Tag Archives: Red Buttes Wilderness

Collings Mountain and Jacksonville

Lingering snow in the mountains has continued to force us to rearrange our planned hikes. We had planned on an extended weekend backpacking trip from 6/8 to 6/12 from Grayback Mountain to the Red Buttes Wilderness but by mid May it was clear that unless we wanted to deal with a good deal of snow we’d need to hold off on that trip. After much juggling on our spreadsheet our new plan was 4 days of hiking around Medford and Jacksonville.

We set off early on Thursday morning heading south on I-5 to Medford. Our plan was to get a hike (or two) in before checking into our motel. Our first stop was at Hart-Tish Park at Applegate Lake. From Medford we followed Highway 238 through Jacksonville to Ruch where we turned left on Upper Applegate Road for 15.9 miles.

After picking up a $5 day pass at the Hart-Tish Store we set off from the day use area on a paved path toward Applegate Lake.

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The lake was pretty busy for a Thursday morning.

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From the picnic area we turned right following the Da-Ku-Be-Te-De Trail along the lake shore.

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The forecast had called for rain but it was shaping up to be a really nice day.

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A nice variety of flowers were blooming along the level path.

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There was also a fair amount of poison oak but the trail was wide enough that it was never really an issue.

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After 3.6 miles we arrived at Watkins Campground where we crossed Upper Applegate Road to the start of the Collings Mountain Trail.

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The 6.9 mile Collings Mountain Trail would lead us back to Hart-Tish Park after passing over the 3625′ summit of Collings Mountain. The trail climbed through a dry forest with occasional views down to Applegate Lake and to the snowy Red Buttes Wilderness beyond.

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There isn’t really a view from the summit but we spotted a few additional types of flowers along the trail.

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Just over three miles from the summit the trail passed a prospectors adit on the left.

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Another quarter mile brought us to an unmarked but obvious side trail on the left that led uphill a short distance to a Bigfoot Trap which was unfortunately empty.

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From the side trail it was a little over half a mile back to the the Hart-Tish Park day use area where the clouds had lifted enough to reveal Red Buttes beyond the far end of Applegate Lake.

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It was a little after 3pm when we arrived back at our car which meant we could check into our motel now, but we had one other hike planned for the day in Jacksonville. We drove back to the former gold mining town and parked near the visitors center at the end of C Street.

From the parking lot we followed stairs up to a crossing of Highway 238.

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Another set of stairs brought us to Britt Gardens, the site of the home of Peter Britt that unfortunately burned down in 1960. Uphill to the left an open air amphitheater hosts the Britt Festival’s summer concerts.

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We followed a path to the right to a sign board for the Sara Zigler Interpretive Trail.

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This trail passes the Britt Sequoia, a 4-foot-diameter tree planted by Peter Britt in 1862 on the day of his Son’s birth.

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The trail traverses a hillside before dropping slightly to a crossing of Jackson Creek near another possible trailhead along Highway 238.

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We took the Jackson Fork Trail from this parking area and quickly recrossed Jackson Creek.

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We followed the Jackson Fork Trail uphill where we spotted a a Washington lily, a California harebell, and several California ground cones.

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We stuck to the Jackson Fork Trail until we saw a pointer for Panorama Point at which point we followed pointers for it amid the oak grassland.

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The horizon was too cloudy for us to see Mt. McLoughlin but on a clearer day it would have been visible from the viewpoint.

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We continued past the viewpoint and descended into Rich Gulch.

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Then we followed pointers for Oregon Street.

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At Oregon Street we hopped onto the road and followed it into town where we took a brief walking tour of the historic buildings.

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Before returning to our car we stopped at Bella Union for dinner. As it turned out they were celebrating their 29th birthday with free appetizers, birthday cake, and a champagne toast. The food and atmosphere were wonderful and an excellent way to finish off the first day of a vacation. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Collings Mountain and Jacksonville

The Hikes of 2015 – A Look Back

Another year of wandering the trails of the Pacific Northwest has come to an end. Since 2010 we have been on over 200 hikes covering over 2200 miles and we continually find ourselves in awe of God’s creation.

