Southern Oregon

August 29, 2006 at 3:46 pm (Camping)


Southern Oregon

Originally uploaded by StormyPetrel.

I recently took a road trip to Portland, OR. On the way back we decided to camp overnight, to break up the driving (the trip takes over 12 hours and there were only two of us). All we had with us was a road atlas, but it did show national parks. So I picked one close to the Oregon-California border, near Mt. Ashland. The map showed a road winding from the interstate into the park, making its way past the summit of Mt. Ashland. I figured we could probably find a spot to camp there.

We took Exit 6 off of I-5, and headed west on Mount Ashland Road, climbing toward Mount Ashland Ski Area. After passing the Ski Area (deserted in Mid-August) the pavement ended and became Forest Service Road NF-20. We continued climbing toward the summit of Mt. Ashland. Not too far along, maybe a mile or two, NF-20 intersected with NF-300 toward the Summit. We stayed on NF-20 another quarter mile and it brought us to Grouse Gap Shelter, a hiker and horse shelter on the Pacific Crest Trail.

For a couple of road-weary travelers, the area was perfect. There were some thru-hikers set up in the shelter already, so we walked about 250 yards out to a flat bald partially concealed by a dead tree and some small- and medium-sized boulders. The weather was cool (the elevation is somewhere around 7000 feet) and crystal-clear. After the sun set, the sky promptly filled up with many times more stars than one can see from a city. The view of the Siskiyou Mountains was very reminiscent of the Blue Ridges in western North Carolina – rolling ridgline after rolling ridgeline, fading into the hazy distance.

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