Saturday, November 21, 2020

Threemile Lake Loop


Slowly, I walked past every enclosure, peering analytically at each forlorn sad-eyed inhabitant residing within. The godlike power of my pending decision weighed upon me, as my choice would autocratically decree by capricious fiat who would be loved in a happy home and who would not. Desperate pleas emanated from each container: "Pick me, pick me! I'll fetch!" "I promise to scratch YOUR belly!" "Oh whatever, I'm housetrained!" So hard to pick just one, you just kind of want to take them all home with you. But a decision had to be made. "Hmm.." I mused "I'll take this one". And that is the story of how I bought a brand new pair of Keen hiking boots. Initially, the boots were deliriously happy to be going home with me but may have changed their minds when on their maiden outing, they had to endure a bushwhack venture around Threemile Lake.

Life is good (so far!) for new boots

At the outset, I took it easy on the boots with a nice and easy stroll on the beach. As we hiked on the seashore under a deep blue sky with nary a cloud in sight, the sun shone brightly yet the temperatures remained pleasantly mild. It was low tide and the surf roared some distance from the wet sand I was walking on. The retreating tide had left behind a smorgasbord of ocean souvenirs for our perusal, mostly in the form of sea shells, seaweed, and driftwood.

Reindeer lichen thrived on the forest floor

At Exit 115A, marked by an obvious sign colored florescent yellow, it was time to leave the beach and hike up through forest and dune to Threemile Lake. The lake was not all that full of water and an exposed isthmus divided the long and slender lake into two nearly equal-sized bodies of water. Upon the lake's waters, the ever-changing caprices of a light breeze set wind zephyrs to whirling and cavorting in joyful abandonment like so many attendees dancing at a reggae festival. 

The north end of Threemile Lake

After sliding and striding down a steep sandy chute plunging from the lake's overlook, my boots made some kind of complaint about being filled with both sand and stinky feet. I could empty out the sand but just like my poor wife, the boots would have to suck it up and endure my putrid feet for the remainder of their lives. After perfunctorily pouring out the sand accumulated in the shoes, it was time for the bushwhacking segment of this hike to commence. However, the bushwhacking initially consisted of a mere walk along bare shoreline and was not at all rigorous.

"Your mission, should you choose to accept..."

The easy hiking made fairly quick work of the first of the two lakes, my progress startling ducks who took flight and landed elsewhere on the lake where there was less likelihood of incredibly handsome hikers disturbing their peaceful quackery. Things changed though, as I neared the isthmus cleaving the lake in two. Water pooled behind the isthmus in a series of bays and coves and I walked across one such bay that had dried out, the formerly muddy soil now cracked and baked by the sun.

Trust me, that is not terra firma!

Yikes! The soil may have been cracked like a tiled floor but underneath, the ground was as soft and gooey as caramel. So, in order to get around this disguised quagmire, a scratchy detour through thick brush was performed out of necessity. The bushwhacking became a tedious mano a mano mortal combat, making the remaining two miles or so of remaining lakeshore seem like a near insurmountable obstacle in my way.

A mile or so of fallen trees made this hike even "better"!

Things got worse on the second lake, for not only was there soft mud to contend with, but fallen trees blocked the way and I spent an inordinate amount of time and effort slithering through the tangle like the most ungainly and clumsiest hog-nosed snake ever. Except snakes don't wear new boots and on more than one occurrence I thought I might irretrievably lose said boots in the sucking mud. The banks here sloped steeply into the lake and my ankles were feeling the strain of the constant sidehilling as I walked. Additionally, it was getting to be late afternoon and when the winter sun ducked behind the forested ridge above the lake, it started to get quite cold. Whose idea was this anyway?

An agaric stands straight and tall

Perseverance and effort won out in the end, and eventually there was no more lake to bushwhack past and it'd be time to walk on a real trail. Once on the path, I hiked as fast as I could to ward off the increasing chill. But really, the trail leaving the lake was pretty steep as it climbed through the forest, so I didn't just zip along either. Occasional pauses for rest were supplemented by photography of mushrooms sprouting in the forest duff and moss on the ground.

