Forum Index > Trip Reports > gray, baldy, finney (chelan sawtooths) 10.15 - 10.17.22
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rubywrangler
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rubywrangler
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PostFri Oct 21, 2022 10:19 pm 
Larches were past their prime but Julia and I were just happy to get in a few smoke-free days in the mountains before the weather turned. After an extra long drive due to getting stuck in heather/maple pass traffic on hwy 20, we started hiking from the eagle/oval creek trailhead a little after noon on Saturday. The trail is in the crescent creek burn scar for several miles but was in surprisingly good shape - only 1 blowdown - however VERY dusty. We took a short detour to West Oval lake for a snack break; many larches there were bare or brown. Where the trail splits below Gray we took a left and hiked up to the NE ridge, then up to the summit (8082), then down the north ridge to oval pass and Tuckaway lake, where we camped. The sky was crystal clear and we saw lots of shooting stars.
west oval lake
west oval lake
hiking toward oval pass
hiking toward oval pass
west oval lake
west oval lake
oval to courtney from gray
oval to courtney from gray
on the ridge
on the ridge
tuckaway already in shadow
tuckaway already in shadow
meadows near tuckaway
meadows near tuckaway
On Sunday we took the trail that contours along the southwest side of Gray and Courtney all they way to the Star - Baldy col and had awesome, clear views to the Chelan and Entiat mountains the whole way. At the col we turned right and followed the ridge toward Baldy Mtn. The terrain was easy and the views were nice so we didn't check the map, and ended up aiming for the wrong high point, oops! But backtracking along the ridge to the summit (7810) was easy enough. Really nice views in all directions from here, including our next stop - Finney.
tuckaway
tuckaway
rex creek burn (2001)
rex creek burn (2001)
cardinal, emerald, saska
cardinal, emerald, saska
yes please
yes please
approaching baldy
approaching baldy
baldy summit pano 1
baldy summit pano 1
baker, cascade river rd peaks, goode, logan, mcalister plume? from baldy
baker, cascade river rd peaks, goode, logan, mcalister plume? from baldy
bonanza from baldy
bonanza from baldy
entiat peaks
entiat peaks
julia on baldy
julia on baldy
finney
finney
We stayed near the ridge crest and headed south to pt. 7618, then dropped down to pick up the trail heading west to Indianhead basin. It may be possible to stay on the ridge longer, but I didn't think of that. dizzy.gif Also the next section continuing toward pt 7778 looked narrow in my photos. After a short stretch on trail we contoured around the head of the basin at ~7100 to the lower of the finney lakes. There are several nice campsites in the meadow before the lakes, and one nice lakeside spot that was occupied by a solo hiker out for a week and a half long trip. The lower lake is really gorgeous, but we continued on a social trail to the upper lake and tarns, all of which were looking very low/dry.
meadows and peaks to the east
meadows and peaks to the east
finney & lake
finney & lake
on the trail to indianhead basin
on the trail to indianhead basin
lower finney lake
lower finney lake
lower finney lake
lower finney lake
finney tarn
finney tarn
camp on a knoll between lake and tarn
camp on a knoll between lake and tarn
After setting up camp and having a late lunch, we headed for Finney. The route goes around the north side of the lake and through larchy meadows, then climbs to the saddle north of the peak on boulders and scree. We intended to take the west ridge route described by boo, so we descended into the basin on the west side, following the larches to avoid having to deal with huge boulders. We had a little trouble figuring out where to climb up to the west ridge, and ended up following game trails up a steep slope. On the descent we took a gully which was loose but still easier. Once we were on the ridge, it was pretty much just a 700' stroll to the summit, with a little bit of scrambly boulder hopping at the very top.
leaning larch
leaning larch
larch basin below finney
larch basin below finney
larch basin below finney
larch basin below finney
looking w from finney's north ridge, we followed the larch trail to the w ridge
looking w from finney's north ridge, we followed the larch trail to the w ridge
By the time we reached the summit smoke was beginning to build in the west but it was still clear otherwise. Finney is a pretty neat viewpoint, being partially encircled by Sawtooth ridge. It feels really remote compared to other parts of this area, and maybe that's why it doesn't get many visitors. We were the second party to sign the register this year. After about 45 minutes we headed down, hoping to avoid another episode of stumbing into camp after dark (we were successful). While eating dinner in the dark we heard geese overhead, which Julia's birding app identified as snow geese. We heard them a few more times over the next day, and saw a flock fly over the summit of Star on our hike out.
across the ridge to east summit
across the ridge to east summit
looking down finney's west ridge
looking down finney's west ridge
summit view north
summit view north
pretty brown over by bernice
pretty brown over by bernice
getting smoky in the chelan mtns
getting smoky in the chelan mtns
better route to/from the west ridge
better route to/from the west ridge
golden hour on finney
golden hour on finney
sunset light
sunset light
sunset
sunset
On Monday we made our way back to the trail and then took it all the way back to Fish Creek, below the pass and Star lake. Here we split up, with me wanting to take Courtney's SW ridge and Julia preferring to stay on the trail longer and climb straight up to the Courtney-Gray saddle. It was a race that I won easily, because after climbing ~400' up the ridge, I found up a good trail coming from Star lake that continued all the way to the saddle. biggrin.gif The Middle/East Oval lake basin looked very enticing from here, even though the larches were looking sad - definitely adding it to my list for a future trip.
morning light at finney tarn
morning light at finney tarn
sunrise surprise
sunrise surprise
finney/upper lake from camp
finney/upper lake from camp
lower finney lake larches
lower finney lake larches
lower finney reflection
lower finney reflection
finney and larches from lower lake
finney and larches from lower lake
looking back to finney
looking back to finney
star - baldy col in the distance
star - baldy col in the distance
more pretty meadows
more pretty meadows
star lake basin from courtney sw ridge
star lake basin from courtney sw ridge
courtney & buttermilk hp
courtney & buttermilk hp
middle/east oval lakes basin
middle/east oval lakes basin
middle oval lk
middle oval lk
entiat peaks and glacier disappearing
entiat peaks and glacier disappearing
crescent creek burn (2018)
crescent creek burn (2018)
Our trail continued to NE ridge of Gray, and from there we retraced our route back through the Oval creek valley to the car. After car beers and snacks, Julia hit the road for Seattle and I wandered into Winthrop in search of real food. There are not a lot of options on Monday night! OSB was closed even though their website, facebook page, and google said otherwise... and this is not the first time that has happened to me mad.gif I ended up at MEZA (my friend's husband's prom date's sister's new place, lol) which was quite delicious although slammed and very slow - oh well, to be expected when there's only one game in town! Totals: 31 mi, ~10,700' of gain

