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Mount McLoughlin, Mount McLoughlin Trail Route

Not a well-respected Cascade Range peak among climbers, McLoughlin is both visible to Medford residents and respected as the biggest peak in their neighborhood. Besides us, no one parked at the trail head Friday nights. The lot filled on Saturday. The equipment carried by many on the mountain consisted of shoes, shorts and two water bottles dangling from a belt. Women add a partial or full top. Three hours up, two hours down, I heard a few times. But for yourself plan more time if you will be carrying any of the standard essentials or honoring the switch backs on the descent, which will make you both a rarity and position you like a bowling pin.

About two-thirds of the climb is below timberline. Once emerging on the ridge at 8,200' the 9,500' summit becomes visible for the first time, what appears a molehill from that vantage point. It is hard to image anyone gaining the ridge, then thinking they could not finish the distance. Because so much of the climb is done in the forest, persons in climbing groups signal their position to one another with feigned animal calls. Most of these calls are of a mundane variety. But in the effort to find unique calls some groups are creative and even comical. One group was using a call I believe was intended to be the lurid mating call of some beast with time for little else. On the other hand it might have just been Medford-ese for, "Need beer." Anyway, it was good for a chuckle each time I heard it. After a few hours next to and amidst the screaming and yelling climbers my sympathies were with the Crater Lake Ranger who recently shot a camper for being too noisy (I know I am leaving out a few details, but you take my meaning).

Ed Gilman joined the first climb, a scouting trip for the later trip with kids. On the second trip Benjamin and Peter accomplished a number of firsts, their first single-day summit, the most vertical feet gained in one day, the most vertical feet gained and lost in one day and the most miles traveled in one day. So I can't help but have some affection for the place that will probably stick.

McLoughlin is a dry climb not tall enough to be cool or to hold snow. Pack sufficient water for the round trip. Mount Shasta, Klamath Lake and other lakes dominate the view from the summit. Ed's reading prior to the climb indicated climbers frequently get lost by descending too directly rather than by traversing the ridge in a slow descent. With apparent trails all through the forest, I can believe that and was glad to have a GPS on the return trips for a reality check. As mentioned above the trail head parking lot will be all yours on a Friday night, however, both times a large bird was screaming at dusk and at dawn. I have never head anything like it so can not identify the bird with certainty. My guess would be an eagle. We saw a few Eagles during the climbs.


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