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boomheist
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PostSat Aug 08, 2009 4:02 pm 
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In 2006 Jeff, Neil and I wanted to hike through Muncaster Basin and then exit across Taylor/Delebarre and come out on the Skyline Trail. We'd read that the Taylor crossing was doable and we knew that if we had to bail we could probably get back out by coming down Pyrites Creek. I had tried to get to Muncaster in 1995 up Pyrites Creek and made it as far as the treeline only, so none of us really knew what we were getting into.

First day we hiked in on the Enchanted Valley Trail, turned off at Fire Creek, and worked up the ridge to about 3000 feet where we camped. It was a long walk on the side hill to the creek to get water. The going was thick.
1 area map
1 area map
7 Fire Creek jumpoff
7 Fire Creek jumpoff
9 a rest
9 a rest
14 thickets
14 thickets

The second day we kept going up the ridge which got steeper and sharper all the time. It was hot and slow. We eventually broke out from a knife edge into a high remote basin with snow where we could camp, overlooking the Quinault River and Lake Quinault. That evening clouds came in down low.
16 on the knife edge
16 on the knife edge
21 the knife route
21 the knife route
32 the knife edge
32 the knife edge

The third day we worked around below the lessor peaks toward Fire Creek and Muncaster Mountain, found a way to get up the side of the creek on the south side, and worked up a very steep slope to a small pass overlooking Muncaster Basin, which is huge and beautiful.
44 traversing face
44 traversing face
26 high view
26 high view

We slid down snowfields into the basin proper and worked east to a high bench where we camped. It is spectacular in that basin.
64 Olympus view
64 Olympus view
61 Muncaster Mt
61 Muncaster Mt
77 campsite # 2
77 campsite # 2

That night it rained and the next day we started late in drizzle. The country was complex and hard to traverse and we saw a lot of bears. Eventually we got stopped by some canyons and cliffs and by the time we figured out how to get through them it was late so so we camped on gravel.
108 gray and dark
108 gray and dark
115 route ahead and down
115 route ahead and down

The next day we worked through bowls and basins and benches to June 10 Peak, and found a great campsite by a high tarn on the shoulder of June 10 looking down toward the Godkin Rustler pass and Mount Taylor. That night Jeff and Neil climbed June 10 Peak and studied the Pyrites drainage. We knew by this time that we'd never have time to cross Taylor and get out via Skyline and we'd have to bail down Pyrites.
135 climbing hard
135 climbing hard
141 scouting ahead
141 scouting ahead
149 camp view
149 camp view
158 Neil summitting June 10
158 Neil summitting June 10
159 Jeff on June 10 summit
159 Jeff on June 10 summit
163 our camp way below
163 our camp way below

That evening the clouds rolled in and it rained again.
173 Neil dreaming
173 Neil dreaming

The next day we scouted looking for the best way to get down to Pyrites. It isn't clear. There are some very high basins just north of June 10 and I thought maybe the col up high was where to cross, to then work along a very long side hill to the north past the Pyrites canyon before starting down, but instead we thought we could take a pass closer to Chimney Peak, which meant working along the buttresses and slopes west of the range between Chimney and June 10. In our explorations we didn't see a clear route. It was beautiful country though.
187 Neil at rest
187 Neil at rest
196 airing out tent
196 airing out tent
200 Taylor traverse slope
200 Taylor traverse slope

The next day we packed up and forced our way through the side hills and slopes to the pass just south of Chimney Peak. It was a terrible day, taking us five hours to go about a quarter mile in the end. We'd climb 300 feet, cross a thick ridge, then have to drop 800 feet, all very exposed. No trails up high and we didn't want to drop all the way to Godkin Creek (though that's a place I 'd like to visit some day). We'd force through brush then struggle over stones and gullies, and it was slow. The day passed and things looked grim but then Neil found the key and we made it to this lovely small basin just below the pass where we camped and had a great dinner.
213 looking and looking hard
213 looking and looking hard
222 steep and coarse
222 steep and coarse
227 thickets after thickets
227 thickets after thickets
230 bushwhack results
230 bushwhack results
231 Oh joy to be in basin
231 Oh joy to be in basin
232 more joy
232 more joy

The next day we packed up and worked down the Pyrites drainage to the Enchanted Valley Trail. At first things were all right, it was thick and rough going but it was open and the views great, and there were game trails, but in the end we had to drop into the trees and then fight and struggle through thick brush, blow downs, and gullies for hours. It was a very long day.
264 thickets
264 thickets
266 slope and thicket
266 slope and thicket
275 resting and beat up...
275 resting and beat up...
277 wicked descents
277 wicked descents
278 blowdown hour of agony
278 blowdown hour of agony

