Although we covered great distances on this trip, I tried to break things up so that we were traveling only short hops between campsites. However, that wasn’t always possible, so we did occasionally put in a long day of driving. Even then, I’d try to pull off the highway and go for at least one or two walks at some point during the day to give us all a break – me from driving, and Sabrina and Sage from being cooped up in the van for too many hours.
One of our longer hops took us from the Siskiyou region of southwest Oregon, east through Grants Pass and Medford, and then into California, south past Mount Shasta to the Redding area. About midday, we turned off of I-5 to wander west up the Klamath River in the direction of Happy Camp. We stopped at a couple of spots to spend time by the river.
During the mid to late 1800s, a stagecoach road followed the river north from Yreka (see #3), and west along the Klamath River toward Eureka . Remnants of the old road can be seen along Rte. 96. In those days, stagecoach and wagon roads traversed some of the most rugged areas of California (see map). When you’re traveling along older highways, especially along rivers, over bridges, and through passes, it’s still possible to find ssections of the stagecoach roads and cart tracks – now not much more than overgrown paths. Many of them make great places to get out and stretch your legs and study the landscape.
One of our stops was at the Forest Services “Tree of Heaven” campsite. The campground was supposedly closed for the season, but the gates were still open. The park is named for a large Tree of Heaven planted by Chinese workers who farmed on the flats by the river and sold produce to miners in that area (see #4).
The river stones along sections of the Klamath are beautiful – many soft colours. I photographed a feather atop of one of them. This region is known for its diversity of migratory birds and the park features a short wheelchair accessible interpretive trail emphasizing birds and their habitat.
A plant we were to encounter quite often while traveling through this region is Yellow Starthistle (Centaurea solstitialis). It’s an invasive species introduced around the 1850s. It’s quite a nasty plant, as you can see from the spines on the flowerhead in the above photo. The flowers are bright yellow, but once they are dried and have gone to seed, they blend in with other dry vegetation making them difficult to spot. They aren’t something you want to stumble into, especially with dogs. These are among a group of plants that I and a lot of other people refer to as “stickers” because they have seed heads, or other plant parts, that break off and stick onto your shoes, clothes, and more importantly, into dogs’ paws or the underside of their bodies. When you’re traveling through the more arid regions of California and in Arizona, it’s important to take the time (often!) to check your dogs for spiny plant parts that may be wrapped in fur, or stuck between dog toes. The presence of plants like these are a pretty good reason to stay on trails or walk in areas where such plants don’t grow.
Another annoyance that we ran into several times in the Siskiyou, Klamath, and all through the Sierras, were ticks. In a couple of places, we found ourselves inundated, which was a major gross-out for me as I absolutely hate the little buggers. Luckily, before leaving home, I had packed something for ticks in my “dog box”. I don’t routinely use topical treatments for ticks as we rarely encounter them in eastern Ontario, but there’s obviously a need in these regions.
After our side trip along the Klamath, we continued south past Redding to visit with friends. Due to weather, my plans underwent yet another revision, but more about that in my next post.