Tanner Butte Hike 5/20/17

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Marti M
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Joined: May 24th, 2017, 11:50 am

Tanner Butte Hike 5/20/17

Post by Marti M » May 24th, 2017, 12:48 pm

I hiked the Tanner Butte Trail 5/20/17, successfully making it to the summit. Link for Gaia track view a map of it on https://www.gaiagps.com/public/dZ77wokY ... RasterFeet . I used the trail description from Oregonhikers.org, http://www.oregonhikers.org/field_guide ... Butte_Hike and altered the start of it to avoid leaving my car parked at the Tooth Rock Trailhead, instead leaving early enough to insure a parking spot near the camp host at Eagle Creek. In the link on the hike description, I used the the Many Ways to the Tanner Butte Trailhead option 1 going, and option 2 going back, since traffic later in the day is obnoxious next to the road.

Started at 6:39 am, weather was overcast as forecast. Reached the Tanner Butte Trail 401 just before 8 am.
I may or may not be guilty of stopping along the way to take pictures of flowers that were blooming. Found a Chocolate Lily, a bunch of Fairy Slippers, wild Dogwood, Fringe Cup, Bleeding Heart, Starflower, Vanilla Leaf, Fairy Bells, Viola, Paintbrush, Trillium and a couple more I am trying to identify. So if you like quiet wildflower hikes, while everyone is flocking to Dog Mountain, this is a good one.
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Fairy Slipper
The trail itself is long, but not what I would consider steep as the vast gain is spread over the 10 miles fairly evenly with the exception of the trail of the unsigned Tanner Spur, which is quite steep but short.
The hike itself was pretty uneventful as far as blowdown was concerned. Some downed trees, but not excessive. It is likely however that some is buried in snow towards the top. Of note is one of the creek crossings in an area that there has been trail washout. It was navigable, but caution is to be exercised, mostly on the return when you are tired as the area is in clay soil which is quite slippery.
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Washed out area in trail
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I hoped for the clouds to clear…

I found my first snow patch at around 3640 ft, which quickly turned to solid snow just before the Dublin Lake cutoff, at around 11:00 am. Probably the most tricky part of the trail to follow is in this area, I noticed the tracks of a group headed out from the Dublin Lake cutoff. I followed them for a short distance, but then took the time to find the usual makers that I look for when traveling in snow, namely cut logs and trimmed branches. In this area there are not many of either, as the understory is quite open, so after finding one cut log more west of where I was then traveling up the ridge, consulted Gaia to confirm that the trail did bend more to the west than going uphill like the description in the Oregonhikers trail guide. If you look at the Gaia track you can see where I went off, following the ridge line instead of the trail that was buried in snow. The trail does take a turn to the West of the ridge in this area, avoiding a steeper uphill climb. Taking this into account, I was able to find the old roadbed, which is very obvious when you do find it and easy to follow.
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Area just before Dublin Lake cutoff trail

Snow, of course, was deeper due to the open area in the trees. Apparently the group whose tracks I was following found their way back to this area as I had done, because I found a walkie talkie that one of them had dropped when they post holed in a tree well caused by a small tree buried in the snow. I picked it up, intending to turn it into the camp host at Eagle Creek, and noted its location on my Gaia ap.
About 12:30 I came across a group of four guys heading towards me. I asked them where they were going, and they replied the top of the Eagle Creek Trail. They said they had spent the night at Dublin Lake. This puzzled me, as they were heading in the wrong direction if they had spent the night at Dublin Lake and were wanting to connect with Eagle Creek using the Eagle Tanner Trail. I asked if they had lost a walkie talkie, which they had. I informed them they were heading back towards Dublin Lake, which really surprised them, as they figured they were well on their way to the top of the Eagle Creek Trail. They said they had run into a very scary rocky drop off which they were now trying to avoid. I showed them where they were on Gaia, and after consulting among themselves, they decided they probably should head back from where they started, considering they didn’t feel they had enough food to make it all the way, and they were having a heck of a time with traction, (one of them was wearing Vans, and complaining about his wet feet!!!). I told them to follow the tracks back through the snow and to stop if they weren’t sure where they were again, as I would be heading back the same way I came after I summited Tanner Butte and they could follow me out to the Eagle Creek parking lot.

I continued on, finding where they had gone off route by their tracks in the snow, which went on the east side of the ridge, rather than the west side where they needed to be. The trail was actually pretty easy to follow, in spite of the deep snow drifts, due to the cut tree branches along the correct path. I was glad I was wearing Microspikes, as traveling up and down the drifts would have been difficult and time consuming without them.
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Drifted snow towards upper end
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Snow on trail before Tanner Butte Cut off
The trail started looking more like it was following an old road bed again, and I again consulted Gaia because the Tanner Spur Trail is unsigned as noted in the directions, making it extremely difficult to find in the snow.

I loosely followed the trail using Gaia as a guide, and wished I had my ice ax and crampons as I got more towards the top, as it is steep, with deep snow drifts to contend with. I sought out a path with something to catch me if I slipped, which was a good choice, as that happened a couple of times, and managed to make it to the top. I stayed to the center of the top, as there was probably at least seven feet of snow, and I took into consideration with that amount of snow, and the rising temperature, a slab avalanche along the steep sided slope of the butte could not be ruled out, in addition to the fact that knowing the location of the true edge was impossible in that amount of snow.
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Looking at the Tanner Butte summit
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Looking back from the summit

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Off the summit
The actual rocky summit of Tanner Butte was snow free, the snow having been scoured off by wind and rain, and actually quite warm, but still overcast. I couldn’t see the mountains, so I will have to return again for the famous view.

I ate lunch, and as I was leaving the top, another person, a teen boy was just reaching the top. He was quite excited, and asked me to tell his mom if I saw her that he made it to the top. I asked if he had seen four guys on the return trail, and if they were heading in the correct direction, and he said he had, and they were. I didn’t get the chance to see his mother, as he came down without spending much time at the top, beating me back to the Tanner Butte Trail, and continuing with her to the Eagle Tanner trail, judging by their tracks. My plan was to return the way I had come, which I did.

The return trip was uneventful, but it must be noted that the same area that I went off track before was also difficult upon return. I finished the route and was back at my car at around 7:00 pm.

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Re: Tanner Butte Hike 5/20/17

Post by Bosterson » May 24th, 2017, 1:06 pm

Excellent first TR! :)

Tanner Butte is a great dayhike. Looks like the snow is still a bit junky up there, so nice work trucking on through that. Is your washed out creek crossing the one between the start of the 401 Tanner Butte trail and the powerline road ~ 1/4 mi later?
Will hike off trail for fun.

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Marti M
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Joined: May 24th, 2017, 11:50 am

Re: Tanner Butte Hike 5/20/17

Post by Marti M » May 24th, 2017, 3:50 pm

Bosterson wrote:Excellent first TR! :)

Tanner Butte is a great dayhike. Looks like the snow is still a bit junky up there, so nice work trucking on through that. Is your washed out creek crossing the one between the start of the 401 Tanner Butte trail and the powerline road ~ 1/4 mi later?

Thanks Bosterson. I had to check my SPOT. The photo was taken at 8:10am, at 8:11 I was at 45.625149,-121.942413. Put it as a waypoint on Gaia, https://www.gaiagps.com/public/uqtnJcJ4LOiRoxP80wJMmmJo. If you look at the elevation lines and the trail, close to the created waypoint, where it V's is the creek and washout. Shows up as a pretty sharp v in the trail also.


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