Mt Collings Hike

Mt Ashland as seen from the trail

We’ve been big pansies about the weather lately. OK, well, probably it’s just me, but I absolutely HATE cold and wet as a combination. It’s warmer at the YMCA so we hadn’t been out hiking. Today we hooked up with Kc and hiked Collier mountain, a 7 mile, 1700 foot elevation gain hike.  We prepared for rain or cold, but the day turned out to be fairly mild and large patches of sun.  Kc wanted to get out to try her new pack to make sure she could carry weight and get comfortable before we head out on our hike along the Rogue. Naturally, she did fine. She does everything effortlessly, which makes me feel like a clod. So we headed out and up the trail. Samson was happy to be out again too.

Our first stop was the Bigfoot trap:

Kc inspects the Bigfoot trap

I’m not sure who built the trap or if anything has ever been caught in it. We weren’t willing to get in to try to figure out how the trap worked.  People here swear there are Bigfoot creatures in the Oregon woods.  I haven’t seen one, but Monica’s pretty sure she’s heard one.

Monica and I hike slowly and I decided to carry my pack today as well. Monica has nicknamed my pack “Greg” (because it’s a Gregory pack–funny, I know.) Kc went on ahead and would wait for us to catch up here and there.  We stopped and ate our sandwich and then realized we had not gotten Samson’s snacks packed for him. He stood in front of me and gave me a look as if to say, “where’s mine?” Feeling badly, I gave him part of my sandwich.

Once we reached the ridge and started to descend, somehow Kc got pretty far ahead of us and I was starting to get draggy. There were large patches  of snow along the trail that Samson was having a heyday rolling in.   Monica and I were talking and walking and suddenly the trail became very…non existent.  We tried to hollar for Kc, but we heard nothing.  I meandered through some trees and bushwacked a bit to where I thought the trail was, but quickly came to a dead end. “This can’t be right,” I told Monica. I headed back out to where the trail seemed to change.

“This has to be it, ” Monica insisted, as she tried to beat down some baby trees.

“I don’t think so,” I eyed her.

She kept hollaring for Kc and then started to get nervous because it was nearing 5pm and we had no idea where we were. “We’re going to be up here all night!” she said.  “We’ll die up here.” This did not sound like a viable option to me. I hadn’t taken the GPS because it was just supposed to be a simple hike over the ridge.  “At least it would tell us what direction the car is in,” she told me.  Yeah, but it’s not going to tell us how to GET there. The trail looked like a no-brainer from the hand-drawn map in the book, at least. We were puzzled that the we’d be on one side of the mountain and then on the other side, switching back and forth so we were never clear on what direction we were heading.

I went back out and and found the trail we came on and then found that it went right and left from where we were bushwacking. “Oh, here it is,” I told Monica. Before we meandered off the trail we had been walking along a ridge with the mountains to our right so, logically, I thought we’d already come from the left side of the trail so we had to go right. It made sense to me.  “See?” I said to Monica. “There’s Kc’s footprint.”  I pointed to a squashed mark in the snow. “Oh, and there are more footprints,” I told her as we kept walking. I looked at them again. “Hmm, these footprints are going the wrong way.”  Then we came to a pile of lava rock that seemed strangely familiar.

“We came from this way!” Monica said. “Those footprints are ours.”  We turned around and traipsed back up the path and  took the trail in the opposite direction. “OK, we haven’t been here yet, have we?”I wasn’t sure what to say at this point so I just agreed.  “Oh, good, the trail is going down. I was afraid I’d have to stay up all night and do jumping jacks all night so I wouldn’t freeze to death.”  We thought it was nice that we had at least had Samson, although he gets wimpy and cold at night too. “Kc’s probably at the car by now.”

After what seemed like 2 more hours and Monica saying, “We’re almost there,” we found Kc,  lounging on the trailside.  “We got lost,” Monica told Kc, who looked at us like we were crazy.

“How did you do that?” she asked.

“If there’s a non-path, I can find it,” I said. And we even had the dog with us, who, in hindsight, was probably trying to lead us down the correct path in the first place and we ignored him. I wonder why he stops, turns around, cocks his head and looks at us like we’re two morons.

We got to the end of the trail before dark and Monica was thrilled.  I was happy that I could make that elevation and distance with my backpack, but I have to say, I’m kind of beat now.

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