Seven Devils Sojourn

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A four day adventure in the Seven Devils.

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Prelude: Some time back, we had set the date for a Thursday-Friday-Saturday-Sunday visit to the Seven Devils. But with just a few days to go, NOAA was saying a chance of up to half an inch of rain on both Friday and Sunday. Since none of our group owned an inflatable ark, we were desperately looking for alternatives with a better forecast. Lots of options, but not greatly improved weather. And loads more driving. So finally we said....let's just go.

We threw in some extra rain gear and 'camp enterntainment' as a precaution, and headed out right on schedule. We were loaded like camels, but made good progress over the pass. And then down the "fisherman's trail" of doom.

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Dave is not a fan of exposure, so there were a couple thin areas on the trail that gave him pause. But he sailed across and we were soon on more substantial terrain.

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And with Sheep Lake in view.

Left to right, that's Mt. Baal, She Devil, and He Devil. All shot into the sun with some humidity in the air.

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Looking back the other way from camp after walking for just two hours, that's Tower of Babel in the center and Mt. Baal on the right.

We were hoping that the combination of after-Labor-Day, weekday, and lousy weather forecast would add up to having the campsite to ourselves. Score- we had the entire lake!

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2.0 miles, 860' gain, 2 hours car to camp

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Not raining! I'll drink to that.

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With an afternoon to kill and an entire lake to ourselves, it was time to whip water.

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There are quite a few tent sites in the little cove. We considered each for wind blockage, viewscape, water drainage, and fecal matter (yes, one campsite had toilet paper 'flags' all over the place).

Eventually we settled on this spot, with a slight tilt for drainage and trees to attach the big tarp: ready for the deluge.

A little later Rob, a solo loop hiker, came though camp. We chatted briefly and explained how to find the shortcut. He went around the lake and camped on the far side for an early start on the predicted bad Friday weather.

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That night we were all awakened by lightning with its ensuing thunder. It sprinkled off and on, but didn't really rain hard.

Friday morning dawned bright with some wind and overcast. Promises of things to come? We got going early and cruised (I'd like to say 'dashed', but that's not accurate) up Peak 8740. That's He Devil in the background. This was a pleasant hike with easy navigation to a rocky summit with cool views of our immediate area. Great fun.

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Zoom of He Devil, showing our Saturday route: cross up and down the lightly-treed valley heading for the right-hand ridge. Gain the shallow notch in said ridge and follow the ridge leftward (east) to the summit. Descend off the backside.

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Looking east at a reflective Sheep Lake outlet with the fisherman's trail in the background, if you know where to look.

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Dave suggested we do a loop, saving me the trouble.

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After a brief skirmish with a 200' cliff , we hit the expected faint trail around the lake. Near the outlet, there were more nice campsites. Remember that for our next visit. Note the darkening clouds.

We got back to camp, sighing relief that we beat the incoming storm. That storm never really materialized, but we spent the day in camp anyway; fishing, reading, napping.

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Saturday dawned clear and sunny, as NOAA had predicted. We were out of camp at a leisurely pace, enjoying the fact that often for our McCall adventures, we haven't even gotten into the car this early. So still in shadow, here we are high on the shoulder of He Devil. Trailhead

Dave and Tom on the summit.

He Devil is really fun. It's a steady climb mixing steep hiking with intermittent easy scrambling. There is a pretty well established climbers trail with occational cairns. The views continually evolve and expand as you climb, with many lakes and Hells Canyon to stare at. And a summit that feels exposed, but really isn't. Dave approved!

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A few of the ten lakes visible from the summit (there may be more!) with Hells Canyon almost 8000' below us in the background.

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The part of this adventure we were all anticipating had begun: the descent off He Devil. It starts out pretty easy, then progresses to steep loose stuff above exposed cliffs. Trailhead
Then proceeds to a gully through said cliffs. Still with the loose stuff. Trailhead

Some of it is beyond mere hiking.

And the worst didn't get recorded on my camera.

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But after a few tense moments, we were off He. We were alive and headed for The Ogre, a predictable change in plans (I hadn't climbed it before). After a brief stop for something to eat. Trailhead

Summit of The Ogre. This one looked like it might become a problem, but other than some big, blocky talus to rock hop (carefully, becuse some of it is loose) it's pretty much your standard Seven Devils fare.

That's He Devil right above Tom's head, with She Devil sort of next to the top of my hat.

Zoom in (click the photo) to better see the cliffs of He Devil that we descended. Our route is more or less right under the summit, although from this angle you can't see into the gully.

Also note the big, open talus slope directly below She Devil's summit. That was to be our (new to me) route up. There was some dread of the looks of that talus amongst us, but we were off.

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So from about half way up She Devil, this is looking back at The Ogre. We went both up and down the talus gully with sunlight on the right.

And now you can see the talus on She Devil. Same stuff, only slightly lighter in color.

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And more talus above us. Trailhead

Top of She Devil.

That's our Sheep Lake way down there. Tower of Babel on the right.

She Devil by this route is Class 2. The awful-looking gully wasn't bad at all. But it's not easy to get to the bottom of it.

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Sheep Lake with Peak 8740 just left of center. Trailhead
It's an easy scramble/hike off the east ridge of She Devil. Here Tom and Dave approach the saddle with Mt. Baal. Trailhead

Summit of Mt. Baal.

If you follow the right route, you can probably get up Mt. Baal without using your hands.

I had wanted to try Tower of Babel from here, but we were out of water.

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And the lake was calling us.

Although I couldn't hear it well over the voices in my head saying, "I thought you said we were never going down this crap chute again!"

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Sigh. Here we go.

But it's only 1400' of this.

The first couple hundred feet were in loose, deep gravel. This isn't so bad.....

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But the gravel got bigger while retaining all the previously-mentioned looseness.

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I did not run my GPS the entire time, so the track is incomplete. Use your imagination. ;-)

4.0 miles, 3000' gain, 7:28 camp to camp

 

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Back at camp, we took off our boots and had a snort. Still alive!

Then we went for a bath/swim in the lake. Someone call the EPA.

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After sort of drying off, we each put on an article or two of remaining clean-ish clothing and proceeded to relax some more.

But then we were rudely invaded by strangers. Four of them.

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At first, we were all afraid to move. But when they moved behind a tree, Dave leapt up and grabbed his camera. Tom and I watched in amazement as Dave captured image after image. In his underwear.

Then I realized his phone was sitting right next to me, so got the meta-photo.

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And then I realized just how brazen these beasts were, so scrambled down off our perch and with camera in hand, grabbed some of my own photos. Trailhead
Half an hour later, and they were still hanging around camp. Yawn. Let's eat. Trailhead

And they were still there.

All told, probably an hour in camp, and then we watched them head off up the hill. The next morning we could still see momma and baby bedded down on the cliffs above us.

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During Goat Fest, we had another visitor to our camp area. Cami was doing a solo loop around the Devils. She avoided out group until we pointed out the goats. When we offered to show her the shortcut the following morning, she promised to get up at our schedule. We waited and waited, and Dave finally approached her camp showing a great deal of respect so as not to offend or frighten a single woman.

Once alerted, she said she'd be ready in 15 minutes. We finally hit the trail, enjoying hearing about her adventure and her life up in Moscow. And finally, about 50 yards from the truck it started raining. We gently explained to Cami that our getting wet was her fault.

And we were on our way home.

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Also see Dave's wonderful photos :

Dave Beck photo

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