Categories
California Hiking Klamath Mountains Siskiyou mountains Trip report

Siskiyou Wilderness Days 3 & 4 – Raspberry Lake and Black Butte Trail 07/03-04/2022

After the long hike to Devil’s Punchbowl the day before (post) we were looking forward to a shorter hike on Sunday and having time in the afternoon to relax around camp before hiking out on the 4th. Our goal on this day was Raspberry Lake which sits below Preston Peak, the highest peak in the Siskiyou Wilderness. It had started to cloud up the day before but it hadn’t rained. A layer of fog however had settled over the meadow in Youngs Valley by early morning.
IMG_6035Fog at 5:30am

We hadn’t heard the bear overnight but we were still on high alert keeping an eye out for it. In fact I was so focused on looking for black fur that I didn’t notice a buck near where our food was hung and when he jumped it startled me half to death because I was less than 10 yards away from it.
IMG_6039After he jumped he started to run off but quickly stopped to eat just a few yards later.

The fog was burning off quickly as we ate breakfast and we did not see the bear again that morning.
IMG_6041

IMG_6042Deer in the meadow.

IMG_6043Snail near our breakfast spot. It’s amazing how quickly these guys can get from one place to the next.

After breakfast we secured our food and garbage and headed for the lake. We walked up the old road bed to the junction with the Raspberry Lake Trail and turned right.
IMG_6048

IMG_6049

We followed the trail/old roadbed past the junction with the Poker Flat Trail which we had come down on our first day (post) and continued on the road for 2.5 miles to a fork near the former Cyclone Gap chrome mine.
IMG_6056Lupine and beargrass along the road.

IMG_6059Lupine

IMG_6060Beargrass

IMG_6069

IMG_6073Waterfall on cliffs below El Capitan.

IMG_6075Waterleaf

IMG_6078Stream crossing.

IMG_6080At times the old roadbed looked like you could drive on it but other times it looked like this.

IMG_6082Small meadow along the trail.

IMG_6089Western azalea

IMG_6091The clouds burned off quickly.

IMG_6100Penstemon

At the 1.5 mile mark we detoured slightly to a view point overlooking Youngs Valley near a ridge end.
IMG_6102Youngs Peak with the meadow barely visible to the right below.

IMG_6104Rocky Knob to the left.

As we rounded the ridge we got a good view up Clear Creek to Bear Mountain where we had been the day before visiting Devil’s Punchbowl.
IMG_6112

IMG_6113

We ignored a side trail for Cyclone Gap shortly after rounding the ridge but when we reached the fork at the 2.5 mile mark we did detour to the right along a level roadbed to visit some of the mine ruins.
IMG_6117

IMG_6118Sign at the Cyclone Gap junction.

IMG_6124Back into the 2018 Natchez fire scar.

IMG_6127Preston Peak

IMG_6129Paintbrush along the trail.

IMG_6135Streambank bird’s-foot trefoil

IMG_6142Musk monkeyflower

IMG_6145Raspberry Lake Trail to the left.

IMG_6146Ruins from the chrome mine.

IMG_6147More mine ruins on the hillside below.

We returned to the trail and followed it uphill above the old mine where the roadbed ended. The trail became narrow and rocky as it rounded another ridge end. Here we ran into the couple that we had spoken with at Doe Creek the day before. They had hiked up the Rattlesnake Meadow Trail which they reported was quite overgrown and then followed a ridge cross-country up to Raspberry Lake which they did not recommend.
IMG_6151

IMG_6155Nuttall’s sandwort

IMG_6156Bear Mountain and Rocky Knob.

IMG_6157Chipmunk

IMG_6160Getting closer to Preston Peak.

IMG_6162Ragwort

IMG_6167Small stream crossing.

IMG_6169A short steep rocky section where cairns were helpful.

IMG_6170Rounding another ridge with Preston Peak on the left and Bear Mountain to the right.

IMG_6172First view of Raspberry Lake in the trees below to the right.

A series of steep switchbacks led down to the lake.
IMG_6176

IMG_6190

There were a few tents set up around the lake so we didn’t do a lot of exploring. Our timing wasn’t great as the Sun was positioned slightly to the left behind the lake which still lay in the mountains shadow which made it very difficult to photograph.
IMG_6194Big rock along the shore.

It was a nice lake but not nearly as dramatic as Devil’s Punchbowl had been. After a short break here we headed back looking forward to some extra rest and relaxation at the less crowded meadow in Youngs Valley.
IMG_6200Bell catchfly

IMG_6205Douglas’ Dustymaidens

IMG_6225El Capitan on the right. To the left I think that is Bear Cub with Polar Bear Mountain behind.

IMG_6232Western azalea

IMG_6242This squirrel gave us a stern talking to.

