Soda Mountain and Hobart Bluff - July 11, 2009
Coordinator Richard O'Neill, narration and pictures by Richard O'Neill

Last year Dollie and I hiked from Greensprings Summit to Soda Mtn and back and couldn't see a darn thing due to the smoke from all the California wildfires. We couldn't even see California even though we were on the border and I'm sure inhaling all those carcinogens couldn't have been good for us. Subsequent hikes on Mt Ashland and the Kalmiopsis Rim had the same smoky result.

After this weekend's hike to Soda Mtn, I'm glad to report that California is still there. Or maybe I should be sad to report California is still there, it depends on one's perspective, I suppose.

The Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) traverses the aforementioned wilderness which is part of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument. This mountain range bridges the Siskiyous and the Cascades and is somewhat schizophrenic in terms of deciding whether it is Cascade or Siskiyou. It is common to hike in a Cascade-type environment with hemlocks, firs, and green meadows only to turn a corner and enter open barren areas with sparse growth reminiscent of the Siskiyous.

It was a relatively short walk up to Soda Mountain's summit. Because of the lack of smoke, we could see the conelands extending up to Mt Shasta. North was Mt McLaughlin and a great view to Emigrant Lake and Ashland. The lookout was staffed and the gentleman pointed out all the visible landmarks.

After a summit lunch, we headed up Hobart Bluff, a barren promontory with stunted, wind-twisted junipers where about half of us returned home while the rest of us continued on the PCT to Greensprings Summit.

The wildflowers were in full sway on this hike with spectacular displays of golden yarrow. Also prominent were columbine, penstemon, paintbrush, white hyacinth, Hooker's onion, and common yarrow. The flowers were homes for bugs and all manner of beetles, spiders, and butterflies enjoyed the flowers. I even have one picture of a tick on a harebell. 

There was a patch of phantom orchid, an extrememely rare and endangered plant. While rare, it was quite common in the forest alongside the trail. 

The PCT alternated between open barrens and sumptiously shaded forest and I was quite sad when we arrived at the trailhead after a 9 mile hike, I wasn't ready to quit.

~ The Great One

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