Continuing smoke from the Cedar Creek fire (112K+ acres), caused us to change the Monday hike. East Applegate Ridge had unhealthy air, but we found a ribbon of clean air over the Upper Rogue River.
We had scouted the area on our friend Randy's suggestion in September, and today seemed the perfect time to try it with the group.
The hike starts in Casey State Park off Highway 62, 29 miles up from I-5. A paved path takes you down to the river where you turn upstream and head toward the William Jess Dam at Lost Creek Lake. We saw folks launching their rubber rafts for a day of fishing, and red headed Merganser ducks diving for food under the rapids.
Finding the trail was a little tricky at first, but after stopping to sample late season blackberries, we found it up a dirt road and heading under the bridge up the river. By the water, we saw the American Dipper (the only songbirds that walk underwater). A short while later we came to MacGregor Park
which stretches along the river with lots of picnic tables each with a built-in barbeque.
As we continued up the river we saw more water fowl, mostly various ducks.
We made our way up river to a viewpoint across from the power station and the green lawn bending down towards the river.
When we turned around to head back we were startled to find a large, active Hornet's nest suspended from a couple of branches in a shrub. The industrious insects make their spherical home out of a kind of paper mache, a byproduct of regurgitated plants.
Now the search was on for the perfect lunch spot and on the fourth or fifth try we found it! A cool, shady spot with a bench down by the river with a view of all the fishing activity. It was a very relaxing lunch.
In all, we went 4+ miles with room to add another mile below Casey State Park; and another 2+ miles if you take the trail up and across the dam.
Notes: Jon Pope rejoined the AHG Monday Hike for the first time since before Covid. Always knowledgeable about birds and trees, etc. here are some partial lists based on Jon's sightings:
Trees and plants on this part of the Upper Rogue: Oregon Ash, Red Alder, Big Leaf Maple, Madrone, and Black Locust. Plants: Oregon Grape,
Horsetail, and blue flowering Chicory.
Birds on the Upper Rogue: Ducks: Mergansers, Wiggins and Ring necks; Chickadees, White Egret and Osprey.
Happy Indigenous People Day,