Roxy Ann Peak
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Brown Mountain is about as non-descript as a summit can get, odd since it is a P2K (a summit with 2,000ft of prominence) which usually make for good peaks. Unfortunately it is not all that high at 7,300ft and almost completely covered in timber. Located in Southern Oregon an hour's drive from Medford where I was vacationing with the family, about the only neat thing about Brown Mtn is the fine view of Mt. McLoughlin some six miles to the north. Since I could get no one interested in joining me (they'd had enough with the hike to Mt. Scott the day before), I got up early to make the drive to the trailhead before sunrise. I used Dennis Poulin's directions to the start found on SummitPost, having no trouble negotiating the non-paved portion off State Highway 140. The Pacific Crest Trail traverses around the west side of the mountain while the Brown Mountain Trail follows along the east side near the base, and it was this second trail that I started from.
I found a small, unlabled sign off the gravel road indicating the access point to the Brown Mtn Trail. It was just after 5:30a and already light enough that no headlamp was needed. I followed the short access trail to the main trail about 50yds into the woods, followed the main trail for a few hundred yards, then headed off cross-country towards the summit. I had no map but carried a GPS with the summit coordinate to guide me. I saved the coordinate of the car's location when I started and these two points were all the navigational aids I would need.
The cross-country travel on the mountain was not hard, a mix of typical forest and boulder fields that covered the slopes, though the slopes were steep, rising almost 1,700ft in less than a mile and half. The sun came up shortly before 6a and it would make for fine weather the entire day. The views during the climb and at the summit were limited due to the forest cover. Once at the summit, which took me a bit more than an hour, the views were marginally better. There was a register amongst a small cairn of rocks. It dated back about four years and had the familiar collection of highpointer names. By walking around the large summit area I could get views to various other peaks including McLoughlin to the north, Pelican Butte to the northeast, Aspen Butte to the southeast, and Mt. Shasta to the far south.
The return was nearly the same route as the ascent, though I must have veered to one side or the other as none of it looked very familiar. By the time I found the Brown Mtn Trail again I wasn't exactly sure whether I was north or south of the access trail leading back to the van. Luckily the GPS coordinate came in handy and I found I was less than five minutes from the car when I checked it.
I was back in Medford just after 9a where I found the family lounging in the hotel room, watching TV. Slackers. Mom wanted to go shop at a yarn shop in town (I would rather be poked with sharp sticks than shop on vacation, but that's just me), so I took the kids to see a movie. Afterwards I asked if anyone wanted to join me for an easy hike and Jackie took me up on it. I had been eyeing a nearby peak over the last few days, prominently rising to the north of town. Online I'd discovered that it was called Roxy Ann Peak, but otherwise had no special features. The top is crowned by some communication towers, easily visible from the city. What I didn't discover until driving out that way was that the summit is part of the city-owned Prescott Park - at least we wouldn't have to contend with trespassing on private property. I hadn't bothered to check SummitPost or would have found that Dennis Poulin had put together a nice page for this peak as well.
We drove up through an open gate, parking further up the road where a second gate blocks vehicles. Jackie enthusiastically read the signs posted at this trailhead, only to become worried as a result. One of the signs warned of cougars, poison oak, rattlesnakes, and ticks, and it was this last item that had her concerned. Jackie had never even seen a tick before, but reading that they were lurking in the park had her afraid. I would have thought rattlesnakes might have her worried, but no, she'd seen one of those before. It seems to be the things we're least familiar with that scare us the most.
Poison oak was in abundance alongside the roads and encroaching the trails as well, and was the biggest concern for Dad. It took a lot of effort to keep from rubbing up against the stuff and my warnings to Jackie became a familiar droning, "On your left." "Watch out on the right." "Here's some more..."
Though we didn't find a map anywhere at the trailhead or along the way, it wasn't hard to find a series of connecting trails that would lead us to the summit in about an hour's time. One of the trails we took was called the Madrone Trail and went through an area on the south side of the peak that had some very large madrone trees. There was a picnic area along the way as well, dry this time of year, but probably rather nice in springtime.
As Jackie's concern for ticks started turning into an obsession, I told her I'd keep my eye out for them and show her one if I could. In the meantime she kept behind me on the trail, trying very hard not to touch anything if she could help it, making little whining noises when she couldn't. As luck would have it I did manage to spot a tick hanging at the tip of a long blade of grass. I put the tick on her doll, Plunko, to show her what they look like, how slow they move, and to point out they have no wings to fly with. We found a second tick later on that I tried to brush onto my pant legs, but the darn thing didn't want to let go of the grass blade. Either these ticks weren't all that active or they were very stupid. All this seemed to help allay Jackie's fears somewhat, but she still clung to her worries.
When we got to the top around 4p, we found the summit had been shaved flat to accomodate the communication buildings and towers. We found no register about the highest point (though exactly where that might be was a bit uncertain due to the bulldozing), but we did find a tower technician working on one of the installations. There were no views to be had due to trees, so we didn't stay long.
We descended the gravel utility road down the north side of the summit, then took another road circumnavigating the peak in a counter-clockwise direction, allowing us to visit all sides of the mountain. We found the Roxy Ann Picnic Area, but found it in a neglected state. Though there were fresh trash bags installed, most of the facilities have been left unmaintained for a number of years. Jackie liked the return route better since it had none of the narrow trails with encroaching brush that had worried her. Instead she got a nice, wide road to hike with no ticks waiting to jump her. She was much more relaxed as a result.
I had actually expected the hike to be much shorter than it turned out to be beforehand, but I was happy with the two hours we had to walk the park together. Jackie seemed to enjoy it as well, despite the tick fear. Nice little town, Medford.
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Brown Mountain - Roxy Ann Peak
This page last updated: Sun Aug 29 16:09:00 2010
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