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Bald Butte via Oak Ridge & Surveyors Ridge

Posted: November 29th, 2019, 8:59 pm
by Chip Down
Well, our Sepvember is over. Bushwhacking in new snow is miserable, so I looked for a trail for today's hike. Settled on Surveyors Ridge from the north TH. Pine Mont Drive was plowed, but a bit icy, and no place to comfortably turn around except driveways. I figured if I persisted, I could end up having to back down. So I went looking for a way to access the powerline road that goes up to Surveyors Ridge, and stumbled upon Oak Ridge TH. Perfect! Really close to Hwy 35.

I started up the trail with a couple surprises: It really wasn't that cold, and somebody had broken trail for me. Nice. But at 2200 the footprints abruptly ended, in a random place. I guess they got fed up with it, or ran out of time. Just above that, I entered the open ridgecrest. That was fun. Trail was just slightly hard to follow, but getting lost would be impossible. Snow was getting really deep, but when I re-entered the forest, it wasn't so bad.

When I reached Surveyors Ridge, I noticed I had been traveling at about 1mph, a pace that I continued through the hike. I turned left/north and waded through deep snow along the ridge crest until I reached a saddle where I found the utility road. I continued north, in hopes of reaching the open snowy slopes I had seen from Oak Ridge Trail (I came to realize it's Bald Butte). Kinda boring at the top. I had hoped for a distinct high point with a 360 view, but it's elongated, with a gradual drop to the north, and lots of trees.

I dropped back down to the powerline saddle, and started down the utility road. This is where I encountered the deepest snow of the day, about waistband high in spots, usually mid thigh. I don't think it would have been possible to ascend this road as I had originally planned. The powerline corridor was slightly fun and scenic, but not as much as I was hoping for.

Field guide says I should watch for rattlesnakes and ticks. I didn't see any.

Re: Bald Butte via Oak Ridge & Surveyors Ridge

Posted: November 30th, 2019, 7:05 pm
by maryannpdx
Thanks for the snow level intel. I was just thinking of doing this hike later this week. Guess I will find another, since I am not a big fan of the snow.

Re: Bald Butte via Oak Ridge & Surveyors Ridge

Posted: December 1st, 2019, 6:22 am
by vitameatavegamin
Great report, thank you. What kind of pants were you wearing for this hike?

Re: Bald Butte via Oak Ridge & Surveyors Ridge

Posted: December 1st, 2019, 11:26 am
by Chip Down
vitameatavegamin wrote:
December 1st, 2019, 6:22 am
Great report, thank you. What kind of pants were you wearing for this hike?
Heavy fleece. It seems like smoother material would hold less snow, and thus stay drier, but I've never been uncomfortably damp in fleece. If I spent a lot of time in those conditions, I'd buy some dedicated snow pants, or pair a light fleece layer with a smooth outer layer to block wind and shed snow. Speaking of clothing, I'm glad I didn't wear a parka, as it would have been dragging in the snow. Even my waist-length jacket was brushing the snow at times. :D

Re: Bald Butte via Oak Ridge & Surveyors Ridge

Posted: December 1st, 2019, 11:36 am
by retired jerry
the snow was waist deep at spots????

Re: Bald Butte via Oak Ridge & Surveyors Ridge

Posted: December 1st, 2019, 1:22 pm
by Chip Down
retired jerry wrote:
December 1st, 2019, 11:36 am
the snow was waist deep at spots????
Yep, sure was. On the utility road, along the powerlines. No trees to catch any of it, and too protected to be windswept. One concern is that as I looked downslope, I could see there were places where parts of the meandering road system ascended slightly before more descents. Good luck walking uphill in that! I was mostly able to string together downhill sections, sometimes offroad. It was light and fluffy, and with a little help from gravity it wasn't too hard to walk through. I've never played in a ball pit, but I imagine this is what it feels like.

When I finally cut over to the packed trail down low, it felt amazing to walk normally for the first time in hours. Trail was very narrow, a trough through the snow, as if it had been carefully excavated with a shovel. Maybe about mid-calf at that point.

Re: Bald Butte via Oak Ridge & Surveyors Ridge

Posted: December 1st, 2019, 2:08 pm
by retired jerry
wow, I guess it's now winter. No more alpine trips unless it's with snowshoes or something.

Re: Bald Butte via Oak Ridge & Surveyors Ridge

Posted: December 2nd, 2019, 3:34 pm
by vitameatavegamin
Chip Down wrote:
December 1st, 2019, 11:26 am
vitameatavegamin wrote:
December 1st, 2019, 6:22 am
Great report, thank you. What kind of pants were you wearing for this hike?
Heavy fleece. It seems like smoother material would hold less snow, and thus stay drier, but I've never been uncomfortably damp in fleece. If I spent a lot of time in those conditions, I'd buy some dedicated snow pants, or pair a light fleece layer with a smooth outer layer to block wind and shed snow. Speaking of clothing, I'm glad I didn't wear a parka, as it would have been dragging in the snow. Even my waist-length jacket was brushing the snow at times. :D
Thanks, Chip. I've found snow pants too hot while hiking or snowshoeing and have been trying to find the right combination. I may give the fleece and a pair of Precip pants a try next.