We managed to hit the trails at least once every month ending with 56 hikes for myself and 55 for Heather. I was able to sneak an extra one in by meeting my parents at Columbia Hills State Park in April while Heather was still running. These were the most hikes we’d done in a single year which also led to our highest mileage totals – 660.4 for myself and 652.6 for Heather. The hikes ranged from 2.9 miles (Butte Creek & Abiqua Falls) to 19.1 miles (Green Lakes Loop). Below is a link to a Google map showing the various trailheads and campsites (denoted by picnic tables).
2015

https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zIiZZDXeDJAs.kn3sBy2gxhI8&usp=sharing

In addition to my Columbia State park hike we met my parents for hikes at McNeil Point and Jefferson Park. We also met a couple of regular contributors to Oregonhikers.org out on the trails, miah66 on Silver Star Mountain and justpeachy in Jefferson Park. In December we attended the Trail Keepers of Oregon/Oregon Hikers annual Winter Meet-n-Deet in Portland where we were able to put a few more faces to the names we’ve gotten to know on the hiking forums.  It was a blast and we’re hoping to continue attending the event in future years.

As in previous years our primary focus was to visit new places and spend time on trails we had not previously hiked.  We continued to expand the area in which we’ve hiked by spending 4 days hiking the Northern Loop Trail in Mt. Rainier National Park and spending some time hiking in California around Crescent City and in the Red Buttes Wilderness.  Other areas which were brand new to us included the area around Ashland, OR, Indian Heaven Wilderness, and The Oregon caves National Monument.  In all 43 of our 56 days of hiking were spent on sections of trails we had never been on before. The remaining 13 days were spent on trails that we had visited in prior years, but we managed to do something different this time around on each trip allowing us to see something new every time out.

This year just reinforced what has become one of our favorite aspects of hiking, the variety.  In visiting so many new trails we were able to see flowers, trees, animals, and even mountains that we had not previously encountered on our hikes.  Even in the familiar areas there always seems to be something new to experience.  It’s not just the sights that provide the variety though, the smells, sounds, and even the feeling of the air and the forest can change multiple times on any given hike.

Although the camera cannot adequately capture the beauty of nature a look back at some of this year’s pictures will hopefully give some indication of the many different sights we were blessed with.

Views:
Oregon Dunes Overlook
View from Oregon Dunes day use area

Rowena Crest
Rowena Crest from the Tom McCall Point trail.

Mt. Hebo Trail
Sunlight penetrating the clouds in the Siuslaw National Forest

View from Boccard Point
Looking west from Boccard Point

French Pete Creek
French Pete Creek

Smith Rock State Park
Smith Rock State Park from the summit above Burma Road

Mt. Hood from the McNeil Point Trail
McNeil Point Trail

Middle & South Sister from Eileen Lake
Middle and South Sister from Eileen Lake

Middle & South Sister from Linton Meadows
Middle and South Sister from Linton Meadows

Pacific Ocean from Salishan Spit
Low tide heading toward Salishan Spit

Mt. Jefferson from Russell Lake
Mt. Jefferson from Russell Lake

Sluiskin Mountain
Sluiskin Mountain in the morning

Mt. Rainier
Mt. Rainier

Olallie Lake Scenic Area
View from Double Peaks

Indian Heaven Wilderness
Lemi Rock

Mt. Washington Wilderness
Mt. Washington and Three Fingered Jack from Belknap Crater

Belknap Crater
Belknap Crater

South Sister from the Green Lakes
South Sister from the first Green Lake

South Sister from Denude Lake
South Sister from Denude Lake

Wind and Dog Mountain from Indian Point
Wind and Dog Mountains from Indian Point

Bull of the Woods Wilderness
Lake Lenore and Mt. Hood from Big Slide Mountain

Pacific Ocean near Damnation Creek
Sunsetting over the Pacific Ocean from the mouth of Damnation Creek

Redwoods in Jedediah Redwoods State Park
Redwoods along the Boy Scout Tree Trail

Red Buttes Wilderness
Red Buttes and Kangaroo Mountain

Kangaroo Mountain
Marble outcrop below Kangaroo Mountain

Paradise Lost, Oregon Caves National Monument
Looking up in the Paradise Lost room of the Oregon Cave

Waterfalls:

University Falls
University Falls

Lower Butte Creek Falls
Lower Butte Creek Falls Upper Butte Creek Falls Upper Butte Creek Falls

