Monday, November 24, 2008

Day 10: Weed to Grizzly Peak Road near Stout Meadows

a. 5345’ gain, 54 miles. Night spent at ~5500’ elevation
b. Camped in a rough camp amongst the Manzanitas, bear scat and bear tracks about a mile from Stout Meadow.
c. Food: No services on route. There is a café about 2 miles off route on highway 89 in Bartle.
d. Road info: 14 miles on highway 97 had a fair bit of traffic, including lots of big rig trucks. Portions of this road had no shoulder heading east, but there was usually a good shoulder on the west-bound side, so we rode against traffic in places. Then 28 miles on dirt, sometimes sandy or loose volcanic gravel. Then 3 miles on paved highway 89 with no shoulder and some truck traffic. Then 9 miles on high quality dirt.

The first dirt section passes along the beautiful eastern flank of Mount Shasta. On the Google map it is called Military Pass Road and then Military Road. At the turnoff from 89 it was marked Military Pass Road, but that is the last time we saw that road name being used. On the USFS map and on the ground it is called 43N19. We did not follow exactly the routing on Andreas’ Google map. Andreas’ map keeps you on what Google calls Military Pass Road which is not always concurrent with 43N19. There were many intersections, and to simplify things we just followed 19 instead of some of the more minor roads used on Andreas’ route. The intersection of 19 and 13 is a major junction and is marked. If you take 19 like we did, then upon reaching 13 (which is paved) turn right (SW toward McLeod) for 1000’ and then turn left onto what Google calls “Military Road” but on the ground and USFS map it is still 43N19. Follow this road SSE until you reach the highway. You should carry an up-to-date Shasta NF map or you might have trouble sorting it out. When we were there on a weekday in October, there was a fair bit of traffic (perhaps a dozen vehicles).

The second dirt section follows what Google calls Grizzly Peak Road and Summit Lake Road south from 89 to Britton Reservoir. We tried to make our way through this section, but once we reached Stout Meadows we could not sort out this route on the ground and were forced to back-track to highway 89. We had an old USFS map, but no topo maps. There are numerous logging road intersections and active logging in the area. There are many new unmapped logging roads and inconsistent or missing road tags. We never saw any references to Grizzly Peak Road or Summit Lake Road on the ground. Even after studying the Google Maps satellite images back home, we could see exactly where we were but could not see how to make it connect to where we wanted to go. Also, some of the roads marked on our old Forest Service maps are not maintained and are now overgrown (the newer version of the USFS map is undoubtedly more accurate for current conditions than the old map we carried).

Rather than trying to find Summit Lake Road as per Andreas’ routing, we recommend this alternative:

Take Grizzly Peak Road (aka 39N06) from highway 89, as per Andreas’ routing, but continue over the top of Grizzly Peak and all the way to the junction with 38N11 (aka 11). Take 11 southeast to Big Bend. From there, take either 37 or 50 (aka 37N60Y) to Lake Britton, where you meet Clark Creek Road. 11, 37, and 50 are all shown on the AAA map. The AAA map does not show the road connection from Grizzly Peak to 11, but it is shown on the USFS map and also described in “Backcountry Adventures Northern California” by Massey and Wilson (which we found in our local library).

e. Water availability:
i. The only surface water between Weed and highway 89 was at the Ash Creek crossing on FR19 about 2.5 miles north of the intersection with 13. It had water in October of a dry year and therefore should be reliable. The routing on Andreas Google map does not pass this point, although there may be water where Andreas’ route crosses the same creek.
ii. There is water in the McLeod River at Algoma USFS campground, one mile south of 89 on 36N06. There may be a water pump there as well, we didn’t look.
iii. South of 89, heading up toward Grizzly Peak on 39N06, there is a healthy flow of water (even in October following a low snow-pack winter) where the dirt road fords a creek at elevation 4920’ (near the Siskiyou/Shasta county border).

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