After a successful RF high experience on Lava Butte the day prior, the weather looked stable and warm so KK7HJL and I decided to bag another of our local summits. Pine Mountain is about 25 miles SE of Bend on US Highway 20, then another 5-6 miles on a good gravel road, though in the winter it is unmaintained so travel at your own risk. November saw some snow and considerable low temps so the road was packed snow and ice once we got into the shadier valley. We weren't sure if we were going to make it but Sherman the Ram 1500 has 4 wheel drive and the warm temps made the pack snow soft enough to get traction.
The hike starts at around 3 miles from the forest boundary, and follows an old double track almost the whole way to the top. The double track ends at on of the local paragliding launches that Pine Mountain is famous for, but a very well established trail takes you the remaining .25 miles to the summit.
We parked at a gate at the beginning of the double track that fortunately someone had driven since the last snowfall, so there was an easy track to follow. Most of the route was snow covered but it was warm and soft enough that I walked in my Danner 2650 trail shoes without issue. We had our SOTA pack along to wear them out so that we could enjoy our Thanksgiving dinner without interruption for a poop walk.
The hike was uneventful, though we noticed some signs of deer and cougar along the way. We made quick work of the walk and upon arriving at the summit, noticed the windsock standing out straight as an arrow. The wind took off both our hats and we made a run for the summit photo before descending back to the edge of the activation zone where there was a little shelter of rocks to block the wind.
With the wind howling and our dogs getting anxious we decided to make quick work of the 2M activation.
And that's a wrap, all in about 5 minutes.
The hike down went quickly and without drama and we were back home in time for lunch and a nap before heading to our Thanksgiving dinner party.
Pine Benchmark is a pretty easy and straight forward activation. Park at the gate or just inside if the road is clear and follow the double track to the top. Be aware that the road is unmaintained in the winter and you may need 4 wheel drive or a snow machine/skis/snowshoes if you want to get those bonus points. And check the winds aloft! I had planned to setup and operate HF but due to the high winds chose to ditch that idea. Operators will often combine Pine Benchmark and Pine Mountain, W7O/CE-058 into a single day. We thought about it but after getting a good look at the ascent and the condition of the access road combined with the high summit winds the day we were there, we decided it would be ok to come back another time.