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The Chelan-Sawtooth Group

After our last trip in the Glacier Peak Wilderness, we took a rest day in Plain/Leavenworth and moved east, to the Chelan-Sawtooth group.


Day 1 | June 28th

Today was an easy day. We biked from Leavenworth to the North Fork Entiat. With thunderheads building, we decided to take the afternoon off, rest in camp, and go to sleep early.


The outhouse patio was both shady and dry


Day 2 | June 29th

Started hiking just before 5. Our first peak of the day was Cardinal. This peak was re-surveyed by Eric Gilberson just a week prior, so instead of only climbing the middle summit, which was the previously recognized high point, we also needed to climb the more challenging South summit (7 inches higher). This involved a short section of 5th class soloing which proved to be quite fun!


Langdon climbs the summit block


After cardinal we headed the long ways out to Pinnacle Peak. Nothing difficult here, just a lot of walking. From Pinnacle, we retraced our steps, then climbed Saska and Emerald. On Emerald I found a fun alternate route with some solid rock for climbing :)



Alternate route on Emerald


A long painful descent got us back to camp at 11 PM. We're realizing that a normal 12 hr day takes a lot longer when your body is pre-fatigued, running is not an option, and you only slept 5 hrs. The compound fatigue is setting in.


Day 3 | June 30th


This was a day of biking. 103 miles with a stop in Chelan for tire repair, lunch and groceries. It was quite hot, so stops to jump in the Columbia and Methow rivers were welcomed. We made camp for the night at Crater Creek Campground.



Time to consume: 13 minutes


Day 4 | July 1st


4:00 wake up had us riding up to the Crater Creek Trailhead by 4:30. 5 miles of steep uphill to the trailhead, then a mile on the trail before stashing the bikes. We then Climbed Raven Ridge, Hoodoo, Bigelow, Martin, and Switchback before hiking back to the bikes. Despite a 4 AM wakeup, we were unable to make it back to camp before dark, although we only needed our lights for a few minutes. Another very long day.


Remains of a rock Glacier on the north side of Bigelow. Raven ridge above


A real life Ent


Day 5 | July 2nd


Biked from Crater Creek to Buttermilk Creek. Not a long ride, but 3,500 ft of elevation gain had us at the trailhead after 11 AM. Jeff and I started Hiking at noon to climb Oval, Star and Courtney. 3 Bulgers shouldn't take long right? We climbed Oval first, opting to leave the trail early and suffer some bushwacking to save on mileage. This paid off as we reached the Summit in 3.5 hrs. Our pace soon slowed with difficult trails and fatigue setting in.


We climbed Star second. Alpine meadows and larch groves lifted our spirits. What a special place that is unfrequently visited.



We summited Courtney just in time for sunset. Beautiful panoramic views!

A slow descent had us rolling into camp just after midnight.


Day 6 | July 3rd


Woke up just before 6 and biked to Reynolds creek. I thought we had experienced some pretty major bushwacking thus far, but Reynolds Creek would dwarf all of it. Thick brush and frequent dead fall due to forest fires slowed our travel. Wearing shorts was a mistake. After 3.5 miles of "trail" we headed up the basin between Reynolds and Williams. The off trail Bushwacking was about the same as the "trail" we had before. Travel eased as we broke through treeline. We spent our longest summit stay of the trip Just, soaking in the view for almost an hour. Just 1 summit for the day before we re-entered the brush. After returning to the bikes, we had a short ride to the Scatter Creek trailhead.


Walking through the burnt forest


Day 7 | July 4th


Started hiking at 3:30. Good trail up to Scatter Lake. What a lovely place. Up scree fields to Abernathy for our first Summit. Next up was Gardiner and North Gardiner. "The word of the day is scree." All these summits have fantastic views. And the route-finding was fairly straightforward! Lots of vert and tired bodies had us moving slow. It was Jeff's anniversary though and the thought of Pizza in Winthrop kept us going. After a seemingly never-ending descent, we rode the 30 miles back to Winthrop for dinner. Pizza Time!


Early morning light with Reynolds peaking out

Scatter Lake in the morning light


Mining relics


The bulgers are aging me quickly


The last 7 days we covered 340 miles, 66,000 vert, and climbed 16 peaks! With so many long days and little sleep, we arrived in Winthrop pretty wasted. Today, the 5th we took as a rest day. What a wonderful thing it was.


We got to meet Andrew Oakerlund and Ross Wallette who were also taking a rest day. Andrew is climbing all the Bulgers this summer as well, so it was nice to exchange stories and beta.



Up next, we are off to the Pasayten!


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