Categories
California Hiking Mt. Shasta Area Trip report

Mount Shasta Meadows – 08/22/2022

We had planned a five day backpacking trip in the Wallowas but then a red flag warning for the possibility of abundant lightning the first day followed by more chances of thunderstorms over then next two derailed those plans. That trip would have checked three more featured hikes from the remaining twenty one hikes on our to-do list from the Eastern Oregon area. With all twenty one of the those hikes being located in the NE corner of Oregon (15 in the Wallowas and 6 along Hells Canyon) there were no alternate plans we could look to in that area to continue making progress toward or 500 featured hikes goal (post) so we turned to the Southern Oregon & Northern California book instead. For that area we still had thirty one featured hikes left including five hikes in Northern California, one at Mt. Shasta and four near Carter Meadows Summit west of Callahan, CA. A clear forecast and no wildfire closures provided a green light so we booked a last minute room at the Etna Motel in Etna, CA and once again headed south this year.

When we reached Yreka, CA instead of taking Highway 3 to Etna we stayed on Interstate 5 and continued south to Mt. Shasta and made our way to the Upper Panther Meadows Trailhead. We had tried to do the hike here in late July 2017 but a late snow melt that year had kept the gate to this trailhead closed so we had hiked from Bunny Flat instead (post).
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IMG_9690Lupine at the trailhead.

IMG_9687A line of smoke over the Castle Crags (post) and Mt. Eddy (post).

IMG_9691Castle Crags

From this trailhead we followed the Everitt Memorial Highway uphill a quarter mile to the South Gate Meadows Trailhead.
IMG_9698Green Butte and Mt. Shasta

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Here we hopped onto a rock lined trail and climbed a half mile to a pass where we entered the Mt. Shasta Wilderness.
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IMG_9704Common buckeye

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IMG_9721Red Butte from the pass.

IMG_9722Mount Eddy from the pass.

IMG_9724Heather standing at the wilderness boundary.

From the pass the trail descended 0.6 miles to a signed trail junction at The Gate below Red Butte.
IMG_9733A dry spring along the trail. Ideally we would have been doing this hike (and trip) in late July for more wildflowers but sometimes the circumstances dictate when and where we wind up.

IMG_9740Approaching The Gate.

IMG_9742Shastarama Point and Thumb Rock

IMG_9745Gray Butte

IMG_9747The trail junction near The Gate. The trail to the right would be our return route to make a loop through Panther Meadows, but for now we went left following the pointer for South Gate Meadows.

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We followed the trail downhill through boulders from Red Butte then into a forest that provided the first real shade of the hike.
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IMG_9759A paintbrush and aster.

IMG_9760Penstemon

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IMG_9763Some haze to the south but we could make out Lassen Peak which is one we rarely ever get to see.

IMG_9764Lassen Peak

Just under three quarters of a mile from The Gate we arrived at South Gate Meadows.
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IMG_9773

IMG_9776Primrose monkeyflower

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From the meadows use trails head both up and downhill along South Gate Creek (aka Squaw Valley Creek). Sullivan showed a “monkeyflower spring” a half mile uphill and a “circular meadow” four tenths of a mile downhill. Not knowing when we might be back we decided to do both starting with the downhill first.
IMG_9787The use trail crossing the creek.

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IMG_9792In sight of the circular meadow.

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IMG_9798Marsh grass-of-Parnassus

IMG_9805Paintbrush

After a quick visit we headed back up to South Gate Meadows.
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IMG_9807Back at the meadows.

We then took a use trail up along the eastern side of the creek which brought us to the spring.
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IMG_9816A pair of common buckeyes.

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IMG_9827Primrose monkeyflowers and paintbrush

20220822_125455_HDRNot the “monkeyflower” spring but a smaller one along the way up.

IMG_9834The “monkeyflower” spring.

IMG_9835A couple of monkeyflowers and a buckeye.

IMG_9837I climbed a bit above the spring to check out the view.

IMG_9839Heather arriving at the spring.

We took a break here and one at the little spring we’d passed on the way up and then headed back toward The Gate.
IMG_9852A Clark’s nutcracker also taking a break.

Two types of monkeyflower and bog St. John's wortTwo types of monkeyflower and bog St. John’s wort,

IMG_9860One last pass through South Gate Meadows.

IMG_9861Red Butte

Shasta knotweedShasta knotweed

IMG_9868Back at The Gate.

From The Gate we followed the pointer for Panther Meadows. This trail brought us through a barren landscape before climbing over some glaciated rock and entering a forest.
IMG_9874_stitchMt. Shasta from the trail.

