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Siskiyou Mountain Club restores 14-mile trail

Courtesy photo SMC Wilderness Corps from left to right: Abby Rodgers, Tiffani Ayres, Owen Brodie, Dan Crowley.

KERBY — The Siskiyou Mountain Club recently brought the 14-mile trail route to the historic Madstone cabin back to life after decades of no maintenance.

The cabin site is located on the Chetco River about 50 river-miles above Brookings, deep in the 180,000-acre Kalmiopsis Wilderness Area.

"This happens to be one of the most remote trails in the Pacific Northwest," says the club's executive director, Gabriel Howe. "There's a lot of nothing out there."

The project took Howe's crews four years to complete.

In 2002 the Biscuit fire burned through the area, and "the trail all the way to Madstone hadn't been maintained since at least then," Howe adds. "It had been left to disappear, and I guess everyone was just OK with that. We weren't."

Corps member Tiffani Ayres says the crew got off to a rough start, their first day involving a long hike carrying packs weighed down by eight days of food and provisions.

"We got about a mile from camp," says Ayres. "The sun went down as we looked for the trail. And then it just got dark. At some point we lost the trail and we started bushwhacking down. I kept falling. Everyone kept falling."

The crew camped near the old cabin site, and the pristine water quality stands out to Ayres. "You could see to the very bottom and open your eyes under water. The water was amazing."

The work wasn't so amazing. "We were cutting through brush that was like 30 feet tall," Ayres laments. She describes scooting on her hands and knees to reach the base of trunks that had grown into 20-year-old brush fields consuming the trail. She'd cut the base of those trunks and keep scooting along.

"We started calling it the jungle," says Ayres's supervisor, Owen Brodie. "It's very claustrophobic in there."

Alfred and Charlie Fattig built a cabin at the Madstone site during their time as WWI draft dodgers. The full account was published by their nephew, former Mail Tribune reporter Paul Fattig, in his 2019 book “Madstone.”

Brodie recalls what it was like to read “Madstone” at Madstone. "There was this moment when we were reading about their smoker that sat on two rock piles," says Brodie. "We looked over and saw the same two rock piles. They were still there. Reading the book became like following a treasure map."

Ayres says it feels good to become part of the history. "We were all really proud when we got to the top."

Directions, maps and more information about visiting the Madstone site can be found at siskiyoumountainclub.org/madstone. The project was funded by a grant from the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, and was recommended by Josephine County's Resource Advisory Committee.

Mushroom hikes planned

Northwest Nature Shop in Ashland will host two guided mushroom hikes, planned for Sunday Oct. 10 and Sunday Oct. 24.

Local mushroom enthusiast Mike Potts will lead the hikes. The emphasis will be on finding fungi and learning something about identification and the diversity of mushroom species. Edible and poisonous varieties will be discussed.

Meet at the Northwest Nature Shop, 154 Oak St., Ashland, at 10 a.m., where participants will gather as a group and then drive to the foraging location (approximately 45 minutes from Ashland.) Expect to return to Ashland by 3 p.m. Because of COVID-19 precautions, no carpooling will be allowed.

Cost is $35 per person per hike. Space is limited, so sign up early. Payment at the time of registration is required. Call 541-482-3241 to sign up, or email northwestnatureshop@gmail.com.

Open Lands Day at Rogue River Preserve

Southern Oregon Land Conservancy will host an Open Lands Day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 16, at the Rogue River Preserve in Eagle Point. This event is free and open to the public.

Those interested in exploring the biodiversity of the Rogue River Preserve are welcome to attend.

To limit crowding on the trails, preregistration for one specific time slot is required:

  • 8-9:30 a.m. - Bird hike led by Shannon Rio; up to 10 people
  • 9-11 a.m. - Self-guided exploration; up to 15 people
  • Noon-1:30 p.m. - Natural history loop walk; up to 12 people
  • 11 a.m.-1 p.m. - Self-guided exploration; up to 15 people
  • 1-3 p.m. - Self-guided exploration; up to 15 people

Pets are not allowed. For everyone's safety, all participants will be required to wear masks and maintain a 6-foot distance when interacting with people outside their household group. In addition, the group will observe all state-mandated COVID precautions. For more information, directions and to register, visit www.landconserve.org/events or call Teresa Fernandez at 541-482-3069, ext. 107.