Red Buttes Trip Report

Red Buttes Trip Report

XCUT8 April 2014 | Applegate, OR — In the last year Siskiyou Mountain Club volunteers have spent six work days in the Red Buttes Wilderness Area removing downed trees from a trail network spanning from Shoo-fly Trail to Fir Glade via Cedar Basin and Azalea Lake.

Last Saturday we started from the Shoo-Fly Trailhead, descending steeply down a forested slope, and immediately encounter a tree that had blown down since February, the last time we were here.

“We’ll cut it on the way out,” I tell the group.

Then we hike by a 38 inch ponderosa pine that had fallen on the trail, and volunteers crosscut from the trail a year before. Pondo

“Yup we cut that one,” I tell Micah Nash, peering down the slope at the massive round our labor produced. Pitch oozes from the year-old cut, like a dripping candle.

When we join up with the Butte-Fork Applegate Trail, we head upriver, breezing through a gap in a four-foot diameter Douglas fir we crosscut cut last October.

“That one too,” I told Micah. Each cut log is a testament to our work, a legacy left by sweating volunteers. Doug Fir

We meander by a few more fresh cuts, and a pile of branches aside the trail.

“Volunteers cleared that in February,” I tell the the group.

Above us tower massive sugar pine, fir, ponderosa. I spot some pacific yew, cedar, golden chinquapin, tanoak. But what I’m really looking for is the red tip of snow plant (Sarcodes sanguinea), a fleshy plant who, as I understand, doesn’t use chlorophyll, and lives off a dysfunctional relationship with the root systems of ancient trees.

Finally, about three-miles from the trailhead, we reach a tool-shed with a rake and shovel inside. Beyond there the trail continues gently climbing, traipsing through a hardwood forest, and breaks through the Doug fir and pine into a white fir forest. Toolshed

By then it’s 1:30. We clear another log from the trail, and I look around to see what’s happening in these woods.

And there it is, the weeping spruce, a single specimen. The five of us eat lunch, turn around, walking gently downhill back through a Siskiyou cathedral. spruce

“What I’m really looking for is the–,” I tell Amy, a volunteer interested in flowers. Before I could finish my sentence, I spot the snow plant budding up from the soil, its head bright-red barely protruding from rich duff. Snow Plant

On the hike up the Shoo-Fly Trail, we cut out the downed log we left. “We gotta finish this project,” I tell the volunteers, the taste of Azalea Lake and Phantom Meadows and Fir Glade on the tip of my tongue.

We made it five-miles on Saturday, cutting seven downed trees, leaving another nine miles to maintain the 14-mile connection to Fir Glade. And we know there’s a lot of work ahead of us. Go to the Shoo-Fly Trailhead and hike it!

We need your help to finish this project. Join today with a tax-deductible donation of $25 or more.