Saturday, September 29, 2007 I left my house in Medford, Oregon and drove about 65 miles to the trailhead for Eagle Mountain. It was a nice morning, with a little overcast when I arrived at the trailhead. It is deer hunting season here and I passed several hunters parked along the road as they pursued bambi. I even passed one “lucky” hunter with a buck laying across his ATV. At the trailhead I grabbed my orange hunter’s vest and draped it around my backpack before heading out on the trail.
It was a beautiful clear morning and I could see Whetstone Butte along the ridgeline to the north. It looked nice enough, that I already decided to see if I could find a way to its summit. The trail is well maintained as it leaves the trailhead and continues to be in good shape for the entire hike. The trail headed west and climbed couple hundred feet before turning to the north and heading directly to Whetstone Butte. I was alone and away from hunters as soon as I left the trailhead and the deer must have known that the hunters never get far from their trucks too. The trail was covered with fresh hoof prints from deer. I guess deer like to hike too.
As I approached Whetstone Butte I could see the south end was pretty steep and rocky. I explored off to the east side of the butte and found an easy ramp up to the summit ridge and then followed the ridge to the highpoint that was marked with a cairn. At this point I should have backtracked to the trail the way I came up, but I decided to follow the ridge north towards Eagle Mountain. I knew I could catch the trail again at Eagle Gap, so off I went. The north side of Whetstone Butte is quite steep and you have to pick your route down. Once off the summit block and down to the ridgeline, it became quite brushy with lots of down burned trees. This slowed me down because I had to pick my way along looks for less brushy areas that weren’t blocked by trees. I kept going and eventually got into an area of burned forest that was less brushy and then just headed straight down towards Eagle Gap.
I was happy when I came across the trail again just before the gap. From Eagle Gap I could see the route up Eagle Mountain and where the summit is. The trail climbs steeply up a bare slope to a ridge line with some green pine trees that were spared from the Biscuit Fire. The views continued to improve as I climbed and then just as the trail started to descend towards Pearsoll Peak I turned west and walked out to the rocky highpoint of Eagle Mountain. This is a nice hike and the views in all directions are great. I took some pictures, ate my lunch, enjoyed the sun, and then made my way back down the trail. I stayed on the trail all the way to the trailhead and my hike was over all too soon.
I had some time to kill before heading back home so I drove back up the road to where the Onion Camp road meets the main Eight Dollar Road and just before that intersection there is a side road to the east that leads up to the summit of Fiddler Mountain. I took this road and it was rougher than the other roads I had been on today. I drove up to the summit of Fiddler Mountain where there are a couple of radio relay stations. There were also 2 other trucks. A couple dads were showing their sons how to shoot a .22 rifle. I guess the hunting wasn’t very good in the middle of the afternoon.
I still wasn’t ready to go home so after returning to the main road, I headed over to the Babyfoot Lake Trailhead and then drove through the open gate on the north side of Hungry Hill. I drove around to the south side of Hungry Hill and noticed a 4WD road heading towards the summit of Hungry Hill. I put my Tacoma into 4WD and drove this steep little road right up to the highpoint. Hungry Hill was spared the wrath of the Biscuit Fire, so it was nice to appreciate the views from a patch of green. Now I was done and headed home. I visited 4 easy named summits and had a great day.