Devils Head Peak CC
Windy Point CC
Windy Ridge P1K
Little Pinnacle
Pinnacle Rock P500

Sun, Nov 10, 2013
Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2

Continued...

I was back in Wine Country for another foray tagging CC-listed summits and P1Ks. I had driven the night before to near the end of Stagecoach Canyon Rd, where Butts Creek empties into Lake Berryessa. I had no trouble sleeping comfortably and uninterrupted just off the pavement there.

Devils Head Peak

Devils Head overlooks Putah Creek on its east bank, not a very high or prominent summit, but a striking feature. David Naylor had visited this CC summit a year earlier and given me some beta on his approach route. He started along the road several miles to the west, crossing initially through private ranch property and going unnervingly close to an occupied home. The route I had picked out was intended to go by no homes, following what looked like a public road/trail leading to Putah Creek, then following along the west side of the creek until near Devils Head. What had looked like a trailhead on Google Streetview turned out to be the entrance to a quasi-private campground, part of land collectively owned by the homeowners association in the area. A locked gate kept out most vehicles, but foot access was not restricted, physically anyway. Signs at the start and in the campground were specific in restricting access to association members and their guests. I hoped no one would make a big deal of it and shortly after 8a I started up the road.

The road follows along the north side of Butts Creek (now dry) with half a dozen homes on the opposite side. A dog barked without much enthusiasm and I didn't seem to attract any attention. I soon reached a campground that up until this point I knew nothing about. It was here that I realized the area was part of a homeowner's association from reading a large sign here with much writing, obviously designed by a committee. There was no one else at the primitive site, really just some pit toilets, picnic benches and some flat areas to park and camp. Located at the confluence of Putah and Butts Creeks where they empty to Lake Berryessa, it seems a nice enough spot for a springtime picnic. I followed the road leading west, up and out of the campground and onto a mesa in that direction. The mesa was about 200ft above Putah Creek, the road turning north and eventually ending in a rough trail dropping back down to Putah Creek a mile from the campground.

I crossed Putah Creek, easy at this time of year, and wandered trailless upstream for about a mile. It might have been easier to continue upstream as there was only a bit more than another mile to go, but I found the going somewhat tedious with lots of boulder hopping that takes much concentration. Instead, I followed my pre-mapped plan which was to climb back out of the creek channel and avail myself of some remote ranch roads I knew to be up on a second mesa to the west. Getting out of the canyon was a steep, somewhat tricky affair, climbing up a loose debris field that had served as a garbage dump by the ranchers for decades. The ground was littered with old tin and aluminum cans, back when pull tabs had first replaced the can opener for beer. Once onto the mesa, the going becomes suddenly delightful with open, oak-studded grazing country. I passed across one property boundary, hiking maybe a mile and half before dropping down a second time to Putah Creek when Devils Head came into view. It looks like a volcanic plug sticking out from the hillside and is indeed, just that.

I had to remove my boots to cross the creek here, wide but so shallow I barely got my ankles wet. I spent another 30 minutes on the east side of the creek hiking a combination of cow trails, jeep track, grassy slopes and a bit of bushwhacking to find my way to the summit. The west side looks like it might be a fun scramble, but the rock proved terribly loose and I gave up that effort and took the easy route around from the high saddle on the east side of the rocky feature. David had left a register 11 months earlier and unsurprisingly, no one had signed it since. The rocky perch provides good views looking west over the Putah Creek drainage, with Cobb Mtn just visible about 20 miles on the horizon. In the foreground rises the cone-shaped Snell Peak, which David had described as "interesting" when he had passed by it on his route. I had checked it out on Google maps beforehand, but it looked to be covered in nearly impenetrable brush on all sides - no thanks. After signing the register and taking a break under fine skies and cool temperatures, I reversed the route almost in its entirety, without any significant deviations.

When I got back to the pavement I found a local resident in an SUV talking to a young male transient equipped with a backpack and the looks of being on the road a long time. She had seen me exit the camp access road but wasn't concerned with my going in there on foot. She asked me what the condition of the campground was and was happy to hear me report it as spotless. She was most concerned with unknown motorcyclists that have circumvented the gate and gone back there to tear up the road leading to the mesa and other unspecified damages. She seemed a very concerned and conscientious homeowner, the kind I'd like to have looking after my own neighborhood. I left her with the distinct impression that as far as the association goes: hiker good, motorcylist bad.

