Babyfoot Lake - June 28, 2008
Coordinator Richard O'Neill, narration by and pictures by Richard O'Neill

I find hiking in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness to be just fascinating. First and foremost, the Kalmiopsis is where the catastrophic 2002 Biscuit Fire began so you get to experience just how vast 499,965 acres really is and it is also a fascinating look at a forest in recovery, or lack thereof. Additionally, the Siskiyou is comprised of serpentine, periodotite, and heavy metals and is an interesting break from our normal lava-based geology. The third reason the plant life is so specialized to the harsh conditions prevalent in the Kalmiopsis that you will not see many species elsewhere in the world although they are common and plentiful within the Kalmiopsis.

When we arrived at the Babyfoot Lake trailhead, the skies were hazy with smoke from the California wildfires so views would be somewhat limited. The trail immediately ascended up to the Babyfoot Rim and it was a lot steeper than I had remembered and we were all huffing and puffing for a bit. Since all the trees had been burnt, there was a notable lack of shade also. We ate lunch at the top of the rim and had fun identifying rare wildflowers on the rim such as luina, Siskiyou arnica, Siskiyou iris, Siskiyou onion, and Siskiyou lewisia. We also had a nice view down to Babyfoot Lake and the rugged peaks and canyons of the remote Kalmiopsis interior.

After lunch we descended steeply to the Kalmiopsis Rim Trail which was actually an old jeep road. Ray and I turned left and headed to a 10.5 mile round trip to Canyon Peak while the mere mortals turned right for a 5.3 loop past Babyfoot Lake.

After several miles of burnt forest with no shade, the trail began to get very sketchy but Ray and I just navigated off of visual cues as Canyon Peak was nearby...couldn't miss it. At a saddle below the peak, we found not only the trail resumption, but glory be, we found a foresty untouched by the fire. That was the best shade I have ever sat in! After a recuperative rest, we then made the short climb to the Canyon Peak summit.

From the Peak we could see into California, sort of, as California was a smoke bank; turn around and look into Oregon and the skies were blue. Gotta be a tourism commercial in there somewhere. The canyons of the southern Kalmiopsis lay at our feet and we could observe the Emily Cabin trail snaking crazily several thousand feet down the canyon slopes. I would not want to hike that one back out of the canyon!

On out way back, the unrelenting sun took it's toll and we were pretty bushed when we arrived at the junction with the Babyfoot Lake trail. By this time clouds had come in and you could just feel the electricity in the air: lightning was imminent. So we hurried to the trailhead where wives and friends had been waiting patiently (and not so patiently) for our arrival and we left in the nick of time as the lightning started on the drive out.


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