Yes, that’s right … the group ABBA … but I’ll get to that later.
The plan was to head to Marmot Pass and then on up to the summit of Buckhorn Mountain. Got to the TH about 7am … me and 2 other cars and that was it except for the guy in the tent with the 2 dogs. I’m sure my big diesel truck rolling by him that early did not make him a happy camper. Sorry about that !
On the trail you immediately enter the Buckhorn Wilderness. That’s appropriate since Buckhorn is my destination.
This is one well used trail. Well groomed … heavily used … really nice. A pretty easy hike all the way to Shelter Rock camp.
After you leave Shelter Rock the trail begins the slow slog up and up and up. It’s not a bad slog though. Lots of views and the up is not straight up (like Lake Constance).
Arrived at Camp Mystery and discovered only 1 tent there.
After Camp Mystery, you head up a gorgeous meadow to the cliff wall and then up around that to the final walk up to Marmot Pass.
On the way up I was able to get my first good looks at Buckhorn and what I still had ahead of me.
Once I stopped looking up I finally reached the pass.
At this point I’d like to thank seattlehikertoo for his TR on this part of the hike. I had printed out his TR and carried it in my pocket so that I could refer to it if I had some questions on where to go once I left the trail. As I was standing at Marmot Pass, I read this line from his TR:
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.
I would soon come to realize that while he might have barely noticed the 800 feet to the summit ridge, I, on the other hand, noticed NOTHING BUT THE 800 FEET !
Finally reached the top of the ridge and realized that I’m way up high now. Time to test out my fear of heights
Once you get on top of the ridge, it’s a pretty easy hike all the way to the base of the summit itself. Real easy to follow the trail.
This was my first good look at the summit. You can’t see it in the picture but look at the square rock in the center of the picture on the summit. At this point, I could see that there was someone sitting up there. That’s where I want to sit !
Ok … here’s where ABBA comes in. You figure I’ve been hiking now for going on 4 hours and as I started to climb that last incline to the summit I realized that for the entire hike I had been humming the song SOS by ABBA for the entire trip. Once I realized it, I tried to stop singing it in my head and the harder I tried, the worse it got. I even started humming it out loud ! I knew I had to stop before I got to the summit because if I broke out into song when I got to the summit, I just knew that the person that was up there was gonna toss my butt right off the edge. So … stifling that stupid song … I made my way up the last little push.
Finally …. Got to the top and met a nice guy by the name of Thane. We talked a bit and he agreed to take a few pictures for me.
After we sat for a while, Thane looked over and asked … “What’s that on top of that rock over there on the edge of the summit ?”
Hmmmm … Craig needs to go see !
It was a cairn ! I, of course, added my little rock to it. Since I was in my exploring mode now … and way way up high, I decided to test out my fear of heights thing. I discovered that when I get short of breath, mutter things to myself like “what are you thinking”, and feel my toes scrunch up in my boots so tight that I could make diamonds out of the sand between my toes, that’s a clear indication that I am STILL SCARED OF HEIGHTS !!!!
After I got all that out of my system, Thane headed down and I was left to enjoy the summit all to myself for the next hour.
After a while I thought I saw something off in the distance. I then realized that it was Thane heading back to his camp to meet up with his Mom … and I could actually see them from this far up.
I made another friend while I was having lunch.
After I took a nap, I woke up to this sight.
Headed back down to the TH. On the way up, I only encountered one other person … Thane. On the way down ? I bet I passed 30 or more people on their way up. Camp Mystery was packed by the time I came back down. This sure does seem to be a very popular place. If you want solitude, start real early and enjoy it while you can. When I hit the TH, I was surprised to see how full the lot had gotten.
Top Elevation - 6988 ft
Elevation Gain ~4500 ft
TH to Marmot Pass – 2:50
Marmot Pass to Buckhorn summit: 1:00
Time on Summit: 2:00
Summit to TH: 2:30
Looks like you made good time. I didn't go up Buckhorn when I went up in June. Instead I went up the other ridge from Marmot Pass. Nice flat area up there with some nice little spots to camp. Definitely one of my favorite hikes, minus the hordes of people and poodles. Now you need to check out Royal Basin before the snow flies.
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