Hurdygurdy Butte P300
Peak 5,192ft
Bear Basin Butte P900
Twin Peaks P750 CC
Gordon Mountain P1K
Peak 2,920ft P300
Higgins BM P300
Peak 2,440ft P300
Wounded Knee Mountain CC
Broken Rib Mountain P750

Wed, Jun 19, 2019
Hurdygurdy Butte
Twin Peaks
Higgins BM
Wounded Knee Mountain
Broken Rib Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 4 5 GPX Profiles: 1 2


Day 2 of a six-day road trip in Northern California was another full one, chasing down a couple of stray CC-listed peaks, some prominence summits, and some roadside bonus peaks along the way.

Hurdygurdy Butte/Peak 5,192ft/Bear Basin Butte

I'd spent the night camped off Ship Mtn Rd at the base of Hurdygurdy Butte, the first of six bonus peaks on the day. I was on my way to the trailhead for Twin Peaks, stopping to tag these enroute. I made the short, cross-country climb starting from the road up the northeast side of Hurdygurdy, through mostly open forest understory and finding a partially open summit among low brush, mostly manzanita. Ship Mtn (Four Brothers) was prominent to the southwest. Less than 15min was needed for the roundtrip effort. Peak 5,192ft, a little more than a mile to the northwest, was the second summit and an even easier climb. So quick, in fact, that I somehow forgot to take any pictures of it - not so memorable, this one. Bear Basin Butte is a P1K a short distance further up the road. A spur road leads to the summit, or more accurately, to the Pierson Cabin just below the lookout and summit. The facility is open for rental at a rate of $75/night (as of 2019) for up to 8 persons. There were three vehicles there when I arrived without realizing these were guests, not Forest Service employees. All was quiet and the guests sleeping when I arrived just after 7a. I walked up to the lookout to take some pictures of the far-reaching views, my footsteps waking one of the guests sleeping in the lookout (who I mistook for a ranger). I apologized when I saw him sit up, asked if it was ok if I took a few pictures from the observation deck, and then left immediately after doing so. Seems like a pretty cool (and super remote) campsite for a reasonable fee, if you don't mind the possibility of being interrupted by clueless forest visitors.

Twin Peaks

With the preliminaries dispensed with, it was time for the morning's main objective. Twin Peaks is a CC-listed summit that lies a few miles north of Del Norte County's HP, Bear Mtn. They share the same Doe Flat TH which is the end of the road, some 36mi from US199 - a very long drive to get here. Daryn Dodge and Sean Casserly had climbed Twin Peaks a year earlier, reporting some unpleasant conditions. In part, Sean wrote: The road was indiscernible and the whole area was overgrown with thick vegetation. This nasty bushwhacking had me sweating, tearing and cussing as we made slow progress back to Siskiyou Pass. The road referred to is an old road that descends Doe Creek between Twin Peaks and Bear Mtn. It is now part of the Siskiyou Wilderness and was once part of the route to Devils Punchbowl and Bear Mtn. It was mostly abandoned when a new trail was cut from Siskiyou Pass to traverse high above the south side of the Doe Creek drainage. It is occasionally used by the adventuresome as an old route to reach Trout Camp and other remote locations.

The hike starts from the Doe Flat TH, descending the old road for a mile and a quarter to Siskiyou Pass. There are boulders blocking the road where the new trail forks off to the right a few hundred yards southeast of the actual pass. The pass is almost impossible to discern in this unburned portion of the forest with a lush understory that is Doe Flat. I initially started off on the trail before correcting my error and dropping to the old road. I found the old route still quite useable, though not without a few brushy sections, especially where it crosses Doe Creek. There were occasional flaggings to help find the way, though they often didn't follow the old road, perhaps a more efficient route. I was through with this Doe Flat section, about half a mile in length, in about 15min, not bad at all. After crossing a spur creek coming down from the north, one reaches the base of Twin Peaks' SW Ridge. Here is the edge of the 2017 Young Fire that burned over most of the peak. As Daryn and Sean pointed out, this makes the climb of Twin considerably easier as there is little understory regrowth. Views begin to open as one climbs higher up the ridge, with the forest thinning (fewer snags to dodge) around the halfway point. As the others did, I first went up the lower southwest summit via one of several class 2 chutes through the rock band, then over easier ground to the highpoint. From the start of the ridge to the summit was just about an hour. The summit reaches to nearly 6,000ft, putting it in league with the other high mountains of this area and providing it with exceptional views. El Capitan and Preston can be seen higher still to the east, Bear Mtn to the south, and a fine view west looking out to the blue Pacific. I was honored to sign into Daryn and Sean's register, three days shy of a year since their visit. My return went pretty much back along the same route, though I did a better job of looking for, and following the old route once down at Doe Flat. I was back by 10:40a, finding the outing far more enjoyable than I had been expecting - definitely a worthy summit for the CC list.