IMG_9876Red Butte

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IMG_9880Glaciated rock.

IMG_9881Mt. Shasta and Sargents Ridge.

IMG_9883Into the forest.

IMG_9885The trail left the wilderness along the way.

Just over three quarters of a mile from The Gate we arrived at a junction with the Gray Butte Trail. We had considered taking this 0.9 mile detour but it was already 2:20pm and it was also fairly warm so we decided to skip it this time around.
IMG_9887The junction with Gray Butte behind the trees.

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From the junction the trail gradually descended a half mile to Panther Meadows.
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IMG_9894Another Clark’s nutcracker. They are boisterous birds and other than first thing in the morning we get a kick out of listening to them.

IMG_9895Stream flowing through the meadows.

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IMG_9899Gray Butte from Panther Meadows.

At a junction on the west side of the meadow near Panther Meadows Campground we followed a pointer for Upper Panther Meadow.
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We followed this trail just over a third of a mile uphill to another junction where we turned right and followed a path across the creek.
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We kept right for 0.2 miles to reach Panther Spring.
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After visiting the spring we backtracked a tenth of a mile and turned right for a third of a mile back to the Panther Meadows Trailhead to complete the loop.
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IMG_9928Picnic tables at the trailhead.

With the two side trips at South Gate Meadows and some other wandering the hike came to 7.4 miles with approximately 1900′ of elevation gain.

From the trailhead we drove to Etna and checked into our motel then made a quick run to Ray’s Food Place for some food for the week. It was a nice start to the vacation made even better when we saw that the Callahan Fire which had started on 20th just 6 miles east of Callahan had been fully contained at less than 10 acres. That one had the potential to do a lot of damage (and put a nix on the rest of our hikes). Our plan for the next day was to hike to East Boulder Lake as that was the closest to where the Callahan Fire was and therefore most likely to be closed if that fire were to spread but thankfully it sounded like that wasn’t going to happen. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Mount Shasta Meadows

Categories
Hiking Klamath/Siskiyou Mountains Medford/Ashland Area Oregon Trip report

Siskiyou Peak & Gap – 06/16/2022

Much like our first day in the Ashland area (post) we spent our second day hiking on the PCT in the Siskiyou Mountains. Just as we had the day before we had planned to head both north and south from our trailhead which was supposed to be at Siskiyou Gap. The driving directions given by the Forest Service say to take FR 20 -Mt. Ashland Road, but we opted to take FR 22 – Wagner Creek Road per Sullivan’s driving directions. This road was in good shape but about halfway to the trailhead our “Low Tire Pressure” light came on. Those have become my most dreaded three words while on vacation as it seems to happen every 2 or 3 trips we make. FR 22 ends at FR 20 about three quarters of a mile from the trailhead so we turned right onto FR 20 which was filled with two large pools of water. The first hole wasn’t bad but the second was deceptively deep and the Outback had a momentary struggle getting through. Just beyond this puddle we passed through a 5-way junction staying on FR 20 which was full of potholes. With the tire light on I decided enough was enough and turned the car around. We drove back through the water filled hole and parked at the FR 22/20 junction.
IMG_4265The deepest hole, it doesn’t look too bad here.

IMG_4063Potholes on FR 20. These turned out to be the worst of the stretch between the junction and Siskiyou Gap but we didn’t know that until we’d walked this road later in the day.

While not an official trailhead the PCT passes through the 5-way junction that we’d parked near so we easily hopped onto the trail.
IMG_3954The PCT was just a few yards into the forest from the FR 20/22 junction.

Today we headed north (left) on the PCT first hoping to reach the summit of Siskiyou Peak before clouds started moving in. Heading into vacation the forecast for the day had been for mostly sunny skies with rains showers moving in the next afternoon (Friday) but by Wednesday night things had shifted and now the showers were arriving Thursday with rain Friday and showers Saturday.
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IMG_3967Jessica sticktight?

There were occasional glimpses of Mt. Shasta to the south along this stretch of trail.
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IMG_3983Mt. Shasta and Black Butte (post). The layer of smoke from the day before seemed to have blown out overnight.

IMG_3977Paintbrush

We followed the PCT north approximately two and a quarter miles to a ridge on the north side of Siskiyou Peak where a clear path led uphill towards the summit.
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IMG_3992Siskiyou Peak from the PCT.

IMG_3999Lupine and pussypaws

IMG_4004The PCT heading toward Mt. Ashland from the ridge where we left it.

