Hotelling Ridge P500
English Peak P1K
Blue Ridge P1K

Tue, Jul 23, 2019
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX Profile


Today's plan was a hike in the northwestern part of the Trinity Alps, tagging a remote P1K called Dees Peak. After doing Thompson Peak the day before, I had driven up Hotelling Ridge from Cecilville Rd to a little-used TH for the Hotelling Trail (strange placename, no idea what it's origin - a surname?), not sure what condition I would find the forest road in. I was happy to find it was open, clear of downfall and in relatively decent shape, though it took quite a while to travel its length of nearly 12mi. I spent the night there at 4,500ft, temperatures in the high 60s and not very pleasant for sleeping. I was on the trail before 6a the next morning for the 6-7mi hike to Dees Peak and Mary Blaine Mtn, also hoping to maybe pick up Potato Mtn and Youngs Peak if things went well. They did not. The Hotelling Trail was in reasonable condition, probably mostly used by hunters. Initially an old road, it follows through forest understory with some downfall and brush but nothing too serious. After a mile, I reached the main crest upon which all the aforementioned peaks lie, only to find trail conditions much less satisfactory. I found the trail junction with what I thought would be a more popular trail running along the crest of the Salmon Mountains. With far less trees on the sunny side of the crest along which the trail runs, I found it terribly overgrown with brush. Bad as the trail was, it would be far worse when I had to leave the trail to reach the various summits. The idea of plowing through miles of this stuff seemed terribly difficult and depressing. "This place could use a good fire," I thought as I took only a few moments to abandon the project. There was no pressing need to get to Dees Peak and I could afford to wait for a fire to clear out the brush. I headed back to the TH, reaching it by 7a. Time for Plan B.

Hotelling Ridge

This one was a freebie on my way back down to Cecilville Rd, found just off the Forest Service road. I hiked about a quarter mile up the South Ridge, using an old firebreak to reach the partially open summit, with nothing special about the views. There's an even shorter but steeper route up from the road on the northwest side if one wanted the fastest way to reach the top.

English Peak

This P1K is the fourth most prominent summit in the Marble Mountains Wilderness. Located in the southern part of the range, it is not a very easy summit to reach, though it does have a trail going to the top where an old fire lookout is located. Until a few years ago, the shortest route to the peak was via the Little North Fork TH, about 11.5mi one-way. Fires got the Forest Service to reopen a washed out road above the creek that whacks off six miles from the route, and I was happy to find the gate to it at the Little North Fork TH open and the road very passable. This would make it easy to do the peak with my late start since I would spend almost 2hrs driving from Hotelling Ridge to my starting point, where I arrived soon after 9a.

The trailhead is several hundred feet above the Little North Fork of the Salmon River, and one must first descend to the creek before beginning the 2,000-foot climb up Snowslide Gulch. The trail starts a short distance back along the road from the parking area, a simple sign tacked to a partially burned tree. The most recent fire was the 2017 Wallow Fire which burned over the entirety of my route to English Peak. After the initial decent, I crossed two creeks, including the Devils Canyon Creek. I struggled some to find the junction with the Little North Fork Trail, eventually finding it as it makes its way west along the north side of the creek. Though most of the trees had burned in the fire, there were quite a few flowers in bloom to add some bright color to an otherwise grim landscape. There was no shade to be had and the sun was causing the thermometer to rise as I began the two mile climb up Snow Gulch. There was very little air movement and I quickly learned to savor the few creeklets that the trail crossed, taking the opportunity to rinse off my face and soak my hat and tshirt in the cool water to help me continue the climb. The lookout can be seen perched on the summit through the trees while still several miles away - it seemed so close, but would still take almost an hour to reach. I cleared the ridgeline around 11a where lesser trails head southwest and northwest. I turned right to follow the better trail to the northeast, past what little remains of the Tom Taylor Cabin (just the foundation), a relic from the 1800s that did not survive this latest fire. The trail continues to climb to a saddle north est of English Peak where a swath of trees had managed to escape the fire. There is another trail junction here, with forks heading northwest to Hancock Lake and northeast towards Tanners Peak. There are fine views from this point looking north into the North Fork drainage, English Lake, and a large stretch of the Marble Mountains. English Peak's summit is but a short distance from the junction and by 11:40a I had found my way to the lookout, about 2.5hrs from the start.

The summit has unobstructed views in all directions with the white lookout cab parked at the very top, no need for a steel tower to place it higher. Abandoned in the 1970s, it was restored in 1996 and last received some love in 2002 with a fresh coat of paint. The 17yrs since then have taken their toll, and the tower is once again taking on the abandoned look. The windows are all intact, however, and the inside, although looking unfinished and cluttered, has not yet become home to rats and hantavirus. I sat outside in the shade of the lookout, taking a good rest from the heat and the hiking. While taking in the surrounding views, I consulted my GPSr for possible bonus peaks nearby, but the closest ones were more than a mile away - too far for my flagging energies. After the refreshing rest I packed up and started back down, determined to take more advantage of the cooling opportunities provided by the small collection of streamlets. The downhill was obviously easier and it didn't really feel too warm again until I had bottomed out at the Little North Fork [of the Salmon River] below. Fortunately, the uphill back to the trailhead wasn't significant and two hours after leaving the summit I had returned to the jeep.

My plan had been to climb nearby Crapo Mtn, a P900, south of English Peak, accessible by the Cow Ridge TH, a few miles above the Little North Fork TH. The hike is only about 3mi each way, but involves more than 2,000ft of gain. With the temperature hovering around 85F and my energy flagging, I decided to leave this for another time and move on.

Blue Ridge

This P1K lies 10mi south of English Peak, in that portion of the Klamath NF between the Marble Mtns and the Trinity Alps, south of Sawyers Bar Rd. I had first noticed it a few years earlier when I visited the nearby Eddy Gulch Lookout (also a P1K and 500ft higher) in 2016. One can drive between the two, but high-clearance is needed. I had managed Eddy Gulch with the van, but had to leave Blue Ridge until I had a more capable vehicle. There are other ways to reach Blue Ridge, including a 9mi drive from the small town of Sawyers Bar, just a few miles up the road from the Little North Fork. It made for a pleasant drive, in large part thanks to air-conditioning, taking about an hour from my English Peak TH to the summit of Blue Ridge. The lookout here is a small metal cab located high atop a steel tower, now abandoned. The first set of wooden steps have been removed from the stairway, but it can still be climbed by the determined. Looking up, I could see that the doorway to the cab was locked and there was no observation deck, so climbing the stairs would be a somewhat futile (and slightly dangerous) exercise. Below, there are several buildings, one a storage shed of some sort, the other the main living quarters for the lookout attendant. Most of the insides have been gutted, the window broken and rat feces scattered about the floor. The views from inside the cabin overlook the Marble Mtns to the north. Outside, one can see the higher summits of the Trinity Alps where I'd been just a few days earlier.

One of my options was to spend the night here and then climb Crapo Mtn the next morning when it was cooler and I was fresh. That seemed like a lot of waiting around since it was only 3p with almost 5hrs of daylight remaining. I decided to hatch another plan that included showering atop Blue Ridge, then driving back out to Interstate 5 at Yreka. It was proving just too warm in this part of the state for my liking, so I thought I'd see if moving over to the eastern, higher parts of NoCal would be better. Plus, it would give me an opportunity to tag the last two remaining P2Ks I had left in the state.


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