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I was back in Wine Country for another foray tagging CC-listed summits and P1Ks. I had driven the night before to near the end of Stagecoach Canyon Rd, where Butts Creek empties into Lake Berryessa. I had no trouble sleeping comfortably and uninterrupted just off the pavement there.
The road follows along the north side of Butts Creek (now dry) with half a dozen homes on the opposite side. A dog barked without much enthusiasm and I didn't seem to attract any attention. I soon reached a campground that up until this point I knew nothing about. It was here that I realized the area was part of a homeowner's association from reading a large sign here with much writing, obviously designed by a committee. There was no one else at the primitive site, really just some pit toilets, picnic benches and some flat areas to park and camp. Located at the confluence of Putah and Butts Creeks where they empty to Lake Berryessa, it seems a nice enough spot for a springtime picnic. I followed the road leading west, up and out of the campground and onto a mesa in that direction. The mesa was about 200ft above Putah Creek, the road turning north and eventually ending in a rough trail dropping back down to Putah Creek a mile from the campground.
I crossed Putah Creek, easy at this time of year, and wandered trailless upstream for about a mile. It might have been easier to continue upstream as there was only a bit more than another mile to go, but I found the going somewhat tedious with lots of boulder hopping that takes much concentration. Instead, I followed my pre-mapped plan which was to climb back out of the creek channel and avail myself of some remote ranch roads I knew to be up on a second mesa to the west. Getting out of the canyon was a steep, somewhat tricky affair, climbing up a loose debris field that had served as a garbage dump by the ranchers for decades. The ground was littered with old tin and aluminum cans, back when pull tabs had first replaced the can opener for beer. Once onto the mesa, the going becomes suddenly delightful with open, oak-studded grazing country. I passed across one property boundary, hiking maybe a mile and half before dropping down a second time to Putah Creek when Devils Head came into view. It looks like a volcanic plug sticking out from the hillside and is indeed, just that.
I had to remove my boots to cross the creek here, wide but so shallow I barely got my ankles wet. I spent another 30 minutes on the east side of the creek hiking a combination of cow trails, jeep track, grassy slopes and a bit of bushwhacking to find my way to the summit. The west side looks like it might be a fun scramble, but the rock proved terribly loose and I gave up that effort and took the easy route around from the high saddle on the east side of the rocky feature. David had left a register 11 months earlier and unsurprisingly, no one had signed it since. The rocky perch provides good views looking west over the Putah Creek drainage, with Cobb Mtn just visible about 20 miles on the horizon. In the foreground rises the cone-shaped Snell Peak, which David had described as "interesting" when he had passed by it on his route. I had checked it out on Google maps beforehand, but it looked to be covered in nearly impenetrable brush on all sides - no thanks. After signing the register and taking a break under fine skies and cool temperatures, I reversed the route almost in its entirety, without any significant deviations.
When I got back to the pavement I found a local resident in an SUV talking to a young male transient equipped with a backpack and the looks of being on the road a long time. She had seen me exit the camp access road but wasn't concerned with my going in there on foot. She asked me what the condition of the campground was and was happy to hear me report it as spotless. She was most concerned with unknown motorcyclists that have circumvented the gate and gone back there to tear up the road leading to the mesa and other unspecified damages. She seemed a very concerned and conscientious homeowner, the kind I'd like to have looking after my own neighborhood. I left her with the distinct impression that as far as the association goes: hiker good, motorcylist bad.
The route was entirely on dirt roads, decently maintained ones except for near the very end. There was a Forest Service sign at a junction, suggesting the road was open to the public at one time. There are a number of No Trespassing signs found on either side of the road, some more emphatic that others. The final quarter mile up to Windy Point was along an older road no longer maintained, leading to the flat, but open summit. A corner of Clear Lake could be seen to the south, but in most other directions were views of forested ridgelines. Just to the northwest was the slightly higher Windy Ridge to which I next paid a visit, an excursion that takes less than ten minutes. The views are unsurprisingly similar. To the northwest could just be seen a lookout tower atop High Glade BM, about 2 miles distance. Because it has nearly 2,000ft of prominence, it would get my attention for a future visit.
On my way back to Clear Lake, the sun made a colorful departure, prompting me to stop a few times along the road to take pictures. Back at SR20, I headed east along the north shore of Clear Lake, eventually reaching the BLM's Redbud TH, some six miles east of the junction with SR53. This would be the starting point for my second attempt at Brushy Sky High, the same route I used on my first effort three weeks earlier. It's a very nice spot to spend the night away from the road noise and without hassles.
For more information see these SummitPost pages: Windy Point - Pinnacle Rock
This page last updated: Tue Nov 26 19:41:31 2013
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