Tag: mary jane feetham

Wildflowers of Butte Falls Hwy

Wildflowers of Butte Falls Hwy

The drive to Butte Falls from Medford is magical this time of year. Blankets of wildflowers line the side of Butte Falls Highway, making the scenic drive a botanical wonderland adventure. Southern Oregon experiences tremendous native wild flower blooms every year. Now is the time to see them right outside of Medford, Oregon.

 

Depending on the rainfall, wild flower blooms on the rim of the Rogue Valley will extend into mid-July. Our native varieties withstand the heat in full bloom. The Shasta daisies, mildewed, and Indian Paintbrush blooms are in full swing right now and they grow thick by the road side of Butte Falls Hwy. Among the other varieties are Bachelor’s Buttons, Black Eyed Susan’s, and Lupines.

Many hiking trails in the area give you an up close and personal experience with these flowers. I have not experienced the overwhelming variety and numbers of native blooming plants, however, as you will find now in the Butte Falls area.

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From Medford, Oregon take Hwy 62 to Butte Falls Hwy. Continue up Butte Falls Hwy to the Town of Butte Falls. The best experience is the 3 mile stretch before the town of Butte Falls, continuing through Butte Falls, on to the Willow Lake turnoff. This is where you will experience the most roadside blooms and variety.

Mary Jane Feetham

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A tribute: 2016 Morel Mushroom Season

A tribute: 2016 Morel Mushroom Season

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I am sad to say that the Rogue Valley’s 2016 morel mushroom season is wrapping up. I do believe that areas above 5000 ft in elevation may continue to see blooms if the wet weather continues. I will continue to venture these areas. Morel mushroom season gives way to salmon season, and I am quite excited about that! Thank you for all the feed back and support this year. The morel mushroom hunters of Southern Oregon – cheers!

Mary Jane Feetham

Sunset Trail – Lake of the Woods

Sunset Trail – Lake of the Woods

Our local mountain lakes have so much to offer our families.Experience a leisurely stroll on the network of trails located at Lake of the Woods!

 

The Sunset Trail leads you along the lake side, through the forest, towards the resort. Epic scenes of Mount McLoughlin and Lake of the Woods itself are almost constantly visible. The trail itself is well maintained and easy to wheel a stroller on.

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Educational Boards are located along the trail side that teach you about the history of the area and the ecology of our local wilderness. Chairs along the trail make for a luxurious rest along the way.

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The Sunset trail meanders along the lake and crosses the Rainbow Bay Park at one mile. Here is another set of restrooms, and the resort is less than 1/8 of a mile from that point. Enjoy the day by making use of this wonderful trail system. You may learn a thing or to on the way about the area.

Lake of the Woods is about 45 minutes from down town Medford. From Hwy 62 head up Hwy 140, towards Klamath Falls to the Lake of the Woods Resort Rd. Turn right and pass the resort entrance. At the stop sign, turn right on Dead Indian Memorial Hwy. In less than a mile, turn into the Sunset Bay Campground area. There is a boat launch, an excellent swimming area, a bathroom, and a trail head. It is $5 to park for the whole day at the Day Use Area.

Mary Jane Feetham

 

 

On the banks of the Klamath River

On the banks of the Klamath River

The Klamath River is a wonderful place to spend the day. It is accessible off of Highway 66, less than one hour from Ashland, Oregon.

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Grassy meadows, pelicans, the sound of a soothing river. What a wonderful spot to be in for the day with your children. I have come to love the Klamath River and all of it’s tributaries. The fish are abundant as well as the birds. My favorite place to visit this river is close to home, near Keno, Oregon. Topsy Recreational Site is directly above the dam. Migratory birds flock to this region and this is a great spot to enjoy them.

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Hiking along the trails above and below the dam is an adventure in itself. There is an abundance of wildlife and farmland activity. The shallow slopes of the bank and calm beaches above the dam are great for exploration. A wonderful article including a map to this area was provided at Klamath Birding Trails.com.

