Joined: 02 Sep 2010
Posts: 563 | TRs
|I walked up to Bismarck Peak yesterday from the Pear Butte Trail and ended up continuing on Nelson Ridge to make a loop with the Mount Aix Trail. A fairly rocky road to the trailhead. The Pear Butte Trail has just an occasional log to step over. The Bismarck Peak Trail wasn't where my GPS indicated and I walked a ways beyond where I thought it was toward Pear Butte before dropping my pack to go up Pear Butte. Reading trip reports later, difficulty finding the trail junction seems to be a recurrent theme. Picking up my pack on my way back north I discovered the junction not even 50 feet back up the trail. It's just angled to make it more difficult to see when going south.
The Bismarck Peak Trail is in good enough shape to ease travel through the forest. The trail gradually becomes more indistinct (or I wandered off it) and I traversed uphill onto the open slopes on the east side of Point 6816 to its 6560' saddle with Bismarck. I took the path of least resistance up through the vegetation from the saddle and continued up the ridge, scrambling easily up a gully of darker rock rather than trying to bypass a blocking formation and eventually finding a path that provided a fairly clear track up through the rock and dirt much of the way to the summit.
I'd intended to return via my ascent route but I couldn't see anything along Nelson Ridge from the top of Bismarck that looked very difficult so I decided to continue along the ridge to the Mount Aix Trail. I figured it wasn't much more distance and had the advantage of being new. I descended from the summit to around 7200'-7300' where I could see a clear route across the loose rock on the west side of Bismarck to access the ridge running north. Lots of broken ground especially on the first half of the traverse made things slow. Not unexpectedly, I hadn't found water so that also probably made me feel less perky. There certainly looked to be water in the basin SE of Bismarck but I had stayed on the ridge above it.
No people seen on the day. One goat that dove over a cliff and disappeared when we met. The walk down the Mount Aix trail had me thinking that I might have better skipped the side trip to Pear Butte and saved the water and energy. Photos