For a second year, Summer Solstice sunrise around Spence Butte was the start of summer. Last year’s pics were more remarkable given the unstable skies. This year, after several days of rain, the forest was booming big and green, the trail just the right moisture (though probably the last soft dirt Spencer hike of the season).
This year, it was up early and heading toward the Spring Blvd TH before 4:30. The skies were just turning colors and the half-moon and jupiter were still prominent.
After around an hour with headlamp in the changing darkness (at least 3x bats flew in front of me catching the bugs attracted to my lamp), the sun broke through for the first time. All the while to this point, more and more birds started singing … a symphony. I had not made it above the tree-line at sunrise around 5:30 (another 15 minutes needed), but the solstice sunrise … only 1x year.
At the top for the first two times, the air was a bit hazy and the views not that remarkable. By the third ascent, the air was even murkier with views muted by the haze.
The rest of the hike was just green leaves, sunshine, and birds – everywhere birds singing. Large mammals were not seen probably given all the people and abundance of food elsewhere. In the meadow on Baldy’s south side, the flowers were blooming and the butterflies doing their best … there were about 15 of these large butterflies – they are harder to capture in pic than bees.
Summary: Solstice sunrise is what you make it – it’s all on the hiker. This is the second solstice running from Spencer (2021). While an early hike, I left 20 minute too late to catch sunrise atop Spencer. But the hike was fabulous with <30 min driving total driving time, and went from Spring Blvd to top, then to S. Willamette, then back to top, then to N. Willamette, then back to top and on to Spring Blvd; a quick cup of tea at the car, and back up over Baldy to Fox Hollow TH and then back to Spring Blvd. TH parking is still a gauntlet and Spring Blvd seems the safest and provides access to the better parts of the trail (leaving the Blanton segment for winter). People were concentrated where expected the ‘top segment’ and the birds everywhere. While the sunrise sky was not overly remarkable (typical Oregon), Solstice sunrise at Spencer Butte is.