Friday, July 8, 2011
Pilot Rock and Drag Racing
Well day number four of Chris’ vacation was another jam packed adventure filled day!
We started off doing some work in the garden and puttering around the house.
Then we headed south to Ashland to go on what is described as a moderate hike to Pilot Rock. This time we decided to take the Suburban, rather than my low slung sports car, and it is a very good thing we did! The road up to the parking area for the hike is a much worse than yesterday’s rocky, bumpy single track road. Low slung cars run into problems like this:
Some car knocked a hole in their oil pan and leaked all the oil out of their motor. This happened because they were too low to the ground in their car for the road conditions. Good thing we took the ‘burb!
Pilot Rock can be seen from far and wide across the Rogue Valley and from Northern California. I have posted pictures we have taken of Pilot Rock from both Emigrant Lake and the top of Roxy Ann. Pilot Rock is the remnants of a basalt lava flow. Pioneer settlers used Pilot Rock as a “pilot” to find their way through the Siskiyou Mountains from Oregon into California.
According to both my handy dandy new GPS app on my phone and the hiking literature, the peak of Pilot Rock is about 5900’. From the top you can look out over the entire valley in a breathtaking 360˚ view. The parking area for the hike is at about 4900’, so the climb to the very top is about a 1000’ elevation gain.
I did mention the literature said “moderate” hike, right? Ahem.
The main part of the trail is really an old logging road, very easy and mild climb. Partway up you hook a left onto part of the Pacific Crest Trail, which you follow for about 300 yards.
This is where you should stop if you have any brains in your head or you are smarter than me. If not, you continue on up a very steep, slippery, rocky “path” for another 600 vertical feet. At this point, I stopped.
I was not in shape enough or crazy enough to continue on up the basalt rock columns. This part of the hike is called a “scramble” and a “hands and feet climb”, neither of which sounds “moderate” to me. Chris on the other hand is always looking for a challenge and wanted to get to the top. I hung out on the vertical (almost) Cliffside and rested and enjoyed the spectacular view while Chris continued on up the basalt.
He took some great photos from where he stopped. He basically said that he stopped before going through the straight up narrow chute to the very peak. In this picture you can see two people coming down where he decided to not go.
They are hard to see, but they are right in the lower middle of the picture.
People have died up here climbing on this rock outcropping, so he decided not to chance it. In fact, he said he felt like he should have a helmet and some ropes in order to really make it happen.
Glad I stayed put!
Honestly, at that point I was more worried about getting down. You can see from the angle in this photo how steep the terrain was.
It was also very, very slippery. Chris and I kind of worked together to get back down the 600 vertical feet of slippery rocks and gravel. From there the hike was simple and relaxing.
It was not exactly “moderate” though.
It was GORGEOUS. The views went on forever and were spectacular! The sky was an incredible blue and at the height we were at we were above the tree line and could see forever in about a 180˚ arc from where I stopped. To the south we could see Mt Shasta, the lava cone and much of the Northern California Mountains. Due West we could see the Mt Ashland and we could also see Emigrant Lake.
It was truly awe inspiring; and I was extremely proud of myself for making it as far as I did. Progress!
After we got safely back down to the truck, we dumped what was left of our water on a smoldering log leftover from some moron’s campfire. Seriously people: when out in the gorgeousness of the wilderness and wild PUT OUT YOUR CAMPFIRE all the way. Cold.
On the rocky, bumpy, single track road out we saw a couple of little creatures hanging out.
Then we stopped and looked back at where we had just been…and we could see the moon starting to come up over the hillside. Amazing!
From there we decided we were thirsty, again! This time we stopped at the Paschal winery in Talent, Oregon. The winery itself is beautiful set in the foothills with a gorgeous pond and a real live swan!
The tasting room is very well done and has several outdoor seating areas for sipping wine and enjoying the view. Chris and I shared a ten wine taste of five whites and five reds. The wines overall were a little too smooth and tasteless for me. They had a Muscat that was pretty good and their Riesling wasn’t too sweet; Chris enjoyed the Tempranillo, but several of their reds were a Tempranillo blend, so I wasn’t that fond of them. Even their Syrah was missing the big spicy bold taste that I like in a Syrah. In addition, they were pretty spendy wines. Prices averaged above $25.00 and a glass was $7.50. It seemed a bit steep for wines we weren’t in love with. Granted a couple of them were young vintages (2009), but I have been drinking young vintages for the last two weeks, so that isn’t much of an excuse.
After getting home and recharging a bit we decided to switch things up from nature and beauty and head to the Champion Raceway here in White City for Friday Night Street Legal Drags! I love a good drag race. The imports and sport compacts do nothing for me, but give me a loud, American made big block and I’m lovin’ it!
As you can see, the place was packed.
Actually, like many activities here in Southern Oregon, it was not busy at all. After about an hour there were some people sitting in the stands, and a couple other families (4 total) joined us on the grassy hillside, but that was it.
It cost $20 to get in, $8 for beer and we got over 2 hours of motor sports excitement. In Portland, at PIR, it would have cost $20 for parking alone.
We even saw this guy kick the pants off several other cars.
Yay for the Baja bug! This wasn’t his best run, but it was pretty dang good for a Baja!
At this point I’m feeling pretty worn out, but am loving the fact that we are packing so much fun stuff into Chris’ vacation. We really feel like we are wringing every last drop of adventure and fun out of his time off. It is a great staycation so far!
I’m almost afraid of what he is going to come up with to do for tomorrow! Stay tuned.