We (husband and I) made another trip down to Ashland, Oregon to visit my brother. Last year we hiked Ostrich Peak, an exhausting, but beautiful hike. This year I requested something a bit less strenuous. Brother suggested Grizzly Peak. It turned out to be an excellent choice.
We drove up to the trailhead, where there was supposed to be an excellent view of surrounding mountains. However, smoke from forest fires in the region obscured the view. We headed up the trail–yes, it was uphill, but not as steep or as long as Ostrich. I could manage with only occasional rest breaks. We hiked through tall firs, passing meadows that must have been filled with flowers in early summer, but were now golden with dried grasses, with a dash of yellow-blooming sagebrush hear and there. It was cool in the woods with a morning breeze blowing.
Then we rounded a bend and emerged into a very different environment. Rolling hills before us, but covered with tall, whitened toothpicks of trees. Several years ago, the East Antelope fire had raged through those hills, destroying everything but the tree trunks. Grass and a few scraggly bushes were moving in, but that was about it. We stood on the border, lush firs behind us, barren landscape before us. A harsh reminder of the power of fire.
The trail led us into the open for a bit, through the rising warmth of the noontime sun, then finally back into the cooler greenness. I fell behind the guys, stopping to take pictures of a few late flowers, seedheads, and bright red berries on still-green bushes. I took deep breaths of the fresh air and enjoyed the mostly downhill end of the hike. A lovely way to spend a morning in September! (And no, there aren’t any grizzlies on Grizzly Peak.)