Klamath Falls, Oregon

Klamath Falls, Oregon
Solo Adventuring

I had the opportunity to take a few days off of work. Michael was leaving for Texas and Chris couldn't get the time off of work. I didn't want to miss an opportunity to have a few days away, so I planned a solo adventure.

Why did I choose Klamath Falls? I have no idea. I was looking to go into Oregon and actually had Bend on the schedule. One night in KF, then move on to Bend for 2 nights and back to Shasta/Redding for a night to split up the drive home. I decided just a few days before I left home that it all sounded like too much moving around. 3 hotels in 4 days... Nope. So I chose to just stay in Klamath Falls. I'll just use it as base camp to do all of the adventures that were part of the plan. 

I decided to ask Google, what is Klamath Falls known for? Here's what I found out:

-Klamath Falls is considered to be the true Oregon's City of Sunshine, having more days on average that contain visible sunshine than any other in the state. 
-Depending on who you ask, the population is between 23,000 and 41,000. 
-It is also well known as a gateway to Crater Lake National Park, a mere hour's drive away. 
-Klamath Lake is one of the largest (in square miles) lakes west of the Mississippi. 
-It is host to the location of one of the only Japanese attacks on US soil from WWII in the form of an exploded balloon bomb. 
-There are many refuges for waterfowl and other wildlife.  
-Fighter pilots train there. 
-It has one of the top STEM schools in the country, OIT. 
-It sits on an interesting fault zone, the West Klamath Lake fault zone, that has provided some fantastic data for the USGS and aids in better understanding and prediction of earthquakes. 
-The county muesum has 1 of 2 pairs of the oldest footware to have ever been discovered something on the order of 20,000 yrs old. 
-And one last bit of information I found out from a hairstylist. There is a horribly drug problem here. Lots of meth and heroine. It's often referred to at Kla"meth" falls. She said they have a large rehab facility here. Many people are court ordered to go and when they get out they either return to what they know or leave. She said many people stay and just add to the drug problem. It's an on-going problem. I noticed it every day I was here, especially in the downtown area where people were notably high on something and just wondering around downtown when the businesses were all closed. Men, women, young and old, white, native american or african american, it doesn't discriminate.

I saw a little bit of everything in my short time here... 
Here's my story. 

I left right after work at 2pm. The drive would take 5.5 hours, so I'd arrive before dark. I don't like driving after dark these days. Geesh, that makes me sound old, but I avoid it if possible. I hit some traffic going through Sacramento and again in Redding after a PT Cruiser decided to roll down the highway, but the drive was uneventful other than that. 

The highway from Redding to KF was beautiful. And when Mt. Shasta came into view, it was breathtaking. The top of the mountain is hidden in the clouds, but she's a beauty. We will make our way up here again to climb it one day. 

I made my way into Klamath Falls at about 7:30, right on time. I really had no idea what to expect. Since I was originally just using this as a stop along the way, I didn't look into Klamath Falls too much, other than it's location. What I noticed first is that it is a simple town. Lots of farmland, small family owned restaurants and small traditional neighborhoods, nothing too fancy.

I checked into the Microtel Hotel (Wyndham). This may be the smallest room I've ever had. But it's just me, so totally fine.

Within 30 minutes, I had found the local brewery called Klamath Basin Brewing. They even had a band playing, score! The band was Code Blue and played classic rock and blues and I sampled a Vanilla Porter and ordered a salad with grilled chicken. Bill for both... $10!  So much cheaper here.
Things are going good so far... 

Day 2 
During the planning stages, I found a local running event happening on Saturday morning. The weather forecast has continued to decline and by the start of the race, it should be 34 and raining. Had I not already registered online, I may have skipped this one... But, I've paid for it and who am I to run away from challenging conditions anyway? 

The weather app was indeed correct. 34 degrees, rain and as an added bonus, it started snowing!! I hibernated in the car until 5 minutes before the start. I watched the snow from inside the car...
Will it stop before the race?

