Trip Report: Solstice Rendezvous

Trip Report: Solstice Rendezvous

Siskiyou solstice backpack:

“The sun was shining on us”

for the Siskiyou Hiker

21 December 2015 | SELMA, Ore — Saturday morning we loaded up the van and headed for the Briggs Creek Trailhead. Ten of us gathered our gear and hiked across the bridge as a wispy cloud cover started breaking.

“I’m so excited,” remarked SMC chairman Bryant Zwart as we loaded up. “This is perfect.”

The Illinois roared in the canyon below us as we made our way into the serpentine slopes of the York Creek drainage. The sun broke through, illuminating Nome Peak capped by snow.

“The homesteaders used to drive pigs between Pine Flat and Selma,” said longtime SMC supporter Steve Marsden as we trotted into the dreamy Clear Creek drainage. “Can you imagine that?”

Pine Creek was too high to cross safely, so we didn’t end up at the meadow, and settled for a campsite next to the river underneath the cover of a forest mixed with firs, pines, tanoak, Oregon myrtle, canyon oak, madrone, and others.

We were expecting some showers by late afternoon, but the sky stayed dry as we built a large bonfire. SMC member Champ Redbern built a sweat lodge, which we enjoyed before our mirepoix, homegrown beef and Klamath potatoes simmered down to a hearty Siskiyou stew.

We had some rain overnight, but ended up with good weather on the hike out.

“This place used to be a highway,” said SMC member Ogden Kellogg, as he stood next to a Kalmiopsis leachiana bush at York Creek. Kellogg has been visiting Pine Flat since the 70s.

It’s not a highway anymore. Its bridges are quickly deteriorating.

The trail bench is sloughing down the slope, and is braided from the native trail bench in many places.

“They’re not even doing it right,” said SMC executive director Gabe Howe to Champ Redbern, pointing to an illegally chainsaw-cut log protruding far into the trail. “Amateurs,” he remarked.

With a high point of 2400′, the hike into Pine Flat is low fruit year-round, and one of the most popular gateways into the Kalmiopsis. But we were the only people there on this enchanted Siskiyou solstice rendezvous.

“I’m so glad I did this,” said SMC co-founder Jillian Stokes. “It was perfect. Great people.”

“The sun was shining on us,” said Mikaela Lea, a 2015 intern and SMC member.

As the days get longer, we’re looking forward to our next members-only backpack February 12 – 15 on the Wild Rogue Loop. Of course you’ll get the chance to see some of southwest Oregon’s most enchanting backcountry.

You’ll also meet some great people who love to hike.

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