19 May 2017

Bald Mountain

Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest


Click for map.

I found a nice camp spot where the USGS map shows three buildings but now there is only a picnic table, campfire ring, and plenty of room tucked in beside the Bald Mountain Wilderness. It is possible that the prime little car accessible starting point is a little up the road from here, but there is not sufficient advantage to bother scraping off the frost to drive up there. Still cold, but not snowing. With my pack stuffed and appropriate maps tucked in, I just start up the low ridge north of the site. There are some bumps along the way it might be easiest to avoid, but otherwise navigation is just to follow it up. Just to be sure I head in the right direction, I estimate the peak position off my map and drop that into the GPS. It is only 2.6 miles away.

snow covered mountain
Current Mountain from a little way up the ridge.

The ridge is tree covered and there is not a lot of view except at a few more open spots. Winding through the trees and avoiding low branches pushes me down one side of the ridge or the other. The south side is steep, so I tend to the north. There are thin pony trails along the top and pony trails are definitely the best. Most the game actually using these trails are not horses and will walk under rather low branches quite happily, but there seems to always be a little extra walk around trail from the taller horses.

tree covered ridge
Mostly lots of trees to see as I progress toward the higher land up ahead.

dusting of snow
A light dusting of snow remains on nearby Indian Garden Mountain. To the left, Mount Hamilton has a lot more snow.

My attempt to go around the bumps along the ridge is thwarted with the first along the way. It is really not so far up, these often have so little drop on the uphill side that it is of little consequence, and the top affords a much better viewpoint than most the spots along the way. The draw of the peak is just too much, even a little tiny peak. At least the point of the hike today is peak bagging. I go for it and it is a nice and open place to pull out the map and decide which bump I am standing on. Then consult the GPS and find it is actually another bump anyway.


little open patch at the top
First topping off along the way. Lots of up to see.

Current Mountain
Now with the full view of Current Mountain and the roads below it.

bald bump
Lots of bumps in the area and many of them quite bald.

The slope up the next bump is very steep, so I go around it. There is some really good game trail along the way and I follow that up for a while until it turns away. It seems to cross over into the drainage on the north side and I wonder if maybe it knows something I should be paying attention to, but decide to just follow this ridge instead. Climbing upward a little way, there is another good trail to simplify the footing.

good game trail
Following along the rather good game trails on the north side of the ridge.

The next bump along is again too close at hand to bother going around. It is a nice, rocky one and again offers view all around. From here, I can really take in the route to the peak. I have been thinking it might be one to the north, but that has gotten close and it is still a mile off to the northeast. Taking in the actual peak finally, I am hit with a wave of recognition. It is quite false of course, but it sure feels like being up in the Flat Tops again.

Mount Hamilton
Mount Hamilton comes into view, still a snowy peak in the northwest.

Bald Mountain
Up on a rocky crest checking out the rest of the hike. From here, Bald Mountain a whole lot like a little Flat Top.

southerly hills
Lots of hills to the south with random rough bits.

The peak is still a long way off, but there really is not a lot of climbing to do to get there. There are plenty of game trails again and many of them are going my way. I pick and choose among them, taking the best or none at all as I go. There is some brush to thread through, so they help. The trees have changed. Most up here seem to be a mountain mahogany. Juniper makes up the rest.

peach paintbrush
The paintbrush is blooming in a very light orange color.

mountain mahogany
One thin stand of mountain mahogany.

Shellback snow
A little bit of snow on the Shellback Wilderness. This wilderness is cut with a road through the valley below.

rodent on a rock
The pika is out for the view, too.

At the top, it is pleasant, maybe a little bit cool. Today, I can take plenty of time to enjoy being there. There are a half dozen deer just down the other side. They hang out a while, although wary, before heading down. The benchmark is a little way over the top, too. It is easy to find marked by rocks but I cannot find the reference marks that are supposed to be here.

high point to benchmark
Hitting the top and the benchmark is a little way ahead.

six deer
Deer pondering what they think of the strange animal on the peak.

Mount Hamilton
Mount Hamilton again. I can pick out the road below. The shortest and easiest route up here would be from that road. No one is on it today.

all the way around
The full 360° from the top of Bald Mountain.

Heading down again starts off the same as I came up. For going up, just following a ridge really simplifies navigation. They all lead to the top. Going down, a drainage does the same thing, but the right one must be selected at the top. From the minor peak I missed on the way up, there is a saddle and everything flows right down to my campsite. So I head out to there to check out a route.

tiny yellow flower
One of a few delightfully minute yellow flowers.

lots of down
Looking out for a different route down.

Somehow, it is steep going down just like it looked it would be to go up. I retreat to find a less steep area and follow more animal trails down. It is steep down into the wash, too. I move along toward camp as I go down, but it seems like the bottom is dropping at least as fast as I am. I just have to get all the way down for what could be easy walking at the bottom.

random valley on Bald Mountain
Still high up the side of the valley looking further up.

As I get close to the wash, it does not look like easy walking. There is a narrow and rocky section. Past that, there is plenty of flat. More game trails travel the bottom and when the bottom of the wash is not easy walking, they show the easiest way along one side or the other.

deer jaw
There are a lot more bones down in and around the wash.

sandy wash bottom
Easy travel in the sandy wash. Not so many spots with a view out, though.

The last bit of travel to my campsite is easy. Actually, most of the route was easy since more than half was on some pretty good game trails.




©2017 Valerie Norton
Posted 9 Jun 2017

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