Copper Butte in the SnowI had a long drive up to northeast Washington from my home in Medford, Oregon. I left on Thursday afternoon September 14, 2006 and headed north. I found a spot to sleep in a rest area north of the WA/OR border and continued north on Friday morning. I didn’t get to the Copper Butte Trailhead until about 10:00AM. I’m glad I didn’t get here earlier because it was cold. My car thermometer said it was 39 degrees at the trailhead. I noticed that the trees had fresh snow and it was just starting to drip from the melt off.
After this long drive, I didn’t take very long to get my boots and pack on before heading up the trail. The trailhead was very nice in the trees with several camping spots and an outhouse. This would have been a better place to car camp than the rest area on the highway.
Two signs are at the trailhead. One says it is the “Old Stage Road” and the other says “Old State Road”. Either way they made a nice trail. It isn’t a road by today’s standards. The trail headed off into the forest and I started to work out the kinds from driving. Soon there were patches of snow on the trail. I had the honor of “breaking trail” through the first snow of the season. I didn’t need my crampons or ice axe here because it was only about 1” deep.
I followed Dean’s directions and easily found my way up to the pass and then on to the trail that heads to the summit. As I climbed the Kettle Crest Trail I noticed fresh deer tracks, grouse tracks, and bear prints in the snow on the trail. These all had to be fresh because it had snowed only a few hours previously. One of the grouse even paused on the trail long enough for me to take his picture.
The summit was anticlimactic for a pleasant hike. There were still lots of clouds around so I had limited views of the surrounding area. There was about 2 inches of snow on the summit and it was cooler than at the trailhead. I didn’t stay long because I didn’t want to put on my jacket that was in my pack. I headed down the trail, trying to catch a glimpse of that old bear on my way back to my truck. No luck on seeing anything exciting. It only took me about 2.25 hours for this hike and I never saw anyone else. This is a nice hike. Check off another Washington County Highpoint for me.