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Hiking Medford/Ashland Area Oregon Trip report

Roxy Ann Peak – 05/30/2022

Memorial Day marked the end of our trip to the Medford area but before we headed home we had one final hike planned at Roxy Ann Peak. Located within Prescott Park the 3670′ Roxy Ann Peak offers multiple trails and great views (on clear days) of the surrounding area. The park has two gates that according to the park brochure are “typically” open from 8 to 8 in Spring and Summer (closed at 5pm in Fall/Winter). We wanted to get an early start to our drive back to Salem so we opted to park at the 1st gate and road walk to the start of the trail that Sullivan features in his guidebook.
IMG_1947Setting off at 5:20am from the 1st gate.

This was another hike that became a featured hike in his 4.2 edition “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Southern Oregon & Northern California” due to fire damage to several of the previously featured hikes. He suggests a 3.4 mile loop started by parking at the second gate. Like most of our other hikes this trip we’d originally planned on a longer hike utilizing more of the Park’s trails but had pulled back after the first day of our trip (post) but parking at the first, lower trailhead did add a little over 2 miles round trip. While the forecast was for a mostly sunny day the clouds from the weekend hadn’t moved on as we hiked up the road.
IMG_1959Roxy Ann Peak from the road.

We spotted three deer and a jack rabbit during the road walk but the low light conditions made for poor picture taking opportunities. Fortunately deer were the theme for the first half of the hike and we had several more photo ops with them.
IMG_1960Jack rabbit

IMG_1963Coming up on the 2nd gate.

IMG_1964Sunlight hitting the hillsides on the far side of Medford.

Our planned lollipop loop was to take the Madrone Trail to the Oak Trail then onto the Ponderosa Trail which would take us up to the Park Tower Road where we could visit the summit. Then we would descend via the Manzanita Trail back to the Madrone Trail to return to Roxy Ann Road and eventually our car.
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It was 0.2 miles along the road from the 2nd gate to the start of the Madrone Trail where we turned right and began climbing in earnest.
IMG_1969Roxy Ann’s shadow being cast over Medford.

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For the most part the trails in the park were nice and wide giving us the feeling of plenty of space from the abundant poison oak in the area. (We’re not sure how long it takes to get used to hiking in its presence but we haven’t gotten there yet.) There was a nice variety of wildflowers along the way and, as I already mentioned, a good deal of wildlife. We also appreciated the fact that most junctions were well marked with posts identifying the various trails.
IMG_1976Lots of purple vetch along the trails.

IMG_1977One of the posts used to identify trails.

IMG_1980Madrones along the Madrone Trail.

IMG_1982We turned left following the pointer for the Oak Trail.

IMG_1993Juvenile great horned owl along the Oak Trail. We didn’t get a good look at the second owl to the left but it looked to be an adult.

IMG_1995This segment of the Madrone Trail (MD3) ended at Roxy Ann Road with the Oak Trail picking up on the far side.

IMG_1996The Oak Trail

IMG_1997Lupine amid the vetch

IMG_1999Camas in front of poison oak.

20220530_060450Carrotleaf horkelia

IMG_2004ookow

IMG_2005Death camas

IMG_2010Blue-eyed grass

IMG_2012Oak along the Oak Trail.

IMG_2015Roxy Ann Peak

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IMG_2023Blow wives

IMG_2025The Oak Trail appeared to be the least used of all the trails we would hike on this day.

IMG_2028Lower Table Rock (post)

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IMG_2044The only post we saw that wasn’t helpful.

IMG_2045Challenge Course just off the Oak Trail.

IMG_2048Parts of the Challenge Course

IMG_2049Trail junction near the Challenge Course with the Oak and Ponderosa Trails.

IMG_2052Dove

IMG_2053Hopping onto the Ponderosa Trail.

IMG_2054Mariposa lily

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IMG_2061Lazuli bunting. We saw quite a few of these during our trip but they proved to be very difficult to photograph.

IMG_2063Medford from the Ponderosa Trail.

