Tag: rogue valley

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

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

Butte Falls, Oregon

Butte Falls, Oregon

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Butte Falls is a small town situated in the foot hills of the cascades, 45 minutes from Medford, Oregon.This old logging town is still very much alive in heart and sense of adventure. Within miles of town are lakes, a network of trails, beautiful waterfalls, and gorgeous forests. The town itself offers a well stocked store, a gas station, and great old-time cafes. Butte Falls is home to the Butte Falls School District and the community is very education oriented.

Every year the Town of Butte Falls puts together a Fourth of July Festival.  The event is hosted by the Butte Falls Active Club Committee. The proceeds go directly back to the community oriented events to keep the community spirit alive.

This year is no exception. It will be a great year with local vendors, family game booths, live entertainment, excellent food, BINGO, and a bounce house! All this and more will be at the Butte Falls Park in down town Butte Falls, Oregon on July 4, 2016.

As the Vice President of the Butte Falls Active Club, I am putting together a fundraiser Fun Run that will coincide with the Butte Falls Fourth of July Festival. The 2016 Sasquatch 5K Fun Run event planning has gone well. Planning this type of fundraiser has it’s challenges but the local women here in Butte Falls know a thing or two about determination. What this community event has to offer is astounding. From a run through the forest to a outdoor BBQ and Bingo, there is something everyone in the family will enjoy. If you have never been, it is worth going to.

The run will begin at 8 am sharp at the Butte Falls Landing, located at 801 Laurel Ave, Butte Falls Oregon. The Sasquatch 5K meanders the outskirts of town down through the forest to the water falls, back up and through the charming town of Butte Falls, ending where it began. The Sasquatch 5K Fun Run is open to everyone and children 12 and under are free. Costumes are encouraged and rewarded and everyone will go home with a prize!

Free parking is available at the Landing for the day.

For more on what this fun fundraiser supports, view the Butte Falls Active Club Facebook Page.

For more information about the event Sasquatch Event Page

To register for the 2016 Sasquatch 5K Fun Run, click here.

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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

 

 

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

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

 

Lake of the Woods

About 45 minutes from down town Medford, is a wonderland of family adventure opportunities. It is a great place to get away for the day!

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A while back, I was given an opportunity to live on Lake of the Woods for a year. It was then that I realized how many adventures were available year round at our high mountain lakes. I spent the summer sun bathing and swimming. Late summer was time for huckleberry picking. The fall brought on oyster mushrooms and shaggy mane mushrooms and great sunsets. I snowshoed, x-country skied, and sledded the winter away. Spring, like now, is when everything opens back up and gives way to hiking, biking, and some pretty good Rainbow trout fishing as well.

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I take my children hiking on the trails located right off of the resort. They are easy, level, well-marked paths. Our family favorite is the trail between Lake of the Woods and Fish Lake, about 7 miles. It is an epic adventure that takes you through the evidence of volcanic activity from the Mt Mazama eruption, and travels among old growth pines and firs. Excellent food and lake time awaits you either way you go. Both of the lakes boast good food and swimming access at the Resort.

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There are several ways to enjoy Lake of the Woods for free as well. Unless otherwise marked, parking directly off of the road on Forest Service land, not resort property, is perfectly legal. The Forest Service governs the land the lake sits on, from Dead Indian Memorial Hwy to 140 to Brown Mountain Rd. The Resort is well marked and has fee parking within their facility property. The trails can be located out of Rainbow Bay, the Lodge area, and Aspen Point.

 

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Before the summer rush hits, it is a beautiful place to come walk in the woods. Lake of the Woods resort opened May 1st this year, and is now open daily. There is still a few packs of snow here and there, but the winter seems to have melted away, and the roads are in great condition.

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Lake of the Woods is an amazing place to take the children to play in the woods and water.

Mary Jane Feetham

 

 

Fossil Hunting Near Gold Beach

Gold Beach is approximately three hours from the Rogue Valley and is an excellent choice for a day trip. This area is rich with easy to find marine fossils . . . if you know where to look!

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My children love to dig through the silty soft sedimentary rock faces you can find among the road cuts along Bear Camp Rd. Although I am not an experienced geologist, the sedimentary rock faces are easy to distinguish.

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With a simple rock pick, you can pull egg-like nodules from these sites. They were ranging from the size of robin’s eggs to a small fist size and they are much harder than the surrounding fossilized sea bed.

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Once you loosen them them, you simply pluck them out. Use a rock hammer to pop them open. The organic material is encased in the harder sediment. We found crabs and a lobster and a lot of indistinguishable vegetation matter. After drying the open nodules, you can apply a polyurethane coating to preserve the exposed fossil.

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Our fossils are currently drying . . . more pictures to come. Check out this great family activity. It’s as simple and affordable as driving to a sedimentary rock face or road cut. They are prevalent in the Northwest!

Mary Jane Feetham

Smith River

A self-guided adventure on the Smith River that can be done in a day!

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The Smith River is an amazing float to do in March. Just wear a wet suit! From the Rogue Valley, the popular put – ins on the Smith River are roughly two hours away. This makes a perfect day trip for those Rogue rafters that are looking for some new scenery. Hiochi, California hosts several experienced river guides and very inexpensive and reliable shuttle drivers.

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I would not consider myself a expert rafter. I took on the Middle Fork of the Smith River this March (2016). I wore a wet suit, wet suit socks and boots, a long sleeve running shirt, and a wind breaker. I added a signal mirror and a knife to my life jacket. It rained a few times during the 3 hour float, and I was comfortable. I chose to float from Slant Bridge to Ruby Deventer State Park.

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The color of the Smith at higher water in Spring is a spectacular emerald green. Water flows in from drainages throughout the float creating many picture perfect moments. As the water drops, the Smith River is the clearest navigable waterway in the Pacific Northwest.

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This section of the Middle Fork of the Smith River offers Class II – III (-), which is quite thrilling when you are less experienced on white water. I did this mission as a self-guided trip, but the Smith River offers up to Class IV rapids in different sections, including the world class Oregon Hole Gorge!

To choose a Smith River float that is right for you, there is a very informational online article by Flow State about your options for Smith River trips. However, most helpful was the information and shuttle service offered by Brad “Bearfoot” Camden of Hiochi, California. He is the all around river guide that can give you the information you need to choose the perfect Smith River trip. Brad is very well known and his shuttle rates are extremely affordable. I paid $50 for a  shuttle and received invaluable information about the Smith River for free. Brad is also very involved in preserving the Smith River and involved tributaries that are under attack from a proposed Nickel mining operation.  Outside Magazine did an article on Bearfoot Brad and the importance of preserving these waters. Find Brad Camden on Facebook to sign a petition as soon as possible. And get out there . . . the Smith River is waiting!

Mary Jane Feetham

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