In February of this year, I snowshoed to the summit of Brown Mountain, a relatively small shield volcano located in Oregon’s Klamath and Jackson counties, directly south of its more prominent neighbor, Mount McLoughlin. Then, later in the summer, we circumnavigated the mountain, on a combination of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and other local trails (post). While planning for these trips, I’d come across mention of the South Brown Mountain Shelter, lying just west of the PCT about two miles north of Dead Indian Memorial (DIM) Highway. Unlike the Appalachian Trail, which seems to have a plethora of shelters, they are few and far between on the PCT. Which, of course, made a visit to this one all that more attractive. So we waited until it could be done as an early Winter snowshoe and then drove – carefully – to where the PCT crosses the DIM at Pederson Sno-Park. This is an informal sno-park (with no amenities), so no permit is required to park there.
It was sunny, but very crisp, as we started north on the alignment of the PCT, which is referred to as the Pederson Trail in the winter. This is a popular area for nordic skiers and snowshoers, so there was already a well-established trail for us to follow.
Once away from the road – which wasn’t all that busy anyway – we were enveloped in a wonderful, snowy silence, broken only by the hammering of a piliated woodpecker high in the trees surrounding us.
The snow route is marked with the traditional blue diamond Nordic blazers (small blue plastic tags) attached up in the trees, but every once in awhile we’d come to a bit of trail maintenance that let us know the PCT was somewhere below us in the snow.
It was cold, but there was enough sun to loosen the snow that had accumulated on the tree branches and send in cascading down on us. A particularly large blob of partially frozen snow cone scored a direct hit on The LovedOne – but her squawks of surprise were lost in the silence of the snow-shrouded forest.
After only two miles of very pleasant snowshoeing,
we came to the sign marking the turn to the shelter,
Because this shelter is right next to the PCT and has an iron-maiden water pump (only operates during the summer), it sees a lot of PCT thru- and section-hiker activity in the summer months, with this sign giving (we assume) them encouragement to press on to the border.
The South Brown Mountain Shelter was built in June 1993 by volunteers from the Oregon Army National Guard. It serves PCT travelers in the summer months and is shared by Nordic skiers and snowmobilers in winter.
There were some folks who had stayed at the cabin for two nights and were just packing up to leave when we got there.
There is a woodstove inside (donated by Orley Stove of Medford) and firewood is cut and stacked courtesy of the Southern Oregon Nordic Club.
We poked around the shelter for a bit, then started back,
first following someone else’s tracks,
and then going cross-country through the fresh, unbroken snow to link-up with the main trail just short of the trailhead. The unbroken snow is still light and fluffy. Where it sits on a clump of springy bushes, it’s possible to punch your snowshoes through almost to the ground. Postholing with boards strapped to your feet! Right now the snow is great for nordic skiing but will be better for off-trail snowshoeing once it settles a bit. A short (3.8 miles round-trip; with a miserly 200 feet of elevation gain) but very fun snowshoe on a beautiful day, followed by a stop at Caldera in Ashland!