Tombstone Mountain P2K
Yellowjacket Mountain P500
Buck Mountain P1K
Black Fox Mountain P1K

Jun 5, 2018
Buck Mountain
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 GPXs: 1 2 3 4 Profiles: 1 2


Day 2 of chasing P1Ks in Northern California saw me camped along the Tombstone Jeep Trail at 4,600ft. The road/trail sees almost no maintenance and little travel, but I managed to get the Jeep to within 4mi of Tombstone Mtn, about 2mi closer than most folks who park at the barrow pit before the unmaintained portion of the road. This would allow me to finish the hike early and have plenty of time for some other peaks I had in mind.

Tombstone Mtn

This P2K likes about 6mi east of Interstate 5 and the Sacramento River, roughly between Mt. Shasta to the north and Lake Shasta to the south. It sees pretty good traffic due to its prominence so I didn't expect to have much trouble. I was up by 5:30a, starting out just before 6a, eating my breakfast while I hiked the the remaining 3mi+ of the road. Others on PB had reported downfall blacking vehicle traffic but that seems to have been cleaned up, some, though brush encroaches from the sides quite badly in places. The road descends to a forested saddle before starting up to Tombstone. Further along the road I found that the downfall had been cut to accomodate ATVs, most likely by hunters, but I would have been challenged to get through several sections without body damage. A little more than an hour was taken in up in the road walk, leaving me with about 4/5mi to the summit when I reached the WNW Ridge. The road ends at a clearing near Pt. 4,629ft though the topo depicts it going further up the road. All vehicle travel stops here, but foot traffic can continue up the ridge through the brush. As part of a large party to visit Tombstone in 2017, Sean Casserly had clipped portions of the trail up the ridge, making it easier to negotiate than it otherwise would have been. The clipping appears to have stopped after about 1/4mi, the remaining trail overgrown but easy enough to negotiate by pushing the brush aside. The trail eventually flattens some as it leaves the ridge to traverse across the West Slopes where the cross-country begins with a little over 1/4mi remaining. There is a good deal of brush on this rather steep slope, but there are also more open talus/rock sections, and with careful navigating there is little real bushwhacking to contend with. There are several sort-of use trails, mostly used by bears it seems, which can help. I spent the bulk of the second hour covering the 4/5mi from the road's end to the summit. There is a large cairn at the summit but the register was found a short distance to the east at some rocks that are higher than the base of the cairn. Andy Martin had left the original in 2010 with Richard Carey leaving a better notepad in 2013. Almost all of the dozen parties were among the usual suspects, including Brian Kalet less than two weeks ago. The summit is surprisingly open with views to the west of Grey Rocks and Castle Crags, Mt. Shasta to the north and Mt. Lassen far to the southeast. I made good time on the return, taking a little over an hour and half, making the whole outing less than 4hrs.

Yellowjacket Mtn

This is a modest summit to the east of the main crest with a bit over 500ft of prominence. The starting point is where the ridgeline leading to the summit joins Girard Ridge, about half a mile north of where I had camped. I moved the car to the ridge junction, parked at the edge of the road and started from there, about a mile from the summit. Though daunting with significant brush, there is an old trail cut along the ridge that is a godsend though badly overgrown in most places. Without it, I probably wouldn't have gone 50yds before turning around. There are some nice open sections mixed with some badly overgrown ones, the latter making it easy to lose the trail. On the way to the summit I lost it altogether in the middle section, bailing left onto the forested slopes found there, where the understory was easier to negotiate. The last third of the hike is easier, with thinner brush along the ridge and the re-emergence of the trail to take one all the way to the summit. There was a pile of rocks found at the open summit but no register, so I left one before returning. I did a better job of sticking to the trail on the way back, taking a bit less than an hour and a half for the roundtrip.

Buck Mtn

It wasn't yet noon when I returned from Yellowjacket, leaving me many hours of daylight to pursue a few drive-ups east of Mt. Shasta and north of SR89. I spent an hour and a half driving about 40mi between the last summit and Buck Mtn. I was able to drive within a quarter mile of Buck Mtn's summit utilizing a series of forest roads, eventually parking on the west side of the summit. The west slopes had been recently logged (within the past few years, anyway), making it relatively easy to hike up the mostly barren slope to the top - a good thing, too, because from what I saw of the other three sides of the mountain, there is a load of brush I would have had to contend with. The very top was spared from logging which meant no views, too. Better to have trees and no views than stumps and views, I reckon. There was a 2009 register from a Bighorn Bill hailing from the Jefferson State Mountain Club. For those unfamiliar with far NorCal politics, the State of Jefferson is often touted as the name for the breakaway state when they shed themselves of the rest of blue CA. Good luck with that. Oh, and Dennis Poulin from Oregon had visited in 2014, making for one ascent every 4-5yrs.

Black Fox Mtn

Another 40min of driving got me from Buck Mtn to the locked gate half a mile below the summit of Black Fox Mtn. A 10min walk got me to the summit where a weathered lookout is located, locked up and looking rather neglected. It sports a pretty fantastic view of Mt. Shasta 16mi to the west. As I walked around the lookout, I was surprised to see a pair of legs sticking out from the north side. I said hello quickly to avoid startling whoever they belonged to, but of course they were startled nonetheless. I had seen no vehicles since leaving the pavement 16mi earlier and was surprised to see someone up here. Mitch was as surprised to see me, too. He was sitting on a small concrete pad in the shade, having arrived about 45min earlier. He was 71yrs of age, sporting a pair of knee braces and looking a bit frail. We talked for a while, or rather Mitch talked for a while as I mostly listened. He was living out of his camper parked about 3mi down the road (a different road than I had taken), exploring various parts of the state, periodically visiting with family members, a bohemian/hippy lifestyle according to him. It soon became clear that he had a very different time reference, mostly based on sunrise/sunset, moon cycles and such. He was a putterer, in his own words, and would have been happy to chat for hours more. I might have too, but it was a mostly one-sided conversation and I didn't really want to spend the rest of the afternoon soaking in his lifetime of experiences. I offered him a ride back to his camper which he readily accepted, though he didn't readily get his ass off the ground. When he was a bit winded from talking some more, I helped him up from his seat and together we walked back down the road to the Jeep. He stopped regularly during our hike while he made a particularly important point in his talk, but we eventually reached our goal. I moved some gear out of the front to give him space to sit and drove him back down to his camper. The camper has a bizarre arrangement at the bottom (his daughter calls it his "training wheels") to help lift the camper from the truck bed when needed. I couldn't understand how this was better than the four retractable poles that came stock with the camper, but he seemed to think it a grand invention. It had the adverse effect of giving him only 3-4" of clearance where his truck would otherwise have 8" or more. How he got that far up the dirt road was impressive and a bit of a mystery. I had hoped to make it to another P1K before I was done for the day but the extra time spent with Mitch had chewed up a bit of time. He was interesting, so not a complete waste.

After showering, I drove to Weed, CA where I got dinner and whiled away the remaining bits of daylight before driving back up into the hills to find a place to spend the night. More fun tomorrow...


Andrew Kirmse comments on 09/09/18:
The register on Buck Mountain shows "Bighorn Bill" rather than Buffalo Bill. I found a register from the same guy on the OGUL Basin Peak, also referencing the State of Jefferson Mountain Club.
Thanks, I've corrected that. Bighorn Bill is quite prolific in the area.
Darin comments on 08/03/19:
Since the 2018 hirz/Carr/Delta complex fires brush is not currently an issue for Yellow jacket, one can drive right to your register. It's also an easy drive (4x4) to the heli pad 500' below Tombstone Mtn.
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