Sunday, July 17, 2016

Da-Ku-Be-Te-De Trail

July 10, 2016

9.2 miles

The name of this trail may sound like a line from The Sound of Music being sung by Julie Andrews, but it was actually named after a band of Native Americans who lived in the Applegate Valley.  Either way, the word "trail" meant it was time for another hike!
Time for another good long  hike!

Having hiked the previous Sunday and Wednesday for a combined 16+ miles, we decided to take advantage of the mild & smoke-free summer weather and try out the Da-Ku-Be-Te-De trail, one of the few trails at Applegate Lake that we have not hiked.
One of many views of Applegate Lake from the trail
We parked at the Swayne Viewpoint which is located just past the dam.  Parking here is free, there is a bathroom, and it is closer so there is less driving.  The trail follows the lake shore from Swayne Viewpoint all the way to the Watkins Campground.  Along the way you pass through the Hartish Campground and Day Use Area (fee for parking) and pass a couple of boat launching ramps.

Hartish Day Use Area /Boat launch.  Campground is just past the parking area

Sign along the trail at the campground 

Beach area at Hartish Campground - Katie took a dip at the end of our hike!

As you may notice in the pictures, the day was very cloudy and the temperature was in the upper 60's- very rare for July in Southern Oregon.  Although the trail does have areas with lots of tree coverage, we would not recommend you hike this trail on a very hot and sunny day.  When reading up on this hike, words like "ticks", "rattlesnakes" and "poison oak" stood out to us, but only poison oak was seen on our hike and that we made sure to avoid.  We did see bear scat, but no bears.  Twice on our hike we startled a group of deer but we able to get one to pose for a picture.

One of our "deer" friends
After following the lake shoreline for four-and-a-half miles, the trail turned in-land along a rail fence which led to the Watkins Campground.  Since no one was camping, we took a break at a campsite while Katie commenced rolling in the dirt.

Katie at Watkins Campground looking for a good dirty place to roll.
The trail forms a loop at the Watkins Campground, so after our break we hiked from the end of the campground down the loop till it rejoined the original trail. While hiking back to the Swayne Viewpoint we got to view the lake in the opposite direction.  Some of the mountains that you can view along this hike include Stein Butte, the Red Buttes, Kangaroo Mountain and Stricklin Butte.

One of the "open" portions of the trail

Wide angle view of Applegate Lake
We finished the 9.2 mile hike in just over 4 hours which included our break and Katie's dip in the lake.  The trail is pretty much flat with just a few mild inclines/descents and with the campgrounds and boat ramps provides many opportunities for turnaround points.  There are also many places where one can stop and sit along the lake shore to enjoy the view and quiet.  So don't let the distance scare you off from trying this hike. Get out there and enjoy!!

Just a side note, since we hiked over 26 miles in one week, we celebrated afterwards by getting Double-Doubles at In-N-Out Burgers afterwards.  But we won't torture you by posting a picture of them.  Oh the rewards of hiking!!!

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

PCT: Ashland Meadows--Grouse Gap--Siskiyou Summit

July 6, 2016

10.4 Miles

Since our first 10+ mile hike of the year was done over the Memorial Day weekend and was on the Pacific Crest Trail, we decided to venture out for our second 10+ mile hike over the Fourth of July weekend on the Pacific Crest Trail - just a different segment. For those of you checking, July 6th was a Wednesday. But for Glenn it was part of his company holiday weekend.

To Grouse Gap and beyond!!!
Having checked our hiking history, we found that the last time we hiked the Ashland Meadows-Grouse Gap segment of the PCT was 5 years ago.  It is a very popular segment due to the easy access and the amazing meadows filled with wildflowers.  Hiking out to the Grouse Gap Shelter road and back makes for a nice 6.8 mile hike, but today we decided to go a little further down the trail.

Katie (bottom center) checking out the first meadow.
We parked just off the main road to Mt Ashland after mile marker #7 (this is where the PCT crosses the road) and after crossing the road began hiking the PCT southbound.  The temperature was just 49 degrees when we started with beautiful blue skies - perfect hiking weather.  The trail from our parking point till the Grouse Gap Shelter road travels through either wooded forest segments or open meadows of varying sizes where a wide variety of wildflowers abound during the summer.

One of the many wildflower meadows that make this a great hike!
Some of the unique wildflowers that we saw while hiking included Richardson Geraniums, White Bog Orchids, Orange Agoseris, Cotton Paintbrush, Pussy Paws, Monkshood and Western Bistort.  The most numerous wildflower today was the Scarlet Gilia or "Skyrocket" which appeared in large patches along the trail. Below are some of the wildflowers we saw on today's hike.

Scarlet Gilia "Skyrocket"


Western Bistort

Richardson Geranium


Cobwebby or Cotton Paintbrush

Just before reaching the Grouse Gap Shelter road, we met a couple in their 60's that appeared to be backpackers.  So we stopped and asked them where they had started their hike to which they replied "Mexico".  This surprised us since most of the PCT thru hikers are still 3 or more weeks away from arriving in Oregon due to the heavy snowfall in the Sierras.  However this couple had skipped that segment, thus their early arrival.  We asked what their trail names were to which their reply was "So Far" and "So Good"  Pretty cute!

