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6.30.14......Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout

Hike Details:
  • Elevation - 8,857 ft.
  • Location -north of Sierra City, up above Packer Lake
  • Mileage - 5-6 miles
  • Hiking time - 4 hours
  • Route - see map below, from Hwy. 49, turn onto Gold Lake Hwy, then follow signs to Packer Lake, when you reach Packer Lake, take a left at the Y intersection to continue up the single-lane paved road to the trailhead
  • Weather - a little on the toasty side -- it was over 100° in the Valley, so we were happy to be out of that, but by the middle of the afternoon it was easily in the low 90's up where we were
This will be one of those posts with a TON of pictures (I took my "big" camera because I knew it would be worth the weight), though pictures will not do justice to the incredible scenery and views from this hike! But here goes...

  Deep breath, we can do this! So there are 2 options for this hike--you can park at the Sierra Buttes trailhead to the left of Packer Lake and the mileage from there is about 8 round-trip. But we decided to drive further up the road to a trailhead that connects with the Pacific Crest Trail so that we could shave off a little time. We estimated our mileage was about 6 miles round-trip. As you start out on the trail, you can see the lookout in the distance, which appears incredibly high and incredibly far away.
Thankfully, the trail is gorgeous and the views are plenty distracting to keep your mind off the fact that it's going to be a steep climb.
A few of us pulled our teenagers out of bed early and got them to come along with us. They immediately put us to shame (especially the boys) by making us eat their dust the whole way and climbing over all the rocks like they were little mountain goats. They had a good time together, they were great hikers and were delightful to have along!
The trail follows the Packer Saddle with beautiful views over Tamarack Lakes.
Somewhere along the way, we spotted these birds circling overhead. They were pretty big, didn't look like vultures or seagulls, so we kind of thought they might be geese. I was able to snap this photo and then zoom in and realized they are pelicans. What? Pelicans? Who would have thought pelicans hung out above the mountains, but apparently they do and you can read more about why here.

Lynette noticed a tree with a sign that simply said "This". So, hope you enjoy "this" tree...
Or maybe these trees...
Another funny moment...we noticed these reading glasses just sitting on a rock, probably put there by someone who found them hoping that the owner(s) would notice them. But somehow I feel they were a little cosmic joke on me in honor of my 50th birthday. So Hannah and I had to have a little fun.
 We hiked up out of the tree line and onto the rocky zig-zag trail leading to the lookout. We're talking some serious heart-pumping, thigh-burning zigs and zags! A group of four young guys who looked like they were in pretty good shape went past us huffing and puffing so that made us feel a little bit better. Up among the rocks, there were beautiful wildflowers that looked as if they were planted by a landscape designer. I guess you could say they were planted by the best landscape designer in the world. :)
 An amazing view right before reaching the summit.
 And then we caught our first glimpse of the lookout up close. Yikes!!!
 Great way to celebrate my 50th birthday!
 And a fun fact for you:  The staircase is as old as me! Hopefully we're both holding up pretty well!
Okay, no more stalling, now it's time to climb those stairs. I was only slightly terrified. But check out this sweet video recorded by Spencer--he was brave enough to hold the camera while also holding onto the railing with just one hand. (music by Imagine Dragons, a perfect fit!)

It's true, you feel like you're sitting on top of the world with amazing views all around!

This rock at the top is engraved with names from the 1800's of people who were most likely miners or settlers in the area (Bassett, Sattlemeyer, etc.).
 Crazy hard hike, but, wow, the view is worth it!
Dia shared this pictures with a great quote:
Such a great day, thanks to my great kids and great friends who are willing to tag along with me on these adventures! :)