I left home in Medford, Oregon on Saturday August 6th, 2005. After climbing Boulder Peak in the Marble Mountain Wilderness and Russian Peak in the Russian Wilderness, I stopped at the old Mt. Shasta ski bowl to car camp for the night. It was nice and cool at 9,000 ft, so I slept well. In the morning I was on the road early heading for the South Yolla Bolly Wilderness.
South Yolla Bolly Mountain is ranked #10 on the California prominence list and I needed to check this mountain off my list. I decided to take the Red Bluff option since I was coming down I-5 from the north. This was a mistake because it would have been much quicker to drive to Corning and drive to the trailhead from there. The only good thing about taking the road from Red Bluff is that I got to see a bear up on Valentine Ridge. It didn’t stand around and wait for me to take his picture, but it was nice to see anyway.
I arrived at the trailhead after a slow winding drive up Valentine Ridge. It took forever and I was glad my wife wasn’t riding with me. She would have been car sick way down the hill. The trailhead is nice with camping areas under the trees. There was a 2WD car parked at the trailhead but no one was around.
I packed up my stuff, hoisted my daypack and headed down the trail. I made an assumption that the trail would go to the summit of South Yolla Bolly. I couldn’t find any good information on the internet about a hiking trail so I assumed the trail would take me ther. Fifty feet later I came to a dead stop. The trail forked. The left fork had railroad ties for steps in keeping with the wilderness spirit and the right fork seemed to be more travelled. I assumed the right fork was used by backpackers hiking in to Long Lake for weekend camping.
I decided to take the left fork and see wher it went. It followed an old road bed southwest parallelling the Wilderness Boundary. This road bed continued all the way to Ides Cove, where a trail branched off to the right and headed up hill towards the summit of South Yolla Bolly Mountain. I thought I was on the way to the summit now. Another mistake. I stayed on this trail as it wound around the south side of South Yolla Bolly, never gaining much in elevtion. At one time I it headed south away from the summit as it went around the south ridge that goes up to South Yolla Bolly.
Finally, I determined I wasn’t going to get to the summit on this trail because I could see the trail way ahead of me as it turned around the west ridge of South Yolla Bolly. At this time the trail was heading north directly towards South Yolla Bolly and when it turned again to go west, I left the trail and continued north.
I made my way over the sparse vegetation and up a scree slope towards a ridge line above me. I could see the summit area off to my right, so I knew if I could get to the ridge line, I could follow it up to the summit. That is exactly what I did. The scree was a bit of a nuisance but I finally reached the western ridge of South Yolla bolly at about 7,600 feet. It was easy to follow the ridge up to the broad summit area.
The views are incredible from the summit in all directions.
It took me almost 2 hours to cover 3.7 miles and get to the summit. I knew there had to be a better way down and back to I-5. From the summit you can see that the east ridge is easy walking and wide open. I decided this cross country route down the east ridge was worth a try. In 45 minutes and 1.3 miles I was back at my car.
I also decided the road down to Corning was worth a try. M22 to M2 and then to Corning was like a freeway drive compared to the way I drove up the trailhead.