3rd visit and success
This is a trip report that really doesn't contain anything overly exciting or dramatic but it does chronicle one of the more fun days of 2009 for me. I had been chasing this mountain for several years and it was special in the fact that I was able to be with two of my very best friends on this day, particularly since I had tried to get Pueblo Mtn. with each one of them. It is now very rare that I can be together with both Dennis and Bob and so it was neat to have a day where I could be with both of them.
They say that the third time is a charm and this proved to be true in this case. However, the first two times I went to the foot of this mountain, it was not attempted. Why? Well, twice before I had made the long trip to the Pueblo Mtn area, only to be twarted by bad weather. Both times, thunderstorms kept me from even attempting the mountain so this mountain had moved high on my "want" list. Funny how that works, not having
a chance the first two times really whets one appetite for later. A bit of history is described below.
The first time was with Dennis Poulin and while he and I were successful on several other peaks in the area, when we went to do Pueblo, the weather changed on us and it changed dramatically. Thunderstorms boomed day and night and we knew it was time to leave it for another time. This was over the Memorial day weekend in 2005.
The following year I was back over Memorial Day with Bob Bolton and once again we were stopped by bad weather. Arrrggggh. It was to be three years before I was able to get back to finish what I had never really started and once again, around Memorial Day, I was back. I met up with Dennis and his wife in Fields Oregon where they were camping and since Dennis had already climbed Pueblo, he and I went ahead and did Duffer Peak instead, another prominence peak in nearby Nevada. Once again I was scheduled to do Pueblo with Bob and he and his father arrived the later in the same day that we were climbing Duffer on.
Bright and early the next morning, Dennis and I piled into my truck and Bob and his dad followed us in Bob's 4Runner. Dennis was planning to climb West Pueblo while Bob and I did Pueblo itself so we had Dennis as a guide for the early miles up the Arizona Creek road. Dennis had climbed the peak back in August of 2005 and I quote from his trip report of that event:
"I was familiar with the area because I had been by here twice before this year looking for a chance to climb Pueblo. I located the Arizona Creek gravel road and headed up towards Pueblo. The road has had some recent repair work to fill in several washouts, but it was still kind of rough. I followed the road up, crossed Arizona Creek, took a right at a fork, and continued into a little valley. The road was a little narrow, but I didn’t have any real problem making progress. Near the head of this little valley, there was a gate across the road. The only sign on the gate was to close it after you pass through."
That road gets a bit unnerving for about a mile as the road narrows to just wider than your vehicle and hugs the side of the mountain as a shelf type road. The drop off is a bit unnerving. During that mile, there is no room for passing and pity the downhill bound vehicle that has to yield to an uphill bound one as that would be no fun at all. We did meet an uphill bound vehicle on the way back but at least that was fairly early and I didn't have to back up more than several hundred yards.
After we got that "mile" out of the way, the road became a bit less intimidating to me and we passed through the gate that Dennis mentioned in his trip report and found it open ( probably open most of the time) and for a time the road improved (no drop offs). It was near that gate where Dennis had stopped on his hike to the summit so from that point on Dennis was on new ground.
The road led us around the mountain onto the west side and we had to negotiate a couple spots in the Steargen Meadows area where water was making the road a bit on the boggy/muddy side but a non factor to impeding our progress. We also crossed a stream that required us to check it out before going across to make sure it didn't become a stopper. High clearence and 4WD is a must on some sections and after getting past the muddy areas and a very steep grade, the road became easier. We had Bob and his 4runner behind us the whole time and that was a nice feeling of security, to have that second vehicle with us.
Dennis wrote this in his trip report for West Pueblo about our drive in and I think it is worth repeating below:
"Dean volunteered to drive to the Pueblo Trailhead (I think he felt guilty eating all of my wife’s brownies) and I politely acquiesced. Actually, I had been up the road previously and knew it was challenging.
Dean took the lead and Bob followed up Arizona Creek and as the road deteriorated and became more narrow, I was glad Dean was driving. There are long stretches of this road where it is impossible for 2 cars to pass one another. We crept up into the Ten Cent Meadows area. When we encountered large boggy areas that looked treacherous, we got out and checked out the dangers. The bottom of the bogs seemed to be solid, so we continued on and soon we reached 7,000 feet and a fairly flat wide spot where we could all park.
