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Snow Comes to Mule Mountain 16-Dec-2015

Posted: December 17th, 2015, 9:17 am
by VanMarmot
This is one of the classic hikes in the Applegate Valley W of Medford (see Field Guide); one that we first did last December when snow was in short supply (TR).

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But last Sunday, a major storm dropped the snow level to 500' and the Mule Mountain area got plastered with 8-12" of fluffy new snow. What a welcome relief after two years of drought and skimpy snow! We took advantage of the brief break between storms for a quick snow hike up to the ridge crest at 4300'. Snow started showing up around the 2500' level,

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got thicker at the shady crest at 3200',

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and was everywhere by 4000'. We'd started under low clouds but actually climbed above them at this point into sunshine. :)

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Above the clouds, we had a great view of the Red Buttes Wilderness to the SW,

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with the Red Buttes themselves sporting more snow than we've seen in two years.

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We continued climbing toward the saddle at 4300',

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observing the little stuff as we went along.

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We stopped at the saddle for a snack and a view to the W of the Red Buttes and Siskiyou Crest,

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of cloud-shrouded Greyback Mtn and Little Sugarloaf Pk (Grayback TR)

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and of the old LO (and current met station) on Squaw Butte (arrow) across the valley (Squaw TR).

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The sunshine lasted about an hour and then the next storm system started rolling in, preceded by high clouds that quickly blotted out the sun.

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So we started down,

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back into the low clouds that were once again starting to fill the valley below.

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We dropped below the clouds at around 3000',

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and continued back to the TH through the forest,

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admiring patches of intricately constructed lichens,

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the fascinating textures and colors of madrone bark,

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and "waterfalls" of tree sap along the way.

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A short (8.5 mi RT, 2500' EG) but fun snow hike squeezed in between the waves of storms that seem to be our destiny this winter season. But all good after the years of drought. :D

Re: Snow Comes to Mule Mountain 16-Dec-2015

Posted: December 17th, 2015, 9:50 am
by miah66
Great photos, VanMarmot! Happy to see some snow making it your way as well! Red Buttes looks nice w/ a coat of white.

Re: Snow Comes to Mule Mountain 16-Dec-2015

Posted: December 19th, 2015, 7:44 am
by justpeachy
Oooh, I love those shots of the snowy mountains and the layer of fog below them. Beautiful!

That old lookout on Squaw Peak will soon be on the rental system (http://www.recreation.gov/camping/squaw ... kId=130540). It was supposed to be ready for the 2015 season, but the Forest Service told me at the last minute they discovered some problems that needed to be fixed first. Hopefully next year!

Re: Snow Comes to Mule Mountain 16-Dec-2015

Posted: December 19th, 2015, 8:59 am
by Splintercat
Beautiful, Bruce! Thanks for posting... good to see you last weekend!

Tom :-)

Re: Snow Comes to Mule Mountain 16-Dec-2015

Posted: December 19th, 2015, 3:14 pm
by VanMarmot
justpeachy wrote:Oooh, I love those shots of the snowy mountains and the layer of fog below them. Beautiful!

That old lookout on Squaw Peak will soon be on the rental system (http://www.recreation.gov/camping/squaw ... kId=130540). It was supposed to be ready for the 2015 season, but the Forest Service told me at the last minute they discovered some problems that needed to be fixed first. Hopefully next year!
Thanks! Interesting news about the LO rental. You can hike to it from French Gulch via the Little Grayback trail (about 11 mi RT) or you can drive to it on good gravel roads. If the rental includes a key to the gate then you could drive right up to it. It got used a lot this year for fire suppression duties which may have been one reason they didn't make it available for rentals.

The met station next to the LO is online (Squaw Pk Met) so you can check conditions before heading up there. Back on 12/3/15 they had 107 mph winds!

Re: Snow Comes to Mule Mountain 16-Dec-2015

Posted: December 21st, 2015, 12:02 am
by romann
Awesome photos, but close-up of Red Buttes with low clouds is my favorite. You picked a great area to retire.

Re: Snow Comes to Mule Mountain 16-Dec-2015

Posted: December 21st, 2015, 7:46 am
by VanMarmot
romann wrote:Awesome photos, but close-up of Red Buttes with low clouds is my favorite. You picked a great area to retire.
Thanks! Loved living in Portland, but it was getting kind'a crowded... ;)
Also don't know how we'd have coped with naked people waving their drones atop of Munra... :roll: