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RynoA
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Joined: 04 Jun 2019
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Location: Richland, WA
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PostSun Jun 09, 2019 5:46 pm 
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Howdy! I believe that this is my first post here.
However, I've used NWHikers as a resource for a while now. Being my first post, let me know what I can do to be of better help to those reading or wanting info. This trip has very little route finding or technical aspects so images aren't of those types of things.

Likely, many here have done this trip before, and it's straightforward, for the most part.
Let me get into it.

I began up the trail from the West Fork Buttermilk Trailhead around 4:15 AM Friday. The creek crossing about a quarter mile could be precarious on aog about 100 feet upstream from where the trail crosses (or you can ford it).

Warm, morning light
Warm, morning light

On the way out, I counted the downed trees in the first three miles of trail: 560 trees that made me dodge, dip, duck, dive, or dodge from the trail. Obviously that is a subjective number, but I propose that it's conservative. Much less than half were burned.

The trail clears after that and eases its way up in elevation. At 6.5 miles and ~6,700', I reached a cairn for the old trail to the basin below Oval. There, I stowed my overnight pack and continued with my day pack to Fish Creek Pass.

Approaching Fish Creek Pass, Star standing guard
Approaching Fish Creek Pass, Star standing guard

Continuous snow began around 6,900'; it was all well consolidated. Weather moved in as I ascended to the pass and I could barely see Star Lake when I go to the pass at 7,500'.

By the time made it to Star Lake, it was snowing fairly heavily. The lake is still frozen over though is thawing. It looks to have refroze some over the past day and while I was there.

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow...

I traversed steep snow and talus, all dusted with new snow, to gain the SW ridge of Star. It continued to snow until I reached the summit (largely by following the ridge and faint trail). Visibility was near null.

Looking back at the true Star summit, I traversed a few feet forward to search for a register: No such luck.
Looking back at the true Star summit, I traversed a few feet forward to search for a register: No such luck.

I began descent back to Starake and Fish Creek Pass. As I dropped, the clouds began to lift not minutes after leaving the summit, revealing the numerous leaks a ridgelines thay speckled the horizon in the direction of Lake Chelan.

Lifting clouds
Lifting clouds

Upon getting back to Fish Creek Pass, I immediately started up the ridge to Courtney Peak. A scant 800' vain later and I was there...if only all Bulgers were so simple. They'd likely lose their appeal though...
I was able to take it tremendous 360 degree views. Of particular interest was the sight of Star.

Star of my life
Star of my life
PokéPal Pikachu with me, as always
PokéPal Pikachu with me, as always
Oval on the right
Oval on the right

Again, I dropped down to Fish Creek Pass and headed down to my big pack at the cairn to Oval.
Oddly enough, the trail to the basin below Oval is in good shape. There are some downed trees, but not many. Especially compared to the contorting obstacle course on the way in. They key, for me, was just staying below the boulder fields, if possible.

A bit of trail heading to Oval Basin
A bit of trail heading to Oval Basin

Once I arrived at the lake, I headed hikers/climbers left to skirt around the lake and began to ascend snow, talus, rock, larch debris to the ridge.
Alas, the wind had picked up on the ridge, so I stayed among the bulk of the boulders, making for a heinous climb with my heavy pack filled with supplies, food, and a gallon of water (4.25 L actually). I carried the water from the cairn, but should've just gotten water from the lakes below Oval.

lakey lake
lakey lake
Island tree
Island tree

I topped out on Oval at 6 PM and made camp... Well, threw out my pad and bag. I made a makeshift bed of rock, but if I had traveled a bit farther along the ridge, I'd have found bivy sites. I knew I couldn't have been the first with this idea! I was just too lazy to look. Hehe.


I was tired and barely hungry so I just brewed up some ramen and slithered away into my bag...it was supposed to be about 20 degrees so I was prepared for a chilly night. It did get that cold, but I stayed warm! Zero degree bag did very well. It was my first trip with it and I like it.

My main water supply was in the bag with me and I woke up with it being nearly warm! The bottle that was left out was almost frozen solid. My shoes were also in my bag so they didn't freeze.... I'm pretty sure I woke up with a sore throat from breathing shoe fumes and vapors all night...

Sunset, which I largely slept through
Sunset, which I largely slept through

Sunset. I slept through most of it.

I woke up socked in at 4:30 AM. In no rush, I made coffee, had breakfast, walked around to get cell signal, and packed up to be on the move around 6 AM.


I followed the ridge as much as possible before the ledges and dropped back down to the basin. The drop down to the basin and the bushwhack back to the trail were the crux of this trip for me. Just time consuming.

Once on the trial, I went about 2 miles before I encountered the tree course again. Then I began counting. Little did I know how high that number would get... Sheesh.

Poor sign
Poor sign

I made it back to the car just before noon in no true rush.
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Get Out and Go
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Location: Leavenworth
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PostSun Jun 09, 2019 8:31 pm 
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Thanks for the post/conditions update.   up.gif

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"These are the places you will find me hiding'...These are the places I will always go."
(Down in the Valley by The Head and The Heart)
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contour5
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PostSun Jun 09, 2019 8:44 pm 
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Great first post! Nice pictures too, they just need proper titles...Used to be you could just add a title after the code for the photo...
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geyer
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PostMon Jun 10, 2019 6:38 am 
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Hey! Solid first post. you got thrown down the gauntlet with weather out there

RynoA wrote:
560 trees that made me dodge, dip, duck, dive, or dodge from the trail

I'm sure the American Dodgeball Association of America is still looking for recruits  wink.gif
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RichP
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Joined: 13 Jul 2006
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Location: Moscow, Id.
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PostMon Jun 10, 2019 7:34 am 
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Nice bivy site. Welcome!

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Without obsession, life is nothing. John Waters
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Brushbuffalo
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Joined: 17 Sep 2015
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Location: there earlier, here now, somewhere later... Bellingham in between
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PostMon Jun 10, 2019 10:11 pm 
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Excellent , and welcome here.

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Passing rocks and trees like they were standing still
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Midnight Slogger
No heroics



Joined: 04 Aug 2017
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No heroics
PostTue Jun 11, 2019 9:53 am 
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Thanks for the great report!
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Kim Brown
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PostTue Jun 11, 2019 2:57 pm 
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Nice! Get busy, get packed, get back out there, and post another report next week.  up.gif

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" I'm really happy about this! … I have very strong good and horrible memories up there."  – oldgranola, NWH’s outdoors advocate.
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Michael Lewis
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Joined: 27 Apr 2009
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Location: Lynnwood, WA (for now)
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PostWed Jun 12, 2019 1:02 am 
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I like this report! The photos, the snow, summit bivy and pikachu.
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fyodorova
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PostThu Jun 13, 2019 12:51 pm 
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RynoA wrote:
Warm, morning light
Warm, morning light

Great trail shot!
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olderthanIusedtobe
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PostThu Jun 13, 2019 1:17 pm 
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geyer wrote:
Hey! Solid first post. you got thrown down the gauntlet with weather out there

RynoA wrote:
560 trees that made me dodge, dip, duck, dive, or dodge from the trail

I'm sure the American Dodgeball Association of America is still looking for recruits  wink.gif

up.gif  Ha!  I missed the "Dodgeball" reference in the OP.  If you can dodge a tree, you can dodge a ball.
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