A Trip Through Southern Oregon

I am very fortunate to have a job that allows me to travel throughout the Pacific Northwest. And with that, I am given the afternoon and evenings to explore the surrounding sites. This past week I had to take a work trip all through Southern Oregon.

Day 1 – Monday

I started my trip leaving Portland around 6:30am Monday morning. From there I slowly made my way down to Salem and then through the Santiam Pass. Being a Monday, I was constantly pulling off the road to partake in conference calls. Eventually I made my way to Black Butte. I had heard this was a short, quick hike and I figured I could do it instead of taking a lunch stop for the day.

Top of Black Butte

View at the Top of Black Butte

Unfortunately the road to Black Butte Trailhead is rough. It ate up valuable time as I needed to be at a work meeting in Bend by 4pm. So I arrived at the trailhead a little past 12:30 and began the hike. I quickly learned that, yes this hike is short (3.6 miles roundtrip), but it is also steep and un-shaded much of the hike. The hike up left me exhausted and drenched thanks to the mid day heat. But the summit is beautiful. 360 degree views with great shots of the sisters and Mt Jefferson. I also managed to make a little furry friend while up there.

With the late start to the hike and the time wasted getting to the trailhead, I was limited in how long I could explore the summit. After saying a tearful goodbye to my new furry friend, I quickly (jogged) headed down Black Butte. Once at the trail head I hopped in the car, cranked the A/C and changed into my work attire. Off to Bend to have my work meeting!

But Bend was not my final destination this night. By Tuesday morning I was scheduled for sales calls at 7am in Klamath Falls. So Monday afternoon, after conducting my meeting in Bend, I pointed my car south on 97 and headed deep into southern Oregon. Now of course a trip to Klamath Falls is never complete without a quick ride up to Crater Lake. So it should come as no surprise that I headed there Monday evening.

By the time I reached Crater Lake National Park the time was edging itself close to 8:00 pm. Not far from 8:00 pm was when sunset was to occur. I was extremely nervous that I would not reach the crater in time to see it.

Crater Lake

Crater Lake at Sunset

But as luck would have it, this worked out for the best. I arrived at Crater Lake right as sunset was occurring. So not only was I able to witness this amazing National Park, but I was also gifted with spectacular sunset colors. I cannot describe the feeling a calm and peace that rushed over me at this moment. Crater Lake is a magical site.

Now you would think after a full day of driving, work conference calls, work meeting in Bend, Hiking Black Butte and exploring Crater Lake that all I would want to do is check into my hotel and pass out. Well you are correct. BUT! As I was driving into Klamath Falls, I couldn’t help but notice the insane amount of stars in the sky. I am from Maryland, I spent my last 10 years in the Midwest, I have NEVER seen this amount of stars. Even the night skies in Upper Peninsula Michigan could not compare with what I was seeing.

I could not pass an opportunity like this up. I quickly checked into the hotel, relaxed for a bit so that the night sky would be 100% dark and headed out for some star gazing around 11pm. I drove about 30 minutes northeast of Klamath Falls and found a small park to relax and enjoy the sky. This is one of the most amazing things I have seen.

Night sky in Southern Oregon

Night sky in Southern Oregon

After an hour of star gazing I headed back to the hotel and passed out. What an amazing day 1 of my trip!

Day 2 – Tuesday

Starting on Tuesday, my work schedule became increasingly more loaded. I spent the morning and early afternoon training a customer and doing some sales calls around Klamath Falls. But being that this territory is on the smaller side for me, I was able to finish up around 2pm. That gave me a large portion of the afternoon and evening for more adventures! Today I decided to head south. California was not far from Klamath Falls and I wanted to take a closer look at Mt. Shasta.

As I entered California, I started to notice signs for a National Monument. Lave Beds National Monument to be exact. Having never heard of it, it sounded like a neat afternoon exploration. I mean, who can turn down lava!

Lets just say that Lava Bed National Park was completely different then what I expected. I expected hardened lava flows but was greeted with a dozen fairly deep caves to explore!

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Now I did learn something about myself this day. Dark caves by myself are extremely spooky haha. But I pushed on, with my headlamp and my camera and went exploring by myself. I did drag my tripod with me as well and made sure to snap many pictures.

After exploring the caves and the nearby areas, I hit the road again for my next destination… Grants Pass, OR. I headed back up 97 and took scenic road 140 on my way to Grants Pass. No more adventures this day. I was exhausted and headed straight to bed.

Day 3 – Wednesday

Wednesday presented me with a challenging day of customer visits and training. Combine that with the adventures I paticipated in on Monday and Tuesday, I decided to make Wednesday a rest night. I did head down to Medford, checked into my new hotel and then went to REI and purchased some new hiking boots. Vasque Breez 2.0 GTX. Wide, comfortable boots.

Day 4 – Thursday

Thursday ended up being my busiest day of the week. Medford is a reasonably sized city. That presented me with a full schedule of customer visits and trainings. But with new boots, I was determined to put them to use! Inquiring with my customer on local hiking spots, the Table Rock hikes were consistently brought up. So around 4:00pm, I departed from my last customer and headed to the Lower Table Rock Trailhead.

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Mt. McLoughlin from the top of Lower Table Rock

Lower Table Rock hike ended up being the ideal hike to break in my new boots. The trail is 1.75 miles long and presents a steep constant uphill climb. But with the short distance, I was able to complete the hike before any blisters would begin.

The boots aside, the hike was perfect. Well maintained and great scenery. you go from desert like scenery, to lush thick woods, to open prairie feeling when reaching the summit. It was very unique and enjoyable to experience. And the views of Mt. McLoughlin in the distance were spectacular. The only warning I will give, is be prepared for sun. Even though I reached the top of Table Rock around 5:30pm, the sun was BRUTAL. There is little shade and little you can do to escape the sun. Bring sunscreen, a hat or some sort of way to shade the face and lots of water. You will thank me for being over prepared.

After finding the heat unbearable, I headed back to my hotel to relax and watch the NBA playoffs.

Day 5 – Friday

By Friday I was homesick. I missed my bed and my dog. This trip through Southern Oregon was amazing. And knowing I will be down here in June made my decision to head home early Friday easy. A 5 hour drive and I am back in Portland.

Until the next road trip! Where your next adventure?