Saturday, August 29, 2015

High Lakes Trail - Lake of the Woods

August 28, 2015

The month of August has not been friendly to hikers here in Southern Oregon. It seems that for most of the month there have been fires north, south, east and west of us and temperatures in the 90's or higher to go with the smoke.  A recent story we read stated that Southern Oregon has not had one continuous 24-hour period with "good" air quality since the end of July.  So as the last days of August were counting down we headed to Lake of the Woods to give our legs a much needed stretch on some hiking trails.

In addition to hiking trails, Lake of the Woods features cabins, campgrounds, a restaurant and store, plus many specials nights or activities which make a great place for the family.  If you have not been there yet, be sure and check it out sometime.

A panoramic view of Lake of the Woods.  The gray haze is from smoke.
We started our visit by hiking back through the day use area and past the campgrounds to the High Lakes trail.  This trail connects Lake of the Woods to Fish Lake and can be used by hikers and bikers.  The trail itself is easy to follow, wide and also pretty flat the entire distance.

Start of the High Lakes trail

Nice wide and easy High Lakes trail.
 As we starting hiking we got a see an Osprey perched at the top of a dead tree.  Evidently sushi was on it's menu for the day.  Although there was smoke surrounding the area, we didn't notice it throughout our hike. Part way to Fish Lake we took a break and then hiked back to Lake of the Woods.  We saw a few flowers still blooming along the trail as well as some ugly fungi stuff of which Glenn took pictures.

Marsh area of the lake near the start of the trail

Ugly gross looking fungi thing.

Aster still in bloom

Pretty flower, not sure of the variety.
Once back at Lake of the Woods we spent the day relaxing & reading along the lake shore.  Katie enjoyed multiple dips in the lake as well as rolling in the dirt, rocks, pine needles and bark.  She really likes the idea of being out in the wild and getting dirty!

Who is a dirty dog -- not me!!!
In the late afternoon the winds picked up and blew away the smoke and brought sunny skies to the area.  So before leaving we took another hike which covered part of the Family Loop trail and Great Meadow trail.  Even though this was a short 1-hour hike, we got to see a Pileated Woodpecker, Gray Jays and deer.
View of Lake of the Woods after the wind blew away the smoke......

Our spot by the lake
So as August fades we are looking forward to September and the arrival of Autumn.  We hope to get out and hike during that colorful yet short time of year and as always, we'll look forward to sharing that with you.

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol

P.S.  Since Katie pictures seem to be pretty popular, we've included a few extras from this trip to Lake of the Woods for your viewing pleasure.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Hummingbird Meadows & Buck Canyon Trail

July 26, 2015

It seems that when wildflowers are in full bloom, so are the mosquitoes. And so too when the wildflowers are past their prime, the mosquitoes hum has faded.  So on that note, we drove up Highway 62 and 230 to the Hummingbird Meadows trailhead on the last Sunday of July anticipating few wildflowers but looking forward to hiking.

 When we started our hike the temperature was only 58 degrees and throughout our hike it stayed near 70 degrees - perfect for hiking!  The Hummingbird Meadows trail is just under a half mile in length and serves as a connector trail to the Buck Canyon trail.  However during that short distance we went through two meadows and crossed Muir Creek.

The meadows got their name as you might imagine from all the hummingbirds that frequent this area during the wildflower bloom, especially when their favorite flower, Horse Mint, is in bloom.  Even though almost every flower had faded, we did find one (maybe the last one) Horse  Mint still with color.
The last Horse Mint flower still in bloom!!!!
 Since the snow levels were low this year, Muir Creek was pretty easy to cross as we hopped from one rock to another. Katie just walked right through it as normal.
Muir Creek was more of a trickle and easily crossed.
 Once we connected with the Buck Canyon trail, we hiked another couple of miles out to the Upper Meadow.

Along the way we kept running into sections of trail that split and later would merge.  It seems that folks created these trails to get around fallen trails from seasons past.
Which trail do you choose?  One of the many forks in the Buck Canyon trail.
 The various meadows along the Buck Canyon trail still had plenty of flowers for viewing like Columbine, Aster, Paintbrush, Monks Hood, Tiger Lilies, Giant Larkspur, Hedge Nettle & Goldenrod. There were also Huckleberries, Thimbleberries, Baneberries and other berries all within reach as we made our way through the meadows and woods.

Columbine -- always beautiful!

Monks Hood - very pretty and still many in bloom.

Tiger Lily -- always makes us think of Peter Pan.

Aster - the most numerous of the flowers still in bloom.

Not sure what specific type of berry this was, but they sure look good!
Even the butterflies are still enjoying the flowers.

 As we passed the Devil's Slide area, we came to our turnaround and lunch spot, the Upper Meadow.  Katie spent most of her break time in Muir Creek.  We did meet a family of four on the trail who were heading back to the Hummingbird Meadows trailhead.  They had backpacked out and camped overnight for the weekend.

Devil's Slide rock area and the Upper Meadow
 The hike back gave us the chance to see and enjoy the beautiful meadows once again and at one point we could hear elk just beyond the shrub boarder of a meadow.  We enjoyed the beauty of the area and it was a nice break from the summer heat in Southern Oregon.  We can only imagine what this area must look like during the prime wildflower blooming.  Guess we'll have to buy some Deet and try it.

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol

Note: In early June our fellow hikers from Friends of the Umpqua Hiking Club hiked the Buck Canyon Trail from a different starting point.  To read about their hike and view pictures, click here.