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 conditions were great, just the occasional down trees 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 when I started chanting and making noises with my trekking poles.
More mosquitoes appeared once we left the trail and bushwhacked toward Big Beaver Creek. We walked up and down the shore while fighting our way through devils club and massive skunk cabbage, hoping to find the reported log jam to cross the creek. Eventually we forded the creek at at a shallower creek bed farther north.
On the other side we began scrambling downstream to attain the ridge north of Access Creek. I found a climbers path in lower parts of the ridge but soon lost it to down trees and heavy brush. We followed the track of a trip report and successfully crossed Access Creek at 3900’ right before reaching the alder swatch on the north side.
Access Creek Basin came into full view after the crossing, with Luna Peak towering over the upper basin. I spotted some cairns as we made the one-mile long scramble into the upper basin. Once there, I found a boulder with a perfectly flat top to set up 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.