Duncan Hill   - 7819'
Fern Point     - 7909'
Choral Peak  - 7960'
Miles: 24 Gain: 7400' GT Lucerne # 114
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October 2 - 4, 2009
Anthem Creek was the destination for Carrie's weather abbreviated larch trip this year. You can see her complete trip report here on WTA.

The trip as originally planned was a four day loop, starting at the Duncan Hill TH and finishing on the Entiat River Trail and included explorations and scrambles north from Duncan Hill and Anthem Creek.  Saska was on the agenda as was some time to explore the basin at the head of Anthem Creek and try Choral and Gopher Peaks. 

As the trip got closer, the forecast got worse.  Cold and stormy with a 4000' freezing level convinced us that it would be better to shorten the trip to three days, abandon the loop and play it by ear if we started lower at the Entiat River Trail or up at the higher 5100' Duncan Hill trail.   As it turns out, NOAA couldn't have been more wrong about the weather in this little corner of the Entiat Mountains.

We crossed the pass with rain and dark skies, but somewhere around Tumwater Canyon the clouds broke up.  Leavenworth was beautiful as was Entiat.  I half expected as we made the long northwesterly drive nearly to the end of the Entiat River Road that we'd drive back into the clouds, but the sun held all the way to the Duncan Hill trail head.

The Duncan Hill Trail (#1434) is easily negotiated, well graded and well maintained if a little eroded in spots from horse and wheeled traffic.  It starts in open eastern Washington forest and after a couple miles gains the grassy slopes above 6000' with sweeping views south down the Entiat River valley and west into the Entiat Mountains around Garland and Fifth of July Mtn's.

At 6 miles the (7400') junction with the spur trail to the old lookout site on Duncan Hill is reached. The path less taken continues north, dropping steeply west to the 5900' junction with the Anthem Creek Trail (#1435). Trail #1434 climbs for 2 miles back up to 6800' at a saddle west of Anthem Creek. 

Just below the saddle at 6400' to 6500', Carrie's guidebooks maintained that a faint but discernable track led east to the headwaters of Anthem Creek and a fine high basin camp.  The fastest in the group went scouting but we weren't able to find anything that was convincing enough to take.  Sunset was approaching.  

We needed to make camp fairly soon, so in an area that would come to be known as lumpy meadows, we picked out the best spots we could find and

called it good at least for tonight.  A thin trickle of water ran nearby and we were partially sheltered from the gusts of cold wind by trees.  Not the best place, but also not the worst by a long stretch.

Very cold that first night. Clear with temps in the 20's. Cold enough the next morning that no one felt compelled to venture from the warmth of their sleeping bags until the sun had crested the ridge to the south and hit the tents. By the time we had breakfast and got our day packs together, it was 11:30a. Cathy and Cedar decided to leave the upper basin to the rest of us and instead explore further along the trail to the pass.

The mystery path we'd looked for the night before failed to materialize again as we made our way to the upper basin in open forest.  Bits a pieces of what looked more determined than game trail was about the best we could do.  But we did finally get there, entering larch fringed pumice flats just below Fern Point (Pt 7906) and Choral Peak (Pt. 7960).  Beautiful area and it really was worth the trouble to get up there.

We had something to eat and relaxed in the sun but every gust of wind was chilling.  After lunch half the group went east aiming for Fern Point and Pt. 7909 with views down to 6900' Fern Lake.  The other went north to a saddle and then east to scramble Choral Peak. 

On the way back to camp, still looking for signs of the elusive basin trail, we stumbled on a log cabin. Missing a few shingles it was never the less pretty well stocked with gear. Funny what you can find when you're not looking.

It snowed lightly Saturday night but none of it seemed to stick. Sunday morning we were up long before the sun hit the tents and were fed, packed and hiking by about 9:00a.

We had 10 miles to go and a not insignificant climb back up to the junction at 7400' with the Duncan Hill Trail.  If we had been able to do the loop, we'd have parked a car at the Entiat River trail and it would have been mostly downhill for the hike out.  As it was, climbing back up to Duncan Hill from Anthem Creek added 1500' to the total for the weekend.

We had dinner at Ducks and Drakes in Leavenworth, and in spite of the early start for the hike back, most of us wouldn't get home until well after 9:00p.  But worth it.  Great area and one where I'd like to plan a trip for next year to try Cardinal, Emerald and Saska.
drive us hwy 2 east to Wenatchee, go north on alt 97 to entiat, turn left on entiat river road which becomes forest rd 51. follow fs 51 for 35 miles, past the north fork campground. go right on fr 5608.  in 6 miles find the duncan hill trail #1431 on the right.    no facilities.
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