Wilderness hikes planned through June

The Soda Mountain Wilderness Council invites people to join local naturalists on any or all of four weekend days in June to explore wildlands in and near the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

Aside from learning a bit about local flora and fauna and visiting some nice country, participants also will learn about — and see firsthand — conservation threats and opportunities in each area.

Bring lunch (or dinner), snacks, water, rain gear, sun protection, sturdy hiking shoes/boots, (depending on hike difficulty) for hikes that range from a leisurely walk to more rigorous rambles in and/or near the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. Most hikes involve at least a little off-trail, cross-country hiking. All hikes are free and usually involve carpooling.

Group sizes vary and are up to each hike leader. Space may be limited. Expect to be gone into the late afternoon or early evening on most hikes that begin in the morning. Ask your hike leader for their best estimate of return time.

Hikers may encounter ticks, rattlesnakes, and/or any other possible outdoor hazard (ill effects of sun, heat, rain, wind, cold, twisted ankle/knee, etc.) on any trip. Hikers must sign a liability waiver at the start of the trip. Dogs allowed by prior permission only at the discretion of each hike leader — call the listed phone number for each hike. Contact hike leaders to reserve a place and learn the hike's meeting point in south Ashland near I-5. Give your email address when you talk with your hike leader or leave a voicemail so that your hike leader may contact you more easily.

Even if or when strenuous, these outings are not intended to be "power hikes" that merely churn out the miles. Each trip includes at least one professional and experienced naturalist to help give a sense of why the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument's presidential Proclamation calls the area an "ecological wonder" and "biological crossroads."

Sunday, June 10: Join Fish and Wildlife Service ornithologist Pepper Trail (541-482-9594; ptrail@ashlandnet.net) and Soda Mountain Wilderness Council board member Carol Wright to explore the Jenny Creek Valley and Canyon in the vicinity of the former Box O Ranch in and near the eastern unit of the Soda Mountain Wilderness and the southeastern corner of the Monument. Maybe a creek crossing on this one (and maybe not). Hiking is generally easy, though not all on trail. Group size is limited to 10 people plus hike leaders above. About three miles. Easy to moderate. Meet at 9 a.m.

Saturday, June 16: Join botanist Dominic DiPaolo and SMWC board member Chris Fowler (541-890-3951; fowler@mind.net) to explore the meadows and forests in and around the Little Hyatt old-growth groves in the Green Springs Mountain unit of the South Cascades Wilderness proposal NNW of Green Springs Summit. Views from Sampson Rim down to Emigrant Reservoir and Ashland. All off-trail hiking. Easy-moderate. Under three miles. Meet at 2 p.m. and bring a sack supper to enjoy daylight that lasts into the long almost-summer evening.

Sunday, June 24: Join National Park Service ecologist Dennis Odion (541-821-0738; dennisodion@odion.name) and SMWC board member Lori Cooper in exploring where Rogue Valley oak savannah meets Cascadian conifer forest (including the Little Hyatt old-growth groves), hiking from Round Mountain to Green Springs Mountain (elev. 5,225) in the Green Springs Mountain unit of the South Cascades Wilderness proposal NNW of the Green Springs Summit. The first part of the trip is cross-country; the second half is on the Pacific Crest Trail. Moderate — about five miles. Meet at 9 a.m.

Saturday , June 30: Join botanist John Villella (541-531-9817; johnvillella@yahoo.com) and National Park Service ecologist and SMWC board member Dennis Odion on an easy-or-moderate (your choice) Pacific Crest Trail (and vicinity) hike east of Pilot Rock from Porcupine Gap (elev. 5,000) to Babbitt Gap (elev. 5,180), Porcupine Meadow (elev. 4,800), and the Sound-of-Music view from Porcupine Mountain (elev. 5,290). This hike is in both the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument and its Soda Mountain Wilderness backcountry. About four miles total, less if you choose the easier route.

Some off-trail hiking. Group size limited to 10 people plus hike leaders above. Meet at 8:30 a.m.

For more information, contact Dave Willis at 541-482-8660 or sodamtn@mind.net.

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