Tough climb for a little mountain.I started out from Medford on Friday February 24, 2006 to try to climb both Green Craggie and Big Craggie in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness. I tried to do this climb about a year ago but I was turned back by the brush and underestimating the required effort.
It in only a little over a 2 hour drive from my home in Medford to Brookings. This is a beautiful drive along the Wild and Scenic Smith River and then through the Redwoods before coming to the coast. I could make that drive every day.
In Brookings I turned up North Bank Road and followed the Chetco River inland. The Chetco was particularly beautiful in the afternoon sun. I didn’t have any trouble finding the trailhead because I had been here the year before. I was pleasantly surprised that the roads were in such good condition after all the rain we’ve had this winter.
I car camped at the trailhead and enjoyed the solitude for the evening. I got up early the next morning and I was hiking down the road as soon as it was light enough to see. It was a beautiful morning for a hike. In about 35 minutes I was at the end of the road and the work started. I made sure my GPS was working properly and had fresh batteries. I headed off into the brush.
I made good progress at about ¾ mile an hour. I wanted my first objective to be Green Craggie because I knew I would be too tired on the return from Big Craggie to take the extra effort to tag this summit. The further I went the more I was grateful that I had on long pants, long sleeve shirt, and gloves.
Eventually, I broke into a clear area under and old growth canopy of Douglas Fir trees. I was on the north side of Green Craggie and my GPS was pointing directly up the hill to the summit. I climbed up about 600 feet and found the rounded summit I was looking for. I had good views of Big Craggie to the east and Collier Butte to the north. The wind was blowing under an overcast sky, but it didn’t feel like rain so I continued on.
My GPS said it was only another 2.08 miles to Big Craggie. I followed the ridge line down the east side of Green Craggie towards Big Craggie. I kept looking for a way off the ridgeline to the shelter of the trees on the north side because the wind was cold and I knew the brush would be less of an obstacle under the trees. I struggled along, hour after hour towards big Craggie. After more than 4 hours from the start of my hike I climbed up towards point 4150 on the topos just to get out of the brush.
This was a steep scree and brush scramble for several hundred feet and then I traversed toward Big Craggie in the east. I came to a ridge that extended out toward Big Craggie and I struggled out along this ridge through the brush toward my objective.
The ridgeline ended in a cliff that descended about 300 ft to a saddle before heading back up to the summit of Big Craggie. I think I could have made my way down the cliff, but I stopped and took stock of my situation. My GPS said it was only .5 mile to the summit of Big Craggie with about 1,200 ft of elevation gain. I was 5 hours into my climb, I had consumed 3 of my 4 liters of water, and I was exhausted. Also, I didn’t have enough daylight to continue on to the summit of Big Craggie and then get out of the brush by nightfall.
I turned around and struggled back through the brush. I rationed my remaining water and made it last until I hit the road way 1.8 miles from my car. I got back to my car at 4:30PM. I was tired and beat up. I only covered about 10 miles and my GPS said I gained about 2,800ft, but it had taken me 9 ½ hours. Big Craggie will be there for another day and another SP page. Green Craggie is a worthy goal in itself.