IMG_4006Towers on Mt. Ashland.

IMG_4008The trail up Siskiyou Peak.

It was a little over a quarter mile to the summit.
IMG_4011Observation Peak to the left, where we had been the day before with Big Red Mountain on the right, where we were going later today.

IMG_4011Mt. Ashland to the right.

IMG_4016Mt. McLoughlin (post) dealing with a few clouds.

IMG_4018The final rocky climb to the summit.

IMG_4021Mt. Shasta from the summit.

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IMG_4024The snowy Marble Mountains (post) with Observation Peak to the right.

IMG_4027Some of the Marble Mountains.

IMG_4028I believe these are peaks in the Russian Wilderness.

While this was a nice view, the view from Observation Peak had been just a bit better as from it you could see the Red Buttes which were now ironically hidden behind Observation Peak.
IMG_4033Observation Peak and Big Red Mountain with Dutchman Peak in a cloud behind Big Red.

IMG_4043Our shadows from the summit.

IMG_4044Dutchman Peak emerged from the clouds to make an appearance over Big Red Mountain.

After a nice break at the summit we headed back to the PCT and returned to the 5-way junction.
IMG_4051Wagner Butte (post) on the left with the PCT on the hillside below FR 20. Mt. McLoughlin is behind the ridge middle right.

IMG_4059Arriving at the junction.

From the junction we had the option of following the PCT almost two miles to Siskiyou Gap or walking FR 20 for 0.7 miles. Sullivan didn’t show anything of particular interest along that stretch of PCT and when we saw that the section of trail began by heading uphill we both opted for FR 20.
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IMG_4064Trillium along FR 20.

IMG_4069California Jacob’s ladder

IMG_4071FR 20 looking a little better here.

IMG_4078Pretty face

20220616_115714Larkspur

20220616_115723Larkspur

20220616_120056Mariposa lily

IMG_4081FR 20 became a little rutted just before Siskiyou Gap.

IMG_4087Mt. Shasta from the gap.

IMG_4088Mt. Shasta

IMG_4091Siskiyou Gap

We headed uphill on the PCT from the gap and almost immediately spotted a doe who looked like she might be expecting.
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From the gap the PCT climbed steadily for a mile to a spring on a hillside filled with white Drummond’s anemone and yellow buttercups.
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20220616_090218Chocolate lily

IMG_4106Violets, larkspur and alpine pennycress.

20220616_090449Ballhead waterleaf

IMG_4112Bleeding heart

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IMG_4121A trickle of water flowing down over the rocks along the trail.

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IMG_4138Anemones and buttercups

IMG_4139It’s hard to tell just how many flowers there were from the photo but it was very impressive to the naked eye.

IMG_4140A cloud over Wagner Butte which stayed this way the rest of the day.

Beyond the spring the PCT reentered forest for a little over half a mile before trading the trees in for colorful rock cliffs.
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IMG_4147A few small patches of snow were all that was left along the PCT.

IMG_4152Starting to leave the trees behind as the PCT passes below Big Red Mountain.

From the first set of big rocks which Sullivan refers to as “Crags” it was 1.3 miles to our turnaround point on a ridge above the Monogram Lakes.
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IMG_4157Looking toward Medford to the NE.

IMG_4158Upper Table Rock (post)

IMG_4161You could see where this large chunk of rock used to be.

IMG_4166Something budding out.

20220616_101008Dummond’s anemone – the blueish/purplish hue on some was quite pretty.

IMG_4172Violets

IMG_4175There was a decent sized beargrass meadow along this section which appeared to have bloomed last year.

20220616_101146Anemones

IMG_4176A saxifrage

IMG_4183Siskiyou Peak from the trail.

IMG_4188Splithair Indian paintbrush and a lomatium.

IMG_4187Phlox

IMG_4200A small green pond and two of the Monogram Lakes.

IMG_4195The green pond.

Sullivan mentioned an old mine cart located between the PCT and the lakes and described how to find it so I decided to give that a try while Heather took a break on the ridge. I followed the PCT downhill a tenth of a mile and set off cross country along the ridge to a snag with cable wrapped around the bottom (this was visible from the PCT but it took a while to spot).
IMG_4203Looking down the ridge.

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I continued down the ridge past the cable until I came to a pit where an old mining trail led back along the cliffs below the cable.
IMG_4206Heather sitting up on the PCT while I made my way down the ridge.

IMG_4208The pit with the mining trail on the far side.

IMG_4209Old mining trail.

IMG_4210The mining cart.

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IMG_4212Cable running up to the snag.

