Yankee Mt. Trail

September 14, 1980

The Yankee Mountain trail is a steep one. It always has been, but this year it seemed steeper — as though it had been tilted up a bit more than when I first hiked it. Of course, it couldn’t be because I’m 12 years older than my first experience on the trail! — and that was hiking down. The other 10 hikers, some old hands and some new all thought it was above average in grade percentage.

We had a good Sunday to hike through the forest and meadows and climb over rocks. The first half mile of trail is gentle wandering through salal, fern and other knee-high vegetation, snaking up switch back lined with tall fir and cedar. The vegetation was very wet from early morning rain but ponchos and rain pants kept us dry. As we progressed up the mountain the trail tread became less vegetated. This late in the season the meadows were brown, and few flowers were blooming. There is also a preponderance of madrone throughout the forest to contrast with the conifers.

We began the ascent about 10:30 a.m., and were into a high meadow by 1 p.m. for lunch (about three miles up the trail). After a leisurely lunch in the sun, we started up the trail toward the Lowder Mt. trail and the crest of Yankee Mt.

The upper trail is overgrown with thimbleberry and other broad leaf plants and is very difficult to find. After some false starts, bushwacking and rock scrambling, we decided to call it a day, and retrace our steps down the trail. We turned around at 2:30 p.m. after perhaps a half mile of struggle, and were back to the trailhead by 4:30 p.m., weary, but happy. It was sunny and warm throughout the hike, the rain having ceased before we began. (it had rained during our drive from Eugene.)

Many years ago the Sierra Club built the first three miles of trail. Then 12 years ago, the Sierra Club built over a mile of trail connecting the Lowder Mt. trail with the Yankee Mt. trail. This upper portion is heavily overgrown and nearly impassable except in late spring after the snow has melted but before the vegetation has taken over. Each time we hike this trail we talk about “brushing it out,” and this year several of the party expressed a desire to rebuild and maintain this unmaintained trail beginning with work parties next summer. We could begin by getting the upper mile or so into hiking condition, and perhaps eventually build switchbacks to eliminate the steepest portions of the three original miles. I think the forest Service would be receptive to this plan. Our explorers this year-were Tom Carlson, Evelyn Everett, Linda Gordon, Wilbur Groner, Helene and Tom Johnston, Sandra Larsen, Curt Offenbacher, Don Payne, Bart Swanson and leader Lois Schreiner.

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