Abiqua Falls
Abiqua Falls Upper McCord Falls Upper McCord Falls

Wahclella Falls
Wahclella Falls Elowah Falls Elowah Falls

The Potholes
The Potholes Woodburn Falls Trillium at Woodburn Falls

Rodney Falls
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Lower Kentucky Falls
Lower Kentucky Falls North Fork Falls North Fork Falls

Munson Falls
Munson Falls

Unnamed waterfalls along Linton Creek Waterfalls along Linton Creek

Waterfall on Linton Creek

Waterfall on Linton Creek

Waterfall along Linton Creek

Duncan Falls Duncan Falls

Upper Portion of Linton Falls
Upper portion of Upper Linton Falls

Some of Upper Linton Falls

Indian Holes Falls
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Garda Falls
Garda Falls Another unnamed fall in Mt. Rainier National Park IMG_7972

Van Horn Falls
Van Horn Falls

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Fall Creek

Fall Creek

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Falls along Crater Creek
Falls along Crater Creek

Falls along Crater Creek

Waterfall on Crater Creek

Corner Falls Corner Falls

Fall River Falls
Fall River Falls

Waterfalls along Paulina Creek Small waterfall on Paulina Creek

Falls on Paulina Creek

Small waterfall on Paulina Creek

Small waterfall on Paulina Creek

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Waterfall on Paulina Creek

McKay Falls

Waterfall on Paulina Creek

Waterfall on Paulina Creek

Waterfall on Paulina Creek below Ten-mile snopark bridge

Wildlife
Mallard at Lacamas Lake

Bullfrogs in pond near Lacamas Lake

Turtles at Lacamas Lake

Greater Yellowlegs

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Douglas Squirrel

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Frog

Northern Pacific Treefrog

Western Bluebird

Wood duck

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Owl

Rabbit

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Green-tailed Towhee

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Hummingbird

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Butterfly along the Crooked River

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Butterfly along the Blair Lake Trail

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Butterfly along the Bluff Mountain Trail

Mountain Parnassian

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Deer visting a meadow behind our campsite

Small fish in a little stream near Linton Meadows

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Grasshopper invasion

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Harbor Seals

Seagull

Pika

Black Bear

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Mountain Goats on Burroughs Mountain

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Chipmunk enjoying a berry

Deer in the meadow below Yellowstone Cliffs

Lounging marmot

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Rough Skinned Newt

Sea Lions

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Cormorant

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Anenomes

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Ouzel

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Great Blue Heron

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Buck

Last butterfly of the year

Hawk

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Barred Owl

Americn Kestrel

Acorn Woodpecker

Wildflowers
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Bachelor Button

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California Poppy

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Columbine

Wild Iris

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Henderson's Stars

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Elegant Brodiaea

Popcorn Flower

Common Madia

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mariposa lily

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Scarlet gilia

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Monument Plant aka Elkweed

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Striped Coralroot

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smoothstem blazing-star Mentzelia laevicaulis

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Bog Orchid and Elephants Head

Tiger Lily

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Beargrass Meadow

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Orange Agoseris

Elegant Brodiaea

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Cat's ear lily

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Aster

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We are already looking forward to next year’s hikes. I freely admit that I already have a preliminary schedule laid out (I will not admit to how far out it extends though 😉 ).  As it currently stands we will be visiting 6 new wilderness areas, another national monument, and summiting three peaks over 9000′ tall.  If history is any guide the list of completed hikes at this time next year will look vastly different from this preliminary one, but then that’s just part of the adventure.  One thing is for sure though, we are sure to see some amazing sights along whatever trails we wander.  Happy Trails!

Red Buttes Wilderness Day 4 – Azalea Lake and beyond.

We woke up early on the final day of our trip and began packing up under a full moon.
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We had been having a great time backpacking but we were also looking forward to our reservations for that night at the Chateau at the Oregon Caves. We said goodbye to Azalea Lake and climbed back up to the saddle between Figurehead Mountain and Buck Peak watching the sun color the clouds as it rose.
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Preston Peak
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It was a beautiful morning as we retraced our route from Monday in reverse. We skipped the .1 mile side trip to Cirque Lake and paused at Sucker Gap for a snack.
Swan Mountain from Sucker Gap
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A little over half a mile beyond Sucker Gap we spotted another pair of hikers making their way up the trail. I don’t know who was more surprised, but we all had shocked looks on our faces. They hadn’t expected to see anyone else on the trails. They were from Medford and on their way up to Sucker Gap and then going to head off-trail up either Swan Mountain or Pyramid Peak. We informed them that they had broken a tie between humans seen and bears making the final 5 to 3 in favor of people. They let us know that they had seen our car at the lower trailhead so we knew it was still waiting for us. We arrived at our car close to 1pm and headed for the Oregon Caves National Monument which was only about 20 miles away.

