On Wednesday, August 26, I climbed Hurwal Divide. Hurwal Divide lies in the Eagle Cap Wilderness, part of the Wallowa Mountains, and gets its name as the steep divide between Hurricane Creek to the west and the West Fork Wallowa River to the east. It has 9776 feet of elevation and is the seventh highest peak in Oregon (with at least 500 feet of prominence).
Tuesday afternoon I drove to the north side of the Wallowa Mountains and car camped near the Hurricane Creek Trailhead. The trailhead was busy and I was fortunate to find such a nice spot to camp nearby beside Hurricane Creek.
Early Wednesday morning I left the Hurricane Creek Trailhead and followed the trail south along Hurricane Creek. The trail was gentle and I enjoyed the morning views and paused several times for photos. Several other hikers passed by.
Seven years earlier I had explored access to the Hurwal Divide this way and at that time had missed the poorly marked trail junction leading towards Thorp Basin. After backtracking I followed a minor trail and found the log crossing over Hurricane Creek. This time I was watching for the junction, but I did not recognize it after the years and passed it again. Eventually I returned and followed the minor trail to Hurricane Creek. The double log crossing was still in place and I carefully sidestepped across the logs over the wide creek.
From the east side of Hurricane Creek I climbed the sometimes steep Thorp Creek Trail towards Thorp Basin. I met a couple descending from Thorp Basin, but otherwise saw no one else on this side of Hurricane Creek.
At about 7200 feet I left the Thorp Trail and climbed to the ridgeline above me to my left. Reaching the ridgeline I followed it through a recent burn. The burn debris was not difficult to pass through. Higher the slope opened up and I got a good view of the upper northwest ridge.
I climbed steeply up sometimes loose scree towards a false summit. As I climbed I watched cumulus clouds build above me and hoped any poor weather would hold off while I was on such exposed slopes. From the false summit I finally saw the summit of the Hurwal Divide.
The remaining hike to the summit was lower angle on firmer footing. I passed a mountain goat watching me from below the summit ridge.
I eventually reached the broad summit of the Hurwal Divide. The sky was smoky and cumulus clouds continued brewing up. It would have been easy to spend several hours enjoying the view and the the ambiance of the summit, but I could not linger long.
After lunch and photos I descended back down to Hurricane Creek and out to the trailhead. I heard thunder shortly before returning to my campsite and Jeep. It had been a longer day than I had expected, but it was very satisfying to finally visit the summit of Hurwal Divide, which I first spotted 31 years ago from Sacajawea Peak.