Gordon Mountain

I had hoped to hit up this P1K on my way back down Bear Basin Rd towards US199. Unfortunately, this shorter return to US199 was closed due to a washout that has not been repaired, and judging by the concrete barrier erected, may not be done anytime soon. So I had to drive the long 36-mile route back down over Ship Mtn and then up from the other direction. As a result, it was more than 2.5hrs since I returned from Twin before I was ready to start up to Gordon Mtn. Well-graded Big Flat Rd goes within a short distance of the summit, making this an easy outing. Where I started south of the summit, there is an old, unsigned trail that I used to get through the initial brush lining the roadway. Above that, the brush thins and becomes mostly low manzanita that is easy to step over. Six minutes got me to the top, about the same to get down. There are no real views from the summit, but a nice one looking towards the Pacific on the way there.

Peak 2,920ft/Higgins BM/Peak 2,440ft

These three bonus peaks were all a short distance off the road on my way back down to US199. Peak 2,920ft has an old logging road going to the summit, still very serviceable for foot traffic, about 25min for the roundtrip effort. No real views from the summit. Higgins BM is the highest of the three and took the most work. It's a moderately brushy effort going up from the southeast, finding a benchmark and a steel pole at the summit with open views around the Smith River drainages on all sides. Peak 2,440ft was a short, steep climb through heavy forest, no views.

Wounded Knee Mtn/Broken Rib Mtn

I drove back down to US199 for the second time today, then up Forest Route 17N27 after a very short drive north on US199. This road winds its way for quite a few miles back up into the national forest, eventually ending below the summit of Wounded Knee Mtn. Though this is the CC-listed summit, it should more properly belong to the higher and far more interesting Broken Rib Mtn a few miles to the west. The two are connected by an enjoyable ridgline that has a nice use trail for most of the route. Sean and Daryn had done this one as well a year earlier, though not together. It was after 4p when I got started, but knowing about the trail gave me no concerns about running out of daylight - I would get back with almost two hours to spare. I started up the overgrown road from where I parked and almost immediately spotted a downed log that looked to have been stepped on many times. This turned out to be the start of the trail which kept me from needing to do any bushwhacking as the others had. I followed the trail up steeply through forest, reaching the top of Wounded Knee in less than 15min. The highpoint appears to be at some summit rocks south of the highest contour shown on the topo map. There was a small cairn here but no register and no views. I continued along the trail heading south as it makes a semicircular path around the drainage between the two mountains. Not far southeast of Wounded Knee, the forest gives way to a more open ridgeline with fantastic views off either side. The going is easy for about a mile, with the use trail bypassing a few obstacles on the ridge. The trail isn't continuous and gets lost in a few places, but it seems to reappear about where one would expect a trail to do so. Where the ridgeline turns northeast, the going becomes more difficult, turning to a scramble with a mix of loose and more solid volcanic rock. There doesn't seem to be any easy way to bypass this ridge section, but it gets no harder than class 3 and is pretty enjoyable, even when tired near the end of a long day. I reached the summit of Broken Rib at 5:45p, finding no register here either. I wish I had remembered to bring one because it certainly deserves the honor. It was not many miles to the south that I could see Twin Peaks and Bear Mtn where I had started in the morning. To the east were Preston and El Capitan which I planned to do the next day. Wounded Knee rises as a lower, forested hump to the west. It would take me another hour and twenty minutes to reverse the route back to Wounded Knee and my starting point where I finished up shortly after 7p. I took a shower and changed into some fresh clothes before another couple hours of driving. I returned all the way to US199 (third time today!) before driving back up to the trailhead for Preston Peak the next day. I found a flat spot right at the trailhead where two other cars were parked. This would do for tonight's campsite...


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