Chabot 2 BM P500

Sat, Jun 16, 2012
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I had to drive to Oakland airport at 6:30a to drop off a load of Scouts heading to Yellowstone for a 10 day high adventure trip. Seeing as I was just driving and not joining on the trip, I thought I might see if there was some small summit I could visit in the Alameda County area around the airport. Chabot 2 BM refers to the "CHABOT 2" benchmark that was placed on the unnamed summit just west of Lake Chabot in San Leandro. With just over 500ft of prominence it lands in the California Mountain Atlas somewhere near the bottom. Much of the hill is part of the Anthony Chabot Regional Park, though the highest point is just outside the park, behind a tall fence topped with barbed-wire. Active communication towers and old defunct buildings from the 1950s are found inside the fencing.

I parked at the entrance to the Fairmont Ridge staging area found off Fairmont Dr. The smallish parking lot holds about about a dozen cars and they were more than half taken when I arrived around 7:30a. There isn't a whole lot to this part of the park - most of it is found to the east and north, surrounding the large reservoir. Almost every party I passed by on the way to and from the summit had one or more dogs with them - it seems this might be the local dog exercise park. There is a paved road leading from the TH to the summit, used by service vehicles to the communication towers. A small network of trails is found to the west of the road providing views to the East Bay under the shade of some old eucalyptus trees that line the ridge. The distance to the summit is just under a mile. Haze obscured views both east and west, the result of a high pressure system that had just recently moved in over the area. It was forecast to exceed 90F in the area today, so it was good to do this early in the morning. It was already feeling warm and very bright.

It was not hard to breach the fence around the summit thanks to a gap in the main gate held together by more than a dozen locks. The highest point was found at the north end where some geologic instruments were set up under one of the tall towers. I had no luck locating the benchmark. I did find some broken concrete that might have held a benchmark, or perhaps just held a steel fencepost at one time. The abandoned buildings around the area were boarded up with badly peeling paint. They looked to be remnants of the Cold War, perhaps a small military installation overlooking the East Bay from the 1950s or 60s.

Back outside the fenced area, I found a circular stone memorial at an overlook site, dedicated to the children of the East Bay communities that have died violent deaths due to crime. There is a plaque for each year since 1994 listing the name, age and city of the many victims.

I walked back to the parking lot using the grassy trails under the eucalyptus trees, returning by 8:30a, barely an hour after starting out, a nice little diversion on a Saturday morning...


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Dan Baxter comments on 01/04/15:
I grew up in San Leandro. The remnants you saw were actually a Nike missile base, used in the cold war to protect the Alameda Naval Air Station as well as other military installations and the surrounding populace. The most prominent feature was one of those radars that look like half a giant golf ball. It could easily be seen from even the West Bay.
I suspect the child victim memorial was placed because also on the hill (all non trespassing in my youth) was "Juve", Alameda County's juvenile hall.
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