Backpacking to Pine Flat

After revisiting the Illinois River trail a few weekends ago, I decided that I was going to spend part of my spring break backpacking back down Shorty Noble Way to those riverside campsites. From the forecast I could see that the weather would actually work out pretty well in my favor. I headed out on Tuesday morning, planning to pack up and head back on Thursday morning — two days of lounging around camp in my underwear and taking hundreds of identical pictures of the river.


A few miles into my hike, I came upon a few people who were also heading to Pine Flat. They told me that the Siskiyou Mountain Club was there to maintain Shorty Noble trail and to build a bridge (!!!) over the creek. First, thanks so much SMC for improving some of my favorite trails (and for just keeping them alive, in some cases). I try to do my part by cleaning off small brush and crappy rocks that trip you up, but I rarely break out the saw and do any real trail work, much less build a bridge!

As I walked on, I realized that I had to find another campsite because the SMC crew would be camping at my destination. Sure enough, I came upon some of them hiking back for supplies and they confirmed that they were camped at the base of Shorty Noble Way, so I decided to go a bit further and find a spot at Pine Flat.


Almost six miles later… ❀ ❀

I originally had my campsite set up close to the water, but the constant shimmering from the water was making my skin feel like it was cooking me alive, so I moved further away from the river. It was also better at night because it was less gusty. The next morning, I awoke to this…


It took about 15 or 20 minutes for the sun to dissipate the fog once it came up over the mountains. It’s probably a daily occurrence in the spring since the water is super cold and the weather from the ocean is warm and humid. Here are some more pictures from when I was lounging around.


Though I had to climb a bit more and walk a bit further in order to get to Pine Flat, I had the place completely to myself, so it was a perfect spring break vacation. Now that I think about it, I could recover a few days, then head out for one more overnight before school is back in session. πŸ˜‰

Illinois River Trail to Shorty Noble Way

It’s almost spring, which means a few things — primarily, less snow and more bugs. I took advantage of the fantastic springish weather to revisit one of my favorite trails. I visited the Illinois River Trail a few times (likeΒ here and here) over the past couple years and the last time I came, I saw some volunteers clearing up the Shorty Noble Way trail, which begins just over 4 miles from the Illinois River trailhead at Briggs Creek Campground. (Sidenote: someone put some gravel down on Forest Road 4103, which made the trip a lot more pleasant, so thanks, whoever that was. The last half mile or so to the parking is still terrible and requires a four-wheel drive vehicle with high clearance.)


The river from the road on the drive in

Right off the bat, I made the mistake of leaving my hiking parasol in the car. My skin just barely recovered from the sunburn I got at Crater Lake last week and I knew that this hike didn’t have many trees to protect me, so I had to use my jacket to provide a little shade. Yeah, I coulda used sunscreen, too, but whatever.


I also noticed pretty quickly that there were ticks all around. Grace tends to hover on the edges of the trail, so I constantly had to pick them off of her before they latched on.


“Ugh, get the tick off my neck!”


As usual, the exposure on this hike is kinda ridiculous. There are parts in which one wrong step would send you tumbling down the gorge to the river below (or probably the rocks). Still, it is absolutely worth the risk.


Around 4.1 miles in, we reached the junction with Shorty Noble Way trail. I didn’t really remember how long the trail was, but I knew that it went straight down to the river below, so I had to prepare myself for a strenuous ascent out. It turns out that it is about one mile long and 600 feet down.



One mile and lots of elevation loss later…this beautiful sight!


❀ ❀


Spring is in the air

This hike, though difficult, inspired me to perhaps come back next week with my overnight gear. I could set up camp at the top of Shorty Noble and have a base from which to explore the meadows down by the riverside. I still haven’t been to the one at Pine Flat and apparently there was one at this trail’s end, too. To be continued?

If you’re interested in the stats and map and that stuff, here you go:

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10.4 miles roundtrip, 1916 elevation gain, 4 hrs 31 mins

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Snowshoeing to Watchman Peak

I decided to change things up a little bit this weekend since the weather was clear and sunny at Crater Lake. I’ve got some snowshoes that don’t get used as much as they should during the winter months, so I took my friend Scott up to Crater Lake early this morning for a strenuous hike in the snow.