PCT Thru Hiker trail magic
Normally we turn around at the Grouse Gap Shelter road but today we continued on for a couple of "new" miles to us along the PCT.  The trail began with a steady climb as the segment begins to ascend up to the Siskiyou Summit.  When our trail finally flattened out, we came across a couple of chairs and ice chests that were set up as "trail magic" for PCT Thru hikers.  All of the ice cold drinks had already been consumed, so hopefully they will refill the ice chest in the next week or two.

View of trail in open area leading up to the Siskiyou Summit
This part of our hike was also more open with less trees due to the higher elevation.  A couple of times we heard bells and thought maybe we were losing our minds in the thinner air, but discovered that a group of cows down a ravine were the noise makers.  We didn't hike all the way to the summit, but eventually found a nice place off trail to take a break, eat, and enjoy the views and quiet.  We even saw a couple patches of snow!!

The view during our break.

See the snow??????
Our hike back gave us another chance to enjoy the wildflowers.  Since it was later in the day, the meadows were also alive with many butterflies and busy bumble bees.

One of the many butterflies enjoying the wildflowers.
If you get a chance to try this hike, the best time is usually June - August when the various wildflowers bloom.  Get out and enjoy!!

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol

P.S. In 2009, Glenn hiked this trail on the first day of Summer with his brother and nephew.  It was 32 degrees and snowing.  Yes they still hiked out to the Grouse Gap Shelter road and back and met many other hikers out for a "summer" hike.  Here are a couple of pictures from that hike.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Grizzly Peak Loop Trail

June 24, 2016

The Grizzly Peak Loop is one of our favorite trails and we typically hike it each year.  So we drove to Ashland and took advantage of some beautiful weather for another opportunity to hike at Grizzly Peak.

It's a sign that it's hiking time!
As we arrived at the trailhead parking lot, there were only two other cars.  As we got out of our car and prepared to start hiking, three more cars arrived.  Later when we finished our hike, there were over a dozen cars.  This is a very popular and beautiful hike!

View of Mt McLoughlin 
The trail leading to the summit loop is a slow and easy climb with long stretches between switchbacks.  Along the way you are treated to views of Mt McLoughlin and the trail is lined with various plants and wildflowers.  One such bloom that we have never seen while hiking is Wild Ginger.  But alas, we finally found and photographed Wild Ginger!!!!!!  As we did so, some other hikers came along and wondered what we had found, so we proudly exclaimed that we had finally found the elusive Wild Ginger bloom. Needless to say, they began photographing Wild Ginger too.

Finally, we found and photographed Wild Ginger!!!!

Columbia Windflower

We think this is Blue Stickweed

After hiking slightly over a mile, we arrived at the summit loop.  Our preference, and the direction we took today, was clockwise around the summit.

The summit loop begins......
This loop takes you through woods & meadows, open & rocky areas, old growth woods, and provides some amazing viewpoints of the surrounding mountains and valleys.  Yup, it has a little bit of everything - one reason we hike this trail so much.

Rosy Indian Paintbrush?

Sulphur Flower

Coyote Mint

Trail through one of the meadows between forested segments

Nettleleaf Horsemint
After making our way through some woods and meadows, we took a break at one of the viewpoints.  It was in this rocky area that we discovered a Pitcairn cairn that was probably left here millions of years ago by our ancestors.  So we decided to build one of own for future generations to enjoy.

The Pitcairn cairn built by our ancestors millions of years ago.

Our modern miniature Pitcairn cairn.

Even though we had already seen lots of flowers and varieties, we continued on to the meadows created by the East Antelope fire.  Here the wildflowers seemed to never stop.  Everywhere we looked there were wildflowers and bees.  It was beautiful and amazing. We had to stop numerous times just to take pictures so we could try to identify those we didn't know.  Since Katie doesn't like to stop on the trail, the meadows were probably her least favorite part of the hike.



Shortspur Sea Blush

Oregon Geranium

Eastwood Daisy?

Trail through the East Antelope Fire area

White Brodiaea (Fools Onion)

Narrowleaf Mule's Ear??
Having been out in the sun through most of the loop, the old growth section gave us a shade break.  It also had that great woods smell.  We passed a few large meadows and were treated to one more wildflower that we had not seen yet --- the Scarlet Gilia. Before finishing the loop, we also passed the actual Grizzly Peak summit.

View of large meadow from the Old Growth section of the loop

Scarlet Gilia
 Having completed the 3.4 mile loop, we descended down the trail back to the trailhead.  Along the way we were treated to numerous butterflies who had finally woke up and were now making their rounds to the all the wildflowers along the trail.

One of many butterflies along the trail
Even though we hike this trail almost yearly, it seems to always surprise us with something different and today was no exception.  We saw so many wildflower varieties for the first time, including the elusive Wild Ginger. Guess that is part of what makes hiking fun and exciting for us!

Trekking Together
Glenn & Carol