Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Oregon Butte - A Washington Hike

Looking for some last swills of summer adventure?

I have a hike up my sleeve for you, that is if you are anywhere near south east Washington.

On of my very favorite Bellingham friends spent part of her summer vacation making the trek across Washington State to come spend a few days in the desert. She is awesome. We are pals, we will be friends for a very long time, it is just one of those friendships.

Spending time together is easy. Cooking together is easy. Adventures together are fun. She knows a lot about me, our friendship is something special. She is on her way to Japan this weekend where she will spend time with family and friends. I am totally going with her next time, even if I have to beg to go.

There are man made springs along the trail. The water is potable, amazing mountain water to clench the soul's thirst.

Last summer, using this same chunk of time we drove north together, in our trusty van full of climbing gear, bikes strapped to the back, across the border. We climbed Squamish, biked Whistler Bike Park, pedaled the backwoods of Squamish, swam in Alice Lake.

This summer her request was simple, relaxing and different.

We wanted to car camp, drink wine, relax. Forget heavy packs, long hikes. We brought our cameras and enjoyed stopping at every single interesting piece of trail.

We stopped constantly. We talked even more than we stopped.

No long days in the saddle, getting lost, crashing. Nothing scary, no climbing. Not too hard, no long and grueling hikes. We have done all these things together and we both decided that a short hike, shopping, wine tasting, and catching up was more important than some challenging adventure. There is a time and place for everything.

You won't believe this but Julie, this woman who staffs this lookout three to four months out of a year, we have mutual friends. Small planet.
We picked out Oregon Butte. Normally, when I think of a Washington mountain, I  think of a lofty volcano or a sky splitting peak with snowy slopes and glaciers hanging all over it. Here on the other side of the state of Washington, the dry side, the mountains are lower and so is the amount of snowfall. Diamond Peak and Oregon Butte are the two highest peaks in this section of the state. Oregon Butte is the highest peak in the southeastern part of Washington State and is the highest peak in the Washington section of the Blue Mountain range.

It isn't a difficult or technical peak but it is a special place. No lofty summit but the reward is plenty of views in all directions. If you live in the southeastern part of Washington State, the Blue Mountains are the peaks closest to home.

Oregon Butte has an actively (wo)manned lookout on its summit. It lies in the Wenaha-Tucannon Wilderness Area and the lookout was built in 1931 and is listed on the Historic Nation Register.

This stove was hit by lighting several times. When it is struck all the metal plates "jump".

When there is a lightening storm, perch your tush on this pedestal.
The trail to the summit is 3 miles one way and only has an elevation gain of 890 feet, a true walk in the park.


  1. Awesome hike and views. How special that there are people in common up high on a mountain, it is a small planet.
    Best, K in Bham

  2. Gorgeous gorgeous photography! It was easy to imagine the special moments shared on this hike!

  3. lovely photos .. i love the place so beautiful ..

  4. Thanks for the blog post. My wife and are hiking Oregon Butte tomorrow for the first time. We're looking forward to it!

  5. This is my kind of hike! Drinking, close friends, and lots of leisurely picture taking! These photos are so beautiful! Since moving to Michigan, I have been missing mountains of all's weird to walk out of my house and to not see the geography rising up around me.