. This time we never even drove up to the mountain; the road was only cleared to Bunny Flat which still had four feet of thanks!

On the drive from Redding to Mt Shasta we were thrilled to see Shasta Lake full to the brim!

What an amazing sight, Shasta Lake is practically full!!!!!
It's been a very long time.

Spring Hill was our first hike in the area. Close to town, it's a 1.5 mile hike to the top of a small butte with lovely views of Mt Shasta.

Mt Shasta from the Spring Hill trail.

Near the Spring Hill trail head and adjacent to Interstate 5 at Mt Shasta City Park are the headwaters of the Upper Sacramento River. We saw several people filling jugs with water percolating out of the hillside...water that fell as snow on Mt Shasta about 50 years earlier.

Headwaters of the Sacramento River.

We were thrilled to welcome a very special visitor over the weekend, my daughter Chantal!

Chantal and I at Weed Ale House.

The three of us had a nice walk along three miles of the north shore of Lake Siskiyou. Unfortunately the bridge crossing the Sacramento River inlet had not been installed for the summer due to heavy runoff so we were unable to circle the entire lake. This is a mostly flat trail suitable for walking or biking.

Wagon Creek Bridge on Lake Siskiyou plus Mt Shasta.

The Mt Shasta Sisson Museum, near Lake Siskiyou, is an excellent place to learn about the area's history. Everything from Native Americans to logging, trains, skiing, and the lenticular clouds that form over the mountain. There's even a fish hatchery on the grounds.

Feeding the fish at the hatchery at the Mt Shasta Sisson Museum.

One of the most popular hikes in the area is the McCloud River Falls trail. Much of the flow of the McCloud River is shaped by lava and three beautiful waterfalls occur where the water could not cut through tough bands of basalt. Though all three falls can be reached by car, we parked at the lower falls and hiked to the upper falls for a gorgeous 4 mile round trip walk.

Lower Falls on the McCloud River

Middle Falls on the McCloud River...note the guy on the left about to jump.

Looking down on the Middle Falls.

Upper Falls on the McCloud River.

Lava channel leading to the Upper Falls.

After a wonderful few days with Chantal, she returned to her regular life and we continued our typical daily exploring of the area. The Gateway trail system is a pretty new series of trails right on the edge of Mt Shasta City with, of course, fabulous views of the mountain. We did a nice seven mile lollipop loop and finally, after weeks of seeing signs, saw a bear!

Mt Shasta from the Gateway trail.

Strolling through swaths of flowering thimble berry plants on the Gateway trail.

Just barely managed to photograph the bear we saw strolling through a ravine about 75 feet below us on the Gateway trail.

We had one more amazing hike in the area but I have too many photos for this post, stay tuned!

Today we move on in to Oregon...more time with Chantal and James, and lots of beach time ahead of us this summer!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Last Days in the Northern Sierra

We spent a week, including Memorial Day holiday, in tiny Canyon Dam, CA situated at the southern end of Lake Almanor. With only 31 people there is not much to the town; a couple of RV parks, small general store, kayak rentals...the focus here is the lake.

We stayed at Whispering Pines RV Park, a 25 site park with full hook ups, gravel roads and sites, nice concrete patios and a table at each site and lots of beautiful grass and trees. This is a one man operation and Stuart works hard to make this a pleasant place to stay.

The park is right off the highway but it's not too noisy. There are also train tracks adjacent to the park and several freight trains pass by each day at a very slow pace to negotiate some tight turns. Fortunately they rarely blow their whistles. AT&T signal was good, Verizon was weak, and the park wifi was sporadic.

With the southern Lake Almanor boat launch just half a mile away, the RV park gets lots of fishermen and there is plenty of space to park boats on site, plus a fish cleaning station.

The Lake Almanor Recreation Trail is an 11 mile paved path that runs along the south west shore of Lake Almanor, with the southern trail head at the Canyon Dam Boat Launch parking lot, just half a mile from our RV park. We first rode this trail when we stayed in the area in June 2014 and fell in love with this curvy path of gentle hills through healthy forest with gorgeous views of the lake.

Most of the bike path is through heavy forest which is really pleasant to ride through on a hot summer day.
But when you stop and walk through the forest to the edge of the lake your view just might include beautiful,
snow capped Mt Lassen.

Five miles into our 21 mile bike ride this happened:
I braked into a turn going down a small hill and ended up meeting the pavement with my body! 

After regaining my composure I decided the scratches were pretty superficial and everything was still working both on my body and on the bike so we continued our ride, and I am so glad we did! It was such a nice day in such a beautiful setting that the accident was really just a blip in an otherwise perfect day along Lake Almanor.

