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Forum Index -> Trip Reports -> Buckhorn Mt Summit trip
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seattlehikertoo
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Post Thu Jul 10, 2008 9:23 pm    Buckhorn Mt Summit trip
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To those that replied to my question about Buckhorn, THANK YOU! It was simply spectacular...I owe a trail report...It's long I know, so pardon my ramblings.

After a frustrating start to the morning, I left solo from Seattle about 930a, and managed to catch the 1010a Edmonds ferry to Kingston. The ride is 30 minutes. The mountains were out, but not as crisp as I had hoped.
I tied up any loose ends while crossing the drink so that nothing would distract or delay what would be an epic trip. The weather was looking fantastic - not too hot, low humidity, slight marine push.

It was another 45 minutes to Quilcene from Kingston. After stopping at the store and the ranger station, I was on my way up the forest roads to the trailhead. The roads are in good shape except some sinking in spots as well as a few large potholes. I took one wrong turn where Big Quilcene becomes Forest Rd 27. Even with good roads, it still takes a half-hour to 45 minutes from Quilcene unless you are driving unsafely.

I arrived at the Wet Weather Creek/10-Mile shelter lot at 1230p. There were 7 or 8 cars there. After a good stretch and a brief talk with a couple of guys who had been up several times, I was on my way. It was 100p and I was hoping to be down in time to avoid ferry scrambling. I had planned to catch the 835p at Kingston, so I was going to have to hustle.

As I trotted up to Shelter Rock camp, the sound of the river and sweet smell of the forest relaxed my mind and energized my body. I arrived at the camp (I think it's 2.6 miles/3850 ft) in 35 minutes, took a few pictures and was on my way again in 10 minutes. 
The forest through here is quite nice with several large hemlocks and d-firs. You have to watch the devils club a bit, but overall, the trail is smooth and easy on the feet. There were not many people since it was Wednesday. There are a few stream crossings, but your feet barely get wet hopping over them. Several large blow-downs have been cut away. THANK YOU!

At about 4700 ft or 3.5 miles, I broke out of the trees into a vast open meadow of wildflowers and soaring peaks. I was excited about what lay ahead.

At 5400 ft/4.6 miles, I arrived at Camp Mystery at about 220p. It is comprised of a few little hidden campsites near the beginning of the spill that eventually becomes the Quilcene River. I say hidden because I heard a few people talking, but couldn't see anyone. I paused to snap a few and ran off to Marmot Pass. This is where it just gets crazy. I arrived at about 245p or so. At 6000 ft/5.3 miles, the views were great and the wildflowers just kept right on coming. When I am on a hike like this, my brain drifts off, immersing itself in the spectacle that surrounds me. No picture can do it justice, but I keep taking them anyway. 
I took the foot path north, and at the first jct headed to the right up the steep shoulder of Buckhorn Mt. The wildflowers and the scenery continued to engulf me with such intensity, that I barely noticed the 800 or so feet to the summit ridge I would gain in the next half mile.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE DO NOT GO OFF THE TRAIL TO LOOK AT OR PHOTOGRAPH THE WILDFLOWERS. Otherwise, they will cease to exist.

After the first false summit you drop a bit into a saddle, then ascend again to another summit with a 15 foot tall boulder. Then you drop down into another rust-colored saddle covered with more clusters of flowers. There is actually a walkway bordered with rocks that someone constructed. 
From here it was only a couple hundred yards back up to the true summit. I arrived at about 340p or so, and I lingered until after 5p. There were patches of phlox everywhere around the summit. There's a 10-foot boulder with a nice little area below it encircled with rocks. Total distance from Marmot Pass is about a mile to 1.25 miles. Truly a great spot to lounge.   
I just didn't want to leave, tempted to just use my pack as a pillow and just wait until sunset, or the next morning perhaps. Well, it was not to be, not this time anyway.

There are actually 2 sets of cairns just 20 or 30 yards away that mark the end of the trail, but they are lower. They do give you great views supposedly of all 5 volcanoes, but there were clouds billowing up.

The bottom line is that if slogging it up the additional 1000 feet won't leave you breathless, the views certainly will.

One side note: There is no snow. The Buckhorn Wilderness is in the NE corner of the Olympics. It is in a rain shadow, meaning less moisture than places south and west. It will melt out before places at much lower elevations.

