Split Rock Trail to Town 6-11-21

Photos by Bob an Nanci

The Non-wintery Looking Photos are from Bob's Scouting Hike on June 5th.

I sit here on this absolutely gorgeous Saturday morning to tell the story of an opposite day, yesterday, and our hike down from the Siskiyou summit ridge to my house on the Ditch Road west of Ashland.

The hike started with the concept of eliminating a 90-minute circuit at the end of the hike to pick up a car at the top, and instead to relax with a beer or two on the porch after the hike. I started weeks ago to convince my wife Susan to not to clutter her very clutter calendar with anything for Friday morning the 11th. That would provide a driver and a SUV that could handle 4 adults and 3 kids. I then sent out note looking for first come first seats for the car.

All was good until last week when I started watching the extended forecast. Then Wednesday came, matching and exceeding the predicted rain with more to come of Friday. Thursday, I sent the group every possible excuse to cancel the trip, and no one took the bait. We met at my house Friday morning in a slight drizzle and again a suggestion that wiser minds might consider backing out. But no, we folded 5 adults into the backseat and far back kids’ seat and with Susan and I up front we headed for Siskiyou Summit in the clouds.

The Split Rock Trail head is about 3 miles west of Mt. Ashland and is well-marked by a wooden sigh. The temperature in the car was 71 inside and read 35 outside. It wasn’t until we opened the doors that we realized that it was blowing a constant 20 mph of wind laced sleet. All six of us unfolded from the car and quickly grabbed our packs, said goodbye and thanks to Susan, and scampered up the trail and around the lee of the ridge to make final wardrobe adjustments against the wet and cold.

The first three miles are down and up over the rocky and multiple tops of McDonald 7225, no named nose 7000 and Split Rock 6910. Finally, after a long 3.2 miles we came to the saddle between Wagner Butte and the Siskiyou Crest at 6400’. I swear, I scouted most of this portion of the hike the previous Saturday and I don’t think that I noticed but one or two wildflowers. Yet on this hike, with Rich initially setting a Keeley like pace, everyone was noticing these little colorful things. Rich would call out a flower and generally we would continue on. But as the Alpine stunted forest gave way to thick groves of White Fir, the intervening meadow like openings became more sprinkled with flowers.  Rich would stop for a consult with Nanci and Sherry, Barry would name it, only to be latter confirmed by the two ladies. Every now and then Sabin would get in the game surprising everyone with has accuracy. We were dropping elevation, leaving the sleet and wind above, and our pace was dropping as the forest grandeur and abundance of flowers increased.

All right, too much narrative. The weather remained cloudy with occasional misty sprinkles and glimpses of blue and sun for the remainder of the hike.  The 3:00 PM rain never materialized. Wagner glade trail was magical as the White Fir forest gave way to old growth groves of Doug Fir, Incense Cedar, Ponderosa and the occasional Sugar Pines (~5000’). Thigh to waist high Bear grass was developing at around 4500’ on the No Candies trail. Near the end of the No Candies trail we were met by 10-20’ sentinels of granite marking the trail. Only to be followed by a locked gate and a no trespassing sign marking the end of the trail.

So being prepared, we had an alternate route mapped out, which required following the nearby road to the right and heading down to 2060, then left on Upper Hitt trail and home adding more miles to the hike.

Our hike, non the less, remained excellent as Doug Fir and Ponderosa Pine gave way to shady canopies of Madrone and oak. And always downhill. Sabin began sensing home turf and took the lead re-introducing a Keeley pace after hours of distraction of forest, flowers and friends. From the gate it was another 2000’ drop over 4 plus miles and 90 minutes.

The photos of the upper sections are 6 days earlier when I scouted to make sure the upper section was snow free.

Bob

Ashland Hiking Home

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