It was strangely humid in Ashland Monday morning; a result of a week-long heat wave that led to thunderstorms and a growing fire that filled the valley with smoke. Still it was business as usual in the Rite Aid parking lot as we greeted arriving hikers. Our friend Phyllis brought her granddaughter Sarah, a lovely and pleasant college student visiting from San Marco, Texas. After Sarah signed the waiver, becoming perhaps the youngest member of the AHG at 19; we drove up Highway 66 to the Greensprings summit towards our hike to Little Pilot Peak.
As we turned down Soda Mountain Road we noticed that overnight rain had dampened the road holding down the usual dust on the 5 mile drive to the TH. As we drove up the road we entered low clouds that dumped heavy rain on us for maybe 30 seconds. By the time we met Randy at the PCT TH (5,290') most of the rain had stopped.
The fresh rain brought strong but pleasant scents from the soil and plants as we started up the trail. Gabriele said she wanted to bottle it and take it home so she could fill her house with the fresh fragrance.
Although the McKinney fire didn't shut down this section of the PCT, smoke from the fire did cover the Greensprings, preventing our usual views of surrounding mountains. Still this was a refreshing hike with the fresh smells and moving through the wet grass and plants and into damp forests. It was quite a change from our normal drought conditions.
We met two young ladies from Oklahoma who were Thru hikers. They were glad to have made it through the 110 mile section of PCT from Etna summit to Mt. Ashland that was closed due to the on going fire. 60 hikers were evacuated from the trail by search and rescue teams.
On this first day of August, many of the wildflowers had passed bloom, but we were able to identify bits of late season color we spotted along the way.
After our climb up "Peony Hill" we settled down for lunch on top of Little Pilot Peak(5,640'). Many trying out the throne made of slabs of shale rock.
The overcast and gentle breeze made it a cool hike with temps mostly in the 60s.
This short local hike came to 4.6 miles out and back with just 350' of gain.
All seven of us gathered post hike in Ashland for beer, iced coffee or ice cream at the Rogue Valley Roasting Co.
It was a great day,