Thursday, January 29, 2015

Grizzly Peak Trail

Since we both had a weekday off and the sun was out, it seemed only fitting that we should spend it hiking one of our favorite trails in the area - Grizzly Peak.

After a phone call to the BLM to check on the conditions of roads and trail, we set off to hike the Grizzly Peak trail just outside Ashland.  It has been over 19 months since we last hiked this trail and after pulling into the parking area at the trailhead, we already noticed changes.  The trailhead sign and an information board about the 2003 Antelope Fire were gone and in their place was a new pit toilet restroom.  Guess that's a fair trade-off,  although Glenn thinks they should have posted the Antelope Fire info on the inside of the bathroom door for reading material.

The old trailhead sign back in 2011........

....and the East Antelope fire info board back in 2011....... replaced by a pit toilet restroom.

The first 1.2 miles of the trail take you up the hill, zig-zagging back and forth with a steady but easy upward climb.  Easy that is, if the trail did not have stretches of mud due to runoff and snow melt.  This made the start of the hike rather interesting as we carefully made our way through each muddy stretch, trying to avoid the skid marks of those who went before us.

One of the uphill muddy segments of the trail
A muddy, but level segment of the trail with some snow.

Once we arrived at the top of Grizzly Peak, the trail forms a 3-mile loop which can be hiked in either direction.  The sign at the loop had also been replaced since our last hike, as the previous sign had two bullet holes in it.  We decided to hike the loop in the counter-clockwise direction which would  provide us with views of Mt McLoughlin, Mt Ashland and Mt Shasta in that order.

The old loop sign complete with bullet holes........
...and the new and improved loop sign.

The first portion of the loop featured the forest section of the peak.  We encountered our first fallen tree across the trail and saw many small meadow areas still covered by snow that in Spring and Summer will feature various wildflowers.  We also caught glimpses of snow covered Mt McLoughlin.

One of many meadow areas at the top of Grizzly Peak still covered in snow
Immediately after the forest segment you enter the Antelope Fire burn area.  Although the trees are all burned, it is still a beautiful area and provided us a chance to take a break, sit back and listen to the silence of the area.  It was interesting to hear the wind without the sound of trees.  Since the trees are all burned in this area, many of them had fallen across the trail due to winter storms and we began our practice for the U.S. hurdle team.  Portions of this area also had water runoff which covered the trail and made for an interesting segment of adventurous outdoor hiking.

View of the Antelope Fire burn area
After finishing our hurdle practice we began hiking uphill to the rocky and most desert-like section on Grizzly Peak.  This area provided great panoramic views and we could easily see Mt Ashland and Mt Shasta today.  The trail headed back into the forest area before completing the 3-mile loop.  It was here that we came across the worst tree blockage of the hike.  It looked like one of those interstate highway pile ups on the nightly news.  We had to work our way around the trees and eventually managed to get back on the trail a short time later.

Yup, that is the trail -- somewhere in that mess.
But our adventure was not over yet.  If you think hiking uphill on a muddy trail is fun, then hiking downhill on a muddy trail is heaven (or the other place depending on your view).  We are happy to report that neither of us fell on the trail, but our hiking boots and the legs of our pants were quite the sight when we finished.  That didn't stop us though from driving to The Great American Pizza Company in Ashland and treating ourselves to some great pizza afterwards.  It put the finishing touch on a great day of hiking!!!!!

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

J-W-T and V-O-T-R-S-P

No, the title of this posting is not a song by the Village People or Aretha Franklin. They are the initials of our first two hikes of 2015.

Last year we hiked the Jacksonville Woodland Trails almost 30 times and did a few postings of those hikes, especially when the wildflowers were in bloom. Since this group of inter-connecting trails is close by, allows dogs and offers us the opportunity of "creating our own hike", we like to hike there often.

So to start 2015 it was off to JWT. The first trail of our hike was in the shade and with the recent freezing night temperatures, the ground was frozen hard and the trail was outlined in frost.

Frozen and frosty trails in the shade at JWT
The sun came out about the time we started hiking, so we decided to turn off the "frozen" trail and head for the sun-warned trails.  Although that sounded good at the time, we soon found out that the sun-warmed trails had melted frost which meant MUD!!  We did warm up as we slipped and slid through the muck, but soon decided frozen and shaded weren't so bad after all.  It's all about perspective. We didn't take any pictures of the mud trails as both arms and hands were needed to maintain balance and not become one with the mud.  Katie on the other hand used her 4-paw drive and had no issues.  We hiked at least 11 different trail segments in about 2 hours and it felt good to get out -- too much cabin fever.

We also recently made our second hike of 2015 at Valley of the Rogue State Park.  The park is about halfway between Medford and Grants Pass, so when we make trips to Grants Pass we usually stop at the State Park or Cathedral Hills in Grants Pass and get a few miles of hiking done.

We started at the rest stop area just outside the park and hiked to the Rivers Edge trailhead. This path takes you along the Rogue River from one end of the park to the other and covers one-and-a-quarter miles.  On this occasion we saw lots of Black Headed Grosbeaks along the trail and twice we got to watch large Great Blue Herons fly along the river.  (Those birds are so big and prehistoric looking)

River's Edge trail
View of the Rogue River from the trail

Clouds still covering the surrounding hills as the sun tries to come out
Yes, there was some blue sky!!!
We also hiked through some of the campground and along the bike path to make up our one-and-a-half hour hike.  Glenn was given a pedometer for his birthday from our daughter Maggie and we tested it out on this hike, registering a 4.05 mile hike. Although most of our hikes are along a designated trail with known mileage, the pedometer will help us track miles more accurately, especially for hikes like those on this post since we deviate from the official trail from time to time.

Well that's it for now. We hope you have a great 2015 and we look forward to sharing some of our 2015 adventures with you.

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol