October 23, 2009 I drove from my home in Medford over to the Klamath Falls area and then up to Chiloquin. I found my turn off’s and proceeded towards Fuego Mountain. There isn’t anything distinctive about Fuego Mountain to differentiate it from the numerous other peaks in the area, except it may be a few feet taller than others.
Driving the last bit of road towards the trailhead, I came on an area that was washed out and several boulders were exposed. When I got out of my truck to survey the situation, I noticed my left rear tire was almost flat. I backed up and got off the road in a place I could change my tire. I was a little bummed about my tire because this is the first flat I have had in these Goodyear Wranglers and I have over 60,000 miles on them. I changed the tire and took comfort in the fact that I always carry two spares. My hiking weekend was not going to be ruined by having one flat tire. That tire is rated 10 ply by Goodyear but it still had a sharp rock in it about the size of the end of my thumb back to my first knuckle.
After hassling with the tire, I shouldered my pack and headed up the road. It was easy hiking and I soon found my first turn-off to the right. This new roadbed was overgrown and I had to pick my way through the Manzanita brush. By the time I reached the little saddle near the 6545 point on the topo, I was able to get a few good views to the west. I decided to take the cross country route up the south ridge of Fuego Mountain.
The south ridge is a little steep and there is some brush, but it made for a good hike with the route finding. I never had to really bushwhack for more than about 10 ft at a time and soon I was on the ridge line proper and could see the high point about ¾ of a mile ahead. There are open areas and animal trails to follow for the most part along the ridge. The ridgeline was not technical. It was just a little tedious avoiding brush and rocky outcroppings. At the summit highpoint, I climbed on a couple boulders and touched the highest point. It didn’t look like this summit was a popular destination even for loggers or hunters.
I sat down and took a nice break while enjoying the limited views and solitude. I decided to take an alternate way back to the saddle near 6545. I started down side hilling at an angled traverse down to the old road below me on the west side of Fuego Mountain. Going down was fun and easy until I got to the old roadbed. The roadbed was completely covered and blocked with tall brush as far as I could see. I decided to try to follow the roadbed and it was a pretty miserable stretch of bushwhacking. At times I was crawling through 8-10 ft brush, or climbing back up the mountain a little to bypass the uglier sections of brush. I persevered and made my way back to the saddle near 6545. The lower brushy roadbed seemed like a freeway after what I had come through. I got back to my truck 2.75 hours after I started, I covered 5.22 miles, and climbed 1,186 ft in elevation gain.