I also spent some time putting on two pairs of tights and my base layer that I was going to use for hiking. It's cold!

Then made my way to the start with the other 100 or so runners. It's only mildly sprinkling at this point. We may get the break we were looking for!

The race took place at Lake of the Woods. A resort community and lake by the same name about 40 miles North of Klamath Falls. It sits at about 5,000 feet elevation. I haven't been doing much elevation hiking, running or even walking in the last few months, so I was immediately noticing it!

It was a beautiful course, hills in both directions and as soon as it started, it was over!
I ran it in decent time for the conditions and elevation, so I was happy with it. 26:36 with about 2,000 ft of elevation gain and was 14th overall. To put into perspective though, the first couple of runners ran it in 18 minutes and change. Fast!

Snowing on the lake after the race.

I had plans to immediately go a mile down the road and pick up the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) and hike for the next 3-4 hours. Due to the conditions and my lack of appropriate rain gear, I will reschedule this for tomorrow. This forecast is for Klamath Falls, which is about 1,000 ft lower. It will undoubtedly be colder, wetter and windier up here at the lake. No thanks. 

What to do now? I decided to head into town and find a stylist to cut my hair. I lucked out and found a salon with a stylist whose client hadn't showed, so I was in! I recently cut off a TON of hair, but decided I really wanted it shorter. She did a great job and I'm super happy with it.

If I could have found a salon with time for a pedicure, I'd have done that too! But they are all booked. No more pampering for today, but there is time for a nap! One of the great thing about vacations is naps! I enjoyed my nap and woke up just in time to watch Mike Smith ride Justify to win the Triple Crown. So exciting! 

I had a little more time to kill since it's 45 with 25mph winds, so I took in a movie (Hotel Artemis with Jodi Foster). Chris is also solo adventuring and he happened to call during the movie. I answered the phone and quickly tried to sneak out of the movie to talk to him. That didn't go so well... The lights on the floor make it appear there are stairs when there are indeed none. In one direction these are actually lining the hallway toward the exit.

From the other direction, the lines across the walkway make it appear to be the edge of a step. When you think there is a step and there isn't, that step down is a hard one. There were two rows of lights and no stairs and I quickly made my way right into a wall as I was falling. I then shouted an expletive and fell. I could hear others in the movie comment "is she OK?" and I said "I'm OK" and made my way into the hallway to talk with Chris. We both had a good laugh as I recounted to him my graceful departure from the theatre. Hilarious

After the movie decided I was in the mood for some Thai Food.
Yelp suggested I go to Thai Orchid Cafe, which is located in downtown. 

It didn't disappoint! I had a red curry with bamboo shoots and bell peppers. OMG, that was delicious! Weather better cooperate tomorrow, because I need to burn off all of that Thai Food I just devoured. YUM!

Day 3
Spence Mountain Loop Trail
Klamath Falls, Oregon
Elevation at Peak 5, 841
(Read full write-up about this hike on GottaGetGone.com)

The plan for this hike has changed several times. While I was spending a few days in Oregon, I wanted to go for a decent, longish hike. First I was going to Hike Mt McLoughlin, but weather and snow levels weren't conducive to a solo adventure. So I decided to hike a portion of the Oregon Section C of the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail). This would have been very convenient to do this after the race since the TH is only 3 miles from the lake. But since it was snowing at the race I ran by the Lake of the Woods, I scrapped that idea yesterday and was headed to do this hike today. On the way there, I drove past a Trailhead from a loop I had looked at several times. This trail gets very good reviews online and many say the views are superior to what I would see on the PCT. The PCT is very appealing because well, it's the PCT. But this TH was 25 miles closer and a 10 mile loop with great views sounds pretty good. That's the final plan! Hiking Spence Mountain Loop. 
This is a new trail system that was constructed by the Klamath Trail Alliance in 2015 and had 11 miles added in 2018, it's brand new! It's a multi-use trail, great for hiking and mountain biking. It doesn't show on any of my CalTopo maps, so I was relying on the signage on the trail. 
That was a good idea, the signs were great! 
You can also see more info about this trail on MTB Project

The trailhead

Map of the loop trail. This is a one-way trail. Counter clockwise. 
South Ridge Trail to Hooligan Trail. I also took the detour to the peak and any fingers I could find that had interesting views. Added to my mileage, but they added a difference perspective with some amazing views. 