A fading sun lights up a fading thimbleberry leaf

A short walk on gravel Sparrow Park Road closed this surprisingly tough hike off. At the car, I dug through the mud glommed onto my boots and located the shoelaces hidden within. After I removed my boots, they informed me they wanted to return to the store and take their chances with all the other lost soles. 

Shadow Man says "Look at my muddy Shadow Boots!"

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

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Tahkenitch Dunes Loop


I pretty much hike alone these days. There's a pandemic going on of course, so being in a crowd of people is more dangerous than juggling running chainsaws while wearing oven mitts. But besides the virus avoidance reasons, I also use the quiet trail time to converse with myself which kind of keeps me grounded mentally, because there's certainly been enough of life's adversities this year on top of the pandemic. Plus, if I talk to myself in the forest and there is no cat and dog to hear me (like they do at home), I don't have to pet or feed them to assuage their fuzzy-headed fears that their Lord and Master's rubber toy no longer squeaks, metaphorically speaking. But even though hiking alone has its benefits in terms of physical and mental health, you can only spend so much "me time" before you begin to desperately crave human company. That's why, even though I hiked at Tahkenitch Dunes just over a month ago, I accepted an invite to reprise this beautiful coastal hike with Penny, John, Jennifer, and Cleve, because every incredibly handsome lone wolf has to howl with the pack every now and then.

Sublimity on the coast

You couldn't pick a better day for hiking, it was absolutely gorgeous. Nothing but mostly blue sky above with bright sun casting a warm glow over the Oregon coast and into the hearts of hikers. There were some clouds scudding overhead like so many floating fluffy pillows, aesthetically pleasing to both human eye and camera, and blotting out just enough sun to keep temperatures cool and perfect for hiking in. All life should be like such a day on the beach, forest, and dunes!

Don't tread on me!

Before we could get to that sunny beach paradise though, we had to hike up and over a deeply shaded ridge crest. We ran into many other hikers, mostly in the form of rough-skinned newts crawling on the forest floor, each enjoying their own quiet trail time until we picked them up. Their brown coloring made them hard to see on the earthen trail so we stepped carefully and hand-carried amphibian captives off the trail for their own safety. We didn't lick or eat any (their skin is highly toxic), making both hikers and newts grateful. At any rate, I'm glad to report that I did not see any squished newts, which is always a disappointing sight. 

A salmonberry leaf basks in the morning sunlight
    
As stated, the first part of the hike was on a ridge covered by a forest lush and green. Sunbeams fought through a thick skein of tree branches to reach the forest floor. Where they beamed onto salmonberry and rhododendron bushes, the leaves glowed green, further adding to the emerald-colored ambience of the forest. Moss covered the forest floor and the whole vibe was so pleasant I barely noticed the steep climb up and over the forested ridge between the campground and coast. 

Do not stare directly without putting on dark eyewear first

It's not unusual to see fungus in a coastal forest, given all the decaying biomass on the ground, but what was unusual this day was a veritable Great Barrier Reef of coral fungus populating the forest floor. Most were of the usual coloration, ranging from light beige to a darker brown-orange. However, a significant percentage were colored a bright Chernobyl red, like something you would find in the core of a nuclear reactor in full meltdown. Much photography abounded and no radiation burns were suffered by any of the hikers in our group.

Some of that dense vegetation flanking the trail

The walk to a backpack campsite near Threemile Lake was pleasant, if only for the fact that most of it was downhill once the ridge was crested. At the lake, the forest transitioned to sandy dunes and encroaching deflation plain forest, which is a younger and smaller-treed version of the woods we had just hiked through. I left my little group behind to execute to a side-trip to Threemile Lake's worthy overlook while my companions hied it for the beach for rest and repast. After a look-see at the lake, I rejoined my peeps eating lunch on a large log on the beach.

The charge of the Barefoot Brigade

After a lunch and laze spent eating and watching white clouds birthing into and dying out of existence over a roaring surf, we divided into two groups. Jennifer, John, Penny, and Cleve all formed an impromptu Barefoot Brigade by removing shoes and walking in the cold surf. The rest of us, consisting of just me in lone wolf mode, kept boots on and made faster progress along the beach as a result, despite being slowed up somewhat by the camera.

