The third and last day of a short roadtrip to Northern California started off
well enough, but ended as a bit of a bust. I was camped along SR139 which runs
from Susanville in the south to Klamath Falls, OR, in the north. My first stop
was a P900 in the northeast corner of Lassen National Forest, but the main
event was to be a collection of three similar prominence peaks further north
between SR139 and US395. They are located in a patchwork of BLM lands that
unfortunately have private property with locked/gated roads and No
Trespassing signs. I ended up calling it a day earlier than planned and headed
back to San Jose.
I used Google Maps and Cleghorn Rd, a decent dirt road that heads west from
SR139 into Lassen NF. The area is mixed with private logging lands but most
of the roads are open to the public. I was able to drive within a short distance
of the summit where a road goes north over a saddle northeast of the highpoint.
From there, it was a short ten minute hike through
forest and minimal brush to the open summit atop some large
rocks mixed with a tangle of brush. It was only about 15min after sunrise, so
the lighting was quite nice looking over a large expanse of forest,
hills and valleys on the edge of where the Cascade Mountains meet the high
desert of the Great Basin. I left a register here before
returning via nearly the same route.
This exceedingly minor summit with only about 40ft of prominence is located on
the same ridge as Slate Mtn, a few miles to the south. It was more or less a
freebie on my way back from Slate, again a short hike
from the road, less than
a quarter mile. The interesting feature of this one is a very
large summit boulder,
about 15' high and difficult class 5 by any fair means. A smaller
boulder on the east side and a dead tree leaning against the larger rock made
for an easier, but somewhat nervous class 3 way to get atop it.
Like Gooch, this bonus peak lies along the same high ridgeline as Slate Mtn.
I noted that Barbara Lilley had claimed an ascent of this peak in 2015,
somewhat odd considering its remote location and lack of any meaningful
or prominence stat that would grab her attention. It seemed worth checking out,
if only to sign her register. I came to find that half a mile south of Dow
Butte is the site of the Dow Butte Lookout
whose cab was removed some years ago, leaving only the foundation atop
a fine overlook spot. Frederick Johnson put this on PB as part of his
500+ collection of CA lookout sites, and it was undoubtedly this that Barbara
had visited when she was 86yrs-old. The actual highpoint is
to the north and several hundred feet higher. Where the road that goes
over a saddle on the south side, it's a short walk to
the summit through modest brush. The summit is
somewhat flattish and elusive, with no views and devoid of any real interest.
And no Lilley register, either. The lookout site is much better.
I drove back down to SR139 and then north for 13mi to the edge of the Modoc
National Forest. South Knob, a P900, rises up to the east. I had hoped to use
dirt roads from the north and east to get close to the summit, but found it
locked and gated about a mile from the highway where a private inholding is
squeezed between the edge of the forest and the start of BLM lands. This would
not do. I didn't have a back-up plan at this point, though later I learned that
an all-BLM route can probably be used starting right from the highway on the
west/southwest side, a little more than a mile and 1,400ft of gain. Not knowing
this, I opted instead to pay a quick visit to nearby Buck BM, located within the
national forest, half a mile from the highway. There is an unsigned,
located adjacent to the Modoc NF sign along the highway. One can
park along the highway or a short distance inside the gate for the
hike to Buck BM. There's nothing tricky about it, modestly brushy under mostly
Finding the summit is a little challenging as it gets brushier
at the top where its not easy to pick out a highpoint among various competing
small rock outcrops found there. The benchmark isn't the usual USGS variety,
but one from the CA Dept of roads (precursor to Caltrans), probably when
surveying for SR139.
I didn't find an actual disk attached to the rock, but rather a
survey sign. I found this good enough and called it a day. I still had
something like 6.5hrs of driving to get me back to San Jose, but it was not yet
11:30a so I had plenty of daylight...