The weather in eastern Washington was a bit of a cluster this weekend. Our original plan was to hike the Panjab Trail (Umatilla National Forrest) six miles to the Indian Corral for an overnighter. Temperature forecast was 95* which concerned me since I would be hiking with my 9 y/o son. A severe electrical storm blew through town Saturday morning and was headed for the Blue Mountains which put our trip into a holding pattern.
By mid afternoon the weather had cleared and we were ready to go. With the limited time remaining, we scratched our original plan and decided to car camp Saturday night and hike up to Oregon Butte early the following morning. This trip would only be six miles round trip which would allow for us to hike it before lunch and hopefully be done before the temperatures started to rise.
We found a nice campsite off of Skyline drive and pitched my fairly new Hexamid Twin tarp for the night. I had recently purchased the S2S Nano Mosquito Net and was interested to see how it would work under this tarp. It was a mess! The net is designed to be hung much higher and I was swimming in it. I have a few plans to tighten it up for future use but since we had no problems with mosquitos I ditched it for the night.
My son woke me up around 10pm, "Dad, I think I hear something!" As I sat there, I could hear the beat of drums along with some tribal chanting and singing. As it turned out, one of the Umatilla Confederated Tribes was having their pow wow in the National Forest that weekend. If this wasn't enough, the moon did not rise until 11pm or so and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. The Milky Way was showing off for us and we had the perfect soundtrack for it!
We woke early the next morning so we could knock out this hike before the temperatures would start to rise. One of the resident Elk Herds greeted us on our way to the trailhead. We stepped off at 7am with a gentle 900' climb up the Mt. Misery Trail. As we walked, I smiled listening to my son talk about everything and anything. We maintained a leisurely pace and I forced a couple breaks to make sure he was drinking enough water.
We arrived at the Oregon Butte by mid morning without seeing another soul on the trail. The watchtower was still empty and we found a note in the trail registor indicating that the USFS did not plan to staff it until July. A few pictures and snacks and we were headed home.
Besides the heat and electrical storm, there were countless opportunities to wave this trip off. As it turned out, what this trip lacked in distance was more than compensated by the experience in its totality. The scenery was outstanding. Spending time one on one with my son is always a delight. The opportunity to listen to the tribal music play off of the Blue Mountains is something I'll never forget. This trip was yet another reminder that the trail is full of surprises and you never know what is out there waiting for you.
Attached below is a link for a YouTube video I made for this trip. This is my second attempt at making a video and there has been a small learning curve. While some of my video footage did not make the cut, I learned quite a bit from this experience and I'm making plans to improve my equipment and technique for future projects.