IntroductionI initially wanted to do this as a day hike and after talking with the rangers and reading the other trip reports, I decided that it would have been a very long day had I done this. Now that I've done this climb, I’m thinking that it really would not have been a big deal. If I did it over again, I would do it as a day hike.
Overall timeTH to basecamp (8500')= 2 hours with full pack
Basecamp to summit = 5 hours
Summit to basecamp = 2.5 hours
Basecamp back to TH = 1.5 hours
Total hiking/climbing time: 11 hours
Taking elevation into account and the lack of acclimatizing at 8500' feet, I may have been able to do this in less than 12 hrs. Still a long day but it would have been a fun challenge.
The time it takes to do this route will vary considerably depending on the group such as group size, strength, weather conditions, terrain, etc. The times shown above is best case scenario. While I did the roundtrip in 7.5 hours, I saw some climbers take up to 12 hours roundtrip and come down completely exhausted. Plan for worst case scenario so that you take everything into account. And leave early in the morning to avoid the hot sun.
Clear Creek Trailhead & Base campThe Clear Creek trailhead is located about 13.5 miles total distance from the turnoff off of hwy 89, just outside of McCloud, CA. There is a network of dirt roads throughout this area and I printed a map so that I didn't get lost. The first ~5 miles of Pilgrim Creek Road is paved until you make the turnoff to the left onto Widow Springs Dr. After that, it's all dirt. I have a VW Jetta and I was wondering how much abuse my car would take to get to the TH. Surprisingly, the dirt road is in very good condition and my car did just fine without any issues. The road is well marked to get you to the trailhead. Be sure to follow the directions here: http://www.summitpost.org/clear-creek-route/157378.
I made camp at Clear Creek springs at 8500'. It's a 2+ hour hike from the parking lot. The trail conditions of sandy loose soil mixed with ash is a small introduction of what you will experience on the mountain. At 8500' when I arrived at the narrow, cold, flowing creek, I passed over the creek and walked about another 100 yds and made camp in the trees. There are lots of spots around so you shouldn't have an issue finding a campsite. When I arrived that day, climbers were just coming off of the mountain and they were packing up and leaving. I had the place to myself that night. Most of the new climbers that I saw that day continued up the mountain for higher ground at 10,000' and above. I couldn't see the logic to camp higher except to get an elevation advantage. I chose to camp lower in the trees so that I wasn't so exposed to the elements and to conserve energy and rest. The guys up above didn't have a water source like I did at Clear Creek. Bring a water filter.