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Frog Pond Mtn is located in San Luis Obispo County, west of Atascadero, off SR41. There is a gated community called Summit Hills on the north side of the mountain. Having done my homework, I knew there was a gap at the gate that would allow pedestrians and cyclists through, so I brought the mountain bike to ride as much of it as I could. Though it was brutally hot, I did well to ride a mile and a half up the pavement, climbing 800ft in the process. I knew which forks to take to get me to an undeveloped lot on the crest of the mountain northwest of the summit. So far so good. With another half a mile to go, things were looking good. I found an old trail, now badly ovegrown that gave me hope that it might not be so bad. I had seen this in the satellite view and expected it to get me within 1/8mi from the summit. Within the first 50yds on this trail I found three ticks on my clothing and a bunch of poison oak I had to dance around. I stopped to flick the ticks off me and consider my position. Maybe I wouldn't get to the summit after all. Having to duck and nearly crawl in places, the ticks would be able to hop aboard almost any part of my body, making it difficult to keep them in check. I caught a break in that these were the only ticks I would see - not sure why they were all at the start, but I was relieved they wouldn't be a constant menace. The poison oak would not be so bad either, but there was still plenty that I had to watch for all the way to the summit. I had brought clippers which I used to help blaze, or rather re-blaze the trail that was difficult to follow. The stiff, thorny brush tore at my clothes and skin, drawing blood even though little skin was openly exposed.
Cresting one rise, I caught sight of the summit 1/3mi ahead with the expected home on the north side, about 75yds off the crest. I saw a guy outside working on a gas-powered weed-whacker. It would start, then die, he'd fiddle with it and try again. I didn't know if his property extended to my route or what he'd do if he spotted me, but it seemed prudent to keep out of sight and sound as much as possible. Some of the heaviest brush I encountered was found where the trail ended at the nearest point to the guy's property. I could hear him fiddling about, tossing tins and equipment, sounding very close. I didn't want to crash through the brush here, figuring he'd hear me for sure, so I quietly as possible took to clipping a trail more thoroughly, hoping he'd get that weed-whacker fired up so that I could make more noise. Sweat was dripping off my face, my throat was coarse and dry, I was hunched over to keep out of sight below the top of the brush and it was not lost on me how ridiculous I was. And sick. Very sick. I heard rattling in the brush and stopped dead to listen - was he coming over to investigate? The rattling got closer and I suspected it was some animal in the brush. I was really hoping it wasn't a rattlesnake slithering underfoot - that would have really made my day right there - and probably got me to wet my pants in the process. I never did see anything and I went back to listening. I heard a starter turning and a vehicle's engine coming to life. Ah! He was going for a drive, maybe to a repair shop or something, but he would be gone momentarily. Once I could no longer hear the car, I started up again, clipping and thrashing at a fast pace - got to get to the summit and back before he returns. A few minutes later my clippers broke - the second pair I've lost in the same fashion, by cutting dry branches too large for the clippers. This turned out to be a good thing because once I stopped clipping, I made much faster progress just by stomping through the brush. It tore my clothes and I up more than ever, but I was making good headway now.
It took me a full hour to go 4/10th of a mile, but I made it to the summit. The views were nothing special - Cerro Alto to the south, hazy Atascaero to the northeast. I collected some rocks to make a small cairn to leave a register in, then beat a retreat. I used the GPSr to make sure I followed the route closely so I didn't end up thrashing a second trail through the stuff. I stopped often to check the device when I could see no trace of my route. Not surprisingly, I made much better time on the return and the bike ride down was actually enjoyable - really the only fun part of the outing. The bad stuff would start to fade out from my memory. In a week I'll remember it as a fine outing. It's a sickness.
This page last updated: Sun Jun 18 12:02:42 2017
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