IMG_2068Paintbrush

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IMG_2076Lower Table Rock again.

IMG_2083A bench and Ponderosa pines along the Ponderosa Trail.

IMG_2091Plectritis

IMG_2092Two more deer above the trail.

IMG_2108Deer and balsamroot.

IMG_2093Young deer

IMG_2095Momma deer

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IMG_2120Nearing Park Tower Road.

When we hit the road we headed uphill then took a short rocky trail to a picnic table on the summit. Unfortunately the low clouds hadn’t burned off nearly enough yet for us to get the big views of either the Cascade Mountains or the Sisikyous but it was a nice view none the less.
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IMG_2130Serenading lazuli bunting.

IMG_2131A lot darker clouds toward the Cascades.

With no real views today we took a brief break then headed over to the tower on the other side of the peak just for the heck of it before heading down the road to pick up the Manzanita Trail.
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IMG_2136Sign for the Manzanita Trail

We followed this trail back down to Roxy Ann Road and the Madrone Trail.
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IMG_2140The lower flank of Grizzly Peak (post) to the left. Mt. Ashland (post) is hiding behind the clouds almost straight ahead.

IMG_2143Looking NE from the trail, still a lot of clouds.

IMG_2156Another bunting, we were on a roll.

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IMG_2163The clouds were really starting to break up as we descended.

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IMG_2168Arrow-leaf buckwheat on the hillside.

IMG_2170Roxy Ann Road

IMG_2172Back on the Madrone Trail.

IMG_2175Back on the road walk. The trail post here is for the Greenhorn Trail.

IMG_2181Spotted towhee.

The lower gate was still closed when we got back to our car around 8:20am but we’d passed a steady stream of hikers and trail runners heading up the road regardless. In the end our hike came to 5.4 miles with approximately 1475′ of elevation gain.

It had been a nice short hike to end the trip on. It was only about 15 minutes from our room so we had left our things there instead of having to leave it in the car and now had time to go back to the room, shower and then drive home. We stopped in Eugene to have lunch with our son Dominique and his friend Russell and then continued home to unpack and start getting ready for our next adventure. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Roxy Ann Peak

Categories
Hiking Medford/Ashland Area Oregon Trip report

Upper Table Rock – 05/26/2022

After the debacle at Mule Mountain (post) we made some adjustments to our planned set of hikes by removing a hike up Stein Butte and a stop at Lower Table Rock which we had visited on a previous trip (post) and shortening our other planned outings. Removing Stein Butte left open the option to not hike on Thursday if we needed a full day of rest which as we went to bed Wednesday night seemed likely. We got up Thursday and hobbled down to the motel’s continental breakfast to finalize our plans for the day which included a trip to the store for food and medical supplies and doing a load of laundry to hopefully wash off any lingering poison oak that we’d picked up on the Mule Creek Trail. It was going to be another warm day but then the forecast showed a dramatic shift with precipitation possible Friday through Sunday including snow as low as 4500′. While we ate we decided that it was going to be too nice to not get out at all and waiting for the afternoon/evening would result in a warmer hike than we’d like so we decided to head to Upper Table Rock as soon as we were done with breakfast.

The Table Rocks are a pair of horseshoe shaped mesas north of Medford and host a variety of Spring wildflowers. Pre Mule Mountain our plan had been to hike both Upper and Lower Table Rocks along with a visit to the Denman Wildlife Area. The plan now was to skip Lower Table Rock this time and split the two other hikes up with the shorter, Upper Table Rock today, and a little longer loop at Denman on Saturday which was forecast to be the rainiest day of the weekend. When we arrived at the Upper Table Rock Trailhead a little before 8am it was already fairly warm out.
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We stopped at the signboards and reviewed the map determining to do the yellow “recommended loop” once we had climbed the 1.25 miles to the top of the mesa.
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There were a good number of flowers still blooming and although poison oak is profuse in the area the wide trail made it easy to avoid. We were definitely feeling the effects of the prior days hike though as we gained the 700’+ of elevation to the start of the loop.
IMG_0784Acorn woodpecker

