We were supposed to go to a wedding this weekend, but Kim and Kessler were sick. Instead, I took Shaylee to the Mount Zirkel Wilderness.
Shaylee and I started up Beaver Creek in the early afternoon. The trail was in pretty good condition, but there were several areas of deadfall to climb over. The upper part of the trail was quite muddy as well and the mosquitoes were thick.
Once we reached the saddle near Stump Park, we dropped our overnight gear and headed for Buffalo Ridge. The ascent took much longer than expected and it was a constant battle between soft snow, swamp, water, deadfall, mosquitoes, and mud. There was a bit of easy or dry ground. There was also a trick stream crossing, but we were already soaked by then anyway. We couldn't
Once we reached the ridge along the trail (we couldn't find most of the trail), it was a more pleasant climb along the east ridge to the summit. Once we were finally(!) on the summit of Buffalo Ridge, we found and signed the summit log. There were four other signatures in the 21 years since the register was placed.
Because of the nightmarish ascent route, we decided to descend a different way. We followed the ridge west and then south to the top of Point 10,891. From there, we followed the ridge southeast and back to near Stump Park. Most of the route wasn't to bad, but the end of the route was the same nightmare we went through earlier. We did see at least a few hundred elk though. We did our best to keep a low profile and not to disturb them. They were all over the place! We were glad to make it back to camp where we cooked dinner and set up camp before retiring early for the night. The elk sure were noisy at night.
Shaylee and I woke up really early hoping that the snow would be hard so we could climb Davis Peak. Unfortunately it didn't get that cold at night and the snow was soft. We were in the snow most of the time, but we had to wade through much water and wet ground as well. There was also a lot of deadfall and the mosquitoes were just as bad as the day previous. Shaylee was a real trooper, but I swore that I'd never visit this place again at the same time of year.
We slowly made through the obstacles before losing the trail in the thick deadfall and snow. Instead of continuing to waste time looking for the trail, we postholed straight up the slope, which was agonizingly slow even though we were trying to move quickly. Once we reached the ridge, the snow was finally hard. We descended into a wet valley before wading across the creek to the snowfield on the other side. We were finally near Davis Peak and we ascended the snowfield almost to the summit. The snow was a mix of hard and soft snow.Once we were near the top, we could scramble up the boulders and to the summit. The views were really great, but we didn't find a summit register. There were a lot of snow clad and jagged peaks visible, but the long distance views were obscured by haze (forest fires?). We didn't stay too long on top since we were worried about the snow getting soft.
We descended the mountain and were lucky enough to find part of the trail to be fairly dry (we missed this part of the trail on the ascent). The descent wasn't too bad, but was still challenging. Again, we say many elk. One was right in the trail.
After arriving at camp, we packed up and headed down the mountain and then for home.