In November of 2016, we hiked out to Boccard Point from the (then new to us) trailhead on Baldy Creek Road. It was snowing when we started, the Point was packed in clouds when we got there, and the sun only appeared when we were on our way back. 🙄 In May of this year I used this same trailhead to hike west on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) to Porcupine Mountain. The views along this route were impressive – perhaps even a little more so than from the Point. Scroll forward to today and the first snows have fallen on this section of the PCT. With more and bigger snows expected soon, today seemed like the moment to reprise the views experienced on that May hike, this time on walkable snow and with The LovedOne. ❤
We hit snow at about 4,200 feet (1,280 m) as we drove up Baldy Creek Road. There was a little slipping but not enough to keep us from reaching the trailhead under a mix of clouds and sun and a little falling snow. We never found more than 3 to 6 inches (1-2 cm) of snow on the trail itself; in some spots there was none. The first half-mile or so was through trees heavily flocked with snow (which would melt and fall on us on the way back). However, once west of Point 5465, we started crossing open ground with big views to the south. It was sunny and the clouds cooperated by not blocking all of the views all of the time (as they had done in 2016).
At about 1.2 miles (1.9 km) from the trailhead, we came to a saddle where we could look southeast down Dutch Oven Creek, northwest down Porcupine Creek, and across to Pilot Rock.
From this viewpoint, we continued west on the PCT, weaving north and south along the ridge, through patches of forest and a few open areas. The PCT didn’t get as much use (or maintenance) as usual this year so there were a few large trees to get over along the way. Almost before we knew it, we were standing at the saddle where an old, old road climbs up toward Porcupine Peak.
Having gotten to within a half-mile of Porcupine, we decided to pass on continuing to its summit. The clouds kept swirling and shifting and it was very likely we’d get up there to stand in the viewless grayness of a cloud stuck on its summit. But there’s a spot on the PCT about a half-mile east of Porcupine that provides views of Pilot Rock and Mount Shasta, so we went back there and had a snack.
And so we headed back, secure in the knowledge that, as soon as we did so, the clouds would dissipate. They didn’t do so entirely but enough to keep irony alive. Past Bean Cabin, we followed the road back to the trailhead to get some relief from being pummeled by snow clods melting off the trees.
In the end, 5.2 miles (8.4 km) with about 1,000 feet (304 m) of gain through just the right amount of snow and past the big views we love. There was even time left in the day for some take-away in Ashland before heading home. 🙂