Day hike of Brokeoff Mountain and Moonlight hike of Lassen Peak

9-10 Aug 2003 - by Ted Lenzie

On August 9, at 9:00 AM, participates, Heather Hoffman, Kay Mathys, Rich Gray, and myself met at the south Lassen National Park entrance chalet to begin our ascent of Brokeoff Mountain. Normally, Lassen Peak is the focus of most hikers in the Park. But we decided that Brokeoff is less traveled and would give us some excellent views of the surrounding area without having to share the trail with 200 other hikers as a typical Saturday in August would most likely be on the Lassen trail. Besides we came here to hike Lassen in the almost full moon later that same day.

The trail to Brokeoff starts just south of the Park entrance. Its summit sets at an elevation of 9,235 feet. The trail starts in some heavy brush, but soon opens up to a confer wooded area. The trail is pretty straightforward; however, there is a marshy meadow about a mile in that has to be crossed to the left. Because of the high grass it would be easy to miss and continue straight ahead following a blazed trail that leads nowhere. The trail begins to climb a ridge over toward the south side of Brokeoff. From there we could see the crumbling cliffs and summit of the mountain. The trail continues along the bottom of these cliffs and begins the ridge climb. Once over the ridge it is one long switchback to the summit. The last section of the trail follows the edge of Brokeoff and affords many teaser views toward the north. Once on top we had of course excellent views of Lassen. In addition, we could see Mount Shasta, Cinder Cone, and many other smaller volcanoes. The descent was uneventful.

Later that evening we prepared for our sunset/moonlight hike of Lassen. Sheryl Lenzie joined us for this one. The Lassen trail is normally so busy it really isn't what I would normally call a wilderness experience, but once the sun sets, 99% of the hikers have gone back to their campsites. Lassen Peak starts at the obvious signed trailhead in the middle of the Park. The hike itself is on trail, with 2,200 feet of gain and an elevation of 10,453 feet.

We started at about 6:30 PM. and with a sunset of 8:14 PM and moonrise of 7:04 PM we knew we were in for a show. The hike up started as a group but after a few switchbacks Sheryl and Heather dropped back a bit. It was a windy hike up with partial views of the sun as it was going down. We continued to hike the switchbacks up as we watched the moonrise. We made it to the summit ridge in time to watch the sun go down. Just before the sun touched the horizon Sheryl joined us without Heather. She had returned to the car after blisters she received from the earlier Brokeoff hike was just too much to bear. As we watched the sun go down the wind started to get really cold. We saw Shasta turn from a well-defined mountain into a dark silhouette. We then all started to the actual summit. Once on top we found a place out of the wind where we pulled out our thermoses and drake coffee and tea while we enjoyed our view. As the sun light in the horizon faded more and more, the moonlight began to take over. After a half-hour we began our descent in the summit shadow and needed to use headlights until we reached the established trail on the ridge. From there we descended back to the car in total moonlight. At about half way down we watched Mars rise in the southeast. We got back to camp by 11:30 PM and were all ready to crash.

Lassen by moonlight is a much more enjoyable experience than fighting the hordes of people for a spot on the summit during the day. Our choices to climb Brokeoff and Lassen at the times we did were wise ones, since we did not have to share the summits with anyone else on both peaks.

Davegfn23 AT adds:

Brokeoff Mountain is a great hike. I just want to point out that Cinder Cone is not visable from Brokeoff. You probably have heard this.

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