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MailTribune.com
  • 'Crazy' Climb

    Labor Day challenge has dad, son, cousin scaling both Table Rocks five times each
  • When Chris Kanisch wants to get out of the house and burn some calories, he often turns to one or both of the Rogue Valley's signature mesas.
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    • Know your rocks
      Upper and Lower Table Rocks, two of the Rogue Valley's most recognizable features, are managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management.
      Lower Table Rock offers a moderately difficult, 1.75-mile...
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      Know your rocks
      Upper and Lower Table Rocks, two of the Rogue Valley's most recognizable features, are managed by the federal Bureau of Land Management.

      Lower Table Rock offers a moderately difficult, 1.75-mile trail to the top, and hikers are advised to allow four hours for a round-trip hike.

      To get there from Interstate 5, take Exit 33, go east for one mile on East Pine Street and turn north at the signal onto Table Rock Road. Drive 10 miles to Wheeler Road and turn west. The trailhead is off Wheeler Road.

      Upper Table Rock offers an easy/moderate trail with some steep sections over a 1.25-mile trek to the top. Hikers are advised to allow three hours for a round-trip hike.

      To get there from I-5, take Exit 33 and go east for one mile on East Pine Street and turn north onto Table Rock Road. Drive 5.3 miles to Modoc Road and turn north. The trailhead is accessible off Modoc Road.

      Hikers should bring their own water. Dogs are not allowed on either trail to prevent the disturbance of ground-nesting birds and other animals. Also, horses bicycles and other vehicles are prohibited on the trails.

      — Mark Freeman
  • When Chris Kanisch wants to get out of the house and burn some calories, he often turns to one or both of the Rogue Valley's signature mesas.
    Upper and Lower Table Rocks are just the ticket for this 13-year-old to take in some of the valley's better panoramic views while working up a sweat.
    "I like being out in nature and being able to exert myself," says Kanisch, of Central Point.
    With that outlook, he'll have more than enough to like Monday, when Kanisch joins his father and cousin on a unique way to end the summer — by hiking both Table Rocks more times in one day than most valley residents do in a lifetime.
    The trio plan to channel their inner iron men and summit the Upper and Lower Table Rocks five times each in one day.
    The group will hike from well before dawn to nightfall or later, venturing nearly 30 miles and climbing more than 7,500 feet in total elevation should they accomplish their goals.
    "It'll be a 293/4-mile day, and that really is a lot," says father Eddie Kanisch, 55, of Phoenix, calling it a day of labor on Labor Day. "But I think we can do it."
    And, yes, most of the people the Kanisches have let in on their quirky idea think they're nuts.
    "Mostly, they think we're crazy," Eddie Kanisch says. "And I guess we are."
    Crazy, or maybe just different.
    With their proximity to Medford and great views of the Rogue River, the Table Rocks have been a hiking favorite of valley outdoors enthusiasts for decades, entertaining more than 10,000 hikers each summer, according to the federal Bureau of Land Management, which manages the lands.
    "We've heard of people going up and down (one of the rocks) multiple times a day for fitness, but I haven't heard of anything like this," says Molly Allen, of the BLM's Table Rocks environmental education program.
    The Kanisches, it should be pointed out, hatched their plan while suffering a little oxygen deficiency.
    This year's summer goal was for the Kanisches and Chris's cousin, 13-year-old Donovan Holmbeck, to hike 9,495-foot Mount McLoughlin twice in one day.
    To train, they regularly climbed one or both of the Table Rocks, each of which offers loops of 2.5 to 3.5 miles. They then branched out into multiple climbs, eventually climbing both mesas three times each in early August.
    Then on Aug. 15, they climbed Mount McLoughlin twice, sleeping at the top after their second summit and climbing down the next morning.
    That's when Eddie Kanisch said the trio should try their 10-hike day — but he suggested doing it next year.
    It was kind of an after-thought, really," says Eddie Kanisch, a baker at an Ashland grocery store. "It's a nice, easy, round number, and I don't think anybody else has done it."
    But the teenagers decided to move that up to Labor Day, mainly because they feel they're in shape to do it now thanks to their McLoughlin training.
    When it comes to extreme goals, Eddie Kanisch is no rookie.
    For three months in 1992, he pedaled 5,200 miles across the United States and Canada. A decade ago, he ushered in the 2001 biking season by riding 201 miles in one day.
    On Monday, they plan to start at Lower Table Rock and knock out five straight summits, with water breaks and energy bars between climbs. Then they'll drive over to nearby Upper Table Rock.
    The first ascent will start at 5 a.m., with the trio wearing head lamps. They hope to finish in 15 hours, leaving them about 90 minutes per round-trip.
    "The fastest we've done is up and down Upper Table Rock in an hour, but that was really booking it," Eddie Kanisch says.
    "That will be pushing our limits, but I feel pretty confident that we'll be all right," Eddie Kanisch says. "These 13-year-old boys are pretty ambitious."
    Reach reporter Mark Freeman at 541-776-4470, or email mfreeman@mailtribune.com.
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