Jul 17, 2021
We would have a lot of driving to do through the bulk of the day if we were to get to Colorado by evening as planned. That left us with only a few hours for a short hike in the morning before getting on our way. I wanted to visit named Buck Mtn in the Great Basin NP where we'd spent the night, and tossed Tom a bone by adding Bald Mtn, a summit I had visited a decade earlier. The two together would be around 4mi in a nice loop with less than 2,000ft of gain, taking about 2.5hrs.
We parked at the popular Wheeler Peak TH at over 10,000ft, off the main paved road into the park. Starting out soon after 6a, we hiked the Wheeler Peak Trail as it makes its way through forest to the saddle between Bald and Wheeler Peak. We left the trail on the southeast side of Bald Mtn where the trail turns to the south, hiking cross-country up an open meadow slope with fine views to the south of Wheeler Peak's North Face. Once we reached the crest, we followed a thin use trail up the rocky slopes to reach Bald Mtn just after 7a. There is a small telecom installation found here, and a rock bivy wall. Views were fairly clear today, with distant haze and not a cloud in the sky, as yet. As the name suggests, there's little vegetation at the summit, just ample acreage of rock talus.
The lower Buck Mountain lies something over a mile to the northeast, dropping through a saddle about 400ft lower than Buck's summit. It would take us about 50min to get between the two, with easy cross-country to start, becoming more forested and brushy for the second half. While I followed along the ridgeline, Tom dropped off the north side to take a slightly different tack to reach the saddle off off the northwest side of the ridge. The aspens that I thought would make for tough going proved easier, with no real bushwhacking to get through them. Buck's summit has poorer views due to trees about the perimeter, but there's still a good one of Wheeler Peak to the south. We found no register at either summit today.
Our descent was roughly a beeline for the trailhead parking, taking us down steep rubble slopes at the top, then into a mature aspen forest that was very easy to navigate - much better than the twisted, avalanche prone aspens I've struggled with in California. Back on the pavement, we had a quarter mile of road walking to get us back to the parking lot where we'd left our vehicle. I drove us back down the roadway to where we'd left Tom's Jeep earlier that morning, then we parted ways for our marathon drive across two states. We would reconvene in Aspen in a few days' time, but for the next two days I was on my own...
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Bald Mountain - Buck Mountain
This page last updated: Thu Aug 19 16:02:27 2021
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