Devore Slam Devoured Us / 深感德沃雷滿貫

Oh, Devore Slam. I can’t remember the last time a backpacking trip felt this tiring. Our new experiences included pup’s first time on a seaplane, plus our first time canoeing. By chance, we entered the area one day before the wildfire closure. But I only found out on the day of our exit. Compare this trip with last week’s excursion, and it was like night and day!

Kodak moment on Flora Mountain
Kodak moment on Flora Mountain

See more trip photos here.

Devore Slam at a Glance

Devore Slam = Tupshin Peak + Devore Peak + Flora Mountain
德沃雷滿貫=塔普遜峯+德沃雷峯+佛羅拉山

Access: Devore Creek Trailhead 
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 1160′-8360′
Gear: helmet
GPS Track: available
Dog-Friendly: on the trail

Logistics Overview

July 31 – August 3, 2015

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3 > Day 4

Day 1 – Friday, July 31
Seaplane – Chelan to Stehekin
Canoe – Stehekin to Weaver Point Campground
Night 1 – Bird Creek at 5500′

Day 2 – Saturday, August 1
Tupshin Peak + Devore Peak
Night 2 – Bird Creek at 5500′

Day 3 – Sunday, August 2
Flora Mountain
Night 3 – Bird Creek Camp

Day 4 – Monday, August 3
Exit via Stehekin River Trail


Day 1

Seaplane + Canoe + Devore Creek Trail

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3 > Day 4

New fires along the lake
New fires along the lake

See more trip photos here.

Seaplane Ride to Devore Slam

The pup and I boarded the plane in Chelan with another couple. While in the air, we witnessed what was to become the most significant wildfire season in Washington State history. Halfway up Lake Chelan, smoke from the Wolverine Fire began spewing out of several gorges. Soon, it had spread across the blue sky. Then it quickly obscured the southern views from Stehekin.

The couple on the plane graciously offered us their canoe. So we could shortcut to Weaver Point Campground. That saved us having to go north to Harlequin Bridge first. Then we also avoided the three miles hike down to Weaver Point. Because of the recent fire, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) thru-hikers ended up detouring on Devore Creek Trail.

Canoeing over to Devore Slam
Canoeing over to Devore Slam

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Hiking to Bird Creek Camp

We didn’t see any hikers on Devore Creek Trail on day one. Then there wasn’t anyone on the trail when we climbed Flora Mountain on day three. I had expected to see many PCT through-hikers during our trip. But then everything made sense as we exited on day four. Forest Service had put up the trail closure sign after we started hiking. So it was unnerving to know that we were alone inside.

The hike was hot and sweaty. Stehekin had disappeared into the smoke soon after we went through the switchbacks on the lower trail. Then from Bird Creek Camp at 4100′, we began scrambling on brushy terrain. Afterward, we found a flat area at 5500′ in the lower Bird Creek Basin and camped. The starry sky was perfect for night photography.

Once upon another time
Once upon another time

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Day 2

Tupshin Peak + Devore Peak

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3 > Day 4

Tupshin Peak of Devore Slam
Tupshin Peak of Devore Slam

See more trip photos here.

Tupshin Peak of Devore Slam

We left camp shortly after sunrise and traveled north. We scrambled on steep terrain to get up to the southeast shoulder. Then at 7000′, we went into the big talus basin below the southeast face. The pup stayed on a big snow patch at 7200′ while I went climbing. I had somehow misread the route info and went too far east. Soon, I worked my way back over to the east ridge. From there, I got back on the standard route.

The summit was roomy with panoramic views. It even came with a newly placed register from just days before. The Wolverine Fire smoke looked to have multiplied a hundredfold. I later found out that it got close to Holden Village. I wasn’t sure if the pup could hear me. But I’d continually call out to reassure him of my presence. I saw a tiny yellow dot moving about on the snow patch. So I knew he was all right.

Wolverine Fire
Wolverine Fire

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Getting to Bird Creek Basin

I was able to downclimb except at the belay station with old, raggedy webbing. I backed up the anchor to be safe before rappelling. My 30m rope worked out well in getting me down onto the ledge below. Then I down climbed the rest of the way on the southeast face. Then I went back and reunited with the pup by the snow. He probably wondered where I was since he could only hear my voice.

We went back down to the 7000′ shoulder first. Then we dropped 1000′ elevation as we moved southwest on steep terrain into Bird Creek Basin. Somehow, I couldn’t locate the access gully mentioned in a couple of reports. So we stayed north of the creek instead. From there, we got up to the outlet of the moraine lakes.

Devore Peak of Devore Slam
Devore Peak of Devore Slam

See more trip photos here.

Devore Peak of Devore Slam

We moved south on moderate terrain. Then we arrived at the 7500′ notch on the east ridge. Glad that we were able to stay on the ridgeline mostly. We needed to bypassed gendarmes from the north in one section. But we got right back on the ridge crest afterward. By continuing moving south, we eventually went over to the west of the south ridge. From there, we carefully worked our way through the exposure.

Soon, we arrived at the 4th class steps before the false summit. The pup had to stay behind because it wasn’t conducive for the dog to continue. I bypassed the false summit on the west. Then just around the corner, I saw the real high point on the other side of a steep gully. It was an easy scramble from there to the top. But I wouldn’t recommend crossing this part in the snow!

