Lassen County Highpoint Trip Report
Hat Mountain (8,737 ft)
Date: September 25, 2005
Author: Peter Maurer
Our second peak in two days, we thought this would be a simple warm-down from
Eagle Peak the day before. It ended up being much more grueling than
anticipated, despite its relatively short length. We followed Suttle's
directions from our camp at the Mill Creek Falls Campground and for over an hour
saw no other humans (although we did pass in every meadow the ubiquitous bovine
of western forests). The last half mile, although not needing 4WD, certainly
required a high clearance vehicle. Once in the meadow, which is really more of
a high plateau, follow the 2-tire track road until it ends in a clump of aspen.
The trail, which at that point is a disappearing road, heads south directly
toward the peak. The trail is easy to lose and cattle have torn up the meadow
and hill side so badly that one just winds his way down to Lost Lake via the
easiest route one can find. We ended up a little too far to the east and had to
cut back to the small creek coming from Camp One spring but eventually made it
down to the lake. From there, we took the most direct route through the forest,
skirting the edge of the steeper, more open slope to the west. This ended up
being the best route, due to the rockiness of the more open areas. Once out of
the forest and nearly to the top of the table-top like mountain, the going got
much worse, even though the gradient was much less. We had to pick our way
across rough lava rock boulder fields, intermixed with sagebrush and other tough growth.
This was pretty slow going but we reached the summit in about 2 1/2 hours,
with a cold wind blowing up from the Surprise Valley far below to the east.
We signed both registers, one at the northernmost point with the best view,
and the true highpoint further to the south. Again, many of the usual suspects had
signed the registers. A clearer day than the one before, Shasta and Lassen were
clearly visible on the western horizon. Eagle peak dominates the horizon to the
north and it is possible to see your entire route from the northern point.
The return trip was slow-going due to the rocky terrain, steep slope and aging
knees but we made it back to the truck in about 2 hours. A tough 5 miles that