Driving down from Portlandia on our way back to California, Laura and I wanted to get in one last Oregon hike. We elected to hike Table Rock Mountain outside Medford at the urging of our Oregon Hiking book and because it was short (3 miles r/t) and relatively easy (800 feet elevation gain). Furthermore, we thought it’d be a good sunset hike.
We pulled into the parking lot at a bit past 7pm with the sunlight barely hanging on. “Holy crap!” we thought. “This is going to have to be a faster hike than anticipated!” We burst out of the car, me with a headlamp in one hand and daypack in the other and Laura’s feet armed with her magic flip flops. We passed beneath the “Lower Table Rock” sign and hiked like bats out of hell.
Mind you, Laura is becoming a strong hiker, but she tends to prefer a relatively subdued pace, largely because of her asthma. A half mile up the surprisingly steep but well-cleared trail and she was wheezing.
“How much more?” she inquired.
I checked my Garmin 310XT. “1 more mile up, However, if we need to go back, we can… it’s not a huge deal to summit.”
“We’re already up this high. We’re going to the top,” replied my hellbent, tough as nails wife. I had a fleeting thought of having to fashion a kid carrier backpack out of webbing and duct tape. However this thought interrupted by my tougher-than-nails wife throwing it back to 5th gear and burning back up the mountain.
I have a tough wife.
We continued onward, noticing that the trail would tesselate from flat to steep to flat to steep. It was lined with poison oak but the trail itself is around 4 feet wide, thus negating that threat for mentally cognizant hikers. We pushed onward until we reached two final switchbacks and then the summit, with a bare glimmer of sunset still tugging the coattails of the western sky. Wife and I caught our breaths, enjoying the beautiful post-sunset, the weirdly flat and wide summit, and the success of our intense hike done in sandals. We hung around for about 90 seconds and began our descent, armed with a Black Diamond Storm headlamp and the flashlight application on my Droid phone.
Then my vertigo/dizziness disorder hit. Friends, if I was a person who used four letter words in my writing, this would be the spot you’d see them. It wasn’t that we were overlooking a cliff or anything, but the terrain was a bit steeper and the gravel was slippery. Oh yeah, and no trekking poles. Y’all can hit me upside the head for that one. Laura wanted to descend fast but I was too busy remembering “one foot in front of the other.” Literally… that’s what I think of when I get dizzy. I really need to get that checked. Laura slowed her frantic descent pace and we got down in almost the exact same amount of time as it took us to get up.
And that’s how it’s done. Boom goes the dynamite.
GPS Log forthcoming
Distance: 3 miles (2.99 according to 310XT)
Elevation gain: 800′
Time: 40:00 up, 40:00 down
Considerations: Trekking poles are a great idea on this hike. Also be careful of rattlesnakes, as they’re definitely in this area.
Getting there: Take the 5 to Table Rock Road, near Medford, OR. Go north on that road for about 8 minutes or so and follow it as it winds a bit left, then right. Shortly after the right turn, you will see a turnoff for Wheeler Road on the left. Turn left and follow that to the paved parking lot.