Day 4 in CA's North Coast was spent in the Klamath National Forest chasing a small handful of P1Ks. Most of the effort was spent driving, though I did get in about 9mi of hiking towards the end of the day. I started the day camped in the jeep atop Shelton Butte, so my first order of business after dressing and rearranging the vehicle for daytime mode was to drive myself almost 20mi back down to the Klamath River (it would have been 10mi shorter if not for a downed tree blocking the more efficient route).

Orleans Mountain

Orleans Mtn is one of the highest peaks along this portion of the Klamath River and SR96. With an elevation of over 6,000ft, it towers to the southeast above the town of the same name. A series of Forest Service roads winds their way to the summit in about 10mi, gaining over 5,500ft in the process. A sign on FR 10N25 notes the last five miles are 4WD, not because the road is rough, but because it is so steep. It was quite a ride taking the jeep up this one, I would have been far more nervous in most other vehicles, however. Though the distance between Shelton and Orleans Mtn was little more than 10 air miles, it would take me nearly two hours to drive between them and it wasn't until 8a that I arrived at the summit. I climbed the stairs of the unoccupied lookout for a clear view in all directions from the observation deck. There are several antennae installations about the summit area, including a number connected directly to the lookout tower. Though a bit chilly, it was a fine morning atop the summit and I lingered here a bit to enjoy the views.

Offield Mountain/Merrill Mountain

After returning back down to SR96, I drove north some miles before stopping at a river access point to refill some water jugs from the Klamath. The water had a brown tint to it, no doubt due to high spring runoff, but it would do fine for shower purposes. I continued north past Somes Bar at the junction with the Salmon River, turning off the highway at Forest Route 12N52 which would take me east up into the hills where two P1K could be found. The roads I used for both summits were in fine shape that any vehicle could navigate, though quite dusty. Offield Saddle lies between the two summits. Upon reaching it, I first visited Offield Mtn to the west, driving to within a couple hundred yards of the summit. A use trail of sorts leads around the brushy summit area on the left to get one most easily to the top without any real bushwhacking. No views to be had due to surrounding trees, though one can get some occasional views on the drive. After returning to the saddle, I continued another five miles up to Merrill Mtn, about 2mi due east of Offield Mtn. This one is a drive-up to within a few hundred feet of the summit with a trivial walk through low brush to find the highpoint. It's pretty flat on this one, so I walked around in the brush until I was satisfied I'd probably stepped over the highest point, then returned to the jeep. Only weak views through a partially burned forest could be found.

Pony Peak/North Pony Peak

These summits are located on the west side of the highway, further north. Back down at the highway, I drove another 12mi north to unsigned Forest Road 7N39. This road was in poorer shape than the others I had driven earlier, with lots of downfall that had been cut to allow the jeep to pass, often with only inches to spare. At around mile 2 I came across the first person I had seen in four days of driving around on these remote forest roads. Tony from Eureka was up here cutting wood and clearing the trail more as a hobby than for any real need for firewood. I continued up the road while he collected his wood, driving another few miles before I was stopped by a large boulder in the road. I made several attempts to pass between the rock and a large tree on the edge of the road, finding I could not manage it without potentially blowing out a tire. Since I was a little over three miles from the summit, I decided to play it safe, park the jeep and walk the remaining distance. I hadn't yet done much in the way of exercise, so it was a good excuse to stretch my legs. I would have more than 2,000ft of gain, so it was a pretty good workout and I was sweating nicely before I neared the lower Pony Peak at the south end of the summit area. I was only a quarter mile from the peak when Tony came driving up in his Subaru. He had straps that he used to haul the rock out of the way, the only obstacle on the rest of the drive up the mountain. Had I waited for him, I could have saved myself considerable effort, but again, it was a good workout. He gave me a ride the remaining distance to Pony Peak where we walked around the rocky summit where a lookout tower once stood, only the concrete pads still remaining. Views are open in three directions overlooking the Klamath watershed with the snowy Marble Mtns and Trinity Alps forming a backdrop to the east. He was going to attempt to drive me over to the higher North Pony Peak, a P1K, but the road was a bit too steep and loose for his vehicle. Instead, I bid my mountain Uber driver goodbye and set off on foot while Tony drove back down the mountain. There are two or three points vying for the highpoint, the highest found at the far north end where a spot elevation of 5,456ft is shown on the topo map. There is a small granite outcrop here, rising 2-4ft above the other possible point to the south, by my measurements. There are nice, open views from the summit, including a good overview of the Kelsey Range to the north where I planned to hike the next day. I left a register here before returning the 3.5mi or so back to where I'd parked the jeep.

It was only around 3p, with plenty of daylight, so I drove back down to the highway once more before continuing north. 11mi further north is the well-signed Bear Peak Road which rises to the Kelsey Range TH in 11mi. It was 4:30p when I reached the end of the road at the boundary of the Siskiyou Wilderness with plenty of daylight but hardly enough for the long hike I'd planned in the range. So I spent about an hour hiking the first mile and a half of the trail to the top of Pt. 5,472ft, less than a mile southeast of Bear Peak. I had started out with plans to hike another mile further north to bonus Peak 5,060ft, but upon reaching my open perch on Pt. 5,472ft, I found neither the energy nor the will to continue with that plan. Instead I headed back to the trailhead, showered, ate dinner and did some reading before turning in rather early, by 8:30p that night. I had been up late the previous few nights and was feeling the sleep deficit, so a nice nap of almost 10hrs would be most welcome...


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