Palmer the Bear here, and yes I know I have been remiss on my blogging lately. It has been a fun-filled summer in southern Oregon and I’ve been spending more time enjoying it than writing about it. I have to tell about my holiday adventure though. If you are looking for a fun and exciting way to celebrate the fourth of July, I highly recommend climbing Table Rock.
This is Upper Table Rock, a mountain located in Sams Valley near Medford, Oregon. The two Table Rock mesas perch 800 feet above the valley and were formed some 9.6 million years ago from a lava flow that snaked down the Rogue Valley from vents east of Prospect. Since then, erosion has worn away the softer surrounding rock, leaving the hard andesite rock capping the U-shaped mesas.
In 1850, a gold strike in Jacksonville attracted lots of miners and settlers to the area and the local Takelma Indians were upset, so they launched an attack in 1853 to get their homeland back. The U.S. Army fought back so the Indians went to the top of Upper Table Rock to get away. The Army sent Joe Lane up to have a chat with them. He promised to give them a reservation that included the Table Rocks and a fort nearby to protect them from armed vigilantes. Since he kept his word, he because a hero among the whites and Indians, and he even had an Oregon county named after him.
In modern times, more than 10,000 visitors hike this trail every year. Especially in the spring, hikers enjoy the different wildflowers and migratory birds. On July 4th, folks pack up picnic lunches (bring plenty of water) and hike up just before dark to enjoy firework displays from all over the Rogue Valley at the same time.
We journeyed up the Upper Table Rock, which has a 1.25 mile trail to the top. It is an easy to moderate hike which gets pretty steep in sections. Make sure you wear good shoes and bring plenty of water.
Since I have little short legs, I caught a ride with one of my fellow hikers, Trinity. Is she cute or what? She was full of energy and smiles all the way up the hill, and she even learned to stay on the trail to avoid poison oak and not disturb any nature.
We paused now and then just to rest or to say hello to a wandering caterpiller or snake. Fortunately, we did not run into any rattlers but we were on the look out just in case. One fella caught a blue belly lizard and tried to set it on his shoulder but it took off down his back and leg to the ground and kept on running.
The trail is well maintained and a fairly nice climb, though it does tend to get a little steep towards the end. I was happy for the ride instead of having to climb on my own. Dogs are not allowed on the trail, but I did not see any signs about bears so I was good to go.
Since it was July, the weather was pretty hot headed up the hill. Lots of water is definitely recommended to drink or even pour over hot fur (I mean hair). Most of the trail is gravel with some run off rocks.
We reached the top of the mesa just as the sun was starting to set. I was even more amazed up close at how flat this mountain truly is. It really was like walking across a table top.
As the sun started to go down, the temperatures went down quickly as well. We were glad we thought to bring jackets and blankets even if they weren’t needed during the hot hike up.
The view from the top was FANTASTIC! You could see all over the Rogue Valley: Medford, Central Point, White City, Eagle Point and maybe even Ashland in the distance. We walked to the side of the mountain that faces Medford and found a spot set in to the hillside a little out of the wind. Then we set up our camp for the evening’s festivities.
As soon as the blankets were set down, the drinks uncapped and the snacks broken into we had a few visitors who asked to join our little party as well.
These little creatures enjoyed stealing crumbs from our potato chips while we stole the opportunity to get some great pictures.
As the sun set on the surface of the mesa, we snuggled into blankets and watched fireworks shows all over the valley happening at once. Pictures would not due it justice, but that is a show I definitely recommend seeing. I only posted a few of the pictures here, but look me up on Facebook where I will be posting the rest.
Once the show was over, we hiked back down the trail by flashlight. Trinity got a ride on her uncle’s shoulders and I tucked into Driver’s back pack. I don’t think he noticed but I had a nice snooze. A hike out in the beautiful outdoors, a yummy picnic and not just a fireworks show but all the shows at once. Now that was an Independence Day to remember!!