Siskiyou Peak (7,149 ft / 2,179 m) sits just south of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) about 3 miles (5 km) west of the Mount Ashland Ski Area. In the summer months, reaching it is an easy and pleasant stroll along a mellow stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) through meadows gushing with wildflowers and big views of Mount Shasta to the south. When it’s snow-covered, as it is at the moment, getting to it is more work, particularly if you’re clumping along wearing snowshoes. So we decided to give it a go today on the not completely absurd assumption that consolidated Spring snow conditions would make the journey doable sans snowshoes. Well, almost…

The weather here has been trending warmer, much warmer, lately. Today air temperatures in the valley were forecast to almost touch 80°F (26.6° C) under clear and cloudless skies. But when we started out along Forest Road (FR) 20 from the Mount Ashland Sno-Park, it was closer to 20°F (-6.6° C) and The LovedOne donned microspikes to keep from sliding all over the icy track. FR 20 had been flattened by snow cats for the first mile and was easy walking (with spikes). Between its junction with the service road to the top of Mount Ashland and Grouse Gap, the walking was still pretty easy, with no postholing. We followed FR 20 from Gap and then climbed directly up to the top of the ridge leading out to McDonald Peak.

Along FR 20 in the cool of the morning
Approaching the headwaters of Grouse Creek
Looking south toward the Trinity Alps
Roughly the same view come summer
Continuing on toward Grouse Gap
A remnant of last year’s meadow
Starting up toward the ridge south of McDonald Peak
Sunshine and blue skies

From the ridge, we could see that FR 20’s prism was completely buried in snow all the way to Siskiyou Peak and beyond. And the morning’s cold had gone, lost between fiercely reflective snow below and an intensely blue sky above. The snow was softening and we feared that if we pushed on to the peak, our return journey would become a postholing nightmare. So we headed back. There was little postholing during the return but the now mushy snow surface made for uneven footing and quite a workout for the legs. So although we only did 6 miles (9.6 km) with a paltry 550 feet (168 m) of gain, we felt like we’d gotten our fair share of exercise for the day. 🙂

The view west from the ridge: Siskiyou Peak (S) and Dutchman Peak (D)
The view east from the ridge, with Mount McLoughlin on the left and Mount Ashland on the right
Descending with Mount Shasta in the hazy distance
Leaving the ridge with Pilot Rock directly ahead
On FR 20
Our track along FR 20