Catch the spring flowers and ride high on the Siskiyou crest this June 7-8.

29 May 2013 | Ashland, OR -- Join the Siskiyou Mountain Club and Pacific Crest Trail Association June 7-8 to logout the 20-mile section of the Pacific Crest Trail in the Soda Mountain Wilderness near Ashland, OR.

On June 7 we'll hike about 8-miles from Soda Mountain Road to Bean Cabin, where we'll have our gear shuttled, and cut any logs out along the way. Volunteers will camp out there and on June 8 hike another 9-miles or so to Pilot Rock.

This is your chance to catch some outstanding views from the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument crest, meet some awesome people, and see what is so special about the Soda Mountain Wilderness Area.

For details and sign-up, email or

Memorial Day crew lays red carpet to Carter Creek

Melissa Conner stands proudly atop the rim of Babyfoot Lake
27 MAY 2013 | KERBY, OR -- Siskiyou Mountain Club volunteers spent their holiday weekend serving on the front lines of the Trans-Kalmiopsis Route, a 28-mile connection of trails the Club has been working to recover since 2010.

From Babyfoot Lake Trailhead, they worked their way through 4-miles of thick brush and about 25 downed logs.

And Club volunteer Justin Rohde hiked the 9-miles into Carter Creek, cutting the hardest to pass logs along the way with a 5-foot crosscut saw. Then he hiked out in the same day.
Horsepacker Mike Pierce approaches the Chetco River
"I hurt," he says in a phone interview. "We cleared over a dozen trees and multiple jams from the route." Supported by pack-stock, Rohde hiked over 18-miles with more than 6000 feet of gross elevation gain.

In the meantime, a group of ten volunteers were brushing out long sections of the trail where the brush had grown waist-high since the 2002 Biscuit Fire burnt the forest's canopy in entirety. The crew bucked around 13 logs inside the wilderness boundary.

Hikers heading for Babyfoot Lake should be aware that the critical junction less than a mile from the trailhead is very easily missed. "People are now getting lost looking for the Babyfoot Lake Trail because of multiple downed logs at the fork," says Rohde.
Kalmiopsis leachiana blooming, Bailey Mountain Botanical Area
There is still a 1,500 foot section of thick brush along the Emily Cabin Trail No. 1129.

The crew encountered a group of boaters with inflatable kayaks strapped to their backs heading for Carter Creek, as well as multiple hikers using the route.

"This was an impressive crew," says Gabe Howe, Siskiyou Mountain Club executive director. "I wish I had them for more days."

The popular Babyfoot Lake Trail has not been maintained.

Boots for youth

21 MAY 2013 | ASHLAND, OR -- Things are going so well this year at the Siskiyou Mountain Club.

But we have ran into a huge hurdle. Our scholarship crew, comprised of high school seniors from southern Oregon who are graduating in just a couple of weeks, need boots. Badly.

The work they're going to be doing is hazardous, and each crew member needs a good pair of sturdy, ankle-supporting boots for safety. There's not an item of gear that is more important, or more expensive.

A pair of tennis shoes or Wal-Mart knock-offs just doesn't cut it for youth working through the West's most heinous trail conditions. A decent pair of boots starts at about $100, going up from there, and our students simply don't have the resources for a purchase that size.

So we've started a special gear fund. Our members can make sure their money goes straight to putting boots on youth. When you donate online to our gear fund, or itemize your check "boots" or "gear," your dollars will go straight to purchasing a pair of boots for a young person who made a huge commitment to public service so they can continue their education.

Gifts to our gear fund are tax-deductible, and go straight to your membership. This is your chance to make a real difference. Our youth deserve a good pair of boots.

The scholarship orientation trip is June 1-2, and we need to get the boots before then, so give online now, or send itemized check to:

Siskiyou Mtn Club
340 'A' St, Ste 112
Ashland, OR 97520

Memorial Day Spikeout

16 MAY 2013 | KALMIOPSIS WILDERNESS AREA -- It's not too late to spend your Memorial Day Weekend in the Kalmiopsis Wilderness making a real difference.

We still have a few spots left on our crew heading out to the Babyfoot Lake Trailhead on Saturday, May 25. From there we'll bacpack in no more than 5-miles to our camp.

We'll be working on the Trans-Kalmiopsis Route, on sections that have filled in with logs and brush since we started working there in 2010. On Monday morning we'll hike out, and be back to the trailhead no later than 2pm.

This could be your view on Memorial Day Weekend

This section of the Kalmiopsis offers unprecedented views into the Chetco River's vast headwaters, and a chance to get to know the best way into the river's pristine, upper reaches with experienced crew leaders.

Participants need the following gear:
  • Large backpack
  • Lightweight sleeping bag
  • Long pair of sturdy pants
  • Long-sleeved shirt to work in
  • Work gloves
  • Appropriate clothes for weather
  • Sturdy shoes with strong ankle support
  • Mat for sleeping on
  • Personal tent (optional) 
This Memorial Day is your chance to have a real adventure and make a real difference. This trip is pack-supported, so you don't have to carry food in.

Sign up and get details. Email with questions.

Volunteer Profile: Board Member Jessica Campain

13 MAY 2013 | ASHLAND, OR -- When Jessica Campain was serving for the United States Air Force, she had no idea what the future held for her. But after her six-year term, she found herself at Southern Oregon University, pursuing bachelor degrees in psychology and outdoor adventure leadership.

That's where she was introduced to the Club, in a class with SMC executive director Gabe Howe.

"I liked how Gabe could show the work the SMC was doing," says Campain. "He was able to pinpoint on a map where they'd worked."

