Forum Index > Trip Reports > Elephant Butte - July 27-28, 2020
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neek
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PostWed Jul 29, 2020 5:02 pm 
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Don't underestimate this one!  I wanted to camp on Elephant Butte, but had to settle for North Stetattle Ridge.  That meant getting over to Elephant and then all the way back to the car on the second day.  This trip warrants at least three days, which would provide time to explore Hippo and Rhino as well.  Things were delayed by a casual start, and waiting over an hour to get a permit, which for some reason I felt compelled to do.  They really could streamline the process; half the folks ahead of me left and presumably went rogue.  When I said I was going to Elephant Butte, I just got a blank look.  Stetattle Ridge?  No idea.  Sourdough?  That rang bell.  Next time I will just throw everything in the car and take care of packing, food prep, breakfast, route familiarization, and getting dressed during the wait.

I started hiking up the familiar Sourdough trail at 10:30.  Thought about taking the shortcut but I never know where the best place to leave the trail is.  So that added yet more delay.  Had lunch at Sourdough camp and then continued up to the ridge.  If you've never been to Stetattle ridge, note there's a bootpath the entire way, and as long as you can stick to it, you'll never encounter anything remotely difficult.  You will, however, go up and over a number of high points, which you'll have to repeat on the way back.  I only saw two people on the ridge, just up from Sourdough Camp for the day.  The atmosphere was quite hazy, so zoom shots required considerable editing.  I made it to point 6728 at 7:30pm and set up camp, realizing there was no way I'd make it to EB before dark.  It was windy, but I was tired enough to get some sleep.  Didn't bother to take any comet pics because it was very faint.

Lizard
Lizard
Many tarns dot the ridge
Many tarns dot the ridge
Jack
Jack
Hozomeen
Hozomeen
Looking along the ridge toward Luna
Looking along the ridge toward Luna
Melty watermelon snow
Melty watermelon snow
Azure Lake
Azure Lake
Lunaglow
Lunaglow
Davis
Davis
Sunset
Sunset

I was moving the next day by 6.  Dropped some gear at 5800'; should have just left it at camp since you have to go back that way.  I had heard the brush can be bad getting down to the 4950' saddle, but it really wasn't.  In fact there's a trail for the last several hundred vertical feet if you can find it.  Heading up the east side of Elephant I soon encountered the expected cliffy bits, but worked around them without too much difficulty.  Crossed the shoulder and began the traverse across the south face to the west ridge.  There's no reason to go above 6200' at any point until you start heading up to the ridge--in fact you'll encounter a few walls if you try.  The west ridge is a super mellow walk.  At the top I discovered someone had stayed there just two days ago.  One person before that in August last year, then Jake.  So, not a frequently visited peak--no surprise, since it took me 6 hours from camp.

Elephant
Elephant
Baker
Baker
Luna
Luna
Working around cliffs
Working around cliffs
Time to start working around to the S
Time to start working around to the S
Interesting formation
Interesting formation
EB summit
EB summit
Summit pano
Summit pano
Southern Pickets
Southern Pickets
Thornton and Triumph
Thornton and Triumph
Fury (hi Fletcher!)
Fury (hi Fletcher!)
Selfie
Selfie
Rock ptarmigan
Rock ptarmigan

Headed back the way I came after about an hour on top.  Toward the SE end of Stetattle Ridge, I made a beeline for Sourdough Camp rather than head up Sourdough Mountain.  It was getting dark and mosquitoes were fierce, but there was a trail most of the way and things went fast.  Of course this was the night with the good sunset colors, which I was already too low to really capture.

Back on Stetattle Ridge
Back on Stetattle Ridge
I about had a heart attack when two glowing eyes suddenly appeared right in front of me, but it was just this super cute little fawn
I about had a heart attack when two glowing eyes suddenly appeared right in front of me, but it was just this super cute little fawn
Western Toad
Western Toad

Got home at 4am after stopping for a few power naps on the drive home.  I'm pretty beat today!
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raising3hikers
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PostWed Jul 29, 2020 5:28 pm 
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Nice work, neek!
Looks like a good time to go and great pics. I still have to make my way there one of these days

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Eric Eames
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silence
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PostThu Jul 30, 2020 7:10 am 
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Wanderlust  ... another place I've always wanted to explore. Great pix!