Trailhead selfie.. 

And I'm off!

The signage on this trail is amazing. If you get lost on here, you should just stay home. haha
Every place that had a junction or crossed over a service road had another sign. 

The higher I get the better the views are. The weather is cooperating for now and showing me some beautiful colors! It may turn cloudy later, so I'm grabbing as many pics as possible. 

The trail meanders through trees and up and over rolling hills. 

A gorgeous panorama of the rolling hills and blue skies. 

A heart rock I can't take home! :-)
This one will have to stay, but loving nature's creations. 

View of the lake. Love the moss on the tree in the foreground. 

More amazing signs. I'm following the South Ridge Trail and this is where it splits to the peak to the left, then when I get back to this junction there will be another split to the overlook. 

Drumroll please!! This is the peak. Kind of lackluster, but I'm standing as close as I can get. It's probably just in front of the tree that's been struck by lighting. No cache box or gotta get gone stickers here, but it's pretty nonetheless. 

I'm standing on the peak! As you can see, no trails on CalTopo. But I'm the blue dot!  :-)

The descent. Hadn't realized how much I'd gone up in elevation until I started to go back down. It was fairly steep on the way down. 

This is a huge fungi! It's about 8' across. 

This way...

A huge flat rock. Looked like a perfect place for a little lunch. 

The trail continues to head back down the mountain. It hasn't really varied much in terrain or trees over the course of the entire loop, but it's very pretty. 

And you can't beat the views. Mount Shasta off in the distance. 

Another trail heart I can't take home. These are killing me. This was is kinda big anyhow. I'd need Chris to help carry this one home for me. 

Oh looky!! A trail heart that's portable! 

There were a number of cairns along the way. Not really necessary to show me the way, the signage is ample. But I like them just the same. If I had more time, I'd build one too. 

Nearing the end of the trail. I can hear the traffic from Highway 140 from here. The parking lot is close. I've hiked about 10 miles at this point. 

All done! Was a great day. Only thing I forgot was my visor and sunscreen. 
Now I'm a little sunburned. 
You'd think with as heavy as m
y pack is, I'd have one of everything. Thanks to SAR for that. I can't ever go out without my TEN essentials and then some. As well as 3 liters of water. Thankfully the weather stayed dry even though it was cloudy at times. I found this a nice hike. If I lived closer, it would great to also Mountain Bike. Don't think I'd hike it again as it got a little boring after 10 miles of the same. But another great day of exploring around Oregon.
I headed back to the hotel from here to shower and rest for a bit. Then off to Downtown. I took a few pictures of the Downtown area and the buildings, etc. I didn't stay long. You can scroll through those pics at the end of this post.

I was wearing my Apple Watch all day. 
By the looks of things, I've achieved a lot today... 

Day 4
Lava Beds National Monument
 and the Drive Home
(click on the link above for the full post, pics and videos)

Lava Beds National Monument
Lava Tube Caves Loop
Tulelake, California
National Park Service

I'm not a fan of caves. Although we visited them as kids and about gave my Dad a heart attack, I hadn't even tried to go down into as much as a gold mine in years. This is until Chris and I explored some caves at Pinnacles National Park last year. Although it certainly made my heart race, I found the caves very interested and had a great time. I found myself in Oregon for a few days of solo adventuring, so thought I would check out the Lava Beds National Monument. Although you can learn more about the Battles that were fought here as well as the Wildlife Sanctuary, I was mostly interested in the Lava Tube Caves

I was driving from Klamath Falls, Oregon and made my way to the Lava Beds National Monument via Merrill, Oregon. 

