Preview of Spring 2014 SMC Newsletter

Preview of Spring 2014 SMC Newsletter

Change The Kalmiopsis Narrative

By Zach Urness

Zach Urness
Everyone who hikes the Kalmiopsis Wilderness on a regular basis has at least one painful story.

For me, it began at Mislatnah Peak Trailhead two years ago, on a day set aside for reaching the Big Craggies Botanical Area, a highly remote place I’d only seen on the map.

From the trailhead I hiked down to the Chetco River, crossed over and found a well-maintained sign pointing up Mislatnah Peak Trail. (These stories always begin with at least one good sign).

At first the trail seemed in fine shape. Then in a few miles it descended into the total chaos of blackberry bushes and downed trees. I bushwhacked onward for a while, not ready to abandon the journey so soon.

But soon the trail vanished and my arms, neck face were laced with cuts. It was time to turn around.

These are the moments that remind you of the importance of the Siskiyou Mountain Club. Without their work, hauling tools from the 19th Century into the backcounty, beautiful places would disappear behind a wall of brush and downed logs forever.

I commend the SMC and their crews, because lord knows it’s not easy work. With their help and your support, maybe we can change the narrative, and one day hiking in the Kalmiopsis won’t come with a painful story.

Zach Urness has been an outdoors writer, photographer and videographer in Oregon for six years. He has worked for the Grants Pass Daily Courier, Eugene Register-Guard, Oregonian, and is currently employed by the Statesman Journal in Salem. He can be reached at or (503) 399-6801

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