Jellyfish on a "sand" wich!

After a mile or so of walking at the ocean's edge, kicking up seafoam before a brisk sea breeze carried it away, further progress north was blocked by Tahkenitch Creek running across the beach strand. The creek wasn't all that full, so I could have waded across but instead decided to rejoin the anti-shoers sitting on yet another large log putting on their boots. As a proud pro-booter, I waited patiently for them to shoe themselves. In return, they would soon leave me behind, eating their sandy trail dust.

Mother and child

After crossing tidal flats carved into abstract patterns by the retreating tide at Tahkenitch Creek's mouth, we grabbed the trail back toward the dunes. The deflation plain forest was carpeted with pine needles, the decomposition of which supported a contingent of flapjack sized and shaped mushrooms. The older forest at the end of the trail also supported a healthy population of fungi, moss, and lichen and before long, Penny and I assumed our customary place well at the end of the hiking queue. But hey, we did acquire what seemed like thousands more fungi photos for our respective collections. All in all, it was another fun hike at the coast with good friends. I'll be good for another round of solo hikes now.

Nothing but blue sky (and clouds!) from now on

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

Monday, November 9, 2020

North Bank Habitat (Soggy Bottom/Blacktail Basin Loop)


Because the North Bank Habitat is only about a half-hour drive from my home, it gets a lot of use by your merry blogster. My frequent hikes in this particular locale have allowed me to experience all sorts of different aspects of the Habitat, which apparently has more emotional states than a mood ring. I've hiked there in winter when the rolling hills were coated with snow, having to watch my step because of icy trails. Been there in several rain storms too, leaving me wondering why I was out there in the first place when I could have stayed warm and dry at home. I've also slogged up the steep trails in triple-digit heat like a bug slow-crawling up a rock wall, also wondering why I was out there, albeit for the opposite temperature-related reason. And from personal experience, if you can catch a fogbound morning along the North Umpqua River, then the fog-filled valley vistas are absolutely stunning and well worth the toil and labor to hike above the cottony-looking fog cover. But up until now, in all my visits to the Habitat, I'd yet to really appreciate the Habitat's autumn garb.

The brown and bare terrain of the North Bank Habitat

The Habitat's terrain falls generally under the term "oak savannah" due to the stately and regal oak trees dotting the grassy slopes and pastures. Oak, like maple, does shed its leaves in the fall season but they just sort of brown out and drop off the tree without any of that color folderol and hoo-hah so favored by their flashy maple cousins. As a result, autumn will generally find me hiking in more flamboyant maple environs instead of the comparitively dull North Bank Habitat, where even the green grasses fade into an unnoteworthy brown color. So, imagine my surprise when this early November hike marvelously turned out to be all about autumn.

Enjoy the blue sky while it lasts, maple trees!

The morning was cool but the sky was gloriously blue as I started. It had gotten cold enough to freeze the night before, so ice crunched under my boots in the shady parts of the trail. A small creek flowed on the left side of the gravel road (all the trails in the habitats are old ranch roads), with small icicles dangling off of branches and rocks in the stream. Encroaching blackberry brambles sported bright red leaves here and there and I seemingly attempted to photograph each and every one. The oak trees had already dropped their leaves, leaving naked trees with bare scraggly branches clawing at the sky above.

Return of the fuzzy white stuff

A short walk on Soggy Bottom Road delivered me to Soggy Bottom and while the bottom was not all that soggy, frost accrued on grass blades and fallen leaves like beard stubble on a certain old and grizzled hiker. The track was covered with an increasingly thick and frosted layer of oak and maple leaves. While oak trees rule the Habitat, interspersed bigleaf maple trees do make an obvious yellow-leaved appearance among the denuded oaks. 

The golden road

So, this hike became all about autumn, thanks mostly to the maple trees. The trees were still adorned with plenty of leaves glowing golden yellow like so many marshmallow peeps in a microwave (Mom is still mad about that, thirty years after the fact!). The maples had been busy dropping leaves too, and the dirt road was carpeted with a healthy layer of fallen leaves that pleasantly swished as I waded through. Just follow the Yellow Leaf Road! This section of trail was absolutely sublime and I quickly became a dedicated convert to the cause of hiking at the North Bank in autumn.