Eventually we ended up at the Enchanted Valley trail and camped right by the river where Pyrites Creek enters the river. I had camped here in 1995 and back then there was a big wide bench east of the trail with great campsites and wood for fires, but this year that bench was all gone and the river close to the trail. It's amazing how dynamic these rivers really are year to year.
282 ready for dinner
282 ready for dinner

On our last day we strolled down this highway of a trail, it was wonderful. packs now light, food all gone, in shape, and walking easy. We closed the loop at Fire Creek and then headed out to get the car we'd left over by Skyline and then have a big feed at the Aberdeen KFC. Jeff and I decided to make a run on the Skyline Trail in 2007 and maybe try to cross Taylor from the west. We were starting to think that for all the guidebook statements nobody really does cross that mountain.
293 loop closed!
293 loop closed!
295 map showing route and camps
295 map showing route and camps
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reststep
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PostSat Aug 08, 2009 4:47 pm 
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That sounds like quite the adventure.  Did you see anyone else?

Great report and pictures and thank you for sharing.

Did you see any signs of the old trail that went up Pyrites Creek?

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"The mountains are calling and I must go." - John Muir
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silence
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PostSat Aug 08, 2009 5:05 pm 
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good work!! .. that's one that seems to allude most .. i mean getting over the mountain .. thx for all the great pix and beta .. it's always been very enticing .. wonder how much it's changed??? anyhow did we see you guys at gladys pass in jul 07?? we were camped up there and you look familiar ..

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boomheist
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PostSat Aug 08, 2009 7:08 pm 
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we did not see anyone else the whole time once we started up Fire Creek and until we came back down to the ECV. did not, this trip, see any signs of the old Pyrites trail. Did see some flags in 1995 but thyat was a while ago...
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ScottM
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PostSat Aug 08, 2009 8:46 pm 
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Tried that trip last year and made it part way up fire creek before some of the worst rain I have ever seen and zero visibility sent us back down the ridge to camp by the Quinault.  The weather never let up and we ended up bagging the trip and heading out.  Thinking about a repeat next month.  Looks like you had some marginal weather.
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ethorson
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PostSun Aug 09, 2009 8:57 am 
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I was up there in September 2001 and agree that Muncaster Basin is worth the effort getting there.  I also went in by Fire Creek with the intention of exiting via Taylor and Martin Lakes (the Woods route).  On closer inspection I realized that this route was way too rough for me to do solo, so I had the bright idea of dropping into the Rustler Creek headwaters and contouring to the pass above Martin Lakes.  Initially travel was easy through steep but open woods and I congratulated myself on a great route selection.  That all ended when I reached the brushy avalanche tracks on the south side of Taylor.  They were nearly impenetrable brushy, rocking slopes punctuated with scrawny trees spaced closer than the width of my pack.  I gave up, climbed back out of Rustler Creek, and ended up exiting via Fire Creek.  Descending Fire Creek spur is a challenge because there are many opportunities to end up a the top of a cliff, resulting in much thrashing in the brush to find the route.

Congratulations on getting up there and seeing this rarely visited corner of the Olympics.   What time of year did you do the trip?  I went in
September and was lucky to have a dry spell.  The brush was not even wet in the morning and the fall colors were amazing.
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boomheist
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PostSun Aug 09, 2009 9:52 am 
Taylor traverse
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We made our trip in August, the first week, and as with any August we hit some unsettled weather. Thanks for the insight about trying the Rustler drainage. One person wrote somewhere here that they had followed game trails along the creeks down and then up to the divide by Martens Lakes, but that seems sketchy to me. Jeff and I think you might be able to traverse a few hundred feet above the Godkin Rustler elevation along the south side of Taylor, working along the slopes at the foot of the slide areas. Troubles seem to be a couple of tough ridges to work over and a chance of falling rocks. The next year Jeff and I tried to approach from the Martens lakes side and worked all the way to the shoulder of Taylor. A climbing guide says "follow the ridgeline to the summit" but whoever wrote that never was there for sure. I have yet to speak personally to anybody who has done this traverse across that mountain but hope someone appears someday. Thanks for the response. Actually when we were slogging through that terirble slope before Pyrites we thought of retracing our steps but the idea of working back down that spine along Fire Creek was not at all appealing and from what you report we were right. Maybe you can drop over that pass by Muncaster and work down the creek a ways and then work along the slope of that knife edge to the ridge, but that seems pretty risky too.
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reststep
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PostSun Aug 09, 2009 12:00 pm 
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There is an article in the April 1996 Pack and Paddle Magazine page 16 about a couple that went through there in September 1995.  It did not sound easy and they used a rope in places.  It took them 5 days to go from the Quinault to Martin's Park.  Actually it was 4 days of traveling because they had 1 layover day.  They used the Pyrites Creek access.