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ozzy
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PostThu Jul 30, 2020 4:59 pm 
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Oh woweeee!!! Damn some stellar pics and slog from the sounds of it! I've been interested in this one since Jake's trip report.  Now you've made the feeling worse lol! What were the total stats for the roundtrip if you don't mind!?  cheers.gif

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Milk is for babies. When you grow up you have to drink beer. -Arnold
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neek
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PostThu Jul 30, 2020 6:20 pm 
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ozzy wrote:
Oh woweeee!!! Damn some stellar pics and slog from the sounds of it! I've been interested in this one since Jake's trip report.  Now you've made the feeling worse lol! What were the total stats for the roundtrip if you don't mind!?  cheers.gif

thanks, yeah it's a pretty area.  strava sez just shy of 11 leagues distance and 4km gain, but probably slightly less.  still can barely stand up haha
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awilsondc
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PostThu Jul 30, 2020 8:00 pm 
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Gorgeous photos neek!  I'm digging your photography lately, nice work.  Beautiful up there...

neek wrote:
Don't underestimate this one!

This seems to be a common refrain upon returning from Elephant Butte.  Despite seeing this nearly identical quote on just about every Elephant Butte trip report I can think of, I too shall likely try this as an overnight trip and get my ass handed to me as well.  Ok, maybe I'll heed the words of those who have gone before me and plan 3 days for this one.  Haha, it's on the list!  Nice report!   up.gif  up.gif  up.gif
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RichP
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PostThu Jul 30, 2020 8:05 pm 
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You are getting in some good trips this summer and your pics are fantastic.
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neek
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PostThu Jul 30, 2020 8:57 pm 
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awilsondc wrote:
Despite seeing this nearly identical quote on just about every Elephant Butte trip report I can think of, I too shall likely try this as an overnight trip and get my ass handed to me as well.

man, you could get an amazing sunrise shot up there if the conditions were right.  no pressure. smile.gif  7am start probably would have been fine.  not that there's anything wrong with night hiking, but you really wouldn't want to be caught in the cliffy/brushy part in the dark.  no reason to rush of course but if you're like me it's hard to find 3+ days of free time.
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runup
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PostThu Jul 30, 2020 10:48 pm 
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Nicely done, neek, both trip and report.

neek wrote:
Next time I will just throw everything in the car and take care of packing, food prep, breakfast, route familiarization, and getting dressed during the wait.


biggrin.gif
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Stefan
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PostFri Jul 31, 2020 11:01 am 
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okay.  That is a long day!!!!

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Art is an adventure.
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Gimpilator
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PostMon Aug 03, 2020 11:11 am 
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Great photos!  2 days is a grind.  I'm also glad to hear constructive criticism, where it is due.  Definitely one of the best WA hikes to be had.  Truly fantastic sights up there.   up.gif

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Keep climbing mountains and don't slip!
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cascadetraverser
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PostMon Aug 03, 2020 12:37 pm 
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2 days is impressive; we took 5 and visited Azure Lake and that wasn`t easy.  Really, really great area.  Well done!
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Alden Ryno
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PostMon Aug 03, 2020 7:42 pm 
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I came to commend your photographs, however, it seems like everyone else had the same idea! Stunning.

That view of the Southern Pickets is otherworldly!

And a question... Is there a different between a "regular" Ptarmigan and a Rock Ptarmigan?

What I believe have been Ptarmigan that I've seen have less brown/rock tones, is that the difference?
Thanks in advance for any insight, y'all smile.gif
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contour5
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PostMon Aug 03, 2020 8:07 pm 
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Really nice pictures! EB was one of my favorite fails...Your summit pano makes me want to go try again...
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