Saturday, July 7, 2012

Siskiyou Peak

Siskyou Peak looms ahead
This was an adlib hike. The original plan was to hike the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from Donomore Meadows to the top of Observation Peak. However, the only snow drift in existence within miles and miles was covering the road about 13 miles from Observation Peak. In the hiking equivalent of making lemonade when having lemons, we parked the car and headed to nearby Siskiyou Peak.

A hike for suntanners
It was a beautiful sunny day and in a taunt to my friends back east sweltering in a prolonged heatwave, I will note that here in Oregon we are also baking as it got all the way up to 75 degrees. That's a good thing, too, as the terrain here is fairly treeless and would be miserable on an overly hot day. The lack of trees also provide magnificent views of the Siskiyous and we literally looked down our noses at California from just inside Oregon.

My pets enjoyed Siskiyou Peak's summit

Siskiyou Peak was within a mile of our snow-induced parking lot and a short climb brought us up to the summit with some nice views. South lay snowy Mount Shasta rising up from the volcano lands dotted with small cinder cones. On the horizon were the alsothe  snowy Trinity Alps and to the southwest rose Preston Peak and other Siskiyou Mountains friends. The Siskiyou Crest extended westward and we could see Dutchman Peak in the area we had wanted to hike in originally.

Aah, smell the socks!
It hadn't been much of a hike, distance-wise, so we continued past the car and headed east on the PCT towards Grouse Gap at the foot of Mount Ashland. The pumice slopes were covered by a low growing mat of dirty socks, a low-growing buckwheat. One sniff of this flower makes it obvious why the flower is called dirty socks, it was like sticking your nose into my racquetball shoes after an eight-game night.

Meadow, near Grouse Gap
After a mile or so, the trail dropped steeply down into the meadows at Grouse Gap. A spring ran across the trail with crystal clear water and Maggie the Hiking Dog gratefully lapped up about six gallons of the precious liquid followed by a 4 gallon pee session. 

Lunchtime at Grouse Gap

We lunched and lazed at the rustic Grouse Gap shelter watching clouds form directly overhead while their shadows danced on the grassy slopes of Mount Ashland. Perfect. Eventually we got up and continued eastward on the PCT. On the PCT, we found an unattended little bulldog out for a hike while we could hear the owner calling frantically at some distance away. Tucking the little guy under my arm, we returned the lost canine to a grateful owner.

The meadow at Grouse Gap/Mount Ashland is world class and I was happily taking pictures of scarlet gilia, elderberry, larkspur, buttercups, et al.  There was a moment of disconcertment when a large buzzing near my head turned out to be a gigantic hornet with several hornet friends hovering nearby. Yikes! It was time to take my hike elsewhere.

Meadow on Mount Ashland
So it was back to the car where Maggie cavorted in the snow while Dollie and I unlaced our boots. All in all, another great hike in spite of (or because of) the improvisation.

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