Up to the top
We reached a spot where the road began to drop down to Ten Cent Meadow and here we finally stopped at a fairly level spot a bit above the 7000 foot level. GPS 42.0998 118.6675 (nad 27) Dennis wanted to climb West Pueblo peak while Bob and I went up to the summit of Pueblo so he made the decision to head over to West Pueblo and so added a couple miles to his effort. I would pick him up at the base of West Pueblo after doing Pueblo so that plan ended up working out well as it turned out.
Bob's dad had really enjoyed the drive in as he had really never been on a road like that before in his 94 years. Did I mention that Bob's dad was a spritely 94? The man is truly an amazing person. He was an inspiration to all who were around him and a very fine gentleman. He stayed with our vehicles while Bob and I headed up the side of the mountain with Bob keeping in touch with him via two way radio. It was 1600 feet from where we parked to the summit (elevation gain) and probably not over a mile to a mile and a half in distance. While it was steep, the footing was good and our way fairly obvious. If you read the other accounts of those who have signed the Pueblo summit log, it is easy to see that the western approach is the far simpler way to go and a lot shorter. However, it does require a vehicle that can make the drive to get to the spot where we hiked it from.
When we finally reached a saddle, we angled to a rocky area that appeared to be the summit area and with Bob taking one way up and I another, we both met at the summit, which was marked with a small cairn, a USGS benchmark and a small register bottle located within the cairn. We congratulated each other on finally getting the 20th highest prominence peak in the state of Oregon and Bob checked in with his dad who was patiently waiting for Bob's call. I made cell contact with Dennis who gave me some idea of where to pick him up at the conclusion of his climb.
The weather seemed to be taking a turn for the worse so we kept our summit visit short and headed back down to meet up with Bob's dad who was excited
for us. It had taken us an hour and ten minutes up and 50 minutes to get back down so the whole hike was not much more than a two hour effort, kind of strange when you realize how long it takes to get to such a remote peak.
Bob decided to head back down while I went over to pick up Dennis at the base of West Pueblo and the timing turned out to be pretty good as I didn't have to wait very long for Dennis to rejoin me once I got at the
logical spot to park. On the way out it started to rain on us and I was very glad to drive off the mountain before the road got too wet.
Back in Fields it was like Dennis mentioned in his West Pueblo trip report, a mini SP convention with Caleb, Dennis, Bob and myself. Caleb had been successful on his effort to reach the top of Orevada View, another prominence peak that is nearby but in Nevada.
We had a great evening and planned for our next day, the high point of the Jackson mountain range, 70 miles to the south in Nevada. The day before,
both Dennis and I had been successful on reaching the top of Duffer Peak but I can easily admit, Pueblo Mtn was my main objective for this mini trip.
While in the area....Dennis and I did Duffer Peak the day before and then we made the trip as mentioned above to pick up the Jackson Range HP with four SP members tagging the top of that one: Dennis, Bob, Caleb and myself.
The little village of Fields Oregon has a gas station, a small store, a camping area and a cafe. One of their claims is that you can get the best milk shakes in all of southeastern Oregon there but the reality is that there isn't much in the way of civilization in this section of southeastern Oregon. Still, that milk shake tastes mighty good after a day in the mountains. The cafe serves up a great hamburger as well as a great breakfast but be forewarned, the cafe closes at 4 p.m. and the store closes at 6. Try and get your gas and goodies before they close.
From the 2006 visitWhen Bob and I didn't get the chance (thanks to the weather), Bob did participate in an activity that was at its peak in Fields at that time, birdwatching. Fields is one of the premier spots where bird watchers head for around Memorial day time (late May). I must admit that I know nothing about bird watching but did learn a lot from watching the bird watchers. Here's a few observations:
1. Bird watchers BRAG about the size of their binoculars. That is a big thing.
2. Bird watchers talk about having a life list and say things like "I now
am up to 320 on my life list" Sounds like a peakbagger doesn't it.
3. Bird watchers carry bird books with them and say things like "Yikes, that
is a yellow breasted tanager" or something like that.
4. Bird watchers get really excited when the see a new bird. Some were marveling about a bird that was from the east coast but took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up heading for California.
5. Bird watchers drive long distances to find a new bird (isn't that silly)
Here are a few pics from my observing the bird people.
All kidding aside, I was very impressed by the knowledge of these friendly people and their hobby certainly does one very important thing, it gets them outside and they enjoy the out of doors as well as appreciate one on the true wonders of nature: birds.
I don't have any pics from the 2005 visit since Dennis and I had thunderstorms all night after we had arrived at a spot where we camped just off the road. In the morning it was more of the same so no pics from that brief visit.