There were a few hikes we wanted to do west of Mount Shasta, California. Rather than spend hours driving back and forth to individual hikes, we basecamped in a hotel (as even tough and stupid has its limits) in Mount Shasta and did three different hikes from there. Not only did this avoid a lot of driving, it also meant that we could arrive at the respective trailheads way early – in the cool of the morning – without having to roll out at o-dark-thirty. These early starts also got us back to town before the day really heated-up. We were also fortunate that this trip coincided with a brief cooling spell (90°F (32°C) versus 105°F (40°C)) and a wind shift that blew the wildfire smoke eastward (sorry North Dakota 😯), giving us almost clear skies. So something of bright spot in an otherwise trying summer. Not to mention us not having to eat my cooking for a few days. 😉
Our first hike was to Boulder Peak (6,968 ft / 2,124 m). Not the highest point in the Marble Mountain Wilderness, but the high point on the ridge immediately south of the Seven Lakes Basin in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest. This is also another of the Ashland Hiking Group’s favorite hikes.
The drive to the trailhead at Gumboot Saddle is paved and from there we made our way south along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), around Mumbo Basin, to a saddle above and west of the Seven Lakes Basin. We were passed by a half dozen thru hikers – also out early to beat the heat.
At this saddle, there is a sign that points toward Lake Helen and Upper Seven Lake. We turned south here and followed that trail (#6W12, which is mostly old road) down, around Lake Helen, and up to the saddle above the lake. From there, we followed a faint – but obvious once we found it – use trail up to the ridge that ends at Boulder Peak. We worried about having to thrash our way through manzanita but all of that was low-growing and easily avoided. The last 300 feet (90 m) to the summit was a walk up pretty stable rocks.
Despite the presence of huge wildfires east and south of us, the view from the summit was only slightly obscured by a light haze. That, combined with a gentle, cooling breeze, made being up here pretty nice. Much better than we might otherwise have hoped for. 😃
After a while on the summit, we headed back along the ridge, then down past Lake Helen to re-connect with the #6W12, which we followed back to the PCT. On the way back to the trailhead, we passed a mix of a dozen or so day hikers and backpackers headed, we guess, to the Seven Lakes Basin. By now the sun was blazing hot and there was a lot of sitting in the shade going on. From the PCT, we got a view of the last vestiges of the Lava Fire still burning on Mount Shasta’s southwest slope.
Overall, we did 9.1 miles (14.6 km) round-trip, with 1,450 feet (442 m) of elevation gain on a cool, sunny day with much better views than expected. We were back in town before the day reached its peak air temperature. This was a really good hike, what with the PCT, some easy cross-country and route finding, a lake, and big views. Definitely worth the effort! 😁RETURN TO FRONT PAGE