Last October I hiked up the main Eagle Creek trail with a few friends to try and climb the five peaks located on the east and west side of the Eagle Creek drainage. Unfortunately, the weather on that October trip was awful, it snowed or rained the majority of the time so I was only successful in climbing one of the five peaks. Last weekend I finally returned to Eagle Creek to pick off a couple of the peaks off the 100 list.
After working on Thursday I drove up to the main Eagle Creek TH then quickly hiked up the trail toward Cached Lake South Peak. I attempted the peak in October of 2012 and was turned back less than 1000 horizontal feet from the summit due to snowy/icy conditions. The trail miles went by quick and it wasn’t long before I was filtering water out of a small stream getting ready for the cross country hike from the trail to the summit. It was nice being familiar with the route, it allowed me to enjoy the surrounding views on the hike up until I reached the rocky knife ridge that would lead to the summit. I worked my way up and around the rocky cliffs until I realized I was at my turn around point in 2011. I had to drop off the ridge down to the west and around a small cliff before I found an easy scramble up to the summit. I love summitting late in the evening, the light is always amazing. I snapped a few shots, took a little video, and enjoyed the amazing view of the southern Wallowa Mountains. To the north across an alpine basin was Needle Point my destination for Friday morning. After only 10 to 15 minutes on top I started down the northwest side of the peak on my way to the base of Needle Point.
I hiked over a large boulder field on my way down into the basin that separates Cached Lake S Peak and Needle Point and after about an hour and a half I was standing below Needle Point where I would camp for the evening. My campsite was awesome, a nice flat spot next to a small stream, water and a view!! Dinner and a little listening to an audiobook filled the rest of my evening.
My first alarm went off at 3:45 am then what seemed like a second later my second alarm went off at 4:00 am, it took the second one to wake me up enough to start my stove for breakfast. Breakfast consisted of a Cliff Bar and a cup of Starbucks Via coffee. I love backpacking with Via coffee, it’s nice sitting in the tent sipping on good coffee, it puts a smile on my face…Ok, I maybe addicted to coffee. After packing up the few things I would need for the ascent of the peak I was up and out of the tent well before sunrise.
Friday morning was calm and mostly cloudy, off in the distance I could see a few rain showers. My camp was only .4 miles horizontal feet and about 1200 vertical feet from the summit. The hike up to the top of the southwest ridge leading to the summit went by without difficulty and I was rewarded with an amazing view of an isolated basin to the north. I’m planning on returning someday to hike down into the remote, trail-less basin for a little exploring. The last 500′ was the steepest, but I was able to easily walk up a couple boulder fields and on some loose scree all the way to the top. My timing was perfect, after shooting a little video the sun started to rise above the clouds in the east and I was treated to a beautiful sunrise. I snapped shot after shot of the southern Wallowa Mountains. I’ll admit it, it was nice to mentally check off peak after peak that I could see from the summit. I’m getting close to finishing off the remaining peaks left on the 100 list that are located in the Wallowa Mountains. I could see all of the remaining five peaks I have left from the summit of Needle Point. If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to climb the five peaks in the Wallowas in 2012 which would leave the 16 peaks, 14 in the Cascades and two in southeastern Oregon left for 2013. After I finished dreaming of the completion of the project I started back to camp, it’s easy to lose focus.
I packed up camp in less than 30 minutes and was off down the trail. On the hike out i could see a couple of the peaks I hope to climb in the next month, Culver Lake South Peak and Peak 8924. Culver Lake South Peak seemed so close it was hard to walk past on my way out, especially knowing it had the potential of being my 80th peak. Sigh, I forced myself past the peak and after a couple hours I was back at the truck and driving back home.
79 down, 21 to go!