On another self-sufficient car camp trip, I trundled south for a few days. I had never been to the Soda Mountain Wilderness, so that was the main day hike in the area, with a couple of other forays on the side.
Little Pilot Peak and Soda Mountain
I was the first at the trailhead in the morning having spent the night in my car after a rainy evening. I took the PCT through a white fir forest and lush meadows brimming with colonies of false hellebore. One such meadow plays host to an old cattle pond (from a time not so long ago when there was widespread grazing in the area) nestled between stands of aspen.
I left the PCT for a short off-trail ascent to the rocky prominence of Little Pilot Peak, which offered wide-ranging views from Mt. Shasta and Mount Eddy to Mt. McLoughlin. Little Pilot Peak is a sagebrush bald with sheer cliffs on one side and a wildflower meadow sporting peonies, owl clover, and buckwheat.
I returned along the PCT about a mile and took the connector trail up to the Soda Mountain Lookout Road for similar views from the lookout itself, surrounded by an array of communications towers and humming generator sheds. The lookout is staffed during the summer but was still closed up when I was there.
Back down at the trailhead, now with about 15 vehicles, I decided to head north on the PCT for the short hike to Hobart Bluff. Judging from whom I met on the trail and at the summit, this is a very popular excursion for local families with young children. Sagebrush, mountain mahogany, and gnarly western juniper adorn the summit of this cliff, which has lots of delightful, kid-friendly but knee-scraping scrambling opportunities with more limited views than Little Pilot Peak and Soda Mountain.
Green Springs Mountain Loop
I hiked this loop on arrival in the area the evening before. The route is a loop in the extended (2017) area of the national monument, threatened but not so far rescinded by the current White House. It makes use of the PCT and a connector trail and alternates Douglas-fir/white fir forest with oak meadows. The PCT part has views across to Soda Mountain, Mt. Ashland, and Pilot Rock. The vegetation on this short, easy loop exemplifies both the Cascade and the Siskiyou in the national monument’s original premise of preserving a unique biodiversity, with some Siskiyou endemics among the more familiar Cascade understory vegetation. Rain shower after shower passed over during the walk until a more persistent deluge hit as I was ending the hike.
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