IMG_0788Death camas and vetch

IMG_0789Carrotleaf horkelia

IMG_0794Lazuli bunting

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IMG_0801Lupine

IMG_0807Oregon sunshine

IMG_0810Andestite boulder

IMG_0803Mt. McLoughlin (post)

IMG_0811Ground squirrel having breakfast

20220526_081826Blow wives

IMG_0819A clarkia

IMG_0826Blue dicks

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IMG_0832Paintbrush (and poison oak)

20220526_082152Could be a cutleaf silverpuff or a hawksbeard

IMG_0843Viewpoint bench at the half mile point.

20220526_083031Clustered broomrape

IMG_0856Siskiyou Mountains including Mt. Ashland (post), Wagner Butte (post), and Dutchman Peak.

IMG_0857Another type of clarkia

IMG_0870Possibly bastard toadflax

IMG_0874Mariposa lilies

IMG_0875Balsamroot along the trail.

IMG_0879Bell catchfly

IMG_0881Plumed solomonseal

IMG_0884Approaching the start of the loop.

We did the 0.9 mile loop counter-clockwise trying to stick to the most worn trails where the official trail wasn’t obvious.
IMG_0885Looking toward the Siskiyous.

IMG_0886The Red Buttes (post)

IMG_0889Pilot Rock (post)

IMG_0890Mt. Ashland (w/snow) and Wagner Butte

IMG_0894A couple of different wildflowers.

IMG_0896Narrowleaf onion?

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IMG_0912Pincushion plant

IMG_0917Meadowfoam

IMG_0919Not sure what these yellow flowers are. Yellow flowers are by far the hardest to figure out.

IMG_0922Rock wren

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IMG_0928Turkey vulture in flight with Mt. McLoughlin in the background.

IMG_0934Lower Table Rock beyond the other bench of Upper Table Rock.

IMG_0941An American kestral atop a tree.

IMG_0944Lizard

IMG_0957A butterfly and a beetle on arrowleaf buckwheat

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IMG_0975Yarrow

IMG_0978Chaparral false bindweed

IMG_0995White tritelia

After completing the loop, along with taking a couple of breaks to enjoy the scenery, we headed back down to the trailhead. Along the way we spotted a few more species of wildlife and passed a couple of elementary school classes heading up the trail.
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IMG_1004Rufous sided hummingbird

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IMG_1022Brown headed cowbird

IMG_1019Mt. McLoughlin on the way down.

This hike was just what we needed after the previous days outing. The 3.5 miles and 720′ of elevation gain kept our muscles moving and helped us not stiffen up too much but it was easy enough that we didn’t feel we overexerted ourselves.

After the hike we stopped at Fred Meyer for supplies and lunch from their deli then returned to the motel to do a load of laundry. Later we headed out to Kaleidoscope Pizza having seen it mentioned in a post by Boots on the Trail. It was a good choice and we wound up with leftovers for the next nights dinner as well. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Upper Table Rock

Categories
Year-end wrap up

The Hikes of 2017 – A Look Back

Once again it’s time for our year end review post. Each year has a bit of a different feel to it, but this year was especially so. This was by far the most challenging year we’ve faced in terms of being able to visit the trails we’d planned on. A heavy winter snow pack lingered delaying access to many areas. Then an unusually bad fire season closed much of the Mt. Jefferson and Three Sisters Wilderness areas as well as parts of the Columbia Gorge. Snow returned in mid-September causing more changes to our plans. In the end plans for 39 of our originally scheduled 63 days of hiking were pushed out to future years as well as 2 additional short hikes that were part of multi stop days. Plans for another 12 of those days were shifted around on the schedule which meant that only 10 of our originally planned days occurred as we had envisioned them in January. We had also planned on spending 18 nights backpacking but wound up with a measly 3 nights in the tent. Despite all the issues we actually managed to end the year having hiked on 64 days and covered 751.6 miles.

Here is a look at where we wound up. The blue hiker symbols denote trailheads and the two yellow houses are the approximate location of our two backpacking campsites.
2017 Trailheads

Due to the issues with access to so many locations the mix of hikes this year was very different. An example of this is the average high point of our hikes:

                     2013-2016                2017
Jan.-Apr.    1444′                        1776′
May             2718′                        2355′
June            4900′                        3690′
July             5553′                        6530′
August       6419′                        3048′
Sept.           6400′                        4175′
Oct.             4886′                        3484′
Nov.-Dec.   2042′                        750′

Another example is our mileage distribution:

                     2013-2016                2017
Jan.-Apr.    9.19%                       9.74%
May             13.57%                     14.14%
June            13.75%                      13.50%
July             13.75%                      19.15%
August       19.33%                      6.07%
Sept.           14.13%                      23.28%
Oct.             12.17%                      10.36%
Nov.-Dec.   4.11%                        3.75%

As you can see August was way off the norm with many of those miles coming in September this year. Several wildfires were burning by then and we also changed some plans due to work and family commitments. Finally we chose to stick close to home the weekend of the solar eclipse .

On many occasions we visited multiple trailheads in a single day. We had been slowly increasing the frequency of doing so but this year 25 of our 64 days included more than one stop. In fact we stopped at a total of 106 trailheads this last year.

None of that made it a bad year, it just felt very different. The 64 hiking days was the most we’ve managed in a single year and the 751.6 miles was second only to 2016s 792.8 We managed to make decent headway on our quest to visit all of Oregon’s 45 visit-able wilderness areas by checking 8 more off the list. Rock Creek (post), Spring Basin (post), Wild Rogue (post), Grassy Knob (post), Bridge Creek (post), Clackamas (post), North Fork John Day (post), and Cummins Creek (post).

This year we made use of guidebooks by four different authors as well as a few websites. Most of our destinations can be found in William L. Sullivan’s 100 Hikes in Oregon guidebooks (information) but we also made use of Scott Cook’s “Bend, Overall“, Matt Reeder’s “101 Hikes in the Majestic Mount Jefferson Region“, and Bubba Suess’s “Hiking in Northern California“.

A special thanks goes out to Bubba Suess and his Hike Mt. Shasta website for his suggestions and input on our visit to the Mt. Shasta area in July. On that trip we visited four of California’s wilderness areas: Russian (post), Castle Crags (post), Trinity Alps (post), and Mt. Shasta (post). Our visit the the Trinity Alps brought us to the most southerly point while hiking to date. We also reached our highest elevation on that trip when we hiked to the top of Mt. Eddy (post) and saw our first rattle snake along the PCT (post).

We also set a new mark for the western most point reached on a hike when we visited Cape Blanco in May (post).

One way that this year was no different than previous years was that we once again saw and experienced many things for the first time during our hikes. It’s not surprising that we saw new things given that 57 out of our 64 days were comprised of entirely new sections of trail and none of the other 7 were exact repeats. In fact only about 17.2 miles retraced steps from previous hikes which works out to less than 2.5% of our total mileage for the year.

Some new flowers for us included:
Butter and eggsButter and eggs – Yontocket

Possibly tomcat cloverTomcat clover – Rough and Ready Botanical Wayside

dalmatian toadflax along the John Day RiverDalmation toadflax – Cottonwood Canyon State Park

Heart-leafed milkweedHeart-leafed milkweed – Applegate Lake

California groundconeCalifornia groundcones – Jacksonville

GeraniumGeranium – Lost Creek Lake

GeraniumGeranium – Round Mountain

rockfringe willowherbRockfringe willowherb – Mt. Eddy

Leopard lilyLeopard Lily – Trinity Alps Wilderness

There were a few new critters too:
Bullock's OrioleBullock’s Oriole – Cottonwood Canyon State Park

Big Horn SheepBig horn sheep – Cottonwood Canyon State Park

Sheep mothSheep moth – Grasshopper Meadow

Pigeon guillemotPigeon guillemot – Yaquina Bay

EgretEgret – Cape Disappointment State Park

CaterpillarCaterpillar – Cape Disappointment State Park

As is often the case we started and ended our hikes at the coast.
Berry Creek flowing toward the PacificBaker Beach in January

