Track download from Francie: Stukel Mountain 5-18-22.gpx
We left Ashland early to drive just south of Klamath Falls to do a new hike for our group: Stukel Mountain. We decided to drive up the road past the lower parking lot and pulled off on the left side of the road cutting off 0.20 of a mile.
The temperature was in the upper 50s and perfect for our 1 mile walk up the dirt road. We had to stop to adjust our layers in no time at all. The hike mileage was 7.1 miles with an elevation gain of almost 2,500 feet.
After a little over a mile, we started to make our way up the very steep trail. There were trees and bushes that were marked with yellow or blue tape. It made it easier to find our way up.
Off in the distance, we could hear a big rumble and were excited to see that the F15 fighter jets doing touch and goes. Since the Klamath Basin is so flat, the sound often made us think they were closer than they were. I knew this hike would have birds on it, I just hadn't thought about the treat of seeing the big metal birds in action.
As we neared the top of the first summit, we saw a bald eagle and a what Leslie thought to be a prairie falcon. There were turkey vultures flying around. We also saw Blue gray gnatcatchers in the buck brush and a spotted towhee. The flowers were starting to bloom and we saw ballhead waterleaf, lupine, paintbrush, some little yellow flowers and a few others. The hike has a dryer looking trail than what we are used to hiking on.
The next section of the hike was down hill and then a steep push to the top where the cell towers are. Leslie and Sherry decided to take their lunch and not join Bob, Ki and myself as we wanted to be able to be on the very top of the mountain. As we went up, we could see a controlled burn off in the distance. We took our lunch on the top and it was quite windy. We surveyed the land below and were all happy that the fields looked green and that the basin must have gotten some extra precipitation this year. The view of Mount Shasta was beautiful as always.
We headed back down then up to meet Sherry and Leslie. They reported that they had seen a snake where they had planned to eat their lunch. Shortly after, we came across another snake. Neither were rattlesnakes. We decided we needed a team effort going back down. I would keep my head down looking for snakes and others behind me would keep an eye out for the yellow and blue pieces of tape. We only got off trail a few times but quickly returned to our path.
When we were getting closer to to bottom of the trail where it connects to the road, I decided we needed to stop and gather together. Ki came up behind me and then spotted the remains of a plane crash. I think we were all looking at how steep the trail was and had missed it on the way up. As per Wikipedia: West Coast Airlines Flight 720 was a scheduled passenger flight in the northwest United States from Klamath Falls, Oregon to Seattle, Washington, with intermediate stops at Medford, Eugene and Portland, Oregon. On March 10, 1967, it crashed shortly after takeoff from Klamath Falls, killing all three crew members and the flight's lone passenger.