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My route was not optimal. As I had not done sufficient research beforehand, I was relying on the GPS maps to find suitable roads. Some of the data in the Garmin database is quite old and such was the "road" I found myself starting up under headlamp. The road quickly devolved and that first 1/3mi was a mild bushwhack to a good logging road found traversing the slope higher up. A better route would have been to start at a locked gate down the road a little ways, but in the end it didn't make much difference. I soon found my way to the 4WD road depicted on the 7.5' topo after which the route becomes straightforward. The sky began to light up with shades of pink and orange around 7a in anticipation of sunrise around 7:30a. By this time I had climbed high enough to have good views overlooking Clair Engle (Trinity) Lake to the south and the Trinity Alps to the west. There was a sublime sunrise on the snowy Trinities, the only few minutes of sunlight I would have all day before the sun hid behind developing clouds that kept the sky overcast the remainder of the day.
It was 8a by the time I reached the main crest at a saddle. The road continued south to the lookout atop the lower south summit. I might have visited it on the way back as a bonus peak since it was less than half a mile away, but the snow coverage on the north-facing slopes was continuous, hard and slick - it would not be prudent without snowshoes or crampons. I would have to hope I didn't run into such conditions on my way to the north summit about a mile in the other direction. It was an interesting ridge traverse with some fun scrambling, some snow (luckily only short stretches where it was steep and slick) and thankfully no bushwhacking. I spent about 40min getting to the lower south summit, then another 15min for the somewhat harder scramble further to the highpoint at the north summit. Barbara Lilley had left a register on the south summit in 2009 with a question mark wondering if it was the highpoint. The others that signed in were a collection of the usual suspects - Don Palmer, Bob Packard, Richard Carey, Matthew Holliman, Ken Jones and a lone name I didn't recognize - a hunter named Trevor White. Most of these same folks signed into another register found at the north summit with the notable absence of Lilley. The summit would normally provide a good platform for views extending west to the Trinity Alps, north to Mt. Shasta and east across the Sacramento Valley to Mt. Lassen, but today we had haze, overcast skies and very cool temperatures. My return was via the same route, taking me almost 2.5hrs and getting me back by 11:20a.
Climbing higher, one gains views of Shasta Bally and Bully Choop to the south, though this afternoon's view was more haze than anything as the weather started to threaten with rain. Without views, I took to photographing the pine trees, manzanita blooms and other flowers I found. Lower portions of the road travel through heavy chaparral while further up when it moves to the west and northwest side of the mountain it goes through some nice forested sections. I reached the summit just before 6p after the road makes a spiraling ascent that goes twice around the mountain. I expected to find something of significance at the top to justify the road but found nothing - if it once held some sort of structure it has been cleanly removed. Views from there would have been nice, but again the weather was uncooperative. I jogged much of the route down from the summit, getting me back to the van in just over 45min. I had enough daylight to take a tepid shower and drive back out to SR299 before darkness descended. I still had something like five hours of driving to get back to San Jose around midnight, but I didn't have anywhere to go the next morning and got to sleep in. It had been an enjoyable three days. After my toes healed up from the abuse they had gotten I would make plans to return again in the springtime...
This page last updated: Sat Apr 4 20:00:07 2015
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