Northern California Mid June 2002 Trip Report

This was a county highpointing trip in a continuing effort to complete the state of California during the 2002 climbing season. I began the season with 45 of 58 counties and planned upon four counties this trip. All four highpoints were visited, and, in addition, a fifth highpoint, as Humboldt Pk (7,087 ft) was ascended as the highest named point in Butte County.

Radioisotope Considerations

The order of peaks climbed was to a large degree dictated by a unique coincidence between my county count, total ascent count, and actinide series radioisotope atomic numbers and masses.

To wit, I "encountered" Np237 the previous month as the most well-known (longest lived?) isotope of neptunium, seeing as I had accumulated a county county of 93 (atomic number) and a total ascent count of 237 (atomic mass). I then surpassed the latter figure on Picacho del Diablo of Baja California, so making my counts 93 and 238. Then, the weekend prior to this trip necessarily involved a re-ascent since that would neither increase my county nor total ascent count (Soledad Mtn).

To achieve Pu239 was a simple matter of getting Yuba County's Sugar Pine Pk early on Friday the 14th of June. The gravel road at 6 miles down Scales Road is signed 21N11 and should be noted for the sake of future highpointers. Furthermore, the jeep road that one walks up one-half mile after parking is off the right around a bend in 21N11 and is not to be confused with a far larger road just 100 or so yards earlier that forks off to the left of 21N11 (upon which one has driven just under 4 miles). The (incorrect) larger road is signed 21N11E. Drive 100 yards beyond it to locate the jeep road that forks to the right and climbs steeply.

I found the pine cone cairn nestled within a trio of evergreens but failed to find the second cairn claimed by Edward Earl to lie on the opposite side of the trail.

I then required a mountain that would increase my total count without increasing my county count. Fortunately climbing Humboldt Pk was the perfect venue as it is located at the start of the hike to the liner on Lost Lake Ridge that is the Butte County highpoint. The use-trail up Humboldt Pk was difficult to follow since it involves traversing a slope with much sand and gravel. It could stand considerable improvement.

Note that the dirt road from Jonesville to the trailhead for the Butte County HP is some 3-4 miles, i.e. not the 2 miles claimed in Suttle's book. It is in poor condition but is passable by a standard passenger vehicle.

The views along the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) eastward (i.e. prior to turning south) were wonderful since Lassen Pk and Brokeoff Mtn were perhaps 30 miles to the north. Locating the liner was a navigational challenge since it is unsurveyed and there is no evidence of a cairn.

After enjoying lunch in a meadow due north of the presumed highpoint I turned back and eventually took a motel in Chico for the night. I now stood at Am241.

The following day, Saturday June 15, I combined Glenn and Mendocino Counties into the same long dirt road drive to Mendocino Pass from the east. The hikes themselves were short and enjoyable - something I cannot say for the drive to/from them.

For the Glenn HP (Black Butte), I walked from the main road, signed FH7, rather than drive my rental up the 0.9 mile to the turnaround lot with the actual trail: the initial section of the road was too steep for safely driving without a more suitable vehicle. Summit siesta lasted some 30 minutes and included breathtaking views of both Lassen Pk on a true heading of perhaps 60° as well as Mt Shasta at perhaps 30° .

The distance from Mendocino Pass to the campground for Anthony Pk is some 4 miles along road M4 and not the 3.5 miles claimed in Suttle's book. On top a lady tended the summit lookout tower.

The total dirt road driving distance from the east is 54 miles round trip if one does both counties and does not drive up the 0.9 miles to the Black Butte trailhead.

I currently have 97 counties. Now that I just became unemployed (yesterday, June 18), things will happen far more quickly than I had originally planned!! The Century mark (100 counties) and a California state completion are coming ...