Windy Point/Ridge

Almost 40 miles northwest of where I'd parked and five miles north of Clear Lake are these two summits. Both are points on Bartlett Mountain in the middle of Lake County. Windy Point was selected as a CC summit, but less than a third of a mile to the northwest is the higher P1K point, dubbed Windy Ridge by LOJ. They are many miles from pavement, but the well-graded Bartlett Springs Rd out of Clear Lake offers a good route to reach it. Much of the land is part of the Mendocino National Forest, but a patchwork of private inholdings blocks vehicle access about two miles southeast of the summit. I spent more than two hours driving to Clear Lake and up the dirt roads getting as close as I could before stopping at a locked gate at the boundary with one of the inholdings. I had seen a vehicle pass me only a few minutes before reaching the end, so I knew at least one landowner was on site, but I figured I'd driven all this way that I'd take my chances regardless. I was happy to run into no one on my hour-long outing.

The route was entirely on dirt roads, decently maintained ones except for near the very end. There was a Forest Service sign at a junction, suggesting the road was open to the public at one time. There are a number of No Trespassing signs found on either side of the road, some more emphatic that others. The final quarter mile up to Windy Point was along an older road no longer maintained, leading to the flat, but open summit. A corner of Clear Lake could be seen to the south, but in most other directions were views of forested ridgelines. Just to the northwest was the slightly higher Windy Ridge to which I next paid a visit, an excursion that takes less than ten minutes. The views are unsurprisingly similar. To the northwest could just be seen a lookout tower atop High Glade BM, about 2 miles distance. Because it has nearly 2,000ft of prominence, it would get my attention for a future visit.

Little Pinnacle/Pinnacle Rock

On my way back to the van from Windy Ridge I noticed there were several named features very close to the road on the return to the junction at Bartlett Summit. These proved a worthwhile diversion. Both are small rocky outcrops along the ridge labeled Bartlett Mountain on the 7.5' topo. Little Pinnacle, about a fifth of a mile from the road, would have been a brushy affair were it not for the presence of an old trail (shown on the GPS, but not the 7.5' topo) along the ridgeline from the south. I'd guess that hunters still keep this trail usable. The views from both summits take in the drainages of the North and South Forks of Bartlett Creeks draining to the northeast. Pinnacle Rock proved more interesting and less of a hike. Even in the van I could drive up to the base of the formation, making the hike take less than five minutes. But the summit proved interesting in several aspects. There were some old stairs built into the base of the outcrop that had obviously taken a good deal of time and some skill. They were probably built decades ago and were not all that obvious as nature has begun the reclamation effort. I wondered who might have built them and to what purpose. Had there been a lookout at the summit at one time? The summit did not provide the answers. There was some graffiti and several large eyebolts that might have been placed by rock climbers at one time, but this didn't really gel with the step-building effort. In addition to a distant view of Clear Lake, the summit provides a good view of Pine Mtn to the east, another P1K that I planned to visit next.

Pine Mtn

Back at Bartlett Summit, I turned left and headed northeast for about three miles to a saddle east of Pine Mtn/Ruppert Ridge. Right at this junction is someone's homestead, a collection of small buildings that serve as living quarters, workshop and garage. The road leading to Pine Mtn passes through the middle of this property. A gate here was open, but I have no idea if there's a public easement through this property (just beyond is Forest Service lands the rest of the way to the summit, another three miles). I drove up anyway. I passed by the buildings without anyone running out to confront me, but the road grew steep and rough immediately, causing some perspiration before I came to a small clearing littered with junk about 50yds beyond the homestead. The road ahead did not look to get any better and I considered the consequences of getting stuck up here. I chickened out and decided to turn around - I would need to do more research and have a better plan. On my way back I saw the owner sitting inside his home watching me go by, a grizzled man who looked like a cartoon prospector. I waved as I drove by, but he just sat there motionless.

On my way back to Clear Lake, the sun made a colorful departure, prompting me to stop a few times along the road to take pictures. Back at SR20, I headed east along the north shore of Clear Lake, eventually reaching the BLM's Redbud TH, some six miles east of the junction with SR53. This would be the starting point for my second attempt at Brushy Sky High, the same route I used on my first effort three weeks earlier. It's a very nice spot to spend the night away from the road noise and without hassles.

Continued...


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This page last updated: Tue Nov 26 19:41:31 2013
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