Peak(s):  California Pk  -  13,849 feet
Date Posted:  08/23/2020
Date Climbed:   08/22/2020
Author:  LIV
 Califormula not California   

California Peak 13, 849 feet

Total Gain: 4,500 feet
RT Length: 10.5 miles

The reason I call this Califormula is because Jim andI used a formula to get up and down the peak. Not your standard formula - but your non-standard formula.

Jim and I decided to go down and do California Peak last week. He runs a ham radio and is a member of SOTA. SOTA stands for Summits On The Air. SOTA is an award scheme for radio amateurs that encourages portable operation in mountainous areas. You get points in the association for activating your ham radio on summits. California Peak was worth 10 points and on top of it, no one had activated on that peak prior, and I hadn't climbed it yet (looking tO climb all of the peaks in that basin - just have Huerfanito and Peaks 577 and 5 something or another left to climb).

So off we started. I left from Lone Tree at about 1:30 pm on 8/21 (Saturday) and Jim left from Castle Rock about 2:30 pm. The longest part of the drive (as always) down to the Sangres, is the road between Castle Rock and Colorado Springs, and this day was no different. The traffic is horrible.

So I got down to the Mosca Pass road around 4:30 pm. I drove up the road past Singing River Ranch, and on toward the trailhead. Well, as I was coming around a bend in the road, I couldn't believe my eyes! Cookie hiker was standing out in front of her car talking to some people (she had her tent set up there). She and I are good buddies, so I stopped to talk with her and Jennifer for a while . They were heading up Lindsey (I guess it was her 6th time up the peak). I left and drove on up the road, adding that if they saw a Maroon FJ, to let Jim know that I was about 1/2 of a mile further up the road.

Noel and Jennifer

I found a wonderful camping area about 1/4 of a mile from the trailhead. It had a nice stream right behind it. So I set up camp, got my bedding ready in my Toyota 4 Runner, got the stove and food out, and while I was waiting for Jim to get there, walked up the road to take a look at the trailhead. No actual trailhead to be found (although I learned later that it was the Zapata Falls trailhead - which was a little further up the road). While walking up the road, there was a herd of cows along side of the road. Well, one of the younger bulls decided he didn't like the look of me or my two dogs (Juma and Zahra) and even though I had their collars in my hand, one of the younger bulls, started running after us. We got out of sight of him, but on the way back down, the younger bull was still on the side of the road. I decided to chance it, and started walking past him again, but this time he really wasn't having any of us, and neither was an older bull that was also in the herd. They both started running after us, and I let go of the dogs collars and started running down the road, with the two bulls following in close pursuit. Luckily the dogs were right with me, and we outran the bulls. They had kicked up quite a dust bowl by the time they stopped. Whew, that was a close call.

The stream that kept lulling me to sleep all night.

So Jim arrived right as I was finished running down the road. We cooked dinner, he pitched his tent (I was sleeping in my car with the dogs), and we headed to bed around 8:00 pm.

We woke up at 4:30 and Jim cooked eggs and bacon for breakfast, and we started up the road at 5:30 am. So by my GPX file we were just supposed to head up through the trees. This was rough going in the dark, especially since I had Zahra on her leash. She kept taking a different way around the trees that I did. So Jim kindly took her and guided her until, what do you know it, we crossed a trail!! It looked like from my GPS that we were on the right trail!!! Thank goodness! So the trail was uneventful up to the saddle, however, we did see quite a few Ptarmigan and Grouse.

Jim before dinner.


After we reached the meadow. The trail would snake around to the left bringing us to the saddle on the right.

We arrived at the saddle. I had been warned that there were nearly 5 false summits. However, I didn't really realize the length of the route. The first false summit though we saw a few mountain goats.

Jim arriving at the saddle.
One of the first humps.

Not the true summit.

More false summits up and then we think we see the summit. Not!! The true summit is the one behind the one you see above.

The true summit

Once we reached the true summit, Jim set up his Ham radio with his antenna and began transmitting. CQ, CQ SOTA This is . . . Pretty soon he was talking to people from Wisconsin, Sacramento and San Fransisco, CA, North Carolina, Georgia, etc. He got his 10 points!! After about an hour on the summit, we packed up but as we were leaving met a guy coming up from the Lily Lake side. He indicated that he was going to take a short cut down. So we went back over the second to the summit bump and decided to drop over and descend down that way.


Little Bear from the summit of California


The dogs chilling on the summit.


Jim with the dogs.
Zahra heading down about ready to drop over the edge.

Juma not even half way down.

Well, the descent was not pretty, as it was scree city and ankle biters. Juma and Zahra had to be helped down just a little, but then they were troopers and continued on down. We cut off about 1 mile but added about an hour to the standard way down. It was hell city as we came down though steep, steep, steep trees and scree. We came out on the Lindsey trail about 1 mile south of the trailhead. Boo! Then we had to walk about 1 1/2 miles down from there to get to our campsite. But it gave me a good view of some ice climbs that I had established several years prior.

Down, Jim and I shared some beers, he soaked in the creek, and we packed up for home. Needless to say - after 9 miles, and quite some elevation gain, I am sore today.

Our GPS file.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions

CW or Voice?
08/23/2020 23:50
Nice write up


08/24/2020 11:21
Although Jim knows CW, he was talking to them via Voice.

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