Bluff Mountain traverse
At sunrise my Sister dropped Dad and I off near the confluence of the
Washougal River and Silver Creek. From here we intended to hike west
over a few mountains to my parents' house, no turning around since
there was no car to return to.
Dad and I hiked through the rain on a logging road that runs just
north of Silver Creek until the road petered out. The rain turned to
snow as we climbed north to the top of the east ridge of Bluff
Mountain (the ridge running between Silver and Bluebird Creeks).
Except for the last couple hundred vertical feet, the ridge was laced
with brush. We climbed over, pushed through, and crawled under brush
for hours. It was fortunate that freezing rain had fallen recently,
covering the brush with a slick coat of ice that made it easier for us
to push branches aside.
Finally we broke out of the brush onto bare, windswept slopes covered
in knee-high huckleberry bushes and bear grass. This provided me with
the novel experience of kicking steps in ice-encrusted grass to the
summit of Bluff Mountain, I had bruised shins the next day.
From the summit we descended NW to the pass between Bluff Mountain and
Little Baldy and found the trail. Here we took our longest break of
the day -- 15 minutes -- before following the trail west up to Silver
Star Mountain, down to Grouse Vista, then up to Larch Mountain. We
had hoped to take a cross-country short-cut from Larch Mountain to my
parents' house, but with 15 minutes of daylight left we resigned
ourselves to walking the remainder of the trip on the roads. Over two
soggy hours later we made it home.
A pretty fun trip in its own wet, miserable way.
Elevation gain: approx. 4,825 feet
Trip type: scramble
USGS quads: BobsMountainQuad, Bobs Mountain, Larch Mountain
In: Southern Washington Cascades
Car-to-car time: 11 hours 17 minutes
- 5 hours 11 minutes ascending from Confluence of Silver Creek and Washougal River to Bluff Mountain
- 26 minutes descending from Bluff Mountain to trail
- 1 hour 33 minutes ascending from trail to trail below summit of Silver Star Mountain
- 1 hour 7 minutes descending from trail below summit of Silver Star Mountain to low point between silver star and larch
- 50 minutes ascending from low point between silver star and larch to below summit of Larch Mountain
- 2 hours 10 minutes descending from below summit of Larch Mountain to Mom and Dad's House
Ice coated trees near the summit of Bluff Mountain
Copyright © 2005 Gabriel Deal.