I was not sure if I wanted to write this trip up as a true “Adventure”. It was only a day hike and a relatively tame one at that. I thought about it and decided that it would be good to highlight the fact that you CAN go hiking even in the snow once it has firmed up, so here goes. I was able to get a day off from work and wanted to get out into the wilderness.
This winter we had record snow fall up at Mt Bachelor and it was not until this week that they finally opened the Cascade Lakes Highway. There is still about 6-8 feet of snow in the high country. For this reason I don’t think many people have been going up there, in fact I only saw 2 on my trip. June is a lot like September with snow, there are no crowds, good weather, and no bugs. Even the snow was now firm enough that I did not need snowshoes.
Moon Mountain is really not much of a mountain. It is not even named on most maps. At 7450 feet tall and sitting next to Ball Butte (8091 ft) and Broken Top (9175 ft) it is not surprising. During the summer you can essentially drive to the base of the mountain via forest service roads. Since these roads are currently covered by snow, another method was necessary. I originally was planning an overnight adventure but other plans got in the way so a day hike was better than nothing. The weather was perfect, upper 50’s with just a slight breeze and no clouds in the sky.
I drove up and parked at the Dutchman Flats sno-park. There was only 2 other cars there and it was already 11 am in the morning. I first walked around a bit to test the snow and see if I could leave my snowshoes behind. The snow was compact, only sinking about 2 inches in the softest places so I went without them. I generally was planning on following the snowmobile roads out as far as I could and had already picked out 2 pm as my turn around time so I could be back to Bend when I needed to be.
Dutchman Flats is a wide open area with fairly few trees. It is a really popular spot in the winter but on this day I only saw one other gentleman cross country skiing. Melissa and I had been up here snowshoeing just two weeks earlier; it is amazing both how much the snow had compacted and how much faster I can travel without snowshoes on.
Leaving Dutchman Flats there is a climb up to the junction with the Flagline Ski Trail. One of these seasons I want to ski this trail, unfortunately this was not the year. The road up was in and out of the trees so that the shaded parts were cool and firm while the sunny parts were warm and softer. I made good time and kept following the road until I reached intersection #180. It was about 1:15 at this time so I knew I did not have much time before my turn around time. I was next to Moon Mountain so I decided that would be a good place to have lunch on top of. The climb up was not too difficult. About 655 feet of climbing from the base. I just got into a rhythm putting one foot in front of the other until I reached the top.
Up at the summit the view was perfect. I could see up and down the Cascades and was staring into the Broken Top crater. The wind was still very light so I just took a seat and enjoyed my lunch.
The return trip was uneventful and I only saw one snowmobiler from a far on my way back. The snow had softened a little bit and my knee was giving me a little bit of pain but I persevered. On my way back through Dutchman Flats you could hear the occasional car going by but could not see them because of the snow banks. The road was about 6 feet below the level of the snow. I decided to walk over and take a picture on my way out, it will be interesting to see how long it takes for all this snow to melt. The trip ended up being a total of 8.9 miles round trip with 1650 feet of climbing and descending. One thing I noticed about this time of year is how few people are willing to come up to the snow.
I would definitely recommend making your way up there on days like this. The snow is compact and makes for great hiking and it is before the bugs come out. Only thing is to remember the sunscreen. I definitely got pretty good sunburn but it was worth it. As always your mileage may vary.
- Outdoor Research Tremor Pants – It was on the warm side to be wearing these pants. The thigh zippers are great for days like this.
- Ibex Hooded Indie – Great temperature regulation. The day was hot but this top worked well, I could even slide the sleeves up to my elbows when it got really warm on the descent.
- Osprey Talon 22 Backpack – Took the Talon because it is my go to daypack. Even at only 22 liters of space, I had the pack only filled up half way. Was comfortable all day.