Rain cometh, it has been foretold

As I gained elevation on the leaf-littered trail, a looming storm scudded in overhead and there'd be no more blue sky on this day. The Habitat's mood ring changed from bright blue to dark gray as befitting its new "it will rain today" emotional state. Virtually all trails in the Habitat, a former cattle ranch, go uphill at some point. On the plus side though, the thinning forest gave way to open grassy slopes and stunning views as the trail gained elevation. The trail contouring the relatively bare slopes served up expansive vistas of the North Umpqua River valley below, with the river glistening under the ever darkening sky. Much resting (oops, I meant to say photography!), ensued while hiking out of Soggy Bottom up to North Boundary Ridge.

The meeting place

As the trail neared Grumpy's Pond (named after Mrs. O'Neill, unless she's within earshot), the maples gave way to a thick stand of oaks with a heavy layer of dead leaves hiding the normally visible grasses growing underneath. I could just picture deer gathering here on moonlit nights to plot the overthrow of mankind "Let's have a hunting season for humans and see how they like it!" It's probably a good thing deer don't have opposable thumbs.

Just one blackberry leaf in a universe full of them

On North Boundary Ridge the terrain is fairly treeless and cold air currents upwelling from  surrounding valleys vigorously swept cold air across the crest, the breeze cutting right through this hiker's clothing. Where things had previously been cool or chilly, it was now officially downright cold. Fortunately though, the trail dropped down into sheltered Blacktail Basin and out of the arctic air currents. Once on the bottom of the basin, my pace slowed as I stopped frequently to admire the trickling creeks, bright  ochre-colored madrone berries, and dried teasel heads rustling in the wind like so many witch giggles. Occasional maple trees among the plentiful oaks were nearly bare, but a circle of golden leaves lay underneath each tree like dandruff on the shoulders of a co-worker. Bringing things full circle, colored blackberry leaves became a photography subject again, as the hiking festivities came to a close. I probably took pictures of exactly the same old leaves, too.

 

Oaks just have the gall!

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

Monday, November 2, 2020

North Umpqua Trail (Marsters Segment)


Four years ago, I hiked on the Marsters Segment of the North Umpqua Trail (NUT). Back then, the forest was lush and mostly green (sporting a little bit of autumn yellow, too) while dense and vibrant undergrowth of fern and salal carpeted the forest floor. It was so peaceful and beautiful and so impressed was I by the rampant vegetation and forest that four years later, I was given to say at a planning meeting "Say, I have a great idea for a hike!" I really should know better.

The North Umpqua on a cold late autumn morn

Sometime during the intervening years after that 2016 hike, fire had come to visit, plunder, and pillage this once and former green section of the NUT. Seems like lately, the North Umpqua River area is ground central for summer lightning strikes and accordingly, fire has become a yearly thing on the NUT. This year, the massive and catastrophic Archie Creek Fire immolated over 100,000 acres of beautiful riverside forest and as a result, about half of the NUT was rendered unusable and officially declared off-limits. I'm not sure which of the many fires in the area was responsible for ravaging the Marsters but at least the segment was open for business when I went there for a scouting trip in preparation for the upcoming Friends of the Umpqua Hiking Club venture.

If you like fire damage, then you will absolutely love the Marsters

It was obvious that the green forest residing in my memory pixels had succumbed to the fire. Gone were the salal and ferns, now supplanted by a post-fire population of fireweed and dewberry vines. The lush forest had been converted into several miles of blackened and dead trees, all victims of the fire's rampage. However, life was returning anew and young hardwood trees like bigleaf maple and dogwood were already establishing themselves on the blackened slopes above the North Umpqua River. Since this was late autumn, the young trees were adding yellow, pink, and orange colors to the otherwise stark terrain.  

