Sunday, June 3, 2018

Jack-Ash Trail

Regular readers (if there are any) of my blog will have duly noted that I have a new love-affair going, the object of my affections being the East Applegate Ridge Trail (ART). Ambitious in scope, the ART will hopefully connect Grants Pass and Jacksonville via hiking trail. However, there is a companion to the ART project in the Jack-Ash Trail, whose ambition is to connect Jacksonville and Ashland via another dirt trail for hikers. To hike the two trails would be an epic backpack trip, although water is in short supply along the trail. Anyway, I've hiked and fallen in love with the first installment of the ART but had not yet hiked the first installment on the Jack-Ash Trail. Well, it was about time!

Spotted coralroot
Lane is due to lead a hike here so we headed down south to perform a scouting foray for his upcoming hike. Medford hiking buddy Glen joined us so we were three Jack-Ashnees out for a first-time hike, always an exciting venture. Sad to say though, the dirt road leading to the trailhead was lined with trash. I'm shocked but unfortunately, not really surprised at the depravity of low-lifes who think it's OK to dump their garbage on public lands instead of paying the landfill fee. I'd love to pick up the garbage and re-dump it inside their squalid homes but enough ranting, we have a hike to do.

What a pair of Jack-Ashes!
The original plan was to start at the Griffin Gap Trailhead but the "trail" between Griffin Gap and Greenstone Trailhead (the next trailhead in line) was the very same gravel road we had driven up on. So we hopped back into the car and decamped at Greenstone, eager to set foot on this brand new trail with signs already shot up by some target-practice cretins.

Star-flowered Solomon's seal
The well-marked trail soon put uncivilization behind us and we strolled through grassy meadows underneath an uncrowded stand of tall fir trees. In the grass were blooming clumps of Siskiyou iris, along with other flowers such as salmon polemonium and star-flowered Solomon's seal. All of us were camera-toting Jack-Ashers so the hiking was stop-and-go depending what was catching the interest of who's viewfinder. Our attention was pulled from meadows, trees, and flowers by occasional hints of the surrounding Siskiyou Mountains. The views of the mountains would definitely improve later on in the hike.

A happy sign!
We hiked steadily up through the woods and meadows, basically contouring around Anderson Butte. When we crested at a saddle west of the butte, a sigh enticed, I mean warned us of a narrow trail with rocky outcrops and my thought was "be still, my beating heart, I'm in love!" At the crest, all the nice shade stopped and we began a sidehill traverse on the south-facing and exposed sunny slopes of Anderson Butte. The terrain dropped steeply away at our feet, bottoming out at the Little Applegate River.

The views impressed 
Without saying, the lack of trees allowed for some impressive views of the nearby Siskiyous. A prominent peak rose up on the other side of the Little Applegate canyon, I theorized the peak might have been Scraggy Mountain but an at-home perusal of an area map showed we were looking right at Stein Butte. The larger peaks of the Siskiyou crest were more easily identified: Kangaroo Mountain, the Red Buttes, and Grayback Mountain, just to name-drop a few. Closer to our hill-hugging trail were a pair of forested ridges separating Gulches Muddy, Deming, and Grub.

The mid-day heat had enticed all the bluebelly lizards to caper and frolic on the aforementioned rock outcrops and they watched us pass by, comically doing push-ups like little scaly Arnold Schwarzeneggers. A whole new cast of flowery characters were blooming in the drying grasses and spring azure butterflies had their choice of sipping nectar from California poppies, western flax, fiddlenecks, ookow, farewell-to-spring, and elegant cat's ear. Although, I don't think sipping nectar from a cat's ear would be all that elegant, but then again, I'm not a butterfly and don't have butterfly tastes.

Stein Butte on the horizon
After a mile and a half of angling downhill across Anderson Butte, we arrived at a trailhead with the obvious name of Anderson Butte Trailhead and that was a good place to seek shade, sit down, eat lunch, and deliver a constant stream of bad jokes and atrocious puns from two of us. If it's any consolation Glenn, Lane and I are sorry. All our friends...well, people who know us... offer their condolences. On an interesting side note, there was a register at the trailhead and the noted hiking guidebook author William Sullivan had been here the day prior. But at any rate, after a nice bit of relaxation, it was time to head back the way we came.

Glenn and Lane clear the path of ticks
Because we had lost elevation since the west-facing saddle on Anderson Butte, it stood to reason it would be all uphill to the saddle. But really, it wasn't too bad, we'd only gain a mere 200 feet over the 1.5 miles back to the high point of the hike. Lane and I had wanted to hike this trail earlier in the year but had to scratch due to snow, which was nigh impossible to imagine as we hiked in bare naked sunshine. But at least it wasn't as hot as it can get in the Siskiyou foothills, and for that we were grateful.

Pretty faces
It is possible to make a nice little 8 mile hike by leaving cars at Anderson Butte Trailhead and at Griffin Lane. Apart from the 1.5 mile section of uphill hike that we just did, it would be all downhill for the next 6.5 miles or so, the very antithesis of a Richard Hike. But if we were to hike it in the opposite direction however, my hiking friends (assuming I have any) might refer to me as a Jack-Ash and not in the good way, either.

I want a T-shirt with this logo
For more photos of this new trail, please visit the Flickr album.

1 comment :

  1. Yes it was a great hike and beautiful. I too want a Jack-Ash Trail shirt! Hope the club enjoys the trail as much as we did.....