Saturday, November 8, 2014

Boundary Springs

Boundary Springs is one of those hikes I don't do all that often because it's a little on the shortish side (about 5.5 miles) for my mileage-addicted tastes. Besides which, a hike really should take more time than the drive to get there. Having duly groused about the size of the hike, it still is pretty cool to see the fully formed Rogue River gush forth from the porous volcanic soils surrounding Crater Lake.

Lodgepole, lodgepole, and more lodgepole
I did hatch a plan to convert this moderate Friends of the Umpqua Hiking Club venture into a Richard Hike epic. However, the basic 10 mile shuttle hike on the Pacific Crest Trail with maybe a climb to the top of Red Cone was coldly scotched by the impending arrival of mean old Auntie Winter. Apparently, the authorities chose our hiking weekend as the weekend to close the north entrance of Crater Lake National Park. Seemed unfair, craven, and rather spineless considering the day was sunny and there was no snow to be seen anywhere at all.

A taste of things to come
All grumbling about road closures aside, winter was definitely on its way as we set out on the Upper Rogue River Trail. Despite the ample and yet ineffective sunshine, the air was nippy, slapping exposed cheeks like a spurned lover, not that I know what that is like. The trail was icy and hoarfrost crunched under our boots as we hiked through the lodgepole forest.

It was their fault I missed the turn
Lodgepole grows in poor soils where no other tree dares to grow and a lodgepole forest is not very attractive despite the admirable tenacity of the trees. There wasn't much to take pictures of so when I saw some of my party walking on a trail below me, I stepped just off trail and surreptitiously snapped pictures of my friends. I was now behind the main group and I walked quickly to catch up.

How hard is it to follow a trail?

After hiking way too long all by myself, it became apparent that I had missed the trail junction to Boundary Springs and was heading down into the Rogue River canyon. Crap. So back I go and there was the trail junction, clearly marked with pink ribbons around a tree trunk, I'm not sure how I missed it. Lane pointed out that this was like the third hike in four that I had made a wrong turn. They say that the ability to follow a trail is the first thing to go when old age sets in, to which I retort "Lane, you sure have an uncanny eye for pink ribbons!"

The Rogue River
Once the trail crossed a Rogue tributary creek on a wooden footbridge, the path stayed high above the Rogue itself. The river here courses through pumice deposits left after Mount Mazama (now known as Crater Lake) blew its top about 7,000 years ago. The soft soils are easily eroded by small creeks and major rivers alike and the river canyon was pretty steep and deep, just like me. Pools of misty vapor coagulated in small patches here and there as the sun tried to warm the icy ground.

Pixie cups
A boundary marker marked our entrance into the northwest corner of Crater Lake Park. Just inside the park, Boundary Springs presumably got its name by dint of its proximity to the park boundary. We all had our passports at the ready but today the customs booth was closed just like the northern entrance and no, I'm not bitter about that at all.

No more green meadows
Just after passing some meadows browned with dead vegetation, a number of small springs seeped from the ground and the moss was happy. This was a prelude to the main event, and a short walk thereafter brought me to my hiking companions (who did not make a wrong turn) and Boundary Springs proper.

Boundary Springs
The springs are quite impressive as the Rogue River gushes forth from the ground. A mossy log spans the spring and several of us made our way out on the crumbling wood to where we could look at the river begin its journey, literally at our feet. Just in back of us was a tangle of trees and brush so the line of demarcation between Rogue and no-Rogue was pretty clear.

Shadow Man tags along
After a mildly chilly lunch in the thin sunlight, we made our way back to the trailhead and no more wrong turns were made. It felt strange to be done hiking so soon and the long drive back to Roseburg took nearly as long as the hike. I'll have to come back next year when the north entrance is open and do that longer route I have planned. Stay tuned.

Bole on a downed tree
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.


  1. I like my maps, GPS, and pink ribbons. I do alright by them ;-)

    1. In that order? I figured I'd hear from you about the pink ribbons!

  2. Sounds like you need Katie along to keep you on the right trail! Hey, let us know when you think about that other 10 miles hike on the PCT near Boundary Springs. Maybe we could join you and do the shuttle thing.

    1. I'll keep you in mind, it'll have to be next year now that the snows have started