Lower Table Rock - March 8, 2008
Coordinator Diane Rannow, narration by Diane Rannow and pictures by Nettie Apland and Richard O'Neill
Hoping for a beautiful spring day, 17 hikers meet to explore Lower Table Rock. Patches of heavy fog hide the nearby hills and sometimes the road as we head toward Medford. After a drive of just under two hours, we are at the trail head. It is still misty and cold enough for everyone to dig out jackets, hats and gloves. With a promise of sunshine to come, we head up the trail through scrub land and a dry forest of madrone and black oak. The 1.6 mile trail climbs steeply at times (780 elevation gain) before it suddenly crests at the plateau and becomes an old road that turns into a grassy airstrip bordered by vernal pools which dry up by May. Planning to have lunch at the south end of the plateau, the group wanders over the table top exploring the vernal pools and enjoying the views of snow capped Mt. McLoughlin. The sun has come out and the temperature ends up in the low 60's. Buzzards circle lazily as they ride the thermals. Perched on the edge of a cliff, we look over the Rogue River as it twists and turns through the valley below. The river is flanked by manmade pools and a checker board of farm land.
After lunch some of the faster hikers decide to make their way down into the swale in the middle of the horseshoe shaped plateau. Spring hasn't arrived there yet and the trees are still leafless and the grass brown. Some nice views of the snow covered Red Buttes and Siskiyous in the distance and always the walls of the plateau rising above them.
The rest of us puttered our way over the rocky areas and along the cliff edges. The only flowers we saw were scattered among the rocks. Clusters of purple-eyed grass (also known as grass widows) were in full bloom. Grassland Saxifrage was just starting to bloom and a few yellow goldfields brightened the ground. For those who looked carefully, a few Brewster's rock-cress were blooming on the cliff edges.
Heading back down the trail to the cars, we could look across the valley to Upper Table Rock.
A totally satisfying day with a hike between 5.5 miles and 7 miles.
Roseburg Oregon Hiking Club