IMG_6248

IMG_6214Western tanager pair

IMG_6216

IMG_6247Twin Peaks

IMG_6264We believe this is what Sullivan shows as Slow Echo Camp on his map. We wondered what the stones in the foreground had been a part of?

The waterfall we had seen was near the camp and I set off into the brush to see if I could get a better view. It partially worked.
IMG_6267

Near the other small campsite we encountered a buck which may have been the same one that startled me back near our camp earlier based on how comfortable he was with us being there.
IMG_6285

When we arrived back at the meadow our neighbors had moved on but we did run into a grouse.
IMG_6287

The hike to the lake and back came in at 8 miles even with approximately 1750′ of elevation gain.

Day 3 Track in Green

After putting things away we set up our lightweight chairs near the meadow and watched the ever changing clouds. It wasn’t long before we noticed other hikers/backpackers across the meadow following the road down from the Youngs Valley Trailhead. We also spotted Buster (the name we’d given the bear) lumbering through the meadow again.
IMG_6291

IMG_6299

IMG_6297

IMG_6302

In fact Buster passed through the meadow twice going in the same direction which led us to wonder if there was more than one Buster in the area (or a glitch in the Matrix). The bear didn’t seem to care that another group had set up a tent on the opposite side of the meadow and was similarly unimpressed when another couple arrived with their dog. We heard the dog bark and wondered if it was at Buster and when the couple passed by us on their way to finding a site they confirmed that the dog was barking at the bear and that it didn’t phase it one bit. They also mentioned that a friend of theirs had stayed there the week before and seen the bear around. Fortunately it appeared that everyone had proper bear proof systems in place, i.e. bear canisters, ursacks and/or bag hanging systems. Hopefully people continue to be responsible because it only takes one careless person leaving food out or in their tent for the bear to figure out that people have food. So far even though it wasn’t nearly as wary of people as most black bears are it didn’t show any signs of equating people with having food (not being food, those are grizzly bears lol). If that happens it typically means the bear will be put down.

IMG_6306This butterfly did discover people=salt.

IMG_6311Maybe a flycatcher of some sort near camp.

IMG_6319Common buckeye

IMG_6321Turkey vulture checking out the meadow.

We did do a little exploring in the area and found a few flowers nearby that we’d missed the day before.
20220703_153845White rush lily

IMG_6326Ginger

20220703_181554Snow plant

Both of the new groups of backpackers had dogs but aside from the initial barking at Buster we didn’t hear either of them again which we took to mean the bear kept its distance overnight. In the morning we got an extra early start for our hike out managing to have coffee and breakfast, pack up and still be on the trail by 6:15am.
IMG_6332Another low cloud morning.

IMG_6333Heading out

We followed the old road bed past the Raspberry Lake Trail junction half a mile to another trail junction, this one with the Black Butte Trail.
IMG_6337Passing around the meadow, we didn’t see Buster this morning.

IMG_6341Black Butte Trail junction.

IMG_6343

We turned right onto this trail which was also an old road bed and followed it a little over half a mile to the East Fork Illinois River.
IMG_6344

IMG_6347

IMG_6350Bear Cub under the clouds.

IMG_6353Vanilla leaf along the trail.

IMG_6357Jessica sticktight

IMG_6358The headwaters of the East Fork Illinois River are just up from the trail so the river isn’t much more than a trickle at the trail crossing.

On the other side of the river we ignored the East Fork Illinois Trail to the left and continued on the old road bed.
IMG_6360

IMG_6361

IMG_6364

IMG_6371The edge of the clouds to the NW.

IMG_6377Passing below Bear Cub.

IMG_6382Being an old road bed in unburt forest made for easy hiking.

Going into the weekend there had been a chance of showers both Sunday and Monday. Sunday had remained dry but today a light mist was falling and there were a couple of brief showers which were enough to prompt us to put the rain covers on our packs but not enough to don our rain gear.
IMG_6384

When we had made it to the north side of Bear Cub (Sullivan refers to it as Polar Bear Cub) we were momentarily confused by the number of trails our GPS units were showing. Sullivan’s map only showed an unmaintained use trail heading right toward the mountain while our paper Forest Service map didn’t show any other trails, but the GPS topo showed Sullivan’s user trail and another trail heading slightly downhill to the left. What we were seeing was the old roadbed curing right toward Bear Cub and a trail with cairns on both sides heading straight.
IMG_6386

The existence of the third trail on the GPS had us questioning whether the trail marked by cairns was the Black Butte Trail or the left most trail showing on the Garmin. After some debate we decided that it must be the Black Butte Trail and passed between the cairns. This turned out to be the right choice and we soon found ourselves climbing through the 2020 Slater fire scar.
IMG_6389

IMG_6391Swtichbacking toward Bear Cub.

