16 January 2012

Speed's Trail

West of me, about a mile and a quarter as the crow flies, is a high knobby peak. It didn't have a name until today. The USGS topo for Yreka says it is 1154 meters (3786 feet) high, which is 344 meters (1129 feet) above my house. We hiked up there in honor of Martin L. King, Jr., and discovered a sign that read "Speed's Trail" and below that "Speed Jones, 1923-2007." I guess we'll call it "Speed's Peak" from now on. The combination of roads and trails that zigzag to the top could keep you busy for months, but we managed. Speed's Peak is the highest of a northwest-to-southeast trending group of four knobs that drop successively to 947 meters (3107 feet) in about three-quarters of a mile. It's a funny little fingerling ridge that seems only remotely connected to the commanding Humbug-Mahogany Point-Gunsight Peak prominence that marks the eastern terminus of the Klamath Mountains. This little cluster of steep, rocky hills is a popular playground. Kids paintball in the lower parts, dirt bikes crisscross the midsections, hardy mountain bikers leave tracks at the junctions on the wide saddles, and a few hikers push on to the top. There are abandoned party spots and homeless hideouts amidst the scraggly cedars and skinny pines. It's not in the guidebooks, but it is a hell of a view and a good workout. I got lost trying to make sense of the geology. I could see cobbles of quartzite, and broken masses of phyllite, chert, and possibly schists. The rocks were green with what I think was chlorite, and there was lots of serpentinization. Large clusters of dark stuff bewildered me. The map was no help, lumping it all into "Mezosoic meta-sediments" and other non-committal verbiage. I suppose it's not the rocks that matter, but the story of how they got there. We got there by putting our boots on and huffing and puffing and sweating on this cold but calm and sunny day.

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