Thru-Hike Photo Essay
|Josh Weber and Luke Ruediger hiking the Applegate Ridge Trail.|
This last week Josh Weber and I, board members of the Applegate Trails Association (ATA), hiked across the ridges of the Applegate Valley from Ashland, Oregon to Grants Pass, Oregon. We traced the route of the proposed Jack-Ash Trail and the Applegate Ridge Trail. The mostly trail-less journey took us through wild forest, oak woodland, grassy ridgetop balds, chaparral, and through numerous small and unroaded sections of BLM land in the Applegate watershed. These trails provide a glimpse into the beauty and connectivity these unroaded wildlands provide. The further we hiked, the more clear the vision became.
Together these trails will provide an incentive to protect these small, unroaded wildlands that link together, creating a broad corridor across the Applegate/Rogue River Divide. Each wildland flows into the next, creating a spectacular low elevation, long distance trail system that could benefit the many surrounding communities in SW Oregon. As the recreation economy steadily increases, the project would complement the quality of life these communities enjoy and provide sustainable economic opportunities to local residents. The benefits of this trail system are intergenerational and will be most drastically felt in the future as the Rogue Valley grows and expands. Isolation, solitude and untamed wild spaces will become more meaningful as the urban environment grows. Likewise, for the wildlife of our region, these unroaded areas are essential to maintain viable wildlife populations. They are also a stronghold for intact native habitats, maintaining our world-renowned plant biodiversity.
Two areas along this proposed trail corridor are currently inventoried as Lands with Wilderness Characteristics (LWC) by the BLM; however, the BLM is proposing to ax this designation in their new Resource Management Plan (RMP), opening the areas to logging and road building. Currently many other wild places exist along the proposed trail corridor, but are not acknowledged with LWC designation or any form of protection. Together these wild places must be preserved for our region’s wildlife, biodiversity, and quality of life, as well as for future generations to enjoy.
Below are images from our hike on the Jack-Ash and Applegate Ridge Trails:
Day 1: Ashland Watershed to Wagner Butte
|The large sloping glades on the eastern face of Wagner Butte.|
|Our filmmaker, Tim Lewis, hiking through heavy snow to get footage on Wagner Butte. (Photo: Chant Thomas)|
Day 2: Wagner Butte to Anderson Butte
|The large bald on the southern face of Bald Mountain.|
|Sea blush (Plectritis sp.) blooming on Point Mountain|
|Grassy slopes and large black oak near Section Line Gap|
Day 3: Anderson Butte to Forest Creek
|Bishop Creek Ridge on the East Applegate Ridge Trail|
|Bishop Creek Ridge looking west to Mt. Isabelle and Wellington Butte|
Day 4: Forest Creek to Old Blue Mountain
|Looking south into Ruch, Oregon from the Applegate Ridge Trail. This section of trail and the surrounding wildlands have been proposed as an addition to the Wellington Butte Lands with Wilderness Characteristics (LWC).|
|The Wellington Butte LWC on the divide between Long Gulch and China Gulch.|
Day 5: Old Blue Mountain to Miners Creek
|Old-growth fir on upper Slagle Creek, above the Felton Memorial Trail.|
|From Bald Hill looking south into Slagle Creek and the Williams Valley.|
Day 6: Miners Creek to Cathedral Hills
|The view northwest into Grants Pass from what we called “Snail Butte.”|
|Board Shanty Creek near the end of the Applegate Ridge Trail.|
Please consider supporting the Applegate Trails Association as they work to build the Applegate Ridge Trail.