Marys Peak P2K
Wolf BM P1K

Tue, Aug 22, 2017

With: Jackie Burd

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2


With the eclipse over and Mom and Ryan at the airport for their flights home, Jackie and I said goodbye to Portland and started our drive back to California. When we'd discussed how long we should take beforehand, she was eager to extend it as long as possible to get some hiking in with Dad, so we set a goal of five days though we ended up getting back a day early. We would have lots of fun (and some moments of not-so-fun) enroute, tagging a semi-random selection of peaks that I would pick out each day. Much of today was spent in driving south across Oregon to get us to the OR/CA border, though not without a few detours, of course.

Marys Peak

At just over 4,000ft, this is the Benton County highpoint and the highest point in Oregon's coast ranges. It also sports more than 3,000ft of prominence, placing it at #11 in the Oregon prominence list. There is a paved road that goes nearly to the summit, making for a rather tame outing. The peak is very popular with hikers and picnickers alike, with probably 50-60 folks visiting during our time there. The trail we followed through forest soon opened to the more grassy summit areas and eventually to the telecom-crowned summit in less than 20 minutes. There is a picnic bench found next to the barbed-wire enclosure that houses the summit's highest point. I went over the fence to gain this additional six inches of elevation or so, finding the actual highpoint a bit disappointing. Not to be left behind, Jackie followed, causing me some measure of concern, but she managed it quite well. The views are said to be some of the best in the state but today they were marred by the smoke that would follow us down the coast for the next several days. The main fire was burning on the east side of the Sisters well to the east, but the vagaries of the winds meant that the smoke would be nearly absent one moment but thick with no visibility an hour later. To the west, coastal fog blocked views of the Pacific Ocean which lies only 25mi in that direction. After returning to the TH we had a picnic lunch adjacent to the parking lot. There was a row of pit toilets that seemed out of place until I read that the summit had been the site of a special eclipse viewing since it was in the path of totality. Special permits were required to join in the fun and the number of toilets suggested they had quite a crowd.

Wolf BM

As we continued our drive south, I kept an eye out on the GPSr for other P1K summits we might visit without much trouble or out-of-the-way driving. This is where I was winging it while driving 70mph down I-5. Wolf BM had an entry by Dennis Poulin on PB that mentioned using an ATV road from the southwest. Located just off I-5 at Wolf Creek, it seemed like just the ticket - about 6mi roundtrip and just over 2,000ft of gain. We weren't able to drive far up the road as it quickly grew too rough for all but a good 4WD vehicle. We parked and started up the road in smokey conditions around 4:30p with the outside temp hovering at 92F. Far from ideal, but Jackie complained not a bit. The road was wide but dusty and heavily rutted to start. It was steep in places and sometimes slippery and I would take several falls over the course of the afternoon, the last seeing me literally eat dust. We had a number of sights along the way, some good, others not. The dusty road left some good bear prints that we examined. Some trash had been dumped in several places, leading Jackie to ask, "Why would someone do such a thing?" Good question, but the most I could offer was "Some people are lazy." At one point, Jackie paused, "Did you hear that?" I heard nothing and looked at her, helpless to offer any support. She stopped only a few second later, "Surely you just heard that?" I did not. I asked her to point where the noise was coming from and almost instantly I spotted a rattlesnake slithering through the dry leaves. "How could you not hear that?!" she asked, almost demandingly. My only defense was to play the Old Guy card. We found the road gated about ten minutes below the summit, signed as yet another mountaintop owned or controlled by American Tower. The summit had microwave relay and cell towers set among the trees that left no views at all. We found the 1953 benchmark and left a register under a small rock pile nearby. The few views we had on the way back were smokey at best. Our outing lasted about two hours, leaving us a few hours of daylight remaining.

We continued south on I-5, driving to Grants Pass where we had dinner at the Black Bear Diner, one of her mom's favorite places. Afterwards we visited a Dutch Brothers for liquid dessert which we took for our continuing drive south, now on SR199. We drove across the CA border before finding a place off the road a few miles north of the town of Gasquet where we spent the night.


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This page last updated: Mon Aug 28 12:08:09 2017
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