Bookish Matters

The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.

—Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Great Outdoors—Kamiak Butte

A bit of the view from Kamiak Butte, Moscow Mountain on the left.

About 45 minutes northwest of Moscow, Idaho is a nice little hiking and camping area in Washington called Kamiak Butte, named after Chief Kamiakan of the Yakama tribe. What is now just a forested high point among farmland was once both sea and mountaing: The glittering reddish rocks of the butte were once an ancient seabed, and later the butte was part of a mountain range, until it was covered by a tertiary lava flow of basalt.

 A short hike, it's a somewhat steep 1/2 mile or so to the ridge. You can wander around on the ridge, sit on a bench of rock enjoying the view. The elevation here is 3,641 feet, the second highest point in Whitman County. You can see for miles all over the Palouse, from Moscow Mountain to the town marked by the Kibbie Dome to Pullman and even farther, making you realize just how close to each other are Moscow and Pullman. From this height, the Palouse hills are mere dips and swells, a mosaic of shadow and sunlight. A tiny truck drives down the highway that brought you here, and over there you spot a tractor moving.

In June, Kamiak Butte boasts birdsong and lots of wildflowers, a lovely hike. In October, it's fierce sunshine and chill air, silent but for one frog croaking. After leisurely enjoying the ridge, loop back down on a moist shadowed trail, invisible spiderwebs catching on your chin, and every once in a while Palouse farmland peaks through the evergreens, golden and luminous in the almost-setting sunshine. Before you leave, down by the parking lot take a quick swing on the swingset and slide down one of the slides.

If you'd like more information on visiting Kamiak Butte, go here.

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