The first day of another NorCal roadtrip started off dismally. I had come
up US395 to tag some P1Ks along the highway between Susanville and
Alturas. I had camped off the highway near the base of Tule Mtn, my first
stop. It was raining lightly as I arrived in the dark and continued on and
off through the night. This was the 10% chance of precipitation that had
been forecasted for the area. There was nothing heavy so I thought little
of it and expected clear skies in the morning. What I found was a little
different - the light rain had turned to light snow during the night,
leaving a little
frosting where I'd parked, but 1-2" of fresh snow higher on Tule when I
awoke in the morning. I had no gaiters and no rain pants and thought it
would take only a short time for my boots to be soaked along with my
pant legs. This wouldn't be very pleasant for a 4mi roundtrip hike. I
decided to skip it and do the drive-up to Likely Mtn on the other side of
US395 to the west, instead. I followed tracks left by a pair of technician
trucks that were about half a mile ahead of me. In the lower part of the
mountain there was fresh mud that got thrown up on the sides of the jeep
and coated the wheelwells. The upper half of the road was snow covered
and less abusive. The clear skies had not materialized, at least over
the mountain and I found myself in a thin fog with no views. There was
an old fire lookout at the summit, now surrounded with
a barbed-wire fence, as
well as several large telecom installations.
The technicians were busy
examining some gear at the base of one of these, hands in pockets and not
looking too interested in starting work with the air temperature at 27F.
I walked around the summit in the chilly conditions taking a few picture
before beating a hasty retreat.
After driving back down the mountain, I decided to seek out some lower
summits in a different area that hopefully so less snow. I drove north to
Alturas where I got gas and then east on SR299 across the Warner Range.
There were several inches of snow in this range, too, so I kept heading
east to Cedarville and south to Eagleville, both on the east side of the
range. There was a dusting further east in the Hays Canyon Range, but it
seemed more manageable and it was here that I spent the rest of the day
and had a fine time of it. Sometimes you gotta just expand your options.
Little Hat/Home BM/Peak 6,642ft
Though it has little prominence, Little Hat Mtn is on the Great Basin
Peaks list (GBP) which was what drew me to the area. From an excellent
dirt/gravel road leading from Eagleville, its about 2.5mi each way to the
summit with several thousand feet of gain. I had planned to go to the
top and return, and so had brought only 20oz to drink. It turned into
something bigger, but because it was fairly cold, the 20oz was more than
sufficient for the 9mi hike it became. It took about 2hrs to cover
the 2.5mi distance to the summit, climbing 2,500ft in
the process, slower than
I would have guessed, but I wasn't in much of a hurry. I was happy to take
my time and let the sun do its work to melt the snow at the higher elevations.
I found myself disappointed with Little Hat's summit, a large flat-topped
area with several possible highpoint. I found no register at those places I
checked, just a small duck atop the first one. Looking southeast,
the higher Home BM which seemed like a more worthwhile summit, with 450ft of
prominence compared to little Hat's 226ft. It was less than 2mi as the crow
flies and since I was still carry my full 20oz of Gatorade, I decided to pay
Home BM a visit. This was a nice walk across modestly brushy slopes only about
500ft of additional gain. At the saddle between the two peaks I found a game
guzzler with a memorial sign
that looked to be nearly as costly as the guzzler. Nearing the summit
of Home BM, I came across nearly a full skeleton of a bighorn
ram, the bones picked clean and scattered some. My dallying paid off as most of
the snow had melted before I reached Home BM's summit by 12:45p.
There was a benchmark
and dilapidated survey tower, but no register about, so I left one of
mine. I noted an even higher summit another 2mi to the southeast, but decided I
had already pushed my short hike far enough. Another summit,
Peak 6,642ft, was in line with my return route, a fairly
easy bonus on the way back. It took an hour and a quarter to cover the 2mi
distance between it and Home BM, with a drop to a saddle on the east side of
Peak 6,642ft before a final 300-foot climb to the summit. From there I descended
the SW Ridge of Peak 6,642ft to intersect a spur road
at the base of the ridge.
Daryn Dodge had used this spur road to get a little closer for his climb of
Little Hat, but I would use it to walk back to my car parked where the spur
road meets the main gravel road. I was back
by 3p, taking a leisurely 5.5hrs for
the 9mi hike.
Hays Canyon Peak
This is the highpoint of the range, a P2K, and on the GBP list. It's also a
virtual drive-up. Hays
Canyon Rd runs east out of Eagleville, an excellent dirt/gravel road that
climbs up to a pass in the range at over 7,100ft. Turning south, the road
and its various branches get increasingly rough
and before I'd reached the top after a longish drive,
I was cruising slowly in 4L with the swaybar disconnected. There are
some minor installations north of the summit, but just the remnants of the
USGS survey tower near the benchmark
at the highpoint. Lilley & McLeod had left a register here in 1997
with about 10 pages of entries, not all that
many considering its P2K status. There is a nice view of the Warner Range
to the west
with Surprise Valley far below in the foreground. It had taken about
an hour to drive to the top and about 4:15p when I was ready to leave.
These last two summits were relatively easy bonuses on my way back from
Hays Canyon Peak. Divine Peak is also a near drive-up, the jeep getting
me to within about 300ft
of the top. There is a large wooden cross, maybe
15ft high, at the summit. Perhaps the name has something to do with this
or a previous cross at the summit? Otherwise, not much to this peak.
This was the peak I had noted less than two miles from Home BM. Good thing
I didn't try to stretch that other outing further, because I came to find
it's only a little over a mile from where Hays Canyon Rd goes
over the pass.
I parked at the pass and hiked northwest over easy cross-country,
modestly carpeted with sagebrush. Junipers are found on the upper part of
the peak in good numbers.
I found a modest cairn at the summit but no register. It was
probably only about 40min until sunset at this time and it was getting
quite chilly again, much like it had been in the morning. I beat a hasty
retreat back to the jeep so I could shower before the sun had set over
the Warner Range to the west. A pretty full day, as it turned out...
S Hanson comments
Not too shocked you ran into snow on this trip. Couple of weeks back I was greeted by snow at Diamond Lake and Crater Lake on south central Oregon road trip. Oregon got 3 inches of rain in September 2019 (normal is 1").