Saturday, March 10, 2018

East Applegate Ridge Trail

The original plan was to take it easy on all my hiking buddies by making this a one-way mostly-downhill 5.7 mile hike. The Friends of the Umpqua had never been on this relatively new trail in the Siskiyou foothills and my thinking was to make this fantastic hike as pleasant an experience as possible. But then Traci showed up.

A grove of always photogenic madrone
When I gave my little explanation about this little hike, she exploded in righteous indignation "What?!", further adding "I drove all the way from Coos Bay and I want my 10 mile hike!". And then she held her breath, silently daring me to stick with the 5 mile plan. Since I really didn't want her to pass out from asphyxia, I acquiesced and that is the story of how I came to hike the long uphill back to the car.

The not always photogenic hiking club
Initially, the day was overcast although the sun did come out for extended visits. The temperature was perfect for hiking, hovering somewhere in the high 50's or low 60's. In short, it was ideal conditions for a spring hike and unsurprisingly, the path was busy with other hikers and trail runners. Our friends Glen and Carol from Medford were waiting for us at the trailhead, having already hiked up from the lower trailhead. I think they should be friends of Traci, if they weren't already.

Trail to nowhere
After 50 yards of hiking through a lightly wooded forest, the first view of Bishop Creek's deep canyon came into view and the oohing and aahing began. This hike is all about the views of the Applegate Valley and the surrounding mountains and foothills. I had promised a downhill hike but the first mile or so was a gradual uphill walk before the trail plunged for good down to the valley floor.

The route contoured across grassy slopes starting to green out with spring growth. At the right time of year, this area is probably bursting with wildflowers but on this day there was only the odd specimen of yellow desert parsley and plenty of pink storksbill, a small geranium whose seeds will be sure to get stuck in hiker's socks later on in the year.

Leafless oak abstract
As the trail zigzagged down the grassy ridges, elevation was being lost at an alarmingly fast rate. Alarmingly, because we were going to have to walk back up the trail, thanks to Traci's parking lot tantrum. Just past the mid-point, Lane and Colby turned back and Traci's group (including me) turned back right where the trail morphed into an old road bed. Brad had gone all the way to the lower trailhead so he, Glenn, and Carol get the Golden Boot award for hiking the entire trail in both directions.

Nowhere to hide

No complaining about the hike back up because a) that's whining and b) the views were totally awesome and should be enjoyed on a contemplative slow walk uphill. The sun was mostly out, although clouds occasionally blocked out that glorious Vitamin D-sustaining sunlight. Lizards skittered in the leaves and grass next to trail, including one unlucky bluebelly that tried to hide in a decaying log, totally exposed in a crack for all of us to take pictures of. Oh, the indignity!

Graceful curves

Our version of this hike came in at about 9 miles, a very worthy distance, especially in view of the elevation gained on the return leg of the hike. In the back of my mind was a little voice pointing out that had it not been for Traci's hissy fit, I could have hiked 5.7 easy downhill miles like everybody else. Happily tired as I unlaced my boots at hike's end, I decided I was eminently grateful Traci's well-played tantrum made me do the longer version of this hike. 

Still plenty of snow in the Siskiyous
For more pictures of this hike, please visit the Flickr album.

1 comment :

  1. Great hike as always and enjoyed your group. Hopefully we can do it again on the Jack Ash trail!