Through gross incompetence, the GPX track with this trip report was mostly
deleted, and only includes the last summit of Bald Mtn. Someday I swear I'm
going to learn how to use this GPSr thing...
I had come to the North Coast of California yet again, this time to join Sean
and Daryn the next day for an effort to Brush Mtn. As warm-up, I toured around
the Mendocino NF to get a few Wilderness HPs I had neglected, along with a
smattering of other summits, some I'd already climbed, some just easy bonuses.
The most interesting hike of the day (and the only one with actual mileage) was
to Impassable Rock and the Sanhedrin Wilderness Prominence Point, a outing I
would highly recommend. In second place was a short outing with Sean to the
CC-listed Bald Mountain north of Covelo.
Big Signal / Sanhedrin Wilderness HP
Big Signal is a P2K on the western edge of the Mendocino NF, a long two hour
drive from US101.
I had visited Big Signal five years earlier when touring the same area with the
van. Driving in the jeep was obviously easier, but I couldn't help
but wonder how I managed to drive a low clearance, 2WD van up there. I had
driven to Pillsbury Lake the night before, camping at the start of Forest Route
20N04 which goes up to Signal Peak in about 13 miles.
I started the drive in the morning before 7a,
not reaching the summit of Big Signal until 7:40a. The last three miles go up
spur road 19N80, steep and rough and really no place for passenger cars. There's
a microwave relay and other antennae attached to
overlooking a huge stretch of
. The HP is
located less than 100yds to the southeast, near a junction with a gated, no
longer driveable road that descends into the Wilderness to the southwest. The
actual Wilderness boundary is 25-50ft back from the road, so to reach
one must venture a short distance into some rather heavy brush. I did so for
the OCD-ness in me, but you can decide whether it's worthwhile yourself.
Impassable Rock / Sanhedrin Wilderness PP
A slight variation on Wilderness HPs (as with County and other boundary HPs)
is the Prominence Point, which is that point within the boundary that has the
most prominence. These are most often the same point, but not always,
particularly when the highpoint is a liner with no prominence. In the case of
the Sanhedrin Wilderness, the most prominent point is about 3mi northwest of
Big Signal, along a connecting ridgeline. An old road, no long driveable, runs
along part of the distance, and older maps show a trail continuing up and over
the prominence point. Neither of these are maintained any more but they make for
an excellent route to reach it. I moved the jeep back down the road to the
junction with this old road, giving me about 2.5mi each way to my destination.
Impassable Rock is found along the way, though it remained to be seen if it
was really impassable.
Right at I found some and downed trees
over the old road, giving me the impression that this was going to be a grind.
But almost immediately it improved as the route opened to
and I had little trouble finding the continuing road on
the other side. Soon thereafter I came to , a little unexpected.
The road evidently goes through some private property, but not really much to be
concerned with considering the state of the road. I turned left at a fork to
continue on the branch following , finding it getting more
overgrown. Where the road turns north to drop off the ridge, I found
of the Sanhedrin Trail, at one time maintained by the
Forest Service. A William Fitzgerald had tacked a small
to a tree back in 1988, the only signage I found along the route. Though
unmaintained, I was able to follow the old trail for most of the distance to the
prominence point. loomed up as I came out of the
forest, my first stop along the way. The trail ironically passes Impassable
Rock on and north sides. I went up a loose
(not particularly dangerous) on ,
a fun little scramble to rock with open views.
A hundred yards to the northwest was another interest rock,
on the topo map, and the prominence point another 2/3mi further. I left
atop Impassable Rock before descending the easier
class 2 on its . I scrambled up ,
, then followed (more class 1-2) over
to the prominence point another 15min further.
The prominence point is half-buried under some , most
easily accessed from the northeast side where one has in
that direction. I left a second register here before reversing my route. I
followed the trail around the two intermediate points I'd already climbed and
to the jeep by 11a, a bit less than 3hrs for the outing.
An easy bonus off the main road on private . I
at the locked gate on a spur road and followed it and an
overgrown to , no views.
Not be confused with Little Signal Peak (you knew there had to be one if there
was a Big Signal, right?), Little Signal has more than 400ft of prominence and
seemed a worthy bonus. It lies within the National Forest boundary but
unfortunately is blocked by private property on two sides. A road coming up
from the northeast is private timber lands. The goes
through a different private property as containing a permanent
resident. I didn't really believe that, but didn't want to chance it, so I
avoided the good road going up to the Deadmans Flat area, and went
near the forest boundary. Or tried to. I found
, but when I got to of Little Signal
I had no clue if I was on forest or private property. I could see a dilapidated
greenhouse to but thought it abandoned. Then I heard a
dog barking and looked over to see a trailer above Deadmans Flat. I was
following a decent trail where the old road used to be but was in clear view of
the trailer and presumeably the dog.