I enjoy camping off of the Topsy Grade Road above the dam. In the morning, I take the kids to the river bank and we walk the bank of the Klamath River. After lunch, we take a short drive to the J.C. Power Dam and drop below, where the river runs swiftly to take a few casts. This section of the river is famous for it’s cold water … goldfish? Yes, gold fish are a common catch in this area. Check the water conditions above and below the dam to plan your tackle at ODF Topsy Reservoir.

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Tyler Ridgeway and 10″ Goldfish     Photo Courtesy of Brian Northrup

 

 

I have smaller children and it can be challenging to spend any length of time below the dam due to the rocky terrain. This is World Class trout water though and is definitely worth your while to try.

 

 

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Directly below J.C. Boyle Dam

I have smaller children and it can be challenging to spend any length of time below the dam due to the rocky terrain. I return to the milder regions of the river for the afternoon at Topsy Reservoir. This is a great opportunity for a mini-day vacation where you can truly lose yourself in the beauty on the banks of the Klamath River.

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Mary Jane Feetham

 

 

The Wood River – Navigable History

The Wood River – Navigable History

A little less than 2 hours from Medford is the historical town of Fort Klamath. Through that town runs a river, with ancient history and epic scenery.

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The Wood River is not a ripping, thrilling, white water experience. It is a relaxing 18 miles float through a beautiful country side teeming with wild life. The Wood River is clear and cold, and in some sections lack a lot of depth. You may find yourself porting the boat here and there, but it is worth it!

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From the Rogue Valley, take 140 east and turn Left on to the West Side Rd, about 55 miles from Medford. The sign also reads Volcanic Legacy Highway. Fort Klamath is about 18 miles further. The history of the Wood River begins in the old US Calvary Fort built in the late 1880’s. Forth Klamath has some of the most unique old farm buildings I have ever seen. It is now an unincorporated active ranching community. The Wood River is short, about 18 miles from Kimball State Recreation Site, to the Wood River Wetland Area and take out.

The put in, at Kimball State Recreation Site, is located a few miles out of town. It has restrooms and a few camp sites. The river access is easy to drop a boat into and the views begin right away. From the river, views of the Crater Lake rim are present. The Wood River is best known for the fly fishing and bird watching opportunities. I am not an avid bird watcher, but a lot of places in Klamath County, the diversity of wild fowl is spectacular!

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The Wood River meanders around bends through the farm country and forests in the country side. One can do the entire length, or plan a shuttle and be on the water as little as a few hours. A majority of the river is banked by private property, but there are public take outs, such as the Fort Klamath County Park. The Wood River can be paddle boarded, kayaked or coned, but isn’t suitable for bigger boats because of its varying depth.

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As it ends, the Wood River flows into the Wood River Wetlands and then into Agency Lake. This area is worthy of a trip in itself, but bring the bug spray! The Wetlands are 26 miles north of Klamath Falls, off of Modoc Point Rd.

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Contact Christy Snook and Let’s Paddle! of Fort Klamath for awesome rentals and shuttle rates!

 

Mary Jane Feetham

 

 

McKenzie River in the Spring Time

McKenzie River in the Spring Time

The McKenzie River is an awesome Spring run when you have some good weather. There is a lot of river bums that flock to this river in the early season months, rain or shine. I was very glad it was sunny when I went. It was perfect in a full wet suit as is. The water is so clear, and so cold.

The drive took roughly 3 hours. Leaving Medford the night before was the right move for sure. From Eugene, the put in was only about 35 minutes away at Finn Rock. I had researched a few different runs and I felt ready for this one. A great link was McKenzie River Details by BLM which was the easiest map to use that I could find online. The best shuttle information I got from Northwest Rafters Association. I have made great river connections from this site. If you have your own equipment and you are on a budget, this site will help you as it did me. I paid $30 for the first trip and $20 for the additional stretch. There are many neat river stops and stores on Highway 126 for fuel and food.

