Frog Pond

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The first half of the trip — from the road to Frog Pond

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Date: 6/17/17

Hike Difficulty: moderate
Hike Length: 4.26 mi roundtrip
Elevation Gain: 1217 ft
Time: 1 hr 26 mins there, 1 hr 17 mins back

I’ve been doing this hiking thing long enough that I’ve started to get a little cocky. When you’re out in the middle of nowhere with no one else but your dog, you have to rely on yourself if any issues come up. This trip had lots of issues.

I’d explored this area once before when I went to Middle Fork National Recreation Trail #950 a few weeks ago. That day, I initially wanted to reach the Frog Pond trail, but you have to cross a creek and the water had pushed the rocks to make it impassable. Plus, there were these old guys on motorcycles with guns, so I gave up on Frog Pond until this weekend.

When I reached the impassable creek, I told myself in my cockiness that I could move some rocks around and make it passable. It proved to be a bigger job than I thought and I crushed one of my toes with a rock (possibly causing a hairline fracture).

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The impassable creek that probably broke my toe

I decided to leave my car behind and begrudgingly put on my water shoes in order to hike over to the trailhead. It was a lot steeper than I anticipated, but I enjoyed the sights and smells. I saw some bees eating poop, which was interesting. It wasn’t long before the trees started to open up and I knew I had reached the flat area where Frog Pond laid.

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I set up camp at what looked like a common campsite, so I thought I wouldn’t have any more issues of any kind. After getting everything set up, I decided to take a nap in the shade. About two hours later, I woke up to a lot of buzzing. It had kind of blended into my dreams and I didn’t realize how intense it had become. I looked outside to find that sweat bees had covered my gear, primarily my soaking wet hat.

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I sat in my tent for a few minutes, trying to make a plan about what to do next. I decided to move down by the river where I had seen another campsite. I tried to remove bees from my gear before I hauled it down the way, but they ended up following me to my new site. I packed up everything in search of a completely new area to sleep for the night. Luckily, it was mid-afternoon and I had plenty of time to figure it out.

Every time I thought I’d found a new site, I stood there for a few minutes to see if there were any bees. Sure enough, each time I stopped, a bee or two would show up to suck my sweat. I ended up abandoning my mission to camp on this trail and found another campsite — one that was bee-free — down the road.

Now that I’m back home, I’ve learned a lot more about bees that I didn’t know. Sweat bees like the taste of the salt in perspiration (obviously). Yes, if I’d pissed them off, I could’ve gotten stung (though I didn’t). No, they didn’t come from a hive in a tree, but rather hives in tunnels underground (WTF?). Hey, the more you know! Here are the rest of the pictures:

 

Lookout Rock Trail (Gearhart Mountain Wilderness)

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Date: 6/3-6/4/17

Hike Difficulty: moderate
Hike Length: 2.5 mi to The Dome
Elevation Gain: approx. 1000 ft
Time: 2 hrs 26 mins

My past roommate and I went to Gearhart Mountain Wilderness area for the first time this weekend. Since it’s still a little early in the season, we weren’t able to get to the North Fork Sprague Trailhead — the road up the east side of the wilderness still had some snowy patches. So, ditching our original plan, we headed back down to the Lookout Rock Trailhead to enter Gearhart Wilderness from the southern entry point.

The climb was difficult because I packed pretty heavy. I need to learn to leave some things at home since I always end up having back and shoulder pain from my 40 lbs of gear. I did, however, get to relieve myself of some weight by filling up Grace’s pack with her sleeping gear and food.

The Lookout Rock Trail climbs into some beautiful open rock formations known as Palisade Rocks around .8 miles in. From there, the trail drops down into a sort of flat area before climbing toward The Dome. My friend and I ran into some impassable snow drifts around this point, so we decided to climb the hill and see what The Dome was all about. It was a tough climb of a few hundred feet in a short distance. But it turns out that we found an amazing camping spot by climbing up beside the rock formation.

I will have to return to explore Gearhart Mountain Wilderness more, especially since pretty much no one else visits there according to the local I ran into.

