Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Upper Rogue Trail: Woodruff Bridge to North Fork Park

Spring is almost here and we decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather Sunday and stretch our legs for a good LONG hike.  Our dog Katie joined us as we met our hiking friend Richard at the Prospect Ranger Station near Union Creek for a shuttle hike on the Upper Rogue Trail.

If you are not familiar with the term “shuttle hike”, it is simply a hike where you leave a vehicle at the start and end of your hiking route.  So leaving Richard’s vehicle at the Ranger Station, we packed into our car and drove up the road to the Woodruff Bridge Picnic area.

Time for some trekking!
Upon arrival, we were greeted by the sound of mighty Rogue River and treated to the beautiful rapids/falls at the bridge.  This would be an 11-mile trek from Woodruff Bridge to the North Fork Park where the Upper Rogue trail begins (or ends depending on your view) it’s 47-mile course.  We have only hiked one other time over 10 miles – the John Dellenback Loop at Diamond Lake (see our 2013 June posting on this 11.5 mile hike).

The Rogue River at Woodruff Bridge
The first mile-and-a-half of trail kept us within sight and sound of the river which was very full from recent rains.  We also got to view a lot of whitewater and small rapids/falls that by summer would be gone.  Slowly but surely the sound of the river got louder until we finally arrived at one of the highlights for this trail segment - Takelma Gorge.

Takelma Gorge - WOW!!!!!
The area gets its name from the Upland Takelma Tribe.  This war-like band was dubbed “Rogues” by early French trappers and later “Rogue River Indians.” The gorge itself was formed when Crater Lake’s active volcano filled the valley with lava and ash. The river then created this narrow passage, carving out the gorge which now features cliffs 150 feet high.

The south end of Takelma Gorge
Halfway through our hike we stopped at the River Bridge Campground which is currently closed for camping, but provided us a place to stop and eat.  We sat around and told old hiking and camping stories while Katie worked on begging for our food.

View up river at the bridge - River Bridge Campground

Onward to North Fork Park......
As we continued on the trail we periodically saw Snow Queen flowers, the only flower we would see on this hike.  We also got to see British Soldiers on a tree stump.  Just to clarify, British Soldiers are a green lichen with a red head – we were not being invaded by England.  Our pictures did not turn out so good, so please click on the link to see pictures of each.
Since trail cleanup had not taken place yet, we did have lots of tree-fall across the trail and twice we had to navigate off trail to get around the blockage.  See the picture below for the worst encounter – yes, there is a trail going through that mess.

Yes, the trail goes through that!!!!
The Rogue River had its’ moments along this last 5-mile section, but eventually settled down to a calm slow flow as it came to the North Fork Park where there is a small reservoir.  This park is a great place to picnic & swim, but for us, it was the end of an awesome day of hiking.
Slower water as we near North Fork Park & the end of our 11 mile hike.
After a short shuttle drive back to Woodruff Bridge, we packed up and headed for Phil’s Frosty in Shady Cove for malts and shakes – ah yes, the reward for a hike well done!!

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol

P.S.  Be sure to check out Richard's website for his take on this hike.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Wildflower Season Is Here!!!!

Despite the daily news coverage of snow and cold in the East and South, here in Southern Oregon the temperatures have gradually been warming up.  That, combined with the recent on-and-off rains, tends to lead to the appearance of wildflowers. Add in the fact that Spring is only 11 days away and you might catch Spring Fever!!

The Beekman House in Jacksonville
So with sunshine and temps near 65 on Friday. Glenn left work a little early and we threw Katie in the car (not literally) and drove to the Beekman House in Jacksonville to hike 3 trails of the JWT: The Grove Woods, Beekman Canyon Loop, and the California. Although each trail is not a long distance,  they do form a figure eight, so we like to combine all three, hiking each multiple times in different directions. This allows for a nice 1-2 hour hike.

Time to Trek!!!!
As we began along the Beekman Canyon Loop trail, we were quickly treated to Fawn Lilies and Oak Toothworts.  These were soon joined by Hounds Tongue in the sunny portions of the trail.  We were also treated to a group of deer as we neared the top of the loop, but they did not stay around for picture taking.
As we transitioned to the Grove Woods trail, we came across a large patch of Marsh Marigolds along the small stream area at the trailhead. We have only come across those flowers one other time in our hikes, so it was a treat to see them again.
Oak Toothwort

Fawn Lily

Marsh Marigold

Even though we hiked less than two hours, we had caught the wildflower fever and still had Saturday to hike before the rains returned........

....so on Saturday we threw Katie in the car (again not literally) and drove to Grants Pass to hike at the Cathedral Hills Trails.  Here too we hiked 3 trails: Backside Loop, "W" Trail, and the Wild Rose Loop.  We hiked at Cathedral Hills in July 2011, so this was the first Springtime hike at this location.

So many choices, so little time!
After parking at the Espey Trailhead (largest of three trailheads), we headed out on the Backloop trail and were surrounded (literally) by Indian Warriors - the wildflower.  They were everywhere!!!!!

Indian Warrior  - it was everywhere!!
As we hiked along, the Indian Warriors were soon joined by Shooting Stars, Oak Toothwort, Western Buttercup, Hounds Tongue and the very beautiful Grass Widow.  Since the "W" trail and Wild Rose Loop were nestled between canyon ridges, the wildflowers were surrounded by the constant green of moss on neighboring rocks and trees. This made for a very colorful hike.

Shooting Star

Grass Widow

Hounds Tongue

Western Buttercup

We only came across one mountain biker and a few hikers, so it was also a nice quiet hike that allowed us to take in the sights and enjoy the beauty.  Our Spring Fever was quenched (till next weekend).

View from "W" trail ridge
Lately it seems that our hiking has made us hungry (??), so in keeping with that theme we picked up lunch in Grants Pass before heading home.  This was our first visit to Casablanca Coffee & Grill drive-thru, but after enjoying a Philly Cheese Steak Torta and a Casablanca Special Wrap, we highly recommend you stop by and try them when in Grants Pass. Of course hike first to work up an appetite.

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol

P.S.  While hiking the Grove Woods in Jacksonville, we came across some sort of memorial or fairy treasure (see picture below) alongside the trail.  A stone necklace with the word 'love' was hanging next to a stash of shells and stones. We took pictures of it and hiked on.  It wasn't until we got home and looked at the pictures that we noticed there was a piece of paper under the stash.  We are now curious what was written on the paper, so if you happen to hike this trail before we do again and the note is still there, let us know what it says.

"Love" necklace

Treasure stash with mystery note