Ascent of Beacon Hill on 2013-04-30

Climber: Richard Hensley

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Beacon Hill
    Elevation:1880 ft / 573 m

Ascent Trip Report

Beacon Hill is named for an old airway beacon that once occupied the summit. Back in the 1920's and 30's, as the airmail system developed, lighted airway beacons were used to guide pilots at night and during inclimate weather. They consisted of a white rotating beacon and either red or green course lights aligned with the route. The course lights flashed a Morse code to identify the beacon's sequence along the airway. At one time, there were approximately 1500 airway beacons across the country. But by the 30's, they were already being replaced by radio navigation aids. The state of Montana still operates about 19 of these to assist pilots flying visually through their mountains at night. There's one on top of Mullan Pass. Unlike Kachess Ridge, a popular hike near Snoqualmie Pass, none of the original structure remains. The hill is now topped by a modern commmunications relay tower.

Once on top, it was easy to see why a beacon was placed here. This is the highest Palouse Hill for about 13 miles around. I was pleasantly surprised by the views. A neat perspective of the numerous nearby hills that are almost this high. Also gave a bird's eye view down on a local gravel road. Why, back in the day, before nicely graded roads and law enforcement SUV's, I can just see some local good ole boys, drawing a chase from the local deputy, then 4-wheelin' it up the hill, and laughing as the flashing lights went by below. Dukes of Hazard: Palouse Edition!
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:164 ft / 50 m
    Distance:0.4 mi / 0.6 km
    Route:access road
    Trailhead:Beacon Rd  1716 ft / 523 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike
    Weather:Cool, Breezy, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Time Up:6 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time Down:6 Minutes

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