Boccard~Soda Loop (Soda Mountain Wilderness) 03-Dec-2021

After two days of heavy lifting and organizing, a swarm of volunteers (me included) got the library’s long-delayed used book sale ready to go. It’s not technically a sale, as the books are free, but donations are readily accepted. The LovedOne spent today there with other volunteers, running around keeping the cellulose moving out the door. Seems there was a pent-up demand for books (Why would that be?) and donations on this first day were particularly generous. ๐Ÿ˜ The sale continues tomorrow and hopefully so will the donations – which are used to fund some of the library’s reading and outreach projects.

Having done my bit for cellulose and sales, and anxious to escape the stagnant fog filling the Bear Creek Valley, I went up to the Soda Mountain Wilderness for a hike. Both Boccard Point and Soda Mountain are popular hiking destinations from the Hobart Bluff Trailhead. There is also a huge geocache on Soda Mountain. We’ve hiked to both destinations over the last few years and, in doing so, have found ways to connect them with little sections of easy cross-country travel. So today, I pieced together a loop from the trailhead south to Boccard Point and then back north over Soda Mountain, with a return down Soda’s northeast ridge to see some odd rock formations. Up here, it was another perfect hiking day – clear, sunny ๐Ÿ˜Ž (but cold in the shade), with only light breezes (if any). So different from the fog-fest below.

Blue sky at the trailhead
Frozen grasses at the little pond near the trail
Mount McLoughlin, with Union Peak on the right

From the trailhead, you can either continue SOBO on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) to where, at Baldy Creek Road, it meets the trail out to Boccard Point or, as I did, reach the Boccard Point Trail by going cross-country over the ridge between Soda Mountain and Little Pilot Peak.

On the Boccard Point Trail
Sunlight on last summer’s remnants
Pilot Rock (1) and Mount Ashland (2) from Boccard Point
Soda Mountain from Boccard
Fog in the valleys around Mount Shasta
Mount Shasta from Boccard Point

From Boccard Point, I doubled-back a bit and then veered north cross-country to the east of Point 5900. After a short climb, I dropped into the big meadow south of Soda Mountain and then followed an old road and game trails through the brush to the cluster of antennas on top of Soda.

Crossing the big meadow below Soda
A fog-filled Bear Creek Valley from the old fire lookout on Soda Mountain
Mount Shasta from Soda Mountain
It’s December and Spreading Phlox is still blooming on Soda Mountain! ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

On a similar hike here four years ago, I’d descended from the top of Soda along its northeast ridge, finding some odd rock formations along the way. There’s a distinct rocky escarpment (cliff to the northwest, gentle slope to the southeast) at the end of the ridge that I hadn’t been able to visit on this earlier trip. This is technically Soda Mountain’s second, lower summit.

A basalt “hoodoo” on the ridge northeast of Soda
The escarpment at the end of the ridge

The approach to the escarpment’s southeast side is through fields of boulders that look as though they were simply scattered there yesterday – no obvious settling, sliding, falling, or erosion. Some of them are precariously perched to form small keyholes.

A perched rock forms a keyhole
Another perched rock, another keyhole

Long filigrees of hoodoo-like rock spires line the slope to the summit
Mount McLoughlin from the top of the escarpment

After reaching to top of the escarpment, I figured since I’d come this far on the ridge, I might as well continue on it to the forest road below.

A large boulder among the boulders along the ridge
Mount McLoughlin from the ridge
Down the ridge toward the forest road through a field of small spires

The ridge is open and gentle, so reaching the road was no problem. This road goes out to Camp Creek and along down Skookum Creek. While easy to walk on, it’s a roller coaster to drive. I followed it back toward the trailhead until I lost interest in adding the extra distance involved in going around Point 5268. So I left the forest road and climbed to the Soda Mountain Road (which cuts west of Point 5268) and took that back to the trailhead.

Still cold in the shade

A total of 7.6 miles (12.2 km) with 1,200 feet (366 m) of gain. Hobart Bluff is a very popular hiking destination and I’ve seen the parking lot there full to overflowing on weekends. But today, except for one fancy van camping at the trailhead, I saw no one else the whole day and my vehicle was the only one in the lot when I returned (the camper van having departed). Overall, this is an interesting hike across varied terrain with the added bonus of the odd rocks on Soda Mountain’s ridge and at the escarpment. The book sale ends tomorrow, so I’ll be helping to move whatever books remain back to storage – thus further exercising some previously underutilized muscle groups. ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ Unless, of course, all the books were to get taken by enthusiastic readers! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ

My loop around Soda Mountain with a swing out to Boccard Point
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