IMG_6396Black Butte

We were a bit disappointed when we realized that to reach the junction with the Black Butte Tie Trail below Black Butte we had to lose about 100′ of elevation first.
IMG_6399Heading downhill so we could go up.

IMG_6402Creek crossing in the basin below Black Butte.

IMG_6406

IMG_6411Looking back into the clouds where we’d come from.

IMG_6412Steep climb up to the junction.

IMG_6413We made it back to the junction! Only 1.8 more miles to go.

We turned left at the junction, now following the route that we’d come in on from the Black Butte Trailhead on the first day. We had both convinced ourselves that this stretch would be mostly downhill, but we had been deceived.
IMG_6418Spirea

IMG_6419Pair of woodpeckers

IMG_6428Why is there more uphill?

IMG_6440Black Butte from the trailhead with Heather coming down the trail.

It was 5.6 miles from our camp to the trailhead but after some challenging hikes it felt harder than that. The nearly 1400′ of elevation gain didn’t help that, but it had been a great trip none the less.

Day 4 Track in blue

The most significant rain shower started as we were changing at the trailhead so the timing there was pretty good. The trip had been challenging but it was worth it to have the chance to experience a new area with such diverse plants and great scenery. The wildlife was a bonus although a little less bear would have been okay.

What wasn’t good was the low tire pressure light that came on almost immediately after starting our drive. We had the same light come on in June driving up to the Siskiyou Gap Trailhead (post) and taken the car to Les Schwab in Ashland for an air check. The two left side tires were just a little low then so they added some air and we were off. Today was the 4th though and the Les Schwab stores in Grants Pass (the closest to where we were) were closed for the holiday so we pulled into a gas station and checked the air at their self-serve station. The same two tires were again a little low so I topped them off and we drove home. The light was back Tuesday morning when I started my drive to work prompting a trip to Les Schwab in West Salem where they removed the tires and discovered a screw in the rear tire and a nail in the front. Luckily both were small leaks and repairable. Hopefully we’re done with that light for a long while now. Happy Trails!

Flickr: Raspberry Lake / Youngs Valley To Black Butte Trailhead

Categories
California Hiking Klamath Mountains Siskiyou mountains Trip report

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.
IMG_2072//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

We followed the Butte Fork Trail from the lake and headed downhill toward Cedar Basin which was .9 miles away.
IMG_2079//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

At a trail junction in the basin we turned right following a pointer for Fort Goff.
IMG_2078//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

This trail began climbing gradually through beargrass meadows in a forest that had been impacted by the 2012 Fort Complex Fire.
IMG_2082//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2090//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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.
IMG_2091//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2093//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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.
IMG_2097//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2099//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

While looking back at the hillsides above Lonesome Lake I spotted something that looked brown and thought that maybe it was a deer.
IMG_2100//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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.
IMG_2103//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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.
IMG_2105//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2118//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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.
IMG_2109//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2121//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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.
IMG_2117//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2135//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2116//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Polar Bear Mountain, Preston Peak, and El Capitan
IMG_2132//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

To the NE were some more familiar peaks.
Mt. McLoughlin
IMG_2141//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2144//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Mt. Bailey and Mt. Thielsen
IMG_2167//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Mt. Thielsen and the peaks around the rim of Crater Lake
IMG_2168//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

We were also beginning to see more and more interesting rocks along the trail.
IMG_2108//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2153//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2160//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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.
IMG_2158//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2161//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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.
IMG_2175//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Switchback on Desolation Peak
IMG_2175//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

After getting around Desolation Peak we got our first look at Mt. Shasta.
IMG_2181//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2189//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

We had passed around Goff Butte, Rattlesnake Mountain, and Desolation Peak and up next was Kangaroo Mountain where we would find the PCT.
IMG_2200//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Kangaroo Mountain is made up of the same type of red rock, peridotite, as Red Buttes.
IMG_2207//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2208//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

We met the PCT on the south side of Kangaroo Mountain and took a celebratory break.
IMG_2210//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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.
IMG_2213//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2220//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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.
IMG_2225//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2223//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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.
IMG_2234//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2232//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2229//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Next we passed Lily Pad Lake where several ducks were paddling about.
IMG_2240//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2242//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

We were coming out of the burn area and passing a series of meadows that still held a few wildflowers.
IMG_2248//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2249//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2251//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2253//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2254//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

We popped out of the trees below Red Buttes near Bee Camp.
IMG_2265//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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.
IMG_2272//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

We took a moment to take in the view then spied the lake below us and began the half mile descent to the lake.
IMG_2275//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2276//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2278//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2280//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

We turned left at another pointer for Echo Lake before arriving at the pretty little lake.
IMG_2284//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2285//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

IMG_2288//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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.
IMG_2291//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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