Brokeoff Mountain

Where did it go? Didn’t we just uncork some bubbly and toast the arrival of 2017? And now, another new year is at hand.

Whether you make New Year’s resolutions or not, the beginning of the year is a good time to reflect. We know we should be doing a little more of this or a little less of that. So we resolve to improve, but by mid-January, all is forgotten. Instead, consider accepting a challenge beyond a simple New Year’s resolution; tackle an adventure that excites you a little and scares you a little. Accept the Brokeoff Mountain Challenge.

For five years and as many Sierra summits, many of your friends and neighbors have taken on what for many of them was a daunting prospect. They have been to the top of Clouds Rest and Mount Hoffman in Yosemite, Mount Tallac and Snow Valley Peak near Lake Tahoe, and beautiful Round Top near Carson Pass. On those five Sierra hikes alone, challengers have walked nearly 50 miles and climbed 12,540 vertical feet to peaks as high as 10,856 feet above sea level.

I share these numbers with some reluctance, because I want to tempt you to come along, not scare you away. Past challengers have compiled a record to be proud of, but most would not describe themselves as hikers, and few are from the sculpted lycra-clad crowd. They are regular folks who tell me that they might not have come except for a simple invitation that made the difference: “Come with me, I know the way.”

And when they came, they learned they could do much more than they ever thought.

This year, for the first time, we will go to the Cascades instead of the Sierra. Lassen National Park is a beautiful and relatively uncrowded park with dozens of volcanoes, bubbling fumaroles, wildflowers, and bushels of mountain beauty. Rather than scale the park’s namesake peak, we will go to nearby Brokeoff Mountain, a far better destination. At 8am, Saturday morning, July 14, 2018, we will meet at the 6,635-foot trailhead and climb 2,600 feet to the 9,235-foot summit, a 7.4-mile round trip. When you step on the summit of Brokeoff Mountain, thoughts of your pounding heart and heaving lungs will be swept away. To the northeast, three crow-flying miles away, Lassen Peak dominates. Up north, snow-clad and floating on the horizon like a cloud, we will see 14,179-foot Mount Shasta. In every direction, infinite views.

When I am in such amazing places, I think of the people I would like to plunk down beside me so they could feel how being there fills you up. But you don’t get that feeling for free. Halfway up Brokeoff Mountain, you will long for your sofa and wonder how you got into this. But the following Wednesday at work and decades later as you rock on the front porch, you will recall that day as one of your best.

Throughout the coming winter and spring, when our hills are showing off, we will walk six Coast Range trails to enjoy wildflowers, running creeks, and the fleeting green. There is no structure or program. Come when you wish. Bring anyone you like. Below is the schedule of prep hikes (including a trip to Angel Island!) and the date of the summer challenge.

At our doorstep, we enjoy an expanse and a variety of open space unrivalled by any other major American urban center. It is a great gift. Many have fought to save it for us to enjoy. I hope you will take the opportunity to get out and see it in the company of nice people. Then come to Brokeoff Mountain. Mark your calendars. See you on the trail.

To receive pre-hike email reminders with complete directions and instructions, reach Ron Erskine at [email protected]

Ron Erskine

Ron Erskine

Ron Erskine is a local outdoors columnist and avid hiker.
Ron Erskine

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About Ron Erskine
Ron Erskine is a local outdoors columnist and avid hiker.