Exposed rocks on Ona BeachOna Beach in December

In between we visited some pretty amazing places. Here are just a few of the highlights:
Clarno Unit - John Day Fossil BedsPalisades – Clarno Unit, John Day Fossil Beds, April

Hedgehog cactusHedgehog Cactus – Spring Basin Wilderness, April

Fern CanyonFern Canyon – Prairie Creek State Park, May

Tall Trees GroveTall Trees Grove – Redwoods National Park, May

Crack in the GroundCrack in the Ground, Christmas Valley, May

Wildflowers on Lower Table RockWildflowers on Lower Table Rock, Medford, June

View to the north from the Bridge Creek WildernessNorth Point – Bridge Creek Wilderness, June

Upper Linton FallsUpper Linton Falls – Three Sisters Wilderness, July

Deadfall Lakes from Mt. EddyView from the Summit of Mt. Eddy, July

Caribou LakeCaribou Lake – Trinity Alps Wilderness, July

Vista Ridge TrailFireweed along the Vista Ridge Trail – Mt. Hood Wilderness, August

Grey back whale seen from Yaquina HeadWhale – Yaquina Head, August

Mt. Adams from Horseshoe MeadowHorseshoe Meadow – Mt. Adams Wilderness, September

Bull elk at Clatsop SpitBull elk – Clatsop Spit, September

View from the Blue Basin Overlook TrailBlue Basin – John Day Fossil Beds, September

Mt. Ireland from Baldy LakeBaldy Lake – North Fork John Day Wilderness, September

Dead Mountain TrailDead Mountain Trail – Willamette National Forest – October

Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood and Mirror LakeMt. Hood from Tom Dick and Harry Mountain – Salmon-Huckleberry Wilderness, October

Cummins Ridge TrailCummins Creek Wilderness, November

It is only a small sample of the amazing diversity that we are blessed with here in the Pacific Northwest. We are looking forward to discovering more new places next year, hopefully with less disruptions to our plans (including not tossing my camera into any rivers). Happy Trails!

Categories
Hiking Medford/Ashland Area Oregon Trip report

Mill Creek Falls, Lost Creek Lake, and Lower Table Rock

For our second day of our extended weekend in Medford we had planned on doing a pair of hikes to the north of town. The plan was to do a short warm-up hike at Mill Creek Falls then do a longer hike along Lost Creek Lake. As the title of this post indicates our plans changed during the course of the day and we wound up adding Lower Table Rock to the itinerary.

We started our day by driving Highway 62 from Medford just beyond milepost 42 where we turned right on Mill Creek Road and followed signs for a mile to the Mill Creek Falls Trailhead.

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A wide path led downhill a short distance to a signed junction.

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We headed right following the pointer for the falls reaching a viewpoint of 174′ Mill Creek Falls after .2 miles.

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We continued another .2 miles where we arrived at a rock outcrop whith a view of the taller (total of 3 drops), more complex, Barr Creek Falls.

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After a short stay at this viewpoint we headed back to the junction and took the left fork toward the Avenue of Giant Boulders. After a quarter mile we arrived at a sign pointing left to the boulders and right for access to the Rogue River.

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We headed right first, arriving at a little beach along the raging river.

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We then made our way over to the Avenue of Giant Boulders. The boulders location here is a result of Mt. Mazama’s eruption which resulted in Crater Lake which is over 20 miles from this location.

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The hike to the falls and the boulders came in as 1.6 miles on our Garmin leaving plenty of gas in our tanks for the planned longer hike at Lost Creek Lake. From the Mill Creek Falls Trailhead we returned to Highway 62 and headed back toward Medford. Just before reaching a bridge over the Rogue River at Lost Creek Lake, we turned right onto Lewis Road for a mile to the Lewis Road Trailhead.

