Hike Difficulty: very challenging
Hike Length: 9.26 RT
Elevation Gain: 3832 ft <– a new personal record!
Highest Point: 9488 ft
Time: 5 hrs 59 mins 50 secs
My Rating (out of 5): 5.0 – I’ve been eyeballing this mountain for more than a year now, so it was about time for Grace and me to finally take on Mount McLoughlin. Conveniently, my brothers are in town visiting and they also wanted to hike the tallest mountain in Jackson County (and the region).
We started off at the upper McLoughlin trailhead (off of the road that leads to Four Mile Lake) at 5 AM. It has been breaking 100 degrees the past few days, so it was necessary for us to get an early start. I was a bad hiker and forgot my headlamp. As a result, the three of us spent the first hour or so with only one flashlight. Soon, the sun came up enough that we didn’t need the flashlight and the strenuous climb to the summit really began.
Not surprisingly, the mountain offered many amazing views in every direction. When we got past the treeline, the steep incline continued, but with huge boulders and fine, powdery dirt that kicked up everywhere and made us slide around. We passed a guy who had spent the night up near the top. Eventually, we made it to the summit, laboring to climb up the last few feet.
Coming down was more difficult than coming up because of jello legs. There was a pretty good trail along the ridge, but I can see how easy it might be to veer off south through the scree. Staying on the ridge is key. There were tons of people passed on the way down. Considering how hot it was getting, I was glad we got out of there before noon. The map said expect 7 hours (4 up and 3 down) but we made it in 6. I even ran to the parking lot just to be able to stop my watch before it went over. Now that the most challenging part of my brothers’ visit is out of the way, redwoods are in store.