This landslide was treacherous, yet I
stopped halfway across to take this photo

The bucolic woodland path of yesteryear was likewise gone, now transformed into an uneven and sketchy track undulating up and down across steep slopes. Even though it was ostensibly the same pleasant path I had hiked on in 2016, somehow the fire had imparted a rough and rocky quality to the trail. After a wildfire, trails become damaged by landslides and fallen trees and both of those obstacles were present to be contended with. There was one small slide that was not too bad but a more daunting second landslide was perched high above the river, and was fairly slick too, thanks to a small water runoff trickling down the face of the muddy scar. One really had to be very carefully picking one's way across the shifting soils of the slide and this One made sure to do that very thing.

Got some practice hiking through trees today

The trail crossed Deception Creek and several other small gullies by means of wooden footbridges that did not look new, and I was grateful they had either survived the fire or had been replaced shortly afterward. Either way, it would have been a tedious scramble in and out of the gullies without the bridges, considering each gully was choked and cluttered with litter and debris from the fire. As mentioned, there were plenty of fallen trees that were a pain in the you-know-what to scramble over, under, or around with one notable pile of many trees blocking the way as I neared the trailhead at Calf Creek. My people are going to hate me when we do the actual hike which, in my twisted way of thinking, makes the hike an absolute success!

Bridge across Deception Creek, which was
not named after me (but could have been)

This side of the river was not bathed in warm sunlight and it was a pretty chill day, but several layers of clothing combined with some exertion kept me plenty warm. Because of the cold air and lack of sunlight, the river was running dark, there'd be none of that distinctive North Umpqua River turquoise color today. Across the river, rugged forested slopes were bathed in warm sunlight as if to taunt one certain lone hiker suffering from light and warmth deprivation on the shady side of the river canyon. Local landmark Rattlesnake Rock was eminently visible on the other side of the river, along with an unnamed massive cliff painted greenish-yellow by lichen splotching the cliff's craggy face. All this scenery was made visible courtesy of the fire clearing out the forest and vegetation which is just about the only good thing wildfire accomplishes, although a happy post-conflagration population of woodpeckers, fireweed, and tree-eating fungi might disagree with me.

My lunch time view of Calf Creek

After a rough clamber over the aforementioned pile of fallen trees, the trail then dropped steadily down to Calf Creek, which denotes the western terminus of the Marsters Segment. Calf Creek was a logical stopping point for rest and repast and I partook of both. The Calf Segment begins where the Marsters ends but was now officially closed because of the Archie Creek Fire. The Calf already had fire scars from 2002's Apple Fire so it would be interesting to see what the damage the Archie Creek Fire did. With fire being such a frequent visitor, you could say the Calf is well-done. From ground level however, the Calf did not look either closed or any more fire-damaged than usual. The road to the trailhead was closed though, and people stationed on the highway to prevent would-be hikers from getting to the trailhead would be the problem getting onto the Calf, unless one surreptitiously backpacked in from the Marsters. (Note: the Calf Segment has since been opened for hiking).

Watercolor painting upon the North Umpqua

After lunch, it was back the way I came and I enjoyed the same rough fire-scarred terrain all over again, including hair-raising traverses across landslides and tedious scrabbles over piles of fallen trees.  It would have been nice on the return leg if some more sunlight actually would have made it across to my side of the river, thereby illuminating the autumn leaves and warming the body and soul of this erstwhile cold-hearted hiker. But then again, it just wouldn't be the North Umpqua Trail in late autumn/early winter.

Fireweed, gone to seed

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

Saturday, October 31, 2020

North Umpqua Trail (Hot Springs Segment)


Just when you think you've seen it all, you find out you haven't. We were hiking on the North Umpqua Trail on Halloween day and as I approached Columnar Falls, there was a comely lass posing in front of the falls for a camera dude squinting into the viewfinder, kneeling on the trail and totally engrossed in his photography avocation. Her attire and general vibe were medievally rustic as she was wearing a brown Little Red Riding Hood-style cape and hood. At that particular moment, I was picking out an off -trail route down to some logs for a lunch spot and at first glance vaguely noticed that she was wearing matching flesh-colored shirt and pants. On a second look though, the odd flesh-coloring was explained by the fact didn't have any clothing on at all other than the cape, which may have led to a third and fourth look just to confirm the second look. And there she was, standing on the North Umpqua Trail, close enough for me to notice a whole flock of goose-pimples to go along with her Oregon grapes and deer ferns, euphemistically speaking. We inadvertently made eye contact, forcing us to awkwardly acknowledge each other's presence:

Me: Hello, how are you today?
Lady Godiva: I'm fine, doing well. 
Me: Aren't you cold? 
Lady Godiva: Yes.  