I climbed back up to Heather and we headed back stopping along the way to admire the many wildflowers.
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IMG_4241I spotted something moving down in the meadow here.

IMG_4242Had too use a lot of zoom to determine it was a deer.

20220616_114736Chocolate lily

IMG_4254Mt. Shasta and Black Butte from Siskiyou Gap on the way back.

IMG_4258Our final view of Mt. Shasta this trip.

IMG_4257Mt. Eddy (post)

We were happy to see that none of our tires were flat (or even appeared all that low). We drove back down to Ashland and stopped at the Les Schwab. They added some air to the tires which took care of the light by the time we’d gotten back to the motel. Since it hadn’t started raining yet we decided to walk back to Caldera Brewing to try some different beers, split an appetizer and get dessert. It had indeed clouded up but for the most part the clouds had been high enough not to adversely impact the views. As a bonus they kept the temperature down making for a comfortable 12.6 mile hike with approximately 2250′ of cumulative elevation gain.

Happy Trails!

Flickr: Siskiyou Peak & Gap

Categories
California Hiking Klamath Mountains Klamath/Siskiyou Mountains Medford/Ashland Area Oregon Trip report

Observation Peak – 06/15/2022

The forecast for our stay in Ashland was for a sunny Wednesday and Thursday followed by a partially sunny Friday before rain showers moved in Friday evening and into Saturday. That worked well for our planned set of hikes which were to spend the first three days at higher elevations in the Siskiyou Mountains and then on Saturday hiking in the foothills before heading home. Up first was a hike to Observation Peak just off the Pacific Crest Trail not far from where that trail crosses the Oregon/California border. In fact the start of Sullivan’s featured hike (Hike #63 in “100 Hikes/Travel Guide Southern Oregon & Northern California” edition 4.2) is at the Stateline Trailhead for the PCT. Sullivan lists this hike as open beginning late June so we were a couple of weeks early but we had been watching the snow level using the NOHRSC Snow Analysis Data layer on the Pacific Crest Trail Associations interactive map to check the snow depth and all seemed clear. Some late season snows hadn’t been enough to make up for the drought conditions that have plagued the area.

From the trailhead the hike to Observation Peak and back is just under 5.5 miles so we were open to other options to lengthen the hike a bit. While Observation Peak was north along the PCT Donomore Meadows, just across the California border, to the south offered a chance to see a cabin and the meadows. After parking in a pullout near the PCT crossing of Forest Road 2025 we set off south on the trail to visit the meadows before heading north to Observation Peak.
IMG_3548The PCT heading south from the Stateline Trialhead

From the trailhead the PCT descends a little over 550′ in approximately 1.5 miles to a footbridge across a creek in the lower portion of Donomore Meadows which we thought would be a good turnaround point for this part of our hike.
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IMG_3556Iris

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IMG_3563A register is located 0.4 miles from the trailhead at the Oregon/California border.

IMG_3564We were long overdue for a visit to California, our last hike in the state was way back in 2018 at the Lava Beds National Monument (post).

IMG_3566A good reminder of how much of the PCT is located in CA.

20220615_065219Pussytoes

IMG_3575First look at Donomore Meadows.

IMG_3585This road crossing is just over a mile from the trailhead. The Donomore Cabin is just up the road to the right.

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IMG_3588The cabin was built in 1935.

IMG_3589The meadow below the cabin.

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IMG_3602Death camas in the meadow.

We’d seen one doe in the meadow and as we began to descend to the creek crossing we spotted another one below us.
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We watched each other for a bit before she started to head off. When she moved we both noticed what appeared to be another set of ears in the grass. It turned out to be the smallest fawn either of us had seen in the wild. We watched from afar as mom led the youngster to the safety of the trees then we continued down to the footbridge.
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IMG_3627

IMG_3630Mariposa lily

IMG_3632Chocolate lily

IMG_3637Cinquefoil?

20220615_072644Violets

20220615_072727Bistort

IMG_3643Heather passing through the meadow.

IMG_3645There wasn’t much to the brushy creek but it made for a definitive turnaround point.

After pausing at the footbridge we climbed back up to Oregon and the Stateline Trailhead and set off in the other direction for Observation Peak.
20220615_080217California ground cone

IMG_3663PCT heading north from the Stateline Trailhead.

This section the PCT passed through a manzanita covered hillside with views of Ductchman Peak.
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20220615_082356Pasque flower

IMG_3680Grayback Mountain in the distance with a small patch of snow.

IMG_3688One of three springs the trail passes on the way to Observation Peak.

