Friday, July 29, 2016

Roasting into Ashland

Day 115 - July 29
Mile: 1695.8 to 1716.2 (20.4)
up/down: 2600/4850 feet

A quick update tonight as we are in the Ashland area for a short break with trail mom Terri's family. We'll be here until Sunday morning.

We blasted out the 20 miles today about as quick as we have moved all trail - 9 hours. The trail was uneventful passing Mount Ashland then pointing down the mountain to I-5 south of Ashland. The heatwave continued to cook us today and we're hopeful it will break before we start again.  

We made the 1700 mile mark today, two big milestones this section!


A special thanks to Alex, Junie, and Jan for having us for a couple days. 

Thursday, July 28, 2016

No Elephant Here

Day 114 - July 28
Mile: 1674.5 to 1695.8 (21.3)
up/down: 3850/3400 feet

[Note: Our resident historian Hummingbird came up with our opening theme]

American pioneers on the Oregon trail would start out with optimism and excitement. When reality of hardship hit they would talk of "seeing the elephant." Many who saw the elephant would give up and go home. As we pass into Oregon today we continue to have the same excitement and optimism that we started with (but perhaps we are few pounds lighter). There is no elephant as we push on toward Canada. 

We continued the ridge from camp to the east as we realign with the Cascades and move toward Ashland tomorrow. We could see back to the Red Buttes from yesterday. Finally turning north in the late morning we pushed on. The walking was easier than yesterday but the heatwave kept it hot and humid all day. 

By early afternoon we had passed a large milestone in our trip, the California/Oregon border. 1689 miles in 92 hiking days. Wow, California is a long state. 

We finished the afternoon setting ourselves up for Ashland as we have about 20 miles remaining. Our Trail Mom Terri's sister Jan will scoop us up from the trail when we get to I-5 in the afternoon. We'll take a zero day and get ready for our march through the nearly 500 miles of Oregon. 

We've been hiking for about a week now with a young couple from South Africa, Flapjack and Hiccup. They are really fun to hang out with and it's great for us to learn about another culture. 



Day 113 - July 27
Mile: 1653 to 1674.5 (21.5)
up/down: 7250/2550 feet

New trip birds: American Goldfinch and Ruffed Grouse. 

No matter how I look at it, today was a tough one. Even with our short day yesterday and some rest, this mountain kicked my butt. Hummingbird was the Energizer Bunny today and pulled me along all day. 

We didn't hike out last night like we thought we might, it was just too hot - over 100F at 6pm. With a 5:30 wake up alarm we were on the trail shortly after 6. Brenda gave us a ride from their RV to the trailhead. We had a great time seeing them and so much appreciate all they have done for us. Thank you Dan and Brenda!

Even with the early start it was warm and very humid as we attacked the first major climb from the river at 1300 feet elevation to a ridge at 5600 feet. We made it by about 8:30 with sweat pouring off us. The terrain eased some after that but there was still much climbing to be done. The views were excellent all morning as we moved into the Red Buttes Wilderness. Once on the high ridge at 6000 feet we cruised for a while then dropped back to 5000 at Cook and Green Pass. 

Then came the toughest part of the day, a 1200 foot ascent back over 6000 in the exposed hot afternoon sun. While it wasn't near as hot up here as it is down in the river valley, it's still plenty hot and humid for strenuous hiking. After making the ridge we crashed in the deep shade of some fir trees for half an hour. From there it was mostly level to a saddle in the ridge between Black and White Mountains where we're dry camping tonight. We'll be in Oregon tomorrow afternoon!

I'm pretty sure this is serpentine. It was pretty!
The bird of the day was a pair of Ruffed Grouse we watched spooked out of their feeding area and up into a dead tree by a Kestrel. They stood there in the wide open for us to get great looks. A state bird for us both. 

I got another "life tree" today in the first ridge we climbed - the Knobcone Pine. They are small pines that like dry exposed slopes. They also require fire to open the cones for seed germination. The area was burned several times in the last 20 years and had many young trees and a few old ones. Very cool. We also ran into a couple volunteers for the Forest Service doing seed bank collection of rare conifers like Brewer's Spruce and Pacific Silver Fir. It was fun talking to them and we learned a lot. 


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Seiad Valley

Day 112 - July 26
Mile: 1641.2 to 1653
up/down: 1400/2700 feet

Starting off with a creek crossing for breakfast, we blasted out the remaining miles to Seiad Valley and our awaiting friends Dan and Brenda. We skipped the ugly highway road walk that takes you miles upstream on the Klamath River to a bridge and back again to town. The truck was popular as every hiker we passed wanted a ride! Before it was over we had 11 hikers in the truck and in the back! Road walks suck and we all HATE doing them. 


The RV is parked by the river (with fledgling Ospreys!) and we'll hang here and avoid the ugly heat. We may walk out a couple miles this evening. If so I'll come back and edit this post. There's another monster 4000 plus foot climb coming to get out of here. 


Dan had clippers so we had hair cut day too! 


Into The Inferno

Day 111 - July 25
Mile: 1621.2 to 1641.2 (20.0)
up/down: 3000/6000 feet

New trip bird: Willow Flycatcher 

The Pacific Northwest is in the grips of a heatwave and we walked right into it this afternoon. After a lovely morning above 6000 feet we descended into hell...