That had to have been the oddest conversation ever to take place between a fully-clothed man and an unclothed woman in a freezing forest in the entire history of humankind, but hey, it was Halloween at Umpqua Hot Springs, after all!

Plenty of clothing on our group

The fully-clothed part of our hike began at Toketee Lake, the comparitively warm waters covered with a thin layer of mist. It was frosty cold so unlike Miss North Umpqua Trail, we were all properly attired in ski caps, mittens, sweaters, sweatshirts, parkas, or some variation thereof. The first half of the hike was through shady woods so we really felt the lack of warm sun as we hiked. The forest was damp with condensation and water drops hung off of leaves, twigs, and hiker's noses.

The trail was mostly leaf-littered

Between my last hike here and this current edition, leaves had fallen en masse onto the trail so our feet swished through them as we hiked. Because of the near constant shade, the fall colors were muted, tending toward pale and light yellow hues. The waters of the nearby North Umpqua River were dark and black, the lack of color also attributable to the lack of sunlight. 

The forest was a mix of color and trees

At the halfway point, the trail crossed over the river and I compulsively scanned the banks and rock islands for my hiking pole that had been lost to the river currents during my last hike here. Didn't see it, but then I didn't really expect to. The bridge crossing was notable in that the crossover did put us on the sunny side of the river where autumn really began in earnest. Let the fall colors begin!

Autumn fanfare

The forest understory was mostly comprised of the ever ubiquitous vine maple, and the small trees were really putting on a show with yellow, orange, and red leaves all lit up by sunbeams like so many multihued stars in the universe's brightest galaxy. Tall firs interspersed with bigleaf maple trees loomed over all lesser life forms growing or hiking underneath, the big leaves glowing bright yellow in the ample sunlight higher up. Needless to say, hikers with cameras soon lagged behind those without.

Penny and Missy cross the North Umpqua River on a rainbow bridge

Some of our crew turned around at the stout footbridge spanning Deer Creek while others continued on. Some of our group that had never seen the delicate beauty of Columnar Falls so the remaining contingent hiked on for another mile and a half to the falls where we observed a delicate beauty of a different sort as we ate lunch. Across the North Umpqua River and high on a slope, were the pools of hot water collectively known as Umpqua Hot Springs and while we ate, groups of hikers would arrive at the springs and immediately begin removing clothing. Across the river, there was one last pool of hot water with a bunch of naked dudes whooping it up. We, with our ski caps and down jackets, were severely overdressed but on the plus side, we were quite comfortable in the chill outdoor air.

Sun illuminated the autumnal leaves

All good things come to an end though, and we packed up our gear and returned to the trail. The last time I saw Aphrodite of the Falls, she was holding a ceramic moon and sun over her head, posing in front of the falls while her photographer friend captured the scene. I couldn't help but be captured by the beauty of what I was witnessing and of course I am referring to the Canon ESO 5D Mark IV camera in his hands. The Umpqua National Forest Nymph still looked cold, though.

Tinder fungus thrives on a log cut

For more photos (none of which are of our Naked Lady of the Woods, sorry) of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Bohemia Mountain and Fairview Peak


As we were eating lunch on top of Bohemia Mountain, Edwin asked me if I knew how the mountain had got its name. "C'mon, ask me a hard one" I replied "It was named after the guy that discovered it. His name was Bo, last name Hemia!" I ate the rest of my lunch alone, banished to an obscure corner of the small mountain with large views, my best comedic material wasted on the unappreciative.

A small piece of Bohemia Mountain

It had been a long drive to the Calapooya Mountains for this pair of relatively short hikes, and the last ten miles or so were really slow going as the gravel road to Bohemia Saddle was so atrocious that even my normally fearless Jeep cringed. Naturally, it felt good to get out of our vehicles and stretch our legs. Eager to begin walking, we headed up the trail to our first destination, the aforementioned Bohemia Mountain.

Oof, this was steep!

