After a sublime day on Mount Denny the day before, I was not keen on sitting out the rest of the weekend despite a pretty dismal weather forecast. After downgrading objectives a few times, I settled on an easy scramble / hike to Buller Creek Peak as outlined in Andrew Nugara's, More Scrambles guidebook. The weather was looking pretty gray as I parked in the Buller Creek / Pass parking lot along the Spray Lakes road but as I got ready I noticed a ton of vehicles pulling into the lot behind me. Apparently I wasn't the only one determined to get out despite the clouds and rain! As I marched out of the lot towards the trail head, I was surprised to recognize two of the folks in a large group of hikers. Kev Papke and Bill Kerr were leading a large group up Red Peak - a summit I'd already done in 2015 with KC and Hanneke. After a quick chat with them, I continued to the trail and started the hike to South Buller Pass.
I hadn't been up the Buller Creek trail since 2015 and had forgotten just how scenic this area of the Rockies is. With intermittent rain showers I had to put my camera away, but still managed to use the iPhone for some nice moody memories of the saturated landscape. Flowers of all kinds were blooming along the trail, and I enjoyed photographing some of them on my way. Being the first one up the trail was nice. The morning was quite still despite the rain, and the local bird population was loving the moisture. I didn't overdo the bear yelling, as I wanted to enjoy the peace and quiet.
[I was the first one up the trail and enjoyed the solitude and quiet.]
[The rain brings out the saturation of the burned out forest floor. Engadine in the background here.]
[Lillian Peak comes into view in the distance.]
[Just past Buller Creek Falls and just before the forks to North (L) and South (R) Buller Pass. Buller Creek Peak is visible rising at right here.]
After hiking up the lovely trail for an hour or so I got to the forks, just past the Buller Creek Falls. Last time I was here we went left, to the North Buller Pass. This time I turned right - towards South Buller Pass. The clouds really came in at this point and soon I stopped and put on my full Gore-Tex protection including pants and jacket. Lillian Peak was covered in clouds as I ascended through a small burn area to the upper creek area - my peak was low enough to be just under the gray skies. I didn't hear any thunder as I looked up the easy ascent slopes, so I started the plod upwards from the trail. Rain pelted my face as I ascended - I don't usually hike in weather this bad! It was strangely therapeutic to be out here all alone in the rain and wind.
[The South Buller Pass trail is lovely - especially the section through the recently burned out forest. ++]
[Buller Creek Peak looks pretty high from here - it's not a tiny peak.]
[As much as I enjoy hiking in nice weather, there is something about the moody atmosphere that appeals to me too. ++]
[Nearing the back bowl just under South Buller Pass which is right of center distance here. Buller Creek Peak at upper left and Lillian Peak rising into the clouds at upper right.]
[At this point there was zero indication, or expectation of seeing any sunshine today!]
[Nearing the summit.]
As I neared the summit the rain miraculously stopped! This was great timing. I got some neat photos of Buller and Guinn's Passes along with the Ribbon Lake area and Mount Kidd. Bogart was buried in thick clouds, but I could see Red Peak and Buller Mountain. Lillian Peak looked very intimidating from my vantage. After snapping some pics, I decided there was some very threatening cloud moving in rapidly from the west so I'd best get my butt over to the second summit before it hit. The second summit involved some easy, short scrambling to ascend but was worth the slightly different views. As more rain and wind slammed into me, I decided to get the heck out of there and started back down.
[Great views over Buller Pass to South Kidd and Guinn's Pass with Lillian rising dramatically at right.]
[A panorama looking east (L) and south includes Mount Kidd, Kidd South, Guinn's Pass and Lillian Peak (L to R). ++]
[Unnamed summits to the east over North Buller Pass towards Mount Bogart.]
[Looking west (L) and north off the summit includes the second summit, Buller, Red Peak, North Buller Pass and Bogart rising into the clouds at distant right. ++]
[Mount Buller looks impressive from this side.]
[Mount Kidd South.]
[Looking over the North Buller Pass trail towards Mount Buller as I traverse to the second summit.]
[Views from the second summit over North Buller Pass trail towards Buller, Red Peak and Bogart (R).]
[The west ridge of Mount Bogart rises into the clouds.]
[One more view towards Buller and Guinn's Passes past Lillian Peak towards Mount Kidd (L).]
The descent was quick and easy back to the approach trail. I managed to spend at least half of it on very friendly scree, which was nice and fast. Just as I finished my lunch in a lovely meadow under the peak the sun started peeking out. Are you KIDDING ME?! Nope. The weather slowly improved as I hiked back along a now much busier trail until it was a mix of sun and clouds and pleasantly warm. Jeez. Literally only 30 minutes later and I would have enjoyed a much nicer summit panorama! Oh well. That's how it goes in our fickle-weather Rockies I guess! I still enjoyed a fantastic day out and have no regrets with not sitting on the couch all day.
[Descending the south ridge looking down my approach up Buller Creek towards the Spray Lakes.]
[A fast scree run in the rain!]
[WTF?! It was literally just pouring rain and now there's blue sky over my peak!! Oh well. Sometimes the early bird does NOT get the worm when it comes to summit views...]
[Female cones are bright red on a Sub-Alpine Larch.]
[Interesting Spring Larch growth.]
[More and more blue sky as I hike down the Buller Pass trail towards Mount Buller at center. Buller Creek Peak rising at right.]
[Looking back along a section of Buller Creek. The peak rising at left.]
[Why didn't I sleep in another half hour? I'd be on the summit with views right now... :)]
[A great view looking back near the split in Buller Creek towards Buller Creek Peak.]
[Fairy Slipper (Calypso bulbosa).]
I highly recommend Buller Creek (Pass) Peak for an easy hike / scramble when you just want an easy day out, or are expecting less than optimal weather conditions. There are larches in the upper valley, so this would make a very nice fall trip too.