Sheep Mountain, Bowery Peak, and 10,883 in the North Boulders

The trailhead is across the river from a primitive campground about 25 miles south of highway 75 on the East Fork (Salmon) Road.  The campground has 3 or 4 good sites with flat spots for tents and fire rings, but no picnic tables, grills, clean water, or a privy.  There are signs of horses and other pack animals, and there is parking away from the campsites.

The main trailhead is a ford downriver of the campground, but there is also a log across the river at the campground.  The log can be a little tricky to find when returning in the dark.


Follow the trail 3.5 miles to the confluence with the North Fork of Bowery Creek.  Castle peak pops up very early in back of you as you hike

Castle peak

From there you go up the North Fork.  We bushwhacked, sidehilled, and generally had a bad time of it until we finally gave up at about 8600' and went up to the ridge on the left.  This turned out to be not too bad, but it would probably be a bad idea to gain it much before we did.  However, as we found out on the way back, there is a lightly maintained trail along the North Fork, you just have to find it.  Near the confluence, it is on the left side of the North Fork, as you face upstream.  The trail crosses the stream several times, and on some of them we had to get our shoes wet.

Once on the ridge, we walked to the real ridge which connects Sheep, Bowery, and Peak 10,883.  Confusingly, there is a nubbin on that ridge whose altitude is 10,833 which sits between Sheep and what I would call the Sheep-Bowery saddle.  That is where we gained the ridge.

Moonset over the Boulders

The ridge had some outcrops on it, so we traversed to the right.  This was a terrible idea, and was exhausting and time consuming.  On the way back, we stayed on the ridge, which was easy.

Sheep mountain summit

On the summit of Sheep mountain is some sort of communication facility, my guess is that it is a relay station for the forest service's own communications network.  Grandfathering it in must have been part of the lengthy negotiations to create the wilderness area.

The rest of the ridge was quite easy, to Bowery and 10,883. 


From 10,883 we continued down the ridge and started down to valley about as late as we could, in an effort to avoid all the thrashing we anticipated in the creek bottom.  This turned out to be a bad idea: the scree was almost certainly a better surface higher up, and as it turned out we found the trail and thrashing wasn't much of a problem on the way back.


Once down at the confluence with Bowery creek, we found the trail and walked out.  Total time, including a disorganized search for the crossing at the very end was just under 17 hours.  Old people who didn't make the mistakes we made could do it in 14 hours.  Young, fit hikers could do it in under 10.