We arrived before check-in (3pm) so we wandered around the gift shop and had a wonderful lunch in the cafe before picking up our room keys. The Chateau was amazing. Considered one of the “Great Lodges” the six story building was originally built in 1934.
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Lobby
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Our room
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It really felt like we’d gone back in time in the rustic building and immediately felt at home. The Chateau would be closing for the season after the weekend but the staff was very friendly and helpful and dinner in the Chateau Dining Room was excellent. Oh, and Cave Creek flows right through the building which was the icing on the cake. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157660616631445/with/22658987801/

Red Buttes Wilderness Day 2 – Azalea Lake to Echo Lake

After a good nights sleep at Azalea Lake we packed up and got ready to hit the trail.
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We followed the Butte Fork Trail from the lake and headed downhill toward Cedar Basin which was .9 miles away.
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At a trail junction in the basin we turned right following a pointer for Fort Goff.
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This trail began climbing gradually through beargrass meadows in a forest that had been impacted by the 2012 Fort Complex Fire.
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After almost a mile and a half we took a side trail to the right to visit Lonesome Lake where we had originally planned on staying the night before. As it turned out much of the area around the lake had been burned by the same fire and there didn’t seem to be many places to set up a tent.
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From Lonesome Lake the trail continued to climb up to the Siskiyou Crest where views extended ahead to the Red Buttes. To Echo Lake, our goal for the day, we would need to make it around the back side of the buttes where we would pick up the Horse Camp Trail and descend a half mile to the lake.
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While looking back at the hillsides above Lonesome Lake I spotted something that looked brown and thought that maybe it was a deer.
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As I was busying zooming in on a rock Heather spotted a bear moving across the rocky slope to the right of were I was looking. She lost it in this clump of trees but I took a picture anyway. There is a suspicious black thing in front of the trees but we couldn’t tell if it was in fact the bear or if it is a piece of burnt wood.
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After crossing over the crest we were now on the Boundary Trail which followed the crest east joining the Pacific Crest Trail on the shoulder of Kangaroo Mountain. The Fort Complex Fire over-swept the entire section of the trail between Lonesome Lake and the PCT as well as a portion of the PCT. This left a lot of burnt trees and some sections of thick brush that has since grown up along the trail.
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The brush was the thickest in the first quarter of a mile or so and then it thinned out some. The trail here was a little tricky to follow so we had to make sure we were paying close attention to it’s location both ahead on the hillside and directly in front of us.
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The views along the trail were great. With very few trees left we could see unobstructed in every direction. It was a cloudy day but they were high enough in the sky to reveal many of NW California’s peaks, most of which we were unfamiliar with.
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Polar Bear Mountain, Preston Peak, and El Capitan
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To the NE were some more familiar peaks.
Mt. McLoughlin
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Mt. Bailey and Mt. Thielsen
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Mt. Thielsen and the peaks around the rim of Crater Lake
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We were also beginning to see more and more interesting rocks along the trail.
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Often we could see the trail further ahead easier than it was to pick out directly in front of us. A good example of this was the trail leading up and around Desolation Peak.
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The trail climbed in a series of switchbacks on the side of Desolation Peak where we were surprised to find some scarlet gilia still in bloom.
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Switchback on Desolation Peak
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After getting around Desolation Peak we got our first look at Mt. Shasta.
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We had passed around Goff Butte, Rattlesnake Mountain, and Desolation Peak and up next was Kangaroo Mountain where we would find the PCT.
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Kangaroo Mountain is made up of the same type of red rock, peridotite, as Red Buttes.
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We met the PCT on the south side of Kangaroo Mountain and took a celebratory break.
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While the Boundary Trail has seen little to no maintenance since the 2012 fire the PCT has been. While we were sitting on a log having a snack we saw our first other humans of the trip. Three members of the Forest Service out on a tree survey were hiking up the PCT and heading back to their vehicle. After a brief conversation they went on and we soon followed heading toward Red Buttes.
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Kangaroo Mountain was by far the widest peak that we’d gone around that day and the backside was an interesting mix of rocks with marble outcrops dotting the red peridotite.
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We arrived at Kangaroo Spring to find the springs dry although there did appear to be some water further offtrail on the downhill side of the PCT.
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Next we passed Lily Pad Lake where several ducks were paddling about.
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We were coming out of the burn area and passing a series of meadows that still held a few wildflowers.
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We popped out of the trees below Red Buttes near Bee Camp.
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A half mile after crossing an old road we arrived at the junction with the Horse Camp Trail and a unique pointer for Echo Lake.
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We took a moment to take in the view then spied the lake below us and began the half mile descent to the lake.
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We turned left at another pointer for Echo Lake before arriving at the pretty little lake.
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We set up out tent and rainfly as the forecast when left had been for a chance of showers Tuesday night and rain on Wednesday.
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No sooner had we gotten settled into the tent when it began to rain. The wind blew and the rain fell all night long. We got what sleep we could wondering what Wednesday would be like and just how wet we were going to get. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/7215766058094952

