“Sabin’s Point” (Castle Crags Wilderness) 07-Jan-2018

Sabin's Point Castle Crag Wilderness California

Although recent weather forecasts are being cagey about snow, they did offer up a sunny day (or most of one) in Northern California. Going to our ever growing file of hikes to be done before we become compost, I pulled out a hike on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) along the southern edge of the Castle Crags Wilderness to an outcrop the Ashland Hiking Group has informally named “Sabin’s Point.” I sweetened the deal with a night in Mount Shasta, California and The LovedOne was all in for it. Previously, we’d hiked up the Castle Dome Trail and even climbed the Dome itself, but this would be our first foray to the Crags’ southwest side.

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Box Camp Trail (Marble Mountain Wilderness) 03-Oct-2017

Box Camp Paradise Lake Marble Mountain Wilderness California

Paradise Lake lies beneath Kings Castle along the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) in Northern California’s Marble Mountain Wilderness. The lake can be reached from the west by hiking north or south along the PCT or from the Paradise or Lovers Camp Trailheads or from the Box Camp Trailhead.  The Box Camp seemed less well known than the other two trailheads (Lovers Camp can get extremely busy) and the Box Camp Trail itself has been described as recently reinvigorated, so it seemed like an interesting way for a first visit to Paradise (Lake).  The onset of cool Fall weather and the recent lifting of this area’s closure due to the Salmon-August Complex Fire where all that were needed to get me headed south to the Marbles.

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China Mountain (Shasta-Trinity National Forest) 26-Sep-2017

China Mountain Shasta-Trinity National Forest California

Well, the smoke has been blown away (mostly) and the wildfires that generated it are being brought further and further under control.  However, it will take a big, wet storm to finally quell them all.  Speaking of storms, the state’s October to December seasonal climate forecast for our area predicts stronger-than-usual storminess – with the first installment coming as early as later this week.  Having had them deferred because of heat and smoke, we’re trying to squeeze in a few hikes before we’re hit by wet and cold.  Thanks to the  Hike Mt Shasta website, we’ve had China Mountain in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest on our list for awhile and today seemed like as good a time as any to go hike it.

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One Last Gasp (Mount Eddy) 09-Sep-2017

Mount Eddy Shasta-Trinity National Forest California

A line of weather – the remnants of Tropical Storm Lydia – passed through our area earlier this week, bringing with it some brief, but much appreciated, precipitation.  This moisture cut a lot of the smoke out of the air and gave crews a chance to get a better grip on the many wildfires still burning/smouldering in the surrounding forests.  Temperatures were down too, which also helped with the wildfires.  But air quality in the valley was still marginal, so, once again, surrounding summits were called upon for fresh air.  After Mount Ashland, Aspen Butte, and Mount McLoughlin, the remaining nearest tall one was Mount Eddy, a 9,025-foot peak due west of Mount Shasta; one that we’d hiked previously in 2009 and 2015.  It’s a popular moderate hike past lakes to big views (particularly of Mount Shasta) and one high enough to be above much of the remaining smoke.  With The LovedOne once again volunteering at the library, I did this hike mainly for exercise in some fresh air.

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Thompson Peak (Trinity Alps Wilderness) 27/29-Jul-2017

Thompson Peak Trinity Alps Wilderness California

In 2015, my adventure hiking partner – Brad – and I did a partially on-trail, partially cross-country figure-8 loop (post) around the Three Sisters in Oregon’s Three Sisters Wilderness. In 2016, we did a similar on/off trail loop in Oregon’s largest wilderness area, the Eagle Cap Wilderness (post). This year, we sketched out another on/off trail loop in the high country of the Trinity Alps Wilderness in Northern California.  Our initial plan was to start at the China Spring (or Gulch) Trailhead, go up past Grizzly Lake and over Thompson Peak (the highest point in this wilderness), then down the Rattlesnake Creek drainage, and back up to the trailhead via the North Fork Trail.  This particular trip didn’t work out much as planned but it was still an adventure with a high point.

