It was morning at Mud Creek C.G. in Fremont NF in the southern Oregon Cascades. No campers or bow hunters had rolled in during the night, so I was still the only one around. It was very quiet, and there was a light mist. I cooked some oatmeal for breakfast, broke camp, and drove back down FS Rd 3615 a couple miles to the Walker Trailhead.
I hiked for a couple hours. It’s a good horse trail, weaving through aspen groves and white fir groves, just on the upper edge of ponderosa pine forest. The rain had brought out lots of mushrooms. The currant bushes were loaded, and they were sweet.
Note: Don’t eat any wild berries or mushrooms unless you are absolutely positive they are not poisonous.
White pine - one of my favorites
I dug a few more little pine seedlings. I was especially glad to find some white pines, because they’re not so common in the West. They bring back fond memories of my many hikes, backpacks, and canoe trips in the Adirondacks of upstate N.Y. – the largest state park in the lower 48. The cones of the white pine are about 6" long and look like they've been dipped in sugar.
I saw some bunches of wild cherry trees. They were loaded, too. I was surprised to see so many cherries and currants – I thought the birds and bears would have eaten them up. The cherries were small and incredibly bitter. It would take a cup of sugar to make them palatable.
My heart rate went up pretty high on the way back when I saw a black furry back about 30 yards away in the brush. I couldn’t see the head, but it sure looked like a black bear. I was wishing my bear spray was in my hand instead of back in the car. False alarm – it turned out to be a black angus cow. In Oregon’s national forests, you have to get used to seeing beef cattle from time to time. Elk hunters jokingly call them “slow elk”.
I also saw some deer on that hike. It started thundering just as I was getting back to the trailhead.
I drove back down to Rt. 140 and 13 miles on into Lakeview. I remember a friend from Lakeview telling me that one time the Sheriff was walking down the main street and saw a cougar on the cliffs above town. He went and got his rifle and shot the cougar right from the street. Cougars are increasing in Oregon ever since hunting them with hounds was outlawed.
I refilled the gas tank and stopped at the Fremont NF Ranger Station. They told me I didn’t need another permit for collecting a small number of seedlings. I picked up a brochure on canoeing in the Klamath Basin area.
Further along on Rt. 140, I went through Bly and then stopped at the tiny village of Beatty to get some ice.
I didn’t know about it at the time, but in reviewing the map, I see there’s a trail – the “OC&E Woods Line State Trail -- "Oregon's longest linear park! This 109-mile, rail-to-trail conversion is built on the old rail bed of the Oregon, California, and Eastern Railroad. The trail is open for all non-motorized recreation, beginning in the heart of Klamath Falls, extending east (through Beatty) to Bly with a spur north from Beatty to the lush Sycan Marsh." See https://oregonstateparks.org/index.cfm?do=parkPage.dsp_parkPage&parkId=167
"This railroad carried millions of board feet of timber and railcars loaded with cattle in its day.
The spur trail splits off and heads north in Beatty. This rough section passes from open farmland to thick woods, then crisscrosses over Five Mile Creek at mile 10. The spectacular Merritt Creek Trestle awaits at mile 27, stretching 400 feet long and 50 feet high. The Woods Line breaks at the expanse of grasslands known as Sycan marsh, then continues north of the marsh for seven miles."
Hart Mt. National Antelope Refuge
You will notice on the map above that the antelope refuge is accessible by going north from Adel to Plush, Oregon. I had skipped opportunity the day before, not knowing the road and snow conditions. Hart Mt. is 8000' above sea level. It is also a refuge for mountain sheep. Here's a Fish and Wildlife link for more info: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Hart_Mountain/
Still off grid
In Klamath Falls, I stopped at McDonalds for a cup of coffee. I brought my laptop in and tried to get online, but just got a message that the security certificate was not safe. So I was really off grid and not able even to check my email. So what? Life is good off grid.
33 miles from Klamath Falls on Rt. 140, I turned off on the 6 mile gravel road up to Fourmile Lake C.G.
This is a well-developed, good sized campground with a boat launch. There were some fishermen and some bowhunters camped there, but 90 % of the sites were empty, so I had no trouble finding a great spot. The price had been reduced to $8 from the usual 16. ($4 with my golden age card)
I had the tent up by 5, and the weather was clearing!
Freeze-dried chicken teriyaki
There were two hiking trails - Badger Lake, and Squaw Lake. Each one intersects the PCT, so you could do a 14 mile loop. I planned for a hike the next day.
Supper was freeze-dried chicken teriyaki, one of my favorites. Then canned peaches, coffee, and a piece of banana cream pie!
Built a nice campfire and sat by it until full dark and watched the stars came out. I was happy to think the rain had stopped, but knew it would be freezing or close to it during the night.
Coming up – Day 5
Fourmile Lake, Badger Lake Trail, PCT, a falling tree, and a surprise visit.