HASKELL PEAK (8,107') 4X AND SIERRA BUTTES (8,587') 7X August 17, 2003

The irresistibly good weather drove me to do a couple easy peaks this weekend. I had received another new memory card, so sought to give it a good test.

Motoring east on CA Highway 49, I made quick rest and photo stops in Downieville, CA, and Sierra City, CA, before taking a fine gravel road to the trailhead for Haskell Peak. I am working on my 4X "Ogul" list completion, a list of 63 peaks about the Northern Sierra. I need only some 14 more, 4X peak ascents, to finish.

Finding some new signs to update my peaks guide, I took notes. Starting up the peak trail at 11:07 a.m., I spotted a bear enroute. An adult of golden color, it took off as it saw me. I stepped up the trail, and came to the summit in 42 minutes. The sign said two miles, but it seems shorter to me. I did the usual photos of the view, and Lassen Peak was visible to the north.

I pondered on climbing the twelve foot tall cairn. The top of it was the highest point on the peak, but I do not usually count man-made structures as part of the mountain. With company, I might have tried it, but a shift or collapse might cause an injury.

Looking also for several minutes, I decided to place a summit register. Not many people would climb this obscure summit, so I could use a smaller book and cans. I recall placing one years ago, and had fun looking through it, then, to see other peak climbers had signed in.

I snapped more pictures, with a good view of the Sierra Buttes to the west, and the vast Sierra Valley to the east.

Back to my car in 34 minutes, I quickly motored down on the excellent gravel road. Back to the paved Gold Lake Road, I motored south to the Packer Lake Road, and made the navigation effort easily, for Sierra Buttes. Most details were the same after my last ascent in 2001.

Coming to the hikers' parking, I quickly prepared for another short climb. Taking the PCT south, I soon was climbing on the Sierra Buttes Trail, and then walking on a wide dirt jeep road. The initial view may terrify beginner hikers, as it looks terribly steep, but it is class 1 to the final section. An airy staircase leads up to the lookout on top.

My ascent time was 77 minutes. I again snapped photos of the view. I can shoot and shoot, now, with my quite high capacity memory cards.

Many others also enjoyed the view, and two dogs bravely climbed the staircase. I saw where people had scratched their names onto a rock. What can happen, people being people, when there is no summit register!

I started down, and followed the trail back the way I had come. To my car after 55 minutes, I shortly motored off. Thinking of a real long day by doing Mt. Elwell to the north, I soon forgot that. I was back to Highway 49 by about 5 p.m., and chose to drive back west.

The motoring went fine, and I then decided to stop for the Independence Trail, just short of Nevada City. This is a wheelchair accessible trail, built to wide and level specs. This is a great way for mobility-impaired persons to enjoy nature. It was warm, still in summer, but I walked briskly to the flume constructions about a mile along. Last time I was here was in the 1970's. I was impressed by the new work, and snapped many photos. The State Park System manages this trail. I had to brush aside a few skeeters, and then I started back.

Coming back to Nevada City, CA, just before dusk, I walked up and down the historic streets, taking pictures of the buildings. I viewed the sunset motoring back to Interstate 80, and finished my day getting home fairly early.

I had hiked some 12 miles with 2,700' gain, total. I shot over 300 digital images and movie clips. My only expense, besides fuel, was a dollar nectar drink from a grocery store, plus a dime for the hour, meter parking in Nevada City.

The wind kept away any bugs on the peaks, and the cool mountain breeze made conditions nice for uphill hiking. I wore only a T shirt and shorts all day.