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The biggest rapid on my first run was a 3(-) in early April, and that was Martin Rapids. Directly after that, I bailed out at Helfrich Landing County Park. This was an awesome run, however, I had only been on the water at that point for a little less than 2 hours. The water was moving right along and I oared quite a bit. So, I called the shuttle back up and arranged for another run.

This time I drove up to Paradise and launched. It is by far the better run up there as far as scenic beauty in my opinion. The water is also more technical even at the higher water level I floated. I pulled out at the boat ramp at Forest Glen Landing. It was a great day on the water. I was reminded that this river is excellent for hot summer camping. The temperature at water side stay 20 degrees lower than the road side, and the dense tree canopies at McKenzie River Park would keep you cool even on the hottest day.

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I look forward to spending a few nights there this summer with the children. I will also be back for the hot springs, which would have been a perfect end to a day on the river, however, I had to get home to the kiddos!

Mary Jane Feetham

Morels at 4467 Ft

I am following the morels as they continue to pop in higher elevations. Currently, I am having very good luck off of Highway 140, in Jackson County, Oregon.

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Freshly popped clusters of 2″ – 3″  morels

As the first flushes of morels at this elevation begin to age out, the second flush is just popping up. A lot of solid, fresh naturals growing to good size.

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Fresh morels that are firm, cream colored stocks

 

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Aged morels that are squishy and stocks beginning to turn yellow

I usually leave the aged morels to do their thing, hoping to preserve the quality of these morel picking spots.

Mary Jane Feetham

Bicycling in Bend

Bicycling in Bend

Bend is a very special place to me three hours from Medford. For a small city, it is very much about outdoor activity, and the way the town is laid out, promotes that. The Deschutes River runs through it, perfect for water play opportunities such as rafting or kayaking. The town is surrounded by awesome forests and geological sites, which means there are plenty places to hike. And biking is a big thing!

I love bicycles and I use to ride them every day. Before children and before I turned 30, of course. But living my life to the fullest sometimes means getting back on that long lost horse. And just like they tell you, bike riding is a breeze to pick back up even years later.

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I made the decision to ride an electric bike for two reasons: I have never done it before and I was not sure I was in good enough shape to bike 2 children for long distances.

After a little bit of research I found Bend Electric Bikes. They are home of the latest, greatest electric bike models and are extremely affordable. We paid $40 for each bike and were set up to carry 2 children each. The bikes convert to carry all sizes of children, so it was very neat that my 9 year old son and both of my children under 2 were able to be accommodated, as was my 5 year old niece.

Ultimately I could not have been happier about my decision. Getting places was easy on an electric bike. When I saw a hill ahead, I simply reached down and turned the “assist” up a notch. Biking around Bend was a breeze. There is a network of trails leading around and out of town, from mountain biking trails to large, paved paths along the Deschutes River.

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Between my sister and I, we had 4 children and 2 electric bikes. And it could not have been possible without the extra help an electric bike provides. I still got a work out, but I was not inhibited by my lack of “bike muscles” when we chose our routes. There are many nice parks down town to stop and break at and the food is everywhere in Bend!

We will be back to explore Bend further on the bicycle and I love that my children are able to enjoy this great activity with me, thanks to the wonderful staff and equipment at Bend Electric Bikes and my wonderful sister, Claire!

Mary Jane Feetham

Morels in the Buffer Zones

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This time of year, every day is a new opportunity for morel hunters. I wish I could get out more than I do. I watch activity all year round, looking for new spots and expanding on the areas that I know are faithful. I dubbed those locations “relative spots”. I start getting calls in the Spring time from people close to me who know I am always on the hunt, anxious to get out themselves. Often, this will be there only hunt, so I take them to those spots I know will produce.

I had seen the logging operation the year before and was set on following up on this spot. A lot of times I have that idea and never make it back because life gets in the way sometimes. However, I hit it perfect with this one. Large slash piles that stood the year before were nothing but a circular bare spot on the forest floor with charred log butts spread about.

