Wed, Apr 1, 2015
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The route starts with a long 10mi drive from SR36 north on Forest Road 1. The road was paved at one time, but most of it is gravel/dirt now, heavily potholed in a few key places. I had to hit the brakes quickly in these spots to keep from plowing into the hard-to-notice traps. Shortly before reaching Deer Lick Springs, one looks for a spur road just north of the junction of Chanchelulla Creek and Browns Creek. This short but claustrophobic road leads to a small campsite along Chanchelulla Creek. The van managed to make it here, but not without some concern. I had driven to the site the previous evening and spent the night there. It feels a long, long way from civilization.
I was up and on my way by 7:30a the next morning. The road continues across the creek but ends shortly thereafter (definitely not worth trying to drive further up the road unless you enjoy some rough driving). Where the road ends one can find some flagging leading through the forest understory on the north side of the creek. It seems likely these were left by hunters prowling the woods in deer season. Dennis' directions clearly suggest following the creek for 1.5mi but my impatience got the best of me before I'd traveled even a mile and I started up what looked like the first good opportunity. Things started off well with some easy going and only minor brush issues. Some rocky scrambling added some measure of fun to the ridge I followed as I began to think I had found an improvement on Dennis' route. When I got a view of the upper third of the ridge I was following after about 45min my optimism began to fade. The upper section looked like heavy brush well over head level. Still I pressed on, thinking maybe it wouldn't be so bad once I got closer and perhaps there would be ways through it. No such luck. The wall of brush was as bad up close as it had appeared from lower on the mountain. I made a few attempts to tunnel through, under and over the stuff but it was brutal - I had to give up the direct assault. I dropped back down about 100ft until I was in the middle section of mixed tree and brush, then began traversing west across the slope in an effort to intersect Poulin's route that I had marked in my GPS. That quarter mile was unpleasant business, ducking and crawling through openings until it showed I was approximately on the right track. Climbing up from there was still brushy, but not as bad as earlier. I probably should have continued traversing left to avoid the brush but I was too impatient to reach the crest of the East Ridge where I knew the going would be easier. It took over an hour to cover 2/3mi in this upper part of the ridge - very slow going indeed.
It was 10a by the time I reached the East Ridge, only a mile now from the summit. Views open up to the north, south and east as one makes their way along the ridge, climbing about 900ft from the low point at a saddle to the summit. Most of the ridge is rocky talus and low, easy brush. There is some thicker brush on the ridge near the summit but this is easily avoided by diving into the forested slopes on the north side of the ridge and making one's way up from there. It was just after 10:30a when I reached the barren top. A cold wind blew across the summit, making it impossible to enjoy a leisurely visit. I snapped a few photos from the summit looking north, east, south and west before examining the several sets of nested cans found in a small cairn. One of these contained some marijuana buds of indeterminate age. Were they still good? There was no paraphernalia accompanying it with which one might explore that question, so it would have to be left as an experiment for a future, better prepared visitor. There were two register books as well, the first dating to 1988 with more than 50 pages filled, suggesting it's a surprisingly popular summit. Most of the entries are from deer hunters. Though there were plenty of empty pages, John Vitz had left a register scrap in 2002 while Gordon/MacLeod left a second booklet only a few months later. It seems the original register must have been hidden away during the time these two parties visited. By the time I had finished photographing all the pages, my fingers had gone completely numb and I was freezing my ass off. Time to head down.
I descended the upper portion of the East Ridge much as I had ascended it, using the forest on the north side to avoid some ugly brush. Once at the low saddle, I began a descending traverse towards Chanchelulla Creek, dropping even further west than what had been described by Dennis. This worked quite nicely with none of the thick brush I had encountered earlier. As I was making my way down through the forest I was surprised to find a rusty six-foot sawblade, the type used in a two-man felling operation. This thing must have been many decades old, from before the advent of chainsaws. Those lumberjacks of old must have been tough critters carrying such gear up these steep slopes. A portion of my descent was down a dry gully that went quickly until I noted the appearance of poison oak as I got closer to Chanchelulla Creek. This could slow me down like nothing else. Rather than continue to drop directly towards the creek I returned to a traversing descent to keep me above the creek and away from the most likely concentrations of poison oak. I eventually crossed over Dennis' route, not dropping to the creek until I was a mile from the start. Here I picked up more of the flagging I had seen earlier in the day and made use of game trails to find my way back to the road and soon after, the campsite. In all I spent about 5hr15m on the outing which I found enjoyable despite the brush, poison oak and cold/windy conditions at the summit.
After driving back down to SR36 I tried to find my way to Arbuckle Mtn, a P1K 4.5mi east of Knob Peak. Unfortunately it lies outside the national forest on private property in an area patchworked with BLM lands. I tried to access it from the town of Platina along SR36 but this proved unworkable as I ran into a locked gate on a road going behind the CalTrans station there. I think a better approach might be via Platina Rd, connecting SR36 to Redding. Not knowing about this option at the time, I simply called it a day and headed home. Three P2Ks in three days - not bad...
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Chanchelulla Peak
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