Photos from this trip can be found here.
Pup and I slept by the trailhead to catch the early water taxi next morning to Big Beaver Campground. Hiking to the campground would have added an additional 14 miles to the trip.
Trail was in great conditions, just the occasional down trees we needed to negotiate. We took a much needed lunch break at Luna Camp before moving on. Just past the camp a junior bear wandered around the trail and it seemed to be oblivious of our existence. But it quickly disappeared into the bush after I started chanting and beating together my trekking poles.
More mosquitoes after we left the trail and bushwhacked toward Big Beaver Creek. Unable to find a log jam to cross, pup and I walked up and down the creek bed while fighting our way through devils club and massive skunk cabbage. Eventually we found a shallower creek bed farther north to cross.
Once on the other side we began scrambling southward to attain the ridge just north of Access Creek. Found a climbers path in lower part of the ridge but soon lost it underneath down trees and heavy brush. We followed GPS track from a trip report and crossed Access Creek at 3900’ to avoid the alder swatch on the north side.
Access Creek Basin came into full view just after the crossing, with Luna Peak towering over upper basin. Spotted some cairns as we made the one-mile scramble into the upper basin. After getting there, I found a perfect boulder with a flat top where we set up our camp and turned in shortly after dinner.
Next morning bulk of our time was getting up the steep gully to Luna’s southeast ridge. From there it was a gradual ascent across the wide southwest basin and onto Luna Pass. We spotted bears tracks leading from south of the pass, over and down the north side. Following southwest ridge to false summit was straight forward, mostly class 2. Getting to true summit from false summit was another story.
Pup stayed behind while I spent time figuring out the best way to get down to the ledge on the south side. Once on the ledge, rest of the traverse became pretty straightforward, albeit super exposed. Few cairns along the way helped to keep me on track. Everything on the summit felt loose. I clipped myself into an anchor I built around this bomber rock and took photos while straddling the rock.
After spending an hour on top, I started carefully making my way back to the false summit and reunited with the pup. We rested a bit while I took more photos of the amazing Picket Range, then we slowly made our way back to camp. Back on Luna Pass we spotted more fresh bear tracks heading down toward Luna’s south basin.
Next morning, getting out of Access Creek was just as painful getting in. Although we made better time in getting back to Beaver Creek and I managed to find the log jam half a mile downstream from where we crossed the creek two days earlier. We hiked as fast as we could back to Big Beaver Campground and arrived 10 minutes past the water taxi pickup time. The driver, together with his grandson, said he wasn’t in any hurry, even let the pup cool off in the water for a bit before taking us back to the southern lake shore.
The one-mile hike uphill from lake shore back to the trailhead was icing on the cake at the end of a long trip.