After leaving my campsite at Lease Creek, I backtracked one mile - out of the burn and into the green forest - to the junction I had left the day before. I headed right, over a bridge across the middle fork of the Pasayten, and to the left-turn junction for Buckskin Ridge. A few miles of moderate-graded trail, with maybe up to 20 downed logs to mostly step over, and the trail exited the forest onto a nice slope. The map says that it does this at 6400 feet, but it was about 6000.
There were nice views looking south up the valley of the middle fork . . .
. . . and downriver to the north. Note those red splotches - widespread to the north, and smaller to the south. These are beetle kills. It's pretty from a distance, but decidedly less so to walk in. I wonder what this valley will be like in 10 years.
After a couple of miles of mostly flat contouring, and a final 500 foot climb, I arrived at Buckskin Lake, at 6450 feet.
And set up camp on the southeast corner.
Hiking up the grassy ridge to the west provided classic lake and mountain views to the east.
The following day was the very up-and-down 7.2 mile hike to Silver Lake. After leaving Buckskin Lake and contouring along the ridge side . . .
You enter the next drainage, which has a couple of small ponds,
and hike 900 feet up to an unnamed pass at 7300 feet. Here is the view to the west. The next major ridge over is actually Gold Ridge, which the Buckskin Trail switches over to from Buckskin Ridge by crossing Silver Pass. Silver Pass is barely visible in this photo. It's the heavily forested ridge in the upper-center part of the picture, beyond the talus ridge in the foreground.
After one up-and-down, and two down-and-up hikes, for a total gain (and loss) of about 2800 feet, you arrive at Silver Lake. Some people were complaining about mosquitoes, and they were certainly about. But the cool temperatures and breeze off the lake kept them under control.
My final day dawned cool (mid 30's) but completely sunny. The only completely sunny morning so far, for the roughly 5 mile hike out. There was this interesting cloud on a mountain.
And endless flower-filled meadows.
In the distance, the trail back over Slate Pass came into view.
And the meadows continued
And a final look back down the middle fork of the Pasayten River as I approached the pass.
As I drove away from the trailhead, I realized I had a flat tire. It was a quick fix to put the spare on at the Hart's Pass trailhead. This was a great introduction to the Pasayten's for me.
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