Saturday, January 3, 2015

North Bank hike

This is getting to be an annual event for the Friends of the Umpqua Hiking Club. The club's first hike of the year takes place in the North Bank Deer Habitat, conveniently located in Roseburg's figurative back yard. Each year. we freeze our little colitas off hiking in the ice and fog, enjoy sumptuous views by hiking steeply uphill, and then warm fingers, toes, ears, and spirits with hot soup at Lois's house. It's a great way to start the hiking year.

Tree of Mystery
As we started the 2015 version of this hike, the ice chattered underneath our boots while our teeth chattered inside our heads. Besides being cold, the deer preserve was cloaked in thick Jack-the-Ripper London fog. The grasses were all covered with heavy frost and the faint tracings of leafless oaks and maples could just be seen in all the gray.

Just a tad bit nippy
At the humorously named Soggy Bottom, we split up into two groups hereafter referred to as Long Hikers and Short Hikers. The long and short of it did not refer to stature but to the length of the hike, although there are some whose stature would match the corresponding descriptor. Anyway, I led seven Long Hikers and Lois led the remaining Short Hikers.

No views...yet
The Soggy Bottom Road climbed gradually uphill, contouring across the steep hillsides of the north boundary ridge. A marginally brighter glow in surrounding grayness indicated the possible location of the sun. There weren't any views to be had so we just had to talk to each other. 

Why we hike
The fog began to thin out just before arriving at Grumpy's Pond and there was a hint of blue sky above as we hiked ever upwards. By the time we hit the north boundary ridge, we were free and clear of the fog and oh my, what a view we had.

Steaming jungle
The North Umpqua River valley was covered in a soft white blanket of foggy felt that stretched for miles and miles. The sky was gloriously blue and the tips of mountains and hills poked their pointy little heads out of the cotton sea. Much gawking and photography abounded. The scene was so spectacular that I almost didn't pay attention to my burning leg muscles as we climbed the steep hills of the preserve.  Almost.

First leg pain of the new year
At the Middle Ridge Road we said goodbye to Medium Hikers Elona and George and then we were five. The next couple of miles were a series of steep ups and downs over several high points on the northern ridge. The grassy slopes dropped precipitously away from our feet, disappearing into the foggy stewpot below. After the last knob, the trail headed downhill for good.

Our view on the way down
While the downhill was welcome after all the leg-burning uphill grades, what was not welcome was the return into the fog. The fog was incredibly thick and we could barely see where we were going. Bill and I kept company by talking politics and whatnot and it had been some time since we had last glimpsed our fellow Long Hikers. We eventually dropped below the fog cover and about 50 yards in front of us was John, Merle, and Edwin; thanks to the dense fog, we didn't even realize we were walking that close to each other.

I like this view better!
After this 10 mile epic, we all regrouped at Lois's house and her pozole restored warmth to noses, ears, and other miscellaneous extremities. I can't wait for the rest of the 2015 hikes, it's just going to be a great year for hiking! For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.


  1. Another year another 500 miles....ok, 490 more miles to be exact. Looks like some greats view above the clouds. Nice thing about hiking this time of year is that you are usually the only one out there hiking....happy 2015!!

    1. So here are my goals for 2015. 500 miles hiking and 1500 miles cycling. Of course, the bent rim on my bike has set me back a bit, got to get it fixed. We'll see how things go. So, now that you guys have made it to 300 miles, you shooting for 400?

  2. The fog and the mist may not make for the best hiking views, but it surely made for some aesthetically gorgeous photos !!!

    Darlene from the old Webshots group