Eagle Mountain
Bald Mountain
San Joaquin County PP P500
Taylor Ridge
Mt. Wallace

Fri, Nov 27, 2015
Etymology
Eagle Mountain
Bald Mountain
Mt. Wallace
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile

This outing was inspired by a nearly identical one done by David Naylor back in April. In looking over a list of CA County PPs (highest prominence points in each county), I noticed that San Joaquin's was a forelorn-looking unnamed summit at the north end of the Diablo Range. LoJ showed more than half a dozen ascents to Peak 3,140ft, most of them this year. David had included a TR with a GPX track that took him over five summits on a looping tour starting from Mines Rd. When I looked at the totals, about 14mi and 4,000ft of gain, it seemed like a reasonable amount for a night hike since most of it was on ranch roads. I spent some time studying satellite views for what looked like the best way to avoid a handful of homes and ranch buildings found on the east side of Mt. Wallace, and also provide the most brush-free routes for the cross-country portions of the outing. These cross-country sections were different than those used by David, but it appears there are numerous ways one might go - this portion of the range is on the east side in the rain shadow and gets less brush than on the west side.

My starting point was the entrance to the BSA Rancho Los Mochos Camp where a small turnout along Mines Rd provides room for one or two vehicles. It was 5p when I started, only a short time after sunset and still somewhat light out. I planned this to allow me to do the initial cross-country between Arroyo Mocho and Corral Hollow Creek over the dividing ridgeline without needing a headlamp. The moon would not be up for another two hours, so I hoped to get to the ranch roads on the way to the first summit before it got too dark. This worked out nicely, especially since I found none of the poison oak that I was expecting anywhere along the route. Though it grows abundantly in the range, perhaps it is too dry in this part to support much, if any.

I reached the top of Eagle Mtn by 6:15p. The ranch road I followed traverses neatly around the south side of the summit, but easy cross-country up a steep, grassy slope leads to the rounded summit where a few stately oaks reside. Someone had made a cross of the small rocks scattered about the summit area. One can (barely) see the lights of Livermore to the northwest, with the lights of the Central Valley abundantly clear to the east. Bald Mtn could be seen in profile to northeast. I headed down the east side of Eagle Mtn to regain the ranch road and continued north towards Bald Mtn, my second stop. It took less than 40min to travel between Eagle and Bald. Though there was no moon, I was happy to find sufficient light to not need a headlamp. It's really quite amazing how well the eyes can adjust to nighttime.

I found a small instrument station enclosed by a fence (to keep cattle away) at the summit of Bald Mtn. The top provided the best view to the Central Valley with lights stretching for more than 100mi north to south. I returned nearly to Eagle Mtn before turning southeast to follow a different ridgeline encircling James and Taylor Canyons. This took me away from the city lights, along more remote areas of the range. The moon had risen by this time and began to make a huge difference in visibility, casting my shadow along the road and bringing out more contrast to the mountain scenery. I reached a junction at South Ridge (which actually runs west-east), turning south towards Peak 3,140ft, the county PP. Just before the highpoint is a larger instrument installation, though none of it looked of recent construction. Whether it still functioned was hard to tell. Just south of this was the untrammeled prominence point just off the dirt road. I thought I might find some sort of register here, but found nothing. Just downhill from the PP are several more road junctions. I followed those leading along Taylor Ridge heading west and southwest to a local highpoint overlooking Corral Hollow below and Mt. Wallace to the west. I followed more roads downhill to the northwest for another mile before dropping down to Corral Hollow along the line I had depicted on the GPSr, designed to thread between a couple of buildings that may or may not have been occupied. I saw no sign of buildings or people or car on this cross-country portion, just the dirt road I crossed at the bottom of the drainage.

The last climb of the night was nearly 1,000ft up a subsidiary ridge towards Mt. Wallace and the ridge I had crossed over in the beginning. It was 10p by the time I reached Wallace's summit, some lichen-covered rocks serving for the highpoint among trees which block some of the views. I found a reference mark but could not find the benchmark along the line indicated by the arrow. It might still be there somewhere under the brush and grass. The final segment was along more ranch roads, returning me to the start by 10:30p. There was a thin layer of ice on the trunk of the car and most all the ground was frosty by this time. Though quite cold, there was very little breeze which made it seem warmer than the two previous outings earlier this week. It would be another hour before I had driven home to San Jose. I was happy to have managed three night outings on this cycle of the full moon - it had been many months since I had last gotten out under a moon and I'd almost forgotten how much I enjoy it...


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