Elevation: 7,826 ft
This peak is not in the book. Published November 2019
Peak 7826 is located on a ridgeline that comes up from Birch Creek Road to the east. It is one of two ranked summits on this ridge. Both Peak 7826 and its western neighbor (Peak 7848) tower over North Worm Creek Basin to the south. The easiest ascent route is via the south face from North Worm Creek Basin. Any other route is a punishing endeavor. USGS Mink Creek
Northeast Face/Northeast Ridge, Class 2+
Drive up Birch Creek Road/FSR-407 from ID-36 for 3.3 miles to a pullout/access road to a primitive campsite on the R side of the road. Park here (5,855 feet). If your vehicle and road conditions permit, drive just under a mile farther up Birch Creek Road to a fork in the valley and a large pullout/parking area and park here. You will probably need a 4WD with good clearance to get this far.
From the primitive campsite, hike up FSR-407 for about 0.8 mile to a major fork in the valley. The toe of the northeast ridge reaches the valley floor at this fork. The terrain and brush make it difficult to access the ridge at that point. According to both the Cache National Forest map and the USGS topo map, there is a trail (FST-313) that crosses FSR-407 about 0.1 mile south (up) the road from this fork. However, there is no signage and only remnants of a trail remain. If you are counting on this trail to get up onto the northeast ridge to the 6,640-foot level (as per the USGS topo map), you are out of luck.
Leave FSR-407 about 0.1 mile south of the valley fork. Follow the remnants of an old 2-track jeep road, easily crossing a small stream near the road. Head in a northwesterly directly up this old road until it quickly ends where some massive boulders block the road. Continue past the boulders on a footpath that leads around a rocky prow and allows you to reach a gully located on the southeast side of the northeast ridge. Follow the footpath up this gully to a point where the path seems to turn hard right/north to follow another section of old road up onto the ridge at a minor saddle.
The old trail actually continues up the gully and then climbs up onto the northeast ridge higher up. But it is virtually impossible to see the trail heading farther up the gully because it is so completely overgrown. I only discovered this fact on the descent when I followed the old trail from higher up on the northeast ridge and successfully followed remnants of it back to the gully below. Only then could I determine how and where I missed the actual route of the old trail.
To recount my actual ascent path, go right/north at this point and follow a section of old road up onto the northeast ridge at a minor saddle. The old road ends here and, I assumed, so did the old trail. Bushwhack southwest in a relatively flat, densely forested ridge area with tall, thick brush. After a fierce battle with the vegetation, blowdown, and thick trees, you will stumble onto an old road heading southwest and slightly uphill. Follow the old road (this is the old trail) west then north to a shoulder. The brush and tree cover is so thick here that you are unaware that you just moved off the proper ridge and onto a nearby shoulder.
The old road is heading due north here but that is not the direction you want to go. Leave the old road at this shoulder and bushwhack southwest up the shoulder through insanely thick forest and brush almost at a snail’s pace. This shoulder disappears into the steepening face of the mountain at just over 7,000 feet. At this point, you can see a ridge to the south that looks like an easier route. Bushwhack south across a gully to reach the ridge. This is an intensely difficult section to bushwhack. But, once on the ridge, you are now on the northeast ridge of Peak 7826. You are now at about 7,300 feet.
The good news is that the going is much easier on this ridge and, more importantly, this high up. The ridge crest is narrow, but it goes reasonably quickly. It is steep and much rockier than the impossible forest lower down, and has rocky outcrops to boot. But it still beats the forest bushwhack. By a mile. There is some open scrub on the left/south side of the ridge crest. You soon reach the summit. The summit of Peak 7826 is a lateral ridge crest that, contrary to the USGS topo map, is not forested. The summit area is an open area of scrub and boulders. Stand on each of a couple of potential boulder “high points” to make sure you’ve captured this peak. There were no signs of previous ascent.
Southwest Ridge, Class 2
Same as for the northeast ridge. This is the next section of a multi-peak journey. A ridge traverse from Peak 7826 to Peak 7848 is the next objective. The southwest ridge of Peak 7826 is the first leg of this traverse.
Note that this route is described from the summit of Peak 7826 to the connecting saddle with Peak 7848. Upon the return, I ascended this same route from the saddle back to the summit of Peak 7826. The USGS topo map makes this ridge traverse look easy, but it isn’t. It is somewhat tedious. It is a combination of easy scrub/scree, thick willows/brush, short sections of dense forest, and minor rocky outcrops. Generally speaking, the edge of the forest seems to work best in this traverse. Side-hilling in the thick brush/scrub is not a good option.
The entire ridge traverse from Peak 7826 to Peak 7848 takes about 40 minutes. The return trip is a few minutes less. From the summit of Peak 7826, follow the ridge crest west then southwest down to a small saddle. Continue southwest over Point 7750 (an easy hump) then drop southwest to a wider saddle. This is the base of the southwest ridge of Peak 7826 and the conclusion of this route.
Northeast Ridge, Class 2+
Same as for the northeast face/northeast ridge
From the summit, follow the narrow, rocky ridge northeast down to where the forest takes over, the ridge becomes more rounded, and the bushwhack becomes brutal. Thankfully, you are heading downhill, which makes the bushwhack a bit easier. Do your best to stay on or close to the ridge crest so that you can find the old road/trail that crosses the northeast ridge farther down. Once you reach the old road, follow it southeast off the ridge down into a gully. The road turns into a footpath that follows the right/south side of the gully.
The path is quite overgrown and can be difficult to follow, but stay in this gully all the way down to where it crosses the small stream in the gully and joins the old 2-track jeep road. Follow the old road (which is more of a footpath at some points) back to the large boulders that block the old road to vehicular traffic. After passing the boulders, follow the 2-track jeep road down to Birch Creek Road/FSR-407. Hike down FSR-407 for just under a mile to your parking spot at the primitive campsite.