Badger Mountain P1K
China Peak P500 CC
Craggy Mountain P1K CC
McKinley Mountain P1K
Gunsight Peak P300
Buckhorn Bally P900
Bald Mountain P1K

Wed, May 1, 2019
Etymology
Bald Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 5 GPX

For some reason, my GPX track reset after the first three summits, so those are missing from the file linked on the TR. The maps show the routes I used.

My knee was starting to feel a bit better, I could now weight the right leg with my knee joint straight, something I couldn't do a week earlier. There are still some issues with it feeling weak when I get up or make unusual movements so it's obviously not yet well. Not wanting to press it into hard service too quickly, but having a need to get outside, I decided to head north again and do a couple of days of easy hikes and drive-ups. This worked out nicely with some of the best weather I've had up that way - no clouds, temps in the 60s, very clear skies. Mosquitoes are starting to come out but I saw only a handful on this trip. I found there was snow above 6,000ft that would keep the higher roads unuseable and the peaks unreachable by easy means. So my focus was on peaks around 5,000ft or lower. I found that roads leading to lookout towers were in the best shape - I'm guessing the Forest Service clears those roads first in order to get the towers manned and useable, then concentrate on the secondary roads. April/May is a bit early in the season still, so I had to do some clearing of roads where possible, turnaround at blockages and sometimes just hike from there if the distance wasn't more than about a mile. Most of today's peaks are located in the Scott Bar Mountains, found south of SR96 and the Klamath River, roughly between the Scott River to the west and Interstate 5 to the east.

Badger Mountain

This P1K lies on the eastern ridgeline between Humbug Creek and I-5. The Hawkinsville-Humbug Road goes conveniently goes over the ridgeline about a mile south of Badger Mtn. This good dirt road was originally built to connect Yreka to the gold mining communities along Humbug Creek, now just a handful of residences in what was once a busy mining district. A spur road climbs from the saddle to the summit of Badger Mtn, though 4WD is likely needed to get to the very top. Like all the summits I visited over the the next two days, the dominant feature from any summit with a view is that of the towering Mt. Shasta to the southeast.

China Peak

China Peak and Craggy Mtn lie to the west of Badger Mtn, across Humbug Creek. It was necessary to drive down into the drainage, then up other forest roads to reach them. China Peak is to the north, overlooking the Klamath River. A decent road goes to a saddle southwest of the summit. An open, sometimes flagged route goes up the SW Ridge for about half a mile to reach the summit. There is a fine view to the northeast of Cottonwood Peak, a P2K. There was a set of red, nested cans that had been left unside down, and now completely waterlogged. Murky water poured from the cans when I inverted them. They were too difficult to open and I decided to leave it be - a register fail, to be sure. To the southwest could be seen the higher Craggy Mtn where I headed next.

Craggy Mountain

More driving got me within a mile and a half of Craggy Mtn, downed trees blocking the last 3/4mi of the road. I hiked the road to a saddle, then followed an old ATV track south towards the highpoint. A faint use trail led southwest across low manzanita and some brush to the summit rocks. Dennis Poulin has an accurate description of the craggy summit blocks on PB. To the east are a pair of spires that are reached first, requiring some modest bushwhacking and then easy class 3 scrambling. The higher point is to the west, a blockier pinnacle that takes a bit more effort. I followed the narrow connecting line between the spires and the highpoint (all of about 20yds), an airy almost-knife-edge that suggests caution. This leads to an alcove on the east side of the summit block where I found another set of nested cans for a register. This had been used for target practice and the resulting holes made it impossible for me to open the can. There seems to be a lack of appreciation for summit registers in these parts. I left a new register here. Dennis had gone from the alcove around to the left to find a way up. I went directly up from the alcove, what I thought were some stiff class 4 moves. I didn't try out his route, so you'll have to decide for yourself which is easier. In either case, it's a pretty nifty bit of scrambling in an area which otherwise has very little of such stuff. I returned back the way I came.

McKinley Mountain/Gunsight Peak

These two summits lie about 3.5mi southwest of Craggy Mtn. I drove back down to Humbug Creek, then up other forest roads to approach McKinley from the northeast, the shortest way, but probably not the best. Dennis used another route from the same ridge Badger Mtn is found on, in better condition since it is used to access the telecom towers atop Gunsight Peak. The road I used was a bit rough and required me to stop to clear some debris that had fallen onto it in places. A downed tree was too large for me to move or cut, but by cutting off the branches first, I was able to drive over it. My route also had the disadvantage of northeast-facing and I was eventually stopped by snow on the last switchback at around 5,500ft. With about a mile and a half of road remaining to McKinley, I simply parked and hiked from there. The route to McKinley across the ridgeline was fairly open and easy enough. A bit of brush is found near the 6,200-foot summit, but it has somewhat open views. I left a register atop this P1K, feeling it deserved some love. I then used the road network to make my way southeast to Gunsight Peak, a lower, more open but less interesting summit thanks to the development found there. It was only upon reaching it that I realized there was a better, snow-free road I might have used instead. Like McKinley, the summit was high enough that one could see snowy McLoughlin in Oregon, and of course the ever-present Mt. Shasta much closer to the southeast. The whole outing to the two summits took about 2hrs, so no big deal.

Buckhorn Bally

This almost-P1K lies north of the Klamath River, about 12 air miles from McKinley. I would spend 2hrs driving between them - one does not get around these mountains in any sort of hurry, that's for sure. There is a manned lookout atop the summit and a decent road that winds its way up from SR96 to the summit. There was a gate across the road about half a mile from the summit but I found it unlocked. I opened the gate and drove to the top where I found the lookout open but unmanned at the moment. It occurred to me that the USFS truck I had passed on the way up back near the highway was probably the resident caretaker running out for some supplies. I didn't climb up to the cabin, but just walked around the lookout taking in the views before beating a hasty retreat.

Bald Mountain

It would take another hour and a half of driving to get from Buckhorn Bally to Bald Mtn, the latter found on the south side of SR96 and further west. Again, a good forest road led to the summit. A gate blocked the way a mile before the summit, this time locked. I hiked the remaining distance to the top in the late afternoon, finding the lookout locked up and not yet open for the season. There is a pretty cool-looking outhouse perched over the western edge of the summit and open views all around. It was almost 6:30p by the time I finished up with this last one and time to call it a day. I took a shower in the last bit of sunshine before the air began to chill, then spent another hour and a half driving back down to SR96 and up toward the first peaks for tomorrow on the north side of the highway. I found a very quiet spot to spend the night undisturbed and slept quite well...

Continued...


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