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If you had not seen the logging operation in action, there was not much to give the site away apart from the fact that the logging roads had obviously been recently maintained. There are buffer zones running alongside the road where a strip of land had not been processed by the machinery. In this case it is because there was a creek on the road side and the logging operation had to set aside this portion so as not to damage the water source. Beyond this buffer zone strip, out of view of the road, was the leftover land and pounds of morels.

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This is always very interesting to me. It is dramatic to see side by side the forest before and after a logging operation comes through. As I am walking through the slash piles with my nose on the ground, scanning for mushrooms, I had an overall change of environment. I do not know how to explain it, but in a few steps I crossed the threshold of the buffer zone, from processed to pristine. The trees were large and numerous with high canopies that created a quiet darkness and the ground opened up, from tons of underbrush to open space. The diversity of plant types in a few steps went from mainly knee high shrubs to a variety of plants and wild flowers and marker mushrooms. I started finding naturals as a followed the buffer zone into a larger untouched area off of the road.

I am not a master in ecology, but I understand differences in environment in relation to morel hunting. In the logging zones, the morels are numerous and come in a few flushes and are never enormous in size. In less traumatized zones, morels are fewer and farther in between, but are much larger in size and the season is extended in these areas. I have thought that possibly the morel spores are easy spread into the mycelium in areas of soil disruption, which would make sense why logging operations and burns get the poundage not seen in more natural settings.

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I get a thrill out of finding them either way. As the morels start to climb in elevation around the Rogue Valley, the excitement increases for me. I like to get out of the logging areas and the burns and as morels climb the mountains, the naturals are more abundant and easier to find.

Mary Jane Feetham

Oregon Coast Beach Hopping

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When there is good weather on the Oregon Coast, there is paradise within three hours of the Rogue Valley. There are many excellent beach choices. Knowing you may not make it back for a while, sometimes it’s nice to beach hop! A great drive from Medford takes you along the infamous Hwy 199 to the 101. Heading north on the 101, a great stop is Harris Beach just outside of Brookings, Oregon.

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Harris Beach is a great place to get out and run around. It is a soft sandy beach with plenty of room to roam. The rocky backdrop allows for some private seating and protection if the wind decides to kick up. There is a restroom located in the parking lot. There is a set of stairs from the parking lot, but they are well made and wide enough for three kids and a whole picnic to get down.

There are spectacular formations throughout the coast line, and Harris Beach showcases some of the most unique rock features. It is a great place to let the kids roam. From Medford, Harris Beach State Park is only two and a half hours away.

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From the Brookings, area, Gold Beach is a mere half hour drive. Gold Beach offers a wide-open, soft sandy beach with grassy dunes buffering the highway.

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It is also an excellent place to look for agates. Agates are abundant throughout the West Coast, but I have been rock hounding for a few years and I have never found agates with as much ease as I do in Gold Beach. I have never gone home empty handed. A great web site I consult before heading out on a rock hunt is Rock Hounding 101.

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From Gold Beach, Bandon is one hour North on the 101.  Bandon is one of Oregon’s best beach towns, and food places, in my opinion. There are a few tourist traps in Old Town Bandon to be weary of if you are watching your pocketbook, such as the Old Fudge Factory. However, there are many unique gift shops such as the Cranberry Sweets shop, where free samples are hidden all throughout the store and the homemade products they sell are actually reasonable. And Bandon boasts some of the best Fish and Chips on the West Coast. Right on the bay, next to all of these shops, is an epic boardwalk full of one of a kind art pieces and an excellent view.

The beaches of Bandon are worth the drive alone. It is where to go to view tide pools and it is best to hit low tide so you can access all of them. Otherwise, it is nice to sit in the sand and watch the waves roll in.

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From Bandon, you can take 42 East to Winston. It is a beautiful drive through Camas Valley. It connects to I-5 in Winston and takes about 3 hrs to get back to the Rogue Valley. Although a long day trip, it is definitely one that will make lasting memories and remind you what a special place Oregon’s coast is.

Mary Jane Feetham