The Devore Peak crux
The Devore Peak crux

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Devore Peak Summit Plus Views

The first I saw from the top was Tupshin Peak. Holy cow! It looked so pointy from here! Did I just climb that this morning?! As I checked out the smoky views, then the start of Goode Fire caught my attention. That probably meant no Goode Mountain this season! Not sure if the pup could hear me around the false summit. But I called out several times to ensure him of my presence.

I noticed that air had become more polluted from the ash in my ears and nostrils. I reunited with the pup below the steps, and we hurried down the east ridge. Once again, I tried to locate the access gully but without luck. So we followed our route to get back down to the lower basin. It became dark right before we entered the forest. Then we scrambled a short section before reaching the campsite.

Tupshin Peak from Devore Peak
Tupshin Peak from Devore Peak

See more trip photos here.

Day 3

Flora Mountain

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3 > Day 4

Flora Mountain of Devore Slam
Flora Mountain of Devore Slam

See more trip photos here.

Flora Mountain of Devore Slam

Neither of us wanted to get up this morning. But we had a much longer day ahead. So we went down to Bird Creek Camp and dropped off the overnight gear. Then we set off for Flora Mountain. Feeling heavy-footed, we slowly hiked up to the Fourth of July Basin. Then we left the trail and scrambled toward the gully next to Riddle Peak’s north peak. A large cairn on the pass meant that we were still on track. Smoke from the south obscured our view into the Riddle Creek drainage.

From the pass, we headed north and bypassed Point 7716 from its south while traversing east. We were mostly able to stay on the rocky ridge crest until the 7400′ notch west of Point 7734. Then we dropped down onto the scree slopes and slowly made our way across to Point 7640. From there, we bypassed the north cliffs from the east and went into the meadow. On the way out, I realized we could have easily avoided the point from the west.

Talus and smoke for days
Talus and smoke for days

See more trip photos here.

The Final Stretch on Flora Mountain

We were both thirsty. Even though I saw water down in the basin, I was too lazy to drop the elevation. The pup found a hidden snow patch with a small pool of water, so we immediately took advantage of it. Later, I located a faint climbers’ path on the southwest face. So we followed it for a while before it dwindled by the talus. Getting through the last couple of hundred feet to the top felt like an eternity. We both felt so weak that we took one step at a time while leapfrogging.

The wildfires were so distracting that I never took a summit nap. The Wolverine Fire grew larger since yesterday, judging by the size of the eruption-like smoke permeating the sky. A couple of small fires started to form on the north side of Lucerne Mountain. Tupshin Peak and Devore Peak looked so far from here. I still couldn’t believe we climbed both of them just the day before. Distant mountains were now hard to see; even the nearby mountains were hazy. We rested long enough to recoup before going back down.

Summit dogs on Flora Mountain
Summit dogs on Flora Mountain

Back to Bird Creek Camp

It got completely dark when we reached the bottom of the gully in Fourth of July Basin. We took a power nap among then talus and then finished scrambling out onto Devore Creek Trail. We rushed back to camp and slept some before the long trek out bright and early the next day. The rain came down during the night. Luckily, the tree coverage kept the rainfly from becoming too wet.

See more trip photos here.

Day 4

Exit via Stehekin River Trail

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3 > Day 4

Exiting Devore Slam

The alarm sounded at 3 AM, and we were walking by 3:30 AM. We needed to allow ourselves time to catch the 9:45 AM shuttle from Harlequin Bridge. Soon, we were hiking north on Stehekin River Trail from the Devore Creek Trailhead. This trail would become the most mosquito-infested we had ever seen. Those buggers were immune to deet! Most of the time, we were half running to try and get them off our faces.

By the time we came out of the jungle by the landing strip, most of the mosquitoes had vanished. Right before we got to Harlequin Bridge, a ranger in her truck stopped us in our tracks. She asked if I were the guy climbing with my dog. The couple with the canoe mentioned us to her, so she kept an eye out for us. Talk about hospitality at its best! She even offered us a ride back into town. We stopped at the Stehekin Bakery to get a bite before catching the shuttle back to the dock.

See more trip photos here.

Back to Stehekin Dock

Food had never tasted so good after an extended climbing trip. Back at the dock, I found out that the seaplanes had stopped running because of the fire. So we waited a few more hours for the ferry to show up in the afternoon. Meanwhile, the pup slept very comfortably under the community bulletin board the minute we got back. He did not move an inch until the ferry arrived. Hard to believe he was THAT exhausted!

In the crate, the pup slept through the entire duration of the ride back to Chelan. The 4-hour ride went by fast as a couple chatted with me about our trip and photography. The husband was curious about the Bulger List and asked me a bunch of questions about our journey.

We got into Chelan at 6 PM. Then we spent the next 3.5 hours driving home to Seattle.

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3 > Day 4

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Becky

    Loved reading this story. My husband and I (Ed and Becky Breeze) were the ones you met on the plane and loaned you our canoe. So fun to read your adventures and see your amazing pictures and especially your trusty yellow hiking partner. What a great dog!

    1. onehikeaweek

      Hi Becky! So great to hear from you, and thank you! I can’t believe it’s been four years already; I’ll never forget about our first and only canoe trip to date! We went up to McGregor Mountain in June of this year, and I wondered if you two were around. Too bad the seaplane stopped running. I’ll be there again next summer on another climbing trip, so perhaps I can stop by and say hi then. Please tell Ed I said hello!

  2. Becky

    Please do come by! We would love to see you and your trusty hiking partner:)

    We were up on 4 different trips this summer and just got back last night full of sticky buns and good bread from the bakery:)

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