Driving towards the park. The landscape begins to change and you can see more and more mountains of black lava rock. I was granted with a beautiful day for exploring. 

It's not surprising that there are lava fields everywhere, so hiking shoes are highly recommended. I went from down in a cold, dark cave with a sweater and head lamp to outside in a hot, sunny day with sunglasses on. If you forget to bring your flashlight, you can get one from the Visitor Center. I found a headlamp AND flashlight worked best for me. I could see where I was walking as well as look all around at the inside of the cave. I took a TON of pictures. You'll see what I mean when you scroll through, but I went through so many caves and they are all different. Believe it or not, I actually edited out almost 100! I have also included some videos of the caves. Pictures just couldn't quite capture it all. 

As I get closer, I start seeing more Lava Beds. 

The caves are all rated "Least Challenging", "Moderately Challenging" and "Most Challenging".
Going to start with the least challenging and work my way up from there. 

Off to find my first cave...
Driving into the Park, I noticed a sign for Merrill Cave. I didn't see it on the Cave Loop Map, but decided to check it out. I thought all the caves we could tour were on the loop, but there are several that you can see before you get to that point in the park. I'm glad I decided to stop here. 

Merrill Cave - Rated Least Challenging
For  many of the caves, especially those that are rated least challenging, there are paved walkways, metal stairway entrances and bridges. 

This is listed as least challenging, but all of the caves have many, many stairs, ladders, bridges and uneven walking surfaces. 

The entrance is full of colors and I'm doing good far. Excited to get into my first cave and see if I can handle it! 

I pushed beyond my claustrophobic tendencies and anxiety and entered the cave! 
It's still early in the Park and I'm the only one here. The cave is very, very dark, cold and quiet. 

This cave has walkways that continue to go deeper and deeper into the cave. 

Colors and textures on the ceilings and walls are so colorful when I light them up with my flashlights. 

Ok. I'm really proud of myself for getting this far into this cave. Then I saw this. 
It goes straight down into the abyss. I thought I was doing really, really well up until now. 
I wish I could have done it and had this been cave 6 or 7, I might have. For now, this is the end of the road for Cave #1. 

There are areas with low overhangs, so watch you're head. If you hit it, that's gonna hurt! 

The Merrill cave had more red colors than any of the other caves. 
Woohoo! I made it outside and survived my first cave! 

Also near the entrances of many of the caves are large valleys of lava rocks. 
It's hard to capture how big these really are in a snapshot, but they are very large and filled with sharp, black lava rocks. 

Skull Cave is next. 
Rated Least Challenging

National Park Services was down in this cave doing some measuring of vegetation at the entrance, so I got a chance to chat with them a little bit. I heard all about the ice at the very bottom of this cave. Let's see if I can get there. I told them about my fear of enclosed spaces and how cool these were, but very challenging for me. They said they come and look for me in 20 minutes if I didn't come back up. Awesome. 

I toured MANY more caves and took tons of pics and videos. You can see the rest of the full write-up by clicking on the link:
Lava Beds National Monument
(click on the link above for the full post, pics and videos)

Everything is cheaper in Oregon. I went into Sally Beauty Supply to buy some shampoo and everything was cheaper. My favorite shampoo was half off and no tax! I'll take 3 please...
Gas is $3.39/gallon at Chevron. It was over $4 before I crossed the border into Oregon.

Also, Oregon has amazing Park bathrooms! These bathrooms were so clean and when you opened the door to enter, the lights and heater came on! Heater? Yes!! 

Downtown Klamath Falls
I had a little bit of time after my hike on Sunday and decided to photograph parts of the downtown area of Klamath Falls. There is no story to them, so I'm just adding them here.

This man was walking from one side of the sidewalk to the other. 
I think he'd had a little bit too much of whatever it was he was having. 

Old brick on one of the buildings.