Buckskin Mountain in Entiat Meadows / 恩蒂亞特草原的柏克金山

Thank you for another safe outing

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The Lowdown on Buckskin Mountain

Access: Entiat River Trailhead
Round Trip: TBD
Elevation Range: 1360′-8124′
Gear: helmet
GPS Track: available

Entiat River Trail Approach

I first saw the glaciated Entiat River Valley from Seven Fingered Jack, which coincidentally was my first Bulger peak. Back then, I didn’t realize that a trail ran through the Entiat Meadows. But back then, I never got the chance to hike the trail before. The Wolverine Fire drastically devastated the area, sending portions of the path under an enormous quantity of down trees.

Pup and I hit the trail early Saturday morning under the less-than-ideal weather forecast. I was excited to check out the Entiat Meadows on this trip. So I kept my fingers crossed for the sky to clear up soon. The well-maintained and sandy Entiat River Trail took us past the junction to Gopher Mountain and Choral Peak. A one-year-old report mentioned that the trail was clear of down trees up to Candy Creek

Running around in circles over you
Running around in circles over you

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Through Massive down Trees

The trail between Snow Brushy Creek and Aurora Creek was dry and strewn with chopstick like dead trees. Throughout this section, we had excellent views of South Spectacle Butte, Mount Maude, Freezer, and Icebox. Thankfully, the low morning temperatures kept the mosquitoes at bay. Once we hiked past Candy Creek, things slowly became laborious.

At first, we were able to follow game trails through the massive down trees. But then we lost the hikers’ trail by the first clearing. As it turned out, we were too far east from the river. We found the trail before the river bend, where the path took a turn due west. There we experienced the worst section of down trees. To top it off, swarms of mosquitoes finally decided to come out and feast.

Ice Creek Valley
Ice Creek Valley

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Entiat Meadows at Last

Finally, we arrived at the second clearing at 5100′ below the south face of the mountain. Then we set up camp and rested for a while. I had thought about climbing the next morning, but the bloodthirsty mosquitoes had me rethink. Since it was still early, I figured we’d give the summit a try. My gut told me we’d make it back down before dark.

Just as we set off on the climb, I saw some rain clouds gathering to the west. There were several route options on the south face. So naturally, we picked the one with the least amount of down trees and headed straight up. Supposedly, there was an old trail through the ribs up to the east ridge. But I never located it.

Entiat Meadows at last
Entiat Meadows at last

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Buckskin Mountain Climb

The scramble went surprisingly smoothly; it took a lot less time for us to get above the timberline. At one point it started to drizzle. So we took shelter under a group of big trees and waited out the light rain. There we had the dramatic view of both North and South Spectacle Buttes. Luckily the rain only lasted 10 minutes.

As it turned out, getting onto the east ridge at 6600′ and before traversing west seemed laborious. So instead, we climbed up in the snow-free south gully for a direct approach. To avoid potential rockfalls, we stayed to the right on mixed heather and scree terrain. At one point, we got too close to climbers right. We stopped just short of the cliffs by the buttress extending down the east ridge.

North view from east ridge
North view from the east ridge

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Ominous Weather on Buckskin Mountain Summit

We stayed on track and then continued to head up in the main gully. And eventually, we got up on the east ridge at 7900′. There we got our first look at the peaks north of Holden Village. Though, views were already breathtaking. Another 200′ of steep ridge scrambling and we finally topped out at 8124′. To the west, the rain clouds that I took notice earlier looked to have doubled in size.

Out of the corner of my eye, I felt a flash of lightning. Soon, the sky began to rumble. Holy isht, we didn’t need to be electrocuted right now! As I felt the hair on my arms start to rise, I collected our metal objects, including the dog collar. Then I stashed them under a big rock to the opposite side of the summit. Then pup and I crouched under a big boulder on the other side and waited.

Spectacle Buttes to Copper Peak panoramic view
Spectacle Buttes to Copper Peak panoramic view

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A Short Summit Stay

Lightning accompanied by the roar of thunder continued for another 15 minutes before quieting down. Soon afterward, the sky began to let out small openings and the evening light seeped through. Fascinating how quickly it went from a thunderstorm to partly sunny sky. Though, the 15-minute wait felt like an eternity. First time for everything!

I didn’t want to spend any more time on the summit than necessary. So after a quick photo session, we proceeded to make our descent. Though, it didn’t look like the thunderstorm was coming back anytime soon. Still, I wanted to get off the mountain now that weather had quieted down. Descending 3000′ of scree and slippery heather slopes didn’t go as fast as planned. But we both made it to the bottom safely, woot!

North Star over Buckskin Mountain
North Star over Buckskin Mountain

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Outro

We had a restful night in the meadows. Then early next morning, we packed up for the 14-mile trek out just as temperatures began to rise. The section of trail between Snow Brushy Creek and Aurora Creek had been under the sun for a while. Pup cleverly avoided parts of the scorched trail by walking among scrubs alongside me.

Small pools of water in several dying streams provided momentary relief as we moved along. Then we took a long lunch break back at Snow Brushy Creek. The much-needed rest also gave the pup a chance to soak under the log jam.

One last soak
One last soak

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