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Sunday, 24 January 2010

Spencer Butte

Yesterday was beautiful, dry warm and sunny, more like June than January. We'd been thinking of a car tour as an outing if it was cold or wet, but it was too nice a day to sit in the car, so we did a bit of internet research, and came up with the idea of climbing Spencer Butte.

A butte (pronounced beaut as in beautiful) is a hill or small mountain. I'd climbed Skinner Butte last Summer, one day during our 3 week visit when it was too hot for Beth to leave the air-conditioned motel room, and it wasn't so big, though in the heat it was enough. Skinner Butte is 682 feet, but Spencer Butte, a few miles south of the city, is 2,062 feet.

We drove off guided by our GPS system, but we're coming to the conclusion that it sometimes likes to take the scenic route. The straightforward route to Spencer Butte from our apartment is along Roosevelt Boulevard to Highway 99, along that to Willamette Street, and straight South along Willamette Street to the public car park at the base of the Butte. Our GPS sent us off through a tour of the South Hills, an area we wrote off as a possible home neighbourhood because of the rollercoaster roads that make us both queasy. As a consequence of trusting technology over our own instincts, we arrived at the car park a little nauseous.

However now we were in the clean fresh air, and with the car park already half full it was clear we would not be alone on the Butte. We set off along the clearly marked trail, about a mile to the summit, the second half being more of a climb with some scrambling over rocks. We met a few people going in both directions, some with kids, some with dogs. The climb is mostly shrouded by trees until you get near the summit, so it's peaceful and sheltered. As we neared the top, after a few pauses for breath, the views opened out, and we were presented with a 360 degree vista.

That isn't actually 360, but you get the idea.

There were 20 or 30 people resting at the top, taking in the scene, and what a scene. This is the highest peak near Eugene, giving a wonderful view over the city, and the wide open acres with very little in the way of human interference all round. We sat on the rocky outcrops and soaked it up, then took a few pictures to celebrate our first visit.

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