Brushy Mountain P2K
Iaqua Buttes South P1K CC
Peak 3,380ft P500

Tue, May 28, 2019
Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX Profiles: 1 2

Continued...

On the second of a four-day roadtrip to the North Coast along US101, the main event was a 20mi hike to Brushy Mtn, a P2K. This was followed in the afternoon with a visit to Iaqua Buttes South, a P1K and CC-listed summit. The last summit was an easy bonus near Iaqua Buttes. The day started with heavy fog, no sun, and very wet vegetation that had my feet soaked before I had reached the summit. The fog began to burn off on my way down from Brushy, and by the time I got to Iaqua Buttes, it was beautiful skies in all directions. Before I was done for the day, the fog would return with a vengeance, bringing wind, damp and chilly temps.

Brushy Mountain

This is probably the second hardest P2K west of Interstate 5 after Thompson Peak in the Trinity Alps. The entire route to Brushy is on private property. Luckily for me, the route has been pioneered by Dennis Poulin and others and I knew it was fairly safe from observation. The TRs on PB were quite helpful. I had spent the night at the starting point on the eastern edge of Humboldt Redwoods State Park, next to the Eel River. I was up fairly early, starting off by 6:30a. One passes around an unsigned, locked gate for a short hike to a gravel storage yard. Behind this, a path leads to the railroad track and the Dyerville Trail Trestle going over the Eel River. This is the only practical way across the river, about 80ft above the water. Thankfully, trains no longer use the track, otherwise it would be a nervous 5min crossing the span. Once on the other side, I continued on the tracks as advised until a path turns right to connect to the logging roads on the east side of the river. The path appears to have been created by ATVs crossing the trestle (probably for hunting purposes), but there is a gate at the start of the trestle that effectively keeps them out now. The lower half of the route is owned by private timber interests, but the road across the river south of the trestle was washed out and there seems to be minimal activity these days. The gravel roads are in excellent condition, obviously still maintained, though to what purpose isn't clear. After contouring around the base of the hill for a few miles and just after crossing a bridge over Newman Creek, I turned left at a fork that begins climbing the ridge towards Brushy Mtn. About 2mi up this road, there is a redwood stump painted with "Shady and Erma's". I believe this refers to a homestead that once stood here. There is some old farm equipment nearby, and the ruins of the house, the chimney all that's still standing. Another half mile up the road I encountered a small herd of cattle, the only one I saw on the route. They were in a large grassy area with an abandoned cabin, marked by "Springs" on the topo map. Obviously someone must come out to check on them periodically, so it seems this is the one place to watch out for ranch folks. There's still almost 4mi to the summit from this point, but the route grows increasingly unused and overgrown, though thankfully all on roads. The last mile or so to the summit has a good deal of downfall to go over or around. After pushing through some heavily encroaching tree branches, I suddenly popped out at the summit where a register under a can was instantly apparent. Though somewhat open at the summit, the only view is off to the west, limited due to fog that was only beginning to clear. The register had been left by Daryn Dodge and Kathy Rich, with three other parties having visited this year. Sean Casserly and Asako had been here only four days earlier. I stayed at the summit about 15-20min, resting and eating snacks. The hike had been very enjoyable, even better on the way down as the fog began to dissipate. The poppies opened up when the sun came out and there was a nice view down to the Eel River in places. It was 1:15p by the time I returned, having taken less than seven hours. It was the longest hike I had done since my knee had been giving me problems, and it held up well. My leg muscles were tired, however, having grown a bit lazy with the easier hikes I'd been doing for the past several months.

Iaqua Buttes South - Peak 3,380ft

There was a lot of driving to get myself north to SR36 and then further north to Iaqua Buttes. There were no TRs online that I could find for this one, so I was on my own to figure out how to reach it. There is a fire lookout at the summit and a gravel/dirt road that reaches it in about 20mi from SR36, which seemed like a good start. Kneeland Rd and a few others form a network of public gravel roads that provide access to the various ranches, homesteads and private logging areas. The road to the lookout was blocked by a locked gate with 2mi remaining. The first mile goes through private property, the second mile state property. I tried other options before coming back to the locked gate and decided I'd driven too far to turn around without trying. The road looked to have little or no traffic, but the fencing around the start was fairly new, possibly part of the Iaqua Ranch/Reservation, a conservation area managed by a collection of public agencies. It worked nicely, as I saw no one during the two hours it took me to hike the road and back. Iaqua Buttes South is very impressive from the south where I started, with an exposed rock face that rises hundreds of feet, capped with the lookout tower. The road winds its way down to a saddle with Iaqua Buttes, then begins an uphill climb, first on the southwest side, then circling around to the northeast side where a couple of switchbacks eventually bring one to the lookout. There is a dilapidated shed just below the summit with a solar-powered instrument nearby. The lookout is abandoned but not trashed. It's two stories tall, resting directly on the highest rocks. The lower level has a sink, shower and toilet, a large water tank, and storage shelves. The tank is empty and the hoses disconnected. Upstairs has been cleaned out, the door unlocked. I circled around on the observation deck, taking pictures in all directions (N - W - S - E), before descending back down the stairway. I chilled at the summit for a short while, talking briefly with my daughter on the phone and leaving a register before starting back. When I was almost back at the jeep, I made a short detour to climb a nearby bonus peak just a few hundred feet above where I'd parked. The small hill was mostly grass with a few stately oaks peppered about. I'm sure it was private property, but I didn't have to go over any fences to reach it. The fog was commencing its return about this time, so I had a partial view to Iaqua Buttes and the only clear direction to the southeast.

I didn't drive all the way back to SR36 as there was another peak in the area I planned to do the next day. I took a shower on the side of the road, then parked off Kneeland Rd at the top of Humsted Ridge at a place called Pigeon Rock on the topo map. It was windy and chilly with the fog blowing over the ridge, making for a comfortable sleep with the jeep rocking gently through the night.

Continued...


David comments on 06/03/19:
Nice job on Brushy. My dad's friend has property along the Eel in McCann, and I remember trying to see if Brushy was feasible from his place; seems like it would be a bushwhacking nightmare from there.
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