Taunton Benchmark on Saddle Mountains / 馬鞍山脈裏的湯頓基準

Today we went up to Taunton Benchmark on Saddle Mountains. We have been in Eastern Washington quite a bit because of the rain. Though, last year, our first trip out east wasn’t until spring. The weekend’s weather was a stark contrast to last week‘s sunshine.

Taunton Benchmark up ahead
Taunton Benchmark up ahead

See more trip photos here.

Taunton Benchmark at a Glance

Access: Highway 24 @ MP 68.2
Round Trip: 6 miles
Elevation Range: 960′-1903′
Gear: none
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: yes

Driving to Taunton Benchmark

My initial plan was to explore the southern slope of White Bluffs. But the recent reports mentioned about fighting through lots of tumbleweeds. It was also going to be a windy day. So I decided to save the extra drive for another time. Then we drove to our backup plan.

The inconspicuous pullout off Highway 24 took a while to locate. We went through the first gate and continued. But shortly, we turned around when we couldn’t go through the thicket. So we crawled under the second gate to the other side.

Early afternoon
Early afternoon

See more trip photos here.

Walking through BLM Land

According to the map, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manages this land. I was a little suspicious because I could see an orchard off to the east. Then I remembered a report about a party tried entering from there. But the landowner had denied their request. So we didn’t need to go that route.

From here, we just needed to go north in a straight line. Then in three miles, we would reach the top. There wasn’t much to see along the way. But we had to go through lots of sagebrush and some tumbleweeds. A line of charred fence posts marked the northern end of the BLM land.

Boundary markers
Boundary markers

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Taunton Benchmark Summit

Before long, we made it up to the main ridgeline on gentle terrain. From there, we then walked northwest for a short while to reach the broad summit. The towers had toppled over a long time ago. But the tiny shed and a utility pole remained.

It was hazy over the horizon. But I could still make out the location of the Columbia River. On a clear day, with a zoom lens, I could probably see White Bluffs and the dunes. The City of Othello was just northeast of here. Wahatis Peak was to the distant west. But everything else was too far away to see.

Wahatis Peak to the west
Wahatis Peak to the west

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Outro

It was windy and cold on the summit. So we hid behind the shed to wait out the wind. Then we ended up spending a long time on top doing nothing. The yellow pup enjoyed rolling around in sagebrush. Or it could be animal poop. Meanwhile, the black puppy preferred curling up in my fleece pullover.

The exit was just as unexciting. But it was nice and quiet. I helped the puppy go through some brush as he was still too short to hop over it. Then we got back to the car five hours after we started the trip.

Othello, Washington
Othello, Washington

See more trip photos here.

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