Modoc County Highpoint Trip Report

Eagle Peak (9,892 feet)

Date: June 26, 2002
Author: Adam Helman

Modoc County is the most northeastern, and hence perhaps the most remotely located, of all California's counties. The main town, Alturas, has no more than a few thousands.

Directly east of Eagle Pk is true desert of the basin-and-range variety that normally one associates with Nevada.

Gary Suttle's directions are accurate for the most part. Thereby this is mainly a personal account of my unique and enjoyable experiences on Eagle Peak.

I awoke at 4:30 AM from my Alturas motel room, packed, and drove south some twenty miles to Likely. From there route 64 takes one to the trailhead noted by Suttle in his book. I took a nap for ten minutes in the drivers seat, awoke, selected my candy bars plus sandwich material, and started about 6 AM on this sixteen mile, 4,200 ft gain hike.

After some 2 1/2 miles one encounters Poison Flats - a large meadow. The trail is easy to lose here. Follow the large cairns spaced every hundred feet or so. When the cairns appear to peter out, continue along the southern edge of the bog - as the most northern extent of drier, more rocky terrain. After less than one-half mile (maybe a quarter mile), re-enter the forest in an easterly direction.

For the off-trail segment of this climb I opted to head up the southwest ridge of the mountain as per the first of several possible routes noted by Suttle. There were some residual snow patches which were easily avoided or walked over. I had brought my ice axe in case of serious snow - but its presence eventually proved superfluous.

Total elapsed time to the summit was 4 hours 40 minutes including about three stops for water and goodies. All alone except for those annoying summit-bound flies. Also some red ants. The summit register had Richard Carey's name from just four days previously, i.e. the 22nd. Richard is also from San Diego.

Desert alkali flats lay to the east a mile below me - and Hat Mountain, the Lassen County highpoint, lay south as tomorrow's target.

The weather was impeccable with blue skies and warm but acceptable temperatures.

On descent I was able to better appreciate the fields of yellow and violet wildflowers set against the omnipresent background of green shoots and stems. Green, violet and gold - a gaudy trio that I believe defines the colors of Mardi Gras!

Total elapsed time from car to summit to car was 9 hours 2 minutes and, unfortunately, included some afternoon sprinkles over the last 2 miles of travel.

California county #51 (of 58) in my continuing quest to complete that state.