Crater Peak P2K
Magee Peak
West Prospect Peak P1K
Badger Mountain P750
Sugarloaf Peak P1K

Tue, Jun 19, 2018

With: Jackie Burd

Sugarloaf Peak
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPXs: 1 2 3 Profiles: 1 2

With Mom in Florida for two weeks and daughter home from school for the summer, Jackie had the option of joining me for a roadtrip or staying home by herself. She chose to hang out with me for the three days. I picked an itinerary that was more to her liking - trailed peaks with modest mileage and elevation gain, some drive-ups, and because she wanted some experience with crampons, a last day to climb Mt. Lassen via that means. I haven't room for two of us to sleep in the Jeep so I arranged for us to stay at the Hat Creek Lodge in Old Station on SR44 north of Lassen National Park. We were up early at 4a to give us more daylight in the mountains, but that turned out to be pretty unecessary. Even if we'd started two hours later we would have had tons of daylight for what we (Jackie) could accomplish. So close to the summer solstice, daylight is hardly at a premium.

Crater Peak/Magee Peak

Crater is a P2K while the other is merely a bonus on the way that you can't help but go over on your way to Crater. The trade route starts at the Magee TH on the southwest side of the old volcano, about 3.5mi on trail to the highpoint. The official trail ends at Magee Peak, but a use trail has developed for much of the extra distance to Crater Peak. We arrived at the TH shortly before 10a and were quickly on the trail after changing into our boots. The weather was simply delightful, about 61F with a very light breeze - tshirts would do just fine. The trail is well-maintained for the most part, though there were probably half a dozen downed logs that need to be cleared near the start. The trail begins by climbing up through a dry forest, pleasant enough, with views opening as one climbs higher and the trees begin to thin. Lassen dominates the views, about 17mi to the southwest, snow covering most of its northern aspects we were exposed to. Upon reaching the crater rim, one gets a first view of Crater Peak about 2/3mi to the north. There is a junction here with another trail that drops northeast into the crater and down to Magee and Everett Lakes, but today that route crosses a rather steep snowfield as it descends from the rim. Our trail had very little snow on it, just enough for making Gatorade slushies, but not enough to be a hindrance. We took about 1.5hrs to cover the 3mi to Magee Peak where we paused for a break. There is an ammo box here filled with loose pages, so many that I didn't bother to look at them or sign in. Far to the northwest rises the far higher Mt. Shasta, but Lassen is the more impressive peak in this area. We took another half hour to make our way to Crater Peak, arriving around noon. There were three register books here, one left by John Vitz in 2001, another by Richard Carey sometime later, and a third whose details I forget though we signed it. The summit made for a nice place to chill for a while, with very nice views in all directions. Not surprisingly, our return went a bit faster, getting us back to the trailhead by 1:45p, a nice, moderate outing, we both thought.

West Prospect Peak

This P1K is located just outside the Lassen NP boundary, south of SR44, a drive-up of about 11mi on gravel roads that any vehicle could navigate. On the drive from Crater Peak, we went through a can of Pringles and quite a bit of salami that we had with us. Jackie was helping me navigate for much of the way (learning to use the GPSr), but fell into a coma before we reached the lookout at the summit. She stirred little when we finally reached the top where I got out to walk around the lookout and take a few pictures, Lassen looming large, now only 10mi to the southwest. She mumbled something like, "How was it?" when I got back in the Jeep before falling asleep again. I think she gets to count this one since we pretty much drove to the highpoint. :-)

Badger Mountain

On the way down from West Prospect, I noted on the GPSr that there was a nearby Badger Mtn, not quite a drive-up, but almost. Plus, it had 800ft of prominence - a nice bonus. I headed in that direction on some rougher roads that woke Jackie temporarily while we were scraping manzanita. I got within 1/3mi of the summit on the east side and asked Jackie if she wanted to go for a walk. She did not. While she continued her slumber, I mosied on over to the highpoint, across a field of manzanita (no real bushwhacking) and up a short slope to wander around the summit ridge looking for a likely highpoint. There were no views under the forested canopy. I picked out a likely-looking boulder on which to leave a small cairn with a register. Some random visitor will probably be surprised to find it years from now. Jackie was still asleep when I returned to the Jeep half an hour later, and still napping after I'd checked into our motel in Old Station. Boy, this girl can sleep the sleep of the dead, that's for sure...

Sugarloaf Peak

I wasn't quite done yet. After we'd showered, dined, and lazed about the motel some, I noticed it wasn't yet 6:30pm and there was still more than two hours of daylight. I looked over at Jackie and said, "I'm going to go back out for a hike in case you'd like to join me." She looked at me a little concerned, "I've already clocked out..." I let her know I was only asking as a courtesy, and headed out by myself.

Across the highway from the motel rises Sugarloaf Peak, a small volcanic cone and a P1K. I hadn't done much looking at it ahead of time, so my driving by GPSr was a bit of a crap shoot. The obvious roads that would lead me by the shortest route to the west side of the peak were right across the highway in a residential neighborhood on Sugarloaf Ln (aptly named, I thought). I drove in following the road depicted on the GPSr, only to find it dead-ended in a couple of the neighbors' yards. As I paused to consider my situation, I noticed a neighbor woman looking sharply at me from her fence like I was some sort of burglar trying to figure out how to rip off her neighbors. I drove over to her with the window down to let her know I was just trying to get to a peak, not rob her friends. She warmed up after that and directed me back out to the highway and then to the dirt forest road about a mile to the west. With a bit of effort and about 5mi of driving, I found my way via various roads to what looked like the closest approach to the summit, just about a mile away at a saddle on the west side. Good enough. I parked the Jeep in the bushes off the road and started up from there.

It wasn't a very good hike and Jackie was wise to have stayed at the motel. She would have regretted it, I'm sure. For starters, it's an old cinder cone. There seems to be fields upon fields of loose lava rocks, softball to basketball sized. Then there was a fire a few years ago. There are snags everywhere and lots of charred branches that blacken anything that touches them. Then there was the brush that seemed to grow profusely wherever the lava rocks relented. The upper third of the mountain (at least on the west side I climbed from) was steep and layered in volcanic gravel & sand. The combination made for a mostly tedious scramble that took me a full hour just to go a mile. Whew. I reached the top after 8p, thinking I might be cutting it a bit too close to sunset. There was a register there in some rusty nested cans, left by Bighorn Bill, whose registers I'd come across on previous trips to the Shasta area. I took photos of the various pages before heading back down. It was 8:45p by the time I returned and it would be fairly dark before I had driven back to the motel. Good times...


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For more information see these SummitPost pages: Crater Peak - Magee Peak - Sugarloaf Peak

This page last updated: Thu Jun 21 19:36:55 2018
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