Saturday, June 17, 2017

Golden Stairs

The first time I hiked Golden Stairs, it was with Dollie and on that day it was hot and the trail was shadeless and uphill. The second time, I was leading the hiking club and on that day it was hot and the trail was shadeless and uphill. Now, Lane was leading the hike this time, and the day would be hot while the trail was still shadeless and uphill. Some things just don't change! As I was headed out the door, Dollie asked me where I was going to hike and when I replied "Golden Stairs", she replied "I remember that trail, it was hot and uphill!" Some things make an impression, too.

Dude, there's a napping ferret on your head!
Grandson Issiah was tabbed as the companion du jour, and he seemed kind of sad. Seems he lost his pet caterpillar but not to worry, I found it napping on his head, which is my way of saying he showed up with a mohawk haircut and Grandpa did not approve! On the plus side, Issiah did provide Grandpa with material for a steady stream of bad haircut jokes, which Issiah took good-naturedly. And just to clarify, that was "bad haircut" jokes, not bad "haircut jokes", although Issiah might disagree.

Steep trail on a warm day
In no time at all, 11 hikers (including one dog and a boy with a chinquapin seed pod on his head) were all huffing and puffing as the trail charged straight up a forested slope to eventually attain a bare and rocky ridge crest. The trail charged straight up the ridge crest, too. The basic pattern on the ridge was that the route alternated between shady forest and barren lava every half mile or so. Mosquitoes pestered us a bit and this would be the first (but not the last!) time I found it necessary to apply Deet this year. Issiah didn't get bit as much, probably because his sea urchin haircut, no doubt, confused the mosquitoes a bit.

Lupines colored the barren slopes
The hiking was slow for me, not only because it was steep, but also because rock gardens on the rocky crest entranced the camera. Stuffed in the cracks between the rocks were penstemon, stonecrop, blue-headed gilia, and pussy paws. The slopes were covered with lupine and Indian paintbrush. Much photography ensued.

Ezgi just had to climb that rock
The ridgecrest narrowed quite a bit and the trail ran on top of the serrated knife-edge of the crest. One step off the trail in either direction would definitely send a hiker on a scree slide. Lava formations, dikes, and pillars flanked the trail, providing some geologic points of interest. At one notable rock thumb, Ezgi just had to climb it, horrifying all the nervous parents and grandparents in the group as she slid down to the thumb. I'm glad to say she made it back to the trail, in spite of the best efforts of the loose rock to effect a different outcome.

View to Crater Lake Rim
The open areas provided ample views of the Abbott Creek and Woodruff Creek drainages. Beyond the creek valleys, the snow-covered peaks of Crater Lake, bookended by the pointed spires of Union Peak and Mount Thielsen, rose up to in a vain attempt to touch the sky. To the west were Abbott Butte and Elephant Head; each a familiar hiking destination on the Rogue-Umpqua Divide crest. To the south was the symmetrical and prominent cone of Mount McLaughlin, with Mount Shasta clearly visible on the horizon from 100 miles away.

Mount Shasta, on the horizon
The Golden Stairs doesn't really have a destination, per se, so we sat down and ate lunch in a slightly forested meadow after several miles of hiking.  On the way back, we got to enjoy the views all over again, but with the bonus of all that grueling uphill hiking turning into pleasant downhill hiking. Funny, I didn't remember that from my previous visits to the Golden Stairs. Some things just don't make that big of an impression, I guess.

Some things just don't change
By the way, I'm changing Issiah's trail name to "Spiny Hedgehog". For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.

1 comment :

  1. Oh the hairstyles of kids these days! Glad you both survived the "hot and uphill" hike.