Perry Butte - September 19, 2009
Coordinator Jane Flewelling, narration and pictures by Ray Jensen
After walking about a third of a mile up a dirt road, Ray Jensen pointed out to the eight of us, the half-hidden sign he had put for the “Perry Butte Trail”. We knew he had been working undauntedly on retrieving this unmaintained trail for a couple of years. Two different fires had wrecked havoc with the area. Ray expressed his amazement at how fast the vigorous new growth is taking over the whole area and the trail.
We started up the hillside with the downed remains of trees scattered helter-skelter. The trail was barely visible so Ray led us through the debris using the tagged trees he had done earlier. He assured us that the trail and the terrain become more friendly further up.
So off we set. We began to see evidence of his hard work: the bright tag ties that he had placed to mark the trail; rocks, dirt and logs that he had pushed aside; well- designed switchbacks he had created for traversing the steeper parts; and he had even chopped out part of a log that was lying across the trail for ease in stepping over.
We were a plucky bunch and soon adapted to the adventure – a complete turn- around for a club hike. So our group aided in further defining the trail with our newly added footsteps. The fires gave us a bonus. The interesting shapes of the remaining thin, contorted still standing charred tree trunks were whimsical. We could enjoy well-defined rock formations that topped the ridge and up-ended rocks parading steeply down the hillsides. In contrast, green lush areas seen lower down graced the harsh landscape. Yet, enough living trees survived to make a statement of survival and the ubiquitous new growth, including some wildflowers , validated renewal.
Higher up, we got our first views of the bottom of Mount Bailey. Clouds covered Thielsen. The thick , brown, smudgy layer of smoke hanging over the area of Buck Canyon and Muir Creek , where our hike had originally been scheduled, made us glad we were not there.
After we climbed around Mizell Viewpoint, we stopped for a breather on a rocky outcropping. Here we got our first look down into Boulder Creek and beyond. It was too early for lunch, so we picked out a high rocky point further on as our destination. It was not easy getting there. Our footing got our full attention - up, down, over and around; really no trail.
But – what a wonderful reward at the top! Rugged twisting landscape in both directions. We enjoyed seeing a small section of the North Umpqua River way down below us. In the other direction we scanned the Boulder Creek Wilderness area and located Illahee Rock. There could not have been a better lunch spot.
Going back, we found Ray’s tagging of the trail well done for all to follow. Back at the cars, everyone expressed enjoyment of this unique hike. Thanks Ray for leading us there and all the work you’ve done on the trail! To those not on the hike … TRY IT, HANG LOOSE, YOU WILL LIKE IT.
Anecdote: When we stopped in Glide for a post-hike ice cream treat, Rheo drew our attention to a different kind of trek. She had spotted a double line of ants working their way to and from a French fry scrap on the patio to their hole, about six feet in distance. They were carrying different shapes and sizes . All five of us hunched closer to get a better look. This triggered a restaurant worker to poke her head out of the door and ask “WHAT ARE YOU ALL LOOKING AT? When we told her, she shook her head in disbelief at our enjoyment in such a mundane event. We all got a good laugh, including her!
Hikers: Ray, Linda Lois, Gary, Nancy, Rheo, Phil, John (new member) and Jane.
Distance: maybe 4+ miles, but well earned miles.
Roseburg Oregon Hiking Club