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Big Blue Lake Loop (Russian Wilderness) 13-Jul-2017

Big Blue Lake Russian Wilderness California

Big Blue Lake is situated at the northern end of California’s Russian Wilderness. I came across it in Lautner’s Day & Section Hikes, Pacific Crest Trail, Northern California (2010), where reaching it is portrayed as an off-trail adventure hike.  And so it was. Going cross-country to Big Blue is a lot of work but, once you’re there, it’s an exquisite turquoise blue gem of an alpine lake, set in a rugged granite bowl.  On reflection, it would have been better to have hiked to it on a cooler day and on one where the scenery wasn’t faintly obscured by smoke from a wildfire smoldering some 10 miles to the northwest in the Marble Mountain Wilderness (Island Fire). Ah, hindsight.

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Cook and Green Loop (Red Buttes Wilderness) 28-May-2017

Cook and Green Red Buttes Wilderness California

The Cook and Green Loop is one of the more challenging (i.e., character-building) hikes in Northern California’s Red Buttes Wilderness (a wilderness more readily accessible from the Oregon side). The loop consists of the Cook and Green Trail (USFS #959), the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and the Horse Camp Trail (USFS #958). It can be done in either direction. Clockwise it is a gradual 11-mile, 3,600 foot climb up the Cook and Green Trail and the PCT to the Horse Camp Trail junction, and then a steep 4 mile descent down that trail to the trailhead on Forest Road 1040. The other way is a stiff 3,600 foot ascent followed by a gradual 11-mile descent. I’d done the loop clockwise in January 2015, when there was only a minuscule amount of snow along the Siskiyou Crest (post).  Plans for doing it counter-clockwise languished until the desire to see how much snow the very snowy winter of 2016-17 had left on the Crest overcame my reluctance to climb 3,600 feet (the LovedOne opted to garden instead).  So a bright, sunny, and destined to be very warm, day found me starting up the Horse Camp Trail at an absurdly early hour.

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Feather Falls (California) 23-Apr-2017

Feather Falls Plumas National Forest California

For our sixth, and last, hike during our week wandering the Golden State, we decided it would be interesting to visit a waterfall. After consulting Soares’ 100 Classic Hikes in Northern California (2014 edition), we picked Feather Falls as our goal.  It was low altitude (so no snow issues), had paved access, and was described (at 410 feet) as the sixth highest waterfall in the United States.  In this wet year, we also figured it might be a more spectacular water feature than usual (and we were right).

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Pinnacles National Park (California) 21-Apr-2017

Pinnacles National Park California

In the early 1970s, I was a frequent visitor to the west side of Pinnacles National Park (it was a national monument then) both for rock climbing and to spend time with friends who were then rangers at Chaparral.  Some of my earliest rock climbs were done on the loose, crack-free, downward sloping volcanic breccia that dubiously passes for “rock” at Pinnacles.  I never made it over to the east side then and haven’t been back since.  The LovedOne had never been there.

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Henry W. Coe State Park (California) 20-Apr-2017

Henry W. Coe State Park California

After saying good-bye to Ken and Julie, we stayed one more night in Calistoga and then spent the next day driving further south to Gilroy, California, visiting bookstores along the way.  From Gilroy (“The Garlic Capital of the World”), we would explore – for the fourth hike in our week of wandering the Golden State – the southwest side of Henry W. Coe State Park.  At 87,000 acres (35,000 hectares), Coe is the largest state park in northern California and the second-largest in the state after Anza-Borrego Desert State Park east of San Diego. Yet, despite all the years we lived and hiked in California, including time spent in San Francisco, we never once visited Coe.  So sad.

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Moore Creek Park (Napa County, CA) 18-Apr-2017

Moore Creek Trail Napa County California

One of the goals for this visit to the Golden State was to catch-up with my old friend Ken (and his partner Julie) when his energies weren’t being given totally to the grape harvest.  So after we finished our hike of Oat Hill, we went over to Ken and Julie’s for an excellent dinner, some of Ken’s wine, and a discussion of which hike to do together the next day.  The weather forecast looked excellent – finally sunshine! – so we decided to hike the Moore Creek Trail from the Las Posadas trailhead down to the Moore Creek trailhead (brochure).  This was the third hike in our week of wandering the Golden State.

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