Silver Star Mountain is pretty close by and I was surprised I’d never been there and never knew anyone who had. Its just east of Vancouver. We decided to make a backpack out of it, coming in from the Bluff Mountain Trail which gave us a longer approach. Trails from the west side, close to local hamlets are pretty short and appropriate for a day hike only. There are 5 ridges all leading up to the summit from different directions.
The downside of the Bluff Mountain trail is the incredibly shitty road to get there. I believe it is the worst FS road I’ve been on in the PNW or anywhere else for that matter. It was an adventure, but kind of a slow one at 5-12 mph. Although we made it ok with a Subaru, high clearance would make things much easier.
We didn’t know what to expect at the trailhead Friday night. It was completely socked in with clouds. There was lots of 4WD damage, trash, trash fire pits, and easily 1000’s of shotgun shells. Its a place that villagers from local hamlets come to whoop it up and ruin everything. We drank our beers, praying nobody showed up. I slept under that tarp while my buddy slept in his car.
The trail up was a nice gradual 6 or so miles up to the summit. Still a surprising amount of snow still clinging on, especially up top. You can’t see it well in these pics because its covered in debris.
This is the trail as it ascends up towards Bluff Mountain before turning due west towards Silver Star. The wildflowers were out in abundance. Indian Paintbrush was particularly vibrant along with avalanche lilies and tons of other flowers we couldn’t identify.
There were zero backpackers or hikers on this trail. We did however run into a dozen or so trail runners doing a organized marathon with a support team back at the trailhead. Here is the view getting closer to the summit.
One weird thing was the surprising amount of gunfire we could hear *all fucking day*. Like in the city, gunfire is routine in the countryside. It’s usually shotguns and rifle shot, but this sounded like a military training camp (there isn’t one). There are white supremacist militias in the area, so I’m guessing it was training day for racist chuds. Much of it was semi-automatic with an occasional cannon-like sound. It sounded like some guy must’ve had a damn anti-aircraft gun mounted in the back of his Toyota like fucking ISIS or some shit. For good measure there was a little automatic weapons fire as well, which is a little alarming to hear. Who knows where it came from, but it was in a couple of different spots and hundreds, if not thousands of dollars worth of ammo was expended in one sad display of masculinity and misplaced patriotism.
We did some exploring around the summit, checking out some different areas around the summit. Tremendous amounts of wildflowers, everywhere.
The weather was forecast on Saturday to slowly clear up and Sunday was supposed to be perfect. Instead it started raining in the evening with a cold wind. It didn’t let up all night. It was still raining in the morning, but it was quite beautiful hiking through the clouds. It was pretty damn cold.
I didn’t take a pic of camp because it was rainy and I forgot. We set up the big 10×10 mid that we used in the winter. Its pretty awesome to have so much space, but finding a good site can be challenging.
For what its worth we were soaked quickly due to dew, rain, humidity and sweat. Our jackets wetted out pretty damn quick, much faster than I expected. It wasn’t so much to amount of rain but the ambient humidity and exertion that was the issue.
On the way back down we did see some backpackers coming up and a couple of *very* lost day hikers. They were so lost I was embarrassed for them, we couldn’t figure out how you could fuck it up that bad… that’s how lost they were. Nevertheless they were glad to be out enjoying the outdoors.
As beautiful as it is, this area could really use a cleanup. I packed out some trash, but there was so much it was astounding. MRE’s, hot dog packets, clothing, and all kinds of shit littered the summit area as well as the trailhead. The trailhead parking lot could really use a cleanup crew and fencing of some sort to prevent further 4WD damage. I just can’t understand the types that leave that amount of garbage behind.
Silverstar is beautiful, and that road is horrible. If your the scrambling sort an easy one is little baldy, and it has a great view. Sturgeon rock also worthwhile, but much harder to find a non technical route on.
Sorry you didn’t catch better weather!
We met a local guy near the trailhead that was saying there is like an 800 foot rock wall in that area (not part of Silver Star) have you ever heard of that?
800 feet? Holy moly. Nope. Makes me sweat thinking of it.
Silver star is where we hiked and camped all through high school, the guns and rain are a constant. Good post!
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