My wife and I wanted to take a camping trip in our tent trailer. We had never been to the Lava Beds National Monument and I knew there was some climbing to be done nearby, so off we went. It was September 4, 2009 and the summer crowds should be gone. It only takes a couple hours to drive from Medford to the Lava Beds and we arrived early to the campground at Lava Beds and it was nearly deserted. We chose our campsites and went out exploring.
The lava caves are great fun to explore, but I was there to do a little hiking too. I got in a short hike to the summit of Schonchin Butte before calling it a day. I could see Bryant Mountain from Schonchin Butte. The next day we visited the highpoint of Lava Beds National Monument and I climbed nearby Cone Butte and Island Butte also. We then visited Medicine Lake and the new lava flows at Glass Mountain.
The next day, Sunday, my goal was Bryant Mountain. My wife and I got an early start and we made our way north up to the small town of Malin. I had been here about 4 ½ years previously, but was blocked by a locked gate. This time the first gate was open and we drove in to the second gate.
My wife isn’t a hiker, so she stayed with the truck while I hiked to the summit. The hike was not eventful, easy to find, and I wasn’t even harassed by the cows. In fact the cows seemed to be wary of me. They kept giving me that one eyed stare. A one eyed cow stare is something to heed.
I had my walkie-talkies with me, so I kept my wife informed of my progress and when I returned to the truck, she had lunch waiting. Does hiking get any better than this? It was a beautiful summer day in the forest.
After lunch we went back and explored Captain Jack’s stronghold and were fascinated by the history and how clever the Indians were. Total hike was 6.5 miles, 1,050 ft of elevation gain, and took 2.2 hours.