Haight Mountain P1K
West Haight Mountain P1K
Stephens Butte P900
Little Mount Hoffman P300
Mt. Hoffman P2K
Black Mountain P750
Timber Mountain P750
Double Head Mountain P1K
Clear Lake Hills P1K
Happy Camp Mountain P1K

Wed, Jul 24, 2019
Etymology
Black Mountain
Timber Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 GPX Profile

Continued...

With two days remaining on my last roadtrip before the Sierra Challenge, I had planned a route across the northern part of the state to tag the two remaining P2Ks I had left in California. The route would meander to allow me to tag a bunch of other prominent peaks along the way. Today was particularly productive with a total of ten summits, seven of them with more than 900ft of prominence. Most of these were pretty short outings with lots of driving between them. The only real exercise was the combination of the first two peaks that could be done together.

Haight Mtn/West Haight Mtn

While having dinner in Yreka the night before, I worked out a route to Mt. Hoffman that would take me past a pair of P1Ks and a few other summits. Google Maps did a decent job of getting me from Yreka to Alder Creek Summit, which is the saddle between these two peaks. I was half-hoping the 4WD road shown on the topo map would be driveable to make the route to Haight Mtn even shorter, but alas it was blocked by downfall and no longer used. I spent the night at the start of this spur road, a very lonely & quiet place and with temps in the high 50s, the coolest sleep I had in three nights.

I was up and starting for Haight Mtn by 6a. The old logging road was quite good for hiking and I followed it for about a mile until I reached what looked like an old quarry site. I could have continued on the road as it switchbacks up to the SW Ridge, but that seemed unnecessarily long. Instead, I went more directly up the slope, helped some by a myriad of other old logging roads, to reach the ridge more quickly. There is some boulders/talus to avoid and for the most part I was successful by keeping to the trees and weaving between the rock fields. The gradient relented at the ridge and the cross-country continued to be relatively free of brush, taking about 45min to reach the top after about 1.5mi and 1,200ft of gain. I found an open summit above the trees with a fine morning view of Mt. Shasta to the west. There was also a 1949 benchmark and a register left by Bighorn Bill in 2008. This prolific NorCal peakbagger was the author of most of the day's registers. This one seems to get about one party a year, and most of those are solo outings - a lonely peak indeed. I followed a more direct line on the return, finding more rock and a bit of snow, but otherwise a faster route than my ascent.

I returned to the jeep at 7:35a, continuing past it to head for West Haight, a slightly lower and less-frequented summit than Haight. It does not have the same abundance of old logging roads, but I did find one at the start that got me perhaps 1/4mi of the 1.2mi distance to the summit. The cross-country that started at the old road's end was easier at first, through open forest understory. The second half was characterized by volcanic rock jumble and more brush, but much of this was avoided by meandering route choices. West Haight similarly took me 45min to reach the summit, this one flatter and views not as good (though that of Mt. Shasta was better). Bighorn Bill had left a register here in 2011. John Vitz was the only other name I recognized, having climbed it in 2016 the day after he did Haight Mtn. I was back to the jeep for a second time by 9a, happy to have gotten the two harder peaks of the day done early. It had remained pretty cool in the early morning and the shorter hikes I had planned for the rest of the day would make the increasing temperatures less of a nuisance.

Stephens Butte

This P900 is located about 4.4mi ESE of Haight Mtn. The topo map shows a 4WD road going up to the summit from the southwest, starting from well-maintained Forest Road 6. The 4WD road has been blocked for further use at a small clearing at the start, but after getting out to examine it, decided I could get around the blockage and drive at least partway up the road. The road was pretty rough, 4WD needed, and I only managed the first half mile of it until it makes a sharp right turn. The road continues, but brush blocks any type of motor vehicle and as I came to find out, made even foot travel difficult. From where I parked, I had 0.85mi to the summit, about half of this through fairly heavy brush. I kept to the road as much as possible since the brush looked even worse away from the roadbed. As I neared the summit, the heavy brush gave way to more easily managed low brush that helped get me to the summit in a little over half an hour. There was an old survey tower found amidst the brush, still standing after many decades, though barely. The surrounding brush seemed to be helping to hold it up some. There is a good view of Haight Mtn to the west. I left a register here under some rocks before beating a retreat back to the jeep via the same route.

Little Mount Hoffman

Continuing on my forest route towards Mt. Hoffman, I stopped at Little Mt. Hoffman, about 5.5mi SW of its higher namesake. There is a lookout atop Little Mt. Hoffman which is a drive-up, save for a few hundred feet of walking up from a gate. The lookout is now rented out by the Forest Service for visitors, though there was no one there at the time of my visit. The lookout appears to be in good condition with two unfurnished beds inside and modest ammenities. There are several picnic benches outside, which at over 7,000ft, can offer a pleasant respite from the summer heat at lower elevations. The summit marks the triple point where three National Forests converge - Klamath, Shasta-Trinity and Modoc NFs. The peak overlooks Little Glass Mtn to the southwest which has an abundance of obsidian that one can easily collect at the periphery where an access road runs.

