I had been California dreaming for a couple of months and the week of the 4th of July allowed me to get down and enjoy that wonderful California sunshine. First Bob Bolton and I had climbed Mt. Shasta, then Mt. Eddy, followed up by the hike to the top of Lassen Peak which gave us three in three days. Bob had to head home but I continued on to Modoc county to link up with Dennis Poulin, who had been off doing other California peaks.
It was hot California weather and before Bob and I parted company, we stopped at a small store on the Hat rim for an ice cream and soda. We met a PCT through hiker there and she and her husband were making great progress on that amazing trail challenge that a few tackle every year. At the pace they were going, they would get to Canada before the end of September. I wish I could remember her trail name but I didn't write it down so the info is gone.
As I drove towards Alturas, I could see Eagle Peak off in the distance. It was obvious which one it was (I had my GPS pointing towards it) and I was impressed by the size it presented. Alturas itself is a small community but it has everything a traveler would need (more ice cream) and gas for the car. As I headed south towards Likely (where I would turn off), I noticed in the rear view mirror that I had the company of a local sheriff department car. Hmmmm, how fast am I going?
Whew, under the speed limit (lucky me) and I maintained that speed until after about five miles he finally pulled out and passed me, probably looking for a morespeedier victim than I.
It was close to 20 miles before I reached the small community of Likely and where I needed to turn eastward toward my objective on County road 64. Nine miles of road, including some slower driving in a canyon bottom where I noticed lots of cars passing me that were totally covered in dirt. I'll explain the reason behind all of these dirty cars later on. I found the junction that led me towards the Mill Creek Falls Campground and was soon esconsed in a nice campsite, getting my gear ready for the following day's effort. Less than an hour after I had been there, Dennis pulled up in his vehicle with a big stupid smile on his face. I knew that smile and I knew it meant something big had taken place.
Dennis had climbed Lola and No. Lola Peaks near Truckee California the day before and decided that he'd like to get Star Peak, a peak located between Lovelock and Winnemucca Nevada and so he drove there and found his way to a reasonable starting point. Getting up very early to make an alpine start, he made his way by flashlight for a good deal of the way to the summit of this peak that required a good twelve miles and 4000 feet of elevation gain. Then, completing that task, he made his way all the way up to Likely and turned east, as his next effort was to be the highpoint of Lassen county, Hat Mountain (which is due south of Eagle Peak) . That was why he had that smile on his face, he had pulled off an improbable double and was still basking in the afterglow of a long day well spent.
The next morning, after we both slept in our vehicles, we were up at first light and soon on the trail. It is 8 miles to get to the summit of Eagle Peak and we followed the trail description as we had it and still got messed up in the poison flat meadow area. The trail actually crossed a narrow part of the meadow and attains the rocky area on the south side but that wasn't clear to us and we ended up going cross country across the meadow and then through the woods until we picked up the trail again. The last two miles are done via cross country and while not difficult, are done through sagebrush and then some forest areas. It is important to stay with the ridge as you could easily drop into the wrong drainage, particularly on the way down. I stopped several times to take pictures and soak up some of my precious water as the heat had steadily risen as the morning progressed. Soon we had little bugs of the gnat variety to contend with and it was easy to inhale the damn things if you didn't watch it. Dennis and I pretty much chose our own paths to the summit and I soon found myself standing next to him as we gave each other the traditional high 5 salute and snapped a few more pictures before settling down and reading the register and having some snacks.
The views were impressive. Eastward were the alkali flats of Nevada and north and south we had nice views of the Warner Mountains. Westward, we could see Clear Lake that reminded us of the 8 miles we had to retrace and a big resoirvoir off in the distance. Despite the haziness, it was an enjoyable spot as enough of a breeze had come up to remove the bug problem.
All too soon it was time to go back down and get ready for the next days effort. Dennis was heading home and I was going to go get Hat Mtn and Mt. Ingalls. I finished the week in California with those two and Lola and No. Lola peaks before I headed home, a great week with 8 summits under my belt.
Time up: 5 1/2 hours Time down 3 1/2 hours One hour on the summit.
Oh yeah, the dusty cars. The Rainbow group, a group of 60's hippie types were having their annual convention in Modoc county, not far from Hat mountain. There were over 22 thousand of them in an area that had very little in the way of
facilities and the impact on the area was substantial. The forest service had a score of rangers assigned there and they spent a lot of there time writing tickets and having cars that were illegally parked on the roads towed away. These people came from all over the country and many had driven from Reno and San Francisco in rented vehicles. The traditional V W buses were present along with the peace signs. Both Dennis and I had to wade our way through this mess on our way to do Hat Mountain. Interesting side light eh..
Here's a link to the 2004 Rainbow Gathering and be sure to check out this one as well I'm telling you, it was an experience just to drive through the area where this was happening.