January 13-15, 2019
For our annual sisters winter trek this year, Deb and I reserved Fivemile Butte Lookout in the Mt. Hood National Forest. It was our third stay there.
On Sunday we headed to The Dalles, down to Dufur, then west on Dufur Mill Road / Road 44 to Billy Bob Sno-Park. We drove slowly along the somewhat slippery road:
There were only two vehicles at the sno-park when we arrived. Deb loaded the sled (I guess technically it’s called a pulk) and expertly strapped everything down.
It was 24 degrees when we set off from the sno-park at 11:45. The reason I was pulling a pulk with all our gear (instead of the way we normally do it where we each carry a loaded pack) was because Deb had foot surgery a few months ago. Her doctor cleared her to snowshoe the three miles up to the lookout, but not to carry a heavy pack, so this was our solution.
Shortly before turning left off 4430 we passed two guys with packs on their way out. They had stayed at the lookout the previous two nights and said everything was ship-shape.
It wasn’t raining or snowing but there was moisture in the air. The below-freezing temps meant that the moisture froze onto trees and it was really beautiful!
As we climbed higher we started to rise above the inversion. Soon we had blue skies and the clouds were below us instead of around us:
The final approach to the lookout was quite lovely under blue skies:
We got a peek at Mt. Adams through the trees:
There’s the lookout!
The woodshed was well-stocked. We discovered that since our previous visit two years ago the door was moved from the end of the shed to the side:
The cabin still held some warmth from the previous renters and was nice and clean. Thanks guys!
We were disappointed to discover some new vandalism since our last visit. Not cool.
There weren’t any views when we first arrived. It was mostly clear, but clouds were swirling all around us:
Then in the late afternoon the clouds disappeared and we found ourselves looking out at the peaks with the clouds settled into the valleys below. Spectaular! Mt. Rainier and Mt. Adams:
It was too cold to stay outside for long, so we mostly enjoyed the view from inside where it was nice and warm:
At 7:30 we went outside to see the stars. With a first quarter moon casting light all around, the stars weren’t as bright as they could have been, but we could still see thousands:
The moon was so bright that there were shadows on the ground as we stood and gazed up at the beautiful stars:
Good thing we went out to see the stars when we did, because the clouds rolled in about an hour later and stuck around for the rest of our stay.
Monday morning it was 23 degrees at 7:30am and everything was covered in frost:
After lounging around and relaxing in the morning, we went for a trek in the early afternoon, hiking down the road and picking up the Eightmile Loop Trail:
With everything coated in icy frost, it was a beautiful winter wonderland:
We went as far as the junction with the Bottle Prairie Trail, then turned around:
We stayed socked-in all day on Monday with no clearing at all. But we had no wind, which is pretty unusual for a winter stay at a lookout!
There were definitely no stars Monday night. This was dusk:
After dinner we played Hive:
Tuesday morning was even colder with even more frost:
It was crazy beautiful!
Deb chopped more wood and we used the pulley system to restock the wood supply in the lookout:
We cleaned the cabin and loaded up our gear:
Deb decided to hitch a ride back down to the sno-park. (Just kidding!)
Goodbye, Fivemile Butte! We’ll be back.
It was a beautiful and easy trek back to the truck, cloudy but wintery.
We got back to the sno-park at 1pm and it was a chilly 21 degrees. On our way home we stopped in The Dalles for pizza. Yum!