A Buckhorn Wilderness
September 10-12, 2005 (about
20 miles and 2800 ft elevation gain)
Ron had some available time
when I could break away, so we planned a trip into the Olympic Mountains.
Wanting to see some country that we had not visited in the past, we chose a walk
in the Buckhorn Wilderness, a plot of land just to the east of Olympic National
Park. The location should provide excellent views of some of the park regions
where we have hiked in the past.
The hike begins in woods, often lined
with rhododendron. After a few miles of gradual climbing on a well
graded trail, we broke out onto a slope that must have been wonderful with
flowers earlier in the year. We found only a few remnants hanging
through meadow with the twin summits of Buckhorn Mountain in the
We continued to climb through similar meadows to 5300 ft where
we took a side trail down to to Buckhorn Lake, a small, drab puddle that could
not be seen from the main trail.
The level was
especially low this year, owing to the lack of snowfall last winter.
There was no obvious outlet to the lake. The inlet creek seemed to come
from a collection of springs.
Our camp was above the lake next to the
inlet creek. We used a tarp for shelter, fortified with bivouac bags.
The evenings were surprisingly cool.
Our tarp shelter.
We got up the
second morning and, after a quick breakfast, headed up the hill toward Buckhorn
and Marmot Passes.
Buckhorn Peak in the morning light.
The broad ridge on the right is Buckhorn Pass.
The views are quite
dramatic when one reaches the Pass.
The peaks from the pass include, from the
left, Mt. Deception, The Needles with Mt. Clark, and Mt. Walkinshaw in the
background. The dominant peak in the foreground is probably 6900 ft
Ron photographs the valley of the Dungeness River, some 4000 ft
moves his concentration to the Royal Basin peaks.
We continue hiking, now
moving up and to the south toward Marmot Pass. This lets us view the
peaks from a different angle, bringing other country into view.
Views of the peaks at the
south end of Royal Basin. These include, from the left: Mt.
Mystery, Mt. Fricaba, Mt. Deception, and the Needles.
Marmot Pass is a
junction where several trails meet. One is that from Copper Creek and
Buckhorn Pass that we have just hiked. Also included is the trail down
the Big Quilcene River as well as that dropping to Boulder Camp and on into the
The trail down the Big Quilcene from Marmot Pass.
The trail to Boulder
After reaching Marmot Pass (where we did indeed see marmots!) we
climbed a rise just to the south. This provided super views of
numerous additional peaks.
The summit partially hidden in the clouds
is Mt. Constance. I think the double summit to the right are the
twin peaks of Warrior Peak. Further to the west is a massif called
A shot of Ron on the summit of the little
rise that we climbed. The broad ridge on the left side of the picture is
We continued south for a while, dropping slightly from
our high point. This provided some additional interesting views,
including one directly down to Boulder Shelter. A way trail seems to run
the ridge toward Warrior Peak and the surrounding country.
Where does this trail
go? Deer, goat, mountaineer?
After a wonderful day in the
high country, spent staring at some of those peaks we had enjoyed in years past,
we dropped back down to Marmot Pass and then hiked out to our camp at Buckhorn
Lake. We got up the next morning for an uneventful hike
final look at Buckhorn's Twin