I ducked right into the burned forest out of view and considered my
case. I was about half a mile from the summit, easy if I'd stayed on the trail.
The cross-country to avoid the trail looked tedious at best. I decided to skip
it, suspecting the better route is from the north through the timber property.
At least you don't have to worry that they'll unleash the hounds on you.
An exceedingly easy bonus , completely on public
lands. on this one, but you can check out
of someone who'd done some target practice in the area.
I drove back down to Pillsbury Lake and started north on M1. Coyote Rocks are
a small collection of hard rock sticking up from of
Salmon and Smokehouse Creeks just north of the lake in Gravelly Valley, about
30ft in height. There are two , the western one the higher
at easy class 3 from the north side. The eastern rock looks class 4 on the same
side and sketchy, so I didn't try it.
Back on M1, I started up to Hull Mountain, stopping to tag this easy bonus
right . A spur to
in only a few minutes' time, but no views.
This P2K sits on the crest of the range at almost 7,000ft. M1 is in decent but
not great shape and again I wondered how I was able to drive the van up this
road five years earlier. Maybe it's been longer than that since it's seen any
maintenance other than removing downfall. The spur road to the summit of Hull
is very rough and only suitable for high-clearance 4WD. A lookout used to stand
at the open summit but now only and a steel staircase
remain. There was a young couple sitting at the top when I arrived, having
driven up in an ATV from Pillsbury Lake. I took a in all
before heading back down,
leaving the young couple once again to their (semi-)private summit.
Yuki Wilderness HP
This was the real reason I had made a second drive up M1. I had somehow missed
this Wilderness HP on that first visit though it's only a short distance from
M1, about 3/4mi northwest of Hull Mtn. An goes up
towards the HP from the north, found a short distance .
I climbed up a few and called it good.
I was scheduled to meet Sean and Asaka in Covelo at 4p. I had thought Google
Maps had the drive time from Hull Mtn to Covelo as an hour, but came to find
later it was about 20min more than that. I had no cell service, so I turned to
the jeep's navigation system to get me to Covelo, only to find it wanted 3.5hr
for the task, taking me back through Lake Pillsbury, not even considering the
route north on M1. It showed I was 24 air miles from Covelo so it seemed highly
unlikely I would get to Covelo in an hour via any route. I started heading
north on M1, not really remembering how long it had taken me on that first
visit 5yrs earlier. On that trip, I had stopped at half a dozen minor summits
along the route so it had taken up many hours of time. This time I just drove,
sometimes up to 40mph, a torrential dust storm trailing out behind me. I got
out my inReach and sent Sean a text letting him know I'd be late by 30-40min.
In the end I was only 20min late, but probably almost an hour faster than I
could have driven the van on M1.
Bald Mtn lies entirely on private ranch lands with a long, dirt/gravel road
reaching within a mile of the summit. Sean had done some research, finding a
property at the end of the road that was for sale and contacting the
absentee owner about checking it out. Armed with some sales brochure material
and a plausible excuse for driving back there, we headed out in his car. It
took an hour to reach our starting point on the south side where a spur road
heads up to a ranch/homestead that lies within view for about half of our route.
We didn't know if the site was occupied, which is why we had planned this as
a night hike. It
but the sun had gone down and it would be
dark before we reached the summit. Asaka was going to forgo the hike, choosing
to wait in the car. We left the literature for the property with her before
leaving, but how that would help her should she be confronted by a local was
a bit questionable. Luckily, that didn't come up because not a car was
spotted on the road while we were gone. We only hiked up
about 1/3 of the total distance until it started to veer off the ridge towards
the homestead. We were too far away to see any vehicles and no lights could be
seen, so we were of the opinion that it was probably not occupied. After leaving
the road, we hiked up steep hills through thigh-high grass, brown and filled
with seeds and stickers. We crossed , passed a few cows who
seemed mostly unconcerned by our presence, and made our way to
in about 25min. We found and
nice, though fading views as it was nearly night. Only the western horizon had
a band of orange as the stars were coming out to the east.
We contacted Asaka from the summit to let her know we were heading down, so she
could expect us in 15-20min. No need to sneak up and scare the daylights out of
her. As we were descending the same route, we debated whether the faint lights
we saw below were electric lights or just moonlight reflections from the
homestead. The question
was answered when we heard a single loud bark. We stopped in our tracks as I
whispered to Sean, "Was that a dog?" It was, he affirmed. We moved west to
get out of sight of the house before continuing down. When we reached the spur
road we were once again within view and heard a second bark. By now we were
only minutes from our car if we jogged down the road, and since we saw nor heard
further activity in that direction, we just hightailed it back and were off and
driving a few minutes later. We were happy with our success, though had to admit
some level of sketchiness to the whole affair. It was unlikely we'd ever be
back this way again, though...