PCT to Grouse Gap Shelter 7-8-24

Photos by Randy

Ashland Hiking Home

Smoke from a wildfire 75 miles away started entering the Rogue Valley Sunday evening. By Monday morning it was hard to see the top of Grizzly Peak from Rite Aid parking. But still, 11 faithful hikers gathered to escape Ashland's 100o+ heat and hope for breathable air above 6,500'.

Dense smoke from the out-of-control Shelly fire near Etna in Siskiyou County poured across the Oregon border. We even noticed smoke crossing the lower Ski Road as we headed up to our parking past milepost 7. But when we parked across from the PCT TH, the air was calm in the 70os at 9:15 AM and the smoke drifted in the sky above us but not into our lungs on the trail.

Before we stepped foot on the PCT, we greeted the first two "through hikers" on their way down to Callahan's Inn for rest, food and hopes of catching a ride into Ashland. On the day, we counted 14 through hikers heading north as we trekked south.

The PCT heads up from the Ski Road and continues up through shady forest for most of the 500' of gain on this hike.

Four in our group had decided to turn back at the forest's edge before we entered the first of three open meadows. The remaining seven were rewarded with a bonanza of blooming wildflowers in what Liz calls the Mt. Ashland flower bowl. There was still plenty of water flowing down the hillside from the summit snowmelt. And the trail was alive with floral colors.

We met many local hikers who were also up on the mountain trail to beat the heat back down in the valley; including long-time AHG member Hank Morgan and his son Scott and the OSF hiking group led by actor Tyrone Wilson. There was another group that had driven out to Grouse Gap on FS20 to count and observe pollinators, bees, and butterflies. And two sisters on horseback who came by the Shelter as we were leaving after an early lunch. 

On the day, we hiked 7.3 miles with 500' of gain which we gave back going back down the PCT to the cars. We stopped at Callahan's but their restaurant/bar doesn't open until 3:00 PM. Back in Ashland by 1:30, four from your scouting team stopped at the Rogue Valley Roasting Co. for refreshments and to plan future hikes.

Happy Trails,
Rich