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 Post subject: Stacker Butte: 12/31/16
 Post Posted: January 1st, 2017, 3:09 pm 
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Joined: May 1st, 2011, 7:26 pm
Posts: 930
What: Stacker Butte Hike in the Snow
When: 12/31/16
Who: Me (Born2BBrad), Dawn (Forest Panther)

Opening picture:
Image

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General Information

Total miles: 8.5
Total EG: 2500’
Number of other hikers: 0
Estimated top wind speed: 45-50 mph

Google Earth overview:
Image

Topographical overview:
Image

Elevation profile:
Image

Google Earth 360 video overview (31 seconds):


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Narrative

If you have ever driven I-84 east through the Columbia River Gorge to Eastern Oregon, you certainly have noticed the hills on the Washington side spanning from Lyle to Rock Creek. This 45 mile long range is known as the Columbia Hills.

Many people are familiar with the annual springtime balsamroot and lupine flower show of The Dalles Mt. Ranch, now part of the Columbia Hills Nature Area Preserve.

The high point of the Columbia Hills is Stacker Butte (3220’), which is within the Columbia Hills Nature Area Preserve. An easily walkable road, closed off to traffic, leads to Stacker Butte.

Having been to The Dalles Mt. Ranch and Stacker Butte in the spring, Dawn and I thought it would be interesting to see it in the winter, covered in snow. Now that we live in The Dalles, it’s only a 20 minute drive to the trailhead.

With the forecast for the last day of the year being favorable, off we went!

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Pictures

View from the trailhead. Notice the low clouds hanging over the Columbia River:
Image

Trailhead sign and gate:
Image

No ticks or rattlesnakes today. Attention Grammar Police, do you see anything wrong here?
Image

It looks like each government agency has their own key to unlock the gate:
Image

The road started out mostly clear of snow in the tracks:
Image

Soon it was all snow. The snow cat tracks made for easy walking:
Image

Almost as pretty as the big yellow blooms in spring, eh?
Image

Looking east, with the low clouds still hanging around:
Image

The first communication structure in sight. This is where we noticed the wind beginning:
Image

The snow cat cut the switchback, so we did too:
Image

Lots of white snow and low clouds:
Image

Looking east back at the first communication structure:
Image

The north side of the Columbia Hills had low clouds too:
Image

Swale Canyon:
Image

Mt. Adams:
Image

FAA beacon on Stacker Butte:
Image

Old fence post:
Image

The last of the communication structures:
Image

After making it to the last communication tower, the snow cat tracks ended. Looking west, at Peak 3045, we thought, “Hey! Let’s see if we can make it over there! It doesn’t look that far away.” Famous last words.

Feline tracks on the way to Peak 3045:
Image

To get to Peak 3045, you must lose 360’ and then gain 345 of those feet back. Not too difficult on a groomed trail, but breaking trail with a headwind that was now 30+ mph is another story. We made it halfway there before deciding to turn around. Note: from the last communication tower to Peak 3045 is just under two miles one way.

On the way back after trying to make it to Peak 3045.
Image

To get out of the incessant wind, we took shelter behind a wall of one of the buildings next to a communication tower. The sound the wind made blowing through the tower was eerie. The sideways blowing snow added to auditory display.

Video of wind noise and blowing snow (19 seconds):


With the winds picked up, the low clouds hanging over the Columbia River began to get scoured out:
Image

Mt. Adams framed by old fence posts:
Image

The ridge of the Columbia Hills are known for channeling high winds. We almost got blown over a few times on the way down. It was the highest wind I have ever experienced while hiking.

Here I am leaning into the wind:
Image

Keep on hiking,

Brad

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Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.
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 Post subject: Re: Stacker Butte: 12/31/16
 Post Posted: January 1st, 2017, 3:15 pm 
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
Posts: 10970
can you camp out overnight?

that looks pretty chilly


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 Post subject: Re: Stacker Butte: 12/31/16
 Post Posted: January 1st, 2017, 3:21 pm 
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retired jerry wrote:
can you camp out overnight?

that looks pretty chilly


Lots of things banned there:

No bicycles
No dogs
No motorized vehicles (except authorized)
No shooting
No hunting
No horses
No camping
No fires

Despite these bans, fun is allowed.

And yes, it was cold, but we were prepared.

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Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.
- Jean Luc Picard


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 Post subject: Re: Stacker Butte: 12/31/16
 Post Posted: January 1st, 2017, 3:36 pm 
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that's too bad because that could be a nice off season place to camp. Escape rain on the west side. Nice views.


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 Post subject: Re: Stacker Butte: 12/31/16
 Post Posted: January 2nd, 2017, 7:56 am 
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That last pic is specially cool. Love it.


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 Post subject: Re: Stacker Butte: 12/31/16
 Post Posted: January 2nd, 2017, 8:40 am 
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:02 pm
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Location: Lake Oswego
And the first picture is also very cool! I love the Stacker Butte summit decorations: a cross between Stonehenge and a tribute to Bill Clinton! What a beautiful day out and only 20 minutes from your house!

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 Post subject: Re: Stacker Butte: 12/31/16
 Post Posted: January 2nd, 2017, 4:10 pm 
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Joined: May 28th, 2008, 10:03 pm
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Location: SE Portland
I hiked Stacker Butte two years ago today and the wind on top was the most intense cold I've ever experienced. I see that this is not unusual at all. I was pretty much only able to stay up there for about 2 minutes before I hit my limit, giving me time to snap a couple of photos and wolf down a Clif bar. Glad you guys could make it up there!

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 Post subject: Re: Stacker Butte: 12/31/16
 Post Posted: January 3rd, 2017, 6:56 am 
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Born2BBrad wrote:
No ticks or rattlesnakes today. Attention Grammar Police, do you see anything wrong here?
Image


Chase wrote:
That last pic is specially cool. Love it.


:lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Stacker Butte: 12/31/16
 Post Posted: January 3rd, 2017, 8:50 am 
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Location: Portland, OR
Great photos! Brrrr....sounds cold.

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 Post subject: Re: Stacker Butte: 12/31/16
 Post Posted: January 3rd, 2017, 3:38 pm 
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Location: Salmon Creek
Chase wrote:
That last pic is specially cool. Love it.

:lol:

It's the classic Slacker Butte Slant!

    Image
    April 13, 2013

Really nice photos, Brad! Looks like a lot of fun. (In retrospect, at least. ;) )

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