Day 4 of our Northern Sierra roadtrip saw us driving northwest of Portola on SR70 to the area around Quincy for a pair of P1Ks on either side of the highway. Later we drove down SR162 from Quincy to the foothills to pick up another one near Lake Oroville.

Grizzly Mtn (Tower Rock)/Argentine Rock

Tower Rock is the highpoint of the much broader Grizzly Mountain, with both names being used by various internet sites. Jackie and I had tried to reach it from the north on a previous trip in July, but after more than an hour of being unable to find the correct road from that direction, we'd given up. This time we approached from the south near Quincy and had no trouble at all. A pretty decent dirt road climbs from SR89/SR70 at Squirrel Creek up to within a mile of the summit. The area is heavily forested (though there has been significant logging and thinning), making the summit not visible from anywhere on the drive. When we got to the end of the driveable portion, we had only 0.8mi to go to the summit. Jackie decided this was more than she cared for and declined to join me even though I told her it would be a class 3 summit she'd enjoy. On my own, I headed through the woods, easy cross-country with little in the way of an understory and only modest elevation gain, taking less than half an hour to reach the base of the summit tower, about 50-60ft in height. A bit imposing at first, I found there were multiple ways to reach the top. I went up the boulders to the right and then some easy class 3 to find my way to highpoint from the east. Haze muted the distant views, leaving me with a view northwest and east along the top of Grizzly Mtn covering a few miles before the scene melds into the blurry background. For fun, I descended the summit off the southwest side, a spicier bit of scrambling but still class 3.

After returning back through the forest to the Jeep, I found Jackie more awake than I'd left her. We drove back down about a mile before turning off for a visit to Argentine Rock where an abandoned lookout tower is located. We parked at the end of the road only a few hundred feet from the lookout, finding a set of stairs leading to the tower. A good deal of craftsmanship had gone into the pathway's construction, using local rock and cement to give it a more natural look, but various steps are coming apart with time and brush is starting to encroach. The lookout itself was in bad shape. Part of the roof was missing and the wooden structure was in a slow state of decay. The stairway to the second floor has been removed for safety concerns. The lookout doesn't sit on the highest point, so I paid it a visit while Jackie checked out the tower. She played around on some of the surrounding rocks, practicing her class 3 scrambling with some encouragement from Dad. In all we spent about 30min at Argentine Rock, which Jackie found the most fun summit of the day.

Claremont/East Claremont

These two summits are located at nearly 7,000ft, about 4-5mi south of Quincy. Our first effort to reach them was from the north at Quincy where we found the dirt forest road under a fire closure. The posted map showed that Claremont was just outside the closure area which looked to have an alternative access. I got out the computer and fired up TOPO! to plot a route from the east that worked nicely, albeit a bit longer. Most of the road was good until the last few miles when we forked off onto a poorer road that climbs up to Bachs Creek Ridge and our two summits. We visited the higher Claremont first, featuring more than 1,700ft of prominence. There were telecom towers at the top, one with a viewing platforn about 30ft off the ground that we visited. Jackie wanted to climb the higher one, but I was less than enthusiastic and we left it unmolested. There were some large rocks on the broad summit a few yards from where we parked so I climbed those and called it good. Views weren't very good, even from the platform, as a result of the smokey haze. On our way back we stopped at East Claremont, another drive-up with a few summit rocks. This summit was better defined and without active telecom business, though there was a benchmark and the remains of a small antennae that once stood there.

Lots of driving to the last summit which was on our way home. We stopped in Quincy to get a couple of shakes at the Polka Dot in Quincy. Mine was (supposed to be) coffee and Jackie's peach, but there was almost no flavor in either aside from the vanilla base. As I told Jackie, good thing I happen to like vanilla too, or it would have been a complete disappointment.

Bloomer Hill

In addition to being a P1K, this summit is the most prominent point in Butte County, overlooking Lake Oroville and the Sacramento Valley. A rough, dusty dirt road leads to the summit from SR162 in about five and half miles, servicing a number of residences along the route as well as several telecom installations scattered about the broad summit area. Jackie had fallen asleep while we were driving down SR162 and continued to nap even as the car was bouncing from side to side up the access road to the summit. She woke up only when I had pulled up and shut off the engine. Most of the mountain is private property, but the summit area lies within a small patch of the Plumas NF. A wooden sign announces when you've entered the forest area just below the summit. We parked under the abandoned lookout tower, climbing the metal stairway to the tiny cab on top surrounded by an observation walkway. A few empty beer cans made up most of the modest materials found inside, though there was a chair and a notebook with "Lookout Procedures" detailed inside. Thick haze ruled the sky, and our views were exceedingly limited. I took a handful of pictures during our short visit before eventually returning to the Jeep after Jackie had had enough playtime in the lookout. We then visited the other bump just to the north that may be slightly higher. It has a bunch of slash piled to one side and it is easy to drive to the top, though there is nothing much to see. It would be another 4hrs before we managed to find our way home to San Jose that evening, arriving just before sunset. Traffic leaving the Bay Area had the Interstates packed with miles of slow moving vehicles, while we were heading back to rest up for the weekend - one of the advantages of retirement is you get to pick and choose your days in the mountains...

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