The shocking red of Sarcodes are hard to miss among the browns and grays and greens of the forest.

Taken from a perfectly placed bench along the Lake Almanor Recreation Trail.

It's now been a week since my accident and the scratches on the leg are practically healed (the skin was protected by my bike shorts which didn't even rip!), but the bruise on my thigh is huge and grotesque! The arm is still all scabbed up, but is healing like it should.

Hans broke a tooth while we were in Quincy the previous week so one day we drove the 30 miles back there so he could get a crown done. We appreciated the ability to get a crown in one day, but small town dentists are not inexpensive!

On the way home we stopped off at Round Valley Reservoir near the town of Greenville for a hike. We walked forest roads all the way around the reservoir for a pretty six mile hike (a little longer than the 1.5 miles I thought I had read!).

Sand hill cranes in a meadow at Round Valley Reservoir.

The Pacific Crest Trail passes through Plumas County and there are several places to hop on for a day hike. We hiked a three mile section of the PCT where it passes near lovely Domingo Spring.

Domingo Spring is a seasonal spring thanks to snow melt from Lassen that pops out of these rocks!
Just a quarter mile from the Pacific Crest Trail, it's a great place for through-hikers to replenish their water supplies.

We passed this pretty and very wet meadow soon after we started our hike on the PCT.

The PCT climbed through forest for a couple of miles before we started to hit some large snow drifts.
At this point we decided we'd had enough, but not before I spotted this reflection of a snow drift on a snow melt pond.

Now that's a hardy mushroom!

A morel!
We took a drive through pretty Indian Valley one day, making a stop at the excellent Indian Valley Museum. This small hidden gem has a ton of artifacts representing the area's mining, logging, and Native American history as well as a large collection of gems and minerals. The day we visited 93 year old Francis Musser, who owns the gem and mineral collection was there telling stories of his life in the valley.

Indian River.

Tired youngster.

The lakes in the area are known for excellent fishing and Hans had been contemplating fresh trout for dinner one day as we biked the lake trail...when we arrived home that afternoon our neighbor showed up with three enormous fish he'd just caught and gifted us one of those beauties! Delicious!

Lake Almanor trout.

Our final two days in the northern Sierras/southern Cascades have been spent just outside the entrance to Lassen National Park at The Village at Childs Meadow. Arriving on Memorial Day we pretty much had the place to ourselves. It looks as though this was once an RV park that was left to the elements for several years and new owners are working to make it habitable again.

They have 22 FHU sites and 7 tent sites which are all currently in a very rustic state, though the utilities look new. Hopefully they will bring in some gravel to level out the sites. During our brief stay the restrooms and laundry were out of order. Management is refurbishing a convenience store/cafe and a row of motel rooms. AT&T signal is poor, Verizon is good.

This is a really lovely location with forest behind the park, beautiful Childs Meadow and a fancy resort and restaurant across the highway and Lassen National Park a few miles down the road. We walked a several miles of forest roads right from the RV park with some wonderful meadow views.

Meadow views on a walk from the RV park.

Spencer Meadow National Recreation Trail head is just a quarter mile from the RV park. We weren't up for the entire 13 mile lollipop loop, but we did enjoy 3.5 miles of the trail through healthy forest that, like most of the trails we've hiked in the northern Sierras this spring, was full of downed trees from big winds and plenty of snow melt streams.

2.5 miles of steady climbing through thick, healthy forest brought us to this fantastic view of Childs Meadow.
Our RV park is in the trees below Hans' hand.

This dramatic rock outcropping was a surprise after all the forest hiking we'd done.

Downed trees change the course of any existing streams.

The animal of the day was frogs! Lots of these little guys were hopping out of our path.

Most were gray like the frog in the previous photo, but this one matched the pine cone debris.

We often had to make detours around fallen trees.

The mountains we've had the pleasure of exploring these past few weeks have had many magnificent specimens of old growth trees...ponderosa pine, sugar pine, douglas fir, incense cedar. We discovered the ponderosa pine below right behind our RV park.

I LOVE giant trees!

We've extended our stay in the mountains by several days to avoid excessive heat along the I-5 corridor in northern California but today it's time to bite the bullet and head into Redding. Fortunately the temps will only be in the 80's, not pushing 100 like it has been. A brief stay to stock up then we continue north to a meetup with a very special person.

I almost forgot...we got to share our reasons for full timing on The Wandering RV. Check it out!