After a long break from decent blog posts due to complete physical and mental fatigue, I'm back! Uhuru, Jeff, and I are all home in Ellensburg after the completion of the trip. Jeff and I successfully completed all 100 peaks on the Bulger List, and Uhuru joined us for most of the trip and summited 47 of them with us! I will save the ending trip feelings and final notes for the last blog post, but what a truly amazing experience we had.
Now, let us start from where we last were; July 20th we climbed Devore and Tupshin peaks and made it down to Stehekin for the night.
We woke up to a beautiful morning on the Stehekin River. A short stroll had us on the steps of the Stehekin Pastry Company. Hot coffee and fresh pastries were a wonderful start to the day. After breakfast, we walked the road down to the docks where we picked up our resupply box from the post office and secured backcountry permits at the North Cascades ranger station. We walked back to the pastry company for a second indulgence, then started the long walk towards Park Creek. We made it to 2-Mile camp at dusk and settled in for the night.
Jeff and I rose at Bulger time (4:30) and started up the trail towards Goode. We stashed gear at the Goode creek crossing and headed up the mountain. A decent trail brought us to the upper basin where we topped off our water and kept climbing. Some fun scrambling up a gully carried us to some real climbing. We roped up, then I led up the white slab pitch. From here we de-roped and scrambled up to the NE buttress, then to the summit! On top we met an inspiring man, Ira. He is working on climbing the Bulgers at age 75! He only has 14 left, so we wished him all the best on his final peaks. Goode is touted to have one of the best summit bivouacs in the North Cascades, so the views did not disappoint.
Getting to the North side
Jeff on the final Summit Scramble; 5,500 ft to the valley floor
Summit of Goode
We descended the route we climbed, then traversed north to Storm King. Another scramble and we were on top of Storm King. While we were one of four parties on Goode today, we were the fourth party of the year on Storm King. We descended 2,000 ft of scree, regained the trail and headed back for our gear. At Park Creek Pass, we met back up with Uhuru and headed towards the Logan Slope for the night. We didn't get as far as we had hoped but found a nice spot just as the sun was setting.
Another Bulger time wake-up and we were ascending towards the Fremont glacier. Impressive views of the Boston Glacier kept us looking over our shoulders. This is a place of extraordinary beauty that has escaped the attention of most.
Walking across the Fremont Glacier. From left to right; Ripsaw Ridge, Sahale, Boston, Forbidden
From the top of the glacier, we gained the South ridge of Mt Logan and scrambled up to the summit. This may very well be my favorite summit view from the entire trip. Mount Logan is located in the center of the North Cascades so the views are truly panoramic. The Boston Glacier, Eldorado Massif, Shuksan and Baker to the west, the Pickets and Chilliwacks in view to the north, Ragged ridge to the Northeast, the Washington Pass peaks to the East, and the Ptarmigan Traverse peaks, Dome, Glacier Peak, and others to the south. I'd guess we could see at least 50 of the Bulgers from here.
Boston Glacier with Boston and Sahale peaks left, Forbidden center, Eldorado and Inspiration Traverse to the right, Fremont Glacier bottom left.
Fremont Glacier bottom, Glacier peak upper center left, Dome just left under Glacier, Buckner right
After enjoying the summit views, we descended the north side of the mountain via the Banded Glacier. This was yet another reminder of how fast these landscapes are changing. Historical images from 1960 show the glacier reaching nearly to the end of the lake with several hundred feet of added thickness.
Descending the Banded Glacier
Once reaching treeline, a short steep bushwhack brought us to the Fisher Creek Trail. A couple miles of relaxing trail later and Jeff and I headed into the woods once more, up the Cosho Gully, and towards Ragged Ridge. We reached the summit of Cosho just before sunset. More spectacular views for the day. We descended from the summit and found a perfect little camp spot on a rock outcropping on the Kimtah Glacier. There was even running water and dirt to sleep on!
Views of Goode and Storm King (left) and Logan (right) from the summit of Cosho
Cosho from our camp spot
We awoke pre-Bulger time and were walking just before 5:00am.
Jeff watching the first light with Kimtah to his right
We walked across a short section of the Kimtah Glacier to the start of our Ragged Ridge traverse. Some ledge systems had us at the base of Kimtah. An easy scramble and we were on top, with spectacular views at sunrise.
Inspiration traverse at sunrise
From Kimtah, we tried to find the correct ledge system to the Kimtah-Katsuk Col. Our first attempt failed, but after a short backtrack, we found the magic ledges that were easy to follow.
Jeff wondering at the views of Goode, Storm King, and Logan (left to right)
The clouds were building and light rain and set in by the time we were at the base of Katsuk and Mesahchie. Despite the weather, we headed up, ready to turn around if conditions worsened. We climbed Katsuk first, tagging both the main and West summits as we couldn't tell which was higher. Wet rock made the going slow. Same story as we ascended Mesahchie. Wet slippery rock had us scrambling with intentional slow moves. The only views from the summit were those of the clouds. We descended down the ridge to our overnight gear. Cold and wet, we took a short nap in the scree, then continued to Easy Pass were we reconnected with Uhuru.
Jeff enjoying a short nap
Traversing to Easy Pass in the moody afternoon
From Easy Pass, we took the trail down to Granite Creek for the night. We had now completed the figure-eight of the "Big Trip" and would soon be reunited with our bikes and additional food.
The last segment of the Big Trip, from Rainy Pass down to Marblemount will be covered in the next post.