Saturday, June 10, 2017

Hiking 10,000 Year Old Black Butte

Due west of Mt Shasta and right next to Interstate 5 stands Black Butte. 10,000 years ago a volcanic eruption caused a crater where Black Butte now stands. Lava the consistency of toothpaste began oozing from the vent, and, through a series of four of these oozing eruptions, ultimately formed the 6,325 ft high plug dome that is Black Butte.

Black Butte viewed from the south along I-5.

The trail up Black Butte gains 1,875 feet over 2.5 miles, crossing the oldest eruption and the second eruption. Fortunately the incline is never too steep, the hardest part about this trail is how rocky it is, sometimes treacherously so. We were glad we had our trekking poles for stability on both large boulders and loose scree.

Black Butte viewed from the east.

The trail head is reached via a series of old logging roads with few signs, good directions are a must. The roads are in okay shape, just a few large potholes and one rutted section, a passenger car should be able to make it, very carefully.

The trail starts climbing through forest on the NE side of the butte and soon breaks out onto intermittent talus covered slopes. We were glad we'd waited for a cloudy day with cooler temps to make this trek.

A couple of lenticular clouds forming over Mt Shasta.

Those with a fear of heights should probably avoid this trail...the exposure is much worse than this, higher up.

Vibrant penstemon was a bright spot in an otherwise gray morning.

The dogwood were blooming too.

Coming around to the west side of the butte we were treated to views of the Eddy Range, residential areas of Mt Shasta City and several lava plugs along the north side of the main butte.

Looking straight up from the trail.

The trail clearly passed from one eruption to another and, as we climbed the north face of the main butte,
became much rockier. Care had to be taken with every single step.
Here, we are looking east as Mt Shasta starts to come back into view.

Looking back west towards Mt Eddy.

The summit is still quite a ways above us.

One must stop to appreciate the views, otherwise eyes on the trail at all times!

About half a mile or so from the summit the trail crosses a very loose scree field with steep and seemingly endless drops.
Here is a shot of a gabion retaining wall that has slipped. We had to work our way around it very carefully...it was even harder coming back down the mountain!


We made it!
It was pretty windy and cool on top so we didn't stay long.

I'm happy because I'm almost finished with the hard parts!

This was an amazing hike...challenging, with drop dead gorgeous views. We're glad to be able to say we did it but I don't know that we'd do it again...there were some very treacherous spots where one wrong move could prove disastrous. What an experience!

We finished our day with happy hour at the home of new friends Brice and Elaine and saw this lovely lenticular cloud over Mt Shasta. A fitting end to a wonderful week in the shadow of a great mountain.





17 comments:

  1. We loved that hike! Well, that is, except for the big rocks to maneuver on, and the narrow parts with all the exposure. What's funny is we thought the elevation gain would be the big challenge, but that was the easiest part! Glad you made it, and we agree, don't think we would ever attempt it again.

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    1. Gayle I am amazed, I thought you had trouble with heights/drop offs???

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  2. This hike deserved its own post! Great job getting to the summit!! Your Black Butte was much more treacherous. That one area where the wall was slipping was crazy. Yes, coming back down rocky areas with little trail on a steep slope are really scary. Glad you made it safely. Those spectacular views make for lots of rest stops climbing up which we appreciated:)

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    1. More reason for us to do the easier Black Butte near Sisters then!

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  3. Oh what an amazing hike! I'd be right up there with you guys - rocks and all! Can't wait to see you and Hans in Sept for more hiking and beer drinking. :)

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    1. I know you would! See you in a few months!

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  4. Ha, we've never hiked Black Butte, for exactly the reasons you describe! I don't like the combination of loose rock and sheer drop offs. So thanks for doing it for us! We do love hiking Mt. Eddy, though, and have done that many times. But it has to be July before the snow melts enough to get there. Great photos!

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    1. Good to know about Mt Eddy. We've been talking about staying closer to the Trinity Alps...looks interesting and off the beaten path.

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  5. Wow, what a great hike! Thanks for the great views. It looked like your bruises were no longer a factor. Not sure if I will attempt this hike, it sure looks dangerous especially with me taking pictures all the time.

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    1. My feet had to be firmly planted for photos on this hike!

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  6. Gorgeous! Reminds me of the summit hike we did of Wheeler Peak in New Mexico. Lots of scree & talus, elevation gain, and rocks. Plus the elevation and thin air caused me to need to stop several times just to rest and catch my breath. But the view from the peak was well worth every difficult moment, as I am sure your summit of Black Butte was as well. Good going and beautiful photos!

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    1. It's great to experience a difficult hike and be able to say "I did it"...and know you don't necessarily ever have to do it again! ;-)

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  7. Oh my that looks harrowing! I love seeing pretty pink in the wild - it's more unusual than I thought. Those clouds are incredible.

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  8. Sure glad you weren't singing "slip sliding away" again. That was some scree for sure.

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  9. WOW! What a great hike to check off the bucket list! The going up part would not bother me at all, but coming down can be alittle frightening. The penstemon is quite showy...nice photo Lisa. And the views are spectacular. Great hiking day...thanks for sharing!

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  10. That must have been an amazing hike! Very motivating post!

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