It seemed like a great time of year to find a destination not surrounded by steep soft snow. Most of my regular destinations are still troubled with machines, long approaches, or unconsolidated winter. Oregon’s below normal snowpack was inviting
The idea for this place came from a much admired and fellow LO aficionado contact on Flickr. He was gracious enough to offer important tidbits about the place.
Pechuck is special for its stone construction and rare D-6 like design. Here are some more details from the BLM website:
The present two-story cupola Pechuck Lookout structure was built in 1932 for the C-MFPA. Construction of a new lookout also began on Lookout Mountain. It was built by John Oblack, a Czechoslovakian from Molalla with help from a veteran stone mason-name unknown-from Portland. Materials for the lookout were packed in on mule to the site by Ken Engles and another person (name unknown), both from Molalla. The stone was cut from indigenous material nearby rather than packed in.
The cupola measures 7.5' x 7.5' x 9. The entire structure stands about 16 feet tall. The walls are of tongue and groove construction standing three feet high. Access to the cupola is by way of a ladder from inside the lower living quarters through a trap-door hole in the floor of the cupola.
Pechuck Lookout's style of stone and wood construction is highly distinctive. It is one of the few remaining lookouts of this vintage and is the only stone lookout known in northwest Oregon.
Pechuck was last staffed in 1964 by Kay Geyman of Salem.
Although I’ve always thought it best to hike early in the cool morning when the spider web facials are the freshest, I barely got onto the trail by noon even with a 4:30a start from Bellingham. The 7 hour drive featured a gauntlet of commuter traffic from Seattle to Portland, capped by murderous jousts with log trucks towing long loads of dust on the local FS roads. There was no question who ruled the narrow dirt track- yield or die
Our quiet pedestrian affair began at Rooster Rock TH (3300’) under clear skies and strong sun. The deep cool of the forest was welcome for the steep climb to ridgeline. I was expecting snow and navigation challenges, but only remnant patches lingered. I was freed to trundle the narrow soft tread and listen to warblers sing their talents
The trail initially traveled BLM Wilderness then crossed to BLM land to a gated road and former TH to Table Rock Wilderness. The road permits administrative access associated with LO maintenance. After passing a composting toilet the stone hut soon came into view.
It reminded me of a “fun size” castle sans drawbridge & moat.
The cool interior felt welcoming while unpacking and setting up. I hauled one of the 4 bunks up to the cupola for a bench seat, but found the arrangement so inviting that the dog and I slept up there each night.
It was breezy and perfectly open to birdsong, buzzing flies, and the occasional Portland-bound turboprop. The Molalla River murmured below. Our sun settled orange in the west at about 8:30 as Hermit thrush song wove a stocking-cap of deep sleep for the night, very peaceful.
Friday morning was a spell of cool still air, warm sun, and lyrical birdsong. I steeped in that moment snug within the sleeping bag for as long as my bladder would allow, then it was down the ladder to the spring for coffee water. Sunrise around 6.
Despite trees buggering many of the views, it was a great spot to enjoy vibrant bird life and song. I saw my first Townsend’s Warbler on Friday. There was a slight view toward Mt. Jefferson when one leaned out of the north cupola window.
The spring was a beauty: circularly rimmed by wooden slats (an old barrel?), abundant cool flow, and about a foot deep. It was welcome refreshment on days that neared 80 degrees. It is located about ¼ mile and 250 feet below the east side.
Some wood rat and mice activity overnight made sleep a bit spotty, but Bodhran found a couple of nests behind the cupola walls and tore them up. He’s a good mouser.
I cleaned out what material I could reach the next day. It was a bit quieter the second night.
There were only 3 visitors on Friday, and one of them was Terry Musgrove, my Flickr contact! He decided to pay a visit from nearby Oregon City where he lives.
He also thoughtfully brought extra water and citrus. It was really great meeting him and exchanging experiences.
High cloud rolled in that afternoon muddying the sunset. The second night cleared at about 3a just in time for me to capture a coveted moonless shot of the lookout with Scorpius and our galaxy to the south.
Very fortunate, not only the brief clearing, but awakening at the right moment! Most everything came together for this trip.
Thanks Magellan, I think the destinations easily speak for themselves... inspiring!
Glad you were inspired Hiker Mama. Lookouts need love; be sure to bring some.
tmatlack- Terry's pumis were cute as hell, and of course no trip is complete without my furry hiking partner.
LO bob- Pechuck is wonderfully unusual; I also loved the stone work. Unfortunately carpenter ants are going to be the undoing of the upper structure. I could hear them munching away in the vertical supports and witnessed the winged spring hatch take flight on Friday
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