Mt. Hoffman

It wasn't until 12:30p that I reached the starting point for Mt. Hoffman. There is a rougher road that climb up the south side of Mt. Hoffman, starting from a much better road that traverses the Arnica Sink. The rougher road ends at a geothermal well as shown at the topo map. A Proposition 65 sign at the well promises all sorts of dangers, but the reality is a sorry disappointment. In the center of a large gravel clearing is what looks like a a galvanized drainage pipe. Perhaps it's venting the alluded-to dangerous chemical vapors into the atmosphere, but it looks inert and completely uninteresting, while I was hoping for fire, brimstone and molten lava seeps. What a ripoff.

The cross-country hike to Mt. Hoffman is tame and fairly easy, especially the first half that rambles through open forest. There is some talue/boulder fields to avoid higher up, most of which can be bypassed if you look around. It took less than 30min to find my way to the summit with views mostly blocked by trees. There is a benchmark and another Bighorn Bill register from 2006, this one with more than a dozen pages of entries. There is an older one from John Vitz from 2004 with a few entries. I was surprised to find that the most recent visitor was the well-traveled Nevada peakbagger, Ron Moe, who had visited it earlier in the day - having never met him, I was a bit disappointed to have gotten so close to a chance meet-up. It took less than 20min to make my way back to the jeep, a pretty mellow hike for a P2K.

Black Mtn

I only considered Black Mtn as I was driving by it after leaving Mt. Hoffman, intrigued by a simple USFS sign that said "Black Mtn 2mi". An easy drive-up? It had more than 700ft of prominence so I pulled off the main forest road to investigate. The road going to Black Mtn was in piss-poor shape, not having yet been driven on this year. A second sign appears to have been removed, so perhaps the Forest Service wants to let this spur road fade away. There was a tree down near its start that I was able to drive around, but I had several other blockages in the 2mi stretch that I had to clear before driving further. I got within a quarter mile of the summit before getting stopped by brush that I had to finish on foot. The manzanita proved a moderate bushwhacking effort, but it was less than 15min to reach the rounded top with poor views. A Bighorn Bill register from 2008 had no other entries until I arrived. Might be a while before the next person wanders up this way.

Timber Mtn

This was also a last-minute find as I was heading northeast and near at SR139. A sign pointed the way to "Timber Mtn Lookout" which I guessed (correctly) to be a drive-up. I met Wendy at the lookout, taking over temporary duties while her husband was below in the nice RV where they lived for the summer, "doing his chores," as Wendy described. The inside of the lookout is nicely kept and easier to keep that way since no one is living there. The views are outstanding in all directions though oddly Mt. Shasta isn't visible - it's blocked by the intervening Mt. Hoffman. Mt. Lassen can easily be seen to the south and on a clear day Wendy told me that Mt. McLaughlin in Oregon can be seen 80mi to the northwest. The actual highpoint of Timber Mtn is found to the northeast across the road from the lookout. A short 5min wallow through modest brush and an easy scramble gets you to the summit rocks where a benchmark is located. No register that I could find.

Double Head Mtn

Once on SR139, I headed north and then northeast on forest roads towards Clear Lake. This P1K is located south of this large body of water that serves as a National Wildlife Refuge. The topo map shows a road going most of the way up Double Head from the south but only the flatter part of this road is still driveable. The 3/4mi hike to the summit climbs 1,000ft up grassy slopes with moderate amounts of brush, junipers and a healthy sprinkling of lava rocks. It was a pretty warm hike with temps around 85F, luckily taking only about half an hour to reach the top. This one had a Vitz register from 2016 with about 10 entries. Nearby were the remains of a survey tower and a benchmark. The views are partially blocked by trees and mostly looking over a flattish part of the state.

Clear Lake Hills

This small collection of hills lies immediately west of Clear Lake, its unnamed highpoint a P1K. The hills are covered in grass with nary a tree and almost no brush, either. A series of dirt roads can be used to drive to the very summit, but 4WD is needed on the very steep sections that go straight up the slopes without switchbacking. Cattle grazing seems to be the main use for these hills. There is a good view of Clear Lake from the open summit.

Happy Camp Mtn

After returning to SR139, I headed south for an hour-long drive to Happy Camp Mtn, another lookout-topped summit, this one a P1K in the southern part of the Modoc NF. There are several telecom installations on lower bumps of the summit ridge with parking found just below the lookout on the north side. It was after visiting hours when I walked up the remaining road to the lookout that sits atop the summit without a tower. There was a FS truck parked outside but no one visible about the place. I didn't want to walk over and disturb a possibly sleeping attendant, so I took a few pictures and quietly headed back down. It had been 86F while I was driving on the highway below, but it was ten degrees cooler atop Happy Camp Mtn. I decided to spend the night there, so I showered back by one of the telecom installations where I also did some reading and ate dinner to while away the remaining daylight. Around 9p I moved the jeep to a flatter location and hunkered down for the night in the back.

Around 10:30p I was awakened by a trio of vehicles with lights flashing. A handful of sheriff's officers cautiously approached to find out what mischief I was up to. They had been alerted to a possible vandal by the lookout attendant some time earlier. It probably took them a few hours to gather a posse, perhaps the only three Modoc County Sheriffs deputies on duty that night, to make the long-ass drive up from wherever they were beforehand. Seems they thought I might be one of the local troublemakers they've been trying to catch. It didn't take them long to size me up and find me harmless, but it took another 15min of communications with the boss back at the station to get the OK to let me stay where I was for the night. Eventually they all took off and I went back to sleep - not the first time for such encounters, and undoubtedly not to be the last.

Continued...


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This page last updated: Mon Jul 29 15:47:00 2019
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