Rattlesnake Ridge

Home Up Feedback Contents

Buck Creek 2010




An exploration trip was made up the Elk Creek trail from the Buck Creek trailhead in Southwestern Wallowa Wilderness September 1, 2010.  Bow hunting season began the last weekend of August, so hunters were anticipated but it was hoped to beat the Labor Day crowds.

The forest service informed people that inquired or viewed their website that the Buck Creek trailhead access road was closed until the end of October.  In fact the road was open in time for hunting season so the chance to explore this trail was taken advantage of.  The first day rained continuously, which drove out two groups of bow hunters.  The second larger group reported they had camped on the ridgeline and had experienced rain, snow and hail.  They emerged soaked and muddy.

Delaying our ingress a day due to weather, Asher spent his time exploring the immediate area and sampling the local cuisine. The following morning was clear, becoming sunny.  It was good hiking conditions and the trail conditions were good too -- quite clear and just moist (not dusty or very muddy).  The only other person at the trailhead, a grouse hunter, reported spotting a black bear.  Asher and I hit the trail at 6AM.

We reached Burger Pass at five miles of uphill climbing.  Sand Pass could be seen ahead and Burger Meadows lay below.  China Cap was to our left.  We descended to Burger Meadows a half mile further, taking the Sand Pass trail off of the Elk Creek trail, and found a very nice campsite at the north end of the meadow basin.  This became our base camp to explore the surrounding area.  This day the basin and the area around sand pass was explored.

The following day a day hike was made to Tombstone Lake, five miles each way with over two thousand feet of elevation change.  Both Asher and myself enjoyed lunch at the lake and explored the available campsites.  A group of backpackers was encountered coming out of Tombstone on their way to the Minam river but no other people were encountered this day or the previous, though a couple of bow hunting parties were in the area.

The next day, Saturday, camp was packed up and Asher and I headed out.  As expected, the Labor Day crowds were pouring in this day, with multiple mule teams, firewood gatherers, backpackers, bow hunters and families on day hikes encountered by the time we reached the trailhead.  Asher and I made a side trip to the top of China Cap to see the view.  It was a steep bushwacking adventure to the top, with the last part a rocky cliff climb.

Arriving back at Buck Creek campground, the empty sites were all filled up.  Following lunch the drive home was uneventful.



Note: The following panoramic views require Silverlight.

Panorama 1

Panorama 2

Panorama 3

Panorama 4

Panorama 5

Photos ]

Send mail to RRR with questions or comments about this web site.
Best viewed at 1024 X 768 or higher resolution.
Last modified: 25 Jul 2014