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After six hours of driving from San Jose with a few stops for gas and whatnot, I found myself at the TH shortly before 12:30p. Heading west, the PCT contours around the long ridgeline forming the Scott Mtns, staying mostly on the sunny south side and below the crest. I followed the trail for only a mile before turning upslope to gain the ridge a short distance above the trail at this point. The cross-country travel is fairly easy, some minor rocks and boulders, and not much in the way of bushwhacking, making for an enjoyable stroll. Mt. Shasta comes into view behind you as you climb the ridge, eventually dominating the view in that direction. Mt. Eddy can be easily seen in the same direction in the foreground, only a few hundred feet higher than China Mtn.
It took only 50min to reach the summit of China Mtn, crowned by a rather large cairn that must have taken hours to construct. Tucked inside was a MacLeod & Lilley register from 2001. A second register was started by Evan Rasmussen in 2008, evidently not finding the first one. Someone later combined them in the same jar. I further consolidated things by tearing out the few relevant pages in the second book and adding them to the first. I would keep the extra booklet for another peak. After photographing the pages and snapping a few of the hazy views (there is a fire somewhere to the north contributing unwelcome smoke), I returned back along the ridge I'd ascended. South China lay to the south along the main crest and after backtracking about a third of a mile I turned right to follow the ridge to the second summit. Some easy class 2-3 downclimbing was needed initially, then it once more becomes a class 1-2 cakewalk all the way to the summit of South China. I spent about an hour in the traverse between the two.
South China also sported a register, this one dating back 24yrs to 1992. No MacLeod, Lilley or Vitz found in this one. Most of the entries were taken up by local hunters from Weed, Mt. Shasta and other small towns along Interstate 5. Continuing south along the crest, the next summit in line is Peak 7,857ft, taking another hour from South China. The ridge is easy down to the saddle between the two, but then things getted all jaggedy and rocky and it looked a little tedious by my eye. So instead I traversed low from the saddle over easier ground along the base of the ridge, eventually climbing steeply up just below the summit - easy as pie. There was a set of nested cans found here, but no register inside - just the place to leave the one I'd picked up on China Mtn. I scratched out the now incorrect info on the inside cover, added the elevation and dubbed it South China C, a geopolitcal pun that amused me more than it probably should have. I'll have to add this to peakbagger.com and get the name to stick.
I descended back down from the summit via another chute, eventually completing a downward traverse to the north that landed me on the PCT once again. By this time it was 5p and the day was getting on as the sun sank lower in the sky. The temperature had cooled a bit and was quite nice for that last hour along the trail back to the start. There are some nice views along the way looking south over the Trinity Alps for the last few miles when the trail breaks out of the trees.
Back at the van I showered, ate dinner and watched an episode of the Walking Dead as I waited out the sun going down for the evening. The elevation is high here, making for cool nighttime sleeping. I would drive to the next (lower) trailhead in the morning after a good night's rest...
For more information see these SummitPost pages: China Mountain
This page last updated: Sun Sep 18 08:58:45 2016
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