Continuing our Marble Mountain tour, we left camp in Little Marble Valley and climbed the ridge to the north side of Black Marble Mountain. The scenery was spectacular. Continuing north we passed Kings Castle and Big Ridge as we ran the mountains out. All that was left was the drop to the Klamath River at Seiad Valley and the 100 degree temperature. 

It's a long drop, over a mile in elevation from our high point to the river. We did most of it this afternoon stopping about half a dozen miles short as we were running out of day and had done our 20. We could have ran it out but what's the point of getting to town at dark and risking injury to ourselves by pushing miles. We haven't done it yet and weren't about to start today. The last couple miles had us along Grider Creek and we're camped near the second crossing. The 2014 fire took out the wooden bridges so we have to cross the old fashioned way. Lots easier than Yosemite!


Monday, July 25, 2016

For All The Marble

Day 110 - July 24 (Happy birthday to my mom!)
Mile: 1600.4 to 1621.2 (20.8)
up/down: 3650/4650 feet

I looked all day for my marbles, never found them. I also looked all day for the rock marble and may have succeeded at the end. We are in the Marble Mountains, a range I've read was once an ancient sea thrust into a mountain range by volcanic activity. There is supposed to be lots of marble rock, I just didn't know where to look. And to be honest, I'm not sure I would recognize natural marble if a five pound chunk came rolling down and hit me on the side of the head. But look I did. This range is also know for its huge diversity of conifers, 17 species in all and supposedly the highest concentration of anywhere in the world. I did recognize one new life tree for sure, a Brewer's (Weeping) Spruce. 

The hiking was spectacular all day, up high with great views and excellent flowers. The footing was rough for large sections which may have contributed to the perceived difficulty all day. By the time we made it to our preselected camp at 21 miles we were both done. 


This one belongs in a Dr Suess book! 

We passed one lake today that may win the prize for the coolest name - Man Eaten Lake. Really. 
Lunch was at the tiny Fisher Lake, complete with many lounging salamanders in the shallows. They had bright orange undersides and feet!



About half way through the day we came through a notch in the ridge and got our first looks at Marble Mountain and Black Marble Mountain, two side by side peaks that look obviously different than everything else. Perhaps they are marble!  We kept walking and eventually got real close, as in our camp is right below Marble Mountain. As we started into the valley we saw a finger of white rock that extended down. We walked right to it and magically we had found our marble. It's pretty neat to think of whole mountains made of marble, perhaps we'll get to explore more tomorrow as we climb out of the valley toward Black Marble Mountain. 


Saturday, July 23, 2016

Great Friends Are Great

Day 109 - July 23 (Happy birthday Uncle Bill !)
Mile: 1583.6 to 1600.4
up/down: 3200/3600 feet

When great friends and super trail angels Dan and Brenda (you'll remember them from Tehachapi and Bird Springs Pass, among others) were coming back from an RV trip and asked us if we could meet up, how could we pass that up?! After discussions we figured out that we could meet up both in Etna and Seiad Valley. The meet today was extra special as it save us the hassle of hitch in 10 miles in from Etna Summit to town. Thanks again Dan and Brenda, you are the best!

Speaking of angels, we've gotten cookies in our last two boxes from Jennifer and her girls Megan and Mackenzie, and Susan's friend Raena. Thanks to all!

We finished the nearly 14 miles to the summit fairly quickly, passing some nice scenery but also a fairly substantial burn. That finishes the Salmon sub-range for us. Next we move on to the Marble Mountains as we head for Seiad Valley. Speaking of that we're actually going to walk a couple or more miles tonight after it cools down. 

Snow on the trail today!

Dan and Brenda met us at the summit and took us to town. We showered in their RV which was awesome! A big meal at a local diner has us set to go. It's only three days hiking to Seiad Valley where we'll see them again so we're leaving behind some stuff we won't need like rain gear and chargers. Saving any weight in the pack is great!

Edit: Dan and Brenda dropped us at the trail about 6:30 pm and we walked out a few miles, including past 1600!


Day 108 - July 22
Mile: 1563.5 to 1583.6 (20.1)
up/down: 4400/3450 feet

We were distracted a lot today. There were great views, interesting geology, cool trees, and of course birds. 

Leaving camp we continued to ascend to a ridge line that would complete our time in the Scott Mountains and connect us to the Salmon Mountains. The climb was through some of the best hiking we've had in weeks - sub alpine with fantastic geology. We even found foxtail pine, it's been a long while since we've seen them. While we won't quite reach them we got excellent views of the snow covered Trinity Alps and have vowed to return for a visit. 

Another afternoon with a long drop to a highway followed by an even longer climb. On the ascent we were waylaid by a nice flock of mixed birds in a feeding frenzy for insects. There were Hermit and Nashville Warblers, red-breasted nuthatches, Cassin's Vireos, Brown Creepers, and others. It was quite a show. The ridge we climbed was interesting and took us past a spring for evening water and another mile to dry camping. At least we're on a ridge with a view of Mt. Shasta in the distance. In four days we made no northward progress!  

I want to give a shout out to the trail maintenance today in the Klamath National Forest. Whether it's the forest service itself or an unidentified volunteer group, this was the nicest section of trail we've seen all summer. There are some Forest Service districts farther south that could take a lesson.