Red Butte

July 7, 2013

Duffy Tr. >  Red Butte> Mowich Lake and back

11.8 mi. | 1800′ ele. gain | 7 hrs.

I like mountains. Aaron likes lakes. I like seeing big vistas. Aaron likes swimming. This hike combined the best of both worlds, satisfying both of our needs in one awesome adventure.

The Duffy Trail is rather flat and boring, just a way to get from A to B. We sped right along until we reached our first checkpoint: Duffy Lake. Across the lake we saw Duffy Butte, which I’d hiked up before (in a dress, in the snow). Today, we had more ground to cover so we pressed on.

The next stop was Mowich Lake. It was a pretty lake surrounded by a burn. We scouted it for possible swimming spots on our return hike, then moved on.

According to the Sullivan green book, we had to hike to the next little lake and head off-trail around its west side to come across the unofficial path up to Red Butte. We futzed around a little bit, making our way around the lake and towards the red cinder cone in front of us. Red Butte, how creative.

The steep sides of the butte were littered with fallen trees and shrubs down below, but it cleared up as we climbed higher. One step forward, two steps back, it seemed, as we trudged up the scree. At the top we overlooked all of Central Oregon: Mt. Jefferson, Three Fingered Jack, the Three Sisters… The views were incredible. I put a check mark in my box.

We retreated to a spot under a shade tree to eat our lunch, then descended to the main trail.

A short walk back took us to Mowich Lake, where we wandered down to a little beach and got our towels out. It was swimmin’ time! Aaron put a check mark in his box. We got into the water to cool off. Mostly, Aaron got in the water and I spent time finding interesting spider webs and animal tracks on the sand. Still, it was a nice place to relax and enjoy some quiet time in the woods. No one else was out here.

The rest of the walk out was pretty casual. I enjoyed all the wildflowers we’d seen today: columbine, beargrass, shooting star, buckwheat. They brought some color and interest to the forest. The beargrass was exceptionally welcome among the patches of burned trees.

The lake/highpoint combo was a real winner, and something I’ll have to keep thinking about as I plan future trips. It’s a nice way to keep your hiking partner happy, and that’s always a good thing!

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