Monday, September 12, 2022

Upper Rogue River (Hamaker Meadow)

I was cruising through the Internet the other evening and came across a boastful blurb stating the Siskiyou Mountain Club had cleared the Upper Rogue River Trail (URRT) to Rough Rider Falls. Whoops of joy then filled the exalted air of my man cave, for several years ago I had tried to hike to the cascade but had been thoroughly repelled by tonnages of fallen trees laying across the trail. As an added degree of excitement on that particular hike, I also had a close encounter with a mama bear and her two cubs when returning from said piles of fallen trees. Rough Rider Falls wasn't very user-friendly to me that day but since the trail allegedly had been cleared of piles of fallen trees (and hopefully of bears, too), it was time for another attempt to reach the ever so elusive Rough Rider Falls. 

Just beautiful weather for hiking in

It was a perfect day for hiking this more recent time out. The sun made an appearance but the temperature remained mild, part of a recent cool-weather trend that was hopefully aiding and abetting the fire crews doing battle with the Cedar Creek Fire. That in turn, might also hopefully ease the smoke befouling the air in the McKenzie and Umpqua Valleys. At any rate, I was happy to be out hiking in cooler weather.

Got plenty of quality forest time in

Beginning from the trailhead, the path wandered north on an up and down route next to the Rogue River. Sometimes above the river on a forested bench, sometimes down in the riverside brush, the trail clearly could not make up its mind as whether to stay high or low. My legs appreciated the mild exercise though, as the ups were not all that challenging or daunting.

The river is amazingly clear

When the trail ambled down by the river, the water was remarkably clear, which stood to reason seeing as how we (my imaginary friend and I) were only about five miles from Boundary Springs, the fountainhead of the mighty Rogue. Occasionally, green meadows were spotted on the other side of the river. I say occasionally, for the brush and forest really made it hard to see down to the river in the first place, much less to any surrounding landscape or meadows.

No-Name Falls labors in anonymity 

About a mile into the hike, a roar emanating from the river announced the presence of No-Name Falls. Officially, the cascade does not have a name but is referred to by regulars as No-Name Falls, which is almost like a name. I scrambled down to the cascade for a better look and spent a few minutes simply appreciating the sight and might of the Rogue River rumbling and tumbling down the cascade's narrow chute.

At times, the trail went sketchy on me

Despite the claim that the trail had been maintained, signs of trail love were in short supply. The track was littered with small branches and storm debris and where the vegetative growth was vigorous and robust, the trail was faint and a little hard to follow, especially where knee-high bracken fern encroached the trail. Unless an intervention soon occurs, the ferns will win out and claim the trail wholly for themselves.

Time to admit defeat, again

Just short of three miles of hiking fun, a large tree lay across the trail. I swear it was the same tree from when I had hiked this trail several years ago. And sure enough, then there was another fallen tree sprawling on the trail much like an somnolent guest at a Nyquil convention. And then there was another fallen tree, and another, and another, etc. I literally crawled under or over the first eight or ten to get by but when a large Empire State Building of logs blocked further progress north, it was deja vu all over again. 

Sunlight slants through the forest in the afternoon

Soundly defeated, it was a turnaround hike back to the trailhead where I then crossed Forest Road 6530 and picked up the resumption of the Upper Rogue River Trail heading south. This section of the URRT had its tree issues too, but there were none as formidable as the daunting piles blocking the way to Roughrider Falls, and I was able to make acceptable progress along the trail.

A brief glimpse of very large Hamaker Meadows

Basically, the route contoured along the edge of massive Hamaker Meadows, although it was hard to tell as the path stayed in mostly viewless forest above the meadows. Periodic openings in the forest provided brief peeks at the grassy expanse below and on one occasion, I bushwhacked down into the meadows proper. It didn't take long for boots to start sinking into the boggy soil so I didn't get all that far into the scenic greenery reposing below forested Hamaker Butte. After a mile and a half contouring above Hamaker Meadows, the trail crossed the river on a stout footbridge at Hamaker Camp and that was my cue to turn around and leave all things Hamaker behind.

The Rogue kept me company throughout the day

Even when you don't reach your destination, it's still a good hike and this venture was no exception. I got to spend all day in beautiful forest with a clear-running river flowing below the trail and there's nothing wrong with that at all, especially when there's no scary bear encounter involved. However, Roughrider Falls still remains as elusive as ever and my next plan to get there will involve hiking the Upper Rogue River Trail from the Crater Rim Trailhead. We'll see if I'll be more successful or not.

Hamaker Meadows, from Hamaker Camp

For more photos of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.

No comments :

Post a Comment