Buck Peak

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A grand explore (and a dose of hard work) gets us to Buck Peak.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

John and I had our usual fussing... what to climb? Who's coming? What's the weather going to do?

Well, as it turns out it was just John, Shadow, and I. And 50% chance of intermittent snow showers. I decided to head for terra incognita, but John didn't know that until he showed up at my house at 8:30.

But the morning, while cool, didn't seem that bad and we were soon at Boulder Lake looking at the middle of our route and 'False Buckhorn'. Still on trail and moving well. Note that the trail has been cleared all the way to the east end of Boulder Lake (!).

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When the trail turned to head for Rapid Lake, we turned the other way and started the off-trail section. That's False Buckhorn on the right and Buckhorn Mountain on the left. We'll be seeing a lot more of Buckhorn through the day.

Note: For some reason, Buckhorn Mountain isn't near Buckhorn Mountain Lake. I'm calling our peak today Buck Peak to keep the theme while not making all this naming stuff too complicated.

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Mellow hiking. Pretty little ponds. With soft grass and lot of water, Shadow was in heaven. Trailhead
There's our peak. That's not too far away. Trailhead
Except first we have to cross this 500' drop. That talus doesn't look like Shadow's happy place. Trailhead

Then traverse. John exclaimed at the rock wall.

That brought us to Maloney Lake, with a new view of Buckhorn (below).

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We waded through some brush and edged around the lake, then started uphill. The first 500' is huge trees mixed with tasty brush. Trailhead

And I mean tasty.

If you don't get my humor (and you're not alone!), click for a bigger version of the pic.

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Then it got steep. Really steep. I was struggling too much to get the camera out. But there are only a few spots on this hillside where you can get through the cliffs. We had one rocky traverse that ended in a pile of deadfall intertwined with krumholtz. Not Shadow approved, so John had to give her a boost. Trailhead
A whole bunch more of really steep hillside got us up onto the ridge. Much better going. Trailhead

Here's looking back down the ridge.

That's Buckhorn Mountain Lake on the left. I last visited that lake back in 1998.

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A better view of Buckhorn Mountain Lake.

It's a long way from Buckhorn Mountain. But I didn't name it; it's marked on the map.

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The last couple hundred feet of gain was really just an angled hike. But characteristically, the summit was a pile of boulders with a huge drop to the north, on John's left. Trailhead
The view to the northeast showed lots more terrain to explore. Mostly unnamed, but that's Nick Peak on the far left. Trailhead
To the west, you could see Boulder Lake and Long Valley. And much of our route. Trailhead

After some discussion and map reading, we decided to try for an easier way down. At first, it went really well.

And there's another view of Buckhorn in the center. The sharp bump to the left is Rapid Peak.

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That easy part of the ridge was followed by more terrain not Shadow-approved. Trailhead

And then John miraculously found a series of ramps across the cliff face that eventually dumped us out into a new gully. Can you see the line?

That was followed lower down by a lengthy wallow through the brush.

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When we got back down to Maloney Lake, it was time to refuel and pump some more water. Apparently, it was also time for the predicted precipitation to move in.

From here, we circled right around the lake. Then a wet waddle through some waist-high brush so that our pants would be wet for the climb back out of the drainage.

When we topped out the gully, the rain stopped spitting and the rest of the way down to Boulder Lake went really well.

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At least at our end of the lake....not so much back at Buck Peak.

We marched back down the trail to Boulder Reservoir, complaining about the poofer dust on the trail. So then the hail and thunder moved in, fixing our complaint.

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We finished our hike with dampened gear, but not dampened spirits. This was a great explore, and we were tired boys. And dog--- Shadow was pretty happy to climb into her kennel.

Map

Trailhead

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