Sunday, June 8, 2014

Abbott Butte

On the drive on a gravel forest road up from the Rogue River to the crest of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide, a large dog thingy ran in front of the car. "WOLF!" was my first thought. Actually, it takes one to know one and I quickly figured out I was looking at a coyote before my brother creature dashed back into the forest in panic. We normally don't see coyotes in the Cascades so that was a pretty cool start to my hike although technically, the hike hadn't officially yet begun.

Not so moderate, maybe
The weather has been quite summery lately and this was going to be another great day for a hike. Despite the superb weather, I had been housebound the week prior, some kind of flu bug had me spending my time lying on the porch swing all day while various body fluids of indeterminate origin oozed out of me. What a waste of good weather! So, the challenge for today was to resume hiking, moderate being the watchword though.

Vanilla leaf
Abbot Butte fit the bill as it alternated shady forest with open slopes and it's a moderate and well-behaved hike hike with some climbing involved in its 7.6 miles. And the trail (the Rogue-Umpqua Divide Trail, formally) allows hikers to properly warm up by politely losing 300 feet of elevation in the first 1.5 miles.

Awww...they still love me
At the trailhead, a few mosquitoes stopped by to say hello and promptly meet their demise by hand-smash. At first, they were few in number and not a bother. However, that all changed as the trail dropped down through a lush and shady forest. More and more of the winged cretins came to visit and at a rocky outcrop at Windy Gap, I finally broke out the Deet and the skeeters annoyed me no further. If only that worked as well for telemarketers, spammers, and the neighbor kid.

Meadow on Abbott Butte
Windy Gap signaled the end of the easy hike portion and the start of the uphill hiking as the trail steadily gained 1,100 feet in just over 2 miles. The pace was relaxed and slow as I took lots of pictures of all the wildflowers that abound on this particular hike. The forest was thinning out, also steadily, with more and more meadows showing up on the slopes of the Rogue-Umpqua Divide.

Miniature onion
And just like that, all the nice forest ended and I slowly crawled up Abbott Butte like an ant on a brick wall on a hot summer day. The trail, an old road, switched back and forth through dense thickets of bitter cherry fully abloom and buzzing with bees. On the ground were clumps of arrowleaf balsamroot, groundsel, and dense patches of low growing purple larkspur.

Crappy place on Abbott Butte
At the top of Abbott Butte sits a dilapidated and abandoned lookout. With each visit, the lookout looks a little bit more rickety and I wonder if it will still be standing at my next visit. However, the lookout was standing for one more day and I lunched and lollygagged in the tower's shade. The nearby privy was in worse shape than the lookout, the ramshackle one-holer has surely served its last butt.

Crater Lake Rim and dirty air
Normally, the butte offers great views towards the Cascades and in particular, the rim peaks of Crater Lake. However, on this day the view was occluded by the smoky haze, courtesy of the aforementioned Two Bull Fire. The thick air would probably make a Los Angeleno feel at home, but this clean-air breathing Oregonian was disappointed.

Vanilla leaf leaves
Minor quibble though, as this hike was really enjoyable despite the smoke. On the return leg, the wildflower show entertained one camera-toting hiker all over again and a cool breeze blew all the mosquitoes away. I left the wilderness fully sated and happy to return the forest to my fellow coyote.

For more pictures of this hike, please stop by and visit the Flickr album.

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