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 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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.