Maxwell Butte

November 9, 2014.

9.5 mi. | 2500′ ele. gain | 4.5 mi.

Today’s Mazama lead took me and a group of 8 people up Maxwell Butte. I was shocked that so many folks came out on a yucky day like today.

A sign at the trailhead warned that we’d be passing through a burned forest and to be aware of the additional hazards that would bring: unstable trees, stump holes, loose debris, flash flood potential and other dangers. With all that in mind we covered ourselves in raingear and started our walk up the hill.

The trail passed into the Mt. Jefferson Wilderness, a place of spectacular beauty. This trail felt rather ordinary, however, or maybe it was just the weather. I couldn’t be sure.

Old beargrass stalks indicated that this trail would be much more inviting in the late spring/early summer when the wildflowers are in bloom. But we trudged along, considering this more of a conditioning hike than a sight-seeing vacation romp. Sometimes you get good days, sometimes you don’t. But it’s almost always better to go and do what you can than to not go at all. This was one of those days.

Eventually the trail crossed through some more open terrain: meadows and scree slopes, before ending on the summit. There were no views to be had, just gray clouds behind the water droplets clinging to my glasses. It was a dreary day.

We chatted over a quick lunch before returning the way we came. It felt good just to keep the legs moving and to test my systems in rainy, wet conditions.

Each hike is a learning opportunity that confirms what you already know or teaches you something new. I learned that a random group of humans recreating together on a nasty day can actually be quite enjoyable! It takes a certain type of person to be okay with dealing with discomfort for multiple hours on end. I think that says a lot about a person’s resilience and character. This hike was definitely a character-testing trip.

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