October 30, 2009 I drove from my home in Medford over to the Illinois Valley in an attempt to climb a peak I’ve always wanted to climb. It was foggy in Medford and all the way over to the trailhead off of Upper Deer Creek Rd. It was foggy at the trailhead with visibility limited to about 200 ft. I hoped that the summit would be above the fog, so I shouldered my pack and headed up the trail.
Wow!! This is a great trail, wide and smooth. It is a little steep, but there are several switchbacks helping with the elevation gain and the beautiful old growth forest took my mind off the work at hand. The trees looked eerily beautiful with the fog. The fog also kept the temperature cool and made the climb easier.
In about an hour I reached the rocky ridge at 4,400 ft and the fog lifted. I was now above the fog and it was a bright sunny cloudless day. Very nice indeed. I continued along the trail enjoying the scenery and could eventually see up towards the summit area. It appeared to be guarded by some steep rocky cliffs. I kept going even though I had no rock climbing equipment with me. The trail builders found an easy way through the cliffs and up to the summit.
On the last part of the climb I noticed some unusual trees. I knew they were spruce trees because of their bark, but the drooping branches were different. I have seen these trees before in a couple areas of the Kalmiopsis Wilderness and just south of here across the California border in the Siskiyou Wilderness. A special sight makes the hike the more worthwhile.
The views from the summit were spectacular. Mt. McLoughlin stood out to the east. Grayback Mountain was much closer on the next ridgeline eastward. To the west the valleys were totally covered by the fog. In fact the mountains to the west were all covered by fog also. It looked like an ocean of fog stretching clear to the Pacific Ocean.
I sat down and ate my lunch while enjoying the views. This is a great hike and I would repeat it. It took me about 3 hours to hike plus lunch time. Total distance was 6.5 miles with 2,600+ ft of elevation gain.
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