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raising3hikers
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Joined: 21 Sep 2007
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Location: Edmonds, Wa
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PostMon May 06, 2019 6:56 pm 
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Finney Pk 8110'

Good news-The road to the West Buttermilk trailhead is snow free and in great shape
Bad news-The first 3 miles of the trail is horrible with hundreds of blowdowns from last years fire, many spots with 3,4,5 trees across at the same spot.

This past weekend, I took my oldest son, Jayden, out with me for an overnighter in hopes to tag Finney Pk in the Sawtooth wilderness.  We reached the TH and started hiking by 9:45am to a bunch of down trees.  It was pretty bad and I was hoping it didn't dampen Jayden's spirit about the hike.  The first 3 miles took 2 hours.  Patchy snow between mile 2-3 made things a bit worse, post holing while trying to get up, over of around down trees was difficult.  Leaving the burn at the 3 mile mark, things improved.  We put snowshoes on and made our way up to Fish Creek Pass.

Star Pk
Star Pk

At the pass, we found a bear track that had recently passed by.  We dropped down and headed for the Baldy/Star saddle.  Some steep snow slopes but it was in pretty good condition for travel.  From the saddle, we could finally see Finney Pk way off in the distance.  That's when Jayden said "it looks like its 15 miles away"  I promised him it wasn't and told him we'd aim for camp over the next ridge.  We arrived above Surprise Lake and looked for a flat area to set camp.  Normally, I like to get the summit on day 1, but it had taken much longer to get to camp.  After dinner, Jayden went to bed early because he was exhausted.

I woke early the next day and asked Jayden if he wanted to go for the summit, he said "no, I rather sleep longer"  So, I headed off at 5:30am towards the upper Surprise Lakes which were all frozen.

sun coming up at the upper lake
sun coming up at the upper lake

The snow was in great shape as I headed up to the saddle closest to Finney.  Then I had to drop 300' on steep snow to get around a buttress to get over to the West coulior.  More steep snow back up and I was finally able to take the snowshoes off.  I scrambled a bit to get to the summit.  I could see across Lake Chelan to where I was at last week (Riddle Pk)  I put crampons on for my way down and then back up to the saddle.  The sun was out and warming up the snow so the snowshoes went on again back to camp.  Jayden and I got packed up for the trip back out at 8:30am.  As we made our way to the Baldy/Star saddle, we heard some howling below us, not sure if it were wolves or coyotes.  Either way, there were a few of them talking to each other.

last look at Finney
last look at Finney
Surprise Lake down below
Surprise Lake down below
Jayden grabbing a much need drink
Jayden grabbing a much need drink

The hike out was uneventful although we dreaded getting to the big blowdown area.  We made better time getting through it and reached the TH by 2pm.

23.25 miles
8200' elevation gain
2 days

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Eric Eames
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Jake Robinson
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PostMon May 06, 2019 7:28 pm 
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Nice trip Eric  up.gif

I wonder if that WF Buttermilk Trail is just doomed to always have a lot of blowdowns. Last year in mid July it was pretty bad (though not 1.5 MPH bad!), with well over 100 blowdowns in the first few miles. A week after my trip I talked to a FS worker who had just spent a few days clearing it out...then the Crescent Mountain fire started the next week and it closed down. Beautiful area regardless, love that view of Star from the trail.
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Matt
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Joined: 30 Jan 2007
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PostMon May 06, 2019 8:11 pm 
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Sorry to hear about the amount of blowdowns.
Jayden is a trooper if he kept going through that many downed trees.

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“As beacons mountains burned at evening.” J.R.R. Tolkien
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Stefan
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PostTue May 07, 2019 8:52 am 
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Now this peak does not get done that often!!!

Nice for taking Jayden out.  Can't keep up with dad....oh what a feeling that is for dad!

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Art is an adventure.
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RichP
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PostTue May 07, 2019 9:31 am 
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Leave it to you to get up so high in early season.

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Without obsession, life is nothing. John Waters
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