Red Buttes Wilderness Day 1 – Sucker Creek Trailhead to Azalea Lake

After spending two days in Crescent City, CA hiking in the Redwoods we headed up Highway 199 to the Oregon Caves Highway 46 and drove to the Sucker Creek Trailhead. We were planning on spending 4 days and 3 nights backpacking in the Red Buttes Wilderness. The wilderness was established in 1984 and encompasses 20,323 acres mostly in California but with some of that area located in Oregon. Running through the wilderness is the crest of the Siskiyou Mountains which include some of the oldest rocks in the region. These began as ocean bottom sediments eventually becoming metamorphic rock uplifted by the North American Plate scraping the ocean floor as it drifted westward across the Pacific Plate.

The trailhead sign was set back behind some vegetation and at an angle such that we missed it the first time by and very nearly did the same as we came back down the road, luckily my wife spotted it just before we drove past again.
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The trip had a real wilderness feeling to it right from the start. The trail had the appearance of a less traveled path and the trail signs we did see seemed to have been there for decades.
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There were also a few downed trees to navigate our way around or over.
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After about 2 miles of climbing we entered a series of meadows where the tread became faint.
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Just under 3 miles along the trail we spotted the Sucker Creek Shelter in a meadow below us to the left of the trail. We followed a fairly steep path down to the shelter to check it out and take a short rest before continuing on to Sucker Gap.
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Sucker Gap is located at a saddle on a wide ridge with a four way trail junction. We followed the pointer for Steve Fork.
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Two tenths of a mile beyond Sucker Gap we took a 100 yard side trail to our right and visited Cirque Lake.
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Beyond Cirque Lake the trail began a 2 mile descent to a trail junction where we would head back uphill on the far side of the valley to the Azalea Lake/Fir Glade Trail.
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We climbed back up out of the valley only to once again begin descending down the opposite side of a ridge. The vegetation was vastly different on this side of the ridge with plenty of manzanita bushes making up the majority of the underbrush.
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We even spotted a butterfly in the area.
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We switchbacked downhill for a bit before reaching the junction with the Azalea Lake/Fir Glade Trail where we again took a right.
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The Azalea Lake Trail climbed to a pass with some great views above Phantom Meadows.
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After passing around the south ridge of Buck Peak we got even better views including Azalea Lake, Mt. McLoughlin, and our first views of Red Buttes.
Azalea Lake and Mt. McLoughlin in the distance
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Red Buttes, Kangaroo Mountain, and Desolation Peak from left to right.
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We followed the trail down to Azalea Lake and headed around the west side of the lake where the designated hiker camps are. (Horse camps or on the east side.) We hadn’t originally planned on staying at Azalea Lake and had intended to continue on to Lonesome Lake which was another 2.3 miles away, but we were running late and after taking a wrong path leading away from one of the campsites we decided to call it a day and set up camp.
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Figurehead Mountain
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It turned out to be a great decision. The lake was very peaceful with small fish occasionally jumping and the pine needle covered ground made for the most comfortable night we’d spent in the tent. It had been 13.1 miles from the trailhead to the lake including our little side trips and we hadn’t seen another person all day. What we had been seeing was a lot of poop, more specifically bear poop but we hadn’t spotted any that day. We went to bed tired but relaxed wondering what the next day’s trails would bring. Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157660604852831