Luna Peak of Picket Range in North Cascades National Park / 露娜峯

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Luna Peak of Picket Range stands the tallest at 8311′. The mountain is also an outlier at a vantage point overlooking the rest of the rugged ridges. Its nearest higher neighbor is the Mox Peaks in the Chilliwacks.

Luna Peak towering above Access Creek Basin
Luna Peak towering above Access Creek Basin

See more trip photos here.

Luna Peak at a Glance

Access: Ross Dam Trailhead
Round Trip: 43.6 miles
Elevation Range: 1600′-8311′
Gear: helmet, crampons, ice ax
GPS Track: available


Logistics Overview

June 25-27, 2016

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Day 1 – Saturday, June 25
Water taxi – Ross Dam Trailhead to Big Beaver Campground
Big Beaver Trail to Access Creek Basin

Day 2 – Sunday, June 26
Luna Peak

Day 3 – Monday, June 27
Access Creek Basin to Big Beaver Trail
Water taxi – Big Beaver Campground to Ross Dam Trailhead
Exit


Day 1

Water Taxi + Big Beaver Trail + Access Creek Basin

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Luna Peak

Luna Peak was a spur-of-the-moment plan. But it ended up being the biggest highlight of the season. The trip also gave me my first taste of Picket Range.

We slept in the car so that we could catch the water taxi early the next day. Our other option would’ve been hiking to Big Beaver Campground. But I wasn’t keen on the extra 14 miles of trekking on top of the climb.

See more trip photos here.

Big Beaver Trail

Besides a handful of down trees en route, Big Beaver Trail was in excellent shape, though sweltering. I’d sometimes stop to marvel at the sheer size of the tall timers. Later we took a lunch break at Luna Camp.

Beyond the camp, I soon spotted a junior bear roaming around the trail. It seemed unaware of our presence. But then it hurried into the bush after I started chanting and making noises with my poles.

Luna Camp
Luna Camp

See more trip photos here.

Fording Big Beaver Creek

Soon, more mosquitoes showed up after we left the trail. Then we swam in the brush toward Big Beaver Creek. We paced along the shore through lots of devils club and giant skunk cabbage. But I couldn’t find a decent place to cross the water.

At the same time, I looked for the reported log jam. It would’ve been the ideal place to cross the creek. So we went farther north. Then we found a feasible spot at the waist level to ford the water. The pup seemed to enjoy this part.

See more trip photos here.

Agonizing Approach to Access Creek Basin

Once we went to the other side, we scrambled downstream right away. Later we made it up to the ridgeline north of Access Creek. There we stumbled upon a faint path lower down. We followed it for a while before the massive down trees took over.

We followed the GPS track I had down to a tee. Then we were able to cross Access Creek at 3900′. So glad we didn’t continue through to the end of the path. Otherwise, we would’ve found ourselves in the nasty alder swatch.

The usual type 2 approach
The usual type 2 approach

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Luna Peak Above Access Basin

Access Creek Basin came into full view as soon as we crossed the creek. From there, we finally got our first look at Luna Peak. The beautiful massif quietly towered above in the head of the valley. We scrambled the last mile in packed snow while following some cairns to camp.

A flat-top boulder in the middle of the basin was our home for the next two nights. So I set up camp and made dinner. Then we turned in shortly after.

Home for the next two nights
Home for the next two nights

See more trip photos here.

Day 2

Luna Peak

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

Getting up to Luna Pass

The next morning, we spent most of our time in the steep gully up to the southeast ridge. Then we made a rising traverse across the broad southwest basin onto Luna Pass. Later we spotted bears tracks from south of the pass, over and down the north side.

Going up the southwest ridge to the false peak was fairly direct. It’s also just class 2 terrain with some scree. But going over to the real summit from there was a different story.

Luna Peak false summit
Luna Peak false summit

See more trip photos here.

Luna Peak Summit Plus Picket Range

The pup stayed back while I took time going down onto the south side. Once I was down on the ledge, the rest of the traverse was direct, though airy. Thanks in part to the few cairns that helped to keep things in check.

When I got to the summit, the big boulders felt as if they’d fall over at any time. As a result, I built an anchor around one solid rock and clipped in; I took photos while straddling.

See more trip photos here.

Leaving Luna Peak

After spending an hour on top, I then carefully traversed back to the false summit and reunited with the pup. Undoubtedly, Luna Peak was sitting at a vantage point to see the rest of the Picket Range.

Later, we saw more bear tracks back on Luna Pass. They looked to be going into the south basin. Then we made several more stops to soak in the views on the way back to camp.

The Picket Range lineup
The Picket Range lineup

See more trip photos here.

Day 3

Access Creek Basin + Big Beaver Trail + Water Taxi

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

The Hasty Exit

On our last morning, getting out of Access Creek was just as painful as getting in. But we made better time getting back to Beaver Creek. I managed to find the log jam half a mile downstream from where we crossed the creek two days earlier.

Back on Big Beaver Trail, we hiked as fast as we could back to Big Beaver Campground. Even so, we still arrived 10 minutes past the water taxi pickup time. But thank goodness, the driver and his grandson stuck around and waited for us.

See more trip photos here.

Back to Highway 20

The driver said he had no other appointments today. So he and his grandson were hanging out and waiting by the bay. He was even gracious to let the pup cool off in the lake for a bit.

Later the driver dropped us off at the dock. But we still needed to hike the one-mile back up to the trailhead. That part sure was the icing on the cake at the end of a long trip.

Luna's dreams
Luna’s dreams

See more trip photos here.

Overview > Day 1 > Day 2 > Day 3

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