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Horsethief Peak, North Navarre Peak
posted by John : July 23, 2010

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Later days

After a busy first day of vacation that started on Mailbox Peak, included a traffic-free drive to Chelan, and the surreal moving-in experience that follows us wherever we go we settled in for a nice evening of board games and cocktails. (My goodness, when did we get old?) Then Amy suggested I take a hike the next day.

It wasn't the idea of hiking that was a surprise. We had planned for me to disappear for a day. It was that at 10:30pm we decided it would be the next day. So I scurried around and readied my gear for a trip to Sunrise Peak along the Summer Blossom Trail. The rangers had warned me that although the road was clear of snow there was still three feet of snow at the trailhead. At least it wouldn't be hot.

After an insanely early wakeup after a night of trading sheep for wheat (and losing, of course) I hopped on the Grade Creek Road for what was promised to be an hour and a half of "fun" driving. The coffee made the road easier to take or maybe just settled my mind. By the time I arrived at the trailhead I'd already gained about 5,000 feet and was itching to gain some under my own power. (And a little power from Starbucks, too.)

One of the reasons I was hiking so soon after arriving in Chelan was to beat the heat. It was supposed to hit 100F in the coming days and that didn't sound like much fun. Of course, at 6,500 feet the temperature was only 55F when I set out. Just perfect.

The Summer Blossom trail starts in the woods and mosquitos. Oh, the mozzies. Lots. And lots. However, they were no match for my DEET or my speed and soon there was a cloud following me as I did the buzzing up the trail. I stopped only long enough to take pictures of things that seemed out of place. Snow, running water, wildflowers. All my other Chelan area hikes have been lowland hikes and none have had any green. The trail was vibrant and alive and already I felt good.

After 40 minutes I got glimpses across a basin to South Navarre Peak. It was a long ridge with high points on either side and brutal cliffs down to the basin between it and North Navarre. A trail runs up its south spine and it'll definitely be a destination for me in the future. (There's no route that goes from North to South Navarre as far as I've been able to find.)

The trail undulated a bit as it climbed slowly until a quick rise to gain the pass between the two Navarres. Great views opened up, but I had my sights set on North Navarre's summit. There was no trail, but the terrain was easy and open so it felt like a minor detour to get to the broad, undefined summit. A few pictures, a drink, and I continued down the north ridge to pick up the trail again.

Oops. This gets kind of cliffy. Maybe I should head back the way I came. Aw... that'd be an extra 15 minutes. Boo. Ooh... maybe this gully goes. Needless to say, the gully was lousy with loose rocks and dirt, but there was little exposure and it never did cliff out. I could always have gone back up and retraced my steps so... WIN!

Back on the trail it dropped and dropped to a big, green, slightly slanted meadow. The low side of the meadow faded away into the basin. The high side rose a few feet above the trail and then dropped down to a basin on the other side.

My destination was Horsethief Peak, but between me and it was Point 7751. The trail dropped down to the west, which didn't seem so bad at first, but then I got to the bottom and started back up. Ick. When I finally got to the other side of 7751 I was at the saddle between it and Horsethief. Once again, there was no trail up. This time, though, it was more of an incline than North Navarre.

Although there were a few trees it was mostly open and there wasn't much question of route. I followed the ridge up switching back and forth between the two steep slopes dropping away. The top was a little thicker with trees, but with a little bushwhacking I found rock outcroppings. It looked like the true summit was off to the side, but a register under a small cairn said different.

The register was placed in October of last year by a (locally) famous hiker named Fay Pullen. Nobody had signed it since. The peak wasn't totally deserted, though. Prints in the snow (yay more snow!) said pretty clearly that there were other visitors in the recent past. I looked all around, even down below to Sunrise Lake, but saw no movement. Bummer.

After calling Amy to let her know what was up (better cell coverage than on Mailbox!) I headed down. All the while I was dreading the drop below 7751 and started thinking maybe I'd just go over instead. The reason trail drops is to avoid some cliffs on the west side of the point. The trick with going over is not to have to drop down either side. Fingers crossed, I wandered up the slope.

The problem with us westsiders is that every open stretch of ground is a trail to us. I saw trails everywhere. Multiple bootpaths led up the top. It was great! So many options...

Once I put the illusionary trails aside I was able to hop some last talus to the broken ridge on the summit. To get across I had to drop a bit here and there, but in general it's a much better route than following the trail down and then back up. Plus it was another summit and the views of both Horsethief and the Navarres were great.

In spite of a couple of near heart attacks due to grouse flushing under my feet I was soon back at the Navarre saddle and heading into the woods with no more views to be had. The flowers and creek were nice consolations for the lost views.

The mosquitos, who had been absent for hours, suddenly reappeared as I was changing into dry clothes at the trailhead. A few more than a few were trapped in the truck with me and they met untimely ends as I drove back to Chelan. They deserved it.

Stats: 9.2 miles and 4,177 feet of gain.

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