Black Rock Mountain
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Day 2 in the Yolla Bollys had me going to North Yolla Bolly, the other P2K found in the region. The previous day had been a long one exploring the area around South Yolla Bolly on a long 26mi hike. This one would be series of shorter hikes that would be punctuated with driving between THs. Easier, but still a long day.
The two summits are only a few miles apart along the same ridgeline, most easily combined in a single outing of 9-12mi depending on the route. This would be the longest hike of the day, taking about 4hrs. There was no snow at the TH, but it made its appearance within the first 15min of starting up the trail. It had the feel of a winter outing - a cold wind, foggy conditions, snow on the ground, but without the real dangers of winter. The snow was really just a dusting though there was some older consolidated snow found on north-facing slopes. When I reached the saddle on the main east-west ridge, I found ice-encrusted trees and shrubs with the clouds blowing over the ridgeline. I had gloves and balaclava as I made my way west towards Black Rock Mtn first, another lookout-topped summit. Off to the left of the trail I had fleeting views of the terrain below, but only enough to see that a fire had swept over the area in the not-to-distant past. By the time I reached the lookout around 11:40a, blue skies were breaking out periodically - it seemed the storm was on its way out.
The lookout was in awful condition, neglected over the decades. The bottom section of stairs was missing, probably by design to keep the curious off the dilapidated structure. Ice coated the western face of the lookout, having been blasted through the night by freezing rain and fog. I explored several likely looking rock outcrops that vied to be the highest, finding neither benchmark nor register at either location. By the time I started down some 15-20min later, the skies were clearing and I finally had a view east to North Yolla Bolly.
It took about an hour to get from Black Rock to the summit of North Yolla Bolly. I failed to make use of a trail that goes to the summit because it goes from the saddle along the north side of the ridge which I mistook for another trail heading downhill. The cross-country scrambling wasn't too bad though and barely any brush to contend with, so there was little lost. I managed to find the trail aqain in the forest before reaching a high saddle between the two summits, only to lose it again due to old snow and a poorly-defined tread. The highpoint is the northernmost of the two points. A benchmark is located here along with a leatherbound register book placed in 2000. In marked contrast to the general lack of registers I found in the area, someone had lovingly prepared a beefy container for the handsome register and perhaps that contributed to it lasting as long as it has.
By now the skies had virtually cleared and blue sky was dominate. The clouds that remained served only scenic purposes, no longer of any threat. The storm had cleared out the haze and left crisp air in all directions. Immediately to the south was the lower south summit (which I did not visit) and over its left shoulder could be seen South Yolla Bolly in the distance. Tomhead was visible now to the east, Black Rock framed in the view to the west and Mt. Shasta visible far to the north.
From the summit I spotted what looked like a faint trail traversing a talus slope heading north. I knew that it would be a much shorter route off that side if I could find a way around the cliffs present on the NW aspect of the mountain and went off to investigate. Whether it was an actual use trail or not I never really deciphered, but the route off the north side was a good one. Cliffs were easy to avoid by staying north and not veering to the left too early and after a steep descent through forested slopes one eventually comes upon the trail that forks off from Pettijohn Basin and goes around the north side of North Yolla Bolly. After reaching this trail I had intended to follow it back to the junction, but the cross-country was working so nicely I simply continued down on a more direct path to intersect the main trail about half a mile from the TH. By 2p I was back at the Stuart Gap TH where I found it had finally warmed enough to forgo the gloves and get by with just a tshirt.
Flush with the success of reaching the top, I decided to explore an even shorter route off the north side, following the motorcycle track to its end, then dropping further north along the ridge before making a right turn to follow down through forest cover to the NE in a direct line to the car, all in less than half an hour.
I would spend the next hour+ driving back down to SR36, then east for a few miles, then north on a Forest Service road to Deerlick Springs. This decent road was paved at one time which means that it has some serious potholes now that one needed to watch out for in the fading light. I followed Dennis Poulin's directions for the eastern approach to Chanchelulla Peak where I planned to hike the next day. I spent the night tucked away in an unofficial campsite along Chanchelulla Creek about a mile SW of Deerlick Springs. It occurred to me that if I died here in the night it could be months before anyone might chance upon my decomposing body. Not the best of thoughts to drift to sleep by in the Wilderness......
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Black Rock Mountain - North Yolla Bolly
This page last updated: Sat Jul 13 14:34:37 2019
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