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Our plan was to take the Rogue River Trail along the lake to Lost Creek and back with a brief side trip to Blue Grotto at the 2.4 mile mark.

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The level trail was lined with various wildflowers (and plenty of poison oak) and offered occasional views of Lost Creek Lake and back to Needle Rock and its rock arch.

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Shortly after we passed a grassy hillside covered with yellow flowers I started noticing ticks.

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From that point on, until we reached the side trail to Blue Grotto, I picked up a decent number of the little parasites. It was beginning to remind us a little too much of our visit to the Illinois River the year before.

We turned up the .1 mile path to Blue Grotto and followed it to its end.

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This unique spot is another result of Crater Lake’s volcanic history. Ash from that volcano gives the rocks their color.

When we got back to the Rogue River Trail we faced a choice. We could stick with our original plan and continue another 3.4 miles to the Lost Creek Trailhead before heading back or we could declare victory here and head back now. The tick situation ahead could have been better but maybe not and we’d made it to the Blue Grotto, which was the featured attraction in our guidebook, so we decided to head back. We continued to see (and flick off) some ticks on the return trip but we also saw some more welcome wildlife.

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We were back at the Lewis Road Trailhead before 11:45am so we decided to pick out another hike to do on the way back to Medford. Our choice was Lower Table Rock.

From Lost Creek Lake we drove toward Medford to Highway 234 which we followed to Table Rock Road where we turned left and followed pointers to the trailhead just off of Wheeler Road.

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Upper Table Rock was just across some fields from the trailhead.

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The wide trail climbed gradually, at first, through wildflower dotted grasslands.

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As the trail neared Lower Table Rock it steepened, climbing up into a forest of oak and madrone trees.

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The trees began to thin near the top of the mesa, which we reached after 1.5 miles.

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The Table Rocks are known for their Spring wildflower displays and are home to some endangered species. We were a little concerned that we might be too late to see much in the way of flowers but those fears were quickly wiped away.

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An earlier spring visit would have provided different flowers and possibly a better show but the fields of winecup clarkia were spectacular and as were the displays of elegant brodiaea.

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An old airstrip is used as the trail on the mesa. Just beyond a boardwalk (to protect the vernal pools on the mesa) we turned left on a spur trail for .4 miles to an eastern viewpoint.

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From the viewpoint Upper Table Rock rose up amid the farmlands while snow helped identify some of the Cascade range despite some cloudy conditions.

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Mt. McLoughlin

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Peaks in the Sky Lakes Wilderness

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Crater Lake

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After returning to the airstrip we continued further along Lower Table Rock arriving at a southern viewpoint after about a mile.

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We watched as a number of rain showers passed by just waiting for the one that would finally drench us but all we ever got was a brief sprinkle.

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We stopped at the first south viewpoint for a while where we were joined by a ground squirrel.
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To the south was the snowy Mt. Ashland and Wagner Butte.

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and Dutchman Peak among others.

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A path led to the right following the rim out to a second viewpoint at the furthest end of the mesa.

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As it turned out the tick issues at Lost Creek Lake had turned out to be a blessing as we would not have experienced the wildflowers here otherwise. The clarkia and brodiaea stole the show but there had been others along the way.

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As great as the hike at Lower Table Rock was some of the things we witnessed there were not so great. First on the way up we passed a pair of young guys, one of which had a handful of flowers obviously picked from the mesa. Not cool. Then some fools had made cairns out of the rocks in the vernal pools, really not cool.

Next on our way back from the furthest viewpoint we noticed a couple with a dog at the other viewpoint despite the clear signs at the tailhead stating “No Dogs Beyond This Point”. Finally on our way down another young guy was busy chasing an alligator lizard through the brush. Harassing wildlife isn’t cool either but we did take a little comfort in watching the kid crash through and grab some poison oak. Hopefully the lizard got the last laugh.

We wish if people are going to visit these places that they would follow the rules and respect the areas. If they can’t do that it’d be nice if they just stayed home. Okay rant over, Happy Trails!

Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/9319235@N02/albums/72157684856053206