Burton Butte Snowshoe (Oregon) 14-Mar-2019

Yes, we’ve had plenty of snow this winter. Plenty of snow. So one would think we’ve been snowshoeing like crazy these past few months. No. The snow this year came in waves, plastering the mountain roads each time. By the time the roads were clear, or at least not too exciting to drive, the next storm hit. The snow itself was beautiful, soft, DEEP powder – superb for skiing, not so for snowshoeing. So we waited until the storms eased, the roads were clearer, and the snow had settled some. Looking for something different, we spied Burton Butte (6,090 feet), sitting about a mile southeast of the Pedersen Sno-Park on the Dead Indian Memorial Highway. There’s an old road (Forest Road (FR) 3862) that runs almost to its broad summit – a road we thought might work with snowshoes. So on a cold, but otherwise bluebird morning, we drove up to the sno-park,

Just a little snow at the sno-park

geared-up,

The LovedOne pretending I can’t see her 🙄

and headed south on the snow-covered Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), following a few blue blazers and an obvious divot in the snow. The snow – of which there was A LOT – was powdery, soft, and totally untracked – an amazingly pristine experience in a crowded world.

Following the PCT’s divot through deep snow (arrow points to a PCT blazer)
Along the PCT
Going in 8-12 inches even with snowshoes

After about 0.75 miles on the PCT, we turned east into an area that aerial photographs show as an old clear cut, now some 20 years or so into regrowth. Unlike the more open PCT, here we had to thread our way through smaller, more tightly packed trees, each laden with snow blobs. The LovedOne also managed to collapse a snow-covered air pocket, almost getting her snowshoe stuck under a buried tree as a result.

Almost trapped…

After less than a half mile of wending our way through this young forest, we came to FR 3862, which was also totally untracked. We’re guessing that it may not appeal to snowmobilers since it doesn’t connect directly to any other roads.

On FR 3862

As we went up the road in the brilliant sunshine, we noticed that the snow was losing its powdery quality and becoming “stickier” so that it now clung to our poles and shoes. Our hike was becoming seriously aerobic as muscles not used to repetitively lifting clots of snow came into play. Our original plan had been to follow FR 3862 to FR 3862-240, follow that to near the top of the butte, and then go cross-country to the top. But, as we rounded the butte’s southwestern ridge, we decided it would be easier (or no harder) to just leave the road and strike directly up the very gently sloping ridge. We took the appearance of a dynamically balanced snow sculpture as affirmation of this decision…

Snow sculpture or directional portent?

Going up through the trees was somewhat easier than working through the softening snow on the road and we soon emerged in to a big open meadow now thickly covered with a smooth blanket of absolutely pristine snow. Wonderful! This is probably a wildflower paradise in late spring and early summer.

Entering the meadow
An expanse of untouched snow
Our tracks and our tracks alone
Sunshine in the meadow
Shadows on snow

Had this been a dirt hike, we’d have just been getting started (these meadows are only two miles from the sno-park). But breaking trail in soft and sticky snow had taken its toll. Continuing on might have ruined an otherwise stellar day through overexertion. Plus the actual top of the butte is tree-covered and viewless. So we enjoyed the meadow a bit more, then headed back.

Contemplating our hike back
Back across the meadow
Back along FR 3862, with the tip (arrow) of Brown Mountain visible on the horizon
Back along the PCT

Despite being only 4.3 miles round-trip with 500 feet of gain, this hike had given us quite a work-out (certain muscles echoed this sentiment until silenced with ibuprofen). But this minor suffering was well worth it for the opportunity to cross untracked snow on a beautiful day to a big snowy meadow! 😀 And, with all this snow, there may be more than a few weeks left in the snowshoe season. And time for the snow to settle just a little bit more. 🙂

Our track to the meadows on the side of Burton Butte
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South Brown Mountain Shelter (Oregon) 29-Dec-2016

South Brown Mountain Shelter Oregon

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.

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Brown Mountain Snowshoe (Southern Oregon) 08-Feb-2016

Brown Mountain Fremont-Winema National Forest Oregon

I had to wait 6 weeks for the weather to calm down a bit. The upside is that what was soft, fluffy, not-so-easy to snowshoe snow has now settled into really nice Spring snow. Brown Mountain sits on the south side of Highway 140, directly south of Mount McLoughlin. Its summit benchmark is 7,311 feet but it’s actually a bit higher than that – and it has a crater! In summer, it’s an almost unclimbable cone of rumpled, sharp lava but in winter, with a good snow cover, it’s a very fun snowshoe (or ski – we’ll get to the snowmobiles later).

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