IMG_3690Marsh marigolds

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IMG_3695Alpine pennycress

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IMG_3702Another spring with marsh marigolds and glacier lilies.

IMG_3714Scraggy Mountain

The views along the PCT were very good as it passed through several open hillsides.
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IMG_3719Looking SE to the Red Buttes (post), Preston Peak, and Grayback Mountain.

IMG_3720Kangaroo Mountain and Red Butte with Preston Peak, Twin Peak and El Capitan behind in the Siskiyou Wilderness.

IMG_3723View south.

IMG_3724Part of the Marble Mountains (post)

One and a half miles from the trailhead we rounded a ridge end above Kettle Lake. The lake basin still had a fair amount of snow and there were a few small lingering patches on the PCT.
IMG_3734Kettle Lake through the trees.

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From the ridge end above Kettle Lake it was just over half a mile to another ridge on the NW flank of Observation Peak. We left the PCT here and first checked out the rocky ridge to the north where wildflowers were just getting going. Then we headed cross country a half mile to the summit. The open hillside made for an easy off trail climb and was easier than if we had been trying to continue on the PCT because that trail disappeared under a large snow drift on the other side of the ridge.
IMG_3744Heading up to the ridge.

IMG_3748Dutchman Peak from the ridge.

IMG_3751Not sure if these are mule’s ears or a balsamroot.

IMG_3753Splithair Indian Paintbrush (Castilleja schizotricha)

IMG_3760Swallowtail on phlox.

IMG_3764Wildflowers on the ridge.

IMG_3766Cutleaf daisy?

IMG_3767Snow drifts covering the PCT.

IMG_3769Lance-leaf Spring Beauty
Claytonia lanceolata

IMG_3774Heading for the summit.

Mt. McLoughlin (post) came into view to the NE as we climbed.
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IMG_3779Pilot Rock (post) to the east was slightly smokey.

IMG_3785A rockcress

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Once we reached the summit Mt. Shasta came into view to the SW.
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IMG_3807Mt. Shasta above a layer of smoke that mostly hid Black Butte (post). Mt. Eddy (post) is the snowy peak to the right.

IMG_3813I think these peaks are a mix of the Russian Wilderness in the forefront and Trinity Alps behind. Bruce correct me if I am wrong on that :).

A red can houses a summit register tucked in a rock pile at the summit. As I was flipping through looking for a page to sign on I came across what we considered a huge find, a bootsonthetrail.blog business card.
IMG_3814Rock pile at the summit.

IMG_3823Our big find. I took a couple of pictures and put the card back for someone else to find (and added one of ours).

It was a great temperature at the summit so we took an extended rest (and way too many photos) before heading back.
IMG_3830There were dozens of ladybugs in the rock pile.

IMG_3827One of many photos of Mt. Shasta. We don’t get too many chances to see this Cascade Mountain.

IMG_3831We could see Mt. Thielsen (post), the rim of Crater Lake (post) and Mt. McLoughlin beyond Wagner Butte (post) and Mt. Ashland (post).

IMG_3835The peaks around the rim of Crater Lake.

IMG_3863Mt. Thielsen to the left of Crater Lake.

IMG_3878Mt. Bailey (post)

IMG_3843The Red Buttes in front of Preston Peak.

IMG_3839Grayback Mountain

On the way back down we were concentrating on any flowers that we’d missed on the way up.
IMG_3886Buckwheat

20220615_103859Alpine pennycress

20220615_104325Quill-leaf Lewisia
Lewisia leeana

IMG_3903Larkspur

IMG_3909Chipmunk having a snack.

IMG_3914One of two hairstreaks we encountered on the PCT.

IMG_3916The 2nd hairstreak.

I decided to detour at Kettle Lake and headed cross country downhill a tenth of a mile to check it out while Heather continued toward the car.
IMG_3923Where I left the PCT.

IMG_3925Lots of this orange fungus in the forest.

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While I was scoping out the lake Heather was getting wildflower photos.
20220615_113100Bee on a marsh marigold.

20220615_113143Glacier lily

20220615_113236Trillium

20220615_113635Anemone

20220615_113648Buttercup?

IMG_3944Passing through the manzanita section.

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The hike came in at a reasonable 8.8 miles with a little over 1800′ of elevation gain. A reasonable day with lots of great scenery.

After showering and changing at the motel we walked to Caldera Brewing which was only about 0.2 miles from our room. Neither the food or beer disappointed and the view from the restaurant was good too. It was the perfect end to our first day in Ashland. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Observation Peak