DWB27, Brushbuffalo, GeoTom, Gabep, ozzy, jaysway, geyer, neek, raising3hikers, freddyfredpants, zimmertr, fffej50, HitTheTrail, Now I Fly, Prosit, brewermd, RichP, Tom  Lindsay, GaliWalker
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Prosit
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Prosit
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PostSat Oct 22, 2022 11:29 am 
I slept out on the crest of Bigelow’s south ridge the night of the 16th, and had a large, loud flock of geese fly right past me in the dark. They sounded so close I thought I could almost reach out and touch them, and they were there for a long time, so it must have been a long line of birds. I heard them coming for a while, and the doppler effect was exhilarating. Their calls also faded away for a long time. It felt magical. I also saw lots of shooting meteors, and more geese that night and on succeeding nights, just as you did. Great time to be out, even with the larches past prime. Finney Lakes is a wonderful place.

Brushbuffalo, rubywrangler
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Get Out and Go
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Get Out and Go
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PostSat Oct 22, 2022 5:25 pm 
That's a great area to hang out in; a few places to camp where you could definitely find solitude. cool.gif

"These are the places you will find me hiding'...These are the places I will always go." (Down in the Valley by The Head and The Heart) "Sometimes you're happy. Sometimes you cry. Half of me is ocean. Half of me is sky." (Thanks, Tom Petty)

Brushbuffalo, rubywrangler
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nickmtn
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PostMon Oct 24, 2022 5:47 am 
rubywrangler wrote:
sunset
sunset
Love this shot of Clark!

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rubywrangler
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rubywrangler
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PostMon Oct 24, 2022 8:35 am 
I'll probably regret questioning your peak naming prowess, but I'm pretty sure clark is not visible in this photo

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nickmtn
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PostMon Oct 24, 2022 8:49 am 
Eek hope I am right on this one:

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neek
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PostMon Oct 24, 2022 9:19 am 
Seems about where it would be? Maude and 7FJ on the right; South Spec left. Great area, great pics.

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rubywrangler
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PostMon Oct 24, 2022 9:22 am 
I think that’s buck
And Clark is behind the ridge left of s spectacle

Brushbuffalo, neek
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nickmtn
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PostMon Oct 24, 2022 10:01 am 
Darn it! Back to the shadows for me...until next time wrangler! I think I confused these two sub summits:

Brushbuffalo
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