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The Brushy Peak Trail starts off the Redbud Trail at Cache Creek and follows a very old firebreak all the way south to the summit of Brushy Sky High. Most of the trail is visible from Google satellite views which had given me much hope on the first attempt. But I failed to recognize that parts of the trail are not quite so evident from above, and it is in these sections that the problems lie. I wasn't even sure if one guy with a pair of clippers would be sufficient to make it to the summit, so I kept Daryn's route in mind as a back up, though I couldn't really imagine having the energy to do it after 3-5 hours of trail work on Plan A.
I was up and on my way at dawn on a cold but otherwise fine Monday morning. I chose not to follow the Redbud Trail which is somewhat circuitous and gains extra elevation to avoid private property on its way to Cache Creek. As I found on that first effort, the route through private property is a significant shortcut. I was at Cache Creek just after sunrise, easily finding the start of the Brushy Creek Trail which I had unknowingly failed at on my first attempt. After hiking up the faint trail for half a mile, the trail sort of disappears into a maze of brush with several use trails forming from other lost hikers trying to find their way through. I found the correct route on the way down but the last part was very thick brush, so it was easy to see why it was difficult to find coming the other direction. Some thrashing about finally got me onto the remains of the trail I had discovered on the previous visit. Out came the clippers. The plan was to clip only enough to identify the trail and get myself through, spending more time on the return to widen and clear the route. This would maximize my chances of reaching the summit today. As luck would have it, it only required about 45 minutes of steady grooming before the trail broke out into more open ground above. Here the trail proved wide and mostly clear with only a few truly brushy sections now and then. It seems that the majority of the route is probably kept clear (or at least usable) by hunters approaching from the south.
Over the next two hours I made steady progress up to the summit, enjoying the views and doing some grooming along the way. A random car part and a wayward balloon were among my findings enroute. Bits of clothing, tattered and badly weathered were found at various locations as well. About half an hour before reaching the summit I broke my clippers in an unfortunate accident - I would be unable to improve the trail on the return. Though compact, the clippers are excellent for cutting large branches up to an inch in diameter. They are most effective on live branches that contain water however, and not much good on dry, dead ones, and it was one of these latter branches that proved too much for it.
There are some fine views along the series of ridgelines leading to the summit, Konocti and Clear Lake visible to the west and the chaparral-covered ridges of the Wilderness area in all directions. There were several junctions that I came across that looked to have viable routes heading off at various points to Deadman Canyon and Cache Creek to the west. These might be fun alternatives to explore at some time in the future. Its not until reaching the summit that views open up to the south, taking in Lower Lake, Morgan Valley and the southernmost part of Lake County. Mt. St. Helena in Napa County is seen clearly to the southwest, with Cobb Mtn (highpoint of Sonoma Co.) and Mt. Hannah prominent to the west. There was a 1941 benchmark marked "BOND" along with a modest cairn, but no register that I could find. Judging by the good road/trail continuing in that direction, the summit looks to be regularly visited from the south as I had guessed beforehand.
It had taken something over 3.5hrs to reach the summit, but without further grooming and a bit of jogging, I was back to the Redbud TH in little more than two hours. At Cache Creek I came across two parties, one a couple that were crossing the creek opposite myself, the other a pair of young hunters looking for deer. There were other cars in the parking lot, but these were the only ones I came across all morning. I had expected it might take a very long day to get to the summit and back, but here is was barely 12:30p and I still had plenty of daylight.
After returning I drove a few miles to the BLM's High Bridge TH in the Cache Creek Natural Area of SR16. It was the second time in three weeks I had spent a night here. The place is signed for no overnight camping but I wasn't disturbed by law enforcement. There aren't all that many vehicles driving SR16 at night, so it was pretty quiet. Shower, dinner, movie and wine made for a fine combination, though not all at the same time...
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Cold Spring Mountain
This page last updated: Tue Nov 26 20:27:34 2013
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