Siskiyou Mountains and Streams: A July Class with a View by Paula Springhart


SFI’s Siskiyou Mountains and Streams class started with a moderate 6 mile hike of about 600 ft. elevation gain and a 360 degree view once we reached the top of Mt. Elijah.


We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect day and a more stimulating and diverse experience.  The class involved birding, botanizing and stream-and-fish ecology, presented by expert naturalist, Rich Nawa.  Oh, and did I mention the evening private tour of the caves by mystic storyteller, John Roth?

Scarlet paintbrush (Castilleja coccinea)

Even though it was near the end of the season for most blooms, the higher elevation Bigelow Lake meadows  were awash with hundreds of red and yellow flowers (Scarlet Paint Brush and Bigelow Sneezeweed).  Also there was a sighting of Washington Lily, a bloom that perfumed the air with  gorgeous fragrance.

Washington or Cascade Lily (Lilium washingtonianum)
California corn lily (Veratrum californicum).

The first evening of this two-day class, we all gathered at the Oregon Caves Chateau for a sumptuous dinner.  It was here that I started paying attention to the layout of the Monument buildings, pathways, and the Chateau itself. They were so cleverly and expertly designed to almost seamlessly wed wilderness, comfort and ease.   It is a tribute to the many people, Civilian Construction Corps, architects and contractors that their craftsmanship, care and commitment still remains for us to enjoy.

ImageStudent Ron Johnson at Bigelow Lake, abundant with Spatterdock (Nuphar polysepala).

CA Sister on Spruce - Mt Elijah
California Sister butterfly aboard a spruce on the Mt. Elijah trail.

The second day was full of cool splashing waters and tall shade giving trees.  We descended to Caves Creek behind the chateau, viewed aquatic insects on the undersides of submerged rocks, viewed aquatic insects on the undersides of submerged rocks, viewed and learned to identify rainbow fry from salmon fry by looking at them from the banks of the creeks using binoculars.  Enjoyed the trail along Grayback and concluded at the historic Grayback campground.

Photos from left: Base of glass canning jar imbedded in pillar of foot bridge, along Caves Creek trail; hikers headed for Bigelow Lake; student Kathy Mechling standing by Big Tree; a gold variant of Castilleja; Alice Eastwood erigeron (Erigeron aliciae) formed cheerful throngs along the woodland and meadow trails.

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