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Ashland Daily Photo - A picture a day from beautiful Ashland, Southern Oregon USA in the Rogue Valley
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Posts tagged muir creek

Muir Creek Trail

Muir Creek Trail

Not too far from Ashland, and not far from Crater Lake, you can find this spot which you will likely have to yourself.

Snowy Muir Creek

Southern Oregon winter

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My random, desktop image of the day comes from a hike I took just over two years ago. I nearly died that day. Good memories.

Muir Creek in summer

muir creek southern oregon

Muir Creek (Southern Oregon)

As opposed to winter, where things look a little different.

Muir Creek Falls

Muir Creek Falls

After my first attempt ended in failure, I made it to Muir Creek Falls yesterday. No wonder there aren’t any photos or discussions of this place on the internet; the “easy” Muir Creek Trail is awful in its current condition. Parts of Muir Creek Trail are overgrown, parts have trees (many trees!) blocking the trail, and I completely lost the trail a few times.

After finally reaching the falls I decided not to go back the way I came. Instead I crossed the falls, via a fallen tree, to the other side. There is a house and barn on the other side. I became a bit freaked out, in part by an unrealized fear of some guy coming out of the house in the middle of nowhere and in part by the wild cows on the property. Instead of crossing through the property to get to road NF-2734 I opted to tough it out through the forest. Big mistake. I ran into more cows in the forest. Cows in the forest are scary. They never charged me, but they cursed me with their eyes, and I headed in the opposite direction. The forest terrain was very steep. I took a nasty fall at one point, did more bushwhacking than I would have liked, and ended up with blood trickling down hands, arms, and a leg.

I’m done visiting Muir Creek, but should you be so inclined, I have a few recommendations:
1) If taking Muir Creek Trail, be sure to have long pants on. Also, be sure you have the local map downloaded into your phone beforehand for offline use. GPS works out there, but there is no internet. Put the trail into your phone so you can find it when it disappears. Also, waterproof boots are a good idea as I ended up walking through 2-5″ of water several times.
2) Don’t try to get to Muir Creek from the east. The terrain is awful.
3) A possible easy route is via Road NF-2734. You’ll have to walk through the aforementioned property. I have no idea how often someone stays there or if they are friendly.

Muir Creek “trail”

Muir Creek

Almost five months have passed since I began this story. I suppose I should write down a few more details before they fade from my mind.

I could not find a trail down to the water and the falls so I forged my own. It got a bit scary at times as it was fairly steep. I made it down with only a minor fall or two. I walked along Muir Creek for a while, realizing that I wasn’t going to be able to reach the waterfall without crossing the river. So I gave up on that idea and instead headed south along the east bank away from Muir Creek Falls. The views were beautiful without falls. I walked carefully as I was sinking in the snow, rather deeply, even with snowshoes. There was so much snow I was worried that it wasn’t all on solid ground, and I could plunge through the snow and into the water.

After today’s photo I turned around and began to retrace my steps. Walking was much easier stepping into my old prints than creating new ones as I’d only sink an inch or two with each step instead of many inches on my way down. I lost my fear and increased my pace. That was when my prior anxiety was realized. Although I stepped into my prior steps, this second time I went straight through the snow (more than four feet of snow) and into the water. My adrenaline kicked in like never before. It seemed to know that I was on my own, and if things didn’t quickly get better rather than worse I could be a dead man.

I think one of my snowshoes caught some wood at the bottom while my other was in water (with my foot still in it). My head and shoulders were above the snow (I’m 6’4″), my feet were in water, and my body was in snow. I couldn’t see my situation below the snow. I had no branches or other items on the surface to pull myself up with. As I struggled snow around me disappeared into the water below. That wasn’t good as without the snow around me I had no way of getting out. Details are foggy at this point as everything happened so fast, but I think I was able to get one of my poles up and out and onto something more solid than the snow immediately around me. My right snowshoe on a log or branch or something also gave me a bit of leverage. Somehow I got myself up and out of there.

The rest of the walk back up the mountain and to my car was uneventful. My socks, boots, and pants below my knees were frozen solid as they had gone under water before reemerging into the below freezing temperatures.

Muir Creek in winter

muir creek oregon winter snow

Muir Creek (near Muir Creek Falls) from the east

As I mentioned a couple days ago, my first goal on my snowshoeing adventure last week was to see Muir Creek Falls in winter. There isn’t a single photo of the place in winter on the internet. The normal trail to the falls is 3.9 miles each way. I wasn’t up for 8 miles in snowshoes, especially since I had a late start and wouldn’t be arriving until late afternoon. So, in looking at a map, I decided to try to get there from the Claude Lewis Trailhead / Sno-Park parking lot. The two places appeared to be only about 1,000 feet from each other on Google Maps.

The parking lot was easy to find and well plowed. I was the only person there. There were no trails or prints of any kind so I had to forge my own path, something snowshoes are pretty good for. The snow varied from a few feet to over 10-feet deep in places. The snow was very soft, and I sank 6-12 inches with every step, even with snowshoes. Although the going was mostly flat, after 1,000 feet or so I came to the scene shown in today’s photo. Muir Creek was right in front of me, but it was a hundred + feet down with no trails or feasible way to make the descent.

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