Location of Hike: Weather Station exploration and Oak Grove Butte Area
Hiking Buddies: Kirk and Don
Start Time: 9:15 AM
End Time: 4:15 PM
Hike Distance: 5 miles
This was an end of the higher elevation year hike to try and find a couple of weather stations as well as hike to the top of Oak Grove Butte and also hike an old abandoned trail that was recently found. The goal for the day was just to have fun and hopefully stay out of the snow. I think those goals were achieved!
First off was trying to find the Peavine Ridge Snotel site. I had rough coordinates for it, but wasn’t sure exactly where it was. We drove up the road as far as possible, until it got too rough (even with a 4WD and high ground clearance) and narrow. From there, we continued walking up the road until we found what looked like an old skid road to the south. We followed this “road” which led us directly to the snotel site. It was interesting to see in person.
It had obvious old and new equipment – the “pillows” on the ground that measured snow depth were interesting to see (although we were careful not to get too near them). After looking around for a bit, we headed back out. Right after the site on the “road” we happened to notice a couple of signs:
OOPS!! In our defense, we were very careful around the equipment….
After going back to the truck, we headed to the other weather station site, which was nearby. It is called the “Red Box” site. Not sure why – none of the equipment there was red:
We spent a little while looking around there, and then went back to the truck. The next two destinations were to the top of Oak Grove Butte (where there used to be a lookout long ago), and an old abandoned trail. We decided to go to the top of Oak Grove Butte first, but on the way, Don showed us an old 4 way trail junction:
It was interesting to see the blazes on the tress going through the woods in 4 directions. After exploring in that area a bit, and talking with a hunter who showed us a big fresh bear track, we headed to Oak Grove Butte. There is a road almost to the top, but that last part is pretty iffy – more of a jeep road than anything. We parked downhill a ways and walked up to the top:
And to the old lookout site, which now has some antennas on it:
We then went down to the “reflector” (not sure what else to call it) that is on the hillside. I think it is actually what is called a “Passive Repeater” wikipedia.
We took a look at it and then Don showed us the remains of the old outhouse for the lookout:
After looking around for a while, we headed back to the truck for our final destination of the day – the old “Oak Grove Butte” trail. On the way down, Don also showed us an old phone line insulator that still had the phone line in it!:
Interesting thing was that the phone line had ice all over it. It is amazing it is still hanging after all these years.
We headed back to the truck and then to the beginning of the trail. It starts at the end of an old spur road – it starts on a decommissioned section, then a normal spur road, and finally devolving into a treed nightmare for a bit before eventually opening up onto the actual trail (It appears the road was built right over the trail). We spent quite a big of time working on brushing out the trail (past the old road portion). It started snowing partway through, but never got very hard. It was an interesting trail, and it had a couple of really nice viewpoints – my favorite was this shot of Burnt Granite and Granite Peaks:
We got to the other end, which is near an old clearcut and a small, swampy lake. We attempted to find the trail from the ridge, but were unable to find anything definitive. After a bit of searching, we turned around and headed back to the truck. A little more cleanup on the way out, and we were back at the truck shortly before it got dark. We headed back and had our normal ritual of stopping at Fearless Brewing in Estacada for a beer and some dinner.
A great day with some great friends exploring some great country!