January 26, 2017.
8.4 mi. | 2000′ ele. gain | 4:30 hr.
As it turned out, I had a lot of hikes to cover in January if I wanted to wrap up Hike366 this year. This was the sixth date on my list for the month and I still had two more to go. Not wanting to repeat anything, I landed on Gray Butte as a destination. I’d heard about people mountain biking around Gray Butte, but not as much about people hiking to the top. I figured it would be a decent close-to-town location on a snowy day.
I arrived at the Skull Hollow parking area at 8:30 am, hoping not to get my little rig stuck in the snow. As expected I was the only one at the trailhead. I started out across the snow-covered grassland towards the lumbering butte. My route would follow the trail that loops around the base and then meander my way up towards the summit.
It was kind of a crappy day. The cloud cover was so thick and soupy that everything looked the same. I felt disoriented, as if I was in a sensory deprivation tank. There was too much “sameness” to be able to enjoy my surroundings. Today would just be one of those get through it and get out days.
As I futzed my way up Gray Butte I eventually made it to an access road, which was easy to follow but had too many switchbacks. I cut straight up the hill to the delightful summit accoutrements, including a radio tower and some outbuildings. That’s what highpoints are for, I guess. I can’t recall how many times I’ve reached a mountaintop just to find it littered with these things. I think I’d like to learn more about what they do so I can appreciate them instead of get annoyed. I can only assume they’re very important.
After a very brief stay and look-around, I retraced my steps back down the hill, across the grassland and to my vehicle. I began to see some thin spots in the clouds where light was getting through. If only that sun had pushed through a little earlier…
Well, I checked the box today. Hike complete. It wasn’t a super memorable hike, but any day out on the trails is superior to a day at home. I’ll take it.