We put our hiking legs to the test Sunday morning and drove up to Mount Ashland where we picked up a portion of the Pacific Crest Trail. Southern Oregon has been experiencing hazy skies due to multiple fires burning in the area and in Northern California, but at the 6,300 foot elevation level the sky above us was clear and blue…and spring was in full bloom. Wildflowers of every size, shape and color decorated the hillside, some just past their prime while others were at their peak.
Hiking south, the trail wound up through open meadows to switchbacks and along a ridge line that offered 360 degree views. The occasional northbound hiker passed us, always with a smile and a nod, still cheerful after hundreds of miles traveled and with hundreds of miles to go. A large group was gathered about the drink-filled ice chest left trailside by a compassionate trail angel. The guestbook was filled with a colorful list of the trail names and dates of trekkers who had previously enjoyed a respite.
Just over 5 miles in and after thousand feet of climbing, the trail took a downhill turn, plunging into a thick forest with no end in sight. Deciding that we’d had enough, we turned and retraced out steps back out to the car, thankful that we didn’t have to search for a tent site for the night.
Yesterday’s blue sky was simply too inviting to ignore. While the temperature was just a little cold for much in the way of outdoor activity, the day was perfect for getting out of the house and scouting out a lunch spot south of the border.
We have a soft spot for The Dutchman, a quaint hometown cafe in the center of the sleepy, little community of Montague, but we pulled up to see a “Closed Monday” sign hanging in the window.
Not ready to call it quits, we continued south along a 2-lane road toward the larger California town of Weed…to another of our favorite local cafes. The view of Mount Shasta was irresistible, and by the time I finished taking photos, Reg had (patiently) worked up quite an appetite.
On a good day, 14,000 foot Mount Shasta is visible for miles in Northern California and from some spots of Southern Oregon, but yesterday’s clear view was a rare wintertime treat.
The unseasonably warm temperatures and brilliant blue sky were irresistible this morning. In record time we gathered our snowshoe gear, packed a lunch (well, Reg packed the lunch) and followed the crowd up to Mount Ashland.
In the past, we have always followed the trail leading to the top of Mount Ashland. It’s a steep route with beautiful views across the Rogue Valley. Since we’ve struggled up that hill several times in the past, we chose the lower trail out to the Grouse Gap shelter hoping we’d find a dry spot to sit and eat our lunch.
Along the way we crossed the Pacific Crest Trail, buried somewhere beneath snow, patiently awaiting next year’s crop of hopeful hikers. The shelter proved to be the perfect lunch stop, complete with covered picnic table, the remains of a still slightly warm fire and an unlocked restroom! Perfect!
Oh, and the view was pretty nice too! Could it be that spring is right around the corner?
After an ill-fated attempt at snowshoeing last Thursday, when the weather was so foul that I turned around after just 20 feet and fought my way back to the truck, Reg and I found Mount Ashland far more hospitable today.
In addition to the spectacular view we had of Mount Shasta (top photo), our ongoing uphill efforts were rewarded with another distant view of Mount Mcloughlin (above).
Today was the perfect day for a snowshoe trek on Mount Ashland. Clouds above us and clouds below us left us with incredible views that went on forever. No reason to hurry back to the truck this time!
The rugged Crags are granite bodies, or plutons, from the Jurassic time.
Like Yosemite's Half Dome, Castle Dome cooled underground.
We headed about 90 miles into California from Oregon for a training hike last weekend. As the challenge of an Alps trek next month nears, Castle Crags State Park gave us a chance to test our lungs and legs in the Shasta National Forest.
The seven-mile walk took us up about 2,500 feet to reach the granite formations more than 170 million years old. A collision of an oceanic plate with North America created the Crags.
The Crags Trail is all uphill and steep scrambling over rocks made the last mile quite difficult.
A food and beer fueling stop on the way home capped a tough, but rewarding day.
Crags Trail gets rockier and steeper when it emerges from the forest.
There are about 28 miles of trails in the Castle Crags Wilderness. The Pacific Crest Trail is part of the trail system.
The trail offers hikers several views of 14,000-feet-plus Mount Shasta.
On our way down Mount Ashland, we crossed the Pacific Crest Trail. Our home, Stone's Throw Bungalow, is a short walk to town.
On our last day of a two-week stay in Ashland, Oregon, we drove to a pair of nearby attractions. Mount Ashland is a ski resort just 22 miles from town. It did not open this year due to a long drought affecting southern Oregon and California. On our way down the mountain, we got a spectacular view of 14,179-foot Mount Shasta in California.
A friendly, but slow-moving moose helped us make Harry and David's famous Moose Munch, popcorn coated in butter and candy in vats.
We heard there was free food on the tour of the nearby Harry and David headquarters, so off we went. Famed for its Fruit-of-the-Month Club and Tower of Treats, Harry and David employs 2,000 year round and 6,000 seasonal workers. We may be tempted to try a job packing gift baskets someday. Guess what our kids are getting for Christmas!