I was up in Grants Pass Oregon visiting family for the Thanksgiving weekend. My mom and youngest brother live up here and I really enjoy spending time in this beatiful area.
After the first couple of days sitting around doing 12 oz curls with my brothers and riding atv's around the property (much fun), I just had to get out into the mountains. I had been talking about hiking up Grayback but there were no takers so Saturday morning I headed out alone.
It had snowed down to 3,000 feet the night before adding to my adventure. I drove out hwy 238 to the town of Applegate then headed south 10 miles to the Rouge National Forest. Once in the forest it was 2 more miles to the junction with FR1005. Ther e was snow on the road already and it continued to get deeper as i drove higher. A right turn onto 1005, a dirt road in good conditon. I was wishing that i had got those new tires as the road became quite slippery as I got closer to 4000 ft. Just about this time I came to a right hairpin turn and saw what looked like a trailhead. I got out and found an obscure sign for the Lower O'brien Trail. I parked here too avoid any unexpected fun on the road as it went higher. I was already behind schedule and didn't figure that I would have enough time to summit and return or call before my preplanned check in time with the family. There was no cell service out here, just the way I like it. Anyway the snow covered forest was beautiful, what a great day for a hike.
I started up the nice single track trail and marveled at the silence. There was only the faint sound of water down in the creek to my left. The trail worked its way up meandering thru the very thick forest all cloaked in white. Living at sea level I don't get to hike in the snow often, I was much in awe at how serene it all seemed. After a while I came across several footbridges going across feeders to the creek below. The only footprints were my own.
In a mile or so I came to the upper trailhead noted the time and pressed on. The trail becomes much steeper now and I was taking off layers as I became warmer with the effort. The snow getting ever deeper as I went. Here and there the snow ladden trees tried to dump their catch on my head and were succesful several times. About a mile after the upper trailhead there were some views back down the mountain near some creek crossings. Wow a winter wonderland. Eventualy I came to the junction with the boundary trail and stopped for a picture of the sign. I was almost at my turn around time. It started snowing again. I decided to try for a dash over to the shelter on the right branch but soon the snow got too deep for my low top Merrill hikers. The high tops are still in the garage covered with poison oak juice from Mt Diablo (we won't talk about that incident). My feet were getting wet so it was time to call it a day and head back down. It kind of sucked not being able to summit as it wasn't that much farther but now I have a great excuse to go back!
I decended quickly taking in the veiws jogging here and there. I saw not another person or sign of one all the way up and down. This was just the day I needed after 2 solid days with the whole family, not to mention the holiday pig put. This place and others like it are what I give thanks for.
I'll be back.
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