Day 2 of a NE CA roadtrip had me focused on a couple of closely-spaced range
highpoints. Hot Springs Peak is the highest summit in the Skedaddle Mtns while
the adjacent Amadee Mountains have no officially named highpoint. Back in 2007,
Evan Rasmussen had
noted that Spencer Basin is located between the two ranges with a rough road
shown on the topo map reaching high into the basin. I thought this would prove
the easiest way to tag both and it probably is, but not without some
difficulties. The trouble is that the road is terribly rough for the last
three miles or so, mostly where it crosses the dry streambed half a dozen
times. Evan had used a mountain bike to cover this part and reported it
practically impossible to ride. It turns out it's pretty tough even for a
jeep. I did the first mile of this awful section and then gave up and parked.
It would add a few miles each way, but I wasn't driving any faster than I
could walk and it would save some abuse of the jeep.
These desert ranges are comprised of volcanic rock, much of it loosely and
liberally distributed across the landscape. The slopes are then covered in
grass with what few trees
that had managed to eke out an existence having
burned and died some years ago. There's almost no brush either, really just
lots of grass,
all brown and loaded with seeds and thistles this time of
year. Spencer Basin is a wide, shallow valley between the two highpoints,
home to herds of wild horses. Others have reported many, many horses on their
visits. I found 13 grazing when I arrived, but they soon spotted me and
took off for other parts of the range.
Though the loop I hiked had some 3,500ft of elevation gain, none of the hiking
was really difficult, though one has to watch the ground closely to see the
rocks through the tall grass. After hiking the last two miles of
the road to
the upper basin, I headed first for Hot Springs Peak, initially out of view. It
can be seen once the main crest is reached, taking about 2.5hrs in all
to reach the peak. There are two points
vying for the highpoint, the northern one proving
just higher, but neither spot contained a register, rather surprising for a P2K.
Without a tree in sight, the views are quite expansive across
the desert landscape. I returned back down to
Spencer Basin via a more westerly course, then made my way up to
the Amadee Mtns HP, taking a hour and three quarters to get between the
two. Barbara & Gordon had left a register here in 2000. Most
of the other entries on four additional pages were from the usual suspects,
including Evan, Dingus Milktoast and Mark Adrian who have all
been working on the CA range highpoints over the years. No surprise to see
Chris Kerth's name either, as he seems to have covered a lot of ground
in the northern half of the state. It was noon before I got back to the
jeep, a little nervous about the drive back out. It was evident that not every
vehicle that has driven back here has gotten out on its own power, so I
went slow and cautiously until I reached better conditions following
that first mile.
With much of the afternoon remaining, I decided to head into the Diamond Mtns,
a sub-range of the Sierra Nevada at its far northern end.
This unofficially named summit lies atop the Sierra escarpment just west of
Honey Lake. The name appears on peakbagger.com and in the summit register
that is really a geocache, placed in 2010.
The paved Janesville Grade Rd (Forest Route 172) going over the Sierra
Crest and west down the other side goes within about a mile and a half of
the summit. A good sand/dirt road forks off to a saddle on the northeast side,
getting one to less than a mile. The hike climbs steeply in places
through forest, opening up as one nears the upper mountain. A
cool-looking rock outcrop at the summit was inspiration for the Citadel
name. There is an easy
class 3 staircase on the north side starting at a notch between the two
halves of the summit rocks. Even easier access can be had from the south
side. The views are open and were quite nice in the late afternoon,
particularly of Honey Lake to the east as well as Clarks Peak and Thompson Peak
to the north. Western views were mostly washed out by the sun.
Definitely a worthwhile summit, this one.
Located a few short miles northwest of the Citadel, the paved road passes
within 2/3mi on the south side. A good spur dirt road skirting the east side
gets one even closer, within half a mile. Despite the short distance, there's
more than 1,000ft of gain to reach the summit, making for very steep going.
Most of this is fairly open forest understory with some
old logging roads to help out, becoming rocky near the summit.
Steep, loose class 3 gets one up on the east side,
easier going can be had by coming up from the NE side. The summit
is mostly open with the remnants of a survey tower intertwined with the remains
of a dead juniper at the highest point. There's another geocache placed
by the same folks as the Citadel, dubbing this summit the Sentinel - not likely
to stick since it already has a name. Good summit, though. The whole outing took
less than an hour, getting me back by 4:30p and time to call it a day.