After 2 longer river hikes, some elevation work was needed to keep old legs, heart and lungs conditioned. Carbon karma was a big issue as well given the drives to Rogue and Enchanted Valley. Spencer Butte carries a 30 min (round trip) carbon tax and elevation work is possible if you cover your tracks … this hike was to go from Fox Hollow to N. Willamette TH (on Ridgeline Trail)

Start = Fox Hollow TH that enabled at faster ascent in case the sunrise was something to capture – though I left TH at 6:30 after the sunrise at 5:47. At the Cascades Raptor Center, Dmitri, the Eurasian Eagle-Owl, was voicing early and then after 3/4 mile up the trail, a resident (native) barred owl joined the song. The first time at the top was clear blue sky with typical valley fog that quickly burnt off.

For the first 6-7 miles, I saw hardly any other humans (weird), and at the descent from the 1st up right at the beginning of the stairs, a small group of 3 deer was eating at the side of trail. None would hold still for a good pic – just blurry! Everything was so green and vibrant like walking through an organic tunnel.

After the deer, the hike just unfolded as expected – it was basically an ‘up and over, back, repeat’ – bouncing between those two TH 2x with 4 ascents to the top of Spencer.

One could argue that I went too fast to pay attention …. not so … the ground cover was exploding with early spring.

By the 4th ascent, the sky was hazy but visibility had extended to the Cascades’ spine.

Summary: To manage that carbon karma tax, to see wildlife, to listen to the birds sing, to find amazing wildflowers, to hike 17 miles and to get >4,000 ft elevation gain all within 7 hours door-to-door … Spencer Butte is hard to beat, and such a treat to be so close to home!

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