PCNST (Oregon Border to Fish Lake)
June 18-26, 1988
On Saturday, 18 June ’88, we started the southern Oregon section of the Pacific Crest Trail. Wes Prouty drove the three of us to the intersection of the PCT with the Oregon/ California border. This Oregon beginning point (northbound) is approximately 16 miles west of Mt. Ashland. After searching some 20 minutes, we found the trail. Immediately after starting up the trail we were reassured by the soon to be familiar PCT shield signs and the silver diamond signs that mark the trail. We backpacked 5 miles late Saturday afternoon to the first overnight at Wrangle Campground.
Our next two days were a succession of remarkable vistas both north toward the Applegate/Rogue Valleys and south toward Mt. Shasta and the Marble Mountain Wilderness. All of this was at an altitude of more than 6000 feet. Wes Prouty returned Sunday due to pressing work load, so the two of us continued. Second nite was at Mt. Ashland Campground after 11 miles of ridgetop travel. We saw many grouse along the trail, one western tanager and one deer.
Third day was the blister-buster. From Mt. Ashland down to the I-5 freeway over the Siskiyou summit, up past Pilot Rock and north to the “Dilapidated Cabin” near Soda Mountain, we had a vertical loss and gain of 5000 feet in 17.6 miles. Neither of us relished this twelve-hour hike, but the Cabin had the only source of water for two days. Feet burned and legs ached.
The fourth day took us only nine hours for the 14.5 miles to Hyatt Lake Campground, but the blisters had taken their toll. We decided upon a rest day. Hot showers and resort restaurant food raised morale, and blister surgery took place. Temperatures were up to 96° in Medford, but our shaded camp was cool as we rested.
Moleskin repairs Thursday morning and then off toward Howard Prairie Lake/Klum Landing Campground 8.5 miles. This was another nice day. Short mileage and our blisters were under control. In the trees we heard a twig snap. Saw two deer. First the doe came by, and then a six point buck in velvet. Upon reaching Howard Prairie Lake we saw a pair of bald eagles which promptly left the scene. Another pair of golden eagles gave us a continuous show of gliding and fish catching for over an hour. Assumed their nest was nearby for they never left the area. After making camp, we tried to swim in Howard Prairie Lake. Unsuccessful, due to very low water level, mud, and green stuff.
Friday we passed our last reliable source of water at Big Springs near Griffin Pass. Used the First-Need water purification device to pump 12 pounds of water into the water bag. Heavy. This was in addition to all of our water bottles. Dry camped 11 miles down the trail, just to the south of Brown Mountain. First encounter with mosquitos on entire trip was here. Beautiful warm clear weather until now. That evening noticed a few thunderheads building up. After midnight the stars disappeared. Clouds.
We packed up early for the last day of hiking. Only 10.5 miles to Fish Lake Resort at the base of Mt. McLoughlin. Thunder and lightning had already started, and as we left camp the rain started. Rain and hail accompanied us all that morning and only stopped when re arrived at the resort. Even with rain gear we were wet. Hot coffee and food revived us. A phone call started our car shuttle rescue mission and we settled back to reflect upon a really neat section of the Pacific Crest Trail. Backpackers were Wes Prouty (on Saturday), Bob Devine, and Dick Moffitt (leader).