Middle Fork Trailhead (Rogue River)

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Date: 5/27/-5/28/17

Hike Difficulty: moderate (mostly because of my gear and my forgetfulness)
Hike Length: 4.41 mi to backcountry camp, 6.85 mi to get back
Time: 2 hrs 48 mins; 3 hrs 4 mins

It’s been a while since I’ve posted a new hike! I must confess, I’ve been hiking and camping at old sites, but just not posting about it. To make up for it, here’s a video from last weekend’s camping at Taylor Creek:

I was hoping for a similar or even better backpacking experience this weekend. I’d heard that the Siskiyou Mountain Club had just cleaned up a trail that follows the Middle Fork Rogue River. The area was hit by a wildfire back in 2008, which left the trail prone to deadfalls. With the crazy winter that we had, there was a lot of work for the SMC to clean up this trail. I merely showed up a few weeks later to benefit from their work.

This was the first time that I’d gone down this trail, which is the first entry point to Sky Lakes Wilderness this early in the season if one can get past the fallen snags. I was hoping to get 5 or 6 miles in where the trail climbs 800 or so feet and reaches Boston Bluff. I only got about 4.4 miles in before I saw signs of decreased human activity — namely, the dead trees were not cleared off the trail anymore. I decided to take a rest at this spot, as I’m sure the SMC crew did when they were sawing dead trees a few weeks earlier.

Looking down at the river from the ledge above, I could see a piece of land that jutted out near the river. Grace and I climbed 20 feet or so to reach the area we’d make camp for the night. I’ll have to come back to explore more, this trail and other ones nearby like Tom and Jerry Trail.

Squaw Peak

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Finally made it to the lookout!

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That was a lot of climb at the end — 600 ft in 0.9 miles

Date: 5/6/17

Hike Difficulty: challenging
Hike Length: 10.91 mi
Elevation Gain: 2382 ft
Time: 4 hrs 37 mins

I’d already attempted to get to the lookout on Squaw Peak four or five times (the most recent one is here). Usually, I was thwarted by the amount of snow, but considering it’s mid-May, the snow isn’t much of an obstacle anymore. My housemate and I took the dogs back to Little Grayback Mountain trail to finally conquer this beast and to make it to the lookout. The weather was against us, but it never got so ugly that we had to turn back. Glad to check this one of my list.

Middle Fork National Recreation Trail #950

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Date: 4/15/17

Hike Difficulty: easy
Hike Length: 2.56 mi (not the complete trail length..)
Elevation Gain: 377 ft
Time: 56 mins

The snow has been melting and wildflowers have begun to appear, which means spring has hit Southern Oregon. I’m especially excited because I can start doing hikes that are only open in warm weather again. I had never tried out this trail, and though it is technically in Northern California, it is close enough to home to do on a spur of the moment. Middle Fork trail connects to the Frog Pond loop — another area I haven’t explored. I really wanted to end up at Frog Pond, but it’s still a bit early in the season for that to be accessible, so this trail was the next best thing.

Humbug Mountain

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Completed the loop!

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The West Trail is much steeper than the East Trail.

Date: 4/9/17

Hike Difficulty: difficult
Hike Length: 5.16 mi
Elevation Gain: 1808 ft
Time: 2 hrs 27 mins

On our way up the coast, we stopped at Humbug Mountain to get our summit hike fix. Looking up at the heavily forested summit, we knew that this wouldn’t be the best hike for huge 360-degree views, but it ended up having some pretty good moments. More than anything, it was a good workout.

Sisters Rocks State Park

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Date: 4/8/17

Hike Difficulty: easy
Hike Length: 1.17 mi
Elevation Gain: 308 ft
Time: 1 hr 19 mins

I went with a friend to the Oregon coast for the weekend to stay in a yurt and hike some new trails. Our first stop was Sisters Rocks State Park near Port Orford. The entire Oregon coast is littered with the remnants of lava flows from millions of years ago. The basalt outcroppings have eroded over the years into a unique mix of islands, columns, caves, and other formations to explore. Sisters Rocks State Park includes the three monoliths that sit right off the highway, the largest of which has a long sea cave.

The hike itself was short and very beautiful. We came to the coastline on the right day because the weather was pleasant and the sky was partly cloudy. The trail leads straight to the entrance to the sea cave, which is in a hole in the side of the biggest sister. Experience it (sort of) for yourself:

We went right between high and low tide, so it made me wonder how much lower the water would’ve been a few hours later — probably not low enough to safely explore the caves. Nevertheless, it was a very cool place that I felt not many people visit.