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Trip report -- Klamath Marsh NWR and Fourmile Lake Or.

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Trip report -- Klamath Marsh NWR and Fourmile Lake Or.

Postby dave54 » Sat Jul 29, 2006 8:19 pm

Spent three days paddling around the Klamath Marsh NWR, northeast of Chiloquin, Oregon. The southeast portion of the marsh is a place called Wocus Bay -- a finger jutting out of the main part of the marsh. (Wocus is the native name for the yellow pond lily, common throughout the West. It was a major food source). Wocus Bay is open to canoeing. The rest of the marsh the tules are too dense to travel through.

The canoe area is a veritable maze of channels and openings in the tule reeds. We had a blast just trying to see how narrow an opening we could navigate. More than once we had to paddle in reverse after hitting a dead end. There was no room to turn around. Then we had a few "uh-oh. Exactly how did we get here?" when trying to get back to open water through the many branches and sidechannels in the labyrinth. The tules are too tall to see the immediate landmarks on shore. (hint: have a GPS and compass handy. All those channels look the same when backtracking). Lots of waterfowl and songbirds. We saw what seemed to be hundreds of ducklings all in tow behind their respective mommas. Ruddy Ducks, coots, mallards, western grebes, mergansers. Many Forster's terns. A couple of cormorants, great blue herons and pelicans. Lots of tadpoles in the water. A large colorful variety of dragonflies and damselflies, and aquatic insects. I tried to key out as many as I could, but I couldn't specifically identify more than half of the bugs. An active bald eagle nest was near the canoe launch point, and one day an osprey kept circling us and occasionally gave us a close flyby.

The access road to the canoe launch is rough dirt. A regular pickup truck or SUV-type vehicle has no problem, but I did not want to take our camping trailer down there. The FWS does not allow camping at the canoe launch, but there appears to be camping allowed just a 1/2 mile south of the launch (signing is ambiguous). We freecamped nearby on Winema National Forest land.

After we saw all of the Marsh we cared to we spent a couple days driving around the area. Toured the Cascade Lakes Highway. Labeled as a Scenic Drive, we found it less scenic than many drives in the Sierra. Drove down the Rogue River Scenic Drive :thumbsup: towards Medford, but it was too hot so we headed back up to Fourmile Lake, on the crest of the Cascades between K-Falls and Medford.

Fourmile lake is accessed via a 6 mile gravel road from the highway and lies at the foot of Mount McLaughlin. Fourmile is surrounded on three sides by the Sky Lakes Wilderness. We arrived in midweek (Wednesday afternoon) and the camp host was the only other one in the campground. We had our choice of lakefront campsites. Fourmile Lake is about 700 acres in size, and 2 miles long. It is very deep, about 170 feet in the middle. The water is crystal clear. We spent the mornings paddling around the lake, quietly checking out the bays and shallows. Not too many waterfowl on the lake, a few mergansers, but lots of shore life. Lots of deer could be seen on the shoreline once we got away from the campground area. A few bear track, but did not see any, and possibly some fisher track. Old and smudged, so I couldn't really tell. Several sandpipers, and lots of redwing blackbirds. Incredible numbers of tadpoles. It must be a bumper year for frogs of several species. The afternoons we went day hiking in the Sky Lakes Wilderness to some nearby lakes and meadows.

The campground filled up starting Friday night, and was completely filled on Saturday. Sunday morning we had to pull out and go home -- something about jobs and bills and limited vacation time.... :(
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