We were pretty much the only ones there when we first got there this morning. The only other group had stayed the night up at the Watchman Peak lookout and was just getting back the car when we arrived.

To get to Watchman Peak in the winter, you basically just follow West Rim Road for about 3 miles, then offroad your way up to the lookout. The guide that I found said that it was about 7.5 miles roundtrip from the Rim Village gift shop. The snow levels were pretty low for Crater Lake, though it was a warmish March day so it was kinda expected. Still, it was a cold enough night for there to be a frozen layer on everything, so we were glad to get there early before things got too slushy.


The view at the start of the hike near the gift shop



Following everyone else’s tracks through the snowdrifts

I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to make it all the way to the Watchman, so I was happy when we easily made it to Discovery Point.



Some awesome rocks on the side of the road


The lookout is in sight!


After a little over 3 miles, we came around a bend and saw the snowshoe tracks going up the mountain, so we knew we’d arrived at the turnoff for Watchman Peak. It was just around the corner from the overlook that is very popular in the summer on the west rim.


The lookout is peeking over the trees, welcoming us up


Reached the top!


Victory! (with developing sunburn and all)


❀ ❀ My favorite from the hike

In the end, this was a b**** of a hike that required high levels of perseverance and endurance. I didn’t bring my watch to track with the GPS, but it was definitely a lot of work and the snow didn’t make it any easier. Luckily, we were able to push ourselves to make it all the way to the top of Watchman Peak, a feat I didn’t even try in the summer.

Lake Siskiyou Trail

In my desperation for a novel trail that is also accessible, I hiked around another man-made reservoir today. I was wanting to go to something else in the area, but there has been a decent amount of snow recently and I had to go with my plan B. Lake Siskiyou is just off of I-5 near Mount Shasta (the city). The Lake Siskiyou trail was also under a little bit of snow, but it wasn’t enough to keep people from using it. It seemed to be a popular spot in the area for fishing and hiking.

I didn’t get to complete the whole loop since a seasonal bridge was taken out, but here are some pictures for you to you enjoy:


First view of the lake, with residential behind me


Wagon Creek pedestrian bridge



Someone fishing out in the cold


Some geese watching some other geese


A creepy fungus creature that is devouring this plant


❀ ❀


Spring Hill Trail and Mossbrae Falls

It was a pretty mild winter for most of December and January, but now winter weather has finally started to show itself. I was left with only a few options for hiking this weekend since it was going to be wet at low elevations and snowy at higher ones in most of Southern Oregon. I had a good plan to get up early and beat a snowstorm before it reached the I-5 pass that I needed to cross to get into California, but Grace was being all picky with her breakfast and we ended up leaving late. Luckily, we only caught a little bit of ice and slush on the highway on the way to Shasta-Trinity National Forest.

My first stop was Spring Hill Trail, which is right on the edge of Mt. Shasta City. It was just the perfect length of hike to get me going for the morning and the on-and-off snow made for a beautiful hike. I couldn’t really see many of the mountains around, Mt. Shasta in particular, so I will have to return on a clearer day.


I love how summit is spelled with one m. I hope a child made this sign.


Manzanita ❀ πŸ™‚



I took the Rock Point Loop on the way back down



The view of town on the way down

Here’s the map and stats for Spring Hill Trail:

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2.82 miles, 705 ft elevation gain, 1 hr 12 mins

For my second stop, I did something that was…well…illegal. I mean, technically the hike to the captivating Mossbrae Falls is trespassing on Union Pacific property because you have to walk along active rails for a little over 3/4 of a mile. Now, I’m not the most straight-edge guy, but I also don’t want to pay any sort of trespassing fines, so I made sure to do my research before I decided to break any laws.