For her senior capstone project, Campain studied conducting group therapy in wilderness settings, "where patients have internal and external space." After graduating in spring 2012, Campain didn't take a breath.

Now she's working on a master's degree in mental health counseling. Then Campain will move on to work on her PhD, she says.

In the meantime she's serving a two-year term as Siskiyou Mountain Club's board secretary.

"I look forward to helping the SMC grow to realize its potential," she says.

Campain says the wilderness experience can be transforming. "It gets them into what's important, where they can face themselves, and reach limits they never knew they could get to before," she says. "The SMC is a huge asset to southern Oregon."

And Campain is a huge asset to the SMC.


6 MAY 2013 | ASHLAND, OR -- The Siskiyou Mountain Club received The President's Volunteer Service Award last Saturday at their annual volunteer appreciation night. The award was given by the Corporation for National and Community Service, and presented by Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest partnership coordinator Paul Galloway.

Over the last three seasons, Club volunteers have worked over 3,800 hours to rehabilitate a 28-mile network of trails in the Kalmiopsis wilderness area, where trees killed by the 2002 Biscuit Fire have been falling for over 10 years now.

Each year volunteers work to keep at bay the onslaught of new wind-fallen trees and brushing filling in the trail corridor. They have sawed through thousands of trees that tend to accumulate in the same trail sections each year. All saw work is done with crosscut saws per wilderness regulations.

The corridor should be stabilized by 2020, according to SMC executive director Gabe Howe. "By then most of the trees will be done falling, and the brush will be somewhat shaded out," he says. "If we wouldn't have started work when we did, there would be no active trail through the Kalmiopsis' remote interior."

SMC volunteers now work on trail conservation projects in the Wild Rogue, Red Buttes, Soda Mountain and Kalmiopsis wilderness areas. We attract volunteers who enjoy time in the outdoors, and carry an emphasis on providing youth development opportunities.

The tale of Tannin the Tanoak

By Siskiyou Mountain Club Co-Founder Gabe Howe
Tanoak is thought to be a taxonomic bridge between oaks and chestnuts. Its fruit is an acorn, but with a spiny cap like a chestnut. After the 2002 Biscuit Fire, the old tanoaks started falling, and the old ones started growing, consuming trails.

So in 2009, before the Club incorporated, we were clipping it out along the Upper Chetco River, on Bailey Mtn Trail No 1109 just north of Blake's Bar. Here it had grown so fast and furiously that the trail was unrecognizable.

That year, one volunteer, Tannin, got lost in a brush field of tanoak. Tannin was 23 or 24, he had high cheek bones and these big, bright, bulbous eyes. He kept clipping while the rest of the crew ate lunch.

"Tannin, come on, it's lunch time," I cried. But Tannin didn't show up.

After a couple of hours, we launched a search. Night fell. The next day we searched high and low. But Tannin was gone, lost in the tanoak.

The Club in its infancy, afraid that a lost volunteer would mark the end of our career, decided to leave Tannin out there. The decision weighed on our consciences over the years. We celebrate the fact we have had no accidents. But we never told the truth about losing Tannin.

Last spring I started having dreams about Tannin. What had happened to him? Was Tannin dead? Later that summer we learned he was not.

Over the years, the section where Tannin was lost had grown in with tanoak again. As we worked there, my conscience weighed even heavier. I'd leave the group periodically, in search for Tannin's skeleton, which I was convinced was somewhere near.

"What's wrong, Gabe?" one volunteer asked as I returned to work.

"Oh, nothin, just--. Oh it's nothin," I responded, nervously. "Don't leave the trail. People get lost out here." I could see my volunteers eyeing me strangely.

Later that night, camping at Blake's Bar on the Chetco,we heard some stomping around.

"Maybe it's a bear," said Angie Caschera. Its steps grew closer. We could tell it was big.

We shined our lights across the river, revealing movement in the brush. It was huge, whatever it was. Suddenly the beast appeared -- half man, half plant.

It was 15 feet tall, with branches protruding in all directions. Two of the branches were large, four inches in diameter, and at the end of them were long-armed loppers. Its head looked like a giant tanoak acorn, but with a mouth, ears and eyes -- big, bright, bulbous eyes.

High, pronounced cheek bones shined through. The beast was Tannin.

He jumped across the river, crashed into our campsite. I looked down, ashamed of our decision years earlier. What had happened? Tannin explained.

"That day, back in 2008, I can't believe you left me here, Gabe," he said.

I told him how sorry I was, and how the decision had haunted me over the years. "What happened that day, anyway?"

"That day, when I was clipping and pruning all the tanoak, I was breathing in the dust. It caked the inside of my mouth, tickled my throat, and I started coughing hard, so hard that I passed out. When I woke up after a couple days, I went back to camp and you guys were gone!"

"I'M SO SORRY, TANNIN!" I interrupted, but I could tell he was eager to continue on.

"I couldn't find anything to eat out here, so I started eating tanoak acorns. After a few weeks, my fingers turned into tanoak sprouts, intertwined with the only tools I had, long-armed loppers." He lifted his left limb, revealing the clippers. "I made my way through the brush-fields, clipping the tanoak. That winter, after you left me here--"

"I'M SO SORRY," I sobbed.

"By the end of the winter I had been completely consumed and transformed by the tanoak," he went on.

"Tannin, come back with us please," I pleaded. "We'll get you cleaned up, clip away all those spindly branches, treat you to a real meal." I wanted to bad to make things right.

"This is my home now, in the brush fields."

So we left Tannin out there again. Half-man, half plant, Tannin the tanoak, still lives along the Upper Chetco River.

The moral of this story is to always wear a bandanna over your face when working in the tanoak brush fields. Or you could end up like Tannin.