Sometimes you have to be careful about what you wish for. We (Edwin, Penny, Cleve, and yours truly) all wanted to start walking right away but after a few minutes on the steep trail to Bohemia's summit that had us all gasping within minutes, going back home seemed to be a suddenly reasonable and viable alternative. But, that wouldn't be hiking now, would it? So, we stubbornly continued trudging on up the trail.

A fair view of Fairview Peak

As the trail gained elevation at its prodigious rate, the view gradually began to improve as the forest thinned out. Rocky cliffs loomed on the uphill side as the trail traversed some avalanche basins and the attendant rock piles associated with them. There were several user trails leading to various viewpoints and from those overlooks, we enjoyed the sight of neighboring Fairview Peak with its lookout affixed to the top like a misplaced oil derrick. 

Eugene was in the fog all day

Before too long, the trail leveled out and voila, we were on Bohemia's summit. Bohemia is just another small mountain in the relatively low Calapooya Mountains but oh, the things you can see from the top! To the north and west were the rugged canyons of the Willamette and McKenzie River systems and beyond were the cities of Springfield and Eugene reposing side-by-side in the wide and vast Willamette Valley. While the rest of the entire world, such as ourselves, were enjoying a superlative blue sky with comfortably mild temperatures, it was no doubt a gray and misty day in Eugene. The metropolitan sprawl was hidden by a large fog bank parked in and over the valley and we took snarky delight in imagining the Eugenians shivering in the gloom. The Cascades were parked on the eastern skyline and we had a good look at the chain of peaks running south between the Three Sisters and Mount McLaughlin. 

Oof, this was steep all over again

The next object of our affection was neighboring Fairview Peak. There is no official trail to the summit but a rough gravel road was there for our disposal once we hopped over the gate barring non-official vehicle traffic to the top. Mind you, the gravel road was made for vehicles and their powerful motors but to our puny little human engines, this was another steep hike. Although, we should have been used to the grade by now because the slog up Fairview Peak was just as leg-taxing as the path to the top of Bohemia Mountain was. Cougar tracks were spotted on the road and no doubt the big cats just effortlessly sauntered up the trail unlike us human weakling types.

The lookout tower on Fairview Peak

The summit was graced with the lookout tower, its intricate latticework of fairly new lumber contrasting nicely with the deep blue sky above. A construction crew was performing maintenance on the structure and although they seemed like nice fellows, they did not allow us to take the stairs to the top, citing "orders are orders" as the reason for barring the way. But the views from Fariview, just like Bohemia, were tremendous and we did not feel cheated in that regard.

Scott Mountain (right) and the smoke filled North Umpqua River valley

It was a pretty fair view from Fairview Peak and we could see Mount Hood on the northeastern skyline which meant all of the Oregon Cascades were visible from border to border, as Mount McLaughlin was still visible to the south. Allegedly Mount Shasta, in California, can be seen from Fairview but haze in that direction prevented us from doing so, or else we were mistaking Shasta for McLaughlin. We were somewhat surprised to see Scott Mountain (right next to the town of Glide) relatively nearby, looking as flat-topped as a 1950s crew-cut. It was kind of funny to think about the fact we had driven over two hours on a circuitous route just to see a small peak that was a normally a mere 20 minute drive from Roseburg. Scott Mountain had been in the middle of the Archie Creek Fire and the fire scars on the mountain were clearly visible. Next to the mountain was the North Umpqua River valley, filled with smoke from the still smoldering fire remnants.

They say the spirit of Bo Hemia still haunts the mountain

So, all day long I'd been joshing my compatriots about that Bo Hemia guy that discovered Bohemia Mountain. But in all seriousness, Edwin said he thought the mountain had actually been discovered by an explorer named Cal, but he couldn't remember the last name. "It was Cal...um...uh...oh I remember his name now!" he said, snapping his fingers for emphasis "... it was discovered by Cal A. Pooya!" Cal A. Pooya, as in the Calapooya Mountains. Get it? I did and while I hate being outpunned, all I could do was gracefully acknowledge my defeat, formally conceding to Edwin "Nicely played, Sir, nicely played!"

Mounts Thielsen and Bailey on the distant skyline

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