During a post-wedding stay at the Gold Butte Lookout, Greg and I hiked up Battle Ax Mountain, a hike that’s been on my wish list for quite awhile.
I was worried we wouldn’t get any views. Despite a clear beautiful morning, the clouds were rolling in fast by the time we started hiking down from the lookout to the car.
Since it was a weekday we had no trouble parking at the junction with the Elk Lake Campground access road. Then we walked up the road and picked up the trail. (The road to Elk Lake, by the way, is very rough. Careful driving is required.)
The trail passes this little pond full of blooming lily pads.
After negotiating some blowdown we had to push our way through a very brushy section of trail. I should also mention that we had some mosquitoes along this first section of trail, but by the time we reached the summit they didn’t bother us anymore.
There’s a lovely spot where a spring trickles down across the trail. We saw monkeyflower blooming here.
As we hiked we saw patches of beargrass here and there:
And a few other wildflowers:
This long traverse of a rockslide was pretty cool-looking:
Then we picked up the Battle Ax Mountain Trail and worked our way to the summit. Almost there!
As we approached, there was a whole lot of noise coming from the summit (turned out to be an expedition of middle-schoolers from the Opal Creek Center), so we sat and enjoyed the view alongside the trail instead.
At one point we saw what looked like a plane flying by, from south to north. But it made no noise and it was flying pretty low. Very weird.
After our snacks we ventured up to the summit for a few pictures before heading down. It’s been a surprisingly cloudy summer and this day was no exception, but we could see most of Mt. Jefferson. In the second picture you can just barely see the light speck on the summit of that foreground peak. That’s the lookout on Gold Butte.
Three Fingered Jack and the Three Sisters to the south:
The foundations of the long-gone fire lookout:
We made a loop of it, hiking down to Beachie Saddle and Elk Lake via many many switchbacks.
And some really weird-looking rocks:
We passed the Opal Creek kids’ camp at Beachie Saddle and headed down the old section of Road 4697, which doesn’t look like it has been a drivable road in many decades, even though it still shows as one on the topo map.
After our hike we went down to Elk Lake and enjoyed a beer and some chips and salsa. Since it was a weekday we had the place mostly to ourselves except for a few midweek campers.
Then it was back to Gold Butte to enjoy the rest of the afternoon followed by nice evening light on Mt. Jefferson. 😀