On the way down, I was snapping away with my little Nikon digital that's 3 or 4 years old now. I just couldn't stop. It was my version of a eulogy to the wildflowers, as if I would never see them again. 
I did not make the 835p Kingston, and played ring around the ferries before catching the 945p Bainbridge, but it was well worth it.
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mtnwkr
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Post Thu Jul 10, 2008 9:36 pm   
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Nice TR! Did you happen to notice the clouds coming from both the east and the west and dancing right above?

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bobbi
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Post Thu Jul 10, 2008 9:43 pm   
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welcome to the olympic peninsula!  great TR and photos.  the wildflowers are captivating.  i have hundreds of photos of the same flowers, i wonder why i keep snapping away.  they're gorgeous!

so, why didn't you recover or sign the olympic mountains traveling summit register that MtnWkr recovered from buckhorn and left on point 6559!

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bobbi ૐ

"Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting.  So…get on your way!" - Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss
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seattlehikertoo
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Post Thu Jul 10, 2008 9:53 pm    Buckhorn
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Thanks...Yes, interesting clouds. I want to go back to get a better easterly view from the summit.
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bobbi
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Post Thu Jul 10, 2008 9:58 pm   
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but, but

bcfc53 wrote:

so, why didn't you recover or sign the olympic mountains traveling summit register that MtnWkr recovered from buckhorn and left on point 6559!



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bobbi ૐ

"Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting.  So…get on your way!" - Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss
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seattlehikertoo
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Post Thu Jul 10, 2008 9:59 pm    Pt 6559
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I am assuming you mean elevation 6559. I went to what could be considered 3 false summits, maybe more. 6559 is a good 400 below the true summit. I didn't really stop until I was up on the ridge. Is that up on the summit ridge? I didn't see anything odd up there. Of course I was too busy either grinding out a torrid pace on the way up, or frantically snapping photos on the way down. Anyway, now you give me an excuse to go up there again.
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bobbi
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Post Thu Jul 10, 2008 10:05 pm   
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read the olympic mountains traveling summit register thread in this forum.

i may be heading to marmot/buckhorn the 19th of july if no one gets the register before then.

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bobbi ૐ

"Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting.  So…get on your way!" - Oh, the Places You’ll Go! By Dr. Seuss
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seattlehikertoo
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Post Thu Jul 10, 2008 10:08 pm    pt 6559
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Disregard my last post on 6559. I know where it it now from MtnWkr previous posts. I am getting better at navigating this site now. Sh*t. I must have taken 10 pictures of that 6559. I could see a path going over there. That's it, I'm going again. Next time, I sleeping there. btw, where were all the goats?
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mtnwkr
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Post Thu Jul 10, 2008 10:14 pm   
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bcfc53 wrote:
but, but

bcfc53 wrote:

so, why didn't you recover or sign the olympic mountains traveling summit register that MtnWkr recovered from buckhorn and left on point 6559!


I had it and was gone by the time he was there! Actually, I was lounging on the ridge to the other side of Marmot pass while he was there...
I saw no goats either frown.gif

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seattlehikertoo
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Post Thu Jul 10, 2008 10:26 pm    Summit register
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Where is it now?
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Canuck
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Post Fri Jul 11, 2008 8:44 am   
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What a great report.  Your picture (too lazy to copy it here) that you labeled "Late afternoon sun over a sea of wildflowers from about 3.5 to 4 miles up the trail (5000 ft elev)" is just depressing.  I was there last Sunday and never saw anything like that.  We had views at the top, but nothing but dense fog & clouds on the way, so while we saw the slopes of beautiful flowers (only about a few dozen feet up though), there were no jagged peaks to gaze at.  Dang it!  I guess I'll just have to go back...
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seattlehikertoo
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Post Fri Jul 11, 2008 10:50 am   
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Thank you....
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summithound
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Post Sat Jul 12, 2008 11:21 am   
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Excellent trip report seattlehikertoo.  up.gif  Thank you for the time spent in making sure your post was spell checked. It's one of my pet-peeves when people can't spell well and refuse to take the time to review their post before submitting it.

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Schmidt Alti-Dude
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Post Sat Jul 12, 2008 6:32 pm   
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NIce TR, definitely one of our favorite spots in the Olympics.

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Anything stated by me in no way reflects the attitudes or opinions of my wife
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