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.

1 comment:

  1. Funny thing is I hiked here a couple of years ago on New Year's had more snow while I had more snow....weird. I'm thinking about taking my backpack there this weekend and maybe hike to Siskiyou Gap and back, stay tuned!