Barkley Mountain P500
Ishi Wilderness HP
Peak 6,940ft P300
Peak 7,657ft P300
Butt Mountain P2K
Peak 5,944ft P1K
Kelly Mountain P1K

Thu, Oct 25, 2018
Butt Mountain
Kelly Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 GPXs: 1 2 3 4 Profiles: 1 2

With a few free days, I chose to return to the Lassen NP area to tag a more P1Ks. I was nursing a cold I'd recently picked up and preferred something I could abort if I started feeling crappy. A 20-30mi hike did not seem conducive to getting better. Butt Mtn was the hardest of the day's hikes, coming in at just over 10mi. Three of the hikes originate from SR32 which goes from Chico northeast to SR36, largely following the Deer Creek drainage. The last hike was further north near Lassen National Park and I ended up with a pretty full day, quite enjoyable.

Barkley Mtn/Ishi Wilderness HP

The main purpose of this effort was to reach the highpoint of the Ishi Wilderness. The Wilderness is named for Ishi, widely acclaimed as the last wild American Indian when he emerged from this rugged area in 1911 at 50yrs of age. The highpoint lies on the western edge of Barkley Mtn's summit. The dirt road to reach it is long, nearly 20mi from SR32, but in decent condition that most vehicles can drive. The last half mile of a spur road I used is rougher, suitable only for high-clearance, but it would have been trivial to simply park and walk it. I first visited the summit of Barkley Mtn where I found a Vitz register from 2015. Laura Newman had been the most recent vistor the previous month. The hike was flat and modestly brushy, but really a simple affair. I then went back to the jeep and searched westward for the Wilderness HP. As others have reported, this is a non-obvious affair, with no clear highpoint where the boundary runs over a fairly flat section of the mountain. There are blue markings on the trees to mark the boundary for the loggers who have worked the area, but the highpoint seems elusive. I walked north and south over a section that showed highest on my GPSr, but found no register or other clear marking. Long drive for little in the way of excitement.

Butt Mtn/Peak 6,940ft/Peak 7,657ft

Butt Mtn is a P2K and the highest point between Deer Creek and the Feather River. The Pacific Crest Trail runs across the main ridge of the divide, about a mile from Butt's summit. One can hike the PCT from SR36, about 9mi one-way. An easier route which I gleaned from online sources starts at the Carter Meadow TH to the west, less than six miles one-way and 1,500ft higher. This is a longish 10mi of decent dirt road from SR32, poorly marked at the highway. The hike is quite pleasant with two easily reached bonus peaks along the way. There is no parking lot at the TH, but it seems to get little use and I simply parked at a wide spot in the road. The first 1.4mi goes south up the creek drainage on a good trail to reach the PCT on the main ridgeline at Carter Creek Saddle. Here I turned right to first tag the bonus Peak 6,940ft. I follow the PCT a short distance as it traverses around the north side of the peak, leaving it to head cross-country up steep, forested slopes on the NE side. The summit is formed by a volcanic rock outcrop, easy class 3, with wide open views in three directions. There is a USFS benchmark cemented into the rocks. I returned back to the trail and the Carter Creek Saddle, continuing east up the PCT as it switchbacks through forested slope to gain almost 1,000ft. A party of five cyclists came by, the only folks I'd see while hiking all day. They looked to be Chico State students, but that was just a guess. They seemed overly respectful and considerate while passing, possibly because we both knew bicycles are prohibited on the PCT. But I wasn't going to fault them for that - better tire treads than horse poop, given a choice. Where the trail tops out to traverse the SE side of Peak 7,657ft, I left it again to tag this second summit. The top has loads of low-lying manzanita, but it is relatively easy to step over. The summit was an unassuming rock at the edge of the manzanita field, nothing much to get excited about. Views to the north take in Butt Mtn and much further afield, Mt. Lassen.

Back on the trail, I continued on to the Butt Mtn trail junction. From there, it's a mile to the summit, most of this along a good trail, switching to talus and boulders marked by ducks for the last hundred yards or so. The summit is open in all directions with few trees to block views. Lake Almanor can be seen a dozen miles to the east. Mt. Lassen, of course, stands out to the north. South and west sweep out hundreds of square miles of forested lands, part of both Lassen and Plumas NFs. The register wasn't very old, dating only to 2017 with many entries. I only photographed the pages with names I recognized. Before I left, I went searching for something older since I knew that both Barbara and Gordon had been here in 2001. I found the older, moldy register buried deeper in the large summit cairn. It had many entries up until 2015 when it appears it was hidden away more carefully. I left it as I found it, so maybe it'll be another three years before it is once again rediscovered. It would take me about an hour and a half to return to the trailhead, for an outing totaling just over four hours.

Peak 5,944ft

I drove back down to SR32, then a few miles north to another dirt road, this one found on the west side of the highway. The area here is a patchwork of public and private forest lands. The Collins Almanor Forest is managed by the Collins Pine Company that provides around 200 jobs in the nearby community of Chester. There do not appear to be any serious restrictions to the public visiting their lands, though camping and wood cutting are not permitted. The roads were in decent shape but often contained water diversion berms that would require the use of high-clearance. Unnamed Peak 5,944ft is the highpoint. 10mi of driving got me to within 1/4mi of the summit at a saddle on the southwest side. The more direct logging road I tried to reach this spot was undriveable, but I found a circuitous route that worked nicely. Though a short hike, the area has heavy brush and some care is needed to keep this manageable. It took me less than 15min to find my way to the flat, uninspiring summit where I found a small cairn with a Vitz register from 2012. There were no other entries until I arrived - these unnamed P1Ks are not very popular. It took only 8min to find my way back to the jeep.

Kelly Mtn

It was 3:30p by the time I finished the previous hike and probably should have called it a day, but I was feeling ambitious. I spent almost an hour and a half driving between these last two though separated by less than 10 air miles. The route follows the Chester Warner Valley Rd out of Chester along SR36. This narrow paved road goes northeast up Warner Valley to Drakesbad at the southern boundary of Lassen NP. Kelly Mtn rises high on the southwest side of the valley, with dirt roads reaching to within 1.4mi of the summit on the southeast side. The beginning part of the road I used climbing out of Warner Valley has been partially washed out - high-clearance and 4WD needed. There are other roads that might also be used as the road improves after meeting a junction (one possibility is a road that follows along Willow Creek from the south). The last mile of road I drove was a rougher spur with encroaching brush - not recommended if you worry about paint scratches. The road ends in a small clearing where I parked and started out just before 5p. The cross-country hike was pleasant, but not trivial, with lots of sidehilling to avoid heavier brush growing on the ridgeline in places. It took me about 45min to cover the distance with the sun hanging low in the western sky. A small rock outcrop served as the highpoint with decent views looking west, north and east. I found the rusty remains of an old sardine tin, some weathered, cloth, and a small piece of plastic, but no register. I left one for the future visitors that I expect to be few and far between. I enjoyed the return hike even more, thanks to the wonderful, warm sunset colors that filtered in through the trees. It was a beautiful twilight, temperatures cooling but still pleasant. The sun had just set as I returned to the jeep by 6:15p, giving me just enough light to take a chilly shower before changing into some fresh clothes. I drove back down the road in the dark, choosing to camp down in Warner Valley, nestled in the trees away from the pavement. It was a very quiet (and cold!) place to spend the night before more action the next day...


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