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"The mountains are calling and I must go." - John Muir
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ScottM
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PostSun Aug 09, 2009 12:07 pm 
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This is the route that was shown to me.  The guy that showed me this route has done it twice as a loop, once up Pyrites and then down Fire creek and once up Fire creek and down Pyrites.  As you can see he said the best way in his opinion is to try and stay off the ridge and contour back down to the creek as you go up Fire Creek.

Fire Creek
Fire Creek
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Ancient Ambler
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PostWed Aug 12, 2009 7:02 am 
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Very nice TR and photos, boomheist.  On the question of Fire Creek basin vs. ridge,  I'd line up with ScottM.  On how to get in to Pyrites from Muncaster, I'd go with cutting over to the east side of the ridge just north of June 10th and traversing the upper edge of Pyrites Basin as opposed to going along the west side of the ridge.  This is the basically the route 1 from the Climbers Guide for June 10th Peak.  Maybe some aerial eye-candy might be useful on this dreary, autumnal August day:

Fire Creek views:

Fire Creek, Muncaster from SE
5 labels
Fire Creek, Muncaster from SE
Fire Creek Basin from SE
2 labels
Fire Creek Basin from SE
Fire Creek Basin from S (2)
Fire Creek Basin from S (2)
Fire Creek Basin from S
Fire Creek Basin from S
Fire Creek Notch
Fire Creek Notch

Upper Pyrites views:

Pyrites Basin from E
4 labels
Pyrites Basin from E
Pyrites Basin from E
4 labels
Pyrites Basin from E
Muncaster, Upper Pyrites from N
3 labels
Muncaster, Upper Pyrites from N
Pyrites Basin from west
3 labels
Pyrites Basin from west
June 10th Peak from NW
3 labels
June 10th Peak from NW

Delabarre/Taylor views:

Delabarre from above Muncaster
3 labels
Delabarre from above Muncaster
Delabarre/Taylor 1
Delabarre/Taylor 1
Delabarre/Taylor 2
Delabarre/Taylor 2
Delabarre/Taylor 3
Delabarre/Taylor 3
Martins Park
Martins Park
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ethorson
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PostWed Aug 12, 2009 9:07 am 
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Ancient Ambler wrote:
Maybe some aerial eye-candy might be useful on this dreary, autumnal August day...

Great set of photos Ancient Ambler!  I was particularly interested in the Delabarre/Taylor series as I attempted to get to Muncaster Basin last year via the Godkin/Buckinghorse ridge.  I think that is the forested ridge with the burn on top seen in the photos.  I got up to the saddle just north of point 5451 but was stopped by cliffs to the south.  I should have contoured along the Buckinghorse side, crossing a stream, then ascending to the ridge and bypassing point 5451.  It looks like there still would have been difficult travel getting into Muncaster at the south end of the ridge however.

Regarding the Fire Creek entry, there is a major elk freeway going through the notch.  The path is not cut into the slope very well so it is still steep going.  When descending from the notch it is easier to cut left across a moderate snow slope to get to less steep terrain that is not visible from the notch.
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Dayhike Mike
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PostWed Aug 12, 2009 11:46 am 
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EThorson, might just be the Topo playing tricks on my eyes, but 5451 is the only point that looks like trouble on that ridge route.

I've looked at Muncaster Basin and that whole area on Topo many a time and wondered how it would go. My thought was to come in via Martin's Park so I could at least tool around on Mount Christie if I couldn't get the route over 6024' (I assume this is the one you're calling Taylor) to go.

Thanks for the TR and welcome to the siite, boomheist!

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"There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences." -P.J. O'Rourke
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silence
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PostWed Aug 12, 2009 1:21 pm 
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it's really hard to follow you guys .. even with a topo in front of me since nothing is named .. i mean on the back side  .. but anyhow just looking at it .. YIKES!!

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silence
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PostWed Aug 12, 2009 1:21 pm 
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it's really hard to follow you guys .. even with a topo in front of me since nothing is named .. i mean on the back side  .. but anyhow just looking at it with AA's pix .. YIKES!!

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ethorson
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PostWed Aug 12, 2009 1:40 pm 
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Dayhike Mike wrote:
EThorson, might just be the Topo playing tricks on my eyes, but 5451 is the only point that looks like trouble on that ridge route.

I looked into Godkin/Buckinghorse because it was open on top and there are some tarns visible on the 7.5' topo that would be a source of water.  It is hard to tell if there are cliffs where the ridge joins Taylor, so that part of the route is open to exploration.  I thought I could work around point 5451 but it ended up being steep and brushy.  I was quite tired and didn't do too much exploration, especially after I fell upside down into a hole in the downed timber left from the fire.  I would still be there if I couldn't get my pack off.  The traverse along the Buckinghorse side of the ridge looked pretty steep and I was afraid of getting hung up in brush crossing the stream draining point 5451.  It looks like the ascent to the ridge is easy once you get across the stream.
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