McRae Ridge P900
Blue Nose Ridge P300
Blue Nose Mountain P750 PYNSP

Thu, Aug 23, 2018

With: Jackie Burd

Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 Profiles: 1 2


Day 3 featured some hiking on actual trail, a welcome change for Jackie, having grown tired of picking thistles from her socks and shoes, following dad through brush and similar unpleasantries. Not just any trail, either, but a section of the PCT that quietly winds its way through this part of the Plumas National Forest with little fanfare. The second outing of the day wasn't so much to her liking - very little trail and more of the aforementioned unpleasantries. She decided to sit that one out after the first mile.

McRae Ridge

I was after the highpoint of this ridge, a P900, which lies on the boundary of Plumas and Sierra Counties. The shortest approach is about 1.5mi to the east at The A Tree, the oddly-named saddle on the crest where several roads come together. We drove in through Eureka State Park where one has to drive into the park from the pavement at Johnsville to find the forest road heading south. It's a pretty rough road in places, high-clearance required. About six miles of such driving gets you to the saddle where the PCT conveniently crosses the road. We parked here and headed north on the PCT (though it actually goes west through here). We left the trail when we neared our peak, heading cross-country to the west up several hundred feet to the highpoint, taking about 45min. We found the highpoint at the flattish summit to be in the forest with an understory of dwarf manzanita, not all that impressive and weak on views. Nearby, to the southwest, however, was a slightly lower rock outcrop with fine views in three directions. We could see Blue Nose Ridge, our afternoon objective, to the northwest. The PCT actually connects the two hikes but adds another 3.5mi each way which is more easily done with additional driving. We briefly considered going to nearby Gibralter, a rocky feature about half a mile to the southwest along the crest. It would have been an easy call if there'd been a trail, but Jackie wasn't too keen on the additional cross-country even though it didn't look too bad at all. We left a register of our own under a small cairn and headed back the way we'd come, about an hour and a half all told.

Blue Nose Ridge/Blue Nose Mtn

Blue Nose Mtn can be found in Pete Yamagata's Northern Sierra Peaks Guide, a collection of 86 summits that is a superset to the OGUL list. It had been more than a year since I'd done Mt. Como, my second-to-last summit on this list, and I'd mostly forgotten about it. It wasn't until the night before when I realized McRae Ridge was nearby that I made plans to visit it. Pete's guide provides directions for an approach from the north and west, but that would be terribly inconvenient from McRae Ridge, so I made up a route that was probably a longer hike but easier on the driving. More jeep driving took us around the north end of McRae Ridge, down into the north branch of Nelson Creek and then up to a saddle with the Canyon Creek drainage at the south end of Blue Nose Ridge. The PCT crosses the road here as well, so we parked and started off on the trail heading north around 10:50a. We were only on the trail for a few hundred yards before I called to Jackie just ahead that it was time to leave the trail. "Already?" she asked, not a little dejected. It was clear she much preferred the easier trail. Though there wasn't a good deal of brush to contend with, the sidehilling on the east side of the ridge to avoid a local highpoint was a bit tedious. A tiring, loose talus slope led up to a saddle on the ridgeline northeast of this highpoint that eventually sapped Jackie's will to continue. She had brought her sketch pad for just this situation and decided to hang out on the local highpoint while I went off to finish the business over the next several hours. She went up one way while I headed north along Blue Nose Ridge.

It would take me about an hour and a half to reach Blue Nose Mtn after leaving Jackie, a somewhat tricky route-finding affair to minimize brush encounters. I mostly stayed on, or close to the ridge, with deviations as necessary. I first went over the highpoint of Blue Nose Ridge, a bonus summit with 323ft of prominence. There was a small duck found atop this point surrounded by much brush. The ridge then drops down to a saddle where a section of impressive pinnacles are found (bypassed on the east side) as the ridge begins a slow climb up to Blue Mtn. Somewhere along the way I noticed a few ducks and evidence of an old trail cut through the brush. Though heavily overgrown, it was still quite helpful to make the brush less troublesome, and I did my best to follow it (I did a much better job on the return). The ridge becomes a boulder/talus slope shortly before the summit, eventually bringing me to the open highpoint. Rock had been piled up to make a windbreak/shelter of some sort, though it looked sad and in poor shape on my visit. The views were quite nice overlooking a broad swath of the forest. A bit behind schedule, I stayed only briefly (didn't find nor leave a register) before starting back. It would take another hour and a quarter to make my way back south along the ridge and find jackie sitting patiently at the southern highpoint. She had drawn a nice sketch of Blue Nose Ridge which I was much impressed by. Rather than return to the talus slope and side-hilling we'd used earlier, we descended the local highpoint to the southwest, down a steep, rocky slope with modest brush, to reach the PCT where it goes over a saddle with nearby Stafford Mtn. Once this initial descent was made, it was a pleasant 3/4mi back down the PCT to the TH which we reached at 2:45p. It would take us well over an hour to drive back out through Eureka State Park to reach the main highway, where we called it a day. After returning to Portola to take a shower, we headed into town for dinner at the Pizza Factory in the old town center. We were the only customer the entire time we were there, an interesting experience. Not bad pizza though...


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