Apparently, a woman was hit while walking along this stretch of railroad in 2011, so there definitely is an element of physical danger if your timing is poor. And there are a bunch of serious-looking signs prohibiting access to Mossbrae Falls, so it’s enforceable. Still, this is America and we often put ourselves above the rules. I saw at least 15 other people in my hour-long hike. And not one single train.

What it comes down to is that no one really enforces the trespassing. As long as you park on public streets and don’t do anything stupid, you can pretty much expect to make it to the falls and back without legal issues. Whatever the risk, it was absolutely worth it, as Mossbrae Falls are a sight to see. I don’t feel the pictures even did them justice.


Some of the trespassing signs when first turning onto the tracks


The Sacramento River


Lots of room and not that dangerous if you are watching out


Mossbrae Falls ❀ ❀


Mossbrae Falls ❀ ❀

In all, I hiked 3.23 miles roundtrip to get to the falls and back and it only took an hour. Hopefully they will figure out a way in the near future for this area to be accessible in a completely legal and safe way so that all parties are satisfied. For now, it seems, the de facto rule is for everyone to ignore the trespassing signs and walk in anyway.


Cathedral Hills Trail System

Just outside of Grants Pass, Cathedral Hills is a trail system for hikers, bikers, and horse-riders. Since it’s so close to a city, I have always kinda avoided going there. However, last weekend I didn’t have much of an option with the rainy/snowy weather all over the region, so I tried out Cathedral Hills for the first time. It was pretty wet, so I only got a few pictures. I started at the Espey trailhead and did the Backside loop, along with the W trail and Wild Rose loop.


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Backside loop + W trail and Wild Rose loop, 3.28 mi, 607 ft elevation gain

Today I decided to return to Cathedral Hills, especially since it wasn’t raining as consistently and I had some more trails to explore. This time, starting from the same trailhead, I did the Outback loop, which is a bit longer. I also added on the Skycrest loop via Timber Riders trail. The skies were a little more kind to me this time and I got some pretty pictures of fog rolling over nearby hills. I also got a lot of macros of lichen and plants.





I love this little mushroom picture


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Outback loop + Skycrest loop via Timber Riders, 4.76 mi, 653 ft elevation gain

All in all, this trail system does the trick when you’re desperate for a hike, but it’s really built more for mountain bikers and it’s way too close to the city for my taste. I’ll have to keep exploring to find something more isolated for next weekend.

Women’s March 2018 – Medford

Today marks the first anniversary of the Women’s March (among other less-important things). Last year where I live, the march in Ashland drew in an estimated 8,000 people from all around Southern Oregon — blog post here. This year it came to the somewhat-less-progessive Medford, so I wasn’t sure how it would turn out. I met up with close friends from work, all incredible women in their own right, for this amazing event.

So many negative things have happened in the country in the past year have made it feel like we’ve regressed decades as a society. On top of that, hatred and bigotry of every kind seem to dominate our political discourse. Our divisions are now more pervasive and influential than our commonalities are and should be.

Today the march, just like last year’s, gave me hope that a tide of change is coming to wipe out all of that hatred. But it’s different because 2018 elections are coming. We’ve already seen this year through the elections in Virginia and Alabama that change is coming. More women and people of color are running for office. More powerful, white men are being held accountable for their sexual misconduct and/or corrupt behavior and their power is slipping. There are definitely still problems that need urgent attention. Fortunately, movements such as the Women’s March remind us that we are more alike than we are different. Unity is a major part of community and without it, there is no undoing the bad that comes our way. Coming together is the only way that we can really overcome obstacles in order to create a better future.


My awesome friend, Jen, selling pussy hats πŸ™‚


❀ ❀ ❀


Probably one of my favorite signs of the day








The force is strong with this one


My roommate made a pussy hat by “suturing” on some pieces of a tea towel to a baseball cap LOL it was rad



I hope that the lone Trump supporter realized that he looked silly



If you can’t see it, the white sign in the middle says, “Literally everything about this is so aweful (sic) that I have no idea where to start”



Jamie McLeod — future congresswoman for OR District 2 who will take Greg Walden out πŸ˜€


Me and Jamie McLeod ❀ Change is coming