Brown Mtn in So. Oregon

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Oct 7, 2006
Activities Activities: Hiking
Seasons Season: Fall

Cross country effort

When studying the "getting there" section that Dennis Poulin put into his Brown Mtn page, I noticed that he listed a way from the east:

"If you want the shortest route possible, take the turn off from Hwy 140 that accesses the west side of Lake of the Woods. There is a sign on for this turn on Hwy 140 for Camp McLoughlin and Camp Esther Applegate. Take the first gravel road to the right and continue for about 3 miles to an elevation about 5,600ft and you are only about 1.4 miles from the summit. Find a place to park off the road and mark your location with your GPS. You will need it on the descent to find your car." That was the information we needed and it was the way we decided to go after Brown. A short cross country route sounded like "fun".

Bob Bolton
and I had hiked up Aspen Butte the day before, a 12 mile effort and only needed Brown Mtn to finish off the prominence peaks in the Klamath Falls area. We decided to do Brown Mtn as neither one of us wanted to tackle it solo considering the nasty terrain that surrounded Brown. Think "ankle twisting, ankle breaking" kind of terrain. Brown Mtn is a volcanic peak that has lava flows that have become talus fields and these talus fields pretty much surround the whole mountain. Mix in some woods and brush and no trails or use paths, and you have your work cut out for you, even though the mileage aspect isn't all that much.
Cross country delight

We followed Dennis's directions and found a nice spot to park two vehicles where an abandoned spur road (FS 300) used to be. The elevation was a bit over 5600 and it was direct cross country to the summit from there. On the way up the road, we had to dodge about 8 cattle that were using the road. So much for wildlife. We left the vehicles, being careful to GPS where we parked them so to find our way back with the least amount of difficulty.
From there, we headed into the forest and immediately found that we'd need to watch our step as the low lying brush and volcanic rock threatened to trip or snare your feet with almost every step. Using a couple of waypoints we had preset on our GPS's, we worked our way up the mountain, following the lines that looked the most reasonable. Bob led the way and as usual, picked a great route that minimized both brush and talus. However, there were many places where that couldn't be avoided. After about 3/10ths of a mile, I started placing pink surveyors tape and used them to mark our way up figuring that they would really help us on our way down which turned out to be the case.

Talus obstacle course

Occasionally on the way up, we'd come across a cairn or two but nothing that was consistant. Most likely, those cairns had been there for decades since we saw nothing that resembled a use trail nor even the usual bit of garbage that people tend to leave in their wake, nothing. Being mindful of our desire not to twist an ankle or break something, we carefully made our way up the mountain. This time of the year, October, was perfect as the day was cool enough to actually make the hike enjoyable. Summertime would make these slopes a furnace and water is nowhere to be found. Granted, a mile and a half doesn't seem like much but this is the kind of terrain you can't make good time on and the necessary elevation gain was a reasonable workout. I was very glad to have my trekking poles as they made a big difference and actually speeded up my progress.

Brown Mtn cross country

We had to cross the talus many times but Bob kept finding good lines through the forest and brush that was direct and aided our upward progress.
Finally, as we neared the summit, the slope we were on was steep but easy to deal with although littered with myriads of small downed branches. The last bit was a sandy like soil that had you making two steps up but often losing a step in the process, you know, two steps up, one step back.

Finally the summit was achieved although trees blocked really great views of Mt. McLaughlin but not the views to the west and south. Mt. Shasta is best seen from the south summit which I found to be where the USGS Benchmark was located. The south summit was about 30 feet lower than the where the highest spot was located on the north summit. However, there was a wire and some pieces of wood near the south summit so perhaps that spot was once used to spot fires from or something like that.

Big Mac

Bob and I were blessed with a perfect day on the top so we spent an hour up there enjoying the fruits of our labors. A nice lunch, some pictures and all too soon it was time to go back down. It had taken us 2 1/2 hours to get up and I was hopeful that our pink flagged route was going to go faster for us since the routefinding was all done. Well, the need to watch your footing every step of the way still remained an important factor so our descent still took us 2 hours to get back down. I noticed in Dennis's trip report that was done on snowshoes that he had a faster time than we did and perhaps the best time to do Brown would be when the snow covers up the brush and the rocks. Still, it was an enjoyable hike because it was one where we had to find our own way and while not difficult, it was a bit more of an adventure than a peak that has a trail to its top.

Volcanic talus

Stat's: 3 miles round trip. Elevation gain: 1700 feet 4 1/2 